Sunday, 22 September 2013

Year Abroad #2


I have lots of updates for you guys, because I've had a super busy couple of weeks. First off, I started university about 2 weeks ago, which has been....interesting. I'm not sure if it's indicative of all French universities, but this place could not organise a piss up in a brewery. I spent the first week going to scheduled lectures that didn't happen, and only managed to get to a lecture on the first Thursday. For one of my seminars, the room and time was changed twice in advance, but as too many people showed up to the class, we had to move room another two times; and in another seminar, people had to sit on the floor because the room wasn't big enough. Because I'm an ERASMUS student, I'm not registered on any courses yet, and so, I'm not on any mailing lists. Apparently, extensive room and time changes for lectures is really common here, so if you're reading this as a prospective ERASMUS student...make sure you email your lecturers and seminar leaders to let them know you exist!

It was my 21st birthday on the 7th September, so I had a little soirée in my apartment, which was really fun. My flatmate invited some of her friends, and I invited the few people I know here at the moment, so we had a nice mix of French and international students. The weekend after, my boyfriend came to stay, so I got to have two birthday weekends! On the Saturday night, we went to a restaurant called Léonard de Vinci, which is just off Place Plumereau, where we had an amazing meal. I had fillet steak with foie gras and truffle oil followed by sorbet, my boyfriend had a swordfish steak with a creamy risotto, with cheesecake for dessert. The restaurant is slightly pricey, but it was well worth it, and the service was fantastic. It is also one of the only places I have been to where the staff speak English, and the menus are in English too (this isn't really much use for me, but from a tourist's point of view, it's great). We then went for a drink in Le Carré Blanc which is a bar also just off Place Plumereau. I highly recommend this bar as it does 3€ mojitos on a Friday night from 6 until 9 pm, and they are GOOD mojitos.

On Sunday, I finally got to go to Zooparc Beauval. This is one of the best zoos in the world, and is home to France's only giant pandas. We got the train to St. Aignan - Noyers and then walked 2 km to the town of St. Aignan, which is absolutely gorgeous! We went to the tourist office to find some taxi numbers, because we didn't want to walk the remaining 5 or so km to the zoo, but a really nice family gave us a lift. There are hundreds of different types of animals at Beauval, so I won't list them all, but they had some that I had never seen before, including a brown bear, an ant eater, orang-utans, gorillas and the giant pandas. The highlight of the day was meeting a very inquisitive penguin, and watching the baby elephant chuck numerous objects, including hay and a water bottle, over his head. It was great to see giant pandas for the first time, but my God, they are so lazy. I watched the enclosure for about 45 minutes until one of the pandas finally got up to eat some dinner. The reaction to the pandas moving was amazing; Ant and I had been on our own, but when the panda got up, about 50 people came running, clicking the shutters on their SLR cameras. It is a seriously lovely zoo, and only 25€ entry, which I think is incredible, because there is so much to see there, I would definitely recommend this if you're ever in the Loire or Cher valleys.

So I had an incredible weekend, thanks to my squidgy and I'm enjoying keeping busy, although it is a bit of a stress. I'm gradually getting used to the differences between France and the UK, even if it is infuriating at times! Until next time.....

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  1. What a lovely update and it looks like you've had an amazing time - well deserved too :O). Xx


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