Nous Sommes Arrivés! (We have arrived!)

I am finally in France! Our planes all arrived yesterday morning (Travis at 6:40, Emma at 8:25, and me at 9:40), and the airport was quite the adventure. We had not been told ahead of time where to go or how ot recognize M. Denizot when we arrived, so I was fairly anxious when I got off the plane. However, as I was last, I figured I would figure it out because I would see the familiar faces of Travis and Emma. I proceeded to collect my luggage, confused by the fact that I had not been given a customs form, nor was I stopped to go through any kind of customs check besides the checking and stamping of my passport. However, I had nothing to declare, so I guess all is well. As I exited the baggage claim area, I hoped to see Emma, Travis and M. Denizot standing in front of the arrivals exit waiting for me. Unfortunately, this was not the case. I proceeded to spend the next hour and a half walking back and forth, up and down the terminal, looking for any sign of a familiar face, or even for someone who might be waiting for me (had something happened? Was no one going to collect me?) I was close to tears, but persevered. I stopped at the ATM to withdraw the cash I would need later to pay for my dorm room and thought that if no one came, I could take a train or taxi to Amiens.

Finally, at about the hour and a half mark, I saw Travis. I almost burst into tears upon seeing him, but kept my composure. “Thank God!” I gasped, “I thought you left without me!” Soon after, M. Denizot appeared, and we introduced ourselves. “Je suis très heureuse pour vous voir, ” I said, as I had to Travis, “J’ai pensé que vous êtes sortis sans moi!” But, as I soon learned, I could not breath easy yet. Emma was missing! Her plane had in fact landed, Travis and M. Denizot told me, and she had been on it, as they had confirmed at the information desk, but she was no where to be found! I asked if they had tried to call her, and, discovering that they had not, I whipped out my phone. “Sorry dad,” I thought as I dialed her number on my American cell phone for the 4th time that day (I had tried to call her several times when I was lost myself). She didn’t answer. I tried again. She didn’t answer. Finally, I got a hold of her, and we learned that, after arriving and looking for Travis and M. Denizot at her terminal (the same one at which Travis arrived) for the better part of an hour, she had attempted to go to my terminal, thinking that perhaps she had misunderstood and was meant to find us there. However, the attendant at the information desk gave her the wrong information, and she was sent to Terminal 2D. I was at 2A. To make matters worse, when we called her, M. Denizot misunderstood her, and we ended up at 2B. Finally, after about another half hour, we found Emma, and we were able to get in the car and drive to Amiens, which was about an hour and a half away.For most of the drive, Emma and Travis slept, and I spoke with M. Denizot (in French!). I was thrilled that I was able to understand and converse with him, and also very thankful that my trip to England prior to my arrival had adjusted me to the time change, as I knew my brain would not be working as well if I, too, had just arrived in Europe.

When we arrived in Amiens, we went to L’IUFM (the education college) to eat lunch and meet a few of the professors. Perhaps most importantly, we met Anne Petit, who will replace M. Denizot when he retires. We also learned that she, and not M. Deinzot, would be the one with whom we will be working for the rest of our trip. Lunch was a bit overwhelming, as they all spoke very quickly in French, but after telling them that, they slowed down, and, to our relief (especially for pour jet-lagged Emma and Travis), Anne spoke in English for the rest of the day. She actually has a British accent when she speaks English because she taught there for a few years. She took us to check into our dorm rooms, and then showed us around the town a little bit and took us to the grocery store to buy essentials for the weekend, promising that we would have more time to shop at a larger grocery store later. We also each received “Une Carte Monéo” (Monéo Card), with which we pay for our meals at the University restaurants (for only 3 euro a meal!) Anne was enormously nice and helpful, and we were able to get ourselves settled in. The room is very small, but the view from my window makes up for it:

After we had moved in and Anne left us, the three of us went to the cafeteria for dinner, and then explored Amiens a bit. Emma and I actually ended up getting a little bit lost, but we are always able to find our way back to our dorm room by looking for the steeple of the beautiful cathedral we can see from our bedroom windows. Then, we returned chez nous (home), where we unpacked and then went to sleep.

Today, Jenny, one of the girls who came to Oklahoma from Amiens in March, and who was born and raised in Amiens, took us around the city, showed us how to take the train and the bus (the train for trips to Paris and other cities, the bus for getting around town), and gave us a brief introduction to all things Picard (“Picard” is the adjective describing things from the region of Picardie, where Amiens is located… picard:picardie :: french:france). We got to see the inside of the cathedral (it is the tallest in France, we are told), and I took many pictures, which I will post on facebook. We will go back there for a formal audio tour and to climb the tower next week as part of one of our courses. We also tried un macarron (a macaroon), which was invented in Amiens, and therefore is known as its specialty. It was delicious!  After our tour of the city, we said “Au Revoir” to Jenny, and we returned home with very sore feet! There is hope for me losing weight in France yet!

Overall, the trip has been wonderful thus far. The city is gorgeous, we know how to eat and a little bit about where to go, and have met some wonderful people. The beginning was rocky, but if that is the worse thing that happens, we are doing very well for ourselves. Travis and Emma are napping now, so I have time to update, and I will begin working on some of my schoolwork for the independent study I am doing while here. Later, we will all meet up to go into the city center (which Jenny showed us earlier) to eat dinner in a pub, cafe, or resto (“un restaurant” is often shorted to “un resto”) there.

A demain (until tomorrow),


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