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Hi! I'm Charlotte, an 18-year-old Dane who just finished high school.

I've always loved to travel, and have decided to put life at home on a hold and go traveling around the world for the next 3+ years, hopefully, in the process, learning more about myself, my surroundings and the people I meet on my way.

Adventures in Montpellier part 3: locked down in France

Hurray! It looks like the coronavirus has reached its peak here in France (although I say that very carefully and with crossed fingers). The last couple of days the number of deaths at the hospitals have fallen slowly and stayed below 500 – which still isn’t something to celebrate, but at least it’s looking slightly better.

I must say that I am ready for this lockdown to end, after almost three weeks in complete isolation. I still don’t have much hope that the lockdown will actually end on the 15th of April, but just a slight relaxation of the rules would be nice.

Something about it actually being illegal to see anyone outside of your household, go outside without an official document or walk more than one kilometre away from your house is psychologically becoming a little difficult. But at least this week has been better than the one prior.

My second week in lockdown was a really frustrating week. Accent Français – my French school – had decided to throw all the different classes into three big ones – meaning that me and Julia (who are the only A1 beginners left) were thrown into a class of 25 other students at levels varying from A2 to B1+. Meaning that even the students we were closest to level-wise had been at the school for 4-5 weeks more than us (in comparison, Julia and I only got two weeks at the school before the lockdown). And since the students who were in A2+ and B1 of course needed to learn something too, the exercises became ridiculously hard.

Julia and I still had three weeks left of the very basics of A1, but all of a sudden we were expected to complete complex exercises orally and written about the current situation in France and the meaning of happiness. Julia gave up almost instantly and resolved to instead try and teach herself the rest of the A1 curriculum. I tried as best as I could to complete the exercises in the morning, keep up in the Zoom virtual classes at 11 ‘till noon, and then in the afternoon try and teach myself the remainder of the A1 curriculum. At 17.40 every evening Madeleine would give me an hour of French lessons over Skype and then I would try to speak French with Ben and Eric at most meals. Safe to say, most days my head felt like it would explode from all the French.

Most of the week the weather seemed to reflect my grey mood and I didn’t do much besides studying French – a giant thank you to Ben for consistently sitting through my irritated rants about the school.

But I also did learn a lot during that week, especially thanks to Madeleine - her everyday lessons giving me a head-start on a lot of the coming curriculum and most of all making me feel less frustrated and behind. Ben and Eric were as helpful as ever, Eric still hearing me in my pronunciation of ‘Ratus et ses amis’ every evening and Ben helping me with my exercises throughout the day and reading a French children’s book with me in the evenings.

When Friday finally came Julia, Anne (who is in A2, but still thought the exercises were completely out of her range of ability) and I all wrote a mail to the school about or thoughts on the new classes.

I spent last Saturday relaxing completely and Sunday studying most of the day. Although the mail I received from the school on Monday was mostly a pat on their own backs, they did split up the class in two, so we were 15 instead of 25 and told our new teacher to differentiate the exercises a bit more to correlate with the levels.

For me this last week has been much better and I’ve been able to follow along in class alongside the others, mostly thanks to Madeleine having given me a crash course in most of the grammatical exercises we received. Julia hasn’t joined the virtual classes though, leaving me as the only A1 student present. But by now I’ve managed to almost entirely catch up on the A1 curriculum and even more.

I’ve slowed down my pace of studying a bit and am more focused on practising speaking with Ben and Eric and preparing the homework Madeleine sends me daily.

Ben has kindly been both waitress and cashier in several pretend shopping scenarios and both Eric and Ben have sat through my listings of the names of body parts. The sun has been out a few times throughout the week and Ben and I have taken advantage of it as much as possible, enjoying coffee and ice cream in the afternoon and jumping in the freezing pool when we need to cool down.

In the evening we all take turns cooking and Ben and Eric happily eat whatever creation I make on the evenings I volunteer. On Tuesday we celebrated my mum’s birthday with champagne, Vietnamese noodle soup and cherry crumble.

We still clap and shout every night from the terrace at exactly 8 pm to thank the medical staff, and now the neighbours around us have joined in as well.

A few days ago Ben and I started on ‘le Petit Prince’ and although it’s a difficult read, I really enjoy the whimsical way it’s written.

Yesterday, on Saturday, Eric took me with him to the nearby greengrocer for his weekly grocery shopping and at the shop he told me the names of all the fruits and vegetables there – luckily most of them were similar to the Danish or English word.

We’ve started our small traditions during the lockdown to differentiate the days a bit. So in the weekend we eat strawberries after lunch and dinner, on Saturday I take the day off completely from French (besides conversations with Ben and Eric), On Sunday I’m in charge of the lunch and then of course on the days that the weather is nice we drink coffee and eat ice cream.

I still go for runs regularly and for the first time since the lockdown started I didn’t see any police today.

This weekend has been incredible with lots of sun and I’ve spent all day outside tanning since Friday, reading book after book. In the last days I've read 'the Orange Girl', 'Sold', 'She Would be King' , 'Heartberries' and 'There There'. All phenomenal reads. I've just started 'the Underground Railroad' today.

When the sun is out and the sky is blue I really can’t complain much. But I wouldn’t mind being able to take a walk into the city centre, go for a run in the nearby park, give Ben a hug or maybe meet up with Julia (who’s by now just about the only of my friends still in France). But I am far far from being one of the unlucky people in this situation, so I enjoy the sun when it decides to show up and ´hygger´ with Ben and Eric, drinking a little more coffee and wine than usually and celebrating whenever we can find an excuse to do so.

This evening I had a virtual lesson with Madeleine, and Caroline joined for the last 15 minutes to chat. Eric, Ben and I enjoyed our very first dinner on the terrace with a few extra layers on and Eric's amazing leek pie.

Here’s a little sentence to show some of what I’ve learned so far in French:

‘Si je n’etais pas confinée, j’aimerais visiter ma tante et aller au café avec Julia. Je pourrais partir au bar ou aller à la plage.’

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