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It’s been a while!

Okay, so I’ve written, deleted and rewritten the opening to this blog entry about four times now because so much has happened (my own fault for being such a slacker and not getting round to updating this!) but I just can’t decide on my favourite bit to kick it off with! So, I’ll break it down into chronological order and try not to be so lazy and take quite so long in getting around to blogging next time!

On the 15th of November, just after the half term and my twenty first, the girls and I headed to Paris for the weekend. We acted like absolute tourists taking selfies with the Eiffel Tower and wandering hopelessly about with a map so big that I presume was designed only for some sort of super-human-octopus-man. We filled Saturday with sight-seeing and shockingly some shopping (ironically mainly in an array of shops that we have not only in the UK but also in Rennes) but hey, put five girls in Paris and what do you expect?!

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Jen, Sophie, myself, Liza and Bekah taking one of many selfies.

We experienced the delightful Paris metro… in fact, I think the first time we were greeted by the lovely sight of an old drunk man, who smelt like alcohol or piss (or possibly a combination of the two) sleeping across four seats with one bare foot and a plastic bag as some form of make-shift shoe on the other foot. After that we, shockingly, decided to walk for a bit. We wandered across the river and could see the Eiffel Tower glazed in mist as we worked our way down an old-fashioned French market of mainly bric-a-brac. One stall had some boxes of old postcards, and when I say old postcards I mean they literally had the stamp, a message, everything! They were selling used postcards! It was kind of cool to read some of them but I’m not sure why anyone would buy that…

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Jen, Sophie, Bekah, myself and Liza enjoying the Notre Dame

To escape the cold we went into a little café on a corner and all had hot chocolate before meandering our way down the Champs-Élysées (inevitably encountering more shops) towards the Arc de Triomphe. After being nearly run over various times – I think the rules of road are different/nonexistant here, they seem to go something along the lines of “stop if you feel like it or scare the living daylight out of those waiting to cross, or just run them over, you know, whatever” – we headed towards Eiffel Tower. That night we went for a lovely meal and the waiter noticed how cold we were after our day of avoiding the drunk hobo filled metro so brought us over some blankets!

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Looking cosy… and oh so stylish…

The weekend was incredible, we were almost sad to leave on the Sunday, until we remembered the plan for the next Saturday was Disneyland Paris! So waking up at 3:30 in the morning is completely unnatural but we all managed to make an exception. Most people slept on the bus, however that did not include the Spanish people sitting in front of us who enjoyed chatting away for hours at 5/6am. Not that it irritated me or made me want to kill anyone. Not at all. After a brief service station stop (I had no idea what time it was at this point) and a bit more driving we were all woken up to the sound of Lion King being played ridiculously loudly. I mean, I have nothing against The Lion King, it’s a great film… the French version however is not the circle of life, it translated literally as “the story of life”. I think we must have been cranky because this seemed to aggravate us greatly. After tickets were distributed we all rushed into the park just as the parade was starting. It was unbelievable! And then we had to choose where to go first, now that was tough! We made our way round as many rides as we could; I think my favourites were Space Mountain (obviously) and the Indiana Jones one.

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Sophie, Fanny, myself and Liza at Disneyland (with my house there in the background…)

I’m now back in Rennes for my final semester; it’s crazy how time flies. This morning I started at 8:15. It’s unfathomable. Who decided to start lectures that early? What were they thinking?! It was actually still dark when I got to the lecture. Actually that’s another thing… when I first got here and was on British time and looking the wrong way when trying to cross the roads (which I still do, just cannot get used to that!) everyone said to me “Oh, you Brits do everything the wrong way round. It makes no sense to be an hour before, it gets dark so early blah blah blah” and I have to say, I started to agree about the time. It getting dark at 4/5pm in the winter really is ridiculous. But now, I agree with Greenwich completely! Yes, it getting dark early is annoying, but, here when I have to go to an 8:15 lecture I end up seeing the sun rise. No. Just no.

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The view at 8:15 this morning… unnatural I tell you!

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More Facts From Frogland

So, it has been quite a while since I posted; and a lot has happened!

