I had only seen a few photos of the Grenoble before I came to live here for four months (smart thinking there Claire…) and I have been very lucky with my choice. As the name of the university suggests, Grenoble is in the heart of the Alpes in southeast of France, and it is no surprise by this that there are mountains in every direction. In addition to the beautiful views, there are bike routes everywhere and it seems that everyone uses them – so it almost feels like I’ll be living in Center Parcs for 4 months, or shall I say studying in Center Parcs.. (Don’t worry dad).
So here we are, I’ve been here for over 6 weeks so I would say that I have settled in relatively well. I’ve definitely made lots of good English friends, but French friends… not so much. I’m not sure why this is the case though, since the uni has given us foreign students these attractive badges..
… why the French students haven’t been begging us to be their friends yet I have no idea!
Moving on from that… I thought I’d list the things that have struck me the most during these first 6 weeks:
1. So many of the stereotypes are REAL
By this, I don’t mean that everyone wears berets and striped shirts. However, there are certain stereotypes that I come across on a daily basis. For example:
- Their love of cheese, bread and pastries (I think I have eaten my bodyweight in pain au chocolats).
- People do genuinely say ‘oh la la’ – one of my favourite discoveries!
- Men do get on public transport and play the accordion – yep it’s happened a few times, including the day I arrived!
- The administration. is. The. Worst.
I did not appreciate how organised my university was before I came here, and I really do now.
2. Everybody says hello!
It seems to be quite common for European people to greet each other regardless of whether they are strangers. It’s almost rude to not pass someone and say “Bonjour/Bonsoir”. This is something that I am not used to back in England, where all effort is put into avoiding eye contact, yet alone greeting people!
3. My confidence to speak French is both boosted and knocked on a daily basis.
It goes without saying that it is very rewarding to have a conversation with someone in French and actually understand what’s going on. When I play tennis for example, I’m in a group with girls from Germany, Russia and Brazil – we all communicate through speaking French even though our mother tongues are completely different.
It is very cool.
However, there are so many soul-destroying moments where I attempt to talk to someone in French and the person -having detected my English accent and more likely my poor grammar – responds in English. This has, I’m afraid to say, happened on countless occasions…
Maybe I should take it as a compliment that so many French people are so eager to practice my lovely language. However, it is more likely that they do it in order to actually understand what I say and in order to speed up the conversation…
4. The shops don’t seem to sell mayonnaise without mustard..
Very random but something that is nice to know before coming so you can bring your own Hellman’s and have tuna-mayo without the sly taste of Dijon.. it’s just not the same…
5. Time FLIES
In a matter of days I will have been here for 7 weeks and nearly halfway through my first placement. This absolutely insane. For me, it’s a factor that is both sweet and sour – I am very excited to go back at Christmas and see loved ones, yet I want to make the most of Grenoble and not take this amazing opportunity for granted!
6. France is beautiful
Finally, I feel that no words can begin to describe how beautiful it is here! So I will end this post with some of my favourite photos from these past 6 weeks here in France:
À bientôt, j’espère! x