Home, Sweet Home

Because I found an apartment, y’all! 🙂

It’s a GREAT place. It’s big, with a living room (with a pull-out couch), a separate kitchen, and a full bathroom. It’s fully furnished and it even has a TV, so maybe I’ll be able to accomplish my goal of getting hooked on a French TV show. I was flipping through channels today and it was mostly news and a few channels playing dubbed versions of American TV shows– I Dream of Jeannie, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and the Simpsons hahah.

Here are some pictures:

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The living room/bedroom, with a bed that folds back into a sofa, plus the wardrobe/entertainment center and TV

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Bathroom with WASHING MACHINE 🙂

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Kitchen

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Rest of the kitchen

I don’t have a balcony or much of a view, but I’m at the top of a hill so I imagine there’s probably a few nice views of the city somewhere.

I like it a lot so far, but it doesn’t quite feel like mine yet. I was a little bummed out yesterday because I had become familiar with the area where I was living– I knew where the grocery store was, I was discovering my favorite boulangeries, I remembered how to get to the bus stop, and I liked being by the sea.  All the little things.  I moved all the way across the city, where nothing is familiar now and I have to discover everything AGAIN.  Hopefully it’ll be easier this time though. I went grocery shopping, and having things in the kitchen makes it feel a little bit more like home.

If you want my address, FB message me or send me an email and I’d be happy to share 🙂

Au revoir!

Our French word for today is:
cafard (ka-FAR)- cockroach
Bien que j’aie redoutĂ© le dĂ©mĂ©nagement, j’ai vu plusieurs cafards dans le studio, donc j’ai dĂ©cidĂ© que je dois partir!
Even though I was nervous to move again, I had seen several cockroaches in the studio so I decided I had to leave!

If at first you don’t succeed…

… it might be your accent.

Seriously. One of my biggest fears before coming to France was that I would forget how to speak French or that people wouldn’t be able to understand me or that I wouldn’t be able to understand anyone else. But so far I’ve been told by a cab driver that my French speaking is very good, by a rental agent that my French writing is very good, and by two different people at a hostel in Paris that my French accent sounds like it could be QuĂ©bĂ©cois or British. So this post is about my speedbumps and subsequent successes during my first week in France, which may or may not be due to my accent/ability/inability to speak French. And bear with me, people. This is going to be a long post with lots of pictures (so easy for Uma to understand… 😉 )

When I finally got to Nice, I turned right around the next day and got on a train to Paris to set up a bank account and meet the head honchos at the Franco-American Commission (where Fulbright is based). I walked around the Bastille area of Paris, visited the cinémathÚque francais and the musée du cinéma, stayed at a hostel, tried my first French candy bar (the pic below), and then went back to Nice the next day. Overall, a pretty successful trip.

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Now at this point I’m back in Nice. I’ve already mentioned a little bit about the temporary studio I’m in, but let me take this moment to fill you in completely. The entire studio is probably like 150 square feet total. There’s a bathtub that’s half the size of a normal tub, with no shower curtain, and the ceiling above it is about 4 feet tall. There’s no toilet in the studio– it’s out on the landing– which is fine and not a big deal, but there’s also no easily accessible hallway light, so if I have to go to the bathroom after 7pm, I have to take my keys so I can lock the apartment door, toilet paper, and a flashlight. The “kitchen” is actually just a sink, a mini-fridge, and 2 hotplates. The bed is pretty nice, but it’s a weird shape and the ceiling above it is like 2 feet high.

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BUT I’ve had some good leads on apartments, so hopefully within the week I’l be posting pictures of my new place. Here’s some pictures of views from potential apartments:

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Public transportation in Nice is pretty similar to any other city, with several bus lines and a tram line. It’s only 1 euro to ride one way (that’s HALF the cost of an el trip in Chicago) and there’s a website to help you plan out your trips. Seems easy, right? Mmm, no. One of the first bus trips I took I started on the Promenade des Anglais, the biggest road in Nice that runs along the Mediterranean Sea (the equivalent of Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive). Apparently, when you take a bus from this street you have to actually “hail” it– like wave your hand and signal the driver to stop. I didn’t know this, so when the driver stopped for me about half a block past the stop, I got a lecture on how you have to wave your hand to stop the bus because he could get in an accident. Then he said something I didn’t catch and I gave him a blank look. And then guess what he said to an old woman on the bus?! “Oh, she doesn’t speak any French.” Because I didn’t understand ONE sentence. I really want to become part of the community in Nice and I don’t want to be taken for a tourist or a dumb American, so that made me kind of mad. But I’ve taken the bus a few more times and haven’t had any more problems. I even managed to get back from an apartment viewing without looking up directions!

