This one deserves its number one place without having to think that much! After all, both the food and the eating situation differed a lot from what I was used to in Finland. A traditional breakfast would include a croissant or pain au chocolat with a coffee, whereas we Finns like to eat bread, porridge and other stuff heavier (generally speaking) Luckily, we had cereals for breakfast, which was a good way to start the day.
Another matter of eating was the dinner. Here we have it usually around 4 o'clock or 5, but the French like to eat late. I guess the dinner was adjusted to fit better in our timetable, so we usually dined at 7 o'clock, which was early for them, but still pretty late for me. And it wasn't only about filling yourself up with food, but it was also a social event. Dinner time was of significant importance to the French, since we all kind of showed respect to each other and gathered around the table at the same time. I think dinner time was one of the only moments when we all sat down and talked in French. It was good for our language skills, as my room mates and I tended to switch into English outside the house.
My last confession would be the food itself. I just loved it and I was so happy to have a host mum who cooked so well! We had different food every day, and from what I can remember we had at least: ratatouille, pancakes filled with ham and cheese, paella, spaghetti bolognese and pizza. On our last evening, we had a huge variety of seafood tapas, such as caviar, tuna fish, prawns, crayfish and salmon with bread. Too bad I didn't take a photo of it; it was exotic!
The public transport
I was fairly satisfied with the transportation on the whole, but some things made me question the functionality. As French people are far lazier with timekeeping than us Finns, we sometimes had to wait for the bus reasonably long, which wasn't ever so agreeable. That happens here quite a lot as well, so I don't think it was much of a cultural difference, though.
But what really annoyed us were the bee buses, in other words, small ecological buses emitting the absolute minimum amount of exhaust fumes. Don't get me wrong, it's particularly important to conserve the nature, but it wasn't exactly an ideal start for the day when some of us didn't fit into this ecological wagon and had to wait for the next bus, thus going late to school. And since I was quite bad at navigating in Fréjus, (thanks to all the roundabouts and winding roads) I always had to be accompanied by a good friend of mine who would know when to get off. Also, it didn't really help that there were several lines which would all leave us on different bus stops.
I'm not really sure where I'm going with this text, but what I meant is that getting around was quite hard. Fortunately, there was always someone near me and when there wasn't, one could just ask for help from the strangers. I won't even go into detail how my room mate and I got lost in the middle of the night walking 4 kilometres back home from the beach, or how I was forced to believe a random Norwegian girl, when I didn't know how to get home from the main bus station. She thought we might possibly live in the same block. I was a bit scared, but luckily she was right and we both got home!
In the photo above, you can see a very typical French boulevard with all its rainbow-coloured houses and cute balconies. Truth is that only a fraction of the French live in these houses and even though I also stayed in a flat, it looked completely different from these ones.
I was surprised by the fact that toilets didn't have a sink in which to wash your hands. At least where I stayed, the sink was in the bathroom next to the toilet. Not really that far away, but I just can't help thinking how unhygienic it could be. And sometimes when you simply wanted to wash your hands and realised someone was taking a shower, with the door locked of course, it wasn't very funny.
It also felt weird that there were no glasses in the windows. Instead, there were two 'doors' to keep the window shut and some stretchable blinds on the inside. It was practical, as the heat temperature would rise way above +30°C and the apartment seriously needed ventilation. But coming from Finland where our windows have two thick glasses on top of each other, and opening them happens with the help of a little tool, I think it's alright to feel like this.
Just for comparison, this photo below is the view from my room. Pretty different from the cute streets, right? This housing company must have been pretty big, as the yard was so huge I actually got lost there a couple of times. Naturally, we then had to ask some kids if they knew where our block E was. Well, apparently we mixed up the pronunciation of the letters 'E' and 'I', so instead of getting to know where our home was, we got to know where I was.