Sunday, January 10, 2010

So French

We had a very very busy few days here so we feel some updates are in order. We feel everything that's happened recently is best described by saying 'that is SO french' . Therefore we felt it was more than an appropriate entry title.

We have finished our first seminar and a have some great stories to share. Our prof did not disappoint on the second and third day. He wore another pair of Tweety socks on Friday and socks that said 'BINGO!' on Saturday. We presented our powerpoint on Sikorsky to the class. Sue told the class about their inclusive hiring mentality, employing veterans, the disabled and women. Our teacher seemed to find the hiring of women particularly hilarious since he started laughing and shaking his head at her during the presentation. Another group's presentation was apparently "boring", and could have used more colours and pictures according to him as well so we think we might have done okay.

Our exam was actually very challenging. We were allowed to use our computers however the hour time we were meant to be given was shortened to half an hour for no explained reason. Everyone struggled to finish in time and understand what the questions were asking. Google was not an aid, the term "freak truck" is not recognized as a valid negotiation tactic.

The Vending Machine
After a way too long morning, a few of us needed some food. Of course on a Saturday the school is a complete mess, with no one cleaning up after Friday afternoon. This also meant there was no cafeteria staff there. The vending machines were the only option. We all stared into the machine for a couple of minutes deciding what to get. It took us all about the same amount of time to realize that the 4th row was not pushed back in once someone refilled it. There was also 4 chocolate bars that had piled up on top of the row. 4 different people had bought something and watched it get trapped on top of the open row. Once we had all clued in, the french student who was with us said 'oh no' in the frenchest way ever. We maybe all peed ourselves. It also became clear that all of those same chocolate bars that were trapped on the open row were available below in the 5th and 6th row. It was the most unfortunate situation.

Saturday night the boys had some of the exchange and local students over. We had heard that they had a nice place but were not prepared to be totally offended at the luxury they were living in. The huge bedrooms with king size beds and bedding, high ceilings with antique moldings, interior decorating with mosaic tiled countertops and tables, bedroom with private balcony and fireplace, full appliances including a baguette sized toaster made us feel like complete garbage. It seems that it was our mistake to get a place in advance. The boys didn't know eachother before getting here, had no place set up, n o idea of what they were doing...we feel like we've been punished for being responsible, prepared students. We're both still not over it and may never go there again because of how terrible we STILL feel..

We could not withstand our jealously much longer and friended some french students. We followed them over to a local house party and immediately felt dramatically better about our living situation. It was a typical party house + some extra dirtiness. Smoking indoors is not a usual habit in Canada. People were not only smoking inside, they were putting the cigarette
s on the floor. The peed off the balcony, pooed on the carpeted floor and probably never cleaned anything up after.
Enjoy the photos. Not sure still if that's his actual hair.

Laure, the french student who lived in this apartment before us drove us out to Cannes for a shopping trip. It was finally sunny so it made the town all the more pretty. Sue was SO excited about the leather coat she found for a steal of price at Zara. We felt it represented her perfectly, and she immediately ripped off the tags and put it on after buying. Once getting home and taking it off, she noticed an abundance of her hair stuck in the studs on the back the jacket. Needless to say we needed some mourning time to consider how she could possibly wear it again. Laure is coming to Vancouver to work at the beginning of March. She speaks english very well and is a so friendly and welcoming. If anyone knows of any accommodations or companies who are looking to hire an intern, please let us know!

Find of the D
We showed you earlier the gem of shirt found in the Nice mall, we will continually add to this category throughout our stay here.

Fur covered vodka, warms you up on a cold day

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The first week in France!

So we've loved having espresso by the ocean, seeing all the little dogs, and meeting all of the amazing people that are drawn to the area. There is no shortage of things to do or see here. We've met a lot of fellow exchange students as well as a few locals and truly are loving our time in France. However, there have been so many humorous mishaps, that it would be a shame to keep them to ourselves. We hope no one will take this as us complaining about the great opportunity we have been given. We both have only the most positive attitudes about our exchanges and look at every mistake as a learning experience!

I guess we should start with the apartment. On a positive note, it's in one the best locations in the area and is walking distance to the water. We aren't paying a fortune and we've been able to decorate it ourselves...hmm however upon arrival it was not so desirable. Sheets and towels were tough to find on Saturday and Sunday in Juan les Pins and the floor had a SERIOUS scrub down. But now that we've settled in a bit, it's definitely livable. You could say its the perfect pre-party apartment.

Our first nights going out have been a bit of a change from what we're used to. Drinks are super expensive, about 13 euros expensive. After orientation on the first day, we had some Canadian and American exchange students over before meeting everyone at a local bar. We were BY FAR the most obnoxious group there, ordering giant tube-like beer sleeves and taking turns drinking out of them, sans cup. We had one casualty early on, taking a bit of a nap on the bar. Needless to say, I don't think we can go back ever again...

The Bus
We've had some trouble figuring out the bus system...It seems to come when and where it feels like visiting.
Lesson #1: If you are at a bus stop alone, it is not coming. If there is at least one french person there, you're good. We still seemed to have not picked this one up ourselves as numerous times we have waited for more than an acceptable amount of time, in the rain for the bus.
Lesson #2: The buses go really fast, especially in the dark, during rush hour periods. P.S. Learn the basic apology words in french well as you will fly into other passengers
Lesson #3: You may see signs saying "this bus will never be coming here again". It is true so believe it. You may also see full bus routes and schedules at stops, yet no bus will ever come there.


Since we're both really into expanding our wardrobes while here, we've been trying to shop around...
!!do not shop at the only mall in Nice the day before a region wide, month long sale!!
Us along with Taylre and Steph, ventured (on the most backwards bus route ever) to the Cap 3000 mall in Nice. We all found some good stuff, however we kept noticing large sections of stores were taped off and being marked down. After finishing our shopping journey, we asked customer service what was going on. Apparently in January on a Wednesday they mark down everything for the whole month. We shopped Tuesday night.

the day wasn't a total right off, we did find this gem of a t-shirt.
As Jason says best,
"I'm ALWAYS saying how ready I am for a carefree afternoon with friends!" Awkward English translation, I'm sure it will continue not to disappoint. Will keep posting are marvelous finds!

Our first day of school
Our experiences with the school haven't been too bad so far. We both have our schedules worked out and didn't seem to have any issues. We had our first seminar today with Scott which was initially really interesting and we were really proactive about learning the material. However, after the 'prof' starting writing with a permanent marker on the dry erase board (see photo), sat down and revealed his Tweety bird socks, and integrated french language and grammar into several of our english slides we quickly realized failure in our first course was a definite possibility.
The class was actually a lot harder than any of us realized, as we had to prepare a 15 minute powerpoint after an hour and thirty minutes of class. The first group also didn't help our confidence, as they had an amazing presentation a nd the y barely spoke english. So the three of us spent most the remaining class day stressing about the final exam. It feels like you're cramming for a final that you never any class for. We'll update you with the results and try to sneek a copy of the exam out for future exchange students...

The dogs are adorable and well groomed, but there is poop absolutely everywhere. Lisa had a dog almost pee on her leg yesterday and we've checked our shoes many a time.

Overall, all of the french we've met have been really helpful and patient with our terrible attempts to speak the language. We have so many plans to see different parts of Europe and are looking forward to exploring the area some more.