So I finished my first week of school, and I figured I’d post something for you guys. However, I haven’t really done anything extraordinary, just had my everyday life going on. So I thought to myself, perhaps this would be a good time to write a post about what my daily life in Dijon looks like.
I get up every morning and have the debate about whether I should lie in bed a while longer or get a hot shower. The hot water in our area shuts off in the afternoon/evening so the only time to shower warm is early. As a night owl who prizes her sleep, I have a hard time making myself get up. However, I’ve found I care more about hot showers than sleep. I get up early to go do that. Sometimes I let myself go back to sleep for an hour to let my hair dry (I am not a hair dryer person).
I proceed to grab a bite of breakfast before heading off to classes. Most days I start at 9, but thankfully Monday and Wednesday I start at 11. Breakfast in France is not considered a big deal. As long as people get their coffee they’re happy. I usually have some toast, or some fresh bread if available. If not usually a slice of cheese or a yogurt. The French people do love their dairy (other than milk which comes in boxes that don’t need to be refrigerated…which still weirds me out).
At 8:15 or 10:15 depending on the day, I walk out of the house and through the gate to our little courtyard and then down through several pedestrian only streets until I reach the tram. It usually takes under ten minutes. I then get to wait for the right tram heading towards the University of Bourgogne (Burgundy). It’s not a super long ride, of course it depends if there are problems, or if it’s super crowded or not.
I arrive at the University and head over to a kind of student union building where most of the international students hang out. I wait there until class is ready to start because our building for classes have no waiting room inside, so it’s pointless to get there early.
My classes aren’t really specified in what they are. They’re all just French language classes. So everyday I arrive and we practice the four basic things all language students need to understand: reading comprehension, oral comprehension, written expression, and oral expression. Right now my level is working on learning about health so we read articles about the French healthcare system, do worksheets that expand our vocabulary, do exercises in class, and of course write or discuss our own country’s healthcare.
My class has a wide range of nationalities, though there is a large Asian concentration (or at least larger than I’m used to being from some very “white” areas of the world). I believe we have seventeen students with five Koreans, four Chinese, two Japanese, one Russian, one Indian, two Venezuelans, and two Americans (myself included). I love getting to learn more about other people’s cultures and being immersed in such diversity. I’ve never had the experience of being around so many different races, ethnicities, cultures, it’s just fabulous and I love it. It’s definitely something that I don’t get a lot of back at Fox no matter how hard my University tries to achieve diversity, it just isn’t like this.
Classes go for two hours and then we’re released for a lunch break. Thankfully I ended up with good times to go eat at the cafeteria on campus when it’s not super crowded (12 o’clock is rush hour) so I usually head over there. For any Fox students reading this I will tell you I like the Bon food better…so…we have a better cafeteria than that in France. However, the food here is cheaper probably partly because they have a points system rather than an all you can eat buffet. However, I know little about how either place is run so I won’t complain too much. Either way, 3 Euros for a main dish, side dish, veggies, two items from a yogurt/dessert/fruit/salad/cheese bar, and a piece of bread is nothing to sneeze at. Food here can be expensive so unless I’m eating at home it’s probably the most economic option.
I grab my tray, pick my choices of food. They always have French fries so…that’s always a good option when all else fails. As always yogurts and cheeses which are pretty much amazing. And there’s always bread, though I’ve taken to wrapping mine up to take home for an afternoon snack, because dinner is a bit later than I’m used to.
I head back for afternoon classes except on Wednesdays and Fridays. On Mondays I get the pleasure of having a bigger civilization class with all of the students in my level. We meet in one of the big lecture halls to sit through two hours talking about statistics, history, all kinds of things. Other days I just have my regular language classes.
I take the tram back home for the afternoon once finished with class. As I get more work I might stay and work in the library or the international media center, but for now I find my room a pretty good place to settle in and get some work done. It’s small and private and I really love it. My host was worried for a while that I wouldn’t like my room, but it really feels like home and I feel happy every time I come in. My family has also been super nice and put internet in my room and bought a new lamp since it was a little bit dark. Some days I like to sit on my bed and look out at the rain. Other times I just sit at my desk so I can better work on homework.
I don’t have too much work yet. I’m not feeling too stressed out. There is a possibility I might change levels and if so I’ll have more work. But for now it’s all good. One of the things I’ve been doing to improve my French is listening to the radio most days for a half an hour. I don’t always understand everything, especially if I’m looking on the internet or multitasking. But I can get the gist of it.
I suppose that’s been one of my happiest revelations is that I can function here in France. Even if I’m not perfect with the language, even if I’m not in a super high leveled class, I’m able to get to and from school everyday. I can buy stuff at the store, order a pastry, go to a restaurant. I can have pretty good conversations with my host, explain a movie I watched, tell her about my day, and even sometimes talk about more in depth things like my fears or my past. I’m living in France, speaking the language everyday, and I’m doing fine. And that makes me so happy.
Anyhow, evenings tend to get pretty late because the French don’t eat at the same time we do as Americans (or at least my family does). Usually it’s getting around 8 or 9 by the time we sit down, so I’ve taken to eating something light in the afternoon like my bread I take from the cafeteria.
Dinners are pretty great. My host keeps things pretty simple, but even so they’re delicious. Also living with other international students lets me try new foods sometimes. The Indonesian student here made some great pasta one day, and we had some pretty awesome meatballs from another girl living here. Tonight I believe it’s going to be soup which is always lovely especially on a cold rainy day like today. Having good food definitely is a perk of living with a family rather than out on my own trying to cook for myself. I’ve been told I might have to help sometimes, so we’ll see how that adventure goes. I’m not much of a cook, but maybe this will give me a chance to learn. Yesterday Lydia (the other American student) and I made crepes which were delicious. So that was a success at least!
Evenings are just used finishing up homework and relaxing. I try to head to bed semi-early (for me) to get a good start on the next day.
So, that’s my everyday life. Hope to have some more exciting updates in the future. Next weekend I’m taking a trip with CIEF (the organization I’m studying with) to Lyon, a nearby city. It should be really fun. I look forward to sharing that.