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Paris-Immersion School in the Dordogne-Languedoc-Aix & Lessons Learned

Paris-Immersion School in the Dordogne-Languedoc-Aix & Lessons Learned

Aug 1st, 2014, 08:47 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2012
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Paris-Immersion School in the Dordogne-Languedoc-Aix & Lessons Learned

Another Fabulous France Adventure

France is a long way from Hawaii, this I know.

What I did not know as I started out on my next adventure was how far away it would seem.

I suppose in my mind the adventure starts when the planning starts, long before I leave home. That is when I set my expectations. My attitude is brilliant, I am ready to take in the wonders of what I am about to experience-I am in the excitement of the grand adventure.

But truth be told, I had to fight with myself at times to keep my attitude in check during this trip-to be a world traveler that encounters the challenging side of travel and still keep that wonders of the world attitude.
... And then Immersion school, which was a whole different kind of challenge.

We, J from my French class in Hawaii, S, another French student from another class who I only met in person twice and in the back & forth of emails in the planning of this trip, set off to go to the Dordogne to an immersion school for a week. Because we have such a long way to go we decided to stop in Paris, with the thought of getting over jet lag so that we could be bright eyed and ready for school, then we would rent a car and travel to Cather country. After 4 days in Carcassonne we would split up and I would continue to Aix en Provence.

I have written a couple trip reports on this forum and have never written about the journey to get there, as the getting there has been long, but uneventful.

But this time it was different. This time I had some lessons to learn, some dues to pay.

First night was actually pretty good. We left on an overnight flight from our small home town airport. Being a small town there were a few people on the plane that I knew that were going to Germany and my seat mate turned out to be a neighbor that I had never met and she was going to Spain. She also knew the people going to Germany. It became a mini send off party within our 2 rows of seats- with everyone excited to start their adventures.

Waking up in Los Angeles, I regroup with J and S and we head to the nearest Starbucks; it is 5:30 AM LA time, but 2:30 AM body time.

While leisurely sipping our wake up in a cup, luckily we did just that and realized J is on another flight to Chicago which leaves an hour earlier then S and my flight to Chicago. Problem avoided for J, and 1st travel lesson of this trip - always check your itinerary in detail…don’t just assume since you are going to the same place as your friends traveling the same route you are on the same plane!

Next lesson coming up, when multiple planes have been rerouted to another airport don’t listen to the agents telling you don’t worry you will make your connecting flight. Figure out a new route right away.
FabulousFrance is offline  
Aug 1st, 2014, 09:15 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2006
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Hi FF,

jumping on board with you for a fabulous ride, by the looks of it.

i have a particular interest in language schools - I've spend 3 weeks so far at three different ones in Italy, and DH would like to go to a french one [with me I hope!] so I'm really keen to learn about your experiences.

keep it coming!
annhig is offline  
Aug 1st, 2014, 09:32 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2005
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I'm on board as well - sounds like it will be interesting, to say the least.
LCBoniti is offline  
Aug 1st, 2014, 09:43 AM
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Moi aussi!
TDudette is offline  
Aug 1st, 2014, 09:55 AM
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I cannot abide by the fact that we have been waiting more than one hour since the last instalment. Speed up! ;-)
kerouac is offline  
Aug 1st, 2014, 11:50 PM
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annhig, the school was a new experience for me-I see how it could become addicting.

kerouac-HA!

LC Boniti, TDudette & others reading my tale-here's more:

Three hours into our flight to Chicago me and the other passengers are comfortable in our seats knowing that our flight is only ½ hour from landing when the pilot comes on to tell us that yes, the rumor is true-what rumor, I’m thinking as I turn my attention from my book to his voice- he continues talking telling us about this rumor that there is smoke in the control tower in Chicago and we are being diverted to Denver.

Nooooo-wait-we are sooooo close to landing and Denver is the wrong direction-no I don’t want to go backwards-is what I start thinking, but stuck in the air with someone else in control what can you do but just go with it and say Damn! (And some more words not so quietly in your head).

We land in Denver and on the way to the customer service counter I go into the United Club we are passing. The nice agent there tells me "there is a flight leaving this afternoon to Frankfurt and we can book you on that flight with a connection to Paris, but we can’t do it here, you need to go to customer service".

When I get to the customer service counter there are 100s of people, because as you guessed it, our flight was not the only flight that could not land in Chicago, all planes from all over are not able to land in Chicago.

Waiting in line for about an hour we hear that our flight is going to leave, and please return to the boarding area ASAP.

I text J, and her plane landed in Milwaukee and they were told to stay on board as they will be leaving soon for Chicago.

Ok...this is good, with our long layover in Chicago we should all have time to make our connecting flight to CDG.

Settled in our same seats, we wait and wait and wait. Until we are told sorry, this flight has now been canceled-arghhhhhhh!

I don’t wait for S, who is behind me on the plane but hightail it over to customer service which now has a 4½ hour line.

I know this because this is how long it takes me to get up to the counter.

