In my last post I left you right at the beginning of my Orientation Week. I had just arrived in Reims (France), a city I had never been to before and met many new friends. Looking back, I’m amazed at how many things happened within these twelve days. So I’m actually glad that I arrived in France early enough for Orientation Week and was able to get a little settled before classes started one year ago.
Here is my list of the eight most memorable things of the turbulent Orientation Week 2016:
- Getting (a little) lost
It’s not called “Orientation Week” for no reason: it took me some time to find my way around the city. Walking to school in the early morning was beautiful (as you can see in the pic above) but also very confusing at first. So it helped me a lot that we were discovering the city (and the right bus stops) together in the beginning.
- The never-ending cold
Yes, one of the first things that come to my mind when I think back is the cold. Even though this year’s winter with up to -18 degrees Celsius here in Munich is objectively much colder, freezing in Reims is still a vivid memory. This is partly due to the fact that we were walking around the city so much (and visiting cold buildings like the cathedral). But a chilly classroom – with an air-condition that could not be switched off – certainly didn’t help either. 😉
- Carrefour—our saviour?
Unfortunately, my room in the student residence didn’t have any kitchen equipment. And this was the moment to shine for Carrefour – the French hypermarché: if you needed to buy cutlery, plates and so on, they had everything you could wish for and were also budget-friendly. During the first days, we spent lots of time in this supermarket – however some of it was needed to find the items we were looking for in this huge building.
Fun fact: As there is one Carrefour right next to the campus, you would always see a familiar face there – the perfect place to randomly meet friends and strangers.
- BDE events – from bar nights to ice skating
The BDE is the Bureau des élèves at Sciences Po and is responsible for organising events for students. They prepared a bunch of activities to help us exchange students settle in and get to know each other better: We had several bar nights (one had a “Harry Potter”-theme) and a club night. But we also went Ice Skating and had the possibility to grab essential kitchenware at IKEA together (which I didn’t have to thanks to Carrefour as you can see above 😉 ).
- Work, work, work: Academic Methods Seminar
Orientation Week wasn’t only about fun events – it also meant lots of work to do. This seminar was meant to introduce us to the French academical methods: on my second day in France, I had to present with my friend Faye and we had to write a book review before classes even started. But I’m glad to have taken this class because it gave me much needed insight into the ambitious Sciences Po procedures – at times a great help during the semester.
- Cours Registration: first come, first serve
One word: stress. I’ve never had to compete this hard to get into my classes before and I remember very well how nervous we all were (and as the process was quite complicated too, this didn’t help our anxiety either). In the end, I couldn’t get into two of my preferred classes, but I was happy with the result anyway.
- It all comes back to the French bank account
– Or at least this was how we felt after our first introduction to French administration. Everything seemed to be intertwined and super complicated. For example, you could only get a French SIM card if you had a French bank account, but also needed a French phone number to open a new bank account – so it was almost impossible to do either of the things (In the end I managed to get a SIM Card by paying it in cash, so this was at least not true for every provider and saved me from this dilemma).
- Complete confusion: the language mixture in my head
During my first days in France my brain was in a state of complete language mixture. We were generally talking in English, but I often had to suddenly switch to French, for example when the waiter approached in a café. As my mother tongue is German, it apparently felt neglected and so I sometimes randomly and unconsciously blurted out sentences in German – which lead to funny moments and confused looks.
I can’t believe that these intense first days happened around a year ago. Time really does fly, so my next post about our trip to Strasbourg is going up soon and I can’t wait to share my further French experiences with you!
Au revoir 🙂