Archive | December, 2012

The end is nigh

20 Dec

By the end of this week, 1 of 2 important events will have occurred. Either, the world will end on Friday, rendering my Easyjet ticket completely useless, or on Saturday I will be moving out of Bordeaux and heading back to the UK for Christmas. Hopefully the latter.

The last couple of weeks seem to have flown by, while the days have dragged on. I know this makes no sense at all, but since moving here I’ve found my general concept of time has gone a bit weird, especially since realising it’s almost 4 months since I first set foot in this city. That’s A THIRD OF A YEAR!! I think I might just go hide in a corner with a good book (btw currently reading this, highly recommended) and wait for time to slow back down. On an even broader scale, just last night a few of us were discussing things that make us feel old when we realised that Love Actually came out nearly a decade ago. TERRIFYING.

Since I last posted I’ve been on many an adventure, most of them involving Bordeaux 3, the place where common sense went to die. Thankfully, before the hellish week of exams that started last Monday, I went on a nice little wine tasting trip with my friend Rose who goes to uni in California. We got to act all sophisticated and knowledgeable while sampling some of Bordeaux’s best, while also visiting a couple of vineyards. The owner of one seemed to have a bit of an obsession with birds and kept a collection of animals on the property. My favourite was the emu.

Emu

Later than night I had dinner and a few drinks with Anna and Jo from Bristol who were staying with Chynna. The weekend was a lovely distraction from the oncoming week of exams which, as things tend to here, didn’t really go to plan.

Some highlights include Wednesday morning’s Italian listening, where the teacher decided to fiddle around with the volume during the exercise meaning that for a while we couldn’t actually hear anything, and he then ignored us completely when we asked if he could restart the recording. In one part there was even an overlap of speakers due to some technical error, but apparently that was our problem, not his.

Following this I had my first Japanese exam (during my lunch break as well!). The less said about it the better. On Thursday morning I turned up to my Italian translation exam at 9.30 only for the teacher to be 10 minutes late, then telling us Erasmus students that we wouldn’t in fact be doing the exam because the library wouldn’t let her take out French monolingual dictionaries for us. Instead, we were going to have an ORAL translation exam following the class the next week. The class that was supposed to be my last one ever at Bordeaux 3. I managed to contain my anger until I left the room.

On Friday evening I had my other Japanese exam, although when I emailed to double check the time, the joker of a teacher replied at 5.05 to say that it would be best if Chynna and I came to do it at 5.00. Unfortunately time travel is just beyond my grasp so I ended up doing it at 5.30, which was the quickest I could get there.

Thankfully the week ended on a high with a Spanish-themed party full of Erasmus people at Giulia’s house. I’ve concluded that the Spanish are probably the most generous nationality, considering the hosts put on a massive buffet of food from their home country and provided lots of kalimotxo, which I got to try for the first time. Some call it blasphemous, but it actually kinda works.

On Saturday night there was a Christmas party at Abbie’s which ticked all of my festive boxes: mulled wine, panettone, and Wham. Here’s a group shot of us all looking lovely, apart from Aaron who had to ruin it for everyone. And yes that is a Hitler moustache if you look closely.

DSC00284

On Sunday it was Chynna’s 22nd so a bunch of us had a very French lunch at hers (apart from the Branston pickle which Sarah brought out, much to the delight of the English) and I actually drank tea! I’m trying to train myself to be more English since most French people seem outraged that given the choice, I’d rather have a coffee or fruit juice than tea. All in all, a great end to a horrible week.

Sights of the day

Despite the uni overall being the least aesthetically pleasing learning establishment I have ever seen, there is this one lift which has some pretty cool graffiti on it.

Ascenseur

In town there are 2 bars opposite each other: Café Rouge and Café Brun. Each has a massive terrifying plaster head in it. I don’t know if  one bought one first and the other got jealous, or they are in competition to see who can frighten as many drunk customers as possible. I’m gonna have to vote for the one from Café Rouge being the worst, since I think it looks like an evil adult version of Noddy.

Café Rouge Café Brun

This is a bit of a geeky linguistics one, but I found a Rue Paul Broca in town. Probably not as exciting for anyone else as it is for me.

Good old Broca

Gendarme on a segway! So cool! So efficient! I’ve also seen them on bicycles, and apparently there are some who go round town on rollerblades, which I have yet to see (or believe?)

