WEEKS 8 and 9: NEW ENTOURAGE AND NON-STOP PARTY

I was writing about Saturday, Nov 6, the day I went back to Montpellier. Since Robin Hood was on the way home I stopped for a beer. Jack and Max were working that evening and invited me to a house party after closure. How could I possibly refuse such a proposal, after spending infinite hours sitting in trains? So I went back home, showered, changed, bought Red Bull and headed back to the pub. I made acquaintance with Julie, the new manager, and “warned” her that she was going to see me pretty much every day, sitting with my computer while sipping a café allongé.

After closure we went to this famous house party, and even though I had no clue of who the owners were, I knew, at least by sight, about 1/5 of the people there. One of the people who lived there is a barman in Monaco and made fantastic mojitos in a purposefully structured corner of the house. Alcohol reached rather high peaks and we went home at about 05.30 in the morning. This made a good 24 hour day for me and an excellent welcome back to Montpellier.

I have to admit that I can’t really place all events in an exact chronological order, but let’s say during the whole following week, at least Monday to Friday, the key world was PARTY HARD. Whether planned or failing attempts to have a relaxed, glass-of-wine evening with friends, I ended up finding myself in some house party somewhere in the city center. This happened both on Tuesday and Thursday night, when I held two Italian dinners (coz some people could come on one day but not on the other), on Wednesday, where I my friends and I toured 4 different houses, and Friday. That last evening actually deserves a special explication. After 4 awesome but exhausting days, I was firm into having a relaxing, gossip evening with J. As mentioned before, a nice glass of wine at Robin Hood before going back home and finally get a nice night’s sleep. Jack called us up to go to Inglorious Bar, not far from Robin Hood. Not feeling so tired after all, and being J. into party mood, we went there, but the others had already left. Jack said he was going to arrive in 20 minutes, so J. and I explored the neighborhood in search of new, different places to have a drink. We ended up in a bar around the corner. After getting rid of the sensation of being in a gay and lesbian bar and two glasses of wine, we started talking with a group of french people (11 in total, girls and boys), who invited us to tag along and go with them to Cargo (a bar/discotheque). Since Jack sort of ditched us he went straight to a house party instead of picking us up), we went with them. However, I really wanted to join my friends, who had called me to join them to the house party, so after a while I left, while J. stayed with our new French friends. Stopping at an épicerie for beers and some pain au chocolat, I arrived at the house, and MAN, what I found was a huuuge apartment filled with at least 70 pax, known and unknown faces, and, of course, my friends. I met some interesting people there, random chats, and had a great night. I even set some singing classes in exchange of Italian food, but I can’t recall with whom… Anywho, when the house was slowly getting empty, somebody said “let’s go to RockStore”, and there we were, heading to the rock bar! We spent there about an hour, dancing pretty much like zombies and sipping on the last beer. At 6.30 am I crashed on my bed with my contacts on…the evening had begun at 9 pm of the previous evening.

 

The week was nice and calm. I visited my Finnish friend N. in Baillargues, a town some 30 min away from Montpellier, where she is working as a waitress in an hotel (she’s here witht he Leonardo da Vinci program). There was sort of a Festival of CInema going on there,a nd we watched the cartoon Kirikou et les Animaux. It felt a bit strange to be surrounded entirely by children and their parents, but we really enjoyed the cartoon!

I was still worn out from the previous days and almost fell asleep while watching Les Paupetter Russes with N on the computer, after all I NEEDED some sleep. The following morning, after breakfast at the hotel, I headed back to Mtp and…tataaaaaan, went running! And you know what, I actually managed to run for 4 days in a row, something really exceptional for a lazy ass like me. I actually like running, and there’s a perfect park just around the corner, it’s just…I’m freaking laze, that’s all!

 

It’s Thursday, Nov 18. Pretty quiet week so far, with nice evenings with friends and working o the computer during the day. I’m having dinner at some friends’ house tonight, and holding one at my place tomorrow. Francois, a Parisian friend I had met in Sevilla, is coming over for the Battle of the Year, the final match of a global break dancing competition! He bought me a ticket in exchange of logement, and I know that Saturday night is going to be amazing!

