I can’t believe it’s already been over a week since I arrived in Angers! Time has gone by so fast and I’ve barely had any time to stop and think. Last Tuesday I left Montpellier and my wonderful host mom Liliane. My first TGV train was 20 minutes late to Paris and since I had to switch train stations in Paris, I missed my second train. I managed to get my ticket switched over to the next train to Angers and arrived at the train station here at 7:30pm where my new host mom, Sylvaine, and Sue Crust, the AHA program director, met me.
My new host family has been great! I have a mom, Sylvaine, a dad, Alain, a 17 year-old host sister Faustine, and two brothers who are both in their twenties named Sylvain and Florian. The best part is that Florian has a dog, an 8 year-old lab named Vodka! She is super sweet and reminds me a lot of my dog Mia, which makes me really happy!
Tuesday night I settled in and Wednesday morning I went to my new university, Université Catholique de l’Ouest, for an information session with Sue and to meet my new program members. There are six of us in total and 5 of us are from Oregon, which is a great change. I’ve definitely missed my Oregonians! It was like a mini homecoming which is what I needed after saying goodbye to all of API friends. Sue took us on a tour of Angers and helped us to buy some things that we needed and showed us a few good places to shop before leaving us to explore and head home.
Thursday brought the morning of “The Big Test,” which is the placement test for classes here. It seemed a lot scarier than it really was but it did take about an hour and a half to complete with its 120 questions. Afterwards we ate lunch and then Sue took us out to visit the Château d’Angers for the afternoon. Thursday night CIDEF (Centre Internationale d’Etudes Français, aka my portion of this university) had a get-together at a bar named Soft and the first drinks of the night were free so everyone in my group headed over to meet people. It was a pretty small portion of the people in the program (102 in total in the program), but it was pretty fun trying to find the partner they assigned to you at the front door.
Friday was the first day of classes. I was placed into level 5 which is equivalent to the level B2 (same level as in Grenoble) and is the highest level offered for this month. I was excited about that but it turned out to be a very long day with class starting at 9am and ending at 3:45pm.
Saturday I went with Megan, Julie, Emily, and Harry to the outdoor markets and then went to see The Dark Knight Rises. Loved the movie!! Afterwards Megan, Julie, Emily, and I checked out some stores and did some shopping and then went home early and called it a night.
Sunday was the day of our first excursion and true to the nature of all excursions, it began bright and early at 6:45am. We took a bus to visit Mount St. Michel, which looks like a small mound of castle on an island, even though it’s actually all built around a cathedral. After Mount St. Michel we ate lunch and headed to the cute little beach side town of St. Malo where it immediately proceeded to pour rain on us. Soon after the sun came out and we were able to go down and walk on the beach and I got to see the other side of the Atlantic for the first time!
After class got out at 3:45pm on Monday Julie and I headed out for a bit of shopping and returning of some items. She also helped me to get some bearings on the town since she was here for the July program as well. For those of you that happen to know me from my time in Sherwood, this Julie is Julie Grove, whom I went to Sherwood Middle School with back in the dark days and we were editors and contributors for our school’s LitMag (literary magazine) at the time. She now goes to University of Oregon and we just happened to be in France in the same program at the same time, which has turned out to be really fun! Second reason why the world got smaller in AHA: Megan G. is another girl in my program and we’ve been making bungee jumping and Euro Disney plans together. I tagged her on Facebook and low and behold–one of my other friends knows her! Oddly enough, my friend Megann T. who I rode on the OSU Equestrian Drill Team with, went to school with Megan G. in 4th and 5th grade. In Tokyo, Japan. Small world!
Last night there was an outdoor concert held by the river across from the Château. The monotrices, which are our native French teaching assistants who lead our oral expression and laboratory sessions, organized an outing and met and lead whoever showed up to the concert. Even though eclectic African music isn’t my favorite genre it was still a really fun night and I’m glad I went!
Today was my longest day of classes yet, beginning at 9am and ending at 5pm, but I think I’m finally getting into the swing of things! Still get lost every time I go on a run but so far that’s the best (and only) way I know how to figure out a new city. Can’t believe I’m still happy to be here but certain things back home are definitely starting to press in on me: I got accepted to Pro School for Industrial Engineering at OSU (yay!) and have finally registered for my classes. However, that has allowed more mundane things to invade my fun in France, such as buying textbooks. Oh, and my homework for French class! I keep forgetting I’m in school and not on vacation, but luckily I haven’t forgotten to do it yet! I’m sure all that will change once I return but for now I am content to enjoy my time in France, even if it does involve loooooong days of class.
A toute à l’heure!