The start of my second week here in Vichy was marked by a little sadness, as it dawned on me that after this week, I'd be halfway through the program and that meant, "bye Vichy™ and and "hello, real world". It was also accompanied by a slight temperature change (snow!!) which meant that it was totally fine to sing the line "Baby it's cold outside™.
Armed with full winter gear of gloves, beanie, scarf and a coat, I headed off to CAVILAM to my 8:45am class with Marie on Monday morning. I grabbed my daily hot chocolate from the vending machine which sold a lot of my favourites like 'Knorr Soup', endless choices of coffee and food and snacks that I could live on the off chance zombies would attack and I'd need food. Anyway, having so much fun the week before meant that I was slightly sick and although I'd had a week to adjust, everything still seemed a little new and a little disorienting. Nonetheless, I was excited for class because everyone seemed really friendly and there was always a great atmosphere!
In class, Sook Kyeom, my new Korean friend celebrated her 24th birthday and as a gift gave us all a macaroon while I gave her a bar of chocolate as a thank you for her friendship, stories and most of all patience in conversing French with me. (You realise at the start of Intensive French that not a lot of people can speak English or if they can, they prefer not to so you really do have you utilise your French vocab and try to speak in French).
Then we continued with class and learnt the difference between l'imparfait and passé composé, while Jakob, the Polish class clown casually made his trademark remarks such as 'Oui, c'est ça', 'Ah, bon' 'En français' while jokingly telling off the Australian high school students who resorted to speaking in English whenever Marie wasn't listening. By the end of the day and indeed, during the week, he learnt a new phrase: 'C'est mag-ni-fique!™ with emphasis included which he used to describe whenever there was something he really liked or wanted to praise something that Marie had done, and the class would chorus this with him.
Before afternoon class, I had lunch with Sook Kyeom and her friend to celebrate her birthday at Flunch, which was this fancy all you can eat restaurant where we paid probably the cheapest we have ever paid for food as the sides were free as there were couscous, potatoes, different sauces, ratatouille, all for under 10 euros!
By Tuesday, I could start to notice a slight improvement in my French, and as this was also the case for the rest of the class, we were moved up another level, to B1. The classwork was slightly harder but since Marie was very patient with us, we worked our best. Jakob the Polish man also attempted to pronounce 'Melbourne' with an Aussie accent but he just couldn't! Then on Wednesday, we continued doing our French work and since there were no afternoon class on Wednesdays, I joined the CAVILAMbs to Clermont-Ferrand where we went to the 'patinoire' or in other words the ice skating rink. While it wasn't my first time, getting the hang of ice skating was very difficult. After the first three times of falling (two of those times I was pushed, promise!), I stopped counting how many times I fell and just enjoyed the coldness of the rink and just let myself fall, stand up and skate again. The others who were better skaters learnt new tricks and after that we took a group photo with the rest of the CAVILAM students. #vichyforthewin
On Thursday, we played a game of 'Who killed whom' in French where I was the prime suspect. Of course, I yelled 'C-est pas moi' but those who played the role of the police insisted that it was me. It really wasn't, no matter how much I wanted to be the suspect in the game. It would've been too obvious because I kept on laughing!! Then Thursday night, the CAVILAMbs went to the local bar 'Le Gaulois' just in front of the station. I got free shots from the other Aussies also studying in CAVILAM and got to know the other Aussies studying and also Nick, the American whom we met and adopted into the group. Brandon also sang 'Let it Be' while the whole bar joined in. After an hour or so, I joined the others who wanted to leave and slept.
The next morning while slightly a little under the weather, I went to class, excited as always. We played 'Tabou', which is Taboo in French, and it was definitely harder than normal taboo as you had to explain yourself in French, and the associated words were words that we would use to explain. My group didn't win but we had lots of laughs and banter, which is always a good sign. But since it was the last day for the Australian high school girls who were only with us for two weeks, it was a little bit sad, as we had formed a group where we could openly make mistakes, help each other and enjoy ourselves by playing games whilst improving our French along the way.
In our afternoon class, I bought a little 'Cadeau' for the Aussie girls where we had Ferreros for only 8 euros! Then we played another game where we had to do an action either by miming, explaining in French or drawing. It was hilarious because I got to mime 'hunting' and I had to pretend to be an animal hunting its prey! What a treat it was for the Aussie girls!
Friday night, I had a 'soirée' with Sook Kyeom and Ye Na who were the primary hosts. It was so fun and we had a lot of food, we danced a bit and most of all, we exchanged wonderful life stories. Although, a funny thing that I found was that most of the guests at Ye Na's place could speak English, while here I was saying 'euhh uhh' and gesturing when I could have just spoken English!
The weekend was slightly quiet as I was still very tired from the soirees but I took advantage and bought two bags which cost the price of one. We also had a Maccas run where I learnt that you could get beer at a French Maccas which was definitely a surprise! I'm also proud to say that I watched Star Wars in French, for the first time ever in my life! It was also cheap, only 7 euros! Also, thanks to Mickey for his commentary and translation!
Outgoing thoughts: I'm still shocked at what happened in Star Wars and I don't want to go home as I'm having soooo much fun here! Boo, responsibilities!