A few days after my birthday I had my last meal with Joelle and Daniel (pictured below, a traditional meal typical of the Alsace region. You can see the German influence pretty clearly eh?)
Then I said a BIG thankyou to Joelle and Daniel for treating me so, so, SO well and caught a train from Toulon to Lyon for a few days before going to the language school in Vichy where I planned to study for two weeks.
I found a great youth hostel in Vieux Lyon though it was up an incredibly steep hill. The crazy hill meant two things: 1) There was an awesome view of the city from the hostel’s terrace and 2) everyone at the hostel had funny stories about surviving the hill.
My bag is not too big considering that I’m here for months, but all the sudden it felt HUGE (remember I also have my banjo in tow). I have been having neck/back issues and that climb sure didn’t help any.
…then to Vichy. A really sweet town almost in the center of France known for it’s healing, sulphurous springs and for being the only other place besides Paris to ever be the capital of France (temporarily during WWII). Originally, I had planned to stay with a host family. However, since I am spending the majority of my time here in French homes I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to have a little alone time. I fell in love with the simple apartment and had a greeeeaaaat time going grocery shopping. Here is my first collection of riches:
Here was the view from my studio window. There was a nearby river with a perfect walking/running path along its banks. I took a walk almost every evening and enjoyed witnessing the obvious progression of spring…weeping willows with more and more green peeking through every day.
The school is called Cavilam. It turned out to be an incredibly organized, friendly, high-quality school. I was totally impressed. They answered emails promptly, the housing cost as much as staying in a youth hostel, they met me at the train station and when I needed help with my neck/back issues they were the one’s who made the call.
Students who are not absolute beginners are able to start class every Monday morning. They give you placement tests and then you start! It turned out that I had learned more than I had thought in my first month here so I was able to go to a more advanced level the second week.
I made fast friends with a really cool German girl who was also there for only 2 weeks. We talked alot about politics and differences between the European Union and the United States. She had very interesting points of view.
Our class was made up of girls from Japan, Turkey and Korea (I only met one other American in the entire 2 weeks). Our teacher spoke 100% in French and it was very exciting to be able to understand the majority of what she said.
It’s been a couple of years now since I’ve been in “school” and had homework every night. I loved it!
But listen to this! A lady at the school’s reception desk called her chiropractor to help me with my back. I had been avoiding the whole thing because I was afraid that it would be expensive, that I wouldn’t be able to get an appointment in time and that there would a language barrier. However, my neck/back got worse rather than better and was majorly affecting my mood. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask and I’m so glad I did (also thanks to the encouragement from my German friend).
The chiropractor happened to have a cancellation that very day, his office was within walking distance, he took good care of me and not only gave me the phone number of a bluegrass banjo player in Vichy, but wouldn’t let me pay him!!!!! AAAAAnd I had to go back a second time and he still wouldn’t let me pay him!!! I still can’t believe it. I’m here to say that the French are freakin’ awesome!
****ATTENTION!: I leave tomorrow morning to meet my next hosts, Polo and Nadine. They live in a pretty rural area and I don’t think that they have internet access. So, this means a temporary lapse (possibly 3 weeks) in both blog entries and emailing. I haven’t disappeared and I’ll have music/festivals/gardening to blog about upon my return. Cheers!