Friday, January 7, 2011

Safe & Sound! What I have been up to the past four days!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Day 2
I am home, and everything is beginning to feel a lot more like it! I arrived last night, and Guy, the man who I have been in touch with since acceptance, picked me up at the airport. Limoges countryside is beautiful. Although it was dark, I could see most of it. It looks like a quaint little city, simple and pretty. About 15 minutes later we pulled up to my dorm and it was definitely just like the pictures…on the outside. After getting my keys, dropping off my luggage, and going over my paperwork, Guy took me by where the FLE (French langage √©tranger) classes will be held, the library, some of the eateries, and then let me off! I walked back to my dorms and noticed a huuuuge puddle of water on my floor, like from the air/heat almost to the head of my bed, which in my room is pretty big. I went to the front desk and it was no help. First, it was all in French and second, it was about 100 miles an hour. Yes, I just said that it was fast, and we all know how I talk. Basically all I understood was that a "note" was made and it will be taken care of tomorrow. Tomorrow it was, bright and early at 8:30. It got fixed and I went back to sleep…until 12:30! Not my plan at all, but oh well! I’ll blame it on jetlag. After I got up I went to talk to the International Relations woman to find out where my test is, and to make sure she knew I was here. It made me very upset when I did this because I felt totally incompetent. It is really hard and I guess I didn’t expect that. She brought in another woman who spoke some English so that helped, but after I left I wanted to cry. I realized that the amount of French I know is seemingly none. It’s normal, I know, but I feel like I know nothing! I can say "bonjour, je voudrais, merci, bon soir, de l’eau « and I guess that gets me what I need! It is just really different not understanding hardly anything, and I didn’t get that part of France when I first visited. I will get better, but these first couple weeks will be very hard. So after I got back from the office, I decided to go explore a tiny bit of Limoges, and go to the Carrefour market. It is basically a French Wal-Mart but smaller. Since I had nothing to do all day, I took my time and went down all the aisles and looked at everything. I do not have a refrigerator in my room and there isn’t one, as well as a microwave, anywhere. Due to that, I need to eat non-refrigerated things until the caf√© is open and I can eat there. I bought some bananas, fruit cocktail, pain au chocolat (basically a croissant with chocolate in the middle….soooooo good!) cereal for breakfast, and kinder bueno bars (the BEST candy bars ever made. I will eat one every single day I am sure, and bring back tons of boxes) and then I needed some girly essentials: hair dryer, flat iron, hangers. I also needed to get a blanket for my bed. The room gets really cold at night and in the mornings, and what I brought doesn’t quite suffice. I bought this thing that looked like a small comforter, so I assumed it was a blanket. Remember this part for future reference. When I got back from visiting Carrefour (my new fav place!) I began to unpack all my stuff. I won’t lie; the room looks a lot better and feels SO much better with everything up and not boring. I do still need pictures or something on my walls. As I was unpacking, a knock came at my door. I opened it and saw a short little guy with glasses and a scruffy beard who introduced himself as Sami, the guy in charge of all the international students and he wanted to see if I needed any help. Boy, did I ever! He spoke English and I wanted to hug him because I could actually talk and get the answers I needed! I asked him about some housing papers that I didn’t quite understand and then we chit-chatted about when I got here and small talk. I mentioned needing to get a French phone and he offered to take me into town to get one. So, against my mother’s wishes I am sure, I said yes and we got into his car and went downtown Limoges, about a ten-ish minute drive. We walked through Central Limoges and he pointed out stores and things I would