My trip to study in Bordeaux, France did not have such a great beginning, but in the end, some of the seemingly bad things actually worked to my benefit. For starters, I did not have housing accommodations when I left for Bordeaux. I was very adamant about living with French students in downtown Bordeaux. I hoped that living with French students would aid me in learning French, and I was informed that everything worth doing happens in downtown Bordeaux. Unfortunately, I did not get responses from any of the French student I contacted about housing. I was worried and considering taking dorm housing near BEM (Bordeaux Ã‰cole de Management), which is unfortunately thirty minutes by tram from downtown Bordeaux. The Melting Potes, the student organization that helps international students, assured me that I shouldnâ€™t worry, because they would have a place for me to stay until I could find housing. So, I chose to put my faith in the Melting Potes and embark on my journey without housing arrangements.
Then there were issues with my flight arrangements. As a caution to the future adventurers from U of L who will embark on a trip abroad, be careful when booking with American Airlines as they have a partnership with a Spanish company, Iberia, with which another American exchange student and I both had issues. I had a flight from Louisville to Chicago to Madrid to Bordeaux. In Chicago, we boarded the Iberia flight on time and subsequently sat there for an hour without any explanation as to why. It wasnâ€™t snowing at the time, so I am still unsure of the reason for our late departure. This normally wouldnâ€™t be an issue but the connecting flight from Madrid to Bordeaux was scheduled to depart only one hour from our scheduled arrival in Madrid. The girl sitting next to me proceeded to ask an attendant about our delay, as she was concerned about her connecting flight to Germany being scheduled for around an hour after arrival in Madrid as well. The attendant assured her that it would be fine. He said the flight was scheduled for eight hours but with the wind current to our backs we would only need seven hours to get there. So, the only explanation for our late departure seems to be they thought they could make the eight hour flight in seven.
As I was talking to the girl next me, Katrine, she mentioned her grandfather owns a travel company. When she expressed her concern about making her connecting flight in Madrid, her grandfather assured her that she would be fine as long as she wasnâ€™t travelling with Iberia. There goes explanation number two, apparently Iberia is known for being late. With our destiny in the hands of Iberia, Katrine and I proceeded to have good conversation for most of our eight hour flight.
When we land, with only twenty minutes until our connecting flights depart, we proceeded to run through the airport hoping that we might just make our flights. I always wanted to run through the airport like they do in the movies; to stop someone they just realized they are in love with from leaving. Unfortunately, itâ€™s not near as exciting or interesting when youâ€™re trying to catch a connecting flight in a foreign country. We soon realize that there is too much distance and too many obstacles preventing us from making our flights. After making our way through customs and security, we proceeded to the Iberia service desk where we receive great news! Okay, it wasnâ€™t great news. We were told that the next flights to Frankfurt and Bordeaux are seven and eight hours away, respectively. On the bright side we did receive free meal vouchers. Now, I love my free food, but it just doesnâ€™t seem all that free when youâ€™re losing eight hours of your day. Luckily we had each other to keep ourselves company and we hung out in the airport having good conversation for the remainder of our time in the Madrid airport. I will end the first posting here, as not to make this too long of a read at one time, and to add some suspense. To be continuedâ€¦.