Well these two weeks were definitely exciting! I got to be an actual tourist and see pretty much everything major that Toulouse has to offer. Not forgetting though…Proper lectures officially started and wow was that a rude awakening! To sum it up:
- Very fast French.
- Complete dictation (no back and forth between students and lecturers)
- Hour and a half of solid concentration.
I tell you what, trying to keep up either writing or typing is a complete mission, I thought my hands were going to fall off and I despair to say that it isn’t getting a lot better…AZERTY keyboards are impossible! But if I want my iPad to record everything with the accents and the auto-correct in the right language, it is a key skill that I shall have to master. Oh, and I am pleased to announce that that was the week that I finally got my student card! Despite being told that we’d get it after our first week so that we could access internet in halls and on campus. If it wasn’t for some lady on our halls site taking pity on us and giving us a random username and password to use we would have been stuck like everyone else…no internet for a grand total of nearly 3 weeks! Not that I’m dependant on it or anything but you know, even for the week we didn’t have it I was struggling purely for the fact that I couldn’t look up places to go do things, to eat, to enjoy and I couldn’t skype anybody…that feeling for almost 3 weeks may have killed me so thank you to the nice lady in the Université Paul Sabatier office! French Admin should treasure an employee like yourself…you’re rare in this country! Anyway, moving swiftly on, I had many things to look forward to for these two weeks besides a legitimate uni intranet login.
First stop on the list was the Cité de L’Espace for a casual day trip. I visited the Kennedy Space Centre in America in the summer and so had kind of got a thing for learning more about space and all the shuttles etc. I have to say, that although some bits seemed the same and evidently this centre was nowhere near the magnitude or operational standard of the KSC, I was taken in by shows in the planetarium and even managed to follow the French voiceover…though I did admittedly strain on occasion to hear the US English underneath…I’m only human after all. We had a laugh in the interactive parts of the building revealing of course, our inner children. But the highlight was by far…moon walking!
That’s right ladies and gents…we all took it in turns to be strapped into a big white rucksack thing and bounce around a short circuit.
Ok, I know it sounds dire but trust me it was hilarious. Oh, and being me, I bought souvenirs.
The 2nd trip we enjoyed was a visit to the rugby stadium on Saturday night to watch Stade Toulousain play Biarritz Olympique. Although the some of the others had been before I was enjoying the atmosphere as a newby. For such a small stadium that crowd can roar! Qui ne sauté pas n’est pas Toulou-sain! (For those lacking in French language skills…’those who don’t jump aren’t from Toulouse!’) Therefore meaning…you get up and join in or you get heckled slightly…your choice. Was great fun, got myself a souvenir cup (they make you buy the cup for 1€ to avoid waste) even if it did take a while to explain to the woman at the bar that I didn’t in fact like Carlsberg and so therefore wanted ice tea…in the novelty cup. Got my point across in the end…never say die! The night concluded with a 31-7 win for Stade Toulousain so all was merry there. So in true sporting etiquette…we left the stadium in search of food…pizza to be exact and I can now highly recommend ‘Pizzéria Angelo’ on Rue du Taur as an awesome place for a decent pizza made properly, right in front of you, cooked in a stone oven and doesn’t cost the earth. Whilst we’re on the subject of recommendations I shall take the time to name another great place to eat out; it’s inexpensive, you can sit inside or outside under a marquee, the service is fast and the food is plentiful, tastes insanely good and costs pittance! A restaurant just by Jean-Jaurès metro station called ‘Pizza Pino’. Definitely one to note down for group dinners, parent visits or even just a light lunch.
Everyone knows all good things come in 3s (bad luck is just a rumour) and so the third and final day in my consecutive trio was the day of my first hockey match for my new club, TUC (Toulouse Université Club). The irony being that this club is not a university one so a year off the ‘Get it down’ chants and the not all liquid dirty pints is ahead of me…that’ll be interesting when I return to BUHC! Anyway, the nearest hockey pitch/astro-turf is in Bordeaux and so it was an early start to meet for the long drive northwards. Why I said I’d play in goal I don’t know…the weather was gorgeous! So naturally I felt like your Nan’s roast chicken in the oven at 200 degrees for 4 hours on a Sunday! Now isn’t that a pleasant thought? We played 2 games with lunch in between and I can safely say that although we lost both, our team at least showed potential and spirit not to mention a fair degree of team dynamics which was remarkable considering we’d only had 2 training sessions together! Overall, I just felt good to be back on the pitch after a summer of not playing. Anybody who says that they can wake up at stupid o’clock in the morning, travel for 2 hours, play 2 hockey matches, travel 2 hours back home, force themselves into the shower and then stay awake for the rest of the evening…is lying! All I can say on that matter is that my bed was greeted like a long lost best friend after that day!
I didn’t think much could top that week but I had one more event to look forward to; the Erasmus group’s beach trip to La Franqui with a stop in Carcassonne on the way. Carcassonne is an immensely beautiful fortified town which offers the most
incredible views…I never actually saw them as it took so long to get lunch and we only had an hour and a half to spend looking around…but I have reliable reports from my friends that did manage to get up onto the walls that it was definitely worth the climb. I am looking forward to returning in early November and exploring the town properly that’s for sure! La Franqui was breath-taking as well…a Mediterranean coast?! What more could you want for a beach trip? It was time to get a tan on… And an appetite too apparently! I have never seen so much paella in my life than what was served to us on the first evening! Followed by cheese, which I also pigged out on, followed then by éclairs which, thanks to my extra pudding stomach, were added to the list of consumed items. I. Could. Not. Move. Safe to say we worked out we’d been eating constantly for an hour and a half if you included the pre-dinner nibbles and I swear I had not just a food baby…but a food brood! Didn’t stop me from having a huge portion of Calamari and chips for lunch the next day though; I think I got my money’s worth out of that trip.
Salut pour le moment!