A Séjour in Strasbourg

I’m folded into the passenger seat of our family’s car. My dad is in the driver’s seat and the sun is shining down on us and making me wish I didn’t choose to wear my blackest jeans and winteriest boots today. We are sitting in a companionable quiet, lost in thoughts or in my case, a blog post.

20kg of my life is packed into a suitcase and sitting in the boot, daring me to take a look inside and realise I’ve forgotten something crucial.

Passport? Check. Health insurance card? Check. Raincoat? Check. Gym kit? Check. Slightly too big to fit stuffed animal of Toothless the dragon from that Dreamworks film ‘How To Train Your Dragon’? Check.

These are the more mobile of my possessions, the ones that would fit in a suitcase. Bigger things have been left behind.

Today, I move to Strasbourg, in the north east corner of France. Apparently it’s called the capital of Europe; the European Court of Human Rights is there, along with the European Parliament. And there’s an enormous cathedral too. One could want for nothing more!

I’m going to the university there. For a year. In France. On my own. For a year, did I mention?

I’m terrified, I’m frightened, I’m a ball of anxiety and worry ready to ping and explode at any point like a watermelon with too many elastic bands wrapped around it. All these weeks of burying my head in the sand and ignoring that I had to go away have been for nothing. My plan was foiled again! You know in the Harry Potter series when Dumboedore and everyone else it seems all KNEW that Voldemort was going to come back but did hardly anything to prevent it other than ignore it and have a cracking feast every now and again and play a spot of Quiddich? That’s what I’ve done all summer. And now I have to go and meet Voldemort anyway…ugh! All burying my head did was leave me with a lot of paperwork to sort out last minute! Silly Lizzie, eh?

Underneath the all consuming terror of moving abroad, there’s a glimmer of something golden. If I get out my internal microscope and inspect it further it sparkles and shows me visions of friends yet to be made, smiling faces, improving my language skills and the many people over the last few days who have given me pep talks saying ‘hey Lizzie, you know what? You’re going to do great! This is an adventure, embrace it.’ I am grateful for this small glimmer of hope, it’s the only reason I didn’t leap out of the car this morning and curl up and hide under my duvet for a couple more weeks.

Yes, it’s terrifying and I’ll stumble over all my French verb conjugations and basic vocabulary for several weeks but isn’t that what I’m going over for? To improve and be around those who speak the language much better than I do?

So people, today, on the day I leave for France, I am dreading it slightly less than I have been…which is something at least! I’m being brave and starting my next adventure. Now in the next half an hour I just need to get over my absolute dislike of flying! That’s nothing, I’m about to live in France with all the French people and their berets and baguettes, I can do anything!

Now playing: Don Broco – Tough On You

A new year and Dry Januarys

So, we’re deep into the new year now and already I’m wondering who’s dipped out of their New Year’s Resolutions. Who has shelled out some of their hard-earned cash for that gym membership, pledging to go three times a week and so far has only been once. Which of you has been loading on carbs despite assuring your sceptical family that you were cutting them out for good. Has anyone kept inside those private thoughts? But your resolution for the New Year was to always say what you’re thinking, wasn’t it?

Why is there a pressure for everyone to make a change in the New Year? Surely if you know you need to change something about yourself that much, then you wouldn’t wait for the starting gun of Jan 1st? Ha, sorry for the pessimism!

However, I suppose it’s become a social norm now and I, along with everyone else, have adopted a resolution or two for this year.

You may have heard of the Dry January campaign in which for the whole of the month of January, not a drop of alcohol is touched. My parents decided that this would be a FANTASTIC idea for them, and swept me up in their tidal wave of sobriety. I too, am dry this January.

‘But Lizzie’, I hear you cry, ‘you’re a student! This will never work!’ Ha, you’re probably right! After all, according to the media, all young people do is drink. But this is not all we’re good for, thank you very much, sir.

For the first time ever, I had a sober night out.

This weekend just gone, I hit my Saturday night regular spots with a friend (who was drinking) and experienced the wonders that my hometown has to offer, without the aid of beer goggles. When I’m not at uni, I live in rural mid-Devon, in a small town where the people don’t change and said people are 99% white British. My friends at university like to make jokes on a semi-regular basis about everyone down here being inbred and they all get a kick out of it. I’m just setting the scene for you: it’s the kind where you don’t want to admit it but sometimes rumours are true. Everyone here knows everyone or is third cousins with Reg from the shop that used to be a bank and before that it was a pet shop next to the church. These kinds of stories are regular occurrences during my family gatherings and it always makes me chuckle.

This is what I experienced sober.

While under the influence of alcohol, the clubs don’t appear as dated, the prices seem reasonable and the people are friendly. But this changes when sober and the décor is quite hideous, a small glass of lemonade seems ridiculously priced and some of the people seem too old and creepy to be on a night out.

Funnily enough though, this doesn’t set the scene for a bad night out. I very much enjoyed supplying my friend with shots and watching his behaviour disintegrate rapidly from being completely in control of his body to whirling around the dancefloor in a frenzy of elbows and hip-rotations. On reflection, this seems a bit weird, but I can assure you it wasn’t and he had a good night too!

I also enjoyed having a bit of a dance too, but when you’re sober, you still have those inhibitions that no amount of cranberry juice can shake.

I wasn’t a particularly good sober person due to being exceptionally tired, but it wasn’t a bad effort and did the ‘mate, she’s looking at you, go for it!’ eyes at him every now and again, when his furious gyrating caught the attention of a female.

All in all, I had a good time and spend so much less than I would have if I had been partaking in the jagerbombs too. My Dry January is on track to last the month! Winning! We’ll see what happens when I’m out of the comfort and sanity of my family home and move back to Canterbury for my fifth term at university. Updates will come!

Now playing: Forever the Sickest Kids – We Found Love (Rihanna cover)