I was going to wait until the first day of classes to post another entry, but as today marked the beginning of my real exploration of the town of Angers, I almost feel obligated to share it with someone.
First off, I'm still not a fan of the bus system. It's useful, I'll admit, and a lot better than walking an hour to school, but I would much rather take the metro, where I know the stops and everything is clearly marked. Can you guess where I'm going with this yet?
This morning I wake up, get ready for my first every experience at my university [also called the Catho], and leave with the other exchange student lodging at my place of residence.
::not so short interjection::
First things first, my family is wonderful. They're kind, welcoming, funny and tell me I basically rock at French, which is comforting. The mother [Valérie] is quite the chatter, and the father [Philippe] is hilarious. They also have a daughter that stays on occasion [Clémence] and she's really cool. The house is clean, they have a cat [some weird name I don't know how to spell], there's always food available, the parents are laid back and not as strict as the horror stories prepared me for, and they accommodate ["no problem," said the mother] for my being a vegetarian. My host mom told me to come and go as I pleased, eat what I wanted, and make myself at home.
There is also another student, Hitome [or something decently similar, it's Japanese, give me a break] staying here. She's nice enough, but fails at communication. Granted, it isn't all her fault - it's not like you HAVE to speak French or English to travel. But it sure as hell would help with asking if she wanted something to drink, or finding her after school to lead her back home. That being said...
Back to the story. Hitome and I leave the house around 8h50 in order to catch the 9h00 bus. We get there, and wait. And wait. The bus finally arrives, 15 minutes late and I'm instantly relieved to catch a break. Breakfast was hectic enough, trying to gesticulate my way through eating and drinking and plans for after the day and our return home. Hitome and I take seats on the bus and ride the 15 minutes it takes to get to the University stop. One problem. We get there, I've forgotten my bus schedule/plan, so I'm not 100 percent certain I'm at the right stop. By not 100, however, I was pretty damn close. It wasn't like I had seen a friend from KU that was doing the same exchange as me get of there or anything [that was sarcastic, if you didn't get it, you are NOT welcome] [that was also sarcastic]. Anywho, I motion for Hitome to follow me to the door and get a series of wild gestures in return to what I could only assume meant "no, not here." As she'd been to the University before, I decided to trust her. Ask me why, I'll sock you [virtually, of course].
Twenty minutes later, we're running a bit late [introduction was at 9h30, it was then 9h24] and we reach the end of the bus route. Thoughts running through my head at this point: "I hate Japanese people. Why doesn't she speak French. Or English. Why did I listen to a foreign kid? Dammit. We're going to be late. Cool." So I go up to the bus driver and take advantage of the fact that I speak French. I walked up and he immediately smiles and helps us get to the right stop.
En arrivant, finally. Trying to keep myself calm, I breathe slowly and pretend like everything is fine. I walk quickly through the University doors and go to the auditorium, Hitome wandering slowly behind me. Can you really blame me for going quickly though? After all, we were thirty minutes late for our placement exam. I was horrified that I'd be kicked out of the program.
I should probably warn you know, I'm a huge pessimist. There. You have been officially warned.
Walk into the auditorium, and we've only missed the boring introduction that everyone dreads. I was thankful for that, but still in a hurry to get a seat, as they were handing out the tests. In my clusterfuck of a brain, I forgot to remember that my shoes have no traction, so OPP. Papers fly, and I'm flat on my bum in front of hundreds of people. Oh hey, everyone. I'm Corrie.
The test was easy enough, nothing I didn't expect. I was lucky though, that I had stayed up until 2h25 "studying" for my test. In all reality, I was just talking with French friends on MSN, but hey, whatever works, right? [right]
After the test, my fellow KU students found me, and we all went to the University Restaurant, about a ten minute walk from campus. On our way back, we got lost [naturally] and after about 30 minutes of being tourists [getting lost, taking out maps, getting more lost, taking pictures, buying stuff] we found our way to somewhere we actually wanted to be, and started being productive. I opened a bank account, bought more postcards, and helped some friends do the same.
With already a mess of a day under my belt, Aubrey [another KU student that was with me the whole time - the others sort of dwindled away, hopefully to somewhere they meant to be] and I made a date for tomorrow [finish up the banking, get a bike, get a bus pass] and we parted ways.
It was then I was left alone to search for Hitome. Grrrreaaat [and not like Frosted Flakes]. So, looking in a huge school for a random Asian girl who doesn't speak either of the languages I do. Naturally, I called my host mother, to see if she had talked to Hitome. As if it would have made a difference. Valérie told me not to fret, and to go ahead and come home. So that's what I did.
Voila, my first real day in Angers. I admit it was stressful, and Angers kicked my butt today, but I'm ready to take it on again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next five months. At least it will be easier to meet people now, since most people will remember my wonderful entrance into the auditorium.
BUH bye for the day.