And we’ve made it to the end. This will be my last diary entry in this little series, which feels completely unreal to think about. At the moment I’m sitting on the train on my way back to Denmark after almost five months in France. And to be completely honest with all of you, I don’t want to go home at all. I definitely have a lump in my throat and a stone in my stomach just thinking about it. Not that I’m not excited to see everyone again, but these last two weeks have been absolutely incredible. Except for the little Covid scare (I’ll get back to that in a second), these two weeks have been everything I’d hoped my time in Montpellier would be. What is making me so sad to go home, is that I feel like my life in Montpellier have really and truly just started two weeks ago and just at the height of it all, I’m saying goodbye and going home, while my new group of friends will continue on without me. But once again that’s unfortunately a part of traveling and I would probably be saying the same thing if I stayed for another month. I do have a lot to look forward to back home, but right now all I want to do is turn right around and head back to Montpellier.
Anyway, enough of my sulking, I still have just around 30 hours to do so before reaching home. Here’s what I’ve been up to after leaving the Workaway in Dax.
I met up with Julia for lunch Thursday, in the process also meeting some of her classmates, since she’d just started school at Accent Français again – Alessandro, Megumi and Felipe, all of whom I’d taken the online classes with, but never met in person, as well as new students Michelle, Nik and Jessica. We all stood talking for a bit (in French of course), quickly making a WhatsApp group and agreeing to meet up the following day.
And just like that we'd switched over to talking solely in French together, both of us having improved a lot during the 3 weeks apart. We spent the day walking around and catching up, before heading home again. Not long after Ben, Eric and I headed out to eat at tiny vegetarian restaurant ‘La Cabane’, where I’d invited them for dinner as a thank you for everything they'd done for me these last months. We had such a lovely evening, chatting away happily over the meal and taking a walk through the area afterwards. I really am so grateful for the months with Ben and Eric, especially during the lockdown, where we managed to still have fun and celebrate. They've become like a second family to me and I’m already missing them, having gotten so accustomed to seeing them every day. But hopefully it won’t be too long before they visit Denmark again, and I know that I’m always welcome in Montpellier.
Friday evening Julia came by and we got ready together, dancing around in my room to music and chatting excitedly,
before meeting up with Felipe, Jessica, Megumi and Michelle in the city centre and finding a cheap pizza place to eat at together. The pizzas ended up taking almost two hours, but we bought a couple of bottles of wine to share and had so much fun talking and getting to know each other.
Much later in the evening we headed to Cubanito bar and danced the night away there, for the first time really partying in Montpellier. I didn’t get home until three, the whole night out was probably incredibly stupid what with the risk of Covid and all that and I spent the next day nursing a bit of a hangover. But it was definitely one of the best nights I’d had in France and I couldn’t really get myself to regret it.
The first half of Saturday I spent getting to know Ben’s daughter, son in law and two grandchildren a little bit better, which was lovely after having heard talk of them so much. The second half I spent walking through Montpellier with Julia, chatting about the night prior.
Sunday afternoon Felipe, Michelle, Julia and I took the tram and then the bus to the beach, spending the day talking in the waves and lazily bronzing in the sand.
Michelle had to go home early, but Julia, Felipe and I took the bus a little further up the chore to Palavas-les-Flots, where we strolled down the promenade, ate dinner and then at 8 pm went to the amusement park there, trying out the different rides for two hours. We had so much fun together, screaming and laughing and later taking the tram back exhausted, but happy.
Monday morning I took the bus to Bedarieux and spent four days with the whole family there: Madeleine, Phillip, Caroline and Nicholas (just back from Taiwan). It was so nice to see them all again and we spent the afternoon walking around a nearby village, taking a short hike up to the church at the top of the hill there and visiting a little local museum.
Unfortunately I started feeling really sick that evening going to bed and through the rest of the stay we socially distanced as much as possible, while I tried to get over my cold. We didn’t really think the chance of it being Covid was big, but just to be certain I went to get tested at the local Covid tent Wednesday morning. Thursday afternoon the results luckily came back negative. Though I spent Tuesday feeling horrible and doing nothing, Wednesday Madeleine and I went on a little walk to a nearby mill and a couple of old surrounding ruins
and Thursday we went to check out the nearby windmill farm and climbed up a little hill so Madeleine could take pictures of it for an article. We still managed to have a good time, even with the social distancing; eating together, playing a couple of games and watching ‘the Sound of Music’ and ‘Asterix and Obelix’ two of the evenings.
It was bittersweet hugging goodbye Friday morning (though I was relieved that my results came back negative so I didn’t have to stay and self-isolate), but I’m thankful that I really got to know them all much better. And I really don’t know how far I would’ve gotten in learning French, if it hadn’t been for Madeleine’s afternoon Zoom courses every single day during the two months of quarantine.
I spent the afternoon walking around Montpellier and eating lunch at ‘the Coffee Shop’, while waiting for my phone screen to get fixed. And then without much of a break I met up with Felipe and Julia in the late afternoon, all walking together to Felipe’s house, where we spent the evening making homemade pizza together and dancing along to Danish, German and Colombian music, Alessandro joining us a little while later.
We ate together and quickly made our way into the city centre where we met up with Michelle, Megumi, Jessica and Nik at 9 pm. We got drinks outside at Cubanito and spent the evening talking and later dancing – this time around much smarter, everyone wearing masks while dancing inside (dancing in the heat of the French summer while wearing masks is very very hot by the way). When the bar closed around 1 am we made our way to the tram station to catch the last tram home, having had another memorable night out.
Saturday afternoon I met up with Julia, Michelle and Felipe (who was late as always) at Gare Saint-Roch, where we took the train together to Sete, a harbour town nearby.
We spent the day exploring the town and at the very hottest moment of the day walking all the way up the Saint-Clair hill because we missed the bus.
The view there was worth all the sweating though and the tiny church at the top was just as adorable as Ben had said it would be.
The walk back down was much better and we soon found a spot to sit and eat our dinner, before catching the train back home around 10 pm.
And then, just like that, we made it to Sunday, my last day in Montpellier. I was up early to do a bit of grocery shopping, Michelle, Julia and Felipe coming around noon to spent the day at the pool, while Ben and Eric was gone for the day. We ate lunch together and spent the entire afternoon playing with a beach ball in the pool and chatting. Alessandro showed up a little later and made us all Brazilian cocktails.
Around 6 pm I said very sad goodbyes to Michelle, Felipe and Alessandro, having quickly grown very close to the group. Luckily, Julia stayed for dinner, which we ate late, Ben and Eric joining us to chat. With a lump in my throat I accompanied Julia to the tram and waited with her there, both of us very teary-eyed when we said goodbye. Getting back I hugged Ben and Eric goodbye, even closer to crying. I’ve always hated goodbyes, but I do think that this whole day of goodbyes has been the hardest yet.
And that takes us to Monday, today, as I’m sitting on the train to Lyon, wherefrom I’ll catch an overnight Flixbus to Berlin, then a train to Hamburg and finally another train to Nyborg, arriving tomorrow evening. I've just waved goodbye to Julia, Felipe, Michelle and Alessandro, who all came to the station to see me onto the train.
And although my five months in Montpellier definitely didn’t turn out as planned, I’ve piled up so many good moments with so many good people. And I’m proud of how far I’ve come with my French, now talking and writing in French with an entire friend group as well as Ben and Eric. It might not be completely correct, but it works.
I’m so thankful for my time in Montpellier, Bedarieux and Dax, it’s been such an experience. And hopefully it won't be too long before I'm back again.