Well well well... despite it being a mere 13 days or so since that last post, I feel that this last two weeks has been quite significant. Firstly, I have recognised the symptoms of my very own banking crisis, quite similar to Ireland in 2008. Scratch that, more like Greece. I'm in the process of searching for a student version of the IMF but no luck so far. Unfortunately unlike Greece, blatantly lying is not an option, neither is defaulting...faking my death could work however. I'll keep you updated. The next post may reach you all from the Cayman Islands or somewhere.
Another significant event is my discovery of a lovely new city in the form of Strasbourg. I made the 5 hour train journey up on Tueday evening (during which I got quite a bit of study done, I'd like to add, so critics, consider yourselves momentarily silenced...even if ultimately you are completely justified) and the trek via Lyon went without much difficulty. I do have the enviable ability to sleep where and when I like, so that shortened the journey somewhat, even if my neck doesn't tend to thank me afterwards. So I arrived at the gare at approximately 23.37. Yes, approximately. I'm aware that my usage of that word is questionable. It was also pointed out to me recently that calling things "very fun" is not considered wonderful by English language enthusiasts, so I'll try my best to avoid that if I can, as I do be doing that a lot. To avoid any wild tangents, back to the gare. I met my brother and then took the tram to the very Germanic sounding suburb of Ilkirch Graffenstaden. He has a similar fondness for free transport where possible, and he assured me that it was night time and that the bad tram people had gone to bed. In Gcchhuunoblhh however, they are of a different kind. They never sleep.
The following morning, my brother had a very complicated sounding exam, however afterwards I joined him and got a little tour of the Space University. It's impressive, even if I don't understand 99.99999% of the discussions taking place...in case you were wondering, it's all in English. Just a dialect utterly unfamiliar to the everyday Arts student. We then ventured into the centre ville and wandered the Christmas markets, which really were something else...the massive cathedral is considerably larger than your average massive building too, and as such, was extremely photogenic. Evening approached, which could only mean one thing. Time to make the trip out to the very west of the city for the reason I had come all the way from my lovely mountainous haven I currently call home. MUSE.
We got there in good time, getting a decent view of the stage, and after a considerable wait, the supporting act came on. They weren't bad at all, but the awkward part was that they never told us what their name was. Around 12,000 French people to plug your music to and you forget to tell them your name. Fail of the week.
But, nearly an hour later, this happened:
and then, all this:
Needless to say, it was 2 of the best hours of my life. And, having bought a poster from a less than legitimate salesman outside the venue, my life was complete.
The next day was another story.
After roughly an hour and a half sleep, I was woken at 5.30, as my brother had a train to catch, meaning that I would spend most of the day tout seul in Strasbourg. We made it as far as the tram stop, before I realised I had forgotten my phone. He gave me his key and I dashed back as fast as the icy morning breeze could take me, telling him not to wait and that I could catch up if necessary with the key. Alas, he had left, and so began an epic James Bond style 6.30 in the morning dramatic dash to the station, just with a few less guns, explosions and obstacles to jump over. I made it to the platform, gasping for breath, but just as the train pulled away... which turned my Bond-like adventure suddenly into a romantic tragedy.. with admittedly less handkerchief waving and wails of despair on Matthew's part.
In my inconsolable grief, I promptly took a nap in the station, before venturing out into unknown Strasbourgeois territory on my own. I spent a very fun (sorry, it was inevitable) and cultural day in the markets, stopping at regular intervals to fully exploit the free WiFi at the local supermarket, and generally having a nice time. My Covoiturage car-sharing guy that I had reserved messed me around a little time-wise, changing the location and time to 18.30 instead of an hour earlier.
After briefly seeing the European Parliament HQ, I turned up as one does, on time, at the designated tram stop. At 18.37 I popped him a text, saying that I was here with detailed coordinates etc, a gentle reminder that it was kinda cold and wet. At 19h, still without a reply, I was a teeny bit annoyed, so I sent him a very demanding "where are you" message. No answer, and at 19h15 or so, I told him that I'd been waiting over half an hour etc and vented my frustration a bit. I might add by this point I was thoroughly soaked and the word 'exhausted' would be an understatement. He eventually replied about 20 minutes later saying that they would be there in 30 mins....to which I thought to myself "ah here", or in the spirit of that hilarious Dublin woman "aaah heeyyoohhh!!".
I decided to head to the station to see if there were any trains going back at that hour. There were not, and so thanks to a sudden brainwave, despite my frustration, I decided to use the key that was still in my possession by a stroke of unbelievable good fortune, and make the trek back to the apartment to stay the night. I've since given the driver a BAD review, which are a big deal in the covoiturage world, so there.. that showed him.
So I then got the very expensive 9am train back to Gcchhuunoblhh, but by then I cared little for anything except getting back to the comfort of my 12m2 down south. Ok, 'comfort' may be pushing it, but it's home!
And thus ended my time in what I have begun to call Stressbourg.
The next 24 hours were a sigificant development in their own way as I became fully aware of the difficulties associated with having zero Christmas shopping done on the 21st of December. And the Ancient Mayans weren't too cooperative either on the day, was hoping to get away with it. Once I had helped a friend pack and go on her way, I was pretty much the only person left in the Résidence. I didn't have too long to wait though, as I made my way to Gcchhuunoblhh airport (which is almost closer to Lyon, poorly named really) on the Saturday afternoon. Ryanair did their utmost to ensure we felt like cattle at feeding time, and about 2 and a half hours later, we touched down in the Emerald Isle. I've never been happier to see the word "Fáilte" in my life, (the ridiculous Irish translations e.g bagáiste didn't even annoy me) and it wasn't long before I was in the car, reunited with my family, recounting my recent harrowing experiences to a new audience.
It wasn't long before I got into the swing of life back at home again, and it was great to see everyone. Last minute shopping was done on Sunday (Yes. Sunday. France, watch and learn please) and I eventually got everything sorted before the big day. Christmas eve and Christmas day were special, as always, started off by some amazing choir singing in the Pro Cathedral. Santa was also very generous this year, as were the portions of delicious Christmas dinner which made the flight home and every less-than-good experience I've ever had completely worth it.
I'll be back in Gcchhuunoblhh on the 4th of January, before which I have a busy schedule of socialising, sleeping, eating, and some might say studying...yeeaaah I should really get around to that soon.
The last 4 months of 2012 have without doubt been the highlight of my year, and here's hoping the first half of 2013 will bring just as much fun and enjoyment !!
Joyeux Noel et bonnes fêtes à tous !
PS: Here are a few photos from Strasbourg.. I forgot to add that their tram-stop-announcing is hilarious on the tram, as they have not only a different voice doing each one, but sometimes in really funny voices. One guy even started singing. Genius. Really lightens the mood on the long commute. :)