Archive for September, 2009


I have a back up plan for everything… well so I thought until this evening. When I leave university I have a back up plan if the language sector suddenly dies out or something like that. I have a back up plan when it comes to organising a day out. I’m full of back up plans!

Sadly I did not have a back up plan when I finally got my pin through in the post and immediately rushed out to put ALL my money into my account. I never realised that it may take days to go through the system and now I’m left with a huge worry that I will be living off the few cents I have in my purse until it does go through… which is a pain because my rent is meant to go out of my account tomorrow too.

Thus panic ensues. What will I do if she demands money? What will I do if I go overdrawn and they charge me stupid amounts of money? What if my money is actually lost in the system? Of course none of the above will actually happen but irrational is my middle name somedays.

With the help of my mum and dad I now have a back up plan. A complete plan of action that I will put into action tomorrow morning. Panic over. Moral of this blog entry? Always have a back up plan!!!


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I think the part that any year abroad student dreads is the first time you need to phone a French person. I know it fills me with absolute dread, back at home I can phone people here, there and everywhere, speaking to complete strangers over the phone sorting things out is simple. Here it’s a different story.

The problem with using the telephone is that you can’t rely on using any body language, hand gestures or facial movements to help you get your point across, it’s simply the power of language and that comes with the potential problem of a huge language barrier. I think I’ve found the solution though.

Before any phone call I make I write down exactly what I want to say and then write down keywords that I might expect to hear from the other side and hey presto it’s almost as if I’m reading off a script. I’ve made 2 phone calls today to teachers and secretaries of the schools I’ll be at and am still in one piece with all of the information I need. Perhaps it’s not so hard after all. It’s all in the preparation and, relating back to my first post, feeling of achievement!

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Lazing on Square Gambetta

Lazing on Square Gambetta

One thing that I will never ever get bored of here in Carcassonne is the slow-paced way of life. Walking through Place Carnot on any given day, at any given time and you are guaranteed to see tables of people sat in the sun drinking with family, friends, or even alone. Initially the thought of lazing around outside a café almost filled me with dread, I’m a rusher, as are most Brits. Try to think of a time when you saw a group of Brits sat outside a nice little café for more than an hour at a time chilling out, conversing, people watching and just generally enjoying the atmosphere; you can’t can you? It just doesn’t happen and I wasn’t sure it would really bode well.

However sat outside Picnic Café with a friend, a few drinks and several hours later I’m fully unwound, enjoying the sun and wondering why I ever needed to rush anywhere ever. The staff don’t badger you to buy more drinks or check you’re okay, they just let you get on with it.
Back in Britain I’d feel lacking if I spent a day sat on a patch of grass, there’d always be something niggling away at the back of my mind that I should be rushing to do or solve. Here almost everywhere closes over lunch so they have time to eat before they go back to work, even my bank! I’m not sure I can imagine the workers of Natwest closing the branch and going for a nice lunch together at a café. It’s more than likely going to be a lunchbox at a desk if anything at all! It really makes you think that there is so much time in the world but so much of it is spent doing menial tasks and most of it is lost under piles of paperwork and at office desks, not spent enjoying the world with the people that matter.

There’s so much to be done here in Carcassonne but there’s no rush to do it and that, I think, is what’s going to make it hard to get used to when I go back to England.

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Pont Vieux

Pont Vieux

So I’ve been toying with the idea of making a blog documenting this year, my year abroad in Carcassonne, France and have finally set my mind on doing it so here we are! I figured a blog would be a way to show friends and family all about my year whilst I’m here and also provide a way for me to be able to look back either in nostalgia or to help me with reflective assignments for uni this year.

So far I’ve been here in Carcassonne for 11 days and there have been so many ups and downs in those 11 days that it feels like I have been here for an eternity. My first 3 or 4 days were so rocky that I was constantly checking the ryanair website for cheap flights home asap. I cried down the phone to my family at every given opportunity, even managing to find my responsable’s office wasn’t enough for me and I convinced myself there’s no way on God’s earth that I can do this… & then on the 5th day God created that amazing feeling of achievement.

After a pep talk down the phone from my mum I was convinced that I should give up my, so far seemingly, hermit lifestyle in France and get out and do something so I set myself a task of opening a bank account. After reassuring texts from my best friend that it is in fact not as ‘difficile’ to open a French bank account as I was expecting I headed out to find a bank and stumbled across Crédit Mutuel and thought “hey ho let’s do this!” I sauntered through the door and asked the lady at the front desk “Puis-j’ouvrir une compte bancaire s’il vous plait?” and she told me I needed an appointment but seeing as it was early and I had all the documents I needed she’d see what she could do, and within seconds I was being directed to the office of her co-worker up the stairs. As quick as a, bilingually mishmashed, flash I had an account! Acheivement! I pretty much skipped out of the bank and headed back to my logements to inform the parents of my amazing experience and ability to communicate with a fully functioning, pretty important French area of life! That was the turning point.

After this turning point I felt the only thing I was lacking was a friend so I headed off to the British shop up the rue from my accommodation and asked the girl behind the counter if she knew where I could meet people. We formed a bond as we realised that we go to/went to the same university and clubs. Et voilà a friend since then we’ve been on many nights out and have become pretty loved in the local Irish bar, resulting in free shots! So it’s like a night out in Hull but with nicer surroundings and different culture/language. Already I’m feeling at home. My friend count is mounting by the day, I now have 4 real life friends and feel like I’m getting somewhere with my life here.

Today I had a small moment where I had an odd feeling which was explained to me, by a friend, as “You’re in a different country with a different language; you want to be there, but you haven’t started doing what you’re there to do. You’re basically in a weird holding pattern where you’ve accomplished part of what you want but haven’t really done it yet. At the End of the Beginning, but barely at the Beginning of the Middle. That’s a confusing and odd place to be. Makes sense you’d feel that way.” Makes perfect sense, so I guess all I need to make this place feel amazing is for me to fulfill what I’m out here to fulfill!

À bientôt.

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