There’ve been a fair few surprises since being here in Montpellier that I actually wasn’t expecting to encounter at all. Simple things like food, to more drastic things like college work and the French language! Not all the surprises have been bad...food for example has been more of a revelation than a surprise actually. Being an immense lover of milk and knowing that in main-land Europe they tend to not put milk in fridges; I thought I was going to have to go an entire year with no milk at all! As it happens they do have cold milk (in sparse amounts it must be said.....even less since I’ve arrived and bought it all) and it’s delicious, I can still drink gallons of it per week like I do at home! I’ve also acquired quite a taste for fresh baguettes, Croissants and Pain au Chocolat’s! Breakfast here doesn’t consist of massive fry-ups like at home...instead it’s a double expresso with no milk (something I never did at home) and half a baguette with nothing on it (I’m used to it being stuffed with sausages, rashers and pudding). I’m also quite used to how the French cook steaks. Having been to France before I knew they didn’t really cook red meat to what we at home would consider to be normal. Basically if it’s bleeding it’s too well done... That said I’ve stopped asking for it nearly burned but I still can’t bring myself to eat a completely blue steak...yet, I’m sure I’ll get there come year’s end!
College has been a surprise that’s not quite as cheerful as the food however. The 100% mandatory attendance, as I’ve said, is still proving to be quite a challenge to all of us! Also we’re now getting into continuous assessment time of the semester!
Tomorrow (Tuesday 12th) I’m back into college after a 12 day mid-term and a visit to my friends in Perpignan, and I’m back with a bang: a marketing exam at 8am...in French!! I’m used to French language exams but I’ve never done a BUSINESS exam through French...that should be quite an experience!
As well as that within the next 5 or so weeks before the xmas hols I’ve 3 presentations, 3 mock exams and a 10 page essay due...all in French of course!
While that’s all quite grim a nice surprise about the college has definitely been the French students in our class! They’re all about 2 years older than us for some reason but they’ve all done Erasmus’s to Germany, Spain and England so they all know the kind of stress and pressure we’re under at the moment to adapt and get used to the new cultures and the immersion in the language. They’ve all been unbelievably helpful to us! Any problem we have they’re more than willing to help us out. They also speak perfect English, so while we do our best to speak French with them 90% of the time it’s handy that they know enough to correct us properly in English if we mess up in French!
The last week off has been a welcome rest from the insanity of the last 11 weeks! As I said I went to Perpignan to visit a friend who’s down there for Erasmus aswell...which was the first time I’d set foot outside of Montpellier in the whole time I’ve been here...so it was great to see some new scenery, new cities and new people!
That said it was still equally nice to get home.....(the last surprise is how easy and natural it’s become to refer to Montpellier as home)!!