I’m finding it incredibly difficult to describe my first month in Brest in only a few short paragraphs. My new life here began the moment I stepped off the plane. I met my first new friend in the airport. She was a Welsh Erasmus student and through her I met a whole horde of Erasmus friends. Five minutes later I met Martine – my mentor for daily life here. She has been a major help. From taking me to Ikea on my first day to taking me to the doctors to get my medical certificate to do sports, she has been absolutely indispensable. Next I met my mentor at work, Agnes. Without her I would never be able to do my job. I have continued to meet new friends every week. In fact, I seem to meet people every time I take the bus, although I suggest you avoid those people!
I have had the opportunity to travel a bit throughout Brittany already. My on arrival training was in the south of Brittany. Despite the often strange training techniques and the fact that people spoke English more than French, it was a very useful week. It was a great opportunity to meet other EVS volunteers and now I have friends living in Paris, the alps and the south of France! I also learned to say, “j’ai la gueule de bois” – “I have a hangover” in French. A very useful phrase when the majority of your friends are Erasmus students. I have also travelled a little with the Erasmus students and will soon be heading to Paris with them. Furthermore, I travelled to the North of France with the boss of my hosting organisation to work as a translator. The 11 hour car journey is something I won’t be forgetting any time soon! And this weekend I will be travelling to Nantes with the gaelic football team of which I am a member despite only playing twice in my life (and being absolutely atrocious).
In terms of work, I help organise projects on international mobility and have successfully held my first event (although Agnes really did all the work), I do a lot of translation, I hold english discussion sessions, I appear to have won my battle with the photocopier and I am finally learning the incredibly complicated art of poster making so I shall soon be helping a lot more with events! I also have my French courses which are a great help and even count towards my work hours!
Now that I am into my second month I no longer look the wrong way when crossing the road, I find the French keyboard easier than the English and find it acceptable to eat pain au chocolat for breakfast every morning. However, my Scottish accent remains as strong as ever. Brest is an amazing city to live in. I have so many great new friends, am surrounded by bars (mainly irish), cinemas, theatres, students (mainly irish) and whenever I think I’m learning more about the Irish culture than the French, I just eat a crepe and all is well.