 

Before I leave (my eyes are requiring some more sleep), I have to say that, due to discretion (you never know who might come across this blog and I don’t want to end up like Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network), I left out flings or amorous enticements of any sort, even though OF COURSE in all this time there has to be some guy involved! I’ll leave details to some nice gossip evening with my girlfriends back home.

 

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HALLOWEEN AND “A TOUCH AND RUN” IN MILAN

Towards the end of October, when internet at McDo started failing, Eddie and I started to look for a new place where we could park ourselves and our computers. Being a Sunday, everything was closed, even the brasseries, but we finally found an English pub called Robin Hood, which is open every day 11.00-01.00 and where customers could access to free wi-fi. It started raining like hell and we ended up spending the whole day there. To make it short, that place has become my new home and I spend there at least 2 hours every day. The people who work there are really cool, all about my age and coming from different countries (England, New Zealand, France). In fact, hanging there doesn’t help me at all with my French, but when it comes to internet it’s definitely better than Mc Donald’s!

 

Eddie stayed chez moi for about 2 weeks, then went back to Mexico. We spent the last days and nights playing darts at Robin Hood, walking around the city and organizing amazing dinners, both italian and mexican. Actually, The Dinners chez moi deserve a few lines. They can be compared to those parties and dinners that used to be held in some rich person’s house, where strangers met and talked about music, poetry, etc etc. The only difference between those meetings and my dinners are that I am not rich at all, but cook great italian food, whereas people bring the boissons. Here you have a great melange of interesting human beings, coming from different contexts (Robin Hood, Language School, friends of friends..) and different countries, and even if many of them are perfect unconnues, in a laid back atmosphere and with a beer or a glass of wine everybody has a good time. I’m not sure these sorts of things could happen in Milan, at least not with everybody. I would feel a bit worried inviting people that don’t know one another and would feel sort of responsible for facilitating conversations..you know what I mean. Here, par contre, I don’t worry at all!

Without an oven and provided with only ONE electric stove the menu for Italian dinner has always been mainly pasta with more or less creative sauces, but believe me: it worked out perfectly every time! Pasta with tomato sauce with zucchini, pesto and cream, ragu/bolognese sauce and cream, saffron and cream, and, of course, risotto allo zafferano! When my dad came to visit me from Italy he brought, under explicit request, lots of saffron, sauces, and Grana, Parmigiano and Pecorino cheese, along with two jars of Nutella, the latter being served as dessert in the last two dinners (both with bread and nature, open with spoons inside). The Mexican dinner had cheese fried quesadillas (I would say sort of empanadas at this point, but I’m not sure the term is correct) and an attempt to make Tacos al Pastor which, according to Eddy, turned into something totally different (but yet again, I have no clue)..anyway it was veery spicy meat with home made tortilllas! Amy, a Canadian girl Au Pair here in Mtp, brought also a dish made with minced meat, crème fraishe and corn..mmmh delicious! At this point I think somebody will be hungry..this is why I’m writing this post at 07.40 am, when my stomach is still closed.

 

Halloween has been pretty sweet (actually it was Saturday 30, to be chronologically correct). As mentioned before, my dad took advantage of holiday on Monday Nov.1 to visit me, along with Serena, his girlfriend, and her mom (ok it might sound weird, but she’s a very cool and active woman, with an amazing culture, and not older than 65 I would say. My relationship with her daughter is friendly and extremely respectful, so no awkward situations at all..just to make this point clear).

Even though it had been a rainy day, we managed to stay dry while I took them for an evening walk around the city center. We started from Place de la Comedie + Esplanade, Antigone till Place de l’Europe, then walked up Rue de la Loge to the heart of the city center. We had dinner in a restaurant on Pl. des Martyrs de la Résistance and then I took them to my flat, which I had been tiding and cleaning all day long until it was spotless. After  a quick tour of the apt, which took like 2 seconds, and taking just time to change into a gipsy costume (which wasn’t a costume at all but just some colorful indian-ish clothes I had in my wardrobe and gipsy-like bandana), we walked back to their hotel and I went to Robin Hood’s. I also somehow convinced J., another very nice Canadian girl, to join me there, and we spent the evening chatting with the crew and drinking. After closure, we all went to Max’s, one of the bartenders, and drank the last beers there. I went home at an indefinite hour completely exhausted, and it means it had been a very nice evening.

