Montpellier

Europe

I have been putting off writing this post for a long time, mostly because I did not know what I wanted this post to be: there is so much and so little to write about a city that you have spent so much time in…

Arriving in Montpellier brought a bit of a culture shock. Language barrier was an issue, as was getting internet and a phone contract (it’s surprisingly difficult to manage things without internet, sad but true). I struggled with offices and administrations, and anyone who has ever tried to apply for CAF in France will understand (it is basically financial aid for rent that students can apply for. Everytime the word CAF is mentioned in a conversation, everyone nods in silent understanding and serious compassion. We all struggled.)

After a while, things got easier, I had internet and a phone contract and became fluent in French, taking notes in class caused a lot less headaches than before. It helped that the majority of French people cannot speak English to save their lives. I got so used to the crappy administration system and handing in documents over and over again that it became some sort of routine. When my CAF application was approved after eight months, I did not feel any relief, only disbelief that my frequent visits at that institution were to end so suddenly. It felt unreal.

I felt myself getting used to local customs and the “bises” (kisses on the cheek), and living by the Southern French life mottos of “t’inquiète” (“don’t worry“) and “c’est pas grave” (“it’s no big deal“). This carefree attitude is best displayed in the following example:

When I first arrived in Montpellier, there was a huge flood that drowned most parts of the city. I was still at university when it started and a classmate kindly offered to give me a ride home. He did not seem to be bothered too much by the circumstances because it was just like in an “parc attraction aquatique” (“water fun park”). He dropped me off and I fought my way through the knee-deep lake in front of house and climbed up the waterfall to the front porch where water was cascading down the steps. Later during the day, I saw pictures of submerged streets some people who brought out their canoes and rubber rafts. When life hands you a flooding…

Uni was cancelled the next day, of course, but the professors were supposed to be on strike anyways so it did not make any difference. This is France, after all.

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cathrédale St-Pierre

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neighboring the cathédral…

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oldest persisting medical school in the world

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creepy kids

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Montpellier’s “Champs Elysées” with the “Arc de Triomphe”

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Château d’Eau

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Aqueduct with a nice market on Saturdays

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trying to copy its older brother Lyon with these frescos?

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sunset seen from on top of the Corum

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Place de la Comédie

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yes, there are palm trees

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I made a lot of new friends and had the opportunity to travel. I learned a lot about France and myself. I tried many foods both at restaurants and from the supermarket. Going to the beach just for a relaxing afternoon to read a book or laying in the sun after jumping into the ocean will be greatly missed. As well as the buzzing nightlife at and around the Place de la Comédie. The little boutiques and cafés. Peyrou. The river Lez…and the sight of my neighbor eating a raw onion in front of a club…

I had to admit that I had a little fun running the Montpellier Marathon Relay (well the fun part was after the run, the run itself was pure torture :D).

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yup, not the prettiest kids

PS: If anyone decides to visit the South of France, I would recommend the “autoroute du soleil”, it has some really great scenic views.

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