Thursday, September 29, 2011

....from a land where wine is cheaper than diet coke

Today was another day of productivity as I work my way through my to-do list, most of which involves copious amounts of paperwork.

I had a late-morning café with one assistant who just arrived yesterday, and we talked about Rouen, our upcoming orientation, expectations, etc. There are so many people in this area doing the same program as I; I meet new assistants every day!

Side note: now that I write this, I realize that perhaps my day of productivity didn’t really start until after lunch … ;-)

After the café, we both went to the FNAC, which is essentially a giant bookstore/school goods store/electronics store, etc. There, I finally bought a sleeve for my poor MacBook, which I love dearly but have been toting around in my purse like a giant pack of gum, and being about as gentle with it. Now it is nice and cushy! Yet another good thing about having an apartment is that I won’t have to tote extremely valuable (both monetarily and inherently valuable) goods around with me all day long.

We then parted ways and I walked over to the local BNP branch to make an account-opening appointment, only to realize that all banks close from 12pm to 1:30 pm for lunch. How silly of me, trying to bank during lunch! Taking that as I sign, I headed back to my hostel to make a yummy lunch of my own, involving freshly baked bread from my local boulangerie and delicious Camembert.  I’d also like to take this time to point out that the man in front of me at the market bought a baguette, two bottles of wine, and a box of sugar for 5 euro. In case you didn’t get that, the wine he bought was cheaper than a big bottle of coke. I think I know what I’m choosing!!

After lunch, I headed back to the bank, mentally preparing to explain my situation and having practiced specific banking terms before heading out.  I was very happy that, while it is usually necessary to make an appointment for such banking needs, somebody right before me had missed their appointment, therefore clearing a slot for me.

The man with whom I had my appoint may have been the nicest French person I’ve met thus far during my trip (although, truly, most of them have been friendly). He was understanding of my situation and allowed my lease to serve as proof of housing, though a bill of some sort bearing my name would usually be required. There is also usually a charge associated with opening an account, but alas! He waived the charge saying that I might as well be a student, and student accounts are free. Woo!! Free is good. We even chatted about his favorite regions of France and about his young daughters’ travels in England.

I have been finding that if I put forth effort to make conversation with the French people I encounter, they reciprocate enthusiastically (or something like it), much like the woman working at the grocery store today when I asked her to recommend a good shampoo. I’m pretty sure French water is somehow different than what my American head is used to, causing my hair to look like it hasn’t been washed in days. Cute!

…Also, I literally never speak English with them, so that probably helps a lot. I am not here for that! Well, actually, I am. But only in the classroom J

Speaking of kind Frenchies, I have two French (female) roommates in my hostel who are also apartment searching. It’s been so nice to come ‘home’ and be able to talk about the process with them, as well as practice my French. However, I can’t wait to move into my apartment and have a real home of my own.

Tomorrow, I am going to go desperately searching for a laundromat before I get kicked out of the country for being too smelly. Traveling and carrying suitcases around is pretty rough on my limited clothing supply...

Hopefully I will hear from my landlord tomorrow about when I can move in. Friday I go shopping with my contact from my school to buy apartment supplies. Everything is coming together nicely so far!

Now, it’s about time for bed before another busy day tomorrow!

Or… semi-busy J

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