 

The following morning I left with my dad and crew for a tour in the Camargue area. First, we visited Agues Mortes, a nice town surrounded by a Middle Age wall, incredibly cute and fascinating (although veeeery small). We had lunch there, and then headed to Saintes Maires de la Mère. We took a walk along the seaside and visited a church famous for having a completely black crypt dedicated to Sainte Sarah, worshipped by the Gitans. In the evening we made it Arles, our final destination before heading back to Milan. We made a quick tour of the town and visited it a bit better the following day, but I have to say that, despite being an aesthetically nice city, with fascinating churches and Amphitheater, it was quite deserted, and everything was closed, from shops to museums. By about 11.00 am we were hitting the road to Milan and made it home at about 05.30 pm.

 

It felt weird being back to the city. As most of my friends know, I don’t like Milan and I’ve never considered it as the place where I want to live. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an amazing city to live in while you’re a student, full of clubs, pubs and art, and there are definitely some endroits that I find profoundly fascinating. Being my hometown, my relationship with the city is deep and controversial, but the values intrinsic to it, as money, career (you really made it in life if you become a manager of any sort) and ostentation are exactly the opposite of mine, so why living as a rebel in such an environment when there are so many different and beautiful places in the world, with a more laid back atmosphere and yet an higher quality of life? Luckily, I adore my family and friends, who made my week in Milan pretty bearable. I actually spent very nice evenings having an aperitivo with the girls from MBC (my Master course) and having beers in random places with Lea, Ichi, and other friends.

I was supposed go back on Thursday, but a Inbox saying that my best friend Marika was graduating that Friday made me change plans. Train to Lugano on Friday morning, Marika’s fantastic dissertation on Carlsberg diffusion in China, then massive grocery shopping and an afternoon in the kitchen with a couple of other girlfriends. We make food for about 50 people, and even though were were about 15, all of our guests greatly appreciated our work. The others went dancing, but I was too exhausted and went to bed. Wise decision, since my train to Milan was at about 06.40 am. As my first trip to Mtp, the cheapest way to get there was to take 4 to 6 trains and being prepared for a looong day of traveling. Luckily, I made friends on the way, who I traveled with until Marseille, their final destination. There, I found out that my train to Mtp had been canceled, but after a little moment of desperation (I was so freaking tired!) I managed to change the ticket with another one that left only one hour later, arriving in Mtp at 09.00 pm.

I thought I was calling it a day..I didn’t know that the best had yet to come…

 

 

Random thoughts of October 23

I’ve been here for almost a month and a half, and for over a half of my staying.

Can’t believe that Halloween is in a week already..time is moving so fast!

It’s 9.14 am of a saturday morning, I can’t sleep but at the same time I don’t have enough strength nor will to go for a run, which is postponed to 11 am. Facebook is still not working and it is so annoying! You know when you can’t sleep because all thoughts about your life and preoccupations come into your mind and you can’t manage to get rid of them? This is exactly what is happening now… I’m spending money over my budget, I’m not done with my paper yet and my French is crap…oh, I’m out of shape too..definitely out of shape. I need a good shower. These last 10 days have been pretty normal: library, dinners with friends (btw Italian dinner chez moi tonight!), and I finally got to go to La Pleine Lune, the pub/bar next to my house, which organizes jam sessions and live shows almost every night. Eddy, Isma and I went there on Wednesday night and assisted to one of the coolest beatboxing jam sessions ever! First there was just one guy (spectacular, btw), who alternated beatbox with dj sessions. He recorded the sounds he made and mixed them all together along with some basic surround. After a while a couple of guys joined him, randomly, and the 3 of them found the perfect chemistry while beatboxing together. Later, a bass player, drums and a rapper (the latter, I have to admit, wasn’t that good) came along and made a freaking good, exciting show. We expected a nice, quiet beer night with some beatboxing but it turned out to be on my top 5 nights here in Montpellier!

 

Other than that…we might go to Beziers this week-end and I’m meeting up with my dad on the next one…I’m so excited!!!

 

OK that’s all for now. Cheers!

 

B-day party e postumi

This is a very random post, neither proofread nor thoughtfully written. It’s just words pouring out of my hands. I’m sitting at Mc Donald’s, which has become sort of a second house for me, since my connection at home still sucks. Oh well, as long as they don’t kick me out….I put an empty box of fries that my friend bought earlier this afternoon next to my laptop as an escamotage..I hope it works!