probably need to know: fnac (bookstore, music, movies) Quick (the Dutch version of McDonald’s which is "sh*t" according to Sami) salons, theatre, and other things. There are a TON of clothing and accessory stores that are just waiting for me to bombard. I have planned now to go explore there Thursday or Friday. I got my phone for 25 euro, and I pay like credits or something when I run out. I have no idea honestly. It has an alarm though and that is good! We visited a small bakery and then headed back to the dorms. I thanked Sami and hoped he meant it when he said "let me know if you need anything else" because he is my new best friend. I finished unpacking and unloading from my trip to Carrefour when I one) ran out of hangers and two) bought an entire sheet set instead of a blanket. Joy. I decided when I was done I would take it back (or try to) and get dinner and some other things I decided I needed from Carrefour. Just across the street from Carrefour is a pharmacy, tobacco shop, post office, bank, bakery, and some other small shops. It’s about a 5-7 minute walk from the dorms so not bad at all. I went into the bakery to get dinner in case they closed first, and wanted anything BUT a sandwich, my meal for the past two days. I decided on a pizza! I got a square piece and put it in my bag. I went to Carrefour and was able to return my sheets (yay, I can say "I bought this today and it is not right for me") and I bought a blanket (or so I think…it is still on the floor right now!) I walked back, unloaded and finished making my room homey, and decided it was time to eat. I pulled out my pizza and noticed a lemon, which I took off and then I saw raw bacon, but it turned out to be fish! I am still not sure if it was salmon and tuna, or just salmon on all my pizza but we all know how I do not do fish, except for shrimp. I tried to eat it and tell myself "mmm chicken" but it didn’t work. I ended up pulling off half of it and just eating the lower bread part, but I also had some fruit cocktail and I got the fishy taste out of my mouth with a pain au chocolat! It is very cold here. During the day it isn’t too bad (still very cold though) and at night it gets worse. I have noticed everyone smokes. That doesn’t quite bother me, but it is just weird to me. The market sells wine and liquor. I guess that is just an Oklahoma thing where we don’t sell that stuff at the supermarket because Kristen told me you can buy it in Louisiana. Also, American music is VERY big here, more so than French music. Sami told me that the lyrics could be complete crap, but if the beat is good, the people will love it! I have heard Lady Antebellum, Madonna, Taio Cruz, Britney Spears, Rhianna, Pink, just about all the popular music in the US. Walking here, even by yourself, is very safe. I have asked many people, Guy included, who all say it, and really it is the only way to get around. I will get a bus pass that can take me to the center city though. My dorm is situated in the corner room off of the courtyard. There is one entrance and then it separates into two buildings. I am in building B! My room is on the corner, first one as I walk in. All the rooms are around the bathroom, showers, and mini-kitchen. Maybe it is because of this, but the outside smells like urine or cooking pasta. I cannot decide which it is so maybe it is both! The kitchen has a sink and two warmers for cooking, but I think like ramen type meals. The bathrooms are on the right (from my room) and the showers to the left. There are two in each. The bathrooms are fine and I have visited many times, but the shower will be my experience for tonight. The laundry is off to the side and is 2 euro 50, and it only takes 1, 2, and 50 euro pieces. I found that out today after I went to wash the towels that mopped up the water, poured in the detergent, and then realized I didn’t have a 50 euro piece. So, back into a bag it went and now my room smells like detergent. Better than urine/cooking pasta I guess!
I think I am really going to like it here once I get more comfortable. It is just really hard and I am really out of my comfort zone, but I know once classes get started and I have people in my class that I can do things with I will be fabulous.

