October 23, 2015

I keep saying i'll try and catch up to the present day with these past couple posts but this one will definitely be the catch-up post. I've got a huge list of things to talk about that date back to 2-3 weeks ago, so I definitely need to write them down now while I semi-remember them.

(EDIT: I've been procrastinating with this post for like 2 weeks so the list is growing so huge. Will probably post this when I get fed up and gradually catch up if I can)

I last finished off on the Sunday, when we decided to go for dinner at the "Wallace" Scottish bar. Coincidentally, there was also a pub quiz on that night so we decided we'd go just in time for that as, y'know, coming from Scotland we would surely win it. The food in the bar was average - I had a mediocre burger with pretty tasty chips. The drinks were pretty pricey as is the standard in Lyon, it seems. We'd finished dinner and all of a sudden, I heard this booming northern English voice over the speakers announcing the quiz. It turns out that, in a Scottish bar, the quizmaster was a rotund, sexist, creepy Englishman who had one of the most annoying accents i've ever had to endure. The quiz was also nothing to do with Scotland - quelle surprise! The quizmaster would make horrible sexist and misogynistic jokes about some of the ladies in the bar and his all-round "banter" was shocking. We came 2nd last, mainly because we spent most of the time shocked at what the quizmaster said rather than answering the questions. Nonetheless, we vowed never to return for the quiz. I just hope the people of Lyon don't think that Scotland consists of sexist arseholes with shit patter and mediocre burgers. Where's a chippy when you need one?!

The next day (Monday) was our first day of University. Despite feeling pretty nervous, we set off for our midday lecture and found the lecture hall pretty easily. Unfortunately, it seems lectures in France are a lot busier than their Scottish counterparts as we were greeted with almost every seat being taken and people even lining the aisles and stairs. Luckily we found 2 seats and quickly sat down, ready for the 1hr45mins of rapid French law. To our surprise, we didn't find the lecture too bad as it was mainly introductory administration points. We also luckily chose a seat behind someone with a laptop and could copy them when we didn't quite understand something the lecturer had said. 

On a high from the successful day before, we headed off for our next day of lectures. However our Tuesdays consist of 6 back-to-back hours of lectures from 8am-2pm, a 4 hour break, and then another 2 hours of lectures from 6pm-8pm. Such fun. Despite our optimism for the day ahead, we crashed back to reality with our 6:30am wake up alarm, our 7am walk in the dark/cold and the stench of sweat and sight of someone's armpit in your face on our 7:30am rush hour metro. We trudged through our 6 hours of back-to-back lectures and, by the time our 4 hour break came around, I was excited to go home and get a nap (classic me) but the thought of heading back out at 6pm was not a nice one. Also that day, we found out that despite the official university calendar stating that the exams are AFTER christmas, the lecturers like to change that and put them BEFORE resulting in us having a 3-hour exam at 8:30am on Saturday 12th December. You'd think that was bad enough, but that happens to the weekend of the ERASMUS Ski Trip. A big thumbs up for you, French administration. At this point I felt like Dory from Finding Nemo when she repeats "just keep swimming, just keep swimming" except I was saying to myself "ERASMUS is fun, ERAMSUS is good, you're having so much fun" - anything to reassure myself. That night, our friends came over and we all exchanged stories of horrendous first days over some wine and nibbles. When in France, eh?

After our horrific 12 hour day of lectures on the Tuesday, we decided to take full advantage of our free day on the Wednesday and stayed in the flat and had a lazy day. Bliss. That night we met up with the others at a bar called 'Aromo' where there was to be a Language Exchange, organised by the Lyon Polyglot Society. We turned up to this tiny wine bar on the corner, with people pouring out of both doors. After pushing our way inside, we found our friends who had already met some people. Due to a lack of space, breathable air and possibility of getting a drink, we decided to stand outside the bar and chat. We met 3 french people who were a member of the society, so we were able to practice our French somewhat with them. However as the wine flowed, comprehension was lost and a simple question of "how do you say 'annunciation' in French?" led to this French girl critically analysing our intonation when speaking the language. Being far too sober for this level of conversation, I suggested we leave the event and go for drinks in the centre of Lyon instead. Thankfully everyone else agreed and we ended up at a bar in the centre of Lyon before we headed home for the night.

