Bordeaux Blog: Chapter 2
Bordeaux Work Abroad by nikki from Oz
Realising you actually live in France now, manoeuvring the workplace and settling in...My first month of living alone in Bordeaux (now affectionately referred to as bdx) has come and gone, and I can safely say that home universities should warn against the confusing French keyboard. For over a month now I have been typing up entire documents where all the a’s are q’s and all the m’s have mysteriously become commas. But more about fun at the workplace later.After a summer of living with the family and having mother Sordo constantly reminding me that seeing the floor of one’s room is a necessity, going abroad and back to being a sort-of grown up, and in France no less, has been a bit of a challenge. I’m finally getting used to life and responsibilities abroad, however, and my “chic” French flat no longer looks like a Topshop war zone! In London I had the good fortune of living right by the best of amenities- a 24-hour Tesco. But here, in mainland Europe, this student saviour doesn’t exist so I find myself constantly having to remember that doing your food shop on a Sunday is either very complicated or simply not to be attempted. France does of course have its pros too, the very first and obvious one of which being pain au chocolat (the list of pastry or sugar based pros that I could hammer out about la France could go on for the better part of this blog) but easy access to organic food and cycling around without having to fear death-by-red-bus also rank at the top of the list. And who could forget the weather? It’s mid-October and I can still walk around with only a light jacket on at the worst of times (pointer: I’m in the South-West… If going to Paris or anywhere Northern, take a jacket, I’d hate to have your colds on my conscience).
It might as well be said now, for you will not believe me regardless of when I say it: I love my job. However, and fear not dear second-year-student-I-hope-might-be-reading-this, it seems to be the case with most year abroad students. I have yet to hear stories of evil French bosses or mistakenly walking into the copy room while two people are “busy” inside (although let’s face it, this would top any story I could ever tell you here). The French workplace is remarkably nice and relaxed; my boss, for example, even gave me Friday afternoon off so I could go to Paris for the weekend a couple weeks ago! Just to be on the safe side, I spent my first week addressing everyone in the “vous” (polite) form of “you” just to be told by the end of the week to feel free to dish out the “toi” and the morning kisses (on the cheek - don’t get any ideas). I wish I could say my job is fascinating and heart pumping, but unfortunately I am a mere intern and spend many an hour scanning books and organising the library and two days a week I work with the marketing division, which is a lot of learning for one who has never been numerically apt. This does however have its ups, for me personally because it’s all about wine and as a budding wine maker and full blown enthusiast, I have yet to scan a book I want to put down, but also because this ‘Jack of all trades’ approach to the internship allows me to bravely explore other worlds without the weight of grown-up responsibilities (not that I’m considering a career in marketing).
While my London wild child days are taking a nap (ok, so maybe not that wild, but still) the 9 to 5 new me has fortunately also had some time to run around in the bdx night. I find that people over here don’t really get as dressed up for nights out though; in my first escapade, for example only 2 of us, in a group of about 15, wore a dress and pretty much everyone else was rocking the denim. And while I’m not daring to diss the mighty jean, there was definitely what seemed to me as a distinct and alarming lack of high heels. But if you feel like wearing them and are, like myself, a stubborn on-and-off fashionista, no one will fault you for trying to artificially enhance your height (and in my short-statured case, it’s a bit of a must). Not quite the same as the eclectic mix you find on the London streets, fashion in bdx has its own charms. I’m unsure of how they do it but women here just seem to look comfortable and at home in whatever they wear, so if you were thinking you might come face to face with the 80’s mullet in this medium-sized city, think again, because there’s nothing more annoying than the effortless style these people pull off.
This is all from the land of cheese and wine for this month (I could go on but I’m pretty sure I’ve out-typed my welcome). Next time I’m sure I will pluck up the courage to tell you the more embarrassing French adventures in my repertoire and might even have a story or two to wax lyrical about from my birthday (presents may be sent by air mail). But let us end on a laugh: somehow asthmatic little old me has managed to befriend a bunch of healthy sport loving athletes. LOL away.