francophile friday: france email #1

Sometime during the last semester at my alma mater, the email system deleted all my archived emails. This wouldn't have normally bothered me since I rarely archived emails when I was in college but I had saved all the emails that I sent to family and friends while I was living in France. I was devastated. But something exciting happened two weeks ago: I needed something from my school so, I thought in order to get what I needed, I had to sign up for a school email again. Well apparently it is just your old student email address AND all my archived folders were back - including the emails I had sent from France in 2007!

So I thought I would do something fun for the francophile fridays this fall. Around the dates that I sent the emails, I would post them. I am keeping them very close to the originals, just changing a few spelling mistakes (but not the French mistakes.) This way you could get a sense of how my experience was and what I was like as a student four years ago. I will try and post pictures that go along with the email as well.

Today's email was sent on September 14, 2007. I had just arrived in Bordeaux and had gotten a real taste of French bureaucracy. You can also tell I am a little jet-lagged and tired from the insane amounts of run-on sentences. Enjoy!

Bonjour Tout le Monde,

I am just warning you that this is going to be a long email. Ok I guess I will start with yesterday. Yesterday can be summed up in two words: absolutely horrible. First off, I never was able to sleep on the plane so I spent 48 hours awake which wasn't really bad until around 4 00 pm when I couldn't keep my eyes open. At least I had Nezia next to me on the plane, though. She goes to St. Mary’s and we met on Wednesday. She is nice and is actually not americain but african. I forget what country she is from now but I know she was born in Burundi. So the first flight wasn't bad but when we got to Paris de Gaulle we had to go through 2 security checkpoints and we made it to our gate with last call up on the sign in French. But at least we made it through.

Luckily, Mimivi (a girl who studied at St. Mary’s last year who Nezia knows) came to pick us up and help us for the day. She really saved us yesterday and I am forever indebted to her (you have no idea). She showed us how to get on the bus and the tram but we had to drag our luggage through it all but at least she was there to help especially because Nezia broke her bag at the airport. When we got to the school we learned of the mess we were about to face. (Now remember we are dragging bags across the huge campus).

First, Mimizi took us to the international relations office and they didn’t even realize that we were coming. They had to make up an acceptance letter for a CROUS room. Then we had to go to the housing secretary’s office and they told us that we couldn't get a room until we went to the CROUS (which is in the middle of the city and handles all the student housing in Bordeaux). But thankfully fluent French Mimivi said no they are tired and they are not dragging their bags around the city you are going to give them a room. So they did.

Our rooms are actually really nice compared to the dorm rooms at St. Mary’s. This was probably the only plus for yesterday. I am in a single room but it has its own bathroom and has a lot of storage space. The room is attached to a kitchen which is attached to 4 other rooms. It is pretty nice.

After we dropped off our bags, we (with Mimivi luckily) went in search of the CROUS in the city. They said we needed a paper with an account number from a bank in France (which neither of us have). So we went in search of a BNP which has an agreement with Bank of America. They wouldn't give us an account though because a) we were only here for three months and b) we didn't have a proof of residency. So here is the catch. To pay rent and to prove residency you need a bank account and to get a bank account you need to prove residency. So we decided to try another bank. We went to CIC or something like that and the lady let us slip through with us promising to bring back proof of residency later which was nice of her. So I had to go to BNP take out money with my Bank of America card and then give her 1300 Euros in cash to put in my bank account. Haha. As everyone here keeps saying to us "This is France!"

Then we went to the Auchun which is like the French Target but soooooooooooo much cooler. It has a huge French market inside and sells cheap (but still good apparently) wine and other alcohol and soo much good food and then of course Target-like stuff. And it is mostly inexpensive. So we had to buy sheets and pillows and then we went back to the tram. Now this was fun because a) it was rush hour and b) a tram had just had an accident and delayed all the trams for 25 minutes so when the tram finally came there were about 100 people waiting at the stop. So we had to squish on the tram between three big gypsy ladies (we found out they were gypsies today as we saw them in the street peddling) with huge pillows and bags of stuff. When I finally got home I didn't even eat dinner. I went straight to bed.

This morning I woke up and started to unpack. Then Nezia and I went to the secretary's office to drop off a paper and then we went in search of internet. We first went to the computer lab that we were told about but it was closed so we went to an office and asked them if there were other computers but she said they were in Village 5 where I live. So we went in search of them here but they were nowhere to be found. But I was determined. Yesterday was horrible and today was not going to be ruined. So we went to the housing secretary's office and asked if we could borrow computers. They said no but informed us that because we were in the newer housing that we could get wireless if we paid. So I finally got a signal and am now paying 19 euros a month for internet but at least it is in my room and I know I always have it. So now I am thinking about getting Skype because I believe it is free and I can talk to anyone else who has head set with a microphone and Skype for free. Let me know if anyone wants to talk through Skype once I get it.

Then at 2 30 we met Jenny who is another girl who went to St. Mary’s last year and she took me to Orange to get a pay-as-you-go phone and then took us to the Auchun to get some more stuff that we needed. Then we went to Mimivi’s house because she is letting us borrow some silverware. But her boyfriend was recording something with some friends (singing perhaps) and Nezia needed to borrow her phone so in order to wait we went to a cafe outside. Mimivi lives on la rue de St Catherine which is the longest street in Europe. It is really cool and had so many shops and cafes. It is like Champs Elysee in Paris but soooooooooooooooooo much longer. It would take you forever to walk it all. So we sat and I ordered my expensive bottled water and then we went upstairs and Nezia was able to make a call. Then we made our way home and, as Nezia and I got to our building, we noticed something familiar - a dominos delivery guy!! Haha. So we tracked him down and asked him how much a pizza was. He told us if we went there and ordered than it was buy one get one free. So we took the tram and went to dominos and then came home and our pizza and have a lot leftover. Neither of us our really big American pizza fans but we thought it was wonderful. Now I have been playing on the internet for the past two hours because it feels so wonderful to have it in my room.

So today was a lot better. I really really like the city. It is so beautiful but the campus is really ugly. I think I am going to like it here though and I am sure I will meet a lot of people next week at orientation.

Sorry if this email is hard to understand. I have been speaking in Franglish for the past few days and it is midnight here and I am very tired - I just wanted to get an email out because I know everyone wanted to make sure I was here. I miss everyone and I will email again soon!

Love, Morgan


  1. You know, I am a staff ambassador for a student from Bordeaux this semester. Not only does she agree that their campus is ugly, she also thinks being a college student is so much better at St. Mary's. I am just so glad we survived those first few days of Bordeaux III with our excitement for the the semester intact. Oh and the pizza was such a relief...something familiar for once. hehe

  2. Very neat idea! It was fun strolling down Memory Rue with you.


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