The two weeks of la vie française (French life) were two weeks of settling in and trying to find the Vichy rhythm, and by the end of this week I found it. Commencing week 3, our routine morning class was followed by afternoon adventures and lunch either at the nearest boulangerie near uni, Kebab Man (my original fave) or our newly discovered Chicken Man who could speak an petit peu d’anglais. After this would always be afternoon class, followed by night activities at L’Académie or Le Gaulois.
Monday mornings were bearable thanks to the 11am starts, because Mondays were usually the days where new students would be admitted. We had a Swiss girl come into our class, and by the end of it, Jacob, whose name depends on which country you’re from, commented on why I was wearing full winter gear. I told him that in Oz it doesn’t snow and if it does it’s in the mountains and not in normal cities as he is accustomed to cold winters in Poland.
By Tuesday we welcomed another person in class and discussed questions like ‘Who eats more food than I?’ utilising the expressions that we just learnt. Also after two weeks here at CAVILAM and a number of people leaving, there was an essence in the air that everyone, at some point of meeting them, will leave you; and that probably is the saddest part that I can’t accept, because you spend so much of your time with these amazing people who are from different places in the world and you just wish that you’d all be in the same place at the same time. Sigh, what a problem for travellers but in all honesty, I guess, this is probably life showing you, or me that the world is such a beautiful place and that you really do have to get out there, push your limits and meet people who give meaning to your life.
Anyways... Tuesday afternoon, I partook in a dance class, yup, that’s right, DANCE CLASS where some of the CAVILAMb girls (Louise, Liz, Sherli and I), as well as our adopted Americans (Nick and Erick) learnt to dance. Well, for them I’m pretty sure they could already dance but for me, it was difficult because I have two left feet. This, and I don’t think I could do sports in general, but I did it! A few repetitions of un, deux, cha, cha, cha and vite,vite,long and we were given the time to dance with a partner. I had three, Antony, Louise and my final partner Sherli who laughed throughout and giggled because when I was the man for our dance rotation, she was too ticklish! All in all, it was a great experience and I can certainly say that I’ve learnt some useful dance moves ;)
On Wednesday we had a huge debate in class where we argued the place for technology in place of books. We used our new vocab and spoke completely in French and while it might not have been perfect grammar wise, our passion for the subject ensured that we did our best in any way we could to best show the views of those in our team. Jakob was also the host and adjudicator and I think, and I’m sure that we did think that he would be such a great candidate to present with TV5Monde if he ever did choose to do so.
After class, I had lunch with Wenru and Sook Kyeom where we talked about love, life, men (of course!) and all things you could possibly talk about! I was also feeling under the weather but the great company, drinks (Despos are great), Sook Kyeom’s Korean cuisine, which she cooked herself and the gateau from the local boulangerie was all the well worth it. We took some polaroid pictures (thanks Wenru!) in between reminiscing about class, letting out steam and wondering what our future would be like and which country and when we should visit next. We definitely promised to visit each other, and while the parting was bittersweet, I am certain that I would cherish that moment forever; and no matter how cliché it is, that I really didn’t want that moment to end.
By Friday I was still a little sick but I managed to get out of bed and get to class because I didn’t want to miss out on the fun with the amazing people that I’m with every day of the week. During morning class and because I was sick (great excuse, haha), I made fun of Jakob’s writing because he wrote his ‘1’s as ‘ls’ and then Michiko and Celine joined in also to make fun of how he wrote his ‘W’ as a ‘ch’. Then for lunch, us, the CAVILAMbs went to the Chicken Man to get some hot potatoes and chicken, which is, in our opinion, the best in Vichy.
After that in my afternoon class we played a non-serious game of tabou to end Liz and Ben’s (the other Australians as there are a lot here in CAVILAM) time here. We mixed our English and French (and it just wasn’t Adeel this time! :P), had lots of laughs and said goodbye to these two amazing people as well as others in the program who I had come to know really well. That was also the last class for our atelier or workshop and while it was sad, I have a feeling that us Aussies will see each other again.
Saturday afternoon, the afternoon that I was most looking forward to because I had never seen snow before, came and went. It was fantastic as the bus ride towards the mountain was occupied singing awesome songs courtesy of Meg’s and Shaheen’s phone. It was also great knowing that other people have the same taste in music as I do. However, the dreadful part of going up the mountain happened and while I was initially looking forward to climbing it and pretending that I was in Antarctica on a mission, it didn’t happen because I forgot that I used to have asthma and long walks were always a problem. But thank to the kind help of Guillaume and Brandon and my stick, I was able to make it up the top of Sommet du Poy de Dôme where I saw the clouds and all the little houses, as well as the volcanoes. Before we left the mountain, we took a group picture courtesy of Nick, the photographer and Kelsey’s camera. #cavilambs #cavilambsonince
Then, on Sunday, the second last Sunday ever (OMG!) of this program, I played with Sasha, my host brother and then met up with Sook Kyeom for some crêpes. The original place that we were originally going to eat at was closed and so we found another one where we had a crêpe complete (seriously best ever!) and for me a giant hot chocolate! After this, I joined the other Aussies at Le Petit Pot where I had another hot chocolate (seriously cannot get enough of this stuff here!) And, the time for goodbyes came and we went to Gare de Vichy to farewell our American friends and wish them a great journey.
After our hugs and a slight realisation that partings are never fun, we decided to go for a Maccas run #typicalAussie. We passed by the beautiful river of Bellerive and explained to Sebi, our non-Aussie friend why Maccas is a thing in Oz. After satisfying our collective cravings, we then walked back taking the time to appreciate the view and take photos and videos of the beautiful city.
Sunday night, my host mum’s daughter, Anastasia, visited to eat with us where she shared her experiences living out of home and being with friends. The crêpes both salé and sucré made my stomach so happy! I will definitely miss eating so much butter and sugar!!!