|I arrived in Toulouse only a few days ago, but it already feels like I've been here for several weeks!
A French student from Toulouse Business School met me at the airport (yes, she DID actually turn up, contrary to the nightmares I'd been having that she would forget) and took me to my accommodation.
I have a nice studio flat in area where there is lots of student accommodation, located near the centre.
For a general bit of info about the city; it is the 4th largest city in France, after Paris, Lyon and Marseille. The centre seems relatively small to me, perhaps because I'm used to London. All the main areas are in walking distance, which is just GREAT! It is known to the French as "La Ville Rose" (The pink city), this is because there are no quarries nearby and most of the buildings are made of red brick. Toulouse is the centre of the European aerospace industry and a famous University city. The city itself has 480,000 inhabitants, 120,000 of which are students!!
The first few days here were quite daunting, it’s quite strange arriving somewhere you’ve never been before, knowing that it’s going to be your home for the next 8 months! The contract of my flat stated that both kitchen and bedding of provided… neither of these were. So being in an unfamiliar city, without speaking the language mean that I was living off nectarines and crackers with French cheese for the first two days :). I’ve started to find my way around some of the shops now, and managed to get some kitchen stuff. Going into shops can be quite embarrassing with my almost non-existent French!
On Monday I travelled to my university, which is outside the city center with a couple of other English students. It’s a lovely campus and feels very homely, with just 1,200 students on that site. There are many exchange students so this is an interesting mix of people from all over the world! On Monday the lessons will start and I am quite nervous that it’s going to be very hard. All the other students are doing this as their third year, or as an additional year.
The food shops here are truly amazing, incomparable with what we have in England! The fruit & veg, selection of fish, meat & cheese and of course the cakes and pastries… Rather than achieve my hope of becoming French-looking & petit, I think there is a risk of over-indulgence :D.
Interestingly, so far the French haven't lived up to my expectations of being rude and unfriendly at all, in fact quite the opposite! The Pyrenees are not far from here & Barcelona is just a couple of hours by train (I’m told), so they say there is a Spanish influence- possibly the reason for the friendliness?!
There are just four friends here including a young couple- Cathy & Alain Hanni. Cathy is Australian & Alain Swiss. They translate for me in the meetings and everyone has enough English to understand me, so it works well. :)
Ok, think I’ve written more than enough for now… keep in touch :)
Mary-Anne x x