ANGERS: Expat life

I moved to Angers exactly one month ago.

I can’t believe that. It feels like just yesterday, our bus was driving along Le Maine and turning left into the (figurative) gates of this enchanting kingdom that is the small town of Angers in the northwest of France.

It feels like just yesterday, I was trying to fix my internal clock; trying to remember what street I’m supposed to take to get to school; trying to not spend all my money on baguettes and pâtisseries. I’m still working on that last one.

Now, I have a French family, French friends, a budget and my first visitor.

That’s right: Papa Ashrawi stopped by to see his little girl on his way home from a business meeting in Germany.

It’s exhilarating when someone comes to visit you, especially when they are unfamiliar with the area. It gave me a chance to show off my knowledge of Angers. It also tested me.

I wanted to prove to my dad that he and my mom had made the right decision when they allowed me to study abroad for a semester. I wanted to show how much I’ve learned and grown and how great this experience has been for me.

I told him I would meet him at the St. Laud train station around noon. It was cold and a little rainy, and I didn’t actually know where the train station is. 

I looked the directions up on Google Maps before I left my apartment, and then headed out, hoping for the best. 

Eventually, I found it—but only after walking up and down the same street three times and looking slightly insane before figuring out I was actually headed in the right direction.

I found my pops waiting outside the station, looking like such a cutie (an extremely confused and lost cutie, but a cutie nonetheless).

First things first, I showed him Université Catholique de l’Ouest, where I go to school. Of course, he snapped some pictures of me in front of the building to send to the rest of the family. Not much has changed since kindergarten, as you can see. After, we visited St. Maurice Cathedral, a beautiful gothic church. I was worried we might fall backward as we craned our necks to get the entire building in the picture!

Then we head to the mandatory stop on any Angers tour—the Chateau d’Angers. Everybody wants to see the castle. 

We walked around the garden inside the walls of the Chateau, pretended like we understood the Apocalyptic tapestries, and then made our way up the steps to the top of the towers. Right as we reached the top, it started hailing. It took everything in me not to sing “Let It Go” at the top of my lungs.

We decided our bodies had endured enough pelting ice, so we headed home—but not without stopping to buy some Quernon d’Ardiose, the city’s specialty.

The rest of the day was pretty relaxing. We cooked dinner and drank wine and talked about life. It was wonderful and refreshing and all we needed.

The next day, we kept it just as relaxing. We took a quick trip to the grocery store before it closed.

Sidnote: Practically nothing is open on Sundays in France. They have great worker’s rights here.

We then spent the rest of the day sipping coffee and eating pastries.

Just a few hours before he was to head back to Paris, we went for a walk around the Jardin des Plantes. I wish we could do it more often. It was the perfect ending to a great bonding weekend.

I walked my dad to the train station, made sure he knew where he was going, and gave him a big bear hug.

“See you later?” 

“Yes. See you later.”