Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The fun times roll on..

Firstly, I would like to take the time to pay homage to a man with an incredibly cool name that I have enjoyed since my arrival here. Apparently an old mayor of Grenoble during the seventies, Hubert Dubedout (commonly pronounced 'Uubeedoobeedooo' by the Erasmus community) has his very own tram stop, and his name has made every young student in the region chuckle at least once. He may very well be turning in his grave while we make fun of his name and sing the Scooby Doo song among other things, but he has provided us with hours of entertainment. R.I.P dude. And thanks.

Your average view from just outside the house

This last few weeks have been incredibly fun. That seems to have become the standard scale on which to measure my enjoyment here so far, with no measurement existing lower than "unreal".

Following Ireland's 6-1 drubbing against Germany the other week, where I looked on surrounded by smug Germans and begged the barman to not change the channel (apparently "it's already 4-0 so there's no point" *insert French language and disinterested shrug* was a good enough excuse. Tell that to the Swedes.)
My week did improve, straight away actually, as all gloom was soon forgotten with one of a large number of weekly soirées. 

A visit to the Chartreuse caves last week was quite fun and cultural, in stark contrast to my weekly shopping trips, where I tend to head straight for the discount aisles - quite a few French people have been visibly offended by our choice of wines and "French" things (apparently the €1 stuff isn't generally the pride of the region.) A French themed evening also provided plenty of clichéd amusement, as moustaches and baguettes were obviously the order of the day. Admittedly the face paints did get a little out of hand and some of us ended up looking like French Hindu vampires... again, a situation where the leaders of the European Commission are probably wondering who the hell invented this Erasmus thing...someone is definitely getting fired.

Big news on a slightly different front though, I've been selected to be a "Jeune Ambassadeur" for the region, essentially a programme run by the Chamber of Commerce in Gcchhuunnobblh to get foreign students involved with the businesses in the region, establish links etc. It's very fun so far, my "coach" is one of the hotshots in the Chamber itself, so he basically knows everyone, meaning that I get to meet, quite literally, everyone. He brought me to an evening with the wine traders in France, an incredibly cultural experience, where as well as tasting the finest of French beverages, I also had my first foie gras experience (apparently some people in the EU want to ban it, so good timing I guess!). I also got into the VIP marquee where I gave the "bises" to the French Education minister (no big deal), and met lots of weird and wonderful and influential people, who kept giving me their business cards, misconstruing my polite nods as avid interest.
It's good fun so far though, and I'm looking forward to our next excursion!

At the weekend, I went ice skating with a big group from the Résidence, for the incredibly cheap price of €3 for over 2 hours! It was hilarious, partly because of my extreme lack of talent, and partly because one tends to witness some very funny incidents. We soon discovered that going around in a big train doesn't work and will inevitably end in disaster, and so will going too fast with no idea how to slow down or turn (my main problem). However, despite my quite extensive accident prone history at this type of activity, I left the building unscathed, apart from my dignity, which I have to be honest, was in tatters.

It is quite telling when my paragraph on my academic situation and college life/attendance is being squeezed in at the very end, but all is good so far, presentations went well, the book review still looming over me, and the mid term break next week may well be spent with the head down. Hopefully it can be slotted in around something fun though.

À la prochaine mes amis! x

PS: Have a listen to my new favourite song, it's fantastic.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Erasmus didn't do healthcare, but if he did..

I may have said things about my very little 12 metres squared prison cell/room... but I've realised that trying to clean it using solely a brush and pan I picked up in the 2 euro shop makes the place look huge...also, I discovered, after burning myself several times, that fridges emit heat out the back??
Had no idea. Ignorance 1, my arm 0.

Yes, after about a month, I've finally taken the time to try and clean the mess my little space has become, partly because I'm at home and quite sick, which the cleaning is probably not helping..

This week has been fun, I've been quite sick throughout although surprisingly that hasn't stopped me doing things I usually would, and more. Voilà, I'm still sick, I suppose it makes sense.
I've managed to get down to some work as well, albeit an hour before the class in question, but work nonetheless!
Once I get a proper routine going I'll be unstoppable. Until someone inevitably suggests something more fun.

So, as part of my seemingly continuous mission to make my body and my bank balance cry, this week involved a lot of fun things. The All Ireland hurling final on Sunday, once again watched by several of my mainland European friends, as well as some from North America this time, provided a very similar response to the previous week with the Gaelic football -"What the hell is going on??" The hurling did provide several more winces and gasps, as the rather violent nature of it hit home to those less familiar with the idea of 30 aggressive men running around wielding sticks.

The week continued, new acquaintances made and some friendships forged and furthered. I also met my "godfather", which is meant to be an endearing term for a French "buddy" to help me out, rather than having criminal, southern Italian connotations. A German themed Oktoberfest night came on Thursday, which was incredibly fun, and thanks to very long opening hours, somewhat creepy near the end, as I've discovered that French sleaze becomes something of a national sport after 3am. A great few nights coupled with a first-tram-home experience this morning - essentially a hazardous lifestyle for sick people, but once I get some rest, a pharmacy and some early nights this weekend everything should be grand :)

The workload in Sciences Po is increasing, with exposés and presentations dominating my to-do list, including a historical book review of  a 600 page monster due for a months time. The French students are cool if somewhat hard to come by, but judging solely by the graffiti in the bathrooms, they're quite a serious bunch - full blown debates about socialism instead of the usual "i woz ere", which was amusing but somewhat refreshing I have to say.

The Résidence is starting to liven up a bit too, meeting a lot of very cool people about the place, and I'll hopefully have my CAF sorted soon too (essentially a thing where the French government give you lots of free money off your rent) so that'll be nice! I witnessed my first tram inspectors last week, setting me back an annoying €46, so since then, transport costs have gone up from being an occasional expense depending on my mood to a quite regular expense for fear of losing all my money.

I'm off to cook some dinner, which has been a lot healthier of late actually, I might be able to say that I can cook an averagely ok meal by Christmas at this rate!

Bon, je vous laisse. À la prochaine! Bisous and all that jazz.