Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bonjour from France!

So what started as a hellacious journey, is definitely starting to look up. If you haven't already heard of my arrival in France...I'll give you the rundown.

My flight from JFK to Warsaw was pretty bumpy, and I am already a nervous flyer so that was not fun. The boy sitting next to me was a Ukrainian who was working in the States to try to save up money for college. He was so nice and I thought he was like 16 until he ordered red wine with his dinner (he was actually 23). So Nick, Ukrainian boy was very friendly, maybe a little too friendly. He kept falling asleep, which is totally logical considering it was an 8 hour flight...except for his head was legit on my shoulder and he kept like reaching for my hand. So that was interesting and amusing. Needless to say I didn't sleep much with Nick on top of me.

Our flight was 2 hours late so I had to rush through customs and security at the Warsaw airport, but I made my flight to Nice. When I arrived at the airport someone from the school came to pick me up and she was very nice. They dropped me off at the apartment...this is when the fun began.

My landlord's brother was there to greet me, and unfortunately his English was not great, and he was kind of nasty to me. So anyways, I was staying at a hotel like across the street for the night because I wasn't sure if the landlord would be there with my keys so I wanted to make sure I had a place to stay the first night. I walked over to the hotel and went to open the door...and it was locked. The hotel was pitch black and after a couple minutes of banging on the door and screaming, I came to the conclusion that it was closed.

At this point, it was about 7pm in France and dark and I was just chilling outside some abandoned hotel, with no place to stay and no means of communication. So obviously, I had a slight meltdown but got myself together and walked to the nearest pharmacy and asked to use their phone to call the hotel. The hotel said they were closed due to heating problems (I'm glad I was notified of this...) but said I could stay at their sister hotel in town and they would send someone to pick me up.

When we say "we will pick you up" in the States, we think there would be a car involved...not the case in France I guess. Some man walked around the corner 15 minutes later and said he was there to lead me to the hotel. 25 minutes after following this random guy around the streets of Juan les Pins, we arrived at the hotel...which was also pitch black. Thank god the light turned on and there was a woman at the desk because for a second, I thought I had just got "taken".

At this point I was starving, so I walked across the street and bought and Orangina, and went back to the hotel to eat. The TV was kind of broken and the volume wouldn't turn down so it was blaring and there was only French station, except BBC World News. So I watched BBC World news and apparently they only had 5 stories that day...I could recite to you everything about the world's tallest building that just opened in Dubai because I watched the story on it about 12 times. I would have taken a nap but my phone can't pick up any signal to even get the time and I didn't want to fall asleep because I needed to Skype my mom at 10pm. The battery in my computer was almost dead and I didn't have the outlet converter with me so I had no choice but to watch BBC World news for 2 hours.

Thank god the girl at the desk found and outlet converter and I was able to charge my computer and Skype my mom or should would have been on the next plane to France. that was my traumatic arrival experience. I figured that after that first day, nothing could get worse and I could only go up from there.

My roommate, Julie, arrived the next day and we went to the market. Our neighbors are two girls from Canada who are super nice so that's good too.

The next day we went to orientation, which was good. We were told the bus stop to school was around the corner from our apartment...apparently that means a mile and a half in France. The hike to and from the bus stop every day is going to be a pain but hey I'll be super in shape by the time I come home right? My schedule worked out perfectly and my weekends start at 11am on Wednesday!

I didn't have class today and Julie did so I woke up (a little earlier than planned because there is severe construction going on in our building and it sounds like there was a jackhammer next to my head), and I walked around my town. I just popped in a bunch of shops and bought some baguette then headed to the beach. I walked around the boardwalk for a little then found a cute little cafe and sat and drank my cafe au lait on the beach! I felt so French, I even ordered in French! Yea, I know, impressive.

Went back to the market and bought some things for lunch and went to the bank too. I'm pretty much going to be completely broke because the conversion rate is killing me.

So I'm going into Nice today with some kids and probably out tonight!

My arrival was not as magical as I had thought it would be, but hey it was an experience I suppose?

I'll keep you updated! A toute a l'heure! (I think that means talk to you soon?)

1 comment:

  1. International travel can be a real experience and often troubling for the "green". I am very glad you finally got situated in your hotel that first night. There are a few key things I do when I travel that helps. One is to spot people dressed pretty good in the 20's and 30's as they most likely can speak some English. Its a good rule and works well. Test it out. I also select places to eat by the front windows. They have to be clean. If they have stickers, they are usually put on straight and look great like the VISA, Diner's Club, Master Card stickers. Why? Because I assume that they are as careful with their food and kitchen as they are with the cleanliness of the rest of the place. This is also a great rule. I can not remember it ever failing me. Also, be kind, complimentrary, and open minded when talking to locals. After all, this is their home. In my mind, all people and countries have much to offer and there is no best or worst, just different. With this attitude you will be treated with respect and more and will be welcomed into their world. Its a great thing. We have people in France so if you need anything at all, let me know.

    Uncle Doug