September 21, 2007
Today is the first time I’ve turned on my computer and I am so relieved it is in English!
The plane ride here was good. I could not sleep on either flight. Every time I closed my eyes I got very nervous, and I felt like it was better not to think about what I was doing. Luckily, Chantal bought me Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer, and I read the entire book on the way over. It was really good too.
Yesterday I arrived in Lille at about 10:30 am (France time of course.) I successfully found the home of the lady I’m staying with, but she was not here because I wasn’t supposed to arrive until the afternoon. I debated about what to do for a while, and ended up wandering around for about 40 minutes. When I came back, she was here. She is very nice, her name is Christiane. She speaks some English, so we speak about half and half. After I dropped off my stuff and I took a short nap, I struck out to find an apartment. I wondered around Lille for a while randomly, until buying a map. When I found the street I was looking for, I found a bunch of agencies. I just started walking into them. Because I was nervous about speaking French I would start out by saying, “Je ne parle pas français très bien” “I don’t speak French very well.” Everyone was very nice about it and complemented my French. Sadly, the first few agencies had NOTHING by way of studio apartments. I began to panic, even though Jonathan made me promise him I wouldn’t panic. Finally I found a few with one. I was able to go see one apartment that I liked (even though it didn’t have windows, just a skylight.) It was a little more then I wanted to spend, but I was worried I wouldn’t get anything. I said that I wanted it, but I needed a “garant” or co-signer in France. I began to get very frustrated. I stopped at a few more agencies and one told me to come back today so that I can go see a few apartments. It’s funny because you leave your ID and they give you the keys to the apartment and you go see it by yourself. I went back to Mons-en-Baroeul (where Christiane leaves) very upset and sort of depressed. I also fell asleep at about 8:30. I was exhausted.
I think, because of my lack of sleep, I am already firmly on French time. Jet lag’s not so bad. This morning I woke up at 8:30. Christiane and I had breakfast and then we went to look at some apartments. Oh, I should make note that Christiane only has a bathtub, no shower. That was a little weird for me. So, Christiane offered to go with me for a while this morning to help, for which I was very grateful. We went to an agency near her house, but I wasn’t really impressed. There was one possibility, but it was a little expensive, I am supposed to go back on Monday to see it. Then we went into Lille and down a different street with a bunch of agencies. The problem with these agencies is they advertise rentals in their windows. These apartments aren’t actually for rent. Maybe they used to be, I don’t know. It’s very frustrating. After a while I found an agency with a prospect and I went to see it. It was about 6 feet wide and 15 feet long. And it just didn’t seem very nice. I returned the keys. I went back to the agency from the day before. They had keys to one of the apartments I wanted to see, but for some reason, not the other even though they were in the same building. I decided to go see the one, which entailed a metro ride there and a metro ride back. The apartment was GREAT! It had wood floors, a new refrigerator and a WHOLE bathroom (minus a shower, just a bathtub again,) and pink curtains! It was small, but I loved it. I really wanted to take it. You have to unlock the outside door and then your own door here, but I had a terrible time unlocking the outside door. I put the key in and turned it, but the lock wouldn’t engage. I messed with it for probably 15 minutes before I discovered that you had to pull the handle all the way up and then lock the deadbolt with the key. It was weird. And I would like to mention that I have not seen one door knob here, only handles. I’m going to keep my eyes out for some knobs. So I rode the metro back to the agency. When I got there, they said while I was gone with the keys, someone who had seen it a few days ago came and rented it. I was pretty upset. The lady there said she would go get the keys for the other apartment in the same building and I could go see that one. I waited for her and then took those keys and bought two more metro tickets (I can’t figure out how to buy a pass yet) and went back. I got back to the building. The keys did not work. I tried and I tried, but they would not open the door to the apartment. Yesterday I had purchased a prepaid SIM card for my cell phone, but had quickly used almost all of the minutes calling Jonathan (which was only like 10 minutes for an international call,) but I called the agency. All I could get out was that the keys didn’t work before I got cut off. I trudged back to the agency, mad that I had wasted money buying more metro tickets. When I got there, the agent kept apologizing. We’re going to go tomorrow and she said she’ll bring all of the keys that she has to make sure one works. I hope they do. I think the French must really love the U2 song, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” and the Sinead O’Conner song, “Nothing Compares to You.” Every time I’m in the metro, one of those songs is playing, it is very weird. I haven’t heard any French music playing in any public places, which I think is strange.
Now I am back in Mons-en-Baroeul. Today is September 21, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to post this, and I don’t want to go back through and change all the today’s and yesterday’s, so I wanted to make sure you could tell what I was talking about. There are wireless internet networks here, but, sadly, they’re all secure. I called Brigitte this evening and I am so glad that she is here for me to call if I need her! It was a big relief to talk to her for a little while.
Alright, I think that is all that I have to report right now. I miss America, but I’m trying to push through that.
5 days ago