17/12/14. As I will not have any wifi at home for a while this will be posted late.
Seasons Greetings from Barcelona Airport departures lounge!
The first semester of my Year Abroad in France has finally come to an end. It feels like it was another world when I stepped off the plane at Carcassonne Airport on the 26th August in 30 degree heat and yet it still feels like I am still only starting my time here in France.
I was very much convinced that I had managed to get my suitcase under 20kg yesterday evening. I could not have been any more wrong. And yet this was after rearranging things between my suitcase, cabin bag and rucksack for a good long while. Yet when I placed it on the scales to check-in at the airport, my check-in bag came up as 26kg! Shocking. After flustering about with my belongings next to the Ryanair check-in desk, I decided it wasn’t going to get any better than this (down to 22kg). Purse at the ready, waiting to be told to cough it up, the man who served me let it slip and just stuck a massive ‘HEAVY’ sticker to my suitcase and let me go on my way to security. What a wonderful man, I cannot express my gratitude enough. I was also 22kg on my way out in August with Ryanair, yet I was charged a surplus fee of £20 (£10/kg). Miracles do happen, it must be Christmas.
The last few weeks have been plagued (okay, they actually weren’t that bad!) with exams. However I was lucky enough to get them all out of the way before Christmas so that I don’t have to return in January (yay holidays without revision!!!). I took my final exam on Monday, which was when I officially said goodbye to L’Université de Perpignan. On this tiny university campus, I have learnt a lot, improved my French and I can now say I have survived a semester at a French university – through the highs and lows, I survived. All I have left to do is receive my results in January in the post and start gearing up for Spain.
Although we have been studying hard this month, I have squeezed in some outings: a day-trip to Collioure, where the castle hosted a rather impressive Christmas Market and to Barcelona for a day with the Erasmus students (it was a free trip!). I am so glad to have visited Collioure for a second time; it really is a gem in this corner of France, and to Barcelona for my third time this semester, where I made the most out of its shopping opportunities. Not forgetting that Kam and I were front row to see Carmen Danse on Saturday evening, the Serbian Ballet of the famous opera ‘Carmen,’ which I love.
Yesterday in Perpignan it was 16 degrees, the warmest city in mainland France for the day; it was quite amusing to think that it was mid-December, whilst many people were still eating on terraces outside cafés with no need to wear a proper winter coat. Although the weather hasn’t felt very Christmas-sy, there is now a Ferris Wheel outside the Castillet which I went on with Kam and Josafine yesterday. It was my final view of the beautiful landscape around the city, with the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Although, it felt more like a ride in a theme-park because it was so windy at the top and the box we were in rocked back and forth a little bit too enthusiastically…
Last night (Tuesday evening), a group of us got together for a meal at an Italian restaurant. It was a lovely evening to be altogether for one last time before Christmas and before some of us leave to move on to different places. As anticipated, my housemate Taka managed to eat two main meals all by himself, and he even had room left for dessert. Although I expect nothing less, it is always a shock how he manages to do it. Julia and Kam printed me some pictures of our amazing travels together (Girona, Villefranche, Vallée des tortues, Montpellier etc.) and Josafine hosted a home-made burger meal at her house on Monday evening as going away presents for me. Kam and Josafine saw me off at Perpignan train station this morning which was so lovely of them, it was a great send-off. I have made some fantastic friends here, it has to be said.
As the weather has been so splendid in the south of France for the entirety of my stay, I am rather nervous to experience the winter delights of the weather in North West England for the next 6 weeks. I have many layers of clothing to put on for when I step off the plane in Liverpool.
Although I am more than happy to be returning to home comforts, I will miss Perpignan; I could not have asked for a better location or a better climate for such a reasonable price of living and I have made some great friends and memories.
France, it’s been amazing and I will miss you. But England and the land of crumpets is calling.