I don’t really get the trains in France. There seems to be an excessive amount of information that is just not readily available, and between this and traveling alone I got to the train station over an hour early…which meant that I had to stand in the entrance area for 45 minutes as I waited for my train to be assigned a track.
Well, I hoped it was my train anyway, as the stop I needed to get off at was not the final stop.
So as soon as “B” flashed on the screen next to the name of my train’s final destination, I dragged my things through to the area with the platforms. Only problem? I had to go down a flight of stairs…and then up another flight of stairs.
I have two pieces of luggage, one ginormous one that weighs 50 pounds and one carry-on sized piece that weighs 30 pounds. I also have my backpack and my purse. And together they are carrying basically everything I care about out of the things I own: my camera, my computer, my ipad, my books, my passport, my visa papers, my books, my clothes….
I, alone, carried all of this down and up both flights of stairs. All at once.
I was literally sweating by the time I got to my train car, and then after that the area where you could put luggage was super small, and I struggled to fit my luggage in (as, I might add, two annoying girls from England sat literally next to the baggage area chatting, never once asking if I needed help).
Once I found my seat and collapsed I then panicked for a solid 20 minutes until the train took off that I was actually on the right train and going in the right direction. Someday I’ll learn to be more go with the flow, right? Probably not. That’s okay.
For the first hour I had the seat next to me free where I could stash my backpack and stretch my legs out, but as we stopped a few more times and picked up more passengers, we also picked up whoever is sitting next to me (if I had to guess, I would say he is a French boy in his late teens…but who really knows).
My ticket says I will arrive at Montpellier at 2:50 and I am constantly checking the GPS on my phone to make sure I know when to get off (despite my freak outs happening when it is only like 12:00 or 1:30, so obviously not time yet).
I’m still trying not to think much about what I am about to embark on—its too crazy to think that a couple hours and one more train ride later I will be arriving in Agde, meeting someone from my school, going to my apartment for the next three months, and probably meeting my roommate.
I mean, what?
So instead of thinking about it, and because I am too paranoid to sleep as I might potentially miss my stop, I am just blogging and listening to music as I stare out the window and the somehow similar and still changing landscape. Here is to adventure and extreme change!
———The above portion of the blog was written on the train from Nice to Montpellier, the portion below is after arrival in Agde—————–
Okay I have officially been in Agde for about 24 hours. After several moments of stress and hunger induced panic yesterday as I traveled, I made it to the Agde train station (which is basically just two tracks and a single room), was picked up by the director of Gastronomicom, was whisked off to the school to sign some papers and be informed of my schedule, and then I was brought to my apartment complex.
The apartment is actually a sort of residence/resort/hotel type situation, though is available for longer term rental and has some sort of deal going with my school so that we get discounted faire. After paying my deposit and getting my key at the reception office, I dragged my luggage with me through the rain to find my building. The buildings are all cute and thank god my apartment is on the first floor, because I really didn’t have it in me to truck my bags up one more flight of stairs!
After struggling with the lock on the door for a solid 20 minutes (and a nice, elderly French woman staying in the apartment opposite coming to assist me) I was able to lock my door and go out to explore the complex and get some much needed food. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the residence has a supermarket along with a restaurant on the premise, and even with its odd French style hours, it means that I will be able to get groceries any day of the week without needing to venture into the city.
I grabbed the bare essentials and went back to my place, and was shortly thereafter joined by my roommate–who’s train had been delayed and showed up much later than she expected. Neither of us were up for much that evening, so after a few conversations we both went into our bedrooms and shut down for the night.
From all of the cumulative stress from the day of traveling alone and being on the verge of a huge unknown and dramatic change with no real understanding of what I’m doing with my life (not to be overly dramatic) I had a terribly hard time sleeping. Even though I am so happy to be here, and you know this is the right place for me because as I was walking up the stairs in the school I started grinning to myself like a complete idiot, last night all I wanted to do was go home and sleep in my own bed, surrounded by my family.
Once I finally did get some sleep and woke up more or less rested, I decided there was no time like the present and headed out in search of the beach.
Which was incredibly easy to find, and only a five minute walk from my front door.
I walked along the beach for awhile, despite the wind, and finally meandered into the port area.
I can’t tell if it is because it is not high season yet or if it is because it is a Sunday, but despite there being many restaurants around, barely any of them were open. Coming from the center of Paris and then the heart of Nice, it was a bit of a shock to see.
In the end I walked for about two hours, but I didn’t come across a supermarket bigger than the one in my apartment complex. Hopefully I can be enough of an adult to go buy all the ingredients I need once the store re-opens at 4:00pm and manage to feed myself at least through tomorrow evening 😛
One of the weirdest things that I haven’t had to encounter yet in living abroad is that I don’t have any of the basic things for cooking. Sure the apartment comes with some pans and utensils, but everything from salt to aluminum foil are things that I will need in order to make dinner–and in the past I have either relied entirely on a host family or have eaten entirely from cafeterias and restaurants and have not needed to purchase these kinds of odds and ends abroad before. Its a strange feeling.
One last thing before I leave you for the day; my roommate is amazing. I was so worried I would be stuck with someone I couldn’t get along with, but I think we are going to be just fine together. She is from Taiwan, is in the cooking program here, speaks only a little more French than I do, and is on the same page with me that you only have one life to live so you might as well make it count and do what you love. We are the same age, both love Korean food, and have an equal amount of adoration and bafflement about France in general. There isn’t much more I could ask for. ^_^
Thanks for reading! I do have videos to post, and hopefully once I find a spot with better internet you will all be able to see them! I will continue to post some things from Nice over the next week, and I will keep you updated on my program once it starts tomorrow!
****PLEASE EXCUSE THE LACK OF PICTURES! My wifi isn’t letting my upload any more than one at the moment, but I will add more pictures to the post asap!