Je m’appelle Daniel. J’ai 24 ans.

Of all the people living in this share house, I speak the fewest languages. For Europeans, two languages isn’t much, really, and my various housemates speak (among others) German, Spanish, Italian, English and French. There goes any thought that I was special!

I’m now living in what Bob Saget might refer to as a “full house“. Over the last week my various housemates have arrived and installed themselves – I’m living with two French guys, a German girl, a Mexican girl and a Lithuanian fellow who is yet to show himself. It’s my first time living with people – and my first time living away from home – but so far I’m enjoying it. Having my own room (+bathroom) helps.

But still, I’ve done a lot of introducing myself lately.

Nothing of great interest really happened over the last few days – lots of shopping for mundane things like towels and a wrench to fix one of the bikes here. Mainly I’ve just been hanging out with my housemates. Two of them are also assistants this year, and it’s nice to share our common experience and develop a friendship.

I still feel out of place sometimes – homesick, I suppose – but there are other times where I’ll be walking down the street and my heart just starts pounding in my chest with the sudden realisation that I feel like I belong here. It’s unexpected and exhilarating – and I love that feeling. It’s not the house, or the people, it’s just the ebb and flow of French life. A bit of everything.

Bumble bees

Then, of course, there are times where I’m completely taken aback by things, but in a good way. I was going for a walk along the banks of the Allier a few days ago, and I saw bumblebees for the first time in my life. They’re huge! About the size of a thumb, loud and powerful, with their flight muscles buzzing away like tiny engines. I was baffled by them. To my embarrassment, I discovered that they’re pretty normal everywhere except Australia (where they’re actually prohibited – they out-forage local bees and starve them). I also saw Southern European Carpenter Bees, all of which went about their business without the slightest concern for my amazement.

My very favourite thing here in Moulins so far? The markets. Twice a week the town square is filled with vendors of fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat, everything you can imagine. It’s all cheap and good, and it’s a lot of fun to talk to the vendors and pick out things to eat. Both times I’ve been so far, there have been people playing the accordion as I strolled through – it’s just about the most wonderfully French thing I’ve ever experienced.

Next week, at long last, I face the proverbial guillotine of beginning life as a teaching assistant. Most of the bureaucracy is thankfully out of the way, and I’ve even met the students already – which helped a lot to calm my nervousness. Things here are about to get busier.

To see a gallery of images relevant to this post, click here. To learn how to make a chatterbox, so you too can unravel the mysteries of the universe, click here.

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