Moving Abroad: The First Two Days

Two days ago I was sitting in my front garden, enjoying the last rays of English sunshine I would see for a while. I wrote in my diary that I didn’t feel anything in particular about my impending move to France, but that would probably all change in 24 hours. It did.

I had prepared to leave on Monday evening; catching the ferry overnight from Portsmouth to Caen. After saying some emotional goodbyes and packing away all my possessions, I made it just further than the end of my street before turning around and heading home. It wasn’t a last-minute panic. Our ferry had been cancelled due to ‘Industrial Action’ in Caen. French strikes – I should have known!

On Tuesday morning, I awoke at 5 and set off for our replacement crossing with my parents. This time, we made it all the way to France.

Perhaps this is the point where I should explain what I am doing moving abroad. For my third year of University, I have to spend a year in a French-speaking country. I will be working as an English Language Assistant (ELA) in a school in Mortain, which is about 1 ½  hours from Caen. Even though I will be speaking English at work, the idea is that I will immerse myself in all other aspects of French culture to improve my language and cultural understanding.

When we arrived in Caen, my parents and I drove to Mortain and met with one of the English teachers there. I had already met her here this summer, and she has been a great help. She showed me to my house (the school has allowed me to stay in one of their properties!) and took me to the nearest supermarket, where another English teacher appeared and introduced herself. I get the impression that Mortain is a relatively small town, where you wouldn’t be surprised to bump into someone you know.

Following my first night in my new home, I spent today (Wednesday), sorting out the flat that I will be moving into for some of my year abroad. This flat is in Vire, which is a larger town about 25 minutes away from Mortain. I should mention here that it seems vital to have a car here. The towns are much further apart than in the UK and, even if they weren’t, the roads do not seem particularly pedestrian friendly. Also, buses are apparently a foreign concept.

During our time in Vire today, there was one quite amusing incident. I was struggling to ask some very technical questions about Wifi in French (which I would struggle to do in English, by the way), so the shop assistant called his colleague over ‘who speaks better English’. Even though this woman could speak better English than her colleague I thought, I will not cave already, so I soldiered on in French. After an embarrassing amount of ‘uhhs’ and gesturing, the woman said, ‘We can do this in English, you know,’ in the most English accent you could find. She was native. I went beetroot.

I said goodbye to my parents about 2 hours ago. They will soon be on the ferry back home. I’m not sure what tomorrow holds, but I do have a French TV for company before my housemate arrives.

A bientôt!

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