Bits ‘n’ Bobs

This week has been the very civilised French Toussaints Holiday – half term. Can’t believe I’m a quarter of the way through my time here already (or 2/3 of the way through my degree… let’s not dwell!)

In the interests of a lot of things, among them: having already been travelling about a bit whether to Baden-Baden, Colmar, or indeed Kehl; Parliament being in Strasbourg this week; not having yet received the erasmus grant; and, due of course to having being concentrating on French amélioration, not having done any work other than going to lectures thus far, so having some studying to be doing.

Without further ado, the journal:

Colmar with the GBU was good, a completely different focus from the likes of a CU House Party with a lot more time for playing jeux des société together (I now gotz skillz with ligretto and have considerably upped my jungle speed game! + got to practise Loup Garou, aka Werewolf or Mafia, a highly tactical game which would probably be easier in English) and general together time than talks. It was good to get to know some people a bit more, and I think I won’t feel quite so out of place at the GBU main meeting if I venture along.

I was quite excited about the visit to the cheese factory purely because I still giggle when “Munster” is an option for a tarte flambée… apparently French people didn’t have the loveable Adam’s Family rip-off though as I’ve not met anyone else that feels similarly. The picture is of the utterly bizarre Munster cheese macarons – yes, that dainty sweet confection… sandwiched together with cheese. Got to try half of one and it was bizarre, no idea how anyone could ever manage to get through an entire box!

48 hours of constant French speaking has, however, exhausted me, and it’s perhaps as well that I’ve had only sporadic encounters with French people at GBU on Tuesday and Navs on Thursday, because I am a bit fed up with it at the moment… shall have to move to Germany, perhaps! 😛

Parliament this week was also interesting, was writing a speech about persecuted minorities in the Middle East for my MEP to embellish and deliver – I don’t know what the situation is about work I do there otherwise I’d post it here, but the information’s all out there if you google it: kidnappings, murders, church bombings… and that’s just in Iraq post-Saddam! If events in Egypt are mimicked in other Arab countries, the Arab spring could be the worst thing to ever happen to people other than the ruling majority in each country.

Especially so because it was the holidays this week, but Strasbourg libraries are bizarre. Went along on Monday to the law school library at 10am after a brief morning scuffle with the French Caf Office (who administer housing benefits among other things, but trying to claim what you’re entitled to as an incomeless foreign student involves a nightmare of paperwork, as could be said for a lot of things in France!), to find that it was pretty tiny, with dining room chairs clustered round some tables. So far, so library under Glasgow law school, but as it appears to be one of the main libraries, I thought it pretty weird that it closes at 17h (ie 5pm) every day, and is only open Saturday mornings during termtime (and never on Sundays). I’ve not ventured back there due to finding a study room on the floor above me which is obviously much nearer, and has no internet access (though again with the hard chairs! Never thought I’d have pangings for Glasgow libs after December/January/April/May of last year!)

On Wednesday, I got to have people round and we all squished into the kitchen then my room when the scary French Africans came crowding us out of the kitchen. Made a tangine and then some pains perdus and apple compote (recipes from last Monday’s cooking class – will follow here when I make some more, as they got scarffed too quickly for photos!) After a nice evening of chat, I decided that the time was ripe to try the cinnamon challenge.

Bad.

Idea.

At least I now know that I never, ever, ever, ever, want to attempt again to eat a tablespoon of cinnamon in one go. Ever.

It was horrible, and I had the cinnamon clogging up the back of my throat for the next 36 hours, which was really unpleasant. Was there all through yesterday (when we went for chocolats chauds at a nice café in La Petite France called La Tinta, then I had Navs where I found out that French people have no doxology equivalent. Though rediscovered that I love the song Mon Ancre et Ma Voile, can’t work out if it’s just because it flows into As The Deer Pants For The Water. That was a long tangent, back to my point) and when I woke up this morning, so then I decided to go to the Bain Romain at the Bains Municipaux. Given it was only 6€50 for student entry, I wasn’t expecting Baden-Baden standard, which was as well because I didn’t get it. But it was nice to pass an hour an a bit in steam room and sauna and pools of various temperatures, and the architecture was as lovely as the main pool, just much less crowded. Though even more confusing than the swimming pool, which was itself majorly confusing as you go in a cabin on one side, lock it, then exit the other side and find yourself on the poolside. And given my French was still suffering, I think the attendant thought me a major dimwit for trying to take my own towel,  and having a bag with my toiletries in it. Ach war. At least at that point I didn’t have a turtle plaster on my head… had to put a plaster on and as I’ve been in my room, forgot how odd some semi-transparent turtles must look to people as I ventured out and about doing my washing and cooking.

Well, that’s been a long blog. Congrats if you made it this far without skipping bits. I could highlight words in different colours, but don’t think I will. Any comments, greetings, questions, do pop them below 🙂

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