Monday, 17 October 2011

View from the afternoon

I realised that my blogging usually takes place on a Saturday or Sunday, I'm going to make an effort that I update at least once more a week.  I think I'd share more of my experiences here in greater detail rather than just choosing the highlights of the week and writing a few lines.  

So I thought I'd share some photos that I took of Montpellier a few weeks ago when we were all melting in the heat.  It's started to cool down now, in the sense that I wore jeans during the day today.  Unusual for me by now, been too spoilt by the wonderful Mediterranean weather.  It's one thing that I don't miss about the UK.  October and November weather back home does bad things to my mood. 

Hope you enjoy the photos

Saturday, 15 October 2011

If I had a boat I would sail to you

So my beloved Cymru broke my little German heart this morning with a devastating loss against the French (9-8).  I was in the pub wearing red, cheering the team on and disliking the French (only for today though! I apologise, drink and men who get obnoxious about sport do not mix well with me).  Mistakes were made by the Welsh team but despite everything the team gave their all and played with the hearts.  Even though I'm so far removed from even just being British I feel so connected with Wales and adopted by that wonderful country.  Moving to Cardiff three years ago was without a doubt the best thing that ever happened to me.  Wales has become my home and I will always be grateful for finally being able to say that about a place and meaning it, after years and years of traveling I've finally found that one special place.  I was so proud cheering the team along with my adopted Welsh pride and I will always support Wales.  

Cymru am byth.
(Wales forever)

In non rugby related news, last night involved a trip to a fondue restaurant.  For a 17.90 set menu each person got: a cocktail (or a coke or orange juice), cheese or meat fondue, unlimited salad and chips, wine in a baby bottle (I kid you not) and dessert.  Essentially heaven on a menu.

Only in France: wine out of baby bottles.  I didn't really understand it either but if did make us all laugh.  I really recommend going for fondue with friends.  It's such a fun and social thing to do together.  Might invest in a fondue pot when I'm back and settled in Cardiff.  Me and my family have Swiss friends so when we visited them we always ate fondue.  My earliest memory is from when I was probably about 5 or 6, we were visiting friends and planned to have fondue in the garden on the stove they had set up there, but it started to rain and so our friend start cooking the fondue holding an umbrella over the stove to stop the rain ruining the food but then somehow the umbrella caught fire.  So fondue has always had funny memories attached to it for me, and last night was not different.  Wine, bread, cheese and friends.  Perfect.

Life in France still needs some adjusting to.  I've been very emotional this week crying at everything including when someone proposed to his girlfriend during a Hell's Kitchen dinner service, Nicki Minaj surprising those little girls on Ellen, not knowing what to wear and the Welsh national anthem this morning.  The homesickness has been quite intense to say the least.  I think because I'm struggling with the language I still I don't feel as secure and confident as I normally would.  But on the upside the weather is turning a little cooler so i can start wearing my lovely autumn winter clothes, and every day is a day closer to the 7th of November.  That being the day when I get to pick my boyfriend up from the airport and see him for the first time since the end of June.  There are positives to everything and I'm here with great people who are fun and really make me smile, going to keep my head up and carry on.

I've probably not helped my mood by listening to James Vincent McMarrow non stop for the past week.  He's the Irish version of Bon Iver and equally as beautiful.  Today's blog title comes from his song If I Had A Boat which you can get for free when you sign up for his mailing list.  The whole album is perfect for autumn and winter, it's so atmospheric and with beautiful lyrics.  Worth downloading the free song to see if it's the kind of music you'd like.  My favorite song of the moment from his album is Sparrow & Wolf so I'll leave you with the video to it:

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend

Saturday, 8 October 2011

You look like you've been to breakfast at the heartbreak hotel

So unless you've been living under a rock you probably know it's the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand at the moment.  I haven't been watching the games because of the time difference but today was an exception.  My alarm went off at 5:45 so I could be at the pub before 7 to watch Wales play Ireland.  It was worth leaving my comfortable and toasty warm bed and braving the morning chill for because Wales won spectacularly (22-10).  It made me so happy because I love Wales so much and really feel at home there so for them to make it to the semi finals really makes my heart swell with pride.  They're facing France after they smashed the English.  That was an awkward match to watch in a pub full of French people, I dislike how winning a match can make people so smug and obnoxious.  Oh well keeping my fingers crossed for the Welsh team for next week.

