Launch Day.

It’s time. The day has arrived. Clermont Ferrand, here I come.

The car was loaded up last night with my stuff, my houseplants and a bag full of food. My parents thought that if they had too much of anything, I’d take it. So now I have plenty of baked beans, tuna, bread, pasta, fruit juice and milk. This should make it easier for tomorrow morning, since the welcome meetings probably won’t finish until early evening and the shops might be closed. So long as I have enough for a full day of meals, I’ll be fine.

I’ve made sure to cut down on how many books and DVDs I’m taking. There are a few reasons for this: it reduces weight and space, I won’t have much time for reading and watching films, I can always borrow books from the library, and I should be reading and watching films in French anyway.

My room is relatively small, but it’s still a room. When we first walked in, it did feel a little cold and uninviting, but considering it was completely empty, this was no surprise. Talking of surprises, there were none. I had already researched the room beforehand, and knew it would be small. I knew about my tiny bathroom and the fact that there’s one kitchen per floor, meaning 16 people use it. In said kitchen, there is literally only a 2-burner hob and a microwave. There isn’t an oven at all, so I definitely won’t be baking any cakes any time soon, or cooking joints of meat for that matter. Although to be fair, my cupboards are almost completely bare. Apart from the food I brought from home, a bottle of milk, a tub of butter, a cut of mimolette and a pack of ham, I have pretty much nothing. This is unfortunately the same for cooking utensils. Luckily, I brought a wooden spoon, spatula and whisk from home, but wasn’t expecting to have to buy anything. I do, however, have plenty of plates, bowls, cutlery and glasses, as I bought them all when they were on offer at the beginning of the summer. I’ll be going shopping tomorrow, so I’ll be able to actually cook a meal!

The town itself is lovely. It’s a mish-mash of old and new buildings, with some integrating a mix of the two styles. The surrounding landscape is a lot of tall hills/mountains; a mix of the two probably. Surrounding the city is a chain of dormant volcanoes, the Chaîne-des-Puys, meaning the climate is quite dry compared to other cities in the region. The Puy-de-Dôme volcano is around 10km (6 miles) west of the city, well-known for the antenna array sitting on top. I’m looking forward to any trips organised by the university to climb it. The main attraction in the city is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption de Clermont-Ferrand, seen in any image search of the town. Built between the 13th and 19th centuries, it’s built entirely in black lava stone. Fountains in the immediate area of the cathedral and throughout the town also share the same construction material.

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I think I’ll leave this post here for today. In my next post, I’ll include photos of my room (I would in this post, but it’s too dark and I can’t give you low-quality pictures, can I?). My new posting schedule will be bi-weekly; Saturdays and Wednesdays. This way, I can discuss my days in more detail, so you lovely readers can get more than just a glimpse into my life abroad! À bientôt !