It is going to take awhile to formulate the first entry…I have quite a lot of things to say.
First of all, I apologize that the first entry will not contain photos! (This means if you don’t like reading, you may close the window now.) I have been running around hectically since my arrival in France on Saturday (two days ago) and surprisingly, even to me, I have not yet taken a single photo. This is unconventional for me as I am used to taking photos everywhere I go, but I guess with two gigantic suitcases following me everywhere I went, it was a little bit of a hassle. Plus, I have lots of time here. Photos will be plentiful, I promise.
Next, I’d like to share a little blurb that I wrote during my Icelandair flight from Toronto to Reykjavik, Iceland.
“This is a rather interesting flight. I guess I’m definitely not the only one with a connecting flight in Iceland, as there are two ladies from Holland sitting beside me. The amusing thing is, all the PAs are made in Icelandish (I’m assuming) and English, and I hear a myriad of non-English languages spoken around me. (I didn’t want to use the word “foreign” as that is subjective in many ways.) However, at first I thought everyone was speaking Icelandish because well…they all sound the same when you don’t understand what’s being said. It wasn’t until the lady beside me told me that she’s Dutch did I realize that these are not all people returning home to Iceland, but perhaps many Europeans making a transfer. Then I started to wonder what types of languages were spoken. Dutch, German, Finnish, Swedish, Greek – who knows! Definitely not French or Spanish though…would have recognized that.
Contemplating sleeping for a bit, but you can never really sleep during a flight. I don’t know how that Japanese girl did it during the trip from Tokyo to Minneapolis. She must have been sleeping for 90% of the 11 hours…kudos. Some sleep would be nice now – I definitely want to be somewhat awake for my 4-hour train ride.
I love watching the thing on the little screen that has the map of the trip and tells you how far you are from your destination, how long it takes to get there, altitude, speed, etc. Sometimes I’d rather stare at that than watch a movie. Is that weird?”
And indeed, I slept for most of my 4-hour train ride on the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse, or High-Speed Train) from Paris to Bordeaux. The first-class seat was definitely worth the money – especially since the promotion made it cheaper than a standard-class seat, ironically – as I have never slept so well before, neither on a train nor a flight. I was more worried about missing my stop than not seeing the scenery outside, since it was dark and visibility gradually decreased till I could see nothing but scattered lights outside the window pane. After a very comfortable ride and an extremely punctual arrival, I found myself at the Bordeaux St.Jean train station, not knowing where to go next. Luckily my two very nice colleagues found me after approximately 10 minutes, and into the night we went to explore the city of Bordeaux!
Really…it was more like a preliminary tour around the area, as it was getting late and we needed to find my temporary residence. On our way to the residence, I counted two Chinese restaurants – named “Lok Fu” and “Hong Kong” – one Japanese restaurant, and one McDonald’s. Later I also found another Chinese one right beside the permanent apartment that I will be moving into. This could work out better than expected. Two full days in Bordeaux, and the following is a small list of things I am trying to get used to:
– speaking French everywhere, obviously
– using the 24-hour system, which means no more “am” or “pm” for awhile
– being redirected to the French version of sites such as Google, Wikipedia, and Youtube
– French driving, which reminds me a bit of traffic in China, to my huge surprise
My temporary residence is rather nice, too nice that I wouldn’t mind staying here for long-term. However, my status prevents me from registering in the university residences, so inevitably I have to move in November. Until then, I have a pile of paperwork to complete and hopefully, within a couple of weeks, I will be a legit student with French social securities, a residence permit, and a work contract. On the bright side, I got my annual transportation pass today – cheaper than paying monthly even if I’m going to Belgium for four months within this 12-month period – and that means I can go around the city as much as I want! Time to take pictures and act all tourist-y!
P.S. I lied when I said I haven’t taken a single photo. Today when I was being frustrated over paperwork, I saw this lone flower waving at me outside my residence. Its simple elegance was sheer beauty. It gave me some hope.