Before the half term I was invited to a Raclette party, it was incredible! Raclette is a type of cheese that melts perfectly on the grills that are especially designed for it. They look like this:

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It’s kind of like the opposite of fondue (revelation: fondue comes from the French word “fondre” meaning “to melt”), so instead of dipping food into the cheese you pour it over meats, potatoes etc. You can see in the photo a slice of raclette waiting on the top to go into the grill (and lots of empty plates!). If I take anything away from this year abroad it will be me buying one of those grills and taking that bad boy home!

The next week was half term and Bekah and I headed back to the UK for the week:

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Matt picked me up from the airport and had his ears talked off in the car with stories of my gap yah. It was amazing to see everyone, and perfectly placed too being the week before my birthday. This meant my grandma, aunt and uncle could visit (along with various other people from the village) when we threw a little open house afternoon. I stayed in Warwick until the Thursday and then drove down to Swansea with my mum and grandma. We had an amazing lunch in Gower Kitchen:Image

After that I spent most of my time catching up with Chloe, Gareth and Rhys:

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I miss that lot! And all of that was before attending my second 21st birthday party at Lizzie, Rosie and Kate’s:

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I particularly enjoyed seeing Emma, my best friend, who trekked half way across the country that weekend!

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Although, she did steal this picture as her profile picture before Liz or I got to it!

I was quite sad when it came to leaving the UK again but devouring four chocolate croissants as soon as I got back to Rennes made up for that! When we go home for Christmas we’re planning to take the ferry, it’s less expensive than flying and we can take more luggage but it takes a lot longer. To be honest I think I could have taken as much through the French “security” as I wanted, they really didn’t care too much at Rennes whereas in Southampton I set off the mental detector and had to wait to have my hand-luggage checked (only for them to put it through the machine a second time and decide not to).

Back in Rennes I celebrated my actual birthday. Obviously this called for yet another party in the third country I now call home! On my actual birthday we all skipped lectures and went for Swedish meatballs in IKEA for lunch, later we went to a pub quiz and came third. We actually drew with 2 other teams for third but the head-to-head question I had to answer was on the TV show ‘Friends’, so they really stood no chance! It was really fun, the bar served some amazing cocktails (even “screaming orgasm” Chloe!) and I also got a free birthday shot:

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I was told the only rule was I had to drink it without using my hands… challenge accepted. I lent over the bar, picked up a straw (without my hand, of course) but then the barman told me that wasn’t allowed and I had to use the classier method of picking the glass up with my mouth and shaking the contents past the whipped cream. Easier said than done I must say and unfortunately I believe there’s now a rather unattractive video of me attempting this. I still stand by the fact I should have been allowed the straw; excellent problem solving skills is all I’m saying! So Wednesday, my 21st birthday was incredible and as it had been extended over a week in order for me to see all my loved ones, we though screw it, let’s go out Thursday too. I won’t post any pictures of that night however (Liza, you can breathe a sigh of relief!) as it is now referred to as “the night of ugly pictures”, and believe me, they’re ugly.

I think it’s safe to say this will be a birthday, and year, that I will never forget!

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Am I proud or embarrassed?

When having to listen to French in my lectures for over about 10 minutes, especially when I can see that other students aren’t writing anything down, I tend to phase out. Yesterday this happened, as it does almost every day, but then everyone quickly jotted something down. I still have no idea what.

I decided it would be a good idea to ask the teacher at the end if it was about a room change for next week as that seems to happen a lot here. Apparently they email your student account about it if they don’t tell you in class. That information would definitely be more useful to me if I could actually sign in to my student email account. Anyway, getting a little cocky with my language skills (I don’t think “skills” is in any way the right term) I decided to ask her in French. Now, normally at this point it is blatantly obvious that I am in fact English and often people will just speak to me in English despite my attempts at speaking in French. However, that did not happen, she answered me in French. Awkward. At that point I realised something: just because I managed to form a question and say it in a manner and accent that doesn’t scream “I’m English and my French is atrocious”, does not mean I will understand an answer. 

I also think if I hadn’t been a tad proud of my slowly increasing French skills I may have paid more attention to the information I needed my brain to translate! I’m sure the answer can’t have been that complex, it was only a few sentences. So, now I’m back to embarrassed and awkward, and feel that will continue until next week when I potentially go to the wrong room…

Hey ho, you live and learn!

