Week 6- Big Brother is watching you

August 11, 2015
With little over two weeks left in France, it's only just hit me how fast this season has passed. And, whilst I'm counting down ferociously the days until I'm home to an actual phone signal and a decent wifi speed, I'm also feeling reluctant to tear myself away from the laissez-faire lifestyle that I've come to know. My parents paid me a visit this week and it was my Mum who first noted how the contrasting way of life. She quickly fell in love with the acres of vineyards, the sporadicity of towns and the way you can drive for an hour and see no other car. However, whilst this seems idyllic, the novelty wears off in a week or so and you're finally confronted by the one thing you've been escaping from-  real life.

I feel like I'm walking around Medieval France in Bergerac

Now I'm not saying that running to the hills helped me to find myself or any shitty American cliché like that, however I do feel that the change in the way of life has given me a chance to actually sit back and review a lot of things. I'm not afraid to say that before I came here, I perhaps wasn't in the best emotional state- my Granddad had sadly passed away several weeks before and I was still coming to terms with it. My Mum described the environment in the best way- "a bit like rehab". In Derby, I could avoid thinking about certain things by just going about normal life, yet here there is an absence of anything to distract me from such thoughts. Of course I work each day, yet nothing really happens. Time passes but little changes; at the local bar in Sigoules, the same faces drink each day, the cars rarely move and the same leaves dance in the streets each day.

La Dolce Vita mural- 'Only love gives me strength. Long live love.'

In many books, there's a small town protagonist who sets off to see the big lights of the city. I feel like I've done the book backwards. In fact, we're so cut off from the real world that it's almost like there's a giant dome around us- not too dissimilar from The Simpsons Movie . Because of the lack of activity here, everything that happens seems magnified, for example an argument with a colleague has 100x more impact than it would back home because there's nothing to distract you from thinking about it. It seems more personal and what''s more, there's nobody to discuss it with because everybody knows everything already. It's almost like Big Brother but we're being paid a lot less.

Bergerac Catherdral on a sunny day

I asked my house-mates how they felt about the situation. We all agreed that the poor wifi and lack of phone signal has meant we've become experts in coping. Calling home has been an occasional treat when the wifi strength permits, usually late at night or early in the morning thus if there's been a problem throughout the day I've learnt that I must address it myself. Calling or texting for advice is a no-no. And with decisions come consequences of which you must face alone because you alone made the decision. Charlotte told me about a saying in Dutch along the lines of - if you want to kill some habits, move abroad. For my fellow uni students, this is something that you will definitely experience.

There's a lot about England that I miss and never thought I would- we don't realise how easy we have it to be able to shop after 12.00 on a Wednesday or all day Sunday, or being able to peruse the intu centre and have everything at your fingertips. Furthermore, I think I took for granted the transport links- whilst Arriva are considerably shit, at least they're existent. Another thing that other students should learn from my experience is that you really should check out the location of where you'll be- apparently a short walk for French people is three hours for the English. And when my laptop was drying out earlier in the week, I felt like I'd lost complete connection with the outside world.

Lauzun Chateau

I'm not saying that this will be the case for everybody's year abroad- of course, each differs depending on one's own situation however I really feel that my time spent in this pocket of France has had a profound effect on me psychologically. Would I want to spend my life living in this sleepy state? Absolutely not, yet I can see the appeal of hiding from society for a week in a sunny French town (as did my Mum).

So with 16 days left and two more blog entries, I bid you farewell until next week!
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