Trip to Barcelona
As I mentioned before on my journey to France I had a week-long stopover in Barcelona to meet my friends from Glasgow. It was great to see all before I left for Toulouse for a year. It was also a bit sad, but that´s the thing you have to deal with when you decide to go traveling – that you´ll always be missing someone. In spite of that, I had a wonderful time and I recommend visiting Barcelona or the north of Spain to everyone who´s spending his or her year in France as it´s not that far away and it´s relatively cheap. 🙂
First Erasmus week in Toulouse
On the bus on my way from Barcelona I was lucky to sit just next to a group of Erasmus students from Toulouse who were coming back from a weekend trip in Barcelona. They were from a different university, but they were telling me great stories about Toulouse and life there. They were so nice that they made me feel pretty excited and during my first week in Toulouse I met with them a few times, as they already knew where to go. They showed me a place called Quai St. Pierre. It´s a square filled with bars where one of the bars holds a student night every day of the week. On Mondays, for example, if you have a beer at bar called Chez Tonton, you get another one for free. That was my first night out in Toulouse. It was crazy. I had heard that there was gonna be lots of people, but I didn’t expect that much. You couldn’t even move. It was also full of Erasmus students so you could hear all different languages being spoken. The square is also just next to the river so most people just buy a bottle of wine and sit on these big steps by the bridge and enjoy the lovely view of Toulouse at night.
As Toulouse is an Erasmus city, if you look for events with special offers you´ll always find something. For example, every Wednesday there is a night in a bar where girls get free entry and there is an open bar and free food from 7 to 10 – As much free alcohol and food as you want (my dreams come true)
There are 3 Erasmus societies in the city and they always organise huge parties. They even organise a one day festival in the mid-October that I’m going to go to. The Erasmus society at my uni is called EIMA, and it organised a full programme of events during the first week, like a typical French breakfast , a picnic, a tour of Toulouse, lunch together and “soirée” parties almost every night.
It costs only 3 euro to join EIMA for a year, and in their office you can always get free coffee, tea and sometimes some food. They also offer stuff which previous Erasmus students left there, like cutlery, bedclothes, and everything else you can think of. They are also really helpful; whenever you need something, whether it’s to solve your timetable crashes, find out where to go to see a doctor or just chat for a bit, they’re here for you. At the end of the week they organised a “Weekend de Bienvenue” close to Lake Revel. It was a great opportunity to get to know other students, play volleyball, and try canoeing or pedal boating. Because the weather here is still lovely in September people were sunbathing and swimming in the lake.
Eima organises weekend trips to different places in France almost every other week and during the week they organise events like museum trips, watching rugby together, bowling and everything you can imagine. So there is no way you´ll ever get bored here. 🙂
If you´re anxious about not finding any friends, you really have nothing to worry about. All the Erasmus students come here alone and everyone’s in the same boat. I managed to find a friend when I spilt wine all over the floor and a girl helped me to clean it up. We ended up talking for another hour. Everyone you meet just instantly adds you on Facebook or takes your number and invites you to a party or for a coffee. Even the French people are really nice and try to integrate us into the student life here. My French is not very good, but everyone I met tried to understand me, and they even offered me help anytime I needed it. On the first day that I moved into my halls, I had no internet (which lead to the posting of my first few blogs being a little delayed) and I didn’t know how to get to uni. So I just asked the first person I saw – a French guy – and he ended up taking me to uni, showing me the way there and explaining everything. So what’s with the stereotype that French people are rude? To be honest, my first week I tended to hang out more with English-speaking students, as there are so many of them, and it´s much easier to communicate with them than to use my broken French. However, because of the huge amount of Italian and Spanish Erasmus students, other Erasmus students communicate in French, which made me speak lots of French as well.
My first impression of halls was a bit disappointing. They’re not as sociable as in Britain and people just keep their doors closed. There’s no shared kitchen or common room or anything, there’s basically no way to meet other people. Therefore I would recommend getting a flat instead of halls in France, as finding a flat with French people is more fun and would help to improve your French. On the other hand, when you apply for halls, it is much easier and there’s not that much hassle about it. Plus my halls are quite big so whenever I am out I always meet someone else staying there and we’re able walk back home together. And we´re having a welcome party as well next week so it might not be that lonely at the end, hah.
As an Erasmus student I’m able to practise all the sports at uni for free. I just needed to sign up for them. The choice is quite wide and I chose to do badminton, volleyball, self-defence, yoga and hiking.
My impressions about Toulouse after first week are pretty positive so let´s see what happens when the actual classes start 😛 . Don´t forget to message me on Facebook or email me if you want to know more. 🙂