Week 6: Going Home, Revisiting London Life and The Things You Miss When You're On Your Year Abroad

Published by flag-gb Anonymous . — 3 years ago

Blog: The Erasmus Diaries:
Tags: flag-fr Erasmus blog Toulouse, Toulouse, France

Week 6! Les Vacances de Toussaint sont arrivées! 

I packed up my cases and headed back with the girls to Gatwick from Toulouse. There's something I fell in love with on the year abroad, and that was the constant flights to and from places. Travelling gets addictive, and there's always an excitement when you're on a flight, whether it's a new destination or home. Going home was a bit of a reality check though. Once you're used to a certain rhythm of a place, it becomes natural, and anything else is almost abnormal. 

When I arrived at Gatwick, I suddenly was reacquainted with the madness and the bustle of London, something I'd worked in, socialised in, and lived in, which suddenly became crazy once I was in it again. Heading from Gatwick to Kings Cross also hit home how much I'd become used to La Vie Toulousaine. Even in big cities abroad, there's a different feel to that of London - the buzz is almost manic and it's like being constantly wired. I feel a bit like a hamster on a wheel in London, but I'd always known it and loved it, so it was a shock when I found that I didn't walk as fast as everyone else, I wasn't as great at weaving through the crows at tube and train stations, I'd forgotten to have my Oyster ready and waiting, and the amount of people surrounding me didn't make me feel as comfortable as before.

Prepare for that. When you come back, you can either feel nomadic, as if you don't quite belong anymore, or it can strengthen your love and ties to your home. Whichever feel you get eventually becomes the making of you - it makes you realise where you belong and that will determine which path you decide to take post year-abroad, and more importantly, post-uni.

That week whilst home, I decided to explore and see friends to ensure that I didn't feel trapped or become so used to home that I wouldn't want to return to Toulouse. I headed on up to Cheltenham to visit my friend, Ellie, who had recently started her photography course at The University of Gloucestershire, and I found it so exciting to see what life was life for Freshers again. 

Halloween was also something I loved back home. There's always a tradition amongst myself and my friends, and it's something I think stretches across London. Halloween is always a huge social occasion, and it's a time to just lose your inhibitions and have fun. There's not quite that attitude about the festival in France, whether that's cultural or just the way the French think. We headed to Piccadilly Institute (not one of the best clubs in London but a good last min shout when you're in a big group of friends), and partied the night away. I spent the following time pretty much eating my way through London.

Funnily, despite the attitudes towards British cuisine, Britain has some damn good restaurants. I surprised my parents when I first arrived, after stopping at my sister's flat and getting ready, at Fire & Stone in Covent Garden, one of my favourite restaurants in the West End, and a fab place to get tasty, authentic pizzas. 

I also went to Jamie's Italian for the first time, and the food and customer service were both sublime, which left me feeling a bit nostalgic and sad when I left, as France really isn't the best place when it comes to variety dining out. 

Coming back also reinforced why I wasn't the biggest fan of French food. I arrived on a Sunday in Carcassone, and by the time I'd hit up Toulouse, everything was shut. I mean EVERYTHING. I think Maccies might have been open, but I was shattered and by the time I'd had a nap, the only option I had was Just Eat (or France's equivalent, I think it was AlloResto).

Lil' message to France, and I say this after experiencing the same thing 10000000s of times. Veggie means you don't eat meat or fish. I've never particularly liked meat (although I do miss pork, I can't lie) and I suffer from a stomach problem called gastric reflux, which means various foods disrupt my digestion and occasionally cause me to be sick without warning. Hence this reason, and because I adjusted my diet due to hypothyroidism, I decided to remove meat from my diet. I'm also anaemic, so I decided to keep fish in my diet as well as eating cruciferous veg and seeds / pulses whilst taking vitamin supplements. In France, I found it easier to opt for veggie choices rather than explain all of my ailments to French waiters. However, in France, vegetarian seems to translate to 'can eat lean meat' and just eradicating red meat from food (or in some cases, just throwing raw meat over a salad as if beef tartare is the same as tofu). Ordering a pizza (which came 3 hours late to make matters even more dire) which was a margherita translated as ham pizza, and when I mean ham, I mean topping (ham), main base (ham) and integrated into dough (ham). My evening was spent picking ham out of every bite I ate. I'm not a complainer, and I hadn't eaten since 6am, so I decided to eat the pizza and just give the restaurant 10 stars (I'm a weak person and feel bad for local businesses, so I'm venting my frustration on here instead), but I was left feeling a bit miffed by the fact that people with allergies or intolerances must have to go through unnecessary stress. I fully understand there are bigger problems out there, and I've never felt the need to go on and on, but when you're doubled over in pain, being sick for a day, or end up with rashes and your tongue swelling up (I have various allergies which make all of these occur - thank you strawberries, cherries, apples and pears), you understand why it's important to take care with food.

Rant over. Nevertheless, it was a nice break to get home, and I'd strongly suggest that all students go home if they can, and if it's economically viable, just to give you a little breath of fresh air, and to catch up with your loved ones. 

Week 8 - Back in France but off to Barcelona, and getting back into the swing of things at uni

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