I have now been in Bordeaux for two weeks, and in order to stop telling myself that I should be spending every single moment making friends or exploring this lovely city, I’m going to take a minute to look at what I have done.
Made friends: This was actually the first thing I did! Some friends of a friend of a friend were kind enough to pick me and my friend up from the station, host us for the night, and take us to the university. There, we met the third OU student at Bordeaux-Montaigne, who has been lots of fun to hang out with.
Got my apartment set up: This, along with various paperwork, was the main reason that I arrived early. Luckily for my budget, I arrived during les soldes, the yearly sales at the beginning of January. I also went to a large open-air market that gathers on Saturdays in downtown Bordeaux, which sold lots of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as clothes and household items. In between supermarkets and markets, I visited the gorgeous old churches nearby.
Found places I might hang out: While I have not explored far and wide, I have found some places I intend to (or already have) return to.
- The tram – while it might not be my end destination, it is an excellent way of getting around Bordeaux and I’m delighted to have gotten a pass so I can use it as much as I want.
- Bookstores – so far I’ve been to two: Mollat, which is a wonderful maze of books, and Le Fouillis du Livre, which has some cheaper used books to bulk up my collection
- The university library – is actually divided into several smaller libraries, one of which is dedicated to foreign languages
- Cafe Istanbul – the first restaurant I’ve been to in France. The owner already seems to recognize my odd, bread-less order
Enrolled in classes: This took a lot longer than I was hoping. Because of when I was able to get my account activated, I couldn’t enroll until Thursday… after classes had already started. So I went to classes on Thursday and Friday, but for the rest I had to wait till this week. Since I usually enroll for spring semester in October, this was probably the largest adjustment I’ve had to make.
Because the classes are not worth as many credit hours as at OU, I got to enroll in 8! All of my courses meet for two hours, once a week, and so far have not given me much homework. I am taking sociolinguistics, history of the Muslim west, Moroccan Arabic, contemporary Arab civilisation, French -> Arabic translation (thème), Andalusian literature, experimental phonetics, and computational linguistics. It’s a nice mix of things I could have studied at OU but get to learn in French, and things that I would not otherwise have gotten the chance to study (such as computational linguistics). It does rather mess with my brain when the teacher switches between French and Arabic in class, but I look forward to getting used to it.
Visited churches: I’ve visited two different churches and some of their activities: Pessac Baptist and Bordeaux Church (the church of the people who welcomed us to Bordeaux). Both churches, while small, have been very welcoming. It’s always so lovely to see God’s church in a new place and experience fellowship there.
Kung fu: Yep, you did read that right. I’m in a new place, I might as well try something new, right? I’ve only been once, but it was a ton of fun and I hope to return. Everyone was very patient with my complete ignorance of martial arts.
Used French: The most important thing! I have practiced French constantly (though obviously not right now), in all the places that I’ve mentioned so far. I even went to a French concert! Since I’m pretty introverted, French TV and books are excellent ways to keep practicing French while I take a refreshing pause from all the new places and people. I thoroughly appreciate Netflix’s recognizing that I am in France and giving me more French TV shows and dubs.
Even though I’ve spent plenting of time resting, I think it’s helped make my introduction to Bordeaux both productive and relaxed, and I look forward to further exploring!