Have you have heard of French bureaucracy? In reality, it’s even worse than you could imagine.For everything you do you need thousands of papers and approvals. My registration went a bit like this: you go to the international office, where they give you a paper to go somewhere else, so you go there, and once there, they give you another paper to go somewhere else, where they give you another paper to go somewhere else and so on . As a result of that experience, I started to appreciate how amazingly wellorganised Scotland is, and how everything works rather perfectly in Glasgow. It’s also incredibly difficult to contact people in France because of long lunch breaks and short office hours – on Wednesdays and weekends, it’s basically impossible to contact anyone. I still didn ́t have my timetable done in the second week of the semester, as the process of making your timetable is ridiculously hard for Erasmus students. You meet lots of angry students complaining about the system during the office hours of the Erasmus programme coordinators. It’s especially hard for students studying in the UK, as everything is organised there.Even the way the uni is organised doesn’t make sense to me. Everyone has the same lunch break and most people finish at the same time, which leads to long queues everywhere, whether you want to get lunch in the university cafeteria or just get on the metro on your way home. I guess this is just a French thing we ́ll all have to get used to.
Loving French culture
On the bright side, even though the all the paperwork is driving me crazy, the people I met were always helpful, whether they be another Erasmus student, a French student, a lecturer, or someone from the Erasmus society. In fact, while foreign students seem to get really stressed when dealing with this situation, the French don’t seem to be that bothered. When I told French students about my experience, they all said that it sounded completely fine, and that there’s no reason to stress out. Who really cares that I don’t have my timetable done or that I still have to bring 5 other papers to my accommodation office ? Probably no one other than me. Also, now that some time has passed, things are starting to settle down. I already have my timetable, and, even though it’s not exactly how I originally wanted it to be, I have most classes only 3 times a week, and lots of French clases, so I’m alright with it.There are also several things I really like about French culture. Every time they see each other, they greet each other by kissing each other on both cheeks, which I find extremely cute. While I was waiting in the accommodation office on the first day I spent here, I remember noting that every person who came in kissed everyone in the room. Even boys kiss each other. I think I ́ll easily get used to this custom. Another thing I love here is the food. The wines and the cheese are incredibly tasty and cheap here. It ́s possible to buy a really good bottle of wine for just 3 euro. And the cheese, aah!
Where else can you see Brie cheese bigger than your head or croissants longer than your arm? I´́d say that in general, French food is really good quality, and really tasty. French people also seem to know how to enjoy their food, judging by the long lunch breaks and long dinners. I must say I much prefer this to the British custom of quickly grabbing a sandwich for a lunch. They also serve wine with every meal. So when we had the welcome Erasmus lunch inside university building, they gave us wine.
I love it!
Because Toulouse is a city where there’s always something going on, last weekend there was a food festival in town. You could try different kinds of cheese, wines, pâtés and pastries. There is nothing better than a typical French pastry with honey and delicious French Roquefort cheese.
Toulouse is known for being a city of culture. There are plenty of galleries and museums, and they’re usually free for students. The first Sunday of every month all of them are free. If you don’t know where to go, Eima organises visits to them. We went on our own to the Augustine Museum
(Musée des Augustines).
There are also lots of concerts and festivals all the time. Last weekend there was an Occitan festival celebrating the Occitan language ( which is still spoken in the South of France) and traditions, and next weekend I’m planning to go to the Festival de la Bohème, which is a festival that celebrates Balkan music (something like Balkanarama in Glasgow). There’s also a so-called student week this week, which means that there’ll be loads of events going on all around the city. For fans of running, there’s also the famous Color Me Rad this Sunday.
Although my first weeks of Erasmus were lovely, I was a bit unlucky and got a cold last week. As if that wasn ́t enough, I ́ve been having a horrible toothache these past few days. The pain bad that I went to see a dentist. Luckily, the dentist was able to take me as an urgent case. It cost 23 euro just for the checkup, but I must say that it was really professional. He even took an Xray and gave me an anastethic so I didn ́t feel any pain. Also, if you have a European Insurance Card, your government may reimburse your medical expenses. It was really hard to understand what exactly he said, as my problem is a bit complex, but he prescribed me some antibiotics, so I hope the pain ́s going to disappear soon. As I wasn ́t feeling very well the past few days, I started to feel a bit homesick, but my friends here were really supportive!! Even though I’d only met them a few weeks ago, they are all trying to help me as much as they could, and asking me if I needed anything, offering to go to see the dentist with me and stuff. I guess I’m just a really lucky person always surrounded by great people !!:) Tonight we are having a big welcome party at my halls, but I’m just going to go for a while to meet some of my neighbours. I hope it will be a good opportunity to meet some new people here. I ́ll tell you all about it in the next blog.
If you have more questions feel free to get in touch!! I ́m always happy to help anyone who may need it!