I’m here and, so far, so good. The trip made me nervous, but two planes, one bus, two trains and two cars later, it really couldn’t have gone smoother. But I did end up having to pay 0,50 Euros to use the bathroom at the train station. That was a bummer.
To be honest, I felt a little sad and overwhelmed during the first day and night. I kept asking myself, “why exactly am I here?” because the whole thing just seemed so daunting. But once I got settled into my room, seeing my things in their new places made me feel so much better. And finding the cards my mom hid in my suitcase was sweet too. It’s silly and SO like mom but I remembered when she did that in my trunk when I would leave for camp, back when I could only manage a week away from home.
To keep up my motivation I put a big AAA Europe map on the wall above my desk. I really just put it there to fill up the blank space but then I got the brilliant idea to start marking the places I’ve been. I look at it as a sort of answer to my “what am I doing here?” question. Plus, I have these really cute tiny butterfly stickers that cover the cities perfectly. To get a butterfly I must have an actual experience in the place, so train or plane stopovers don’t count. I think seeing this map will constantly remind me how blessed I am to have an experience like this and I should really make the most of it. Seeing those tiny butterflies may help quell some of the other butterflies in my stomach.
My roommate (another American assistant) didn’t come until Friday night so I had a whole day by myself. I think I did pretty well. I usually hate to “faire les courses,” or go grocery shopping, but it I liked walking around and seeing French products or recognizing the few American imports. Stuff was expensive but I bought the cheapest of everything and only got what I absolutely needed at the moment. I’m holding off on buying the bigger stuff (like a hairdryer) and things that I just really want (like a huge thing of Le Petit Marseillaise lotion) until I get a bank account.
I also got my first real glimpse of Besançon. The walk from my apartment into downtown takes about 30 minutes and doesn’t get very picturesque until it’s closer to Centreville. But the weather was pleasant and beautiful and I enjoyed getting my Besançon bearings. I also got a bus pass, a young person’s discount card, and a real French cell phone. Though I do feel empowered from accomplishing these errands in French, it was very clumsy and stupid French. I guess getting better is another reason I’m here. But I still have to get a bank account…
After my roommate arrived we met some other assistants and I realized that I’m not the only one that feels so unprepared and isn’t confident in their French. Hopefully, this will be a good start to a whole network of assistants who can empathize with me and help me quiet the butterflies in my stomach that come with this adventure.
p.s. With my camera I get an account to post pictures online. You can click here to see some pics of my apartment and a few shots of Besancon!