Wednesday, 6 February 2008

still here.

Things feel like they're getting better here ever day, although I'm still only on day 3 so perhaps that's a bit of a premature statement.

Yesterday was a long, long day. I caught the bus in the morning, which was a little harder than on the first day because the driver had turned off the sign that listed what the next stop was. Still, the buses are way nicer and more reliable than anything I've seen anywhere else ever. I had regular class in the morning (lots of talking) and in the afternoon the twice weekly extra grammar class. I liked the grammar class better because it was more structured, written (meaning I had more time to think through my responses) and there was less likelihood I was going to be put on the spot. Everyone else seemed to think it was SO HARD though. Maybe it's just that I'm way out of my depth so the difference between REALLY INCOMPREHENSIBLE and SO HARD for me just isn't that significant.

For lunch we (the British girls, the Spanish lady and the Swiss guy [who I accidentally called a German...oops]) went and found a yiros shop. It was very cheap and so I decided to choose on the safe side and go veggo, which in hindsight probably wasn't necessary. I got a Pannini Provence, which had blue cheese in it among other things. It was ok. Finding decent and cheap food here doesn't seem to be a problem - that was about 3 euro.

After class for the day, I tried to connect to the WIFI at the school, and, waHAY, ce marche! I think skype might still be out for a while (the family's laptop seems promising but they're internet is kaput atm) but at least now I have access to fast and reliable and free www. After that I went home again, stopping by at the supermarket for the obligatory Great & Obligatory Supermarket Excursion for France. It was a big supermarket that basically approximated Coles I think, but they had some bizzare stuff! They had a pretty big exotic fruit section which a bunch of stuff I'd never even seen before - for example sugar cane amongst other things. They sell shoes. They have bolognese flavoured chips (although the chip section was relatively tiny, so I guess the French aren't that into them) and sell TsingTsao by the bottle. All the cereal (bar the Special K which was all 'fruit' flavoured) had chocolate in it, which sort of explains my daily chocolate 'Wellness Flakes' (at first I thought it was an excellent excuse for chocolate for breakfast, but now I think it'd be better saved for weekends...). And I guess the French don't have runny noses because I couldn't find any tissues (les kleenex) anywhere. I tried using my Australian credit card for the first time, and it worked fine, although it was a bit of a palaver because they copied down all my driver's licence details.

For dinner we had lasagne, and I watched 'Ratatouille' with the little boy (I'm assured it's a French movie but I'm not convinced) which was quite helpful as I can listen and read the subtitles at the same time. 'Skippy' (I wasn't feeling very creative at 8am when he found her - designated a her because she has a pouch) the petite stuffed kangaroo has been a huge hit although he won't believe that kangaroos go 'tuh tuh tuh' and hold their paws under their nose. They just bounce apparently. And receive millions of kisses.

Today was the same routine - bus, class etc. I found out that 'le bon pied?' is a request for me to confirm that the shoe is going on the right foot. I had rabbit pasta for lunch, with a bunch of students - the same ones as yesterday (plus another Adelaidean(!), a Korean (who I accidentally called a Taiwanese...oops!) an American and a Brasilian. It was in a little restaurant which I probably wouldn't have chosen, but it was the plat du jour and everything else was a little complicated. It was ok, but I don't think I really like rabbit that much, and I would've prefered something vegetable based to meat and pasta. The restaurant itself was exactly what you'd imagine a little cheap French restaurant to be though, right down to the wine already on the table when you arrive (red, surprisingly good considering).

After lunch we went on a tour of the sights of the city. I really enjoyed it because I discovered it's an even more beautiful city than I thought when you know where all the nooks and crannies are. That being said, I can't say too much about it, because the tour was in French and I didn't pick up that much, and most of what I did catch I've forgotten. Bordeaux is over 2000 years old, and we saw a few cathedrals, the hotel de ville (town hall I think), some statues, streets, buildings etc. Lots about Eleanor (Aileanor) d'Aquitaine. A funny (strange, not haha) moment when the tour guide was telling us about the faces carved into one of the biggest buildings (not sure what, by the river, has a gallery in it). There are hundred of them, all different and all significant. She pointed out one of a black woman and said it represented the fact that Bordeaux was an important slave port. The funny thing was, she said it in the context that at that time it was when Bordeaux was a 'great commercial city' and implied that slave trading was just another form of commerce that made the city so vibrant at that time...bizzare...

I actually piked on the tour a wee bit early, as I and the English girls were very tired from walking for hours and really needed a coffee. I ordered a mint tea and discovered why all French drink coffee - it's about half the price. If you order just a regular coffee here though, you get an espresso. We also tried a canele ('can-el-ay') which is a local speciality - it's an individual sized cake, somehow originally made from the by products of wine. It did taste vaguely sherry like, and had an interesting chewy texture. We went by the bookshop, where I bought the new textbook that I needed, and a copy of TinTin, which I've now realised is in Spanish. DER. I also went into an Orange shop (French Telecom) and bought a new simcard for my phone. It massively stressed me out, and I went red as a beetroot, but I had one of the English girls to help me, and actually it wasn't that dificult. AND the sales assistant told me that I couldn't get email on my phone (which the internet had told me I could) and she was wrong because I just have. Nice to know that even when I don't speak the language I can outsmart the telecommunications industry.

This evening I walked past an Asian restaurant/teeny grocery store on my way back to the house, which weirdly made me feel more at home. We had pasta with pesto for dinner, and I actually spent a fair bit of time talking at the dinner table. I'm improving I'm sure. I don't know that I know that much more than when I left home, but on Sunday I could barely spit out 'ouis and nons' and today I could reasonably often say what I wanted to, abeit extremely slowly and badly. I also watched Ratatouille with the kids again and did some drawing with them.

Again, I'm massively tired - it's after midnight and I haven't done my homework yet. Urgh.

For those people in the real world: I'm back in the loop communications-wise - I've got internet at the school, and email on my phone, and a new French number that I'll be sending out. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to put photos up here for a while because it's a slow process (I'll update these posts with them when I can) but I'll put them on facebook for you.


Elsie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elsie said...

Emily - I'm sorry, but you've got a they're in here when it should be their :)

Thanks for writing on my blog! At least we have each other to comment on our blogs :)

Looking forward to seeing some French photos!!


Ben said...

I am incredibly glad someone can be even more verbose on their blog than I am.

And you're right, overseas public transport services are monstrously good. The buses in Sweden also have LED signs with which stop you're coming to. My one problem was all of the different train stations in Paris - getting from Gare d'Austerlitz to Gare du Nord in one hour, on two métros, on my way from Orléans to Cologne...

... that was a nightmare. I'm glad you're having fun. Au revoir!

Molly said...

Miss Em!
I'm still loving your bloggings! It sounds like you've handled all those plane flights and immigrations and endless security check lines well! And the confusing foreign PT will hopefully become less confusing with time. Your family & the school & Bordeaux sound fascinating and great! I can't wait to hear more! Especially about yummy (and interesting - ie not yummy) food & drink experiences. And just btw, i think that finding other English speakers to have lunch with is not cheating, it's sanity preserving :o)
Take care Em!
xoxo M

m∃ said...

Oh no! They're and their! The ultimate faux pas...oh well at least it wasn't its and it's. Sorry...there's not a lot of proof reading going on at the moment!

Hi Ben!

Molly - glad to hear someone's reading it all!