So, what's happened?!
Well, I've been back to the UK for a week, exams have well and truly started, the ski season has re-started and snow is falling on Grenoble!! My battle with French bureaucracy has also finally finished, I have a job and I'm going back to la Plagne for Christmas!
Going back home for a week at the end of October was a great breath of fresh air after the first tough 6 weeks of university out here. But it was also very difficult to leave again. After over a year of living away from the UK, I thought I was used to just spending a week here and there in the UK but oh no, how I was wrong! I've definitely missed the UK, the language and my home and as most French students go back to their family home over the weekend, I wish I could do the same occasionally. I love the independence that I have here (sometimes I even catch myself doing real adult things like food shopping and buying winter tyres for my car!) but some weeks I would pay a lot of money just to go home for a couple of days, have a big hug from my Mama and Papa and have some nice home-cooked food, which I haven't had to cook myself! Living here is proving to be exactly what I wanted but it's meant I'm at another crossroads and I'm not quite sure which road I'll take just yet.
Doing adult things is another thing I have had to get used to. When you've grown up in a country, all the difficult stuff is done for you.. according to the government you exist, you normally have the nationality of that country so you're not an exception and things like national insurance numbers just come flying through the post at the appropriate times. The last 3 months have been a massive eye-opener for me and I feel like I've had an incredibly intensive and short course to living life as an adult. I've also learnt that parents put a lot of work for us kids, something we definitely don't appreciate until we fly the nest!
As with everything in France, everything is as complicated as it possible can be, meaning that when you finally get the answer you need, the feeling of relief and happiness is incredible! After 4 months of to-ing and fro-ing around various offices around Grenoble, I have fiiiinally got a numéro de sécurité sociale!! I actually cried when I walked out of the office clutching the piece of paper with my number on it, you know when you've been living in France for far too long when that happens..! My advice to anyone: keep banging on at people until they finally give you the required answer. They know the answer, you just have to ask the right question in order for them to give it to you.
I have also managed to sort my life out in terms of finally looking after someone(thing) else other than myself. Having a car is a great source of freedom but it also requires some degree of organisation and care! In the last 3 months, I've managed to sort out allll my paperwork, encounter my first ever break down and fit 4 winter tyres - a concept totally alien to us Brits who normally (!!) experience around 1 day's worth of snow a year!
All too quickly, the ski season has also arrived and in style! After passing the test to get onto my formation, I have spent the last 2 weekends 'en formation' in Les 2 Alpes - which has been great for my skiing.. not so much for my exams though! Although I've moaned and moaned (and moaned) about having to get up at 6am for the last 2 weekends, I'm starting to realise how lucky am I. On Saturday morning, a friend and I drove up to 2 Alpes and due to the amount of snow that fell on Friday, the roads were still covered but by 9am we were on the pistes. It was cold and snowy but as the sun came out on Sunday, I realised how lucky am I to have this life and the experiences that I'm getting out of it are second to none. Through all the frustrations, the tears and the days when I really, really just want to go back to the UK, for now I'm glad I chose France over the UK.. hopefully that'll continue!!
This week is the last (official) week of the semester and I can't believe how quickly 3 months have passed. It seems like just last week that I spent my first night in my apartment (1st September) and that my Dad left me in this big, mountainous city to fend for myself. (5th September) I have learnt so much, in terms of French, Spanish and even a bit of English as well as how to actually live my life without the guidance of parents and other responsible adults! I've also learnt how to make my own decisions, whether that is a good thing or not I'm not too sure..! Next week I finish lessons and then it's off to la Plagne where experience #2493525 is going to start.. I'm looking forward to going back but a little apprehensive as to what I could experience, only time will tell!
Bisous, happy holidays everyone and hopefully I'll be back in the UK sooner than thought - watch this space!
PS. I've recently found out that my blog has been featured on Third Year Abroad - it's a great website for anyone preparing for their study abroad year or if you just want to find out more about living and studying abroad.. go check it out!