Exchanges in France

Life in Montpellier, France has been amazing these past two and a half months! I can’t believe I only have 2 months left! I think in coming here I thought things were going to be vastly different than they are. I absolutely love it here though.

Université Montpellier-Paul Valery is much different than any other school I have ever been too. There is not a lot of help like we are used to in America, but I have learned that that is just the French way. You definitely have to be much more independent to study in another country where their academic system is set up completely different. Finding classes was one of the hardest things I have done in France so far. Though one really cool thing is you are allowed to spend two weeks trying out classes before actually registering for classes and having to take them. Though a much less cool part is not getting your schedule for finals until 6 weeks before finals. So as of now I still do not know the exact dates for my finals that I will be taking the end of May. The classes are also harder than I thought they would be but it’s really good for my french, seeing as outside of class I almost only speak in English because I have made a lot of friends that are American and Australian. I do however still see an amazing improvement in my level of French and how much I understand more culturally the French in general.

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The beautiful La Comedie in Montpellier 🙂

Another thing I have come to love here is the coffee. You definitely cannot get a latte anywhere but the Cafe Crème is just as wonderful! There are coffee shops on every corner, as well as bakeries to buy amazing baguettes! Finding a gym was harder than I thought it would be, I think working out might not be as big a deal in France. I have also discovered through observance and asking my professors, that the French do not dress for the weather, they dress for the seasons. Some of my profs will wear jackets when it’s 70 degrees out! But it’s because it was still technically winter. Overall though I think this experience has really opened my eyes to how amazing France and the people here are!

Traveling is probably the best part about being in France though! I have so far been able to visit Paris, Barcelona, Nimes, Split Croatia, Orange, Loire Valley, Dublin Ireland, Avignon, Sete, and Couliour! I wish I could upload pictures but for some reason my blog isn’t allowing me to add anymore.

Next on my list is Colmar, Freidburg Germany, Strasburg, Rome Italy, Venice Italy, Florence Italy, and Greece!

Hopefully soon my blog will let me add more photos and I can share with you more evidence of this amazing experience!

 

A Weekend in Barcelona

The weekend of January 30- February 1st was an amazing weekend spent in Barcelona, Spain with two awesome girls! We spent almost 3 hours after our last class Friday afternoon on a train from Montpellier, France to get to Barcelona, with some beautiful scenery to keep us busy. Once we arrived in Barcelona we looked for our AirBnB apartment that we rented from the sweetest little Spanish man. It was much harder than we originally thought seeing as none of us spoke very good spanish, more like no spanish.  Our apartment was perfect and cozy just like we had hoped! On our way to our apartment we saw the Arco de Triumf which was absolutely gorgeous and full of the subtle beauty we rarely see in France. In France things are bright and colorful and covered in gold, this was not the case in Spain.

Arco de Triomf

Arco de Triomf

After this we made a delicious pasta dinner and went to bed because we had a lot planned for the next day. We started the day off with a walk to La Rambla, which ended up only being about 15 minutes from our apartment. After a little breakfast we walked down to the market, which was so full of people and so many different types of stands it was incredible. We then walked down to the end of La Rambla where they have these amazing tour buses that take you all over the city for only 27 euros, with only 10 minutes in between buses. It was like the perfect taxi!

Our first place we visited was La Perdrera, one of Antonio Gaudi’s many beautiful architectural works. It was amazing and reminded me of something out of Dr. Suess. This apartment building was built in the early 1900s for a very wealthy family to live in and rent out the remaining floors.

Even the roof was given incredible detail to make sure every aspect would be like nothing ever seen before.

Le Perdrera

Le Perdrera

After this we went to Gaudi’s Park Guell and walked around the beautiful lands, even though they are still working on finishing some of his work. We then went home and changed into nice clothes for a nice evening out! We had a wonderful dinner on the waterfront before going to an ice bar and having a drink. We finished the night off at a local club that had outrageously expensive drinks!

The next morning we were able to attend mass at a gorgeous Catalan church. None of us are catholic so we didn’t know much about what was going on, but it was still incredible to experience.

After this we headed to the train station and began our trip back to Montpellier. Barcelona was so amazing and I definitely can’t wait to go again!

Getting to know France a little better!

I have now been living in Montpellier, France for three weeks and I think I’m starting to get things down now! Which feels wonderful I must say! Though I don’t think I will ever get used to playing chicken every day when walking in the cross walk, trying not to get hit by the cars in the street who refuse to stop!!

Also the Euro is a little hard to get used to because I know have a huge pocket full of change because there are 1 and 2 euro coins. But they are really pretty 🙂

I didn’t know peanut butter was only an American thing, and after searching for a bit I was finally able to find some in the American section at the big supermarket! Who would have thought peanut butter was such a commodity!IMG_1467

 

Another thing I wasn’t prepared for, that I think we might need to bring back to the U.S. is how scared lunch breaks and weekends are here in France. Nothing is opened on Sundays! And by nothing i mean NOTHING! No grocery stores, pharmacies, malls, literally nothing but maybe one or two restaurants. Also most places here close for at least one hour during lunch, sometimes even two! So don’t plan on going anywhere between 12 and 2!

 

My First Week in Montpellier

10305325_10104188499779895_3077599117402858865_nThis week has been a really hard week but also a lot of fun! Let’s start by saying I miss my family terribly and i probably cried 6 or 7 times since I’ve been here and I have only been here for 6 days. Thankfully I am finally getting to settle in, and the croissants definitely help!! I spent most of the first few days just getting the basic things I needed for my tiny dorm room. I needed hangers and groceries as well as pots and pans. My room is extremely small but also cozy and thankfully I have my own shower, which kind of looks like an airplane bathroom that they just threw a shower into. I also was lucky to find two girls similar to me, who aren’t big partiers and who are excited about traveling and learning French. Montpellier is a gorgeous city with wonderful people and I am so glad I chose to do my study abroad experience here. The Tam in Montpellier is their tram system and is a huge help getting around. I love knowing I have a way to get to wherever I want in this city. This week has been hard but I am looking forward to seeing what else UPV has to offer. 🙂

Preparing for France:

Blog by Heidi Hannah, Global Studies Major, Exchange with Universite Paul Valery

When I was 21 I chose to move to Nova Scotia by myself for two years. I thought this experience was the hardest thing I would ever go through. I had to start over and make new friends and figure out who I was, without any influences. I learned so much about myself while in Nova Scotia which makes me even more excited for spending 5 months in Montpellier, France. As time gets closer and closer to the day I leave, January 15th, 2015, I find I’m getting more and more nervous. I know it is going to be extremely hard for me to leave my fiance for 5 months and start over making new friends in a new country and a new language. With this in mind I am making sure my skype account is ready to go, but my focus is on soaking in every moment of this last week I can. This experience is something I might never have the chance to do again and I want to make this count. I am really looking forward to watching my french get better as the time goes as well.

The visa process was exhausting and confusing, but now that that’s done all that is left is to pack!

Wish me luck 🙂

Heidi