…And another month has just flown by!
After having spent a super exciting first month in France, it’s been a little bit calmer in October.
My new roommate moved in and it’s been super cool that far. Her name is Laura, she’s from Spain and a Erasmus student. She is very different than the girl from Nigeria who had been there before, but it works out just great! We’re very much alike and we’ve been having a good time together that far. In the past weeks, we’ve been going to do grocery shopping together, we’ve been cooking, we got to party and we had a legendary crêpes & movie night (with a French movie of course ;)). I was glad to be able to show her a little bit of Strasbourg, and the FEC and she introduced me to other Erasmus students from the university with which we were doing a trip to Mulhouse and to Obernai last weekend. It was definitely cool to get to know all these guys coming from all over Europe and we had a great day together.
Surely one of the month’s highlights was the EVS arrival seminar which took place in the beginning of October, in Rocheton, a small village approximately 30min from Paris. It was cool to get to meet all the other volunteers and we had a good time together, but I was a little bit disappointed in the program itself, maybe because I had some different expectations. I didn’t actually consider the different level of the participant’s preparation. In fact, I thought that every sending organization would prepare their volunteers in the same way but this was not the case, so we did activities that many of us already did before. To be honest, this was a little bit boring but I realized that it was necessary. But there were also workshops which were really useful and I can tell that I really learned something.
(For further information see the report “Formation à l’arrivée”)
After the seminar I started to look for other EVS in the area. Our trainers had given us the contact details from the area representatives of the French Agency who have a list of all the volunteers in the region, so I tried to contact the man, but unfortunately without any results. I already knew one other German girl in Strasbourg, so we started a Facebook group on our own. She added another volunteer she knew and peu à peu some new EVS joined the group. We had a first little ‘meeting’ and we agreed on organizing a monthly get together in order to exchange experiences. Our aim is to gather as many volunteers from the area as possible… we’re working on that ;)
The following week after the seminar I stayed in the room, because I had stomach flu. This wasn’t nice at all - I will spare you the details ;) - so there wasn’t really much going on (actually nothing) and I realized that I started to really miss my family and friends in Germany in this period of time. I guess it was kind of a turning point: The weeks before had been extremely busy and there was always something exciting going on, so while I was in bed all the time I really “had time” to miss my folks. But fortunately there were people from work or from the FEC, who were calling or passing by from time to time just to see how I’m doing, and to see that there are people who care about me, although I haven’t been here for such a long time was a great experience for me. Especially during this week, I really appreciated “ma vie en collocation”. Although it’s not always comfortable to share all your privacy with a person all the time, I was really glad to have Laura around in the evenings, just in order to talk a bit and not to be alone.
After these days full of boringness, I was really eager and motivated to start work again.
And speaking about that, I’m still very pleased. It’s a good feeling to be busy and it’s even cooler that I have things I can do on my own now, so I don’t have to ask for tasks anymore everyday as in the beginning.
From now on, I’ll be working in the bar of the student residence, the “K-fet”, every Wednesday and Thursday evening, proposing activities for the other students and I’ll also handle the bar. The first evening just took place, and in cooperation with the “club ciné” we showed the movie “Dancer in the dark” by Lars von Trier and afterwards there was time for a little discussion. I also proposed to do some “German conversation” before the activities start in the evening, because there are quite a bunch of students who are learning German at school or at university, so I thought I could give it a try. And there were actually three students who came! This was great as I figured out that I really enjoy helping others to improve their language skills.
Regarding the language, I’m getting more and more confident. I can’t deny that I still have troubles sometimes, but it’s getting better and better day by bay. For example I think that writing reports, emails and doing written planning of my activities really helps me a lot to improve my writing skills. Although it sometimes takes me ages to note just a couple of phrases, I notice that I improve. For example it gets easier for me to remember new words, as well as the conjugation of verbs. I hope that the language class will also help me to avoid grammar mistakes.
Looking at the language comprehension, I can really see an improvement for myself. I think I can now understand people a bit better when they are talking, although especially discussions still cause me troubles. But when I was in the movies this weekend, watching the new “James Bond” I was really happy afterwards because I really ended up understanding most of what was going on.
This month I could also finally start singing in the university ensemble. Since I love singing (I have been doing it in a choir in Germany for many years) it was important for me to continue this in Strasbourg. I contacted the president of the choir and luckily they welcome everybody who loves music – not only university students. I passed the auditions and now I’m officially member of the EVUS (Ensemble Vocal Universitaire de Strasbourg). The rehearsals are really fun and right now we’re practicing for the concerts in the Christmas time.
Besides the musical aspect, this is also a great possibility to get to know new people and there are actually plenty! ;)
All in all I can tell about this month that it was also very exciting, with new impressions and new little adventures every day, but things are going back to normal. There have been some little “lows” as well, but I know that this is just part of the EVS experience as well.
One nice fact that I realized after a friend pointed it out was that I started to call Strasbourg my “home”. And it’s true: in several situations I found myself saying things like “I’ll go home straight after work”, “I need to stop at home first to get some stuff” or “I’m glad when I can sleep in my own bed again” (after the on arrival training) and this is something really neat which just underlines the fact that I’m feeling really comfortable here.
Although I started to really miss some people from time to time, depending on the situation, I don’t feel homesick, but this has never been a big deal for me anyway. I really started to value the short distance to Koblenz though (just 250km), which makes many things easier. For example I’m really looking forward to the Christmas time as there will be friends coming to visit and I’m excited to show them around.
So you can see – I’m still a happy EVS enjoying life in France! ;)