Study Abroad

Little Victory #1

Yesterday ran so much more smoothly. I went out to town to get my phone in the afternoon, and although I did have to wait in line, it went okay. I did have to buy a phone though.

Having a smartphone was imperative for me because I needed to be able to have access to Google Maps in order to navigate my way around, obviously, seeing as how it always ends up we tend to walk for 30 minutes to get anywhere.

I went to this place called FNAC to get a phone, it’s comparable to a Best Buy. There you purchase your product at the designated section and then you bring your receipt to the check out where you pick it up. I thought that was pretty interesting.

In addition, now I understand why people in cities are often times associated with being rude or mean…..it’s because they’re in a bad mood.

If you know me, you know I’m usually an EXTREMELY CHIPPER person, however, when I’ve had to stand in line twice for 3 hours, and been directed to go here, there, and everywhere I started getting a little irritated. Then they have 10 million people in your way and you’re just trying to get to where you need to be. So yeah, I understand you people now….

Anyway, I managed to get a French phone number here, it took forever but it happened. I choose to use the provider, FREE. I got a monthly plan for unlimited talk, text, and data for 19 euros a month! They also offer a plan for 2 euros a month but I wanted unlimited data seeing as that would be what I would be using the most.

On my way back to my apartment I managed to get back somewhat by myself which was super exciting. I passed a bike shop along the way. I had been told that it may be easier to just buy a used bike instead of renting one from this service in Strasbourg called Velhop.

It would have been 180 euros for a security deposit and then another 20 euros a month for a rental fee. I found a bike at a used bike shop called, Le Caveau du Velo d’Occasion.

The phrase, “Velo d’Occassion” means used bike, or secondhand bike. Anyway, I found one for 80 euros! I plan to just sell it before I leave.

I’m going to bring it for a “test drive” this afternoon, and the shop owner is going to make sure it’s a good fit. When I called he asked me for my measurements and everything and told me which ones were available on the website I could pick from, it’s super legit.

All in all, it was my first non-chaotic day.

On the way home, I heard someone yelling at me as I was crossing the street, guess who…..my UBER DRIVER THERAPIST! He asked if everything was okay and if I needed a ride, it was quite amusing to have run in to him. This run-in made Strasbourg start to feel like home, my first time seeing a familiar face.

Once I arrived back home, I even made a sandwich y’all. So I ended up being able to eat two WHOLE MEALS yesterday!

That evening we went to a pub-crawl, or “bar hopping”, it was a social event organized by the ERASMUS organization. Basically, this organization is for European students who are traveling on exchange and it helps them meet other students and participate in activities together. It was pretty neat, we went with Tatiana (Russia), Francesca (Italy), and Sarah (France).

One of the most amusing questions Abi and I get asked in conversation all the time is if cheerleaders are actually real….

***S/O TCH REBELS!!!

In French the term for cheerleader is “Pom Pom Girl”.

All of the girls we met explained to us how the American High School Experience is a dream, and that they’re so jealous that we can be cheerleaders, go to prom, and have homecoming, and sports at school.

None of these things are offered in European schools.

It was pretty funny and we tried not to laugh explaining each time how, yes, cheerleaders, are real.

There were lots of High School Musical references!

Ultimately, it was a great day, and I’m becoming more and more acquainted to my charming new city.

Currently, I’m drinking coffee at my desk about to go out to Saturday Market to get some vegetables for the week.

Momma, I’m attempting to cook red beans and rice for my friends, wish me luck!

If y’all have any suggestions for easy must-try recipes from back home please send em’ over!

 

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The U.S. Consulate in Strasbourg

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Study Abroad

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Yesterday was a very stressful day. It wasn’t anything in particular. It is just that trying to get acclimated to a new place, that is completely different is stressful.

Let’s talk about how the day started. It started, looking up, then just went barreling downhill.

**Reason why I couldn’t post yesterday.
So yesterday, I was finally able to get some sleep and woke up extremely late. I was well rested and had an appointment at the bank to open up my account—success!
If you’re curious about items you may need to open up a bank account, here is a complete list of the things you need. (Because trying to look stuff up and find information on websites in France is a JOKE people.)

