Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Joe-1 The Beginning

My name is Joe Libera and I arrived at the Paris airport on at around 10 in the morning on the 25th of May in the year 2010. The airline lost the luggage of three of the group who were on the flight so my first hour and a half spent in France was spent waiting by lost baggage. Afterwards we met with more of the group at a café where we waited for two more hours than traveled to the train station in the airport to wait some more. Finally we got on the train which took us through some beautiful countryside and interesting towns. One thing I realized very quickly is that the CDG airport did not have air conditioning, which caused the café and the train station to be incredibly hot.
When we finally arrived at the station, everyone was met by their host family. My host is a woman named Pamela Goodman, who also hosts five other French students, although only four were there that evening. In addition, her boyfriend named Patrick is often there. I am incredibly lucky as Pamela speaks English and lives about ten minutes away from the IMLS, where we have class. One of the French students, Jeffery, took me out after dinner for a couple of beers. Normally this would have been merely a good experience but then it was a challenge, as Jeffery speaks very little English and I speak no French. As he knew I was a history student, he decided that he wanted to give me a short tour of the city. I recommend everyone get a one on one tour through a city with someone you cannot easily verbally communicate with. I can say that I will remember that walk and those beers for as long as I live. I saw the triumphal arch in Montpellier, the official name of which is the Porte du Peyrou and a university in Montpellier. After the short tour, we went to a café where we had a beer while sitting and talking to and through a woman who was working there who could fortunately speak English. There for the second time of the day I had been asked if people from Texas wore cowboy boots and big hats. It is incredible the stereotype that has spread. That is a reminder that I should all the more skeptical of stereotypes that I run across back in the states. After we finished our beers there, Jeffery decided that I might want to be able to go somewhere where people speak English. Therefore he led me to an Irish pub. My definition of surreal now is a Frenchman who speaks no English taking me to an Irish pub in France, where the bartenders are from New York and California.

Wednesday was an orientation day, where we met at the IMLS in the morning. They provided croissants which were amazing. We were given basic information about the program, such as two excursions that we will go on as well as other possible outings as well as festivals that are going on during the time that we will be in Montpellier. We were also told some of the local history of Montpellier, such it having the first European medical school. Montpellier was founded in the tenth century and has found itself involved in conflicts between Protestants and Catholics, and between the combination of Pope and the French King with Cathers. It was the later conflict that when asked how to tell the difference between the Catholics that the Cathers, that the order was given to “kill them all, God will recognize his own”. Around noon, Dr. Bains lead us to an Italian restaurant where most of the group had pizza but I and some others had an omelet. The omelet had the best mushrooms that I have ever had and came with potatoes and a salad. It was a very good lunch and everyone seem to like there food.

After lunch an adventure started. Everyone needed to get something else. I, along with some others had to go to the Virgin megastore to get a local phone or to return something. We also explored around the city for a while before stopping for a drink. Afterwards, the time I will forever remember as the great hair straightener hunt began. Roughly an hour was trying to find a store that sold one. Directions were asked, followed and asked for again when we realized we were lost. At long last we were able to find a store that had them and were able to make it back to the IMLS in time for the next event.

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