By Natalie Highton
I’m on my third week of my year abroad and I’m still breathing (just about). After two of weeks of madness, here’s a quick overview of what I’ve been up to:
I traveled to Strasbourg by train with my parents and my lovely new suitcase made it as far as London before the wheels fell off and my dad had to drag the dead weight through the streets of Paris then through Strasbourg. Definitely owe him big time since he nearly lost a limb in the process…
Anyway, we arrived at Amitel around 8:30 at night to find out it is still a building site but there’s just odd jobs that need doing and there’s a bar that’ll be open at the end of the month which is cool. They showed me to my room, which is massive by the way but there was no shower curtain which was highly inconvenient as you can imagine, after 12 hours of traveling. It took about three days of persistently asking before I got one but I managed it and the word for shower curtain is embedded into my brain (un rideau de douche). Win win.
The rest of the week mainly consisted of; getting the important stuff done like setting up a bank account, insurance, birth certificate translated and getting some essentials for my flat. We managed to get some bargains from Kehl, Germany which is about ten minutes away on the bus from Woolworths which was a massive throwback, although they didn’t have any pick ‘n’ mix…
We also did a little sight seeing like visiting La Petite France and the Cathedral of Strasbourg. The whole town is so picturesque, there’s something interesting to see on every corner. It’s also a really student friendly place, as well as being historic so there’s lots happening. On the Saturday there was a zombie walk to celebrate the festival, Européen du film Fantastique de Strasbourg where, thousands of people gathered in Place Kleber to be made into a zombie for free, then they marched through the streets following a zombie shouting through a megaphone… insane.
My mum and dad really liked it here and I think leaving me here was a little easier after seeing how nice and safe the town is. Although, it was still hard saying bye to them at the train station.
The second week was a lot less stressful, as my two best friends came to visit me. We mostly went sight seeing, shopping, visited a couple of local bars and ate cake. The cakes here in Strasbourg are actually amazing and there’s a patisserie just across the street from my building, very dangerous.
We went for a picnic in Parc de l’Orangerie ,which is a beautiful park right near the European parliament. We also passed Les Droits de l’homme which is the European Human Rights Court. There were some protesters camped outside and various posters were along the railings protesting about different things. It was interesting to see because at university I learned that the French motto is “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” (Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood) and they highly value human rights so this really put it into context for me.
We also visited the German City of Freiburg which is right on the edge of the black forest and it only cost us £8 each return! The public transport here is a lot better in so many ways it’s comfier, cheaper and (mostly) on time. Anyway, we got lost trying to find the city centre by turning right instead of left although we did walk right to the edge of the forest and found a cute cafe called Artjamming, where you could also paint if you fancied it… We eventually found the centre and just wandered around, it’s a very nice place and there’s loads of mini canals running through the city. The buildings are beautiful especially the cathedral, Freiburg Minster and Historisches Kaufhaus, an old merchant’s hall. There’s still lots to see and do, such as taking a cable car up through the black forest and for an £8 train ticket I definitely plan to go back!
At the weekend we went to an Erasmus club night and also to a Ska night at a bar which we really enjoyed! It was nice exploring Strasbourg and Germany a bit more with my friends and it was harder saying bye to them at the train station because it meant I was definitely on my own then.
A bientôt !
Natalie Highton is a 3rd year French student at MMU on a year abroad in Strasbourg, France. She is currently writing a blog for the Routes into Languages Scheme. Take a look here. You can also follow Natalie on Twitter @NatalieHightonx