France: un amie ou un ennimie?

Bonjour à tous! It has now been two weeks since my arrival in Dijon. These 14 days have honestly felt like an eternity, each day a totally different adventure of its own. I’ve done everything from one-person museum tours to getting x-rayed for Tuberculosis, and I can’t wait to tell you all about my new life here in ma nouvelle ville ( my new city). Donc, allons-y! (so, lets go!)

For starters, I really do love Dijon. From what I have experienced, Dijon is the perfect mix between ville (city) and village (town). The city is filled with tiny cobblestone streets and old fashioned French houses, but yet still has its fair share of large bâtiments (buildings)Carrefours (a grocery store chain), and tram lines. When I first arrived, I was astonished by how unfamiliar the city was, but yet so warm and inviting. This might be due to the fact that many buildings in the city are centuries old and have a cozy, lived-in look to them. The city is quintessential France, and I am astonished how quickly it has charmed me.

I also have really lucked out with my new host family. When I first stepped out of the train station two weeks ago, I was worried that I would not be able to find/recognize my host mom. Luckily, seconds after resting my luggage, I clearly spotted a woman sprinting towards me, with a giant smile on her face, flailing her arms to get me to notice her. When I finally met Jocelyne, my new host mom, we “faire la bise”(the super european kiss on both cheeks) and she gave me my first tour of the city. After our tour, Jocelyne brought me to her house were I met her son, and my new host brother, Martin. Ma nouvelle maison (my new house) is perfectly located in Dijon, right in between the city center and my university’s campus, so I’m hoping there wont be any public transit mishaps in Dijon*.

So, I have absolutely no complaints about neither my city nor my host family. What I CAN complain about, however,  is the awful reality that I have discovered of the infamous French bureaucratic system. I had heard complaints of French bureaucracy while researching French study abroad stories in the past, but had no idea how much I would despise it as well. To put it shortly, it has taken me roughly two WEEKS to sign up for classes at l’Université de Bourgogne. First I had to have an x-ray to check that I did not have Tuberculosis before I was even able register for the university. Then, I had to search all over campus for each of the school’s department and their respective paper handout of offered classes. After choosing my classes, I had to fill out paperwork to enroll in the classes and the hand it in to each department’s respective secretary. This process took me more than a week to complete, taking into account that all the department offices are not open at the same time because that would be too easy, and the fact that the French like to take two hour lunch breaks in the middle of the day. Needless to say, this painstakingly long process has made me appreciate the easiness of Holy Cross’s enrollment system, even though HC’s system has its flaws as well.

I am happy with my decision of choosing Dijon and I am excited to see what my alone time abroad has in store for me.

À bientôt!


Leçon du jour: “La bureaucratie est l’art de rendre le possible impossible.”(Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible.) – Javier Pascual Salcedo

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