My first French lunch!

Why yes, that is all my stuff in front of Columbus cafe.

Talk about a bed covering.

How pretty...

Home Sweet...


All my stuff with the nice towels covering the small lake on my floor.

My FISH pizza.

Getting settled.

My "vanity"

My closet. Above the clothes there is a small space for my socks and stuff.

So far, I have made my bed every day.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Day Three

Today has been much better. I had my exam this afternoon that will determine which level I will be placed into for my classes. It went well, but it definitely showed my strengths and weaknesses, which I already had a basic idea of so that was good. It started out easy and then got harder as you went on. I will find out Monday at 10am (when we start classes) what I will be in. Kristen, the other OU student, was also there and it was nice to finally catch up with her. Her boyfriend is studying in Germany but is still on break so he is here with her this first week. We met a lady named Heather who is American, and is teaching English to French kids in a town about 30 miles North of Limoges. She gave lots of good advice and offered to show us around town so I am sure we will take her up on that. After talking with them a while we met three people from South Africa! They were so very nice! One girl named Lilianah (I think?) and two boys named Jacque (or Jack). Both of the boys play rugby for UniLim and I am in love with Jack, the one who is taller. He has been here for two years and speaks French really well. He is tall, big like muscles, and has brown hair. I have found my first French love! Just kidding. The girl was very nice and very excited to hear people who speak English. I’ll see her again Monday and she already wants to get coffee and stuff. I think they might be my new friends! When I returned to my room I found that my light (the one and only decent one) was out, and that I needed to go speak with the director of housing ASAP. I turned in a notice for my light and then I did just as my note said. It was to fill out all my forms (which I already had done) and to pay my rent. I did it, all in French, even though there were some struggles. The woman was very patient and nice with me, and I got 99% of the business part done. I have to get insurance for the room, which you do downtown and Sami said he would take me and Kristen to do that. I then made a trip to Carrefour (yes, again) with Kristen and her boyfriend, Nick, and as we were walking out we ran into Sami who offered to drive us. After two meals without plates or napkins, I decided I should probably get some so I did. I also got the brilliant idea for future meals of spaghetti and mac and cheese from Kristen. I just will need to buy a pot and bowl and I should be good! I can even grill chicken I guess on the stove-thing with a skillet so I will have to do that. I called my sister and talked to her where she just laughed at all my misfortunes. She even encouraged me to go explore and get lost because that is all part of it. I think tomorrow I may get up and go into the centre ville (city center) and walk around, eat at a restaurant or bar, maybe see a movie, and just be out and about. I figure once classes start I won’t have that much time to do that anyway, so I better do it now! It was rainy and colder this evening so tonight was out of the question for me to do it. I did not want to be lost (if that happens) and in the rain! Plus, I want to take the bus and that runs only during the day mostly. Another day down and it was MUCH better than the past two have been. I found out I have to have a form to get internet in my room, so I am going to fill that out and get me a sandwich for dinner!
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Day Four
Today was quite eventful! I slept in really late, but I decided I would go into the centre ville (city center) and explore more of Limoges. It was about two before I left my room. I went down the street and got a bus pass for ten trips and was going to get a phone card but the post office didn’t open until 2:30. I waited for the bus, after figuring out where it went, what time, and how late it ran. I got off at Churchill (the main bus station area) which is smack dab in the center of Limoges. My adventure began. I tried to remember where it was Sami had taken me, but of course I forgot. I was looking for the fnac store because I knew that that was a central place and I could navigate (somewhat) from there. Well, after walking a couple blocks and being nowhere near the fnac, I must have looked lost because a guy about my age began talking to me. Like I knew what he said, but eventually I understood that he was asking me where I was going. Again, against my mother’s wishes I started to talk to him because he could direct me where the fnac was, and he did. I figured my journey would end there, but oh no, he showed me most of Limoges. I found H&M, along with a whole mall of other stores in Saint Marsiel, and I found le Galeries Lafayette, a huge department store that is very expensive. Saint Marsiel has a C&A, H&M, pimkel, and some other stores that looked very cute. If I can find my way back there, I am for sure going shopping! I also went into the Monoprix, which is another Wal-mart store similar to Carrefour, but it is more expensive. I saw some