How to become a local- My first weeks in Bordeaux

Salut!

I have been in Bordeaux for about three weeks, how time flies! So far I´ve been busy adapting to the French university system, getting to know the city more and socializing. Overall, I am very happy here and from now on will share my love for Bordeaux. After always telling how great Korea is; I´ll no concentrate on advertising the beauty of my new home.

University

I have lectures everyday expect Fridays (for strategic reasons). The schedule is the same for every week, makes it easier to plan and know where you have to go, but also makes it very repetitive. I have to take many courses as for most of them you only get 4 credits. You show up to lectures, listen and leave again. Professors hardly interact with students (maybe because some classes are simply too big), course literature is no existing (SAY WHATTT??) and there is just a final exam. Overall not too bad I guess. However I must admit that Erasmus students get extra treatment, we are less busy than the French students that have an exam every Saturday. I question the purpose of this, I mean who even wants to supervise on a Saturday?! Well, as far as I have observed ( social scientist after all) the French student is a interesting phenomena. They copy down everything (WORD BY WORD) what the professors says, as if everything he or she says is relevant. Interestingly, the think its perfectly acceptable to talk (talk not whisper!) during lectures and have no shame doing this right in front of the professor. I don´t want to sound like a nerd, BUT IF YOU MAKE AN EFFORT TO SHOW UP TO CLASS JUST SHUT UP AND PAY ATTENTION (sorry for my language, but there are no other words to describe how I feel about this). I am not the only one who things that way. Us exchange students were shocked to see the lack of discipline and respect of our fellow class mates. Also it seems that the sole purpose of studying is to be able to work for the government. After finishing their degree students have to pass a certain exam and then spend their life working as administrators. Aha, how interesting (get the irony here). If they all study to work for the government I´d rather take administration courses to prepare me for my future career, but well everybody can do as they please.

FYI: SciencePo Bordeaux, belongs to the SciencePo Paris (yeah that one), is ranked high in France, but due to my dear friend L. ( who studies at the REAL SciencePo) I know the difference. I´ll not enter the debate about the SciencePo label and what it means and who´s the best. But just be aware that many universities in France are called “Science Po” and that doesn´t mean it´s as prestigious as the one in Paris.

Bordeaux 1,2,3 or WHAT

The building isn´t particularly beautiful, but certainly will look nice when it´s completely renovated. My university is part of the University of Bordeaux. I still don´t quite understand why they though of such a great system to have several different universities (and calling them like numbers) and then just label it University of Bordeaux. Overall, there are several universities (faculties more or less) that are one the same campus and have the umbrella name of University of Bordeaux. However, Science Po doesn´t do anything with the other universities. You see french bureaucracy and organization is very easy, rational and makes perfectly sense!

Campus Life

On campus there isn´t that much. We have a swimming pool (which is great for me cause I love swimming), sport fields, cafeterias and student housing. Sports is big in France. French students have to take one sport class in order to get their credits. We Erasmus students are free to join classes. I have not done so, as I am very happy with doing my lanes in the 50 meter pool. Some of my friends tried some sports, but have very mixed feelings about it. I think it´s a good thing to offer lots of activities, just sitting in the library or classroom can´t be healthy. That´s basically it. There are some places where you can buy fast food too but not that much. I´ve tried two cafeterias so far (one being right next my dorm) and I think the food is quite decent. You can get a menu for 3.25 Euro. Being in France you always have to eat an entree, main dish and dessert. The best thing about the menu is that you get BREAD. There are three dishes you can chose from and it varies a lot. Nevertheless, you can eat fries every day if you want (Awww France. aren´t you great).

The dorms are rather peaceful. We don´t have a common area of a party room. On my floor there are no tables or chairs in the kitchen. If we would have some I´m pretty sure that people would hang out there more. This week was the first time that I was in the kitchen. It´s not the great but better than nothing. With some friends we cooked onion soup. Okay to be honest, one friend cooked the soup and the rest ate 😉 I like cooking with other people, as it isn´t that boring then. I´m gonna get some things from a girl that will move out soon, so maybe I can cook more frequently. On the weekends at least.

Going Out

When we go out we mostly hang out in bars. I nearly entered a club, but then they told us it was 10 Euros and we walked out again 😉 Not only was the club expensive but also did they check everybody. I am not used to this (my Colombian friends told me that this is completely normal for them). The more security I see; the more unsafe I feel. There are some really nice bars in Bordeaux. Where students and non-students go, it´s a nice mix. I´m looking forward to spring when you can sitt outside and drink wine in front of the Place de la Bourse (the most photographed place in Bordeaux).

I must admit that I chose Bordeaux since the location is so great. You can take a bus to Paris for 5 Euros (7 hours), 45 minutes to the Atlantic Ocean and Spain is also very close. We have winter holidays at the end of February and we are all planning what to do then.

Trips

The Aquitaine region is very interesting and beautiful. So far I´ve been to Lacanau Ocean and Arcachon.

Lacanau is a tiny beach town, where I simply went to see the Atlantic Ocean. You can take a bus for Bordeaux (4.5 Euro both ways!) and spend a day there. Many people were surfing. I just walked around and enjoyed a day at the beach. Beaches in France are simply amazing, since there are no huge hotels and it´s never crowded (you´ll always find a free spot somewhere).

Arcachon is a beach residence, like Biarritz just for average people. I was there last weekend with my friends. The weather was amazing, sunshine and 16 Degrees. Arcachon is not directly at the Ocean but next to a river. It´s very pretty and has some interesting houses (we couldn´t decide if it´s pretty or simply tasteless). We had lunch outside, Moules Frites (mussels and fries, my favorite French dish) and walked around. Unfortunately the bus to the largest Dune in Europe didn´t run on Sundays so we couldn´t go. That was unfortunate but overall it was a perfect day.

Once again I apologize for writing so much. I´ll force myself to structure things more so that the posts are shorter. Thanks for keeping on reading!

P.S.All my pictures are too big, so I can´t upload them. I am sorry about this, but I do not know how to make them fit. 

Lena

 

 

 

 

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