France: New Place, New Adventures

I have anticipated studying abroad for my entire collegiate career.  This semester will prove to be one of the most interesting times of my life.  I am finally living the French life in Angers, France, a small town about an hour and a half southwest of Paris.

I flew into Charles de Gaulle on January 28 and vacationed in Paris for one week with two close friends.  My friends Yann Le Meur and Floris Yvinou studied at Ole Miss with me for the 2011-2012 school year.  They invited me to visit them in Paris this week before my classes begin.

Together, we ran around the city, bopping in and out of various cafes and restaurants.  I took lots of photos and got to see the majority of the city.  Notably, I enjoyed the views of Montmarte, a really beautiful arrondissement that overlooks the Parisian skyline.  This is my first trip abroad without my parents and it is cool to go and experience greater Paris with my friends.  I got to meet lots of Flo’s friends and we even were able to watch the Superbowl.  That was quite an experience because we waited all Sunday for the game but it didn’t begin until 1 or 2 in the morning.

After my stay in Paris, I arrived in Angers via the TGV (France’s high speed train) and met up with Gwenn, the nicest girl in Angers. She studied at Ole Miss the previous semester she helped me coordinate my living situation with my French roommate, Benji.  Gwenn kindly me stay in her apartment while my apartment was getting prepped for me to reach the final destination for my gigantic suitcase, brown leather duffel and overpacked rucksack.

Gwenn met my friend and fellow Ole Miss Student, Susan and I at the train station and she gave us a general tour of the city I would soon love, Angers. We mapped out the two areas of focus- Université Catholique de l’Ouest and Rue Bressigny and the centre-ville.  Gwenn introduced us to her friends and boyfriend, Yohann.

We’re all moved in and it is fantastic.  I love the French life.  Our apartment is located on rue Gustave Mareau, near the train station in Angers.  It is an old military building (modeled like a Soviet KGB office building).  I love it.  Despite it’s formidible appearance, it is a pretty chic place.  Our apartment is furnished, a blessing for Susan and I, equipped with every single thing we could ever need.  We have a nice balcony and a separate back porch for our washing machine and our clothes line.    I really like my room but my bed is a little uncomfortable on my back.  I have a desk, chest, dresser, nightstand, Indian tapestry rug and even a small lime green shelf to put my books and adventure souvenirs.

Our living room is really cool and I was all too excited to hang my world atlas tapestry.  Susan’s room is obnoxiously pink and I think she agrees with me about that.  Benji has the master suite with a very modern bedroom but it has terrible wifi connection (opportunity cost for taking the best room in the house)!  All French kitchens are very modern and our is too with a really nice oven, stove and a little bar area where Benji, Susan and I eat breakfast almost every morning.  We have a nice table in the living room where we eat other meals.

Benji is really cool and I am glad to have him as a roommate.  He studies English, Spanish and Russian at UCO.  He’s been really fun to hang out with and talk to.  He’s especially funny because he has a diehard British accent when he speaks English.  It took Susan and I aback when we first heard it because it is like we’re talking to two different people when he speaks English and then switches to French.  He is just getting back from a semester abroad in Spain and he is re-experiencing Angers with Susan and I, for example, driving around Angers to see the city and different food staples around the centre-ville.

It has been especially interesting and self satisfying to make friends in my second language. For example, I have made good friends with three Chinese students, Ding, Haoyi and Siyue Lu. Our communication has been restricted to our second language, French, which adds an interesting element to a friendship. Ding and Haoyi are always making jokes about different things in class. Having multiple classes with them has been hilarious. After every class, they always ask me if I will smoke a cigarette with them (I have resisted the habit for 21 years now) so I stand with them while they smoke and talk about football, girls or the upcoming class.

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