Joie de Vivre à la Champagne

Penthouse Girls' Exchange Journey in Troyes, France

Monthly Archives: helmikuu 2014

Our Week in Pictures

The first whole week is almost over and a lot has happened since our last post 🙂

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The French Intensive Course began already last week, and it continues until next Wednesday. Our days have been completely full and exhausting (especially since we have only had french!) but the course has been extremely useful. There are couple of different French course groups, according to our existing language skills (which were tested by a multiple choice exam before arriving to France). We are in different groups and learning with various methods, such as watching the movie Asterix and Obelix with french subtitles 😀

 

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Last Sunday we went for a walk around the city. It was the only sunny day during the entire week so we had to make the best of it 🙂 The city is full of lovely houses and the little alleys are totally cute. Even though the town is pretty small, we still have a lot more to discover.

 

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For Valentine´s Day we bought some lovely flowers to bright up our living room and strawberries to pamper ourselves. It´s amazing to be able to have sweet and tasty strawberries in FEBRUARY! 😀

 

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In order to get some housing benefits from the CAF (French counterpart to KELA) we were obliged to open French bank accounts. The school has a contract with the Societe Generale, so the paperwork was simple and the bank even donated 50 euros of ”start up” money for each of us. We received all the needed bank account information by mail within 10 days from signing the papers at school. We just need to stop by the office to get our C.B.s (Carte Bleu). It is the first time for both of us to be able to pay with a cheque, and to even have a cheque book! 😀 It it common  in France to pay with either cash or cheque, even in the grocery stores, so these might come in handy.. 🙂

 

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This evening we visited our lovely new friends and neighbors Caro and Marina from Germany, who live with a Finnish girl Elina. Since the ”oven” in our apartment isn´t really an oven, we decided to do some baking together at their place. The girls have been extremely friendly letting us use their washing machine, since we do not have one. In return, we either bake or bring something for them. Our personalities match really well and we always have nice conversations and fun when meeting! 🙂 This evening was no exception! 🙂

Bisous

– Lilli & Sofia –

 

Finally here!

On early Monday morning at 02:00 a.m. our journey started from Jyväskylä heading to Troyes. The bus took as to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport where our knees were shaken by the fear of over-weighted baggage. Luckily, everything was just under the limits and we sighted of relief!

First flight from Helsinki to Riga passed fast while both of us sleeping because of staying up whole day before the departure. Only when plane landed, we woke up drowsy and said to common voice: “Are we already here?” Connecting flight to Paris was already waiting us in Riga and change of planes happened easily.

We had set a meeting with one other exchange student coming from Finland to Charles de Gaulle airport. Elina, from Turku University of Applied Sciences joined us and we started to find our way from Paris to Troyes. Just when we had got to a train station underneath the airport, a young lady from Latvia asked if she could join us. She was going for exchange semester to northern part of France and didn’t know how to get to Gare de Nord (one of the Paris’ main train stations). Time flew while chatting and admiring the beautiful sunny landscapes.

From Gare de Nord we needed to walk to Gare de l’Est. At first, we were sure to find it, but when entering the busy streets of Paris the reliability was gone. It was time for Lilli to open her mouth and ask for help. A true French gentleman offered us help and he escorted us to Gare de l’Est. He turned out to be an employee of the SNCF (French train company) on his way to work. At the station we purchased the Carte 12-27, which is a discount card of SNCF offering well-priced tickets to youngsters, and the train tickets to Troyes.

Rest of the journey passed easily without any complications and we arrived in Troyes on time. Tutors of Groupe ESC Troyes were welcoming us at the station and accompanied us to our apartment. We also got small survival bag for first evening in Troyes with PINK toilet paper, pasta, tomato sauce, cereals, milk, water and a map. During the evening we met our landlord with who we signed our rent contracts and got the keys to our new home. When the sun had set, we were happy but exhausted. 🙂

After a well-slept night in our cozy little apartment we felt like exploring the city a little, and to get to know the two other Finnish girls a little better. With the maps we navigated ourselves to the city center, just admiring the architecture and the calm atmosphere of the city. It was surprising for us all to discover the weather to be just like our Finnish springtime, with warm breezes and sun shining 🙂

We were determined to get some French mobile subscriptions while in town, just to be able to communicate with cheaper prices and to get the internet to our phones. Since it was our first day and we had had no time to open any local bank accounts, we decided to leave that for later. A craving for coffee and a place to just sit and relax got us to a little cafeteria packed with locals on their lunch breaks, before heading to do the groceries to a local supermarket Leader Price just around the corner from our apartment.

Just to spend a little more time, and to avoid being bored on the first night, the four of us cooked together and spend a wonderful evening at our place. The food was amazing, a first proper meal for days, and the company just lovely, thanks girls! 🙂

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The first day at our new school Groupe ESC Troyes started today at nine with a French breakfast in the cafeteria operated by the student association.  After that we got loads of information of the international affairs team, the school premises as well as the course selections and basic student functions, such as the student intranet. All the new people, the other Erasmus students, tutors as well as the staff members of the school were really friendly and helpful, all fascinated by us newcomers! 🙂 The way of doing things is a little slow and unorganized compared to what we´ve used to in Finland, and there was a lot of waiting during the day. We´ll probably get used to this soon enough 😀

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After a few hard and tiring days of travelling and getting to know  the new home, city, people and way of doing things (and many cups of tea! :D) the life is slowly starting to feel like life again 🙂

Bisous

– Lilli & Sofia –

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