Ok, so I know this is a bit delayed…a month and a half delayed if we want to get picky. However, blogs seem to be the in things at the moment so I thought I’d give it a go. I mean after all, I do want to remember my year here and what better way to do so?
Probably best for me to start at the beginning while I still have at least a bit of a recollection of my first couple of weeks here:
And so, despite a few minor complications regarding opening times of offices and a specific move in date, the flights were booked and everything was set for me and one of my fellow students Georgina, to fly out to Toulouse together from Bristol. We had survived our first dilemma with the administrative systems in France…and we weren’t even there yet! Oh well, eyes forward and full speed ahead etc. etc.
I arrived at the airport full of excitement…I was about to check off my 75th Gromit! Indeed, the Bristol Bulldog was the last one I could get to before I left the country and so I left the remaining five for the rest of my family to find and photograph. For those of you reading this who don’t have a clue what I’m on about, there was a Gromit Trail in Bristol this summer which saw 80 Gromit statues placed in random locations around Bristol (technically 79 as one was actually in London Paddington Train Station). It was a huge event which sparked interest on an international scale believe it or not! Google it for more information if you like, the purpose of this is not to chat non-stop about Gromit sculptures. Basically, it was great fun even though I did sacrifice my favourite shoes having done so much walking in them… and ultimately, it was heart wrenching to leave knowing I only had 5 left to see considering I’d found the majority of them with my best friend Trudi, and even my mum had gotten involved! So I had my picture taken with my last Gromit, said goodbye to my parents and held the tears back as I rounded the corner to airport security.
After fighting to get my electricals and liquids in and out of my extremely big and heavy rucksack that I’d somehow managed to get away with for hand luggage, I finally got to the departure lounge and found Georgina. We boarded the plane…insert any generic flight details that you like here I will not bore you with relaying every second…and an hour and a half later we landed in Toulouse, and boy was it HOT! I’m telling you, wearing half my winter wardrobe to conserve room in my suitcase seemed a good idea that I regretted almost instantly as we got off the plane!
Now, as you can imagine, it was a tad on the uncomfortable side being surrounded solely by french people and knowing that english wouldn’t get us very far but we made our way to the bus stop to get to the centre of town where we’d pre-booked a hotel. Thankfully there were no complications, we checked in fine…and got straight onto the free Wi-Fi…I think back on it and shake my head slightly in shame but in our defence we were letting people know that we’d arrived safely and that it wouldn’t be wise to ring or text us. Plus, we did leave the mother-ship eventually and got out to explore our new home town; we even got a bank appointment booked for the following day, oh I still remember the initial feeling of productivity and accomplishment…I had a smile on my face and thought…how hard can this be really?
Very…I found very quickly, was the answer to that question. First order of business for our first full day: Accommodation. We had been told to present ourselves to members of staff in the international office on campus which we found and therefore did so. We got handed bits of paper with supremely basic details and instructions on them and then were directed, not to the halls we had been originally told we’d be most likely to live in, but to an entirely different campus, 11 metro stops away…yes, 11! In a nutshell, the events that followed were:
- We travelled to a building as directed by staff, this building was closed.
- We fortunately found two of our other Bangor Uni friends with whom we went to the 2nd building we were directed to.
- We then were told that this 2nd building was in fact our home for the next 10 months.
- We were given more bits of paper and at last KEYS!!!
All in all, this entire escapade took about an hour and a half or so and I have never been happier to burst into a room…and find that I could not flop onto the bed as it was on 4 poles about half a foot above my head. In short, I spent the next few minutes unpacking before the four of us went to the bank.
I know I’ve written a tonne already so I shall just sum up the events of the next couple of days before our pre-term introductory lectures started:Just a heads up, if anyone wants to open a bank account in France, make sure you have at least 3 hours spare time and are prepared to sign an entire tree’s worth of paperwork! Eventually we’d finished though and met up with the final two Bangorites to do a quick food shop and settle in.
- We walked all over the centre of town to find a cheap shop for bedding and other homely necessities.
- We filled in yet another load of paperwork (nothing seems to be done online here).
- We feigned horror at the fact we have only a fridge and 2 hobs in our rooms, no oven/microwave/toaster/kettle.
- We then got over this as we are mature adults who can get by without such materialistic things (though I do now have a toaster).
- We settled into life here and went out for drinks and ice cream and basically began the tourist life enjoying everything Toulouse has to offer.
So that’s me done on my arrival and first few days in the beautiful city of Toulouse. It’s been a long one but I do have ground to make up remember =D. I’ll catch up eventually so expect more soon.