Saturday, 31 August 2013

Erasmus in Grenoble-first impressions of my new home

I arrived the day before yesterday in this town which will be my home for the next 5 months. It's quite a strange feeling, especially in the first few hours. I am being hosted by a very generous and trusting host, who has lived here for the last 5 years but is in fact Pugliese, from couchsurfing who has gone away for the weekend and left me with the key to his flat, with the agreement that I look after his tomatoes. Whilst I am very thankful for this, I seriously doubt I would entrust a stranger with the keys to my flat, especially when inside there is a PlayStation 3 and a widescreen television. That's just me though.... I guess he did assess how trusty I was when he took me out to a local pub and a salsa bar the other night. We have been communicating in Italian, and thus my French has only thus far been practiced in ticket offices and shops. So here I am alone, in this rather large studio flat in the centre of town. Yesterday morning I took a look around the centre, taking photos and trying to orientate myself. I came home for a quick lunch, courtesy of my host (he filled the fridge a bit for me) and indulged in his homemade sun-dried tomatoes and olive oil.

At 4pm yesterday I met up with a friend from university who is also on her year abroad here. After a bit of a natter and a wander around town we finished off the bottle of wine my host bought me in the park, drinking from plastic cups. It was actually nice to speak in English, though I promise I won't be doing that throughout the entire the semester. Today we are meeting up to look into bank and simcard deals, then at 3pm we are meeting up with a French guy who may end up being one of my many tandem partners. We started talking on facebook messenger after I expressed interest in a "colocation" that he was offering, and he turned me down saying he needed someone who could stay for at least 10 months, but that he'd like to engage in a language exchange with me. So while I do feel that my French is awful, I am about to try and do as many exchanges as possible and hopefully find some really good friends. I have already signed up for tandem via InTeGré and on the facebook language exchange group: here's to hoping I get some responses.

To increase my vocabulary I also intend to join the local library and work my way from children's to adult's books, besides reading le monde.  Hopefully just being at Uni and studying via French will be a big help.

With regards to the town, what I have seen so far has really impressed me. It is quite a small city, but big enough to offer everything I need. I saw three markets selling fresh produce, plenty of interesting clothes shops, restaurants, parks, coffee shops, boulangeries and salons. The tram service seems very frequent and efficient, and the mountains are almost always within eye shot. There seems to be a really international scene, yet with that classy French vibe which I love. There is a big couchsurfing community and many free events are organized in town, including free Summer yoga in the park. The supermarkets are very exciting, full of delicious and creative flavours of chocolate such as wasabi and organic products seem to be in high demand over here. Ignoring the services available, it's a very pretty and clean city which has a lot of charm.

Tomorrow I am moving into student accommodation, which is a little far from the centre, but well connected via the tram and very close to campus. I hope to find a cheap bike so as to easily travel between Résidence Ouest and the centre. The next 48 hours, and indeed two weeks will be pretty intense, here's a brief look at what needs to be done:

Checklist (in order of urgency) 

-Get French sim card
-open bank account (preferably with household insurance)
-Move into student accommodation (tomorrow)
-Print and sign certificate of arrival, send to Edinburgh international office
-Buy a frying pan, a regular pan, a fridge freezer, perhaps a mini oven/rings to cook with, a bike, cutlery, a few staples (olive oil, vinegar, miso, soya milk, cereal etc).
-Meet Erasmus coordinator and redo learning agreement
-Email Edinburgh uni DELC office with confirmation that I have done everything necessary to get started.
-Find calendar dates and book fight home

Things I must do when in Grenoble

-visit la bastille
-a weekend away in Lyon
-a day trip to Annecy
-visit the local museum
-get a hair cut and waxing treatment
-Go clothes shopping (LOVE all those ethnic prints which are currently in fashion)
-meet regularly with tandem partners
-Eat Vietnamese food and churros
-weekend in Paris
-Regularly read online newspapers and magazine articles
-sign up to the local library
 -go hand gliding or sky diving...? 

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