Sunday, February 4, 2018

An educational visit to La Rochelle

French Village Diaries La Rochelle university open day
La Rochelle towers

It has been another weekend of late nights, full days and early mornings, running around for Ed, but now he is on his way to Rome for a week long school trip, life has begun calming down nicely.

Yesterday began not as grey a day as many we have had, but with wispy clouds hiding the hope of a blue-sky day. As we drove out of the village, a field on our left had four deer munching their breakfast, while a convoy of hunter’s vans sped past us to the right, thankfully oblivious to the presence of the deer. The back road to La Rochelle takes us through woods and quiet villages, with rivers swollen from recent rains, cream coloured holiday homes closed up for winter and pretty chateaux, peaceful and quiet at this time of year. It was a moment of calm before the assault on the senses that is a day in La Rochelle, more so as this was an educational visit to the University open day.

It’s been quite a full-on week in terms of immersing myself in challenging French language situations. The on-line registration process for 2018 university applications has now opened and Monday evening’s treat was an hour and a half information meeting on completing Ed’s dossier, along with all the other necessary information on accommodation and grants. At times this seemed like a new language with ‘words’ like CROUS, PARCOURSUP and ONISEP added to our vocabulary. The French do love an acronym! I’ve also had to deal with a call centre help desk, in an attempt to fix an issue with the 3G on my mobile (more challenging to my patience than my language) and attempt to assimilate the many medical terms required to help a friend in need.

French Village Diaries La Rochelle university open day
La Rochelle port, not a bad view for morning coffee

A day in La Rochelle was just what I needed, even if most of it was spent traipsing from one university building to another. We did treat ourselves to a coffee overlooking the port when we arrived, and we got to see Hermione, a local celebrity of the nautical kind. She is a replica of an 18th century French frigate (built to defeat the British) who was launched in 2015 when she sailed across the Atlantic to commemorate her predecessor's voyage to aid in the American War of Independence in 1780. She arrived into the port of La Rochelle a few days ago and is being proudly displayed before setting off on a Mediterranean cruise at the end of the month.

French Village Diaries La Rochelle university open day L'Hermione
Hermione in La Rochelle

To begin with the university visit was bewildering. Should we have joined the enormous queue for CROUS, just because that was what everyone else was doing, despite not knowing what to ask when it was our turn at the table? I’d expected to be able to pick up a brochure to read in my own time, so we just left and are still none the wiser. Thankfully the restaurant was open and offering a three course meal for students and parents for only 5.10€ per person. Who doesn’t feel better following a warm meal and a sit down, even if rain had dampened La Rochelle somewhat?

French Village Diaries La Rochelle university open day
La Rochelle university open day

The introduction to the history degree was interesting and informative, and a look around an open (and empty) accommodation unit was reassuringly bigger and brighter than expected. The campus is ideally situated just over the water from the main town.  Bikes are already popular in La Rochelle, with cycle lanes all around town, and development plans are in place to increase the cycling infrastructure. I would be very happy studying there.

Unfortunately for me, as in my opinion La Rochelle is always worth a visit, it’s not Ed’s first choice of location or degree course, but it’s certainly given us something to compare the other visits to. I just hope that by the time we reach the deadline for submitting Ed’s dossier we have a better understanding of whole process than we do at the moment. Do wish us luck please. This parenting business just seems to get more complicated the older he gets. 

This post has been linked to #AllAboutFrance over on the Lou Messugo blog. Click here to read more.

Lou Messugo

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