The week started at 08.00 am, when Eddie, a Mexican friend crushing at my place for a few days, went off for a job interview. We were all so excited for him (and a bit jealous too, cos I can’t find anything), but his knowldege of the french language was too low to obtain the job…it sucks, but a nice 1€ beer night at Aussie Bar will cheer him up! As for me, I left at 9.30 with the intention of registering for library card, but the office was closed. Asking around and riding my bike in the area of Port Marianne I discovered the faculties of Law and Economics and in particular their fantastic, quiet library, with plugs for computers everywhere! I managed to get some studying done, both with my paper for Uni and with some french vocab. (words related to kitchen and food). At about 5 pm I joined Eddie at McDo and when he left he gifted me with some chips and their useful red box 🙂

Last Friday, Oct 15, it was my birthday and we celebrated with a nice dinner (sushi and pasta with pesto sauce), followed by a huge house party, which I remember only in part. Lots of people, vodka, chips, music, fun! A guy left his jacket, another one his sunglasses (they were in the trash actually), and a third one slept on the kitchen floor (which can barely host a 1,80m tall person in fetal position). The following morning wasn’t so great, but after a lazy morning and some episodes of Scrubs I pulled myself together and started the cleaning. Apart from the bottles hidden in the most unpredictable corners of the house the whole process didn’t take more than a couple of hours. Eddie, who helped me out with the cleaning, and I rewarded ourselves with a film at the movies, The Social Network, which I found very interesting and recommend everyone to watch.

Ok the smell of french fries is really revolting now..I gotta leave this place! I’ll pass by a boulangerie and buy a 60 cents baguette (loving French food people!!!).

Peace

Week 3 and 4 – some traveling

My last two weeks of school have been excellent: major improvement and interesting people!

The third week has been all-involving because there were only two students in class, a Swiss girl and me => active participation 100% and lots of speaking. During my fourth and last week we were a bigger group in class but topics were also more complex and we covered quite a few grammar units, which is very good for my learning process. I can affirm to have the basics now, both in terms of grammar and oral skills. Now it’s time to practice them, with lots of conversation and exercises: I’ll basically lock myself up in the library or use Mc Donald’s Wi-Fi while drinking one of those semi-coffees in paper cups.

The highlights of the past two weeks have been my trip to Sète, a little town on the seaside some 15 min away(by train) from Montpellier, and my trip to London.

The first trip was a one day visit of the city. Veera, Aino (two Finnish girls) and I took it easy and left at noon, but in a little mote than 4 hours we made the tour of city, had lunch in a restaurant (a delicious salad with smoked salmon) and even bought postcards, so at about 16.45 we went back home. It was windy and a bit cold there, but we had a nice walk, great food and visited one of the most “scenicshops I’ve ever seen outside Disney World. The walls were painted in pastel light blue or white, in a style that gave the store a Cinderella-like look. The main products sold were magdalenes (sorts of plum cakes), cookies, and little cracker snaps, and all of which came in different flavors and/or shapes. All items were laid down in rows under a sort of a display case made of glass. The shop sold also chocolate and ice-creams, labeled with its own brand. All the elements of the store, from the walls to the shape of the cookies, created an environment of another place and time, somewhere between Pollyanna and Alice in Wonderland (besides, of course, Cinderella).

Both weeks run very smoothly (school, beer, friends, movies) but at the same time I developed a strong interest for teaching, mostly through my interaction with teachers at the language school and by speaking 4 different languages every day, something that most people might find stressful but that I actually find quite entertaining, like a game. I wrote to an organization that works in Spain and that provides training for its own teachers, sparing me a €1,200 TESOL certificate. With the help of Justine, a Canadian girl from school, I wrote what was probably my most genuine cover letter, and it worked, since the Recruiting responsible sent me back interview dates. Even though the company works in Spain, recruitment was held both in Madrid and London, and I chose the latter for it was easier to reach from MTP. I booked the flight and wrote to Kefa, an Austrian friend implanted in London, who welcomed me with open arms as usual, despite the 3-day notice. Kefa you’re awesome! Every time I go to London (which, for different reasons, happened 4 times in the past year), there are 4 things I ALWAYS do, sort of like a “must”:

1.  Go to a  musical or to a play.

2.  Wander through the streets of Soho (and possibly eat there).

3.  Purchase a bag of baked carrots and beetroots and a portion of lemon cheesecake at Pret a Manger and a Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks.