cheap wine that looked really good that I will have to try out sometime. I also found the movie theatre, opera house, and a chocolate shop that looked like it was to die for! Eventually my new friend, Xasin, who I found out was 23, from Limoges, speaks Spanish and French, and is a painter, had to leave me. He gave me his phone number and told me to call him for coffee sometime or if I had any questions. He was very nice and I wouldn’t mind to have a friend, but at the same time all I could think about was my sister’s voice saying "sex trafficking" or my mom saying "do NOT trust anyone!" I was smart though and said that I did not have a phone yet so that I couldn’t give him my number, although it was right inside my jacket pocket. After he left, I went into fnac and decided to get a TV show series that I know well to watch in French with English subtitles to help my listening skills. My professor from last semester recommended this strategy and I figured now is as good a time as any to try it out. Naturally, I bought Jonas and Hannah Montana to try this method out! I also bought "le petit prince" which is a classic French novel that is about a little boy who lives in his "own" world. I’ve never read the whole thing, but we read an expert in one of my classes back at OU so I thought it would be encouraging to me to read something I actually understood. I thought it would be best to take the bus back about 6:00 even though I think it stops at 8. I decided I wanted a warm dinner instead of a sandwich so I went the this place that Sami recommended called "La Bibliotheque" but apparently they weren’t serving food yet or else I just didn’t get the menu so I enjoyed a Coke Zero and the toilets and was on my way. 
A Coke Zero bottle.
I passed a Quick, the Dutch version of McDonald’s and chose to try that out for dinner. Cheap, fast, and easy. Plus, how hard can it be to mess up a hamburger and pomme de frites? That is exactly what I got, sat down in the corner facing the window so I could people watch, and I enjoyed some warm food that felt like home. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t the best food in the world either. I’d eat there again. They also have free Wi-Fi so I may have to go try that out soon while I am still waiting to get internet here! Apparently I need to fill out this paper that will allow me to get internet, but only after all my housing paperwork is completed, which I need insurance to get. Back to my excursion, I finished dinner and waited for the bus, Ligne 5, to take me back. After waiting about 10 minutes at the WRONG station, I was told, after I asked the conductor, that Ligne 5 to Roussillon is across the street. I went there and waited about fifteen minutes for the bus to finally come and prayed it was the right one. It was, and after many stops and recognizing some places I had passed, I thanked God when I saw the Carrefour market and the strip of stores that marks my bus stop! Even though I was only out for about four hours, I am exhausted! Maybe because I was afraid of getting lost and taking it all in, but I was so happy when I made it back to my room. I plan on watching an episode of Jonas tonight, showering, and going to bed. I may go back into town tomorrow and explore some more, or I may just hang around here. Who knows!
Friday, January 07, 2011
Day Five
Safe and sound, and finally with internet! Today I slept in and read a book for a couple of hours. I then went to Carrefour to get food for the weekend. Everything is closed on Sundays, so I thought it was good to prepare beforehand! I bought some noodles and what I think is spaghetti sauce so that I can make some spaghetti. I also bought boxed milk? Weird to me, and I hope it is decent, but since I have no refrigerator but I do have cereal, I needed what I could get! They also sell eggs that are not refrigerated and I think that is weird! I may have to try it out. I bought a phone card and was so excited to call my Nana and let her know I was safe, when I guess I ran out of credits on my cell phone! That sure didn’t last long. I need to figure out how to check it so I can avoid doing it next time, but I guess I will soon be visiting Carrefour once more to get credits. I do have Skype though and while my internet is slow and I cut out often, I still can talk and it is nice to see people from home. I am about to go shower, where I still need to figure out how to keep the water continuously going because it goes in one-minute spurts, read a book, and go to bed. Nothing too exciting going on today!


1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh... I laughed. I cried. I squealed. I cracked up. So many emotions going on over. I started dying while reading about Xasin... that's like a movie. Little American sweet girl running into a sexy French painter while she's lost. Good Lord. So jel. But you're right. Be smart & cautious. But haaaaaaaay SOUTH AFRICAN BOYS :) :) :) Oh dang. I bet they will be so fun. I absolutely love reading your blog, chum. They are so detailed that I feel like I'm there some times. I am so glad you are so outgoing & have the guts to put yourself out there & just GO. I def don't have that kind of personality. I'm constantly being logged onto my skype so hopefully one of these days you'll pop up so I can see your presh face!! I love you i love you i love you!!!