Although it seems like I was just leaving Wash U to come home for winter break, I'm now in France! I left late afternoon on Saturday, January 3rd, to fly from Philly to Frankfurt and then from Frankfurt to Toulouse. I'm still unsure of the best part of the flight- it was either US Airways providing the fantastic in-flight entertainment combo of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, Baby Mama, and Mamma Mia or the 2 very tan German boys who I thought were simply sporting the manpri style but who had actually recently acquired matching tatoos that said "Sunshine State." Needless to say, I got barely any sleep and when I arrived in Toulouse I was absolutely exhausted.
Despite a lack of communication between myself and my host mom (we had each been given the wrong email addresses,) Laurence was there to meet me at the airport. She doesn't own a car because parking is nearly impossible to find and teens in France have a favorite pastime of destroying cars, so we took the bus. Luckily her 13 year old son Marc helped us with the bags. I slept for a couple hours, unpacked and ate dinner later that night with them.
The next morning I had to go to the first day of orientation at the Dickinson Center (which ended up lasting forever.) I successfully navigated the metro and walked about 15 minutes to the building- we all had to get there without the help of our host family. It was like a reality show task. Meeting everyone was a little overwhelming, so I was very glad to know Nicole already, who is the other Wash U student in the program.
When I finally got back to my new house, I decided to go for a run. Laurence told me to run by the canal, but I guess I went on the wrong path and took a few wrong turns because I got very lost. However, I learned 2 important lessons for future running. First, there is not one canal but three (Toulouse is located right by the River Garonne.) Second, there are homeless people who live underneath the bridges. That was absolutely terrifying to discover, although I have been reassured by several people that they are harmless. I did avoid running on the path that goes under the bridges today.
Today was another day of orientation, which lasts for about 3 weeks. We have several classes taught by various professors that don't count for anything but nevertheless have homework assignments. I also had a meeting with the directrice of the program about classes that I'm planning to take at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques, which start next week!
Tomorrow is the first day of the sales that happen in France every January, so hopefully I will have time to go shopping. I'm about to go have dinner now, but I will try to post pictures soon!