It has now been almost a week since I arrived in France, and QUITE a lot has happened already! I was in Marseille for two days where I had an amazing stay in an Air Bnb and got to explore the Vieux Port and climb to the top of the Notre Dame Cathedrale, where I had an amazing view of Marseille almost in its entirety. I arrived at Barcelonnette on Wednesday morning, where I was greeted by a friend of the previous American assistant here. In just a few days, I’ve already met many of the locals, and I’ve pretty much seen the entire town (it is that small).
Biggest difficulties so far:
- The obvious: Speaking French
- Surprisingly, in Marseille, less people spoke English than I expected. My Air Bnb hostess only spoke French, so it was a bit hard to communicate at first, but she turned out to be so helpful, accompanying me to the bus station to buy my ticket to Barcelonnette and helping me purchase a French SIM card for my phone. Without her, I really don’t know how I would have gotten anything done in Marseille.
- It is the opposite in Barcelonnette – most people here speak at least a little bit of English. My biggest allies are probably the English teachers, because I can actually have conversations with them in English, and they all have been so helpful and understanding so far. Most of the time, if I am hanging out with multiple people, I am just standing there listening to them talk back and forth, trying to understand at least a little bit of what they are saying, and then someone who speaks a bit of English will turn to me and explain what they were just talking about.
- In summary: the language barrier is a bit difficult right now, but I know it will get easier every day.
- As I expected, the French way of eating is quite a bit different from ours in the United States. The biggest difference for me is dinner time. Usually I will eat breakfast here sometime between 8 and 10am and then lunch sometime between 12 and 2pm, which isn’t so different, but dinner doesn’t usually happen until around 9pm, which is a long time away from lunch so I am always hungry in between!
- Also, the brands of food here are all COMPLETELY different from the ones in the United States, so I have to stand and read each label for at least 2 minutes to figure out exactly what I am buying. (Also all the labels are in French, so…it takes even more time.)
- Internet Access
- This has been one of the biggest difficulties for me, especially for the last few days, because the person that I am stay with does not have WiFi in her apartment, so I have been running around the town every day, searching for little bits of free wifi here and there. I had also been using the small amount of data I had with my French phone, but I just used it all up last night…and I still have another 3 weeks to go until the plan refreshes. So if anyone has been having difficulty reaching me…now you know why.
I won’t bore you all with any more details…I think the correct slang to put here would be
Now I’ll finish off this post with some pictures (I took many more, but these are my favorites):