Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 1- 1/9

The flight to Paris was ok. About 7 hours, and like the first I feel asleep off and on. Can’t stay asleep too long before the position you’re in starts to hurt when you’re scrunched up in coach or a baby starts to scream. I was impressed by the in-flight entertainment. Now they have a pretty good selection of movies, tv shows, and music you can choose to watch or listen to when you want to. They had about 4 movies I hadn’t seen but wanted to. And I could have, but my earbuds were buried somewhere in the depths of my huge “personal item” and nowadays they charge you $5 or 4 euros for a headset. I only had $4 and I thought 4 euros was a rip off. So I just slept a majority of the time.

When we landed in Paris, I discovered it’s snowy here and so cold. For the first time in my life I got to see those tiny kinds of snowflakes that have designs in them when they landed on my window, which was cool since I could see them up close. We got off the plane and did the usual go through passport control sheep-heard style and picked up luggage.
I’m so glad mine got there ok. I would have been so screwed if I didn’t have it. Then I kinda sat there for a few minutes wondering how to get to Aerogare 2, which is where the train station is. So I asked, and it all came back to me pretty quickly about how the airport is set up. It’s actually quite a ways away, but that’s why there’s a shuttle train. I get to the train station and immediately remember the joys of hauling 100+ lbs. of luggage onto escalators and up and down stairs. When I got to up where tickets were being sold, they were being sold either by machines or at counters, but I didn’t know which to do so I called Sylvie, and stood for I don’t remember how long in the line for the people at the counters, because I needed to buy a student discount train pass too. Speaking of which, I had to use the other 1 of my 2 passport photos I used for my visa, which has to be the absolute WORST picture taken of my of all time. Wouldn’t have used it, but I had misplaced the 6 sets of actually good passport pictures somewhere in my suitcases and wasn’t about to go digging through them when I had that ugly picture handy. When you get documents made in France that have your picture on them, you generally need to provide them with the picture unlike the US where we take it on the spot usually. Had that been the case, or if I had had the good pictures where I could get to them, I would have had no problems. But it’s impossible to me to be that organized of course. I get my ticket and there’s no platform printed on it, so I didn’t know where to go. That’s when it’s so fun to get in line for the information desk for one simple question. Basically you don’t know where your train’s going to be until about 15 minutes before it arrives. OK…. So in the meantime I got my first sandwich on baguette at a café place in the train station. Ham and Gruyere was the cheese I think, and it tasted like long-forgotten heaven. I also forgot how even though you’re hardly wearing make-up, are dirty, and stink, French guys will still manage to call you “belle fille”. That’s one good thing about today... the one and only time I’m glad the French as a culture don’t care that much about BO after I’ve been travelling for nearly 24 hours and neeeeddd a shower. I didn’t feel so bad about it.
I’m going to the train and this French guy comes up to me and asks me something like if the train that was coming to the platform I was going to was going to a certain city or whatnot. I felt bad that I really couldn’t help him. Speaking French for now makes me feel like a child that can’t express much. That will get better with time though. Waiting outside for the train to come while my toes froze. I couldn’t believe how cold it is. When I think of France I wrongfully always think of warm since every time I’ve been here in the past it was summer. The train ride was really relaxing. The TGV is so smooth and quiet with comfy seats and a much better allowance of legroom than a plane by far. This is a picture from the train. I got off at Poitiers, and when I got off the train, a man offered to help me with my luggage, and I also thought at the time he might have tried to find out where I was going, and I said non merci (because I’ve seen “Taken”) and I think he looked at me a little funny and walked away. Then I realized why. There was 2 flights of stairs ahead of me before I could actually get from the platform to the train station, one down under the tracks, and one up into the station. Ugh. That was fun. But I found Sylvie and her husband and at almost the exact same time I ran into this brat kid from OSU who’s here to study abroad too who I met at the orientation in November and the whole time did nothing but complain about how he was going to miss the football game in Corvallis that day because he was at the orientation. I don’t like him and hopefully after we take our language evaluation tests, I’ll whip his butt at it, we won’t have the same classes, and I’ll never have to see him again. I doubt that last part though. They took the two of us in their car and pointed stuff out about the town to us as they took me to the Espace Kennedy, where I’ll be living for the next week. Here's pictures of my room. Sylvie brought me in, made sure I understood, and left. There’s a lot of information to digest (in French too), but fortunately she gave me an envelope with all the info. So now I’m here in my room and feeling a little lonely, although Sylvie introduced me to some American girls who are a couple floors down from me. I might go say hi again to them tomorrow, especially since one of them has been here for a while and could really give me some good information. I didn’t go out once I got here because it got dark so fast and I’m super tired. I’m just trying to stay awake until sort-of bedtime so I can maybe get my sleeping schedule adjusted. Luckily tomorrow I have nothing going on. Everything starts on Monday, so tomorrow I can relax, do a little shopping for things like toilet paper (there’s none in the room) and such. And take pictures of course.

more pictures here

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