In France sans voiture
Being in France as a language assistant is a little like being in a study-abroad program. I feel like I am just here visiting. There are so many things that I either have to buy again or I just have to go without. For example, I don’t have all of my clothes (including the ski gear that could have been useful with all this snow); I don’t have all of my kitchen appliances (I don’t think a blender would have gone over very well in my carry-on bag on the way over); and most importantly I don’t have my car.
In California I drove pretty much everywhere. I visited friends, I went to the movies, and I went on random outings just because I could. I could go to the grocery store without having to take my backpack and walk the mile back home in the rain. When I was frustrated I would get in my car and drive really fast on the freeway, just to blow off some steam. I made the eight-hour drive from my college town to my parents’ house numerous times, sometimes just for the weekend. Some may say that this was overdoing it, but it was a comfort that I was lucky to have and that I am slowly getting used to living without.
Here I mainly take the bus or the train, whether it be a long train ride spent crossing half the country or just for a short bus ride to visit friends in the next city. I have spent countless hours staring out the windows at the French countryside that I find so beautiful in both fall and winter. I really don’t mind how long it takes as long as I get to discover little villages and forests along the way. I want to remember every place I pass but when I take photos they usually contain the reflection of the windows and they never do justice to the paysages that we are passing by too quickly.
I am getting used to taking the bus now and I have met some interesting characters to say the least. I swear that the driver on one of the buses is crazy. The first time I saw him he wouldn’t stop talking. He would talk to people who weren’t listening to him and he would continue talking to himself as if they were replying. Last time I took the bus he went on a cursing spree against the poor woman in the car ahead of us, though luckily she could not hear him. I think he used every gros mot that he could possibly use against her, and all because she was not going fast enough through the snow and ice. I mean, I understand that having to do the same route back and forth every day can get a little tiresome, but a little courtesy would be nice as well.
I have also met some really cool people. One day in a train an older man just started talking to me and we ended up talking for the entire trip. Encounters like this one are more common and, whether good or bad, make the time pass quickly and give me a taste of France that I never would have gotten hidden away in my own car.