Watching the rugby this morning made me miss home even more.  I was never really into rugby before I came to Cardiff but when it's the international friendlies in autumn and then Six Nations in March we always watch the matches in the pub and have such a great time.  The atmosphere is so great and it would have been the best to be in Cardiff watching the Welsh go through to the semis.  So in honor of my still existing home sickness here is a list of the things I miss the most about being at home:
  • Sunday roasts in the pub with my housemates
  • walks in Roath and Bute Park with my boyfriend
  • daffodils
  • Boots (as in the shop - things like shampoo and make up are ridiculously expensive here)
  • Wagamama's
  • Orange Wednesday's
  • hungover pub lunches
  • watching Jeremy Kyle with my housemates
  • bacon sandwiches 
  • watching X Factor and bitching about the contestants ruining songs
  • wearing red and having the Welsh dragon face painted on me to watch the rugby in O'Neill's
  • going shopping with my best friend in TopShop and Urban Outfitters
  • lined paper (the French write on graph paper, my tiny brain doesn't understand this)
  • going to Cardiff museum for free
  • cheddar cheese
  • going to our favorite quirky little cafe with my best friend for a fry up and big heart to hearts
But then to not sound ungrateful here is a list of everything that I so far really like about France/Montpellier:
  • the pastries
  • having the tram as a public transport
  • the cheap wine
  • glorious weather
  • actually being able to go to the beach in a bikini as opposed to having to wear a hoodie
  • the nightlife here doesn't just consist of getting drunk in flats but actually socialising in bars where you can sit outside and just chat
  • the great vintage shops
  • the relaxed way of life
  • chatting French and being told that I'm actually not too bad at it
  • the gorgeous buildings in Montpellier
  • the cheap (and good) coffee
  • the friendly people who talk slower French to me and don't automatically switch to English when they realise I'm not a native speaker
I'm taking things day by day, and I hope that in a month I will feel like I really do belong here and that I will be living here until June.  It still hasn't really sunk in even though I've been here more than a month.  It's going to be an exciting year.


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

When your heart feels like an anchor

I've had a sever case of year abroad blues since last week.  

I've hit my wall relatively early in comparison to normal, my autumn blues normally kick in around November when it's cold and there's barely any sun.  Don't really have that excuse here.  This is likely a little woe is me post but I'm guilty of that once in a while.  I've been here for more than one month now and I feel like I'm getting no where.  My French hasn't improved very much at all, in fact it feels like it's almost getting worse because whenever I do speak I'm just so aware of all the things I'm saying wrong and how stuttery I am, or how most people just raise their eyebrow at me and then start speaking English.  DO NOT WANT.  I'm also missing home a lot, I knew it would be difficult but I didn't expect to be feeling like this so early on.  I see my friends post about going back to Cardiff for Freshers week and I'm so jealous that they get to be there with each other.  Most of the are graduating this term so it is all very final.  I also my my other half lots, haven't seen him since the end of June which has been challenging to say the least.

Don't get me wrong I do love it here very much but I'm just struggling a lot.  It's hard to explain properly because I have been looking forward to this since I applied to study French at university and many things have lived up to my expectations.  I just find myself comparing so much to the UK and it's made me realise just how at home I am there and how much I love living there.  It makes me sound ungrateful for this opportunity but I'm not.  France is a fantastic country with great people and a great culture.  I just need to put more of an effort into speaking French and trying to understand my lectures, but I have hit the wall where it seems that I'm not getting any further or any better.

It's all just a bit confusing really, I'm so happy to be here but right now I'd like to go home for even just a little bit.  But I'm not going anywhere until December and I don't think I'll be going back to Cardiff anytime before 2012.  I'll just plough through and try to make the best of this situation.  But this past week there have been too many days where I just can't face getting out of bed.  Something really needs to change soon.


Saturday, 1 October 2011

Little trip to Nîmes

Today me and five of the other girls went to Nîmes, it's only a short 20 minute train ride from Montpellier.  The pictures speak for themselves, the weather was gloriously warm and the gardens we walked in were so beautiful and it was nice to get out of Montpellier for a little bit.  Really recommended if any of you are ever in the south of France.

Hope everyone has a relaxing weekend
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