So here I am again! Back in France! Although this time I am in Grenoble which is located in the Rhone Alpes Region, not far from the Swiss border.
I feel like I am jet lagged at the moment because it turns out that Grenoble is possibly one of the hardest places in France to reach from the UK when it is not the skiing season. This is because Grenoble Isere aeroport is tiny and only does a few flights at this time of year. I therefore left home on 31st August, took the National Express Bus from Bath to London Gatwick Airport and then stayed the night at my aunt and uncles house in Sussex from which I left at 5:30am today (Monday 1st September) feeling physically sick with fear but also buzzing with enthusiasm. I then flew from Gatwick to Lyon and took a bus, a tram, and walked about one mile until I finally reached Auberge Grenoble where I am now living and working. It was a very long journey but I was fortunate enough to see some breathtaking scenery from the bus window! Miles and miles and miles of mountains and rivers!
The funniest thing about the journey to France was that I happened to end up sitting next to another Erasmus student on the plane. Once we had realized that we were both flying to Lyon for the same reason, I discovered that this girl is from the University of Kent and will be studying at the University of Lyon for her third year abroad. We spent the whole flight chatting away about our fears and excitement for the year abroad so it was quite hard to leave her when we got to Lyon Airport. In fact, I very soon felt very alone again, especially after we had had a good laugh about how foolish we looked thinking that we were at a dead end in the airport simply because we were not standing close enough to the automatic door to open it!. However, I later on became distracted when I could not for the life of me work out how to use the tram self service ticket machine (partly because the instructions were in Italian rather than French) with a large crowd of people behind me. Typical Elise abroad!
When I arrived at my workplace, the first couple of hours turned out to be quite difficult as I sat in my room feeling lost and disorientated. I also felt very nervous about the fact that I will be spending the next four months here. However, I was invited to spend the evening with my work colleagues for somebody's leaving party and I had a really lovely evening which very quickly made me feel much better! Although I felt very nervous walking into a room full of people I had not met before, I was immediately warmly welcomed into the group and made to feel at home. So I went from being on the verge of tears to coming back to my room with a huge smile on my face which I would say shows that the evening was well spent!
So overall, the first two days had ups and downs but the most important thing is that I overcame the emptiness and homesickness that I felt when I arrived and got myself involved in the life here. And I can tell you now that it has made such a difference to my outlook on the next few months. I can now imagine living here until Christmas and am excited about all of the opportunities that lie ahead of me.
I have a day off work tomorrow so I am going to explore Grenoble properly so that I am tired enough to get a good nights sleep before my 7:30am start at work on Wednesday morning! I will update the blog again in a few days time when I am able to tell you more about my experiences working at the reception desk. In the meantime, I hope that you have enjoyed reading about the very beginning of my French work placement and please do take a look at the photos that I took on my journey on the 'Photos-Grenoble/Rhone Alpes Region' page of the blog!