Anne-Sophie at UEA

An International Student of Literature in England.

The Christmas Holidays

Hi everyone, and first of all, late Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

This Christmas break is doing me so much good after a long, draining semester. I’ve been very busy since I came back home and yet, it feels like I haven’t done that much. Each day passes very quickly and there is always so much to do. I wish days were 48 hours long! I’ve spent as much time as possible with my family and the ones I love, as if to recharge my batteries. Although three months abroad can go quickly, you really start missing familiar faces and familiar places.  I hope I’ve fulfilled my promise to my brother of doing a lot with him! I didn’t manage to play as much music as I wanted but it’s getting tough with four different instruments to work on!

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On the night I came back home, all my family was waiting for me at the airport and I can’t tell you my relief and happiness when seeing my parents’ car and my brother! When we got back home, I saw the most beautiful and hilarious cake ever on the dining room table, made by my mother to celebrate my 21st birthday a bit late. It felt good to be home and to be able to relax! I insisted on making the Christmas tree with my parents and it made our flat look much warmer and, obviously, Christmassy!

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As usual, I went to Nice, Cannes, Antibes and even the beautiful sea-side town Théoule-sur-mer that I didn’t know to get out of my tiny town. I enjoyed walking there, I enjoyed the sea and of course… I enjoyed Christmas Markets! Because the whole point of December is the build up to Christmas day and it’s not the same without Christmas Markets, especially when the region you live in is weirdly very warm and sunny even at that time of year. I liked the one in Cannes with my family and had warm wine, warm chestnuts and chuuuroooos, but the one in Nice was really amazing with lots of decoration near it, on Place Masséna! This year, they’ve made it so big with lots of local artisans (the Verrerie de Biot, for instance, check it out) and attractions for children. I love Nice in winter a lot more than in summer, it’s much quieter and nicer, especially on the beach!

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Cannes

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It looks like the Weeping Angels!

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Théoule

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Biot

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Polygone Riviera

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Antibes

The remains of the November terror attack in France are very clear and I was a bit surprised at first. Security is reinforced everywhere, but especially in crowded places, and it seems really extreme sometimes. Christmas Markets are therefore really protected and it’s become usual to see soldiers in khaki clothes with machines guns on the chest patrolling next to you. I read a really interesting article about it in The Guardian and someone was saying it’s more distressing than reassuring… I tend to agree with it. But we never know, right? Similarly, in shopping centres, security guards check handbags during peak hours. My blog focuses primarily on my studies and experience of England but it’s also a way for me to record my university years and seeing my native country change is part of it. Anyway, back to my life!

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Nice

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I had a really nice Christmas Eve and Christmas day with my family – we celebrated a bit early since my parents having a lot of work at the moment due to reinforced security – and got lots of amazing things that I feel very grateful for! We celebrated Christmas in true French fashion, which I’ve realised is quite different from what I think English people do. First of all, French people aren’t crazy about Christmas/winter jumpers like in England. This is something that really hit me last year! In France, people celebrate Christmas Eve with a big dinner on the 24th and usually wait until midnight – the birth of Jesus – to put baby Jesus in the crèche/nativity scene (for religious reasons or merely to follow traditions) or for Father Christmas to come. Traditional Christmas food consists of a lot of sea food (mainly oysters, but snails and frogs for some stereotypical French families, haha) and foie gras which can be a problem for vegetarians. So this year, we decided to make raclette, a winter or ‘ski’ meal that consists of potatoes and melted cheese! It’s delicious (and stinks!). Like in England, we opened our presents in the morning of Christmas day but some people do it the previous night. Boxing Day does not exist in France and I’m still not sure what Boxing Day is about to be honest. New Year’s Eve was awesome and really fun with my boyfriend and his family!

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The holidays have almost reached the end and I’m getting mentally ready to go back to Norwich and face millions of books to read but that’s much better than essays! I’m also getting ready for a very busy and exciting January! My boyfriend will come to visit me the weekend I get back to Norwich, the following weekend I’m going to see Derren Brown’s new show Miracle in London and I might see my godmother before it, the following weekend I’ll be in Southampton for my boyfriend’s birthday and a few days later, we’re going to London together to see the amazing Steven Wilson play (again). Talking about gigs, I already got tickets to see Peter Hook & The Lights perform Joy Division and New Order songs in March at the Waterfront!

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This is very exciting but I know it means I have to work even more and harder to compensate for all this. It’s worth it though, I’ll manage! I think it’s the price to pay to remain sane and happy at university to be honest.

I hope you all had a nice Christmas break and wish you a good and successful 2016!

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