So I've officially been living in Chambery France for one week and it's been pretty amazing! I guess the most exciting part is just meeting lots of new people and getting to know the other Erasmus students. For those of you who don't know, Erasmus is it's the study abroad program in Europe and it's the organization everyone has to go through to study abroad.
It's so exciting to meet people from all over the world and it's great that we can all speak French and talk together. The countries range from, Czech Republic and Slovakia to Finland and Italy, Scotland and Poland as well as Brazil and Mexico. There's no one from the US in my program so that's kinda cool and keeps me from speaking English all the time. I've also gotten one high five when my Spanish friend Pepito asked me who I'm voting for in the election :). Everyone here is so different and interesting and I'm looking forward to getting to know each and everyone of them.
We started French classes Wednesday and my teacher is very nice and helpful. She's from Chambery and we've been having interesting discussions on our respective countries. We talked about how France was different from home and what's been a hard adjustment. I shared that the French are very different in that they don't smile or make eye contact you in passing on the street (the word friendly doesn't exist in the French language). They also think it's weird when you say pardon or excuse me in passing. She then explained to me that in the region I'm in Savoie, is very different from any region in France. It's the coldest climate and also the coldest personalities. When one is born into the Savoie region there is a close knit group of friends already there for them, so they don't easly make friends with others. They also don't say hello to strangers, even if you walk into a store and the person says "bonjour" to you, they're not from Savoie because the Savoyards just don't do that. I found this explained a lot and while the French have very different social habits, the Savoyards are in the extreame of this.
On a happier note I have met a lot of French students and people who are very friendly and welcoming to me. The Erasmus students have French buddies and mine buddy is especially helpful. She's from the South of France, a hot climate, and therefore a happy and helpful demeanor. She also studied a year in San Fransico so knows about Americans too. At a party I went to last night I also met a very friendly student, Frank, who was excited to get to know us and we played a guess our nationality game with him :).
I've also gotten to know my roommates a little better and they help me a lot with translations and vocabulary. They also like hearing about America and celebrities. Laura is studying English, French and Italian at her University so we've been helping eachother out in our respective languages, it's pretty handy. I haven't been around a lot so hopefully we'll get to know eachother better as the year goes on.
Other than that things have been moving along. I'm still working on getting my residency card and well as social security and health insurance. Lots of paperwork and red tape so eventually all that will be straightened out. Tomorrow the castle and all the museums are open to the public for free so we're going to head over there and be tourists. The market is also Saturday so hopefully I'll get lots of delicious food. New pictures from my walk this evening will be up soon as well, http://picasaweb.google.com/stephlach. I have a lot of time before my next French classes start so I think I will take a trip to visit my friend in Bordeaux and maybe a trip up to Geneva. I will write again soon, bonsoir!