Well, how exciting is this? I can’t wait to share my exchange adventures and stories with you over the next six months. I’m going to try to get content to you Sundays and Thursdays, French time. So, unless this proves an overly ambitious goal get pumped to read about my exchange life.
Today I just wanted to give an overview of my first few weeks over here. The time has absolutely flown, and I’ve already been here for almost three weeks. It’s been a massively eventful time so far but here are a couple of my highlights and major memories:
1) Despite lasting around 24 hours, I actually quite enjoyed the flight over. Having dad there made the journey a lot more social, and he never failed to start conversations with our neighbours, sharing some quality dad jokes. We sat next to some lovely people on the way over, Kevin and Bronwyn, and it did mean I didn’t deal with the dad humour alone.
2) I was longer on a plane than I was in London this time, but it never fails to impress. We were staying right near St Pancras which allowed for a quick trip to platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross, yes it was amazing!! I was also able to show dad King’s College London where I studied in 2014, and then we briefly visited Covent Garden. We were pretty exhausted by the time we’d had dinner, in a little Italian place, so we headed back to the hotel before an early Eurostar journey.
On a sad note, lining up at immigration at Heathrow I learnt of the passing of a truly inspirational human, David Bowie. Once upon a time his appearance in the film Labyrinth rendered him my greatest fear, but he gradually became one of my favourite artists. Only a short time after, I also learnt of Alan Rickman’s death. I obviously didn’t know them but felt like they were both such a massive part of my childhood. The world has lost two giants, but how blessed we have been to have them in our world.
3) O-Week Adventures! I was pretty terrified on my first day at Sciences Po but I already feel I’ve made some lovely friends from all around the globe! My group were absolutely the best- I love them all! Some of the highlights for me included the guided tour of the city, visiting some of the landmarks of Reims, before ending the day with cocktails. I’m pretty sure the Harry Potter Quiz Night would also have been a highlight if I hadn’t fallen asleep in my costume, but there’ll always be another opportunity to fangirl.
4) Academic Seminars were another aspect of our O-week and basically introduced us to the university and its expectations. Apart from being slightly intimidated by the standards here, and being slightly stupid in choosing to present on the Arab Spring, I really enjoyed these classes too!
5) French paperwork. Lol. This is not a highlight. This is terrifying.
6) Dinner with exchange students this past Friday night was a great opportunity to meet some of the students who are now at Sciences Po for their second exchange semester. Can’t wait for many more adventures to come!
7) Had my first champagne at a little place called the Glue Pot! As you would expect, Reims delivered.
8) Bus. It’s official, I am a dag, but truly I love the bus here. There’s always something lovely about taking public transport around a new city. Since I’ve begun my early morning commute I suddenly feel like a vraie Rémoise! Especially when little old ladies start talking to me about the weather.
9) The Bank. If you know me in real life you will know I lack any practical life skills including, but not limited to, crossing roads (another story entirely) and finances. So it has been a real surprise, for me and I’m sure many others, that I have managed to organise my bank and electricity by myself, in French. #bragover
10) Floor cleaner! (Yes I know I am clinically insane) but they have this pretty cool spray floor cleaner that doesn’t need to be diluted and mopped! You just spray. Yep, I should probably get help.
11) Cooking? Despite my grandma’s worries that I would starve, I am yet to go hungry (though I do feel like I could do with some cooking lessons). For the moment, I’m making it like a legit Frenchie with my baguettes et fromage.
12) I haven’t yet travelled extensively outside of Reims, apart from a short trip to Paris last weekend. I had a pretty great night at Les Folies Bergères seeing Rhodes and Hozier, meeting the latter *smugface* I was pretty excited. Also props to the adorable lady who helped me ride the Metro, that guy that could tell I was a tourist (I really need me some Breton stripes and a beret) and wished me a nice time in Paris, and the hotel concierge who thought I was twelve.
Overall a thoroughly enjoyable initiation to France! Well done for making it all the way to the end and hopefully, I’ll see you on Thursday.