Sunday, 14 September 2014

Fun, food and football!

It’s been almost two weeks since my last post and I’ve done quite a few things in that time that I think are probably worth a mention. So if you’d like to know what I’ve been getting up to, please read on!

I guess the main change I should talk about is that the international student orientation classes have ended, and real university classes started last Monday. It’s a different system to get your head round, as the course commencement dates are staggered here: lectures started on 8th September, my French language class starts on 15th, and my seminar classes don’t start until next Monday (22nd). September is what’s known as the opt-in/opt-out period at Université Lyon 3. I can turn up to any lecture or tutorial I want until I ‘validate my choices’ online, which has to be done by the end of the month. I’m pleased to say I have about 80% of my classes chosen, with just a few seminars left to try. Another difference is the style of teaching over here. A lot of the lecturers prefer to use over-head projectors, something I haven’t encountered since my primary school days, and something that no one in this day and age should even contemplate using - mainly because it relies on you being able to understand the lecturer’s writing, which half the time is a sprawl of illegible mess. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much of the spoken lecture I can understand, and by the amount of notes I’ve been able to take in French…although at times I do have to revert to my reliance on fluent franglais. I quote, “personne n’est vraiment capable de dire ceux qui sont the boarders/exact boundaries of the Islamic State’s territory”. Hey, I said I took notes in French, not that those notes were in good French!

Generally, all of the lectures I’ve been to are very interesting. I’m going to be studying a mix of history, literature and culture, as well as attempting some French-English translation and vice versa. I’m also taking an Italian grammar class to keep up my (poor) standard ready for my second semester in Bologna. 

In other news, I opened a French bank account and was rewarded with a nice new piece of shiny plastic to play with. Now I won’t have to take so much out on my English card and I won’t get oversees transaction charges.

I also signed up for sports at my university. I can now join the women’s football team…no I can’t live without it even for a semester, take zumba classes and play badminton. I think it’s a pretty good deal, a great way to meet people (hopefully more French people), and if it means I can work off some of the extra baguette and cheese calories, I can’t lose really. Well, except for the loss of some weight…which I won’t really mourn that much!

Other things worth mentioning…

Café Théâtre
I went to a café théâtre with some of my new friends. It’s essentially a bar with a stage where you go to have a drink and watch some kind of performance. It’s very popular in Lyon, pretty cheap, and you get to soak up some of the local atmosphere and culture. We saw a comedian called Jeremy Charbonnel. A decent looking chap; he was actually very funny. If you ever find yourself in Lyon and can understand the language, a café théâtre should be near the top of your list of things to experience!

Trips to the bar and the park with new friends have been wonderful, and with all the warm sunny Lyonnais weather we’re having, I find myself out and about most days and nights. The relaxed, warm evenings and the promise of a red (berry flavoured) beer is an added bonus, but I promise, that’s not the only reason I’m going out…no…really.

Stade de Gerland
I also went wine and cheese tasting. I don’t need to tell you how good that was…it was WINE and CHEESE tasting. Now you know why I signed up for sports!

Of course, my visit to Lyon wouldn’t be complete without a football match, so on 12th September I went with some of the international students to Stade de Gerland to watch Lyon play Monaco. I went to a game back in 2011 to see Lyon play Caen, but that was as exciting as watching paint dry. This match was completely different: end to end football, some world class players on display and to top it all off, Lyon won 2-1. Lyonnais, Lyonnais, Lyonnais!!! Is it too early to invest in a new football shirt??? At €80 a ‘maillot’…I think so…

Life in France would also not be complete without trips to the market, and I LOVE markets. Fresh produce, the chance to meet some real characters and know that your food came from a good place. Not to mention it’s so much cheaper than the supermarket. Obviously there are some things you just can’t get at a market, but for most food, it’s the only place I would go in France. This week was a trip to Montplaisir market with my Australian friend and new found market buddy, Molly. I could have spent the whole day there, but alas, it only lasts the morning. Still, I managed to buy heaps of fruit and veg, half a roast chicken, apple juice fresh from the farm and some fine looking strawberries, and I didn’t break the bank to get it all! This is how food shopping is meant to be!

Last week some of us decided to have a girls’ night out at an Erasmus party held in a local club. The party itself was fun. My friend decided to take part in the dress up sumo wrestling, which resulted in me nearly dying from asphyxiation due to laughing so much I couldn’t breathe. Actually, the best part of the night was before we went to the party. We went to buy food at Carrefour, that queen of French supermarkets, went to my friend Marie-Laure’s apartment and had burritos and homemade guacamole courtesy of my Colombian-Canadian friend Daniela. Words cannot express how good the food was, and the company was even better!

On Saturday, some of us may also have managed to accidentally crash someone's private party at a venue near the river whilst looking for a loo. There were no bouncers/security on the door, we were pretty desperate and it wasn't until several minutes of dancing later that we realised we probably shouldn't be there. We politely shuffled/danced our way out of the door, and cycled home on the Vélo'V bikes, (Lyon equivalent of a Boris Bike). Honestly, it is impossible to find a free bike late at night, and when we did, it then took us hours to find a free space to put our bikes near our homes. A good, if somewhat surreal time was had by all, and we will never speak about the party crashing ever again...apart from when, in a few months time, one of us says, "hey, remember that night we went out and couldn't find a bathroom, and walked into the private party and then couldn't find anywhere to put our bikes so cycled round Lyon until about five in the morning?"...absolute rebels! (This blog is called Abby's Year Abroad Adventures...I guess it wouldn't really live up to its name if there wasn't an accidental party crash thrown in there at some point!)

Oh, since arriving in Lyon I’ve also been described by others as a BNOC (big name on campus) and 'cool' for using the word ‘fit’ to describe a good looking guy whilst talking to my Irish and Australian friends. Me…cool…I know right?

After all of that excitement I thought I’d bring you crashing back down to earth with a bang: someone I know got mugged in Paris, another of my friends snatched her phone back from a pickpocket on the Lyon metro, and another of my friends had her purse stolen by the same pickpocket (the fiend). Needless to say I’ve been walking home alone in the early hours of every morning and walking around with my bag open and all my valuables out on show. Vive la France!

Left to right: Johanna, Marie-Laure, Katrina, Samuel, Molly, Me, Kathleen, Emanuelle, Daniela

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