After a plane, a train journey and two taxis, I can officially say that I have arrived in France and at my home for the next year. Flying in over the Côte d’Azur I have to say is one of the best pre-landing sights that I have seen. With some magnificent yachts dotted amongst the pure blue sea, it really was a wonderful sight. Once we landed and I excited the airport a lovely wave of heat hit me as the sun shone down and it made me happy to be back to the sun. After a short taxi ride to the Gare de Nice Ville it was time to boards my train to head to Draguignan and my final destination. The train was delayed and after much confusion and swapping trains we were finally on our way. If there was ever a train journey to take in your life time this is it. Passing along the beautiful French coastline with unobstructed views of the sea it really is beautiful and then you head into mountainous areas as you head more inland but it is still stunning. Once I stepped off the train in Les Arcs- Draguignan I again was hit by the beautiful heat and after another short taxi ride (there is a bus but I had a huge suitcase to carry so taxi all the way) I arrived in Draguignan.
I have not spent much time in the south of France before so all of this was a new experience for me and between the buildings and terracotta roofed houses it is different to other places I have been to. I remember coming to the South when I was younger on holidays but I can’t really remember the details so it is like seeing it again for the first time. The town of Draguignan itself is surrounded by beautiful rolling green hills in a valley and having walked around for the past few days it really is beautiful and I am looking forward to exploring the surrounding areas more over the coming months and seeing places like Nice, Antibes, the Provence region and of course a visit to Monaco and Monte Carlo is something I can’t wait for as I remember visiting them on holidays when I was younger and can’t wait to go back and explore them more now that I am older.
I am staying in an apartment with 3 other assistants from America, Italy and Spain which is great. We each have our own room and then a common area of kitchen and dining room/sitting room along with 2 showers and 2 toilets so it is perfect. After living in my little room on Erasmus with a shared kitchen with 30 others this is like a palace and we also have an oven which is just wonderful. Another great thing is that we are all speaking French to each other and so even though I have not been here that long I can already feel that my French is improving with our simple conversations and also my confidence in my language which was exactly what I wanted. Our apartment in on the small campus of a teacher training college and so it is very secure. It is strange but us and the caretaker are the only people who are staying here and so during the evening and weekends we have the whole place to ourselves which is interesting. With it being only a 5-minute walk from the centre of the town and luckily only a 5-10 minute walk from each of my schools it is the perfect location.
The WiFi on the campus doesn’t stretch to our apartment and as my new laptop doesn’t have a space for an Ethernet cable I have been sitting outside the reception building to connect to the WiFi. It’s not so bad when the sun is shining and there is not one around, it’s kind of like I have my own garden to do work it. An adapter is in the post so hopefully soon I won’t have to venture out but can surf the net from the comfort of my bedroom which I think will be best come winter (Update Adpater is here and I am back in the world of the Inter Web). It’s not too bad as I have had some time away from the internet which I think is good every once in a while, to not be glued to my phone or laptop but talking to people in real life and discovering a new town and new places. I don’t think I can endure that for 7 months but for a couple of days it’s not too bad.
When this post goes live I will probably have been here about a week (internet problems) but so far it has been great. The girls I am living with are so nice and we have really become friends in the short time that we have been here which I know will only grow over the next 7 months. We have figured out that there is not much to do in Draguignan especially at the weekends but I’m sure we will figure out things to do and places to visit in the coming weeks. For now, we have time to explore before we all start working in the next week and seeing what life as a language assistant is like and of course you’ll be along for the ride.
Let me know if any of you have been language assistants or similar and how you got on.