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The posts are in reverse chronological order, and are pegged by topic on the links to the left. For more of an introduction, please see the About this site page listed above.

Monday, 2 September 2013

A Canadian Werewolf in France

Bienvenue a France! It has been a long time in preparing, but I finally made it! After all my planning, packing, organizing, and lack of sleep-ing, I was able to look around my apartment in Strasbourg, France, take a breath and say, "I'm here!"

But, let's back up a bit. This was a busy week. My clothes were cleaned and mostly packed, but my mom and I had been working almost non-stop on making me some new clothes, as you will be able to read about in a future post. When we weren't doing that, we were helping my sister get herself ready for school.

A week ago, my sister went to Brock University early, there to start "Base Camp", which was a pre-frosh week wherein students go on a camping trip in Algonquin Park. Not knowing exactly what to expect, we packed her bags and off she went.

Most of her stuff was already packed, so we just had to load it into the truck and make sure we didn't forget anything. We were moving her in on Sunday, September 1st, at 9am, which unfortunately meant we had to leave from my home at 3am. My mom and I, sadly, were still awake at this time as she was finishing a vest, and I was packing my luggage.

The drive down was uneventful, or at least seemed that way to me as I slept the entire way. We showed up early on campus and had trouble finding Danielle, my sister. After a couple of laps, we found her and found her place of residence.

It was really nice to see how excited she was! She had been so busy and preoccupied with financial concerns that I had not seen any excitement in her since she was accepted. But, the Base Camp week got her in the right spirits. She met a lot of other students, and together they canoed, camped, and portaged all day every day, making memories.

Full of energy, she was the first to move into her suite. Shared with 4 other girls, her suite is one of many in her courtyard in one of many courtyards at Brock. It's a nice setup, if a little too conventional, and by that I mean small. When I moved into residence at York, I was living in a one-year old building, where everything was new, clean, and spacious. Danielle's suite isn't tiny, but it took a lot of ingenuity to get everything to fit and work in the space provided. After picking up some groceries and a mini-fridge, we dropped her off, leaving her to new adventures.

I am extremely proud of her and excited for the days to come! She had a hard time in high school but she stuck to what she wanted to do and managed to be accepted into her #1 choice of programs. She is doing a Bachelor of Geography, and I'm sure it will be only a matter of time before she'll be paid to play with rocks, haha, geology being her love.

After this, my parents and I drove to Toronto, for there was where I was catching the flight out. Again, I fell asleep. Waking up in Toronto, my parents and I went out to dinner. It was a Montana's, and along with the good food, service, and atmosphere, the table was supplied with paper and crayons so I had a chance to show off some of my space engineering skills.

Checking in at the airport wasn't too difficult, but it took awhile to deal with my bike. I kept hearing about how "everyone bikes in Europe" so I had decided to bring my bike. But, I had to pay a lot extra to check it and they required a bike box, and then they couldn't feed it through the conveyor belt so someone had to specially take it to the plane.

Bureaucracy finished, I hugged my parents, and made my way to the gate. My parents have been extremely supportive and enthusiastic about this adventure and I would not be nearly as prepared, settled, happy, or organized without them.

First flight was straight across the water to Amsterdam. The plane was a Boeing 747 which is typical of what you see in movies, with the 3 sets of 3 seats. The flight was pleasant, and I only slept for half of the trip. I have this ability to sleep anywhere, at any time, so I was able to avoid the jet lag.

Unexpectedly, the flight had a full meal, with dessert, and the in-flight movies were free and recent. I wasn't expecting a meal as nothing stated one would be provided, and the only other times I've had access to in-flight movies, you had to pay for them. I watched The Internship, which I found to be quite funny, and interesting.

I arrived in Amsterdam and had to wait 4 hours for the short flight to Strasbourg. I was not allowed to leave the airport but that was okay as there was plenty to see. There was a casino (I didn't go in, no interest), a museum (which I found quite fascinating), plenty of shops, and lots of interesting looking people. I was thinking about good I felt, how not nervous I felt, and how confident I was when I looked up and saw a 20-foot tall poster of Ryan Reynolds posing for Hugo Boss. I smiled, thinking it was nice to see a fellow Canadian.

Checking my carry-on luggage in Amsterdam was a little silly as they want people to remove all electronic devices and their corresponding power cables. My carry-on luggage included 2 external hard-drives, a laptop, and a camera, so I had a lot to unpack. Still, the process was over quickly.

The flight to Strasbourg took place in the 2nd smallest plane I had ever been in. Not sure what type of plane it was, but there weren't more than 40 passengers and the plane itself was too short for me; I had to duck as I boarded/disembarked.

Customs in France was easy and I was let through quickly. I found my bike, grabbed my tire pump and set to work. I had to deflate the tires for the flight(s), and I couldn't move the bike and my luggage with flat tires. Finishing this, I walked outside and hailed a cab.

Turns out my apartment is just outside of Strasbourg, to the south of the city and the east of the airport. Arriving, I looked around and realized I was stuck.

My phone was not set up for international purposes so I couldn't call my roommate. I have Skype but couldn't use it because I couldn't gain access to the airport's wifi. The airport's policy is to text the login information to your phone, but since my phone wasn't working, I couldn't access Skype. There was a gate in front of my apartment so I couldn't simply knock on the door.

Deciding hopping the fence was a great way to start trouble, I locked my luggage to the fence and went warwalking, trying to find free wifi on which to check in. After wandering around for an hour, I found a McDonald's. Turns out, my roommate had been in the apartment the entire time! Laughing at my situation, I walked back.

My roommate, Vatsala, had been worried about me and was relieved to see me. She had come back from hanging out with friends, calling, and trying to find me. I apologized, and we both laughed at the oddity of the situation. She said the choice to avoid hopping the fence was a good one as a police officer lives next door.

Touring the apartment, I realized how lucky I was. The apartment is in great condition, it's worst problem is the heat isn't working at the moment, and the floorboards creak. The one is being fixed next week, the other is part of its charm. Our rooms were large, furnished with a 3 door wardrobe, bed, desk, with many amenities. Vatsala had arrived a day or two earlier and had been busy buying supplies and groceries.

She graciously offered we "go dutch", splitting the cost/function of what she had, and presenting me with a list of recommended things to get and places to go tomorrow. I admired her friendly manner and organization quickly enough, and we got to know each other as we made soup. I say we, but she did most of the work and they were her groceries. I met a couple of other students, who came by to pick up some bikes they had left, and they shared their eagerness to hang out some more tomorrow.

And that brings you up to date. It has been an interesting experience. I am happy that I seem to be so easy-going, it has made normally anxiety-inducing experiences so much easier. I am happy to be here, to get started on my future, and I am excited for what's to come. I know there is a severe lack of pictures here, but I will do my best to keep my camera on me at all times from here on out.

Thanks for reading!

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