Thursday greeted us with yet another 8am lecture meaning our old friend, the 6:30am alarm, screamed at us yet again. After making the half hour journey into Uni, we triple checked our timetable and headed to the lecture hall stated. By stark contrast to our other lectures, we were greeted by maybe 4 or 5 people who looked much older, rattling about a large lecture theatre. "How strange" I thought, but I wasn't prepared to go against what was stated on my timetable. The lecture hall slowly filled up, with yet more people who looked much older and accustomed to Uni life than our peers in the lectures earlier in the week. "The girl next to me has written 'Economie et Marketing' on her paper", Carly whispered to me. Oh no. Don't tell me we've went into the wrong lecture. As I strained to read the laptop of a girl 3 rows in front of me, the reality of the situation hit me as she had also written the words 'Economie et Marketing'. Fuck. We were sitting in the very middle of the lecture theatre, in the very middle of a very full row, and the lecturer was standing at the front ready to start the lecture. Like your favourite action-thriller movies, I commanded "get out, get out before he starts, quiiiick" before we made a row of 20 disgruntled French marketing students get up to let us evacuate the potentially embarrassing situation. I checked my timetable again, yet it was the correct lecture theatre we were in so we made our way to the office of our advisor of studies here who told us that the timetable had changed from the ones we were issued only a week earlier. The words "French administration is shocking" echoed through my head. We were given the correct lecture theatre and made our way there, through the back door. Unfortunately this lecture was as busy as our earlier lectures and so we had the joy of sitting on a hard wooden floor, hunched over our laptops, for the next 4 hours. 

That night we had a cocktail night at the University for all the ERASMUS and International students. As it was advertised as "free food and drink", we made sure we were in attendance.. standard. It was an opportunity to meet other ERASMUS and International students at the Uni and that we did. The food was pretty horrible, but I was starving so I ate it anyway (lol) and the wine was cheap but y'know, I was thirsty too so I drank that (lol). We met loads of lovely people too and when the event was dying down a bit, we decided to go and get some wine/cider from a shop and sit by the banks of the river. We went to a shop, got wine and snacks (lol) and headed to the river. In Lyon, sitting by the banks of the river to socialise is a big thing. Near the University, by the banks of the river, there are big steps leading down to the river which is where everyone sits in large groups and drinks. So we joined in and sat there to end the night, enjoying the dry night before we headed home.

The next day we were heading to Annecy for the weekend, where we had booked to stay in an Airbnb apartment with our friends. We had a lecture before we were due to leave so, after stuffing our bags full of everything for the weekend, we headed into University for our lecture. Once again, we turned up to find an empty lecture theatre. "Ugh, not again. Don't tell me the Uni have messed up our timetables again" we swore until, upon looking at our given timetable, we realised we had mixed up the timings. Such fun. Since our bus left at 1pm and the lecture was for 2 hours at midday, we couldn't actually go to it so we missed it and just headed for our bus (such rebels).

Annecy was so beautiful. It's a small, picturesque town pretty close to Lyon and the Alps with a massive lake in the middle. Luckily, when we arrived the sun was shining so we decided to hire a pedalo boat and go out into the lake. Sitting in the pedalo with my friends, surrounded by incredible mountains and lake landscapes, with music playing was one of the best experiences of my life yet. I would replay it over and over again if I could. That night we went out for dinner and got "les escargots" (snails) as a starter. I had tried them before but it was funny to see the others, who hadn't, get scared and surprised at their taste. The next day, we got up early and headed to Geneva in Switzerland for the day. Switzerland is not in the EU and so it has a land border that you have to pass through, although they're pretty lenient so it wasn't any hassle. When we arrived it was a grey morning. We headed to the lake, which was pretty unspectacular to be honest. We sat and had lunch which was nice and then we wandered to the old town, which was full of big fancy shops and brands. We stumbled across a street food fair which was heaven in one street, seriously. Burritos, burgers, hot dogs, donuts, crêpes.. I could have stayed there all day. After having dinner there and walking around the lake at night, we headed back to Annecy. On the Sunday we had planned to hike up a mountain next to Lake Annecy, which is popular with hillwalkers. However we were optimistic with the reliability of the french buses on a Sunday and missed one of only two buses that day and so that plan was scrapped. Instead we went a walk around the old town of Annecy and stumbled across the after party to a marathon, where a band were playing on a big stage in the middle of a huge park. We bought some food for a picnic lunch and sat in the sunshine listening to the band. Then we headed back to Lyon that evening.

The next day, after a boring class, we all met up again and decided to go to a Vietnamese Baguette takeaway place, called Nam, for lunch. After trying, and failing to translate the french description of the ingredients and the Vietnamese names of the baguettes, we just picked one and took our chance. We then took them to what was possibly the sketchiest park i've ever sat in and ate the wondrous baguettes we'd just bought. Possibly the best lunch i've ever had. If you're ever in Lyon, it's a must-do.

TO BE CONTINUED (when I can be bothered)

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