Simultaneously shuffling in the line I am listening to United’s message over and over as I am on hold the entire time, except when my phone battery is about to die and I have to go sit near a plug and wait, adjusting my attitude again and again, trying to find the quiet place in my mind among the throngs of people.

In line people are frustrated but, for the exception of a few, just taking it in stride, once again what can you do?

I overhear one man call his partner and tell them to call United and fix this, and a few other choice words.

We start chatting with people near us and hear about everyone’s plans that have been diverted; A son's graduation from boot camp that will be missed, a rendezvous with a girlfriend in Vienna to begin a bike tour that will be delayed.

I continually have to consciously adjust my attitude from frustration to looking at the positive side…at least we did not crash…that would really be the worst travel nightmare-so this is nothing but an inconvenience. An interruption and change of my well researched plans and schedule.

Next lesson-a reminder lesson-lighten up and be flexible in situations where you have no control.
FabulousFrance is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 01:52 AM
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what a nightmare - and inadvertently a reminder to pack a mobile charger in your hand-lugggage as if you use up your phone battery whilst trying to rebook the flight or just due to the delay, they may not allow you, or it, on the plane.

and congrats on your positive attitude - waiting to see how this pans out!
annhig is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 03:55 AM
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Wow I am definitely along for the ride! What a complete nightmare!!!
jamikins is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 05:52 AM
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I am also signing on! What a challenging start to your trip. It's hard to remain calm & positive in this kind of situation but you did it!
2010 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 07:48 AM
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FabulousFrance
It sounds as if you were traveling through Chicago when there was a snafu at the tower (actually a low rise building adjacent to O'Hare which supplements the high tower) when an air conditioner fan shorted out resulting in black smoke/burning rubber filling the building. As I recall, the evacuation of this building is what caused the shut down of tower operations and major chaos for the unfortunate travelers - namely, you - on that day. What a mess! But you got through it with panache (yikes, a 4 1/2 hour line, rerouting and delay after delay?) and are telling the tale.

Tuned in to hear more!
travelchat is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 07:53 AM
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Oh my no!!!
TDudette is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 11:10 AM
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More please! More please!
paris1953 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 03:47 PM
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travelchat-yes that was exactly it-

and it was trying and a nightmare for sure,
but in the words of that most excellent wordsmith maitaitom-"attitude is everything!"

Finally we are at the counter, and we meet Marie-France, a woman who shows us tout de suite that no matter what the customer is NEVER right.

I try and convince her to keep searching after she tells us the best she can do is put us up for the night in Denver, and we will need to be back at the airport at 5:30 am for our flight to San Francisco, yes that San Francisco, on the west coast, the opposite direction from Paris.

I ask her about the flight to Frankfurt, yes, M-F tells us, there is that flight but you don’t have time to get on it…wait what…you can’t hold it for 10 minutes for us…really I can walk very fast- but apparently not fast enough.

Ok, I give up, and S takes over trying to convince M-F to do better than San Francisco…but it still is not happening.

Then all of a sudden M-F softens and said, oh, I have to find you a good hotel after all you have been thru.

Then the agent next to M-F who is helping an older women on her way home to Indianapolis asked us if we will wait, so that she can go with us on the shuttle to the hotel.

What….really? You want us to wait some more! But once again what can you do?

Our new travel partner, V, is a widow from Vietnam who has lived in Indianapolis for almost 50 years now. V is stuck to us…wants to eat dinner with us, wants to get up super early so that she can take the shuttle back to the airport with us- even though our flight leaves 3 hours before hers-yes we are now her family.

All I want to do is take a shower and go to bed, but V is really stuck on eating dinner together. So we do.

And what do you know, I had the best bowl of white bean chili and Caesar salad and learned all about the courage that V had as a young girl to leave her home country and all she knew to come to this faraway land called America with her GI husband who she fell in love with in her home city that was being destroyed by the ravages of war.

Next two lesson come quick
- a one day delay in getting to Paris is nothing compared to what some people have to endure and it always feels better to be nice than not.
FabulousFrance is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2014, 02:24 AM
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I (with a host of others) am anxiously awaiting to hear more...I'm particularly interested to find out which immersion school you found in the Dordogne!
La_Tour_de_Cause is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2014, 03:26 AM
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moi aussie!
annhig is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2014, 08:30 AM
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I love this. Seriously.
LCBoniti is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2014, 10:00 AM
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When will "we" get there???
TDudette is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2014, 10:11 AM
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patience, TD. en arrive.
annhig is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2014, 10:20 AM
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I'm glad that Mme. Vietnam was there to help you put travel difficulties into perspective.

Of course, I already had in mind the stories of my family trying to get to safe places during WW2 and how much time was spent in the cellars of total strangers while the town was being bombed. I think that just about all of us have lost all perspective about the true meaning of "travel difficulties."
kerouac is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2014, 10:21 AM
  #20  
 
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Sunday is not necessarily a 'day of rest' so more please!!!
paris1953 is offline  

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