As for feeding myself, I’ve basically had to re-learn how to go grocery shopping. Aside from the fruit and vegetable stands and the boulangeries/patisseries (bread and pastry shops), there are regular old supermarkets, too. The first supermarket I went to didn’t have peanut butter and I also forgot the word for turkey, so I took a lucky guess and grabbed some sliced “dinde” to have for lunch (I was right, by the way). Since then, I’ve found a closer supermarket AND it has peanut butter AND nutella in a GLASS jar #livinthelife (in the US, it only comes in plastic jars). I even found an instant cappuccino mix that actually FOAMS when you add hot water 🙂

So I guess the less is if at first you don’t succeed, try again and again and again until you get it right. Even though I get discouraged sometimes, I know I have to put myself out there or I’m not going to learn anything!

Au revoir for now!

P.S. I’ve gotten a request for a phonetic French lesson– the sounds that make up French words are different than the sounds that make up English words (there’s even an entirely separate French phonetic alphabet), but I’ll try my best. Today’s word is:

décalage horaire (DAY-kal-aj OR-air)- jetlag
Il y a une diffĂ©rence de six heures entre Nice et Cleveland, donc j’ai connu immĂ©diatement le dĂ©calage horaire.
There’s a difference of six hours between Nice and Cleveland, so I immediately experienced jetlag.

Life ain’t always beautiful, but it’s a beautiful ride

In high school during basketball season, we had to run the “beep test” every so often (for those of you who are unfamiliar, the beep test is a terrible fitness test where you run back and forth across the gym trying to beat the “beeps” as they play faster and faster until you can’t run anymore and/or you throw up). I thought that was the hardest thing I’d ever done.

In college, various organic chemistry tests, engineering problem sets, and then the MCAT quickly topped the list of hardest things I’d ever done.

Until now.

This is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done. I’m not quite sure if I was expecting it to be a piece of cake to come to a foreign country that speaks a different language where I know no one and have no apartment, bank account, or phone, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this hard. It’s only been a week and I already miss peanut butter, Pandora (doesn’t work here), Netflix (also doesn’t work here), leaves changing color, fall weather, refrigerated milk, and not having to carry my keys, toilet paper, and a flashlight to the bathroom (more on that later…)

For the first few days, I hated it. Why was I here? What was I thinking when I signed up for this? Would I ever feel comfortable in this new place? Would I ever be able to stop crying? I wished I had just one person here with me to share it with– to maybe take half of the burden so it wouldn’t be so hard.

So I gave myself one week to cry in my apartment, and then I did one of the things I do best: I made a list. I actually made a lot of lists. And that’s what this blog is dedicated to… not to lists, per se, but to the content of those lists: my fears, goals, expectations, accomplishments, frustrations, and other random encounters over the next eight months. I’m planning on having the best year of my life, and I want to share it all with you 🙂

So let me start by sharing my first list: my goals for this year
1. See 1 new city every month.
2. Join a church.
3. Take a French class.
4. Join an athletic club.
5. Lean how to cook a French meal.
6. Explore tourist-y Nice.
7. Discover not-tourist-y Nice.
8. Make new friends.
9. Find an apartment.
10. Get a phone.
11. Volunteer.
12. Finish my Fulbright project.
13. Get hooked on a French TV show.

I’ll keep adding to the list, too. If anyone has any other suggestions, I want to hear them!

But this is why life isn’t always beautiful. Sometimes it’s unbearably hard and lonely in a cramped studio with 2 hotplates, a minifridge, and a bathtub you can’t even stand up in. But I know the experiences I will have this year will make up for that. They will be beautiful.

Au revoir!

P.S. At the end of every blog post, we’re going to have a French lesson… one new French word I’ve learned that day/week. Our first word is:
mansardĂ©– an adjective that describes an attic room with slanted ceilings
Ma chambre est mansardée donc je ne peux pas me tenir debout!
My room is in the attic with slanted ceilings so I can’t stand up straight!