Europe, France, Pastry School, Recent, Study Abroad, Travel
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Gastronomicom Day 1: Orientation

I decided to call this post ‘Orientation’ mostly because “French Test and Cocktail Hour and Finding a Grocery Store and Almost Missing the Bus” was too long a title.

My roomie and I woke up and after a quick breakfast we headed out to the bus stop…then stood there for 15 minutes because we are weird and went way earlier than we needed to. It probably takes all of two minutes to walk from our front door to the bus stop 😛

By the time the bus showed up, all the students taking the French course had showed up at the bus stop, and we all piled onto the bus (which only had one passenger when we got on it). After about a ten minute bus ride, we arrived at the school and all hurried in to drop our things in our lockers and head upstairs for the French test.

 

I was prepared for a test right off the bat, and was surprised when our teacher Stephane talked to us and introduced some French concepts for nearly an hour right off the bat. I think he was trying to assess how well we could comprehend what he was saying and if we were following along–which thankfully was easy for me with my small knowledge of French. After that we had a brief, actual French test on paper, mostly so he could look at our knowledge of reading and writing French in order to put us into two groups–morning and afternoon–for the rest of our time here.

My roommate and I were both placed in Group 2 (the more ‘advanced’ group) which means that we will have our pastry/culinary courses in the morning and our French class in the afternoon.

After our French test was completed, all the students gathered in the common area with the staff, and after hearing about some things from the Director we all shared some snacks prepared by the chefs and two year-long students. It was a good time to get to know each other, even though the girls seemed to be a lot more willing to make connections, as the boys generally stood near the wall to themselves. Most of the students will be staying at the school for three months (with a possible internship after) like I am, and with such a small program we will soon get to know each other quite well. That said, I still fail at names, and I am a little overwhelmed trying to remember everyones names and the country/city they came from!

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Some of the students in the new class at Gastronomicom

Of the 19 students this term there are 4 from Taiwan, 2 from Mexico, 2 Americans (myself included), 2 from India, and then also students from Russia, Romania, Libya, the Philippines, and then a couple of students I haven’t talked to yet/unfortunately don’t remember where they came from. Luckily for me, English is the method of communication outside of our French course, so it has been relatively easy to talk to everyone. There are only 7 people in my French class and 7 people in my pastry class, but with everyone coming from such different backgrounds, it should be interesting!

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Delicious things the chefs prepared for us

After all of the official things ended, two of the girls and I decided to try to hit the supermarket next door instead of catching the bus back to our apartment. We walked over…and saw that it was closed from 12-3:30 T_T And since we had already missed the only bus that came that hour, we searched more grocery stores in the area and decided to walk a bit to find another one. The third grocery store we found was actually open the entire day (well, from 8-6, but without a break) and we happily loaded up on vegetables and fruits. I’m pretty sure we bought half of the bananas they had >_<

By that time, it was getting closer and closer to the time of the next bus, so we went to check out–only to find that there was only one register open and there was a huge line! 8 minutes before the next bus, we hurried out of the store and down the street in the direction we thought the bus stop was (we had never taken the bus back before and the area is super confusing). We saw someone walking in the same direction, and followed her (not in a creepy way) to the bus stop, arriving 1 minute before the bus!

I was so paranoid that we would miss the bus! If we had missed that bus it would have been 70 minutes of waiting for the next bus, or an hour walk home….. But now we have groceries for the week and won’t starve to death our first week here!

The night ended with some quality roommate bonding time over dinner (with our cultural differences and similarities present even just in our cooking habits–my Italian noodles with pesto and her Taiwanese noodles with Indian curry spices) and then a rather impromptu gathering at the apartment of some guys who have already been here for three months. Evonne (the roomie) and I planned to just pop by and say hi, talk to a few people, then head back to get ready for our first day. Two hours of socializing and getting advice from the people who have already been studying at Gastronomicom later, we escaped (while the party was still going) in order to be lame and shower before the night was completely over.

Tomorrow at 9:30am I will begin my actual courses…and I have to admit, I’M TERRIFIED! If you have read my blog at all, you will know that the two loves of my life are language and pastry, so it really doesn’t make any logical sense that I am nervous. But there you have it. According to the students I talked to today, Chef is amazingly talented but has not been a teacher long–and supposedly has the temper all chefs tend to have in the kitchen. I might need to go buy some tissues.

I have never stepped foot in a professional kitchen before, and I have no idea what is going to be expected of me. I don’t know that I will be allowed to use my phone or bring it with me into the kitchen, but I hope that I will be able to take pictures of the final products–and hopefully post recipes–to go along with my future blogs!

Thanks for reading, and come back very soon to read more about my introduction to pastry school here at Gastronomicom!

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