Hello, my name’s Joshua Graham. I’m nineteen, I’m originally from Glasgow, I’m studying French and philosophy, I like music, books and films, I have brown hair, brown eyes and a one way ticket to a distant city I’ve never been to before… it’s Manchester.

In September I’ll be flying from Manchester to Toulouse in south-west France where I’ll live and study for a year. I’ll be taking courses in general French things like history and literature and making good progress (fingers crossed) on the dissertation due in at the start of forth year for the philosophy part of my degree.

To be honest I’m fairly anxious about going away. If there’s one part of studying French that I have a problem with it’s the confidence aspect, and despite repeated assurances and reassurances that ‘it’ll be fine once you get there’ I can’t help but worry. My decision to go to Toulouse was almost entirely (and cynically, I admit) based around this worry of ‘joining in’, which is the whole point I suppose – to join in with the language, the people, the culture, whatever. I read up a little when noting down my preferences for exchange and discovered that Toulouse has one of the biggest student populations in France outside of Paris, so I assumed I’d have no choice but to get involved. Toulouse is a big city, roughly the size of my hometown, so I figured I could deal with traversing it, inhabiting it or simply ‘hanging around’ it.

Here’s a brief fact file, hastily compiled based on internet research:

–       Its nicknamed “le ville rose” because of the pink bricks that everything is made out of

–       Toulouse takes its street lights seriously: heat sensitive street lights and lights powered by the footsteps of nearby pedestrians are being tested

–       Toulouse-Lautrec was not born there. Fermat of “last theorem” fame was.

–       The most famous regional dish is called Cassoulet which is a stew made with beans and pork skin, amongst other things.  N.B I am vegetarian so will not be sampling this and many other dishes from the region that typically involve ducks, foie gras, sausages or bits of.

–       It’s the home of Airbus who make planes.

–       And to Stade Toulousain, a rugby union team who are meant to be quite good, I think.

The climate looks nice too. “A tan” isn’t necessarily top of my ‘souvenirs from 2010-2011 erasmus exchange to France’ list, although I admit I think I’ll appreciate waking up and thinking something other than ‘Oh I wonder what the weather will be like today?  I do hope its slate gray with maybe a crack of sunshine though I’d settle for an asphalt sky with a dash of rain. In July.’

I found out today where I’ll be staying. It is a huge halls of residence which houses about 1200 people and I have one room in it. It is called Cité U Chapou and the only canteen in the complex burnt down in an electrical fire a few years ago.

I’m flying out on the 18th of September with my dad and until then I’m occupying myself with working, the fringe festival and worrying if I have filled in all the paperwork correctly. Endless paperwork.
In the future I’ll hopefully try and update this with photos and cutting-edge and in-depth commentary on life in Toulouse or at least more insights along the lines of “Airbus make big planes”.

Categories: France, Toulouse

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