The Natatorium

An emporium of oddities from around the world, complete with somewhat informative plaques that almost never match the item they are meant to be describing.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Greetings from France!

Hello everyone!

I'm finally in France and all settled in to my apartment. It is very small but clean and rather cute. Unfortunately it does not have internet, so communication is a bit difficult right now. Still, it is about a block from the beach so I guess I can't complain much. So much has happened in the past two weeks that I don't know really where to begin, but I'll try to give you a quick run-down...

On the 18th of September I went to New York City with my friend Courtney, and we hung out there for six days. We stayed in a really SWEET hostel in Brooklyn which was run by a very nice, very cool Korean guy named Young. It was very clean and comfy, and I felt completely at home there. Courtney and I explored Manhattan most of the time. We wandered around Greenwich Village, Central Park, Times Square, etc. We walked down Madison Avenue and looked in the fancy windows of the fancy stores. I came to the conclusion, on probably the second day we were there, that there is a LOT to love and hate about New York. It's such an extreme city; nothing about it is halfway. It seems like everything there is cranked up to 11, and as a consequence some things are really great and some things are really horrible. For example:

Top 5 Things to LOVE about New York:

1) Great food, everywhere, cheap and expensive
2) World-class museums
3) Awesome shopping, everything you could ever dream of wanting to buy on one little island
4) Incomparable Diversity
5) Feeling like you're at the center of What's Happening

Top 5 Things to HATE about New York:

1) Too Loud
2) Too Busy
3) Too Many People
4) Too Dirty
5) It seems like it takes forever to get somewhere because the place is so big and the subway system is not that well-designed and they have the hardest concrete in the world and after walking on it for a couple of hours my hips where crying and my feet were going on strike. They're still pissed at me.

Anyway. New York is extreme. I think I've established that now. In case you were wondering, it is EXACTLY like it seems in the movies and TV shows. Exactly. Except that most people are pretty nice, which is not the stereotype. But then, most people in France are really nice too, so you really just shouldn't believe negative gossip about people.

Oh! And I almost forgot to mention... New York broke my laptop. Or Northwest Airlines did. Anyway someone did because the night before I left it was fine and when I opened it up in New York all I got was the Blue Screen of Death. I decided I should probably just invest in a new computer, so after much stress and hassel and anger I bought a new black mac book. Yay! The stress, etc. was due to the fact that apparently my bank doesn't know that my money is mine. They think it is theirs, and they are quite opposed to the idea of me spending any of it in New York. This did not go over so well with me, particularly when my debit card stopped working and I needed to buy a computer before I left the country. Eventually I got it worked out, so now I have a snazzy new computer and no interenet! Hurrah!

I left New York on Tuesday night, 9/23, around 10:30 pm New York time. I arrived at Heathrow around 10:30 am London time, then took a bus to London, switched buses, took a bus to Dover, then took a Ferry from Dover to Calais, then took a cab from the Ferry port to the train station only to find that no more trains were running that night. At that point I had been awake for about 30 hours and had been dragging 100 pounds of luggage through Europe for about ten of those hours. I ended up just staying in a hotel across the street from the train station and calling it a night. The next day I took a train from Calais to Rang du Fliers, which is a town a couple of miles from Berck, where I'm living. One of the teachers from the High School picked me up and took me to my apartment, where my bags finally came to rest.

I had a bad case of "Why the Hell!"s while I was traveling and for a day or so after... ex: "Why the HELL did I do this?!?!?" "Why the HELL did I think this would be a good idea?!?!" "Why the HELL did I want to move to the other effing side of the effing world?!?!" "Why the HELL did I pack so damn much!" (while traveling) and then "Why the HELL didn't I pack X?" (after unpacking). Anyway, the "Why the Hell"s have subsided now, and that just reminds me that it always feels like that when you do something new and difficult and scary, but it soon gets better after that. I knew it was going to be hard when I set out, especially with my heavy bags, but I just had to remember my mantra: If I can move an inch, I can move two inches, and if I can move two inches, I can move 500 miles... it just might take me a really long time, but I can do it." And so I could.

So, I finally arrived at my apartment in Berck on Thursday. I settled in, unpacked, and promptly came down with a sore throat, right on schedule. I was completely expecting to be sick as soon as I got here, of course, because that's just how it works. If you move to a new country, particularly if you drag all your worldly possessions behind you, you will get sick. I'm better now and just have an annoying cough.

I don't actually start work until after October 1st, so for the past few days I've just been nursing myself back to health and checking out the town. There is a small bookshop here which actually seems quite busy, though they only have French books. This is fine, since I need to be practicing my French, obviously. I saw that they even have a French translation of "Twilight," which they've translated to "Fascination." I found that rather amusing and considered buying it, except that I'm trying to be conservative with money right now. I did buy myself a WALL-E picture book, but that was impossible to pass up. I also bought paper and envelopes for writing letters, and I hope many of you will write me soon! My adress is:

Mlle. Natalie James
7 Rue de la Plage
62600 Berck
France

Well, I think that is enough for now, I could not tell it all if I tried.

One last thing, though:

Rest assured, even if I don't have reliable internet in France, at least I have My Name is Earl.

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