Strasblog Part Sixteen

Salut! How are we all?

It’s been a while (indeed well before Christmas) since I was last truly settled in Strasbourg, but now I can safely say that last week saw a return to the norm. No more gallivanting across Europe, and no more breaks back home in the UK. Nope, I’m back in Strasbourg now for a solid four or five week period...

It wasn’t the most eventful week back, one has to admit. After ten days of exhaustion I took the opportunity on Tuesday and Wednesday to sleep a lot, and only get out of bed to do nasty little things like sort out University coursework and continue the seemingly endless process of housing benefit (or CAF) applications. Actually, now seems like a good time to try and explain CAF from my perspective...

So basically, CAF is a housing benefit system that anyone in France can apply to and I think it literally is anyone. I am an English student with no French family, I have financial backing from the EU and I am only living in Strasbourg for about ten months... yet I am able to receive the complete allocation of housing benefit money a person my age is allowed. Crazy! I’m not complaining because Amitel is extremely expensive for what it provides, and having 200-plus euros knocked off my rent is a very lovely thing, especially when three months’ worth come at once and leave January’s rent at less than five euros. What does irritate me about CAF though is the endless paper work. I’ve been applying since the middle of September 2012, and I still haven’t managed to get to the end of all the things they need from me. The latest in the long line of seemingly pointless requests is my birth certificate. Again. Yes I have already given them one copy, but now they need one with my parent’s names on. A good old fashioned answer on a postcard - concerning why on earth they need that – would be lovely right about now.

So anyway, after the mid-week break, Thursday was the day of my first lecture back at the University. I was prepped, geared up and ready for the Geography lecture that I was about to attend. I was a good five minutes early, sitting outside waiting for the professor to turn up. Fifteen minutes passed and not a single soul had joined me. I was confused. Another five minutes passed before someone came over and briefly mentioned that the lecture was cancelled. How I was the only one in the entire class not to know the lecture had been cancelled is still a mystery to me, but is it odd to say I was a little disappointed that it was? Yes it is odd, never mind.

Last week was interesting for a further two reasons, the first being I had my first Tandem meetings. Tandem is a process set up by the University that gets native speakers of any language to come together and help each other learn, so in my case I was the native English speaker looking for native Frenchies to help me (and vice versa). Both meetings went very smoothly, and it felt really good to be just speaking French... for pleasure! I’ve arranged to meet with the Tandems again... I will have to let you know how it goes!

The second reason last week was interesting is because it was the first time since arriving in Strasbourg that I haven’t felt very well. It was only a cold, but it nevertheless meant a trip to the pharmacy for medication. I had practiced all my vocab, was ready to tell the pharmacist what was wrong with me when I let out the loudest and longest cough you will ever hear. There was no need to speak... he gave me some cough sweets straight away and that was that. Easy! Drugged up, I spent the weekend back in my bed recovering... and now I feel much better!

Until next week folks, à plus tard!

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