|I have officially been in Martinique for a week, but it feels like much longer!
The plane ride over (and the many lay-overs that went along with it) went a lot smoother than I thought they would. It was my first time flying by myself, and my first time traveling abroad. The only thing that really made me nervous was getting into a jet plane the last leg of my flight from San Juan to Martinique... the plane was so small we had to enter up stairs from the ground! Definitely a cramped ride...
This past week, I've just been trying to get used to Martinique. To my relief at orientation, I found a lot of British and English-speaking German students. I do get to speak English some of the time. My French is still a little rough, but I think it improves each day. Especially because my landlord's English vocabulary consists of saying, "okay" and "welcome to Martinique." There are also students from the Czech Republic and Canada that we hang out with. But I'm the only American student - I could hardly believe it! I guess in that way, it's hard to connect with some of the students since I'm not European, but they do a good job including me.
My house is a beautiful blue and white house on a hill. There are two bedrooms, one for me and one for my landlord, Madame Bessard, two bathrooms, a living room, dining room, and a kitchen. There's also a balcony in the front and a deck in the backyard. The view is really something else! I can see the ocean from my balcony and the mountains from my backyard. There are several doors that we keep open until we go to sleep. There's no AC, which is kind of killer, but I have a big window that I keep open during the day. I think tomorrow I'm going to go search for a fan. The best part of my room? I have a mosquito net! Okay, it's not really that cool... in fact, it's more of a hassle, but it keeps me from being bitten at night!
I'm about a 10 minute walk from the beach, so the rest of the international students and I can usually be found there. It's absolutely paradise. The locals have been really friendly so far, offering help when we need it. I wish I could say the same for the students at UAG haha. I don't think they want much to do with the international students. Every now and then I'll get a polite "Bonjour," but for the most part my smiles are met with a weird look. Yep, I definitely stick out like a sore thumb. All of the locals wear jeans, even though it's so hot and humid! I can hardly stand it, so I've been wearing what I pack - shorts and dresses.
My biggest challenge so far was been trying to figure out the bus system. Oh gosh! It's so confusing. Now you have to understand that in my hometown in Kansas, the bus system doesn't exist. So if I can't figure out how to work a bus system in English, you can foresee the issues of trying to figure it out in French... the first few days, I just gave up and walked to campus, which is a toasty and uphill walk about 25 minutes. Then I tried to observe a little more about the busses. The bus drivers stop at whatever stops, regardless of whether it's their line or not. So I've figured, if I get on a bus that goes the general direction of campus, I'm going to get there eventually.
I'll update more in a few days, but au revoir for the time being!