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Thursday, 5 September 2013

campus vs city life



Campus vs city life

I am currently writing this post from my laptop on a word document, as I will not have internet until I become enrolled as a student. There are positives about not having the internet-I have time to read, write and socialize. I ended up spending yesterday evening in the kitchen with a nice French girl from nearby who is studying English and Japanese. We have decided to speak one day in French, the next in English to help each other out. She is a Doctor who, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones fan, so I doubt we will run out of things to talk about.  She offered me some coffee and said I can use her microwave whenever I fancy, which is a very useful proposition, considering that up until then I thought I would only be able to make food on the hob. I thought it was quite surprising to see a French person in this international-student-dominated hall of residence (in a good way). She concurred, though said that she was here for “this”, i.e. the social side of things. The kitchen may be poorly equipped, a little vacuous, but it is a great place to meet people.  

So whilst I am not yet enrolled as a student, something which I unfortunately cannot do until Thursday, I am now in student accommodation and have visited the campus. I didn’t plan this very well, so arrived in student halls on Sunday just to realize that everything was closed, including the university, the local supermarket, the nearby restaurants. So there I was with an empty fridge and a bare bed. I went into the centre desperately seeking food and bedding, but all the supermarkets were closed. The only places open were expensive looking restaurants and a few fast food joints. After looking everywhere I realized that the only thing I could eat being a vegetarian (within my budget) was something with gluten. I had some churros for 1.90 euros. They were good. I went home after taking advantage of the internet from a central coffee shop and headed home. I ended up talking to a girl from Senegal who took pity on me, invited me to her house and gave me some mango juice, but also offered me food. When I said I didn’t have bedding she gave me some sheets, a mattress cover and a pillow case. Her and her sister came to see my room, curious about uni accommodation. There are some really generous people in the world… A  local post graduate student who I had met several days earlier also felt sympathy towards me and brought me a pillow and a towel. 

I walked to campus the first time, which was a bad idea. When they call the campus a cité they are barely exaggerating. I eventually found Stendhal, and then the central area which was very modern, with coffee shops, banks, ticket offices and an international student’s centre. It’s green, wooded, there are views of the mountains, but it is clear that there are only students and teachers in this vast area.

This is quite strange for me, coming from a university which is very much part of the city, with buildings spread across the centre of Edinburgh. The students at Stendhal still frequent the city, but by bike or tram, which I soon realized I would have to buy if I wanted to avoid going crazy. It’s nice sometimes to pretend that deadlines do not exist and that I am studying because I want to be studying. I like doing this in parks and cafés. Though 27 euros a month is an extra expense for which I hadn’t planned, the tram ticket will give me the liberty to do these this. It will also undoubtedly be great for socialising, shopping and visiting attractions like the bastille. The tram is very efficient, a 5 minute walk from the halls of residence, and takes very little time to reach the centre of town. It is also quite a nice journey, you get to see the surrounding mountains and the river.

I think that here in Grenoble I am going to appreciate resources such as couchsurfing and the student’s own Intégré service (like Tandem at the University of Edinburgh). It’s extremely important here making friends for one’s sanity, and finding friends who can help you with your language goals is an added bonus.
 
The international student office confirmed that there are plenty of University “assosciations” (like British university societies) organized on campus, and on the brochure I saw photos of fencing, paragliding, skiing, rugby and archery, so I guess you can practice them here. If paragliding is an option I will definitely do it. I would like to try out something completely new too, so if there is a dance assosciation I may try it. I would also like to keep up yoga. I know that when it comes down to it, I will have to  make some firm decisions and stick to them. It’s impossible to do everything and still succeed with studies, which brings me to my final pressing concern...

My learning agreement. I got sick looking at this thing, though it would seem as though I need to do so again. I have a few clashes, and quite frankly I am relieved to have the opportunity to change a few things. When I speak to the erasmus coordinator I am going to try and get rid of that course 16th and 17th century literature. Francophone literature will already be bad enough, surely.  I am going to hold on to grammaire française, Cinèma and Chinois, regardless of what else happens. It would probably be wise to sway more towards linguistics courses, rather than literature and philosophy. I think the French are on a completely different level when it comes to literary criticism, and it may be hard to learn their technique in the few months in which I am here.

You know I love lists, so here’s a reminder to myself of what I hope to accomplish:

1.       Reading in French for pleasure every week, be it with library books, magazines, newspaper articles.
2.       Weekly meetings with my tandem partner and other French friends I may find along the way.
3.       Volunteering work.
4.       Participation in clubs where French is spoken.
5.       Skiing.
6.       Learn a few French nuances.
7.       (At least) weekly Memrise.
8.       Conversational Chinese.

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