Culture Shock

Can I really call it that? Who knows. Moving from a bustling city on the west coast to a small alpine town seems to have affected me more than I thought it would.

I woke up on my first day here and peered out of the skylight at the industrial estate where my new home and office are situated. The only thing preventing it being unbearably bleak were the mountains that surround this little valley on every side.

The area I’m in is only a short bus ride to the centre of Chambéry, but somehow feels a lot more remote. Living in a strange, industrial spot means the nearest place to buy food is a large commercial boulangerie down the road, which is admittedly rather good, although nothing like the little authentic ones I’m used to.

However, the intern flat where I am housed (known affectionately as the ‘Bon Acc’) has proved to be a lot of fun so far. Sharing a kitchenette with 11 others, I’ve learned to time my meals well so there is actually a free hob to cook on. I’ve also compiled a list of very quick, one-pan meals I can do if the whole household descends on the kitchen at once (which is a common occurrence).

The Bon Acc is always a lively and amusing place to be. Most things are broken, the mattresses are made of sponge, but I am slowly growing quite fond of it. My flat mates here are genuinely great people, who make living on an industrial estate slightly less dreadful.

With regards to my job, have I ever been more stressed out, terrified and bewildered in my life? No. To call it a steep learning curve would be a gross understatement, not helped of course by my less-than-friendly Russian supervisor woman. It turns out being verbally beaten up in French isn’t half as bad because I can’t understand most of it anyway. Consequently, the rest of the office have been very sympathetic towards me, which I suppose is a minor silver lining.

My first week was a tough one, but I would have been silly to expect anything else. That being said, I have already made some great friends here, spoken A LOT of French, and booked a weekend trip back to Bordeaux…

That is all.

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