The first few days are always a rollercoaster of emotions. Extreme excitement to be back in the country you absolutely love mixed with intense fatigue after not sleeping on the 3 flights and 30 hours of travel to cross the globe. To add to the exhaustion, I had my Mum’s very long birthday lunch the day before my departure.
Sydney to Abu Dhabi is 14 hours. Arriving in the middle of the night, the wave of heat hits you as you exit the plane. This was my lowest point. I then boarded my next flight to Paris and was sat next to a smiley, young guy from Melbourne who was on his way to Nantes for his French Father’s wedding. Jesse was my saviour. I am so grateful for his positive energy that got me through the next 8 hours to Paris. We both had to continue to the domestic terminal so the gentleman that he is, helped with my luggage.
(I was travelling with a huge board bag – surfboard, snowboard, wetsuits, snow gear, helmet etc – not much room for clothing!) Travelling can be lonesome so it was nice to chat with someone who was also excited to be in France and be reunited with friends and family.
I arrived in Bordeaux and the one person I know, Niko, picked me up and since I hadn’t been successful in finding somewhere to live I spent my first month at his apartment. I imagine it is much the same in other cities of France that have multiple universities where it is an absolute ‘shit fight’ to find somewhere to live.
There seems to be more students than affordable places to live but that shouldn’t deter anyone, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
I started my search for an apartment long before I had even received my acceptance letter from Bordeaux INP. A friend of mine from Réunion Island completed her studies in Bordeaux some years ago and advised me to start looking ASAP. I signed up for all the flatmate finder websites – Appartager, La Carte des Colocs, Locoservice and the multiple groups on Facebook. I found it super difficult to lock something in as I didn’t feel comfortable sending money online as a deposit to my potential roommate or land lord and as an exchange student I was only looking for somewhere to live for 5 months (most people wanted someone who could commit to staying for at least 10). I also came across quite a few options that were too good to be true and of course, they were.