4.  Go to Camden Town and wander around the market. Every time I got here I always end up buying what I consider the best present for friends and family: little candles, hand-painted with themes like the british flag, John Lennon or phrases like I Love my Mom. They’re very cute and cost about £2.00 each.

This time I watched Thriller, which was AMAZING! More than an actual plot, the fil rouge of the musical was a chronological excursus of the artist’s career, from Jackson 5’s ABC to  Michael’s greatest hits, leaving out his private life. I was actually a bit disappointed by the lack of a narrative plot and expected at least a little insight on  Michael’s controversial life, but an exceptional casting made up for it. On top of amazing feature dancers, the leading performers either sang exactly like him (similar voice and the the ability to  give intense emotions to the audience) or danced like him. In particular, there was a guy who moved EXACTLY like Michael and he performed both Smooth Criminal and Thriller.

The interview itself went well, although it was only the first step to of a more complex selection process, which encompassed a 2 week training in Madrid for all those who had passed the interview. I thought about it thoroughly, slept over it for a couple of nights, and wrote pros and cons of each scenario. Can’t really explain it all here, but I concluded that my current tasks – finishing my master and reaching a good level of French – are my priorities now and the desire of taking a chance on New Zealand in January is stronger than this job offer. Strict timing, as well as costs, affected my decision too. Conclusion: I’m staying here until the end of November, with or without a job.

I am serene.

Week 2 – la crémaillère

I moved into my flat on Sunday night. The owner’s girlfriend handed me the keys at Place de la Comedie at about 6.30 pm and an hour later I was carrying my heavy suitcase around the city center. Magnus, a German guy from my class, was so kind to answer my last minute, emergency call and walk with me to the house (due to some organizational misunderstandings I couldn’t move into the house earlier that day, and it was getting dark..) so thank you VEEERY much Magnus!

After dinner and a movie, I spent about two hours unpacking my things and making a long list of the things I would have to buy the following day. Since there was no hot water, I started my new life with a cold shower, how great 😉

Monday 20 was my busiest day in Montpellier. After class, I went to the dollar store and to the supermarket, about 2 times each, going back and forth from the shops to my house. There’s no need to list all the things I bought, just imagine what anyone would need in a house fully furnished but with nothing for “daily usage” (well, fortunately there was toilet paper, but that was about it). At about 6 p.m. I made a last stop at the public laundry-room to wash some clothes, the couch-sheet and some other stuff that was screaming for help. At the end of the day, the house seemed much warmer and cozy. It’s a two-room flat, with a nice living room and a simple but cozy bedroom, a little kitchenette and, of course, the bathroom separated form the toilet, in the curious “french way”. Hot water was still not running, I didn’t have (and still don’t) access to the internet and there was a strange smell coming from the shower. The first problem has been taken care of now (thank you Gerard!!!) and it’s just a matter of days before everything is going to work (I hope).

On Thursday afternoon, after class, I got a bike from a professor (thank you so much Elisa), got the wheels fixed, and finally went “grocery” shopping for the forthcoming party. That night, in fact, I finally inaugurated the house, which proved to be perfect for parties (but not so party-proof). There is a french expression to describe the inauguration of a house: “pendre la crémaillère”. Pendre means “to hang” and the crémallère is a hook used to hang the pewter in the fireplace in old houses. I had some people over for dinner, among which Gerard, a guy from Barcelona aka the Mojito Master. At about 11pm there were 20 people in my house and the living room had turned into a disco (a pink, oriental, flame-shaped lamp along with the right music did the job). I wasn’t worried about the noise because that afternoon I had put a paper on the wall at the entrance informing the fellow-tenants about the party (a professor of mine had told me that the crémaillère was a good and respected reason to make noise, news that had pleasantly surprised me). At about midnight most of the people went to a Panama club and Ana, Gerard and I joined shortly after. However, when we got there we didn’t find any of our friends! Nontheless, we danced for about an hour, and then went back home. It had been a tiring but very fun night 🙂 The following day I found out that our friends didn’t actually make it to the disco and at school it was easy to make a distinction between those who had come to the party and those who hadn’t..the latter had a much sharper look on their faces!