  • Passport
  • Lease Contract or some other proof of residence (utility bill, etc.)
  • Birth Certificate (copy)
  • Proof of Enrollment at your school

In order to do anything here you need a bank account, so I’ve been on standby for getting a phone and renting a bike. Also—as I hope I’ve been able to portray—momma is not about this walking stuff.

After the bank appointment it was the same ole’ no meal routine: starve half the day, try to find a sandwich shop and eat a piece of bread.
Y’all, that’s probably the most frustrating thing. You can’t get a meal just anytime. If you missed the time window, that’s just really unfortunate.
Anyway, once my account was open, Abi and I decided to head to the city center so I could open up a phone service.
Let’s just pause real quick for me to express just how much Apple Maps sucks. Back home in America (in all conversations, we now refer to “back home” as America and each time I say it I always find it amusing, it seems very patriotic and majestic) it works just fine. However, here, it’s another story. You’re trying to walk and look at your phone, and Siri gets confused and turned around every 5 seconds. It’s very difficult to navigate like this when you’re also trying not to step in dog poop, get run over by bicyclists, and pay attention when you cross the street to not get hit by the cars. Even when pedestrians have a green light to cross, the cars don’t stop. Also, when you’re crossing, there is NO WARNING that the light is about to turn red. In the middle of crossing the street, the light will just turn red and you freak out trying to run across because you weren’t prepared for cars to just start coming again.
Anyway, so we’re trying to get to the phone shop, Maps brings us to BFE (sorry mom & dad), and then we get to this abandoned building with socks hanging on the fence and sleeping bags at the entrance and Siri is trying to tell us we’ve arrived. Abi begins to point out how 30 minutes ago she mentioned we weren’t going the right way, but because MAPS is supposed to always be right, I insisted we continue.
Now we’ve been walking, are completely lost, and still haven’t gotten anywhere we need to be and are all the way across the world, AND we’re starting to get irritated with the situation and, in turn, each other.
Well, we started heading back and the frustration is building. After trying to get oriented and walking another 20 minutes or so we’re both so angry and snapping at each other that we end up “cheating” and ordering an Uber.
I say cheating because we’re trying to do as the locals do and get around on foot or via public transportation, but you can only take so many turn-arounds and being lost for so long while walking around aimlessly before someone snaps…so, we called an Uber.
Our Uber driver arrives, and I’ve never been happier to just sit and let someone else drive. We start a conversation, and he asks where we’re heading. We explain how we’re American students trying to set up a phone blah blah blah…
I am still worked up and trying to figure out how to get to the phone place and I curse. He asks what’s wrong and says how he doesn’t speak English, but he knows THAT word.
We break down, and now it’s become a therapy session—with the Uber driver. We start to tell him all the problems we’ve been having, and he’s laughing so hard that he’s almost crying. He starts apologizing because he’s trying to stay professional. We say it’s okay. Our moods are starting to lighten up, and we start laughing, too. It’s contagious.
Now, that we’re feeling better and more comfortable, all of our struggles start pouring out because he seems very sympathetic. So, I end the story explaining how—on top of everything that’s been happening the past 4 DAYS—we haven’t had a meal and have been surviving off of baguettes and cheese!
He starts laughing so hard again, and when he finally composes himself he says he’s going to stop the meter, bring us to the phone place, and help us get somewhere to eat. He then asks if we have money. We tell him it’s very generous but it’s okay, (we’re feeling much more relaxed at this point) and we’ll figure it out. He drops us off, and we start heading to the phone place, FINALLY.
In retrospect, stating that we’ve only been eating baguettes and the fact that he asked if we had money,  I think he thought we were poor which was why he wanted to turn off his meter and wanted to find us somewhere cheap to eat.
Anyway, now we’ve arrived at the phone place.
This place was not like AT&T. It was packed, had two workers, and neither person acknowledged that we had walked in, despite the fact that we were looking at phones.

