Bonjour all! Between internet issues, new experiences, and classes I just haven't found the time to sit down and write this, but I am finally getting down to business. :) ;)
There is so much to tell, I am just loving university in Pau--two of my favorite things: learning/college classes and being immersed in another language.
Last Sunday I went rock climbing on the Via Ferrata with some friends and also explored more of the French countryside. While at my friend's grandparent's house in the countryside, we had amazing meals, went star gazing, and had hilarious conversations where I misconstrued my French into something other than what I was trying to say. The result was both embarrassing and very funny. I also went to the local market in Vienne and fell in love with the amount of fresh produce, meat, fish, and cheese that was available.
I left Vienne on Monday via train and arrived in Pau later that night. I have a sweet little studio with my own bathroom, kitchenette, and furnishings. I'm about a 1min walk from the university campus and about 4mins from the building where most of my classes are. I also signed up for a beginners "acrobaties" (acrobatics/gymnastics) class which is part of the university sports program. I'm so excited and somewhat terrified for it to start. ;) Sports and French classes start at the end of next week, which is when all "foreign students" begin at this university. Until then I have one intensive Intercultural Communication class that meets for two hours every day for two weeks, and then goes down to 3 hours a week once the French classes start through the university.
A few of my observations so far from Pau and Vienne:
-Air conditioning is not a thing- but you also don't really need it.
-Vending machines are fancy- they can give you hot tea in a little plastic cup with a spoon. :)
-As in S.A., lined notebooks are rare, instead most people use graph-paper notebooks.
-A lot of people like to smoke, though smoking is no longer allowed inside most buildings.
-I saw a ton of solar panels and wind turbines set up throughout the countryside of France- so cool!
-WW1 and WW2 memorials exist in most towns and remind visitors of history and how important it is to remember what happened and be sobered by it. On one country road I saw a sign talking about the tragedy of a mountain town and how it had been burned by the Nazis. The landscapes and villages have so much history written into them; if these hills could talk they would give us a deep understanding of human tragedy, triumph, and change.
-Food and meals are a lengthy and social affair. No phones or multitasking to be seen. I've not noticed one Pau university student eating on-the-go; they take their time to sit down and enjoy their food.
-The meals I've experienced so far here follow a pattern, which includes an appetizer, a main dish, cheese, and a dessert. Dessert is usually followed by a small coffee or liquor as well. The University of Pau meals are great: you get a main dish, dessert/fruit, bread, water, and an appetizer/veggie for 3.25 euros. Plus most of the food is fresh and they post all allergens for each day outside the door. I wish UIowa would do the same.
Okay, that is a jumbled mess of my experiences so far, but I hope it gives you a better picture of where I'll be living for the next few months. I love this place and this language and can't wait to explore more. I'm headed off to Pau's local market this morning and I'l be sure to post those pictures later.
À bientôt! :)
An aspiring polyglot and globetrotter, an avid reader, and a lover of good food. :)