On Saturday morning I went to a mall to hand out some resume, but I’m not sure of how it went…I’m afraid that not giving immediate full availability is a major con, especially in stores like H&M and such, where finding new people is extremely easy. Anyway, I keep looking, never resting, and something will come up. On Saturday night some Spanish friends and I went to a place called Rock Store and danced till 3 a.m., which seems pretty early in “standard party time”, but I was actually feeling utterly tired by the time I reached the house. The following day I went to the beach with some friends, which is a 50 minutes bike-ride from MTP. Too bad the chain of my velo got loose every time I didn’t pedalled, which prevented me also from changing gears, and the saddle was thin and uncomfortable (like those for professional male bikers I guess), so about 110 minutes of bike-ride literally destroyed my butt. Apart from that, it was a very nice day. The ride wasn’t bad at all cos we were 7 people riding all together as a flock, mostly along a bike-track by a river, in the countryside. The little town of Palavis wasn’t too bad either: little restaurants near the port and a fairly wide beach, although we stayed there only for a few hours… the wind was too strong! I think that that evening we all slept tight. It’s Tuesday night and although I don’t have any special anecdotes concerning the past two days I can say that:

A.I switched to the hardest class and am learning a lot, mostly due to the fact that there’s only me and another girl in class, which makes classes more stimulating and involving.

B.This might be my last night alone in the apartment, since Ana, my future flat-mate, is moving in starting from tomorrow night. What a strange sensation. I can’t really imagine living in 2 in such a little apt, but I know that it is going to be just fine and definitely better than living all by myself.

C.Main goal of this week: FIND A JOB!!! Good night world.

Montpellier, week 1

Montpellier, my new hometown.

Time ran so fast that I haven’t even realized a week has past already. 7 days to find a house, and I hope it won’t take longer to find a job!

So…I arrived last Friday, leaving at 7am from Milan Central train station. After an 11 hour ride and 4 trains, I finally arrived in Montpellier!

The first things on my eyesight were the tram tracks (just like those in Sevilla, my last “home abroad”!), and as soon as I walked out of the train station a spring-time breeze invested me, rays of light and a lay-back, “university-like” atmosphere!

Ludo, my host from couchsurfing, welcomed me at the station with his friend, artist-photographer Julien, and we went to his house to drop my bags. Three hours later we were making sangria and eating home made cassoulet (a beans and meat based regional dish, typical of Languedoc)! Not bad as a start, not at all!

Later at night we took a walk along the Esplanade, where a sort of festival was taking place, and all around the city center. The streets were full of young people, full of pubs and bars, and the buildings looked very charming and “magic”.

The week-end was quite relaxing. We walked around the city, went to the botanic garden, and I prepared myself to the first day of school and to the big house hunting. On Sunday I went to a faire nearby to see if there was some useful information regarding accommodation. Well…the fir was HUUGE! At least 700 stands, one for each organization, hobby and activity one could do in Montpellier! Of course there was NOT a stand dedicated to ads for accommodation (only very general info) but thanks to a piece of paper  attached to my bag saying “cherche une chambre” I got the number of a couple of women who had a room for rent. Overall, I learnt that there are 3 main forms of accommodation: flat/room in a flat, student residence, or a room “chez l’habitant”, which is more or less like staying with a host family. This last option of course is better for short periods, but during the week I struggled so much to find a place to stay (literally called at least 30 numbers) that I seriously took that into consideration. Well, after 40€ of calls and visits to 5 houses, yesterday (friday) I finally found one! I’ll move in tomorrow so don’t want to jinx it by writing about it.

The school is great, I am learning a lot and teachers are wonderful! I have class every morning from 9 to 12.20 and 2 afternoons a week from 13.30 to 15.45. My classmates are very nice as well and yesterday night we all went out together. We had a few beer in the city center and went dancing to a place called Panamà, with FREE ENTRANCE! They come from all over the world and we manage to speak french most of the time (even though at night it can be a bit difficult).

This is the week end “du patrimoine”, and a lot of buildings and monuments that normally are close will open their doors to visitors. I will take a good tour of the city tomorrow and make sure I see most of them!

Time for my first run now!