I have only ever been to France twice. The first time I was in Paris for less than a day, and the second time was about 5 weeks ago, and I was in Annecy for about 30 hours. Both times I had been in London for several days before I went to France, so there was not a lot of jet lag to deal with, and it took about two hours to get into the country from London.
But this time, I got to the MSP airport at 5:30pm on Saturday, got on a plane headed for Amsterdam at 7:20, 8 and a half hours later I landed only to rush through customs and find my next gate before boarding another plane for an hour and a half. By the time I got to Geneva, I had been on a plane for 10 hours and had only slept about 3-4 hours in the past 24. Then I got in a taxi and 40 minutes later I was standing on the stoop of my host mom’s house. In the rain. Early…so my host mom was still coming home from work. And I am so tired I think my eyeballs might fall out.
Luckily for me there was a slight overhang that I hid under as I hesitantly turned on my cellular roam and called my host mom to tell her that I had arrived. (Don’t worry, I turned it off again right after the call). Only problem? She only speaks French, and we have only ever exchanged written emails that allowed me to Google translate things and sit and stare at the words and carefully consider my reply. So I called her and she picked up, and after telling her in halting French that I had arrived and was at her house, she went off on some tangent that I later figured out she was trying to tell me to knock on her door because her kids were home.
Yeah…I didn’t get that at the time…
So I waited in the rain with my luggage, and went inside with her when she arrived a few minutes later. Much to my surprise, the house was not empty, and rather it was filled with her children and grandchildren–all of whom introduced themselves to me, none of whose names I remember. T_T I really wish they would have worn name tags or would have written the names down. I only know the one grandchild’s name is Lola because she was writing her name over and over in bright colors on pieces of paper.
So I stashed my things in my room and went back into the dining/living room to join the others, who were sitting and chatting as they had coffee. At first they questioned me about the taxi I took and how expensive it was, but after realizing that I speak next to no French they basically ignored me and talked rapidly amongst themselves. I was actually happy with this because I was (and am) so tired I just want to fall over and curl up on the floor…or in a really hot bathtub…with a gallon of herbal tea….
Anyway. My host mom is nice if a bit abrupt, and her family seems amazing, even if they do tend to ignore my existence. I think my host mom has had so many other students in the past few years that it is common for the family to have some random person around that they may or may not get to know. I hope that by the end of the month–or even the week–I am more comfortable trying to converse with people.
The family is so adorable though, and surprisingly reminds me in actions and in looks of some of my cousins. I could see this family blending in at our Brehm Family Reunions were they to speak English. (Also as I am writing this, sitting at the dining room table across the room from my host sister who is sitting with who I assume is her boyfriend on the couch in the living room, I realize that this guy speaks really good English. I guess they are just doing their best so that I can have a full on French immersion experience 😛 ).
My host mom and I just got back from a drive around town where she pointed out bus stops and train stations and my school. I don’t know if it is just because I have a car in the US or if it is because I have lived, in some respects, a sheltered life, but I am like absolutely terrified about how buses work. Is that normal? Probably not if you are a 22-year-old who has lived abroad for more than 6 months…. >_<
I feel better now that I have visualized everything, and all the maps and things that I have make me feel super in charge.
Its 6:15pm here in Annecy, 11:15am back in Minnesota. All I want to do is shower and go to sleep, especially because I know I need to wake up at 6:30 tomorrow morning in order to get dressed and be out the door by 7:20 to catch the 7:30 bus in order to get to my school at 8:00. Did I mention that I think buses are terrifying? What if you miss the bus? What if you miss the bus that comes after that?
I miss all the trains in Japan. And thinking it was normal to walk 40 minutes to go to the nearest Starbucks.
After I post this blog (my internet works great in the dining/living room area but strangely not in my bedroom just a few feet away…which is REALLY SAD because in a few hours the next episode of Game of Thrones is going to go live……and if I want to watch it while I am here I will have to watch it in the public area…..yep not watching a show filled with naked people in front of a host family I just met!) I am going to go try not to sleep as I watch some TV in my room and journal if I can keep my eyes open.
Tomorrow promises to be a day absolutely filled with new experiences and adventures. I have my first classes from 8:15-12:30 and then I think I have a tour of the city with other new students. I really hope some of the other students speak English/Japanese/Korean so I can communicate with someone not using words that vaguely apply to the situation and sentence fragments that just trail off because I have such a small vocabulary >_< So anyway, hopefully tomorrow’s post will be more filled with pretty pictures…and hopefully it won’t be a saga about how I missed all the buses or ended up on the wrong side of town or fell into a lake or something!