I worked from 8:30am-5:45pm at Méchain on Thursday, so work and travel logistics were kind of a mess. I ended up leaving my backpack in the teacher’s room, grabbing it at the end of the day, and thanking N profusely for offering to drive me to the train station. (He accidentally drove right past it because he was busy talking to me, but I didn’t even notice, and I thought it hilarious that he pulled an illegal U-turn to drop me off.)
I managed to grab the 6:34-8:03 train, and honestly, it was the longest train ride (1.5 hrs) of my life because I was so pumped to see my friend and a different city. I’m lucky enough to know a friend actually placed in Amiens, S, who I met while studying abroad in Nice. She kindly picked me up at the train station and then led me to a Pakistani restaurant, Himalaya, for dinner.
(Amiens train station)
(Shrimp, calamari, and not pictured rice)
Afterwards, we went back to her incredibly nice duplex, which she’s sharing with a French roommate, and where I got to stay in the empty room—for free.
Orientation on Friday was unnecessarily long, from 9:30-4:30, and it probably didn’t help that S and I had a salty conversation about the utter disorganization of French bureaucracy beforehand during breakfast. However, it was fascinating to learn that there are 140 of us in Picardie, from 23 different countries: the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Spain, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Portugal, South Africa, China, Taiwan, India, Russia, and 3 other countries that I didn’t quite catch the name of.
While it was surreal to meet people I’d only ever talked to on Facebook, the PowerPoint on Picardie and the French education system was so unnecessarily long that that S and I pretty much exchanged “I’m suffering” looks the entire time. (I won’t even lie, I paid zero attention. The only bit of info I gleaned was that there’s a lycée where you can learn to make champagne—SO French.) We then had to turn in our 20 million forms and photocopies, though I did get to see O, the assistant I met in Philadelphia (if you’re reading this, salut!).
Then S, B (a returning TAPIFer), C (my fellow Facebook admin for the Amiens group), L (another Virginian), and I had Shawarma for lunch. Next, secondary school assistants had to suffer through two workshops, and I panicked during the second because they made us introduce ourselves while sitting in a huge circle (I despise talking in circle formations) and butchered all my French. Did I pay attention to the workshop? Hell no. Whatever words being projected onto the screen were so small, and the room so dark, that I couldn’t see anything—even with my glasses—and we were all exhausted.
When freedom finally arrived, I hung out with C and S for three hours, had white wine for the first time, and then we went to a crêperie for dinner and ice cream, where I met F and tried cider for the first time—I’ve had more alcohol during my two weeks in France than in my entire life. (Also, the waitress legit dumped an entire small pot of fire on F’s crêpe???)
(Salted caramel butter ice cream)
Every single TAPIFer I’ve met is so nice, and I wish I weren’t running on old lady schedule now—I kid you not, I go to bed at 9 or 10 and wake up at 6 or 7—so I could talk to them more.