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I’m practically French

This week I took the metro home from a little bakery, baguette in hand. I now officially fit in here! It sounds like a very stereotypical concept, but wandering about with baguettes really is something I see on a daily basis now. p.s. It was probably one of the best baguettes ever. Now I mention it, many of the stereotypes we have aren’t far from the truth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the French wander about in stripy t-shirts with garlic and wine, and I have to admit of all the French people I have asked, none like/have tried frogs’ legs or snails! However, they don’t smoke just as must as we perceive them too, they smoke more. Like chimneys! Every place we go to there will be groups and groups of smokers around us. I actually think I’ve lost about 5 years of my life expectancy just from the passive smoking I’ve endured over the last 5 weeks. Oh and don’t even get me started on this idea of “the language of love” and the “romance” of it all… try to tell me that when you’re in a sweaty club with guy shouting in your ear cheesy phrases like “are all the British girls this beautiful?” and other phrases us Brits would never dream of using. No, just no. I do really love Rennes though, I feel very at home here (and not just because of the baguette!). IMG_1537

My mum, brother and I enjoying an evening of cheese, fresh bread and wine.

So, it’s been a while since I last updated my blog and that’s just because so much has been happening again. In particular, my mum and brother came to visit for a few days on my dad’s anniversary. It was lovely to see them and we went out for galettes (which my brother couldn’t remember the name of so referred to them as “gillettes: the best the French can get”). He ate his own, then polished off the rest of mine and my mum’s, and finally had a crêpe with icecream for dessert. I don’t know how he isn’t fat. We then ran into the girls and joined them for a drink in Sainte Anne. It was so much fun that we ended up out almost until the bar shut (despite my family’s travel tiredness setting in a good while earlier!) I also bought a Cosmopolitan magazine in French not long ago as I figured reading that will be far more interesting than my French books and, you never know, I may still learn some French! Today is Bekah’s birthday but as I left my camera at hers while she has a little nap to settle her very unhappy stomach (and liver) I’ll have to wait and dedicate a new post to that with some awful, awful pictures!

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All Settled In

I think I’m all settled in here in France now. I’ve even made some French friends (who would have known!) it’s quite useful actually because they teach me some French and I correct their English so it works quite well.

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Cute picture of Fanny, Ann-Sophie, myself, Bekah, Sophie, Liza and Jen (left to right) at the Mayor’s welcome.

 

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Sophie and I with Luke (a Brit who’s lived in France for 9 years: an excellent translator!)

I was told on one of the first few ways that being in the kitchen was a good place to meet people; I was sceptical but it’s true. I met various people predrinking/playing poker/maybe actually eating in the kitchen! It seems to be the social hub of the floor. It’s always heaving with people and they tend to speak a bit slower when they realise I have no fricking clue what they’re saying – which is handy! There’s a drastic change on the weekend though as all the French student go home. I wouldn’t be surprised to encounter tumbleweed in the kitchen it’s that quiet. The weekend is therefore an excellent time to do washing (if you can work the machines… if we’d found the language setting earlier we may have saved about 10 minutes umming and arring!)

The kitchens are locked after 11:30pm, which I thought was strange but I think they’re trying to crack down on kitchen parties. There was one on Wednesday due to be on my floor which, due to the sign, was shut down before it started! We assume the cleaner saw the note and locked the kitchen early. Because of this it was moved to various places before everyone just went to chill outside. It was interesting, nothing like a house/flat party in the UK: there was just as much wine but nothing was broken and no one was sick!

We then went out on Thursday night (I’m definitely learning too, not just drinking… ) which is student night here, so it’s always rammed. We are still yet to make it to any of the bigger clubs as we don’t ever seem to make it past Rue de la Soif/Place des lices! We then somehow ended up at a rock gig, which was really good! I had to ask in French the name of the band to look them up afterwards: they were called Monty Picon.

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They came out with some trombones and stuff which somehow worked! Also, the huge skull prop had a cable attached to it so in the chorus it could “sing along”. Weird. But cool.  Later there was a DJ set which was equally as epic:

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I got some nice edgy photos of the occasion. I don’t know how, but the guy did the whole set in a morph suit! It was hot enough in there with everyone smoking cigarettes and weed inside, let alone a full-body tight attire! We eventually retired and got the night bus home.

Now I’m going to attempt to upload some long awaited photo’s onto Facebook!

A bientôt!