Monday, October 1, 2012

And so, my journey begins

Sunday, I took a train from Paris to Saint-Louis with only my two GIGANTIC suitcases for company. This route requires a stop in Strasbourg to transfer trains (which was not the terminus of this particular train) and that I get off the second train in Saint Louis with my suitcases in the very short time allotted for that stop. The train ride itself was beautiful and relaxing but it was a bit difficult to appreciate with my nervousness for starting my program, and with the stress involved in making sure I got myself and my suitcases off the train during the short stops.
The French countryside from Paris to Strasbourg consists of field of grass and cows and such, intermingled with small forests, and little towns. Each little town has a church at its center and is surrounded by a varying number of very French looking buildings. It's all very picturesque, though all look quite similar. The architecture changes dramatically, however, as one nears Strasbourg. There are more hills in the Alsace region, and the building become much more Germanic. Most of these buildings would not look out of place in Solvang, or even in a storybook. It's all very beautiful.
I prepared early to disembark each train, and thus, managed to do so without any problems. When I arrived in Saint Louis, I met Carole (one of the 5 Caroles teaching at this school!), the woman who is the English teacher in charge of making sure I get settled properly here (there are MANY hoops to jump through, French bureaucracy is a nightmare!). She took me to her house to spend the night. It was up in some hills a bit away from Saint Louis, so I got to see a bit more of the region. It consists mostly of fields with cows and fields of corn, interspersed with quaint little villages.
My experience at her house was very different from my experiences with my host family. Dinner was very informal, the house actually looked like someone lived there, and the family was very friendly. 
My adviser is also a quilter 
Carole has two daughters (8 and 10), the younger girl was very shy and hardly said a word. It was very cute to hear her older daughter prattle on about her day even though I couldn't understand all of it. I did, however, feel very awkward being with a family I didn't know and having to speak French and I was exhausted from traveling. Therefore, I was very glad when everyone went upstairs around 8:30, and I was left to myself (I slept on the couch which turned into a bed). And so ended my first day in Alsace. 

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