Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Cold Climate, Warm Hearts?

I don’t know where it has gone, but a month has already passed in the wonderful city of Strasbourg. I haven’t yet tired of waking up in this beautiful suburb, of walking out to fields and being near a beautiful city, to speaking French, to the clean air and to the sense of opportunity for this year. I really do love it here. I feel so lucky to have this wonderful French family; they have welcomed me in and become not my landlord but my friends; it is great to have somewhere calm and caring that I can spend my year. It’s a strange thing coming abroad, because I’m surrounded by people, but sometimes it can feel isolated. I am grateful that I live with these people, they do look after me!

I had my first week in the European Parliament last week, it was too good for words. It sounds cheesy, but I felt at home- one day I want to walk down those corridors as more than an intern, but I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity. I have started uni, maybe not the best day ever (spent an hour sat in the wrong lecture, so confused why she didn’t mention anything other than the French constitution in what I thought was an International Relations class, turned out it was Constitutional Law…), but met some lovely French people and enjoyed finally being back to studying!

But despite all the wonderful things, there is one typically British thing I have to moan about. The weather. When I said I was coming to live in France, I’d expected to spend my whole year wearing my favorite summer dresses, embracing the Frenchness by sporting the odd beret not out of necessity but just because I can. I was definitely wrong. It is already unbearably cold, and the people here assure me it will get worse. They’re talking minus 15 and 20 cms of snow. Now I like snow in theory, but I hate the cold and I hate that sludgy excuse for snow we get in the UK (although I’m assured it’s a proper winter wonderland here). But it really is changeable here…when I get up in the morning, I look outside and it can be beautifully sunny. I get dressed and by the time I go outside, its throwing it down and theres a thunderstorm. Strasbourg doesn’t seem to have any middle ground- its hot or its cold. Just like its people…

Whilst having a little heart to heart with the wonderful Jess Bethom, we reflected on the people we have met so far, and how different our relationships with people have been. Just like the weather is either beautiful or unpleasant, we decided so are the people we have met! Seemingly, I have got exceptionally lucky…I have met so many warm and friendly people- people who have really made an effort to make me feel welcomed, happy and at home. But it seems there are two extremes, no middle ground. Either people have warm hearts, or they are cold just like the weather.

And to be honest, that seems to be the mood too. People are either really happy or not at all. I guess that’s the thing with a city like this, with such an opportunity as a year abroad: you either love it, or you hate it. But sometimes both simultaneously.  Me right now? I hate being far from home and from the people I love. I’m not a big fan of the weather either. But really, I love it. The warmth in the hearts of the people that are important in my French life is refreshing and reassuring. As my Dad’s favourite tshirt says….'Yep, it’s gonna be a good day (year!)’…

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