***I just want to apologize for all the times I’ve shooed away reps wanting to help me because I walked in to this place, ready to hand them some cash for a new phone and service line but that did not happen.

We waited a bit, and then a line started to form. Next thing I know, I hadn’t got in line, and now it’s out the door, maybe 30 people deep.
I start thinking to myself, this guy is jumping around helping people around the store as well as the line, so hopefully he’ll have noticed when I walked in and tend to me shortly…..nope. Then I start to realize that no one in the line is there to open anything; they’re just there to COMPLAIN.
Literally, every person walked up handing their phone to this guy asking how an app worked, or how to do something, or that their internet at home wasn’t working, etc.
I decide to go to the register and ask that guy. Well, I wait behind this lady like 20 minutes, and once I finally get there I say that I just have a quick question. He responds with, “I only take people who have a ticket”.
I swear smoke was coming out of my ears. I walked 30 minutes in the wrong direction, haven’t eaten at all today, and had a breakdown in the back of an Uber to get here. So, I just walk out.
We get dinner (finally), and then head home (in another Uber).
We’re content.

Our 3rd “flatmate” Tatiana arrived yesterday. She’s from Russia. And Francesca’s (our downstairs housemate) roommate, Sarah from France, arrived as well.

We agreed to all meet up and go out together.
Our day ended socializing and laughing at our struggles on a boat on the river. It was a great end to the day!
Now, I’m about to leave my house to try again to get a phone. It’s a new day and different time, and I’ve eaten breakfast and had some coffee.

Check out my new apparatus for making coffee! No more spillage 🤗 (2€)
Visit Louisiana

My Goal

People always say you can do anything. We set goals often times but never follow through. I’ve always heard that one of the hardest parts of pursuing a goal is to start, and boy is that true. I’ve procrastinated, edited, and avoided launching {Almost} Cajun for some time. My goal was to use this website as a platform to reach out to anyone interested in the Cajun Heritage and Culture as well as share my personal experiences growing up here in South Louisiana. I will be leaving to travel abroad in 11 days (see countdown for updated days left), and I gave myself the deadline of being prepared to launch prior to my departure so I could just post away about my experiences once school starts.

I’ve doubted my qualification for hosting such a site since I’m only {Almost} Cajun, but I feel like I have a few things to say about my adopted culture. It’s a welcoming community and has come to be known and defined as many things. There are several meanings to the term, however mine is more of a personal definition, and one I’m quite proud to be able to categorize myself as.

I was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and grew up in Cecilia, Louisiana. I have been been impacted by MY Cajun culture from the very start. Once I began attending school I was enrolled in French Immersion. In our region there are several French Immersion Schools motivated by a desire to enrich students learning and preserve our Cajun French Roots. On the home page there is a video where several locals discuss their cajun roots and touch topics such as Cajun, Creole, and School back in the day. Now, there is a movement to preserve this culture but in the past we were trying to rid ourselves of ties to anything French. However, we’ve embraced our identity, where we came from, and are proud of our culture and traditions.

There are several reasons I love the Cajun Culture and the traditions I grew up with and I hope to provide you with several examples throughout my posts however something most cajuns refers to is our Joie de Vie (Joy of Life), the Southern Lifestyle, and growing up in a country environment. Everything is much more slow paced, mom and pop style, visit with your neighbor, and talk to people in the grocery store way of life. I love this about Louisiana in general. There’s much to love about places that offer diversity of culture, but ours is so rich and ingrained in everything we do you can’t seem to escape it. No matter where I am, I can be sure to find a friendly face, a nice conversation, good food, and someone who bleeds purple and gold (GEAUX TIGERS) just as much as I do, here in Louisiana.

I love the festivals, the music, the food, the community, and the pride of being who we are, so much I decided to double major in French…..but that’s a topic for another post.

Whether you’re cajun, {Almost} Cajun, or interested in a Cajun (marrying a Cajun would be the best decision you’d ever make).

There’s a place for everyone.