Segway

Exam rant

9 Dec

Just a quick one on why you probably won’t hear anything positive from me for the next week.

As it has gotten closer to the end of term, naturally I have  a few exams coming up. Some teachers, such as the lovely ones who take me for French/English translation, gave weeks of warning and a general guideline of what we need to revise. Others, namely my Japanese teachers and of course my Italian oral teacher, have told me about a week in advance.

I have no clue what the Italian exam will be on, or what format it will take…listening like last time? Speaking? Are we supposed to prepare something? Literally no idea. I know that one of my Japanese exams, squeezed in during my lunch break just after the Italian exam and before my linguistics class, is on ‘grammar’. No further hints than that though.

The other Japanese one is more of a mystery, and is set at 7pm next Friday. 7pm!! Who does that? In another example of Erasmus students being seen as a hinderance to their teaching, apparently Chynna and I will be doing this at the back of the room during another class that our teacher holds. He suggested we bring iPods to block out the noise of the class.

This brings my grand total of exams next week to 7, most of which I have no idea how to revise for. Bah humbug.

Surprise

5 Dec

This weekend, after a few weeks of scheming with his flatmates, I made a little surprise trip back to Bristol for my boyfriend’s 21st. Apart from initial concerns that I had given him a stroke/heart attack when he first saw me, the whole weekend went smoothly, if not far too quickly.

To fly directly to Bristol at this time of year I had to catch a train out to Toulouse, which was pretty easy, although being the stinge that I am I took the cheapest train which left Bordeaux at 7.30 on Friday morning. There wasn’t even a hint of sunlight at that time. I was then inevitably hideously early for my 1.45 flight but thankfully there’s unlimited free wifi at Toulouse airport, and a clear view over to the Airbus factory. I managed to spot a Beluga and a couple of A380s (best plane ever) during my wait, very exciting (maybe just for me though).

Bonjour TGV

After a speedy flight and speedier exit from the airport (don’t knock travelling alone, you encounter less problems like family members inexplicably wanting to join the traditional customs queue instead of zipping through the e-passport one) I managed to get myself to Will’s house just before he got back from his lecture, mission complete.

On Friday night there was a party at Will’s to celebrate the multiple birthdays happening in the house. Gold star for effort on the decorations guys. Everyone had a great night, and I found that 24 hours without sleep is a cheap and efficient alternative to alcohol. There’s a handy tip for any of you feeling the pinch towards the end of term.

Psybury

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be a guest on my former flatmates’ radio show on Burst Radio, Bristol Uni’s student radio. You can listen to the show here until Saturday 8th I believe.

Cry Hard 3

Adam, John and Tom hard at work

The rest of the weekend flew by and before I knew it I was back at Toulouse airport with an ominous 4 hour wait until my late train (yes, stingy again). I managed to nab myself a seat in the crowded station where I settled down with Stephen Fry’s autobiography for a few hours. This caught the interest of some bold Toulousains who, like most French citizens it would seem, have never seen a Kindle before, prompting a barrage of questions about what it was, how it worked, what you can put on it, how much it costs etc.etc. Amazon should give me commission for the persuasive skills I put to use (and it was all in French, brownie points for me).

My train eventually arrived and after a comfy journey back I got into Bordeaux station at 9.20. Despite the torrential rain I remained in an upbeat mood knowing I’d be home by 10 at the latest. How wrong I was. After waiting 10 minutes for a tram, I then got off at my connecting stop to find the next tram heading to mine wouldn’t be for another half hour. Bare in mind that they’re usually every 4-6 minutes, maybe 15 if its late. Being very hungry and thirsty having not wanted to pay the extortionate food prices at the airport or station, I eventually found the only place open on a Sunday: McDonalds.

In an act of self-imposed martyrdom I decided to walk through the rain to Victoire tram stop since it would be marginally closer to home, where I found that my boots are no longer in any way waterproof. By the time I got home at 11 all I wanted to do was pass out on a sofa somewh…oh wait no. I had to make do with my trusty bargain wheely chair.

All in all though, I had an amazing weekend which was definitely worth the travel hassle, although it made me miss England at Christmas that much more. Thankfully, but also sadly, I only have a couple of weeks left here before heading back to the UK for a brief break before starting Year Abroad v2.0!

Finally, a massive sorry to everyone I said I’d see and didn’t manage to catch up with, I miss you all.

acatineasterneurope

she's gone away again

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