So, Le Mans has been interesting. God has definitely provided more than enough for me, but it’s been a quirky and frustrating last 48 hours. I arrived at the train station Monday around noon and thankfully met up with Chloe, my first (super nice and amusing) French friend, who was also picking up my new friend and Arkansas native Emily. The French pretty much always take two hour lunch breaks, so we waited about that amount of time to arrive on campus.
Once we went to the university, I received my first dose of painfully inefficient and slow administration. After taking care of some necessary official nonsense, I waited about two more hours with promises from the coordinator that any minute she was ready for the next step. By the time she stepped, everything had just shut down for the day. Basically, all businesses and institutions work three hours in the morning and hit up the office for another three hours at night (though the first and last thirty minutes of each day they don’t see people, so anything that doesn’t involve a restaurant or bar is really only open 5 hours a day).
Then I began settling into my nest. Great news is I have my own room and bathroom, with a bed, desk, chair, mini fridge and windows that open and have metal covers. The intriguing part is it is all within a 9 meter zone; my entire living space is smaller than my sister Leslie’s closet. I opened the bathroom door with the excitement that comes with a twentysomething’s first personal bathroom. With extreme fascination, I realized I could easily use the sink, take a shower and use the toilet without even completely extending any limbs. While exploring my new territory, I twist on the sink faucet, trying out the levers, and learned how to turn the shower on (the shower curtain was open; I was fully dressed and sufficiently soaked). The cuisinette is conveniently located two doors away, and it’s pretty cute and clean but without an oven (no fresh homemade desserts for me).
In my various stages of unpacking, I realize I left the most basic things in Lyon: contact case, contact solution, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste and the oh so important plug adaptor for my gadgets… all after I take a two and a half hour grocery trip. The next day’s second grocery run, I learn the French are wary of people buying contact solution or even the plastic cases over the counter; they are only sold in pharmacies, which were also closed. Both times Chloe drove me and the other numb and lost American students (I think there are eight of us that we know of). In France, if you don’t bring your own bags you have to buy them (starting at 3 cents per bag), so we stocked up. Shopping carts cost one euro to operate (deposit, you get it back), mostly because they are really nifty and don’t want people to steal them as easily; a nice security man gave me a fake plastic euro to trick the machine for times I don’t have change on me.