Festive Grenoble and Xmas Countdown

I haven’t written in a couple of weeks because its just been so busy with the first semester winding down here in Grenoble. I think everyone who goes to uni can relate to end of term exhaustion, but I’ve really felt it this year and now that my last exam is over instead of celebrating i’m sat in bed with a lemon tea, nursing an oncoming cold (très festive, I know).

I think the tiredness has really hit me this term because it’s been a long three and a half months of constantly throwing myself into new situations. From dealing with French bureaucracy, to adapting to a new university system, to going to language exchange, to travelling and of course meeting new people. The highs of this term have been unbelievable but lows have been really hard and I think that living on a constant flux between the two has become increasingly wearing as the end of term, and the familiarity of Christmas at home, draws closer.

 

On the positive side, my parents visited for the weekend in late November which was lovely and gave me a few days to appreciate how beautiful Grenoble is at Christmas time. We had rubbish weather but braved the marché noël in the rain for crepes and hot wine. We also did a tour of the museums which was lovely, especially the Georgia O’Keffe exhibition at the museum of Grenoble, which runs until February 2016.

My last couple of days in Grenoble are going to be spent packing, eating too much at our flat Christmas dinner and saying goodbye to friends who aren’t coming back next semester 😦 Hope you’re all having the most lovely festive season!

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Dropping out of Uni – Two and a Half Years On

A couple of weeks ago one of my favourite bloggers, Katie Oldham wrote a post featuring seven university ‘drop out’ stories, including her own. This inspired me to think back to my own drop out story and consider all the things i’ve achieved since I made that difficult decision.

  1. Confidence. My confidence has improved tenfold since I started trying to make decisions that are right for me.
  2. Travelling. Quitting uni made me think about what’s important to me and one of the main things is travel. I went back to Mauritius after almost ten years to connect with the island again and spend time with my family. I went on badly planned trips in Europe with my best friend. I’ve been to rainy English beaches and the glorious English countryside and appreciated each experience even more than the last.
  3. Restarting uni the following academic year and accepting that it’s ok to start over.
  4. Studying a course that I actually enjoy.
  5. Moving abroad – I honestly never thought i’d be able to do this and I don’t think I would have done if it wasn’t a part of my degree but so far its been one of the best, and most challenging experiences of my life.
  6. Volunteering – supporting a cause that I believe in has become and important part of my life and something that I want to continue doing.
  7. Finding practical solutions to combat anxiety : walking, reading, writing, meditating, mindfulness. All of these work for me in some capacity but the hardest part is remembering to do them.

Nowadays university is seen as the norm and we’re pushed into making huge decisions about our lives when we’re barely even eighteen. I still consider university to be the right path for me, but I think that most young people need a lot more time than we’re given to think about what decisions to make about the future.

Les journées nationales de deuil

This week France has been recovering from the catastrophic events of last weekend in Paris. François Hollande declared three national days of mourning to allow the reeling citizens of the republic to attempt to come to terms with the tragedy which had struck. There are many eloquent and thought provoking responses that have been written, as well as messages of hope and humanity. Whilst I don’t feel politically knowledgable enough to share an analysis of the situation, I would like to share the sense of bravery and love which I have experienced over the past few days.

On Monday I attended a minutes silence on my university campus at midday. The silence amongst the hundreds gathered felt more powerful than any words that could have been spoken at that time. As the silence came to an end, no one moved and instead gentle clapping rippled through the crowd. It was a respectful tribute to the lives lost and an encouragement for France to continue living by its national slogan of ‘Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité’.

minutes silence

On Wednesday I went to the theatre and slotted inside the program was a powerful message of defiance in the face of terrorist attacks which threaten our way of life, specifically defending our ability to gather in public places.

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This week has been filled with an overwhelming amount of love and generosity in response to the attacks, both in day to day life and on social media. In my eyes, every moment of sadness, reflection and love is for every life lost and every person who suffers. Solidarity and compassion alone will strengthen us as a global society.

