Interesting new discoveries this week

10 Oct

My weekend consisted mainly of translating the 3 pages of work given to my It>Fr class, so no fun stories there unfortunately! Although I did manage to buy some boots on Saturday, meaning I am now one step closer to being weather-proof in this country. In the aforementioned class on Monday morning we also pulled a cheeky ‘nous sommes anglaises, la vie est si dure ici’ which persuaded the teacher that we should get an easier test on the 22nd. Playing the English card actually works surprisingly well sometimes, and has been known to get us discounts or even free food/drink at the market.

On Monday afternoon I met up with Louise (remember the one from pole?) at French Coffee Shop. I guess the name makes it stand out from all the other cafés. Embarrassingly I had already been there a couple of times that week, despite the pricey drinks, as they make amazing Oreo hot chocolates with 2 inches of cream on top. Definitely one to keep an eye out for. We chatted for about an hour, her in English and me in French, mainly about Bordeaux, France, and cultural differences. Being from La Réunion, there are a few things she misses about her home too, so we had that in common to chat about.

One of the many delicious offerings at French Coffee Shop

One thing I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet is our new flatmate Emiliya, who comes from Bulgaria. She moved in on Friday to replace Kévin, is 30, and is doing a masters in Sociology. Unfortunately she doesn’t speak a lot of French so we mainly have to chat in English, although I’m sure she’ll pick it up soon enough! Having never really spoken to any Bulgarians, it definitely put my life in perspective . The main reason she is over here is due to a lack of jobs in her home country, plus the fear of communism returning, and the fact that the Mafia are slowly taking over. Next time I’ll think twice before complaining about the lack of hot water in the shower that morning, or the fact that I had run out of cereal and so had to eat compotes for breakfast instead.

On Tuesday I set off on the intrepid adventure of trying to book a doctor’s appointment, which turned out to be surprisingly easy. After managing to find the student health service, I put on my ‘help me I’m English’ face and spoke to the woman at the front desk about I had no idea how the health system works over here. Apparently you can go directly to a specialist, bypassing seeing a GP at all (I guess because they have no NHS here, people want to have to pay for as few appointments as possible), so the receptionist sent me to a room where I found myself talking directly to a doctor in their treatment room to book my appointment. Having worked as a surgery receptionist, the concept that a doctor has enough free time to casually discuss a patients problems in order to decide if/when they need an appointment seems completely bizarre to me. In fact I’m not entirely sure what more the doctor will do for me next Monday other than maybe write a prescription and take my money.

Today I had my first experience of the library, no big surprises to report about it, although they have a study room specifically for 3rd/final year students which Bristol could definitely benefit from. I made the mistake of using the toilets there, although to be honest using any toilets in the university or in any public space in Bordeaux just doesn’t seem to be a good idea. None of the toilets have seats, which is a bit of a pain (major thigh workout), plus there is nowhere to hang any coats/bags and you DEFINITELY don’t want to be putting them on the floor. The general upkeep of uni toilets is similar to that of car park toilets in the UK, plus I saw two people leave without washing their hands today. I’m going to have to invest in some alcohol hand gel asap. Another interesting note is that most uni toilets are unisex, which was a bit of a surprise at first, but generally makes no difference.

In an update to my ‘things I’m getting used to’ list, I have a few additions:

  • Square pillows. They provide more support than standard UK rectangular ones, and seem to have more stuffing too, meaning you only need one.
  • Overly lined paper. At first I wondered who could ever need as many lines as this but it’s turned out to be surprisingly handy for learning Japanese, or for the little diagrams my linguistics teacher loves to draw.

Sights of the day

This one isn’t really shocking or bizarre, I just wanted to rave about the food at the uni cafeteria. Having only gone there for the first time today, as I finished for lunch at 12 instead of 12.30 (the queues get obscene around then), I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and quantity of food I got, all for a mere €3.30 (about £2.65).

 

 

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One Response to “Interesting new discoveries this week”

  1. Rachel B October 14, 2012 at 18:46 #

    Bulgaria sounds a tad terrifying. as do the toilets! we heart france

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