That’s right, beeches, I’m in France! And not just anywhere in France, either – ohhh no. I’m in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, where French meets German, where Council of Europe meets European Parliament, and where I could wander through the streets all day and just take pictures.
As of yet, that has not happened. But it will. I have plenty of time to drink it all in.
So, who wants to hear about my flight over here??! Yeah, I guessed as much – I don’t really want to talk about it either, don’t worry. But for all my great expectations (when will I ever learn to stop doing that?), when I got off the plane I was not, in fact, thinking ‘Wow! That was the shortest plane journey I’ve had in years! I feel rejuvenated!’. In fact, after two late nights and one early morning (as in, 3am early), I was tired and also quite sick. D’you know, it’s all very well competing for most countries visited, but I think I’d win hands down against most of my readers if we were to compete for most airports vomited in internationally. (To my own memory, it’s just Edinburgh, San José, Schiphol and Strasbourg; but those are pretty much all the airports I’ve been to recently, and I’m sure my stomach juices and I got around a bit at a younger age. If any of my supportive family members would like to chip in and remind me, I’m sure we could double that list).
Enough of that. I think, by now, you’ve heard enough. I did manage to stem the sickness by refusing to eat and drink – unfortunately, this meant that the next day I was headachey, weak and feverish, despite my dinner of ready salted crisps upon arrival. After showing up at the front desk of my new halls, I was told that the sécretariat was closed until 2pm (it was about midday); so I got out the new book Grant got me for Christmas and read for two hours, then approached another lady. I blundered through the encounter with great difficulty and no dignity. Then I moved in.
My room is on the second floor, which isn’t so bad; although it is at the very end of a long corridor from the stairs; so getting all my crap along there was no mean feat. The room itself is bigger than I expected – bigger than my room in Costa Rica and in Robertson’s Close – and is more than sufficient as far as bedrooms go. I even have a long desk and a handy shelving unit above my bed for keeping decorative things, and stuff that I need before bed, like books and my glasses case and stuff. So I’m pretty happy with the room itself, and I’ve spruced it up with all my personal artefacts and some free stuff I’ve been given, as well as a bargain €13 pink giraffe I found at the market on my first full day. She’ll make a nice girlfriend for Jolly Tall to hang out with while I’m away in class or eating cheese, or both.
However, the facilities here are significantly less acceptable than I’d anticipated, despite my impressively low expectations. The toilet creaks and moves when weight is applied – too bad I’m a girl – and the kitchen facilities have given me more trouble than they’re worth. First, I mistook the toaster oven for a microwave and went to microwave my soup, which of course failed, leaving me to sup cold mushroom soup for dinner. Then, I used the hob to try and heat some pasta to make pasta and pesto. I turned the plate to its maximum setting, and waited a whole hour, but it never boiled – eventually I gave up and sampled the pasta, which ended up being thoroughly soggy, yet still only lukewarm. I finally caved and decided to just buy a pie from the boulangerie on my way home from class. I put that in what I now knew to be a toaster oven to warm up, and ended up with charred burns from where the heating rods had got it. The pie was still cold in the middle.
I have a plan, though. I will find a supermarket in this town, and I will keep my fridge well-stocked with nice, healthy, leafy things I don’t have to cook. I’ll buy bread from the boulanger and cheese from the fromagier (to whom I paid a happy visit today for some camembert), and those will make my breakfast. And lunch will be my main meal. I’ll get it on campus, at one of the Resto-Us (starter, hot main, cheese and dessert for €3) or somewhere nicer for a treat. And if I decide I still want a hot pie for dinner, I can always pop into that baker’s and get them to heat up the pie for me.
I’ll make it work somehow, anyway.
First thing’s first, though: I need an ethernet cable ASAP, or else this entry will never leave the analog pages of my wee red notebook. I hope to get this entry to you in all due haste!