Paragliding in Chamonix

After a restless nights sleep in our triple bunk beds, we woke up fairly early on our first day in Chamonix. The main thing that had attracted us to the town was the cable car which goes up Mont Blanc. However, once we got to the tourism office we were swiftly told that the cable cars were closed for refurbishment, as it’s currently low season. Not ideal to say to least.

Continue reading Paragliding in Chamonix

A Day in Geneva

Our trip last weekend started with an 8am train journey from Gières Gare Universités, Grenoble. We were originally told that we wouldn’t be provided with bedding at our AirBnB, so here’s Clare and Emily, complete with lots of bag and pillows, waiting for the train:

Once we were on the train we realised that we had forgotten to validate our tickets using the machines at the stations, which can apparently lead to a €20 fine but luckily the ticket inspector let us off. The two hour journey passed fairly quickly and before we knew it we were in Geneva. Our first stop was the train station lockers to dump our bags, then Starbucks (obvs) ,followed by cash withdrawals to Swiss Francs. We then headed to the tourism office which is a short walk from the train station. The lady in there was really friendly and we left armed with maps, and potential tour of things to see/do.

The first stop was Lake Geneva which was beautiful.

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After crossing the bridge over the river we found ourselves at the ‘l’horage felurie’, the flower clock. It took me a while to work out that it actually tells the time (who knew?).

We continued wandering around the city, popping in and out of the numerous chocolatiers, where you can normally get a free sample if you ask for one.

We stumbled across what (I think) is a town hall of some description, and lots of other places like the cutest old fashioned bookshop.

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Just being cute in Geneva 

We visited the cathedral and had crêpes at a nearby crêperie which were really nice.  After that we took the metro to the United Nations headquarters which has the famous wooden chair sculpture opposite, and the Red Cross museum nearby.

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Emily lovin life at the UN 

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I'd had enough of the day at this point
I’d had enough of the day at this point

When took another train from the train station to the airport. Once we got to the airport we (eventually) located our transfer which was a tiny minibus to take us to Chamonix!

Our minibus to Chamonix
Our minibus to Chamonix

Overall we thought Geneva was great for a day trip from Grenoble, although it is a little expensive especially considering the Euro/Swiss Franc Exchange Rate. My favourite things to see were definitely the lake, the cathedral and the chocolatiers.

Wintery Trip to Brockhampton Estate

As I keep mentioning its freezing, and basically winter now so its nice to be able to do some wintery day trips. Last week I was at home in Birmingham as we had the ‘Vacances de Toussaint’ holiday from university here in France. I could have travelled elsewhere but being the homebird I am I decided I wanted to spend some time with my family and catch up with friends after almost two months in France.

Anyway, on Wednesday my mom and I wrapped up warm and headed to the beautiful Brockhampton Estate in Herefordshire, around an hours drive from Birmingham. The National Trust estate has a Medieval house and over 1500 acres of land, you can find out more about it here. Armed with a flask of coffee, we strolled around the estate (barely touching the vast surrounding land), had a wander around the house and then finished off with a cream tea in the tea room.

Seeing as the clocks went back this week its been really dark and somewhat depressing so I thought this trip was a good way to embrace the changing weather.

What’s your favourite way to beat the winter blues?

Dita

Wildfox Lust List

If i’m being honest, it’s winter and its freezing which means all I want to do is eat carbs and wear layers. I’m forever stalking (and pretending I can afford) Wildfox’s baggy sweaters as they’re perfect loungewear for this time of year. These are my faves at the moment:
Wildfox Lust List A/W 2015

Wildfox sweat shirt
£67 – saksfifthavenue.com

Wildfox top
donnaida.com

Wildfox top
£70 – bloomingdales.com

Wildfox sweater
harrods.com

Wildfox oversized sweater
£95 – dollskill.com
Which is your fave out of this bunch?
Dita