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ReportsMonday, 21 May 2001
Menen (B) --> Lille (France) Today I crossed the French border by train and arrived in the pitoresque city of Textiles: Lille!
I still had one train ticket left with the Go Pass I got from Karen in Ghent, so I took the train from Menen to Kortrijk, crossed the French border and arrived at the station of Lille.
There I contacted my new hosts Virginia and Alban, who both study in Lille. I came one day before they had a really heavy exam, so I was a welcomed break in their study period.
After Virginia and Alban picked me up at the Place du Géneral de Gaulle (amazing square this is!), they gave me a quick tour through the city by car and found a nice place on the terrace to drink something in the hot shining sun.
Virginia studies some sort of combination between Psychology-Kinology, that's - as I understood it - some sort of psychological massage. Alban studies part time Infographica and Webpublishing and has a part time job next to it.
Virginia was the one with the knowledge of English, so she had to translate her conversations with me to Alban most of the time. I tried to understand them talking French and I do a little bit, but they talk faster than I learned the French language at school.
Around 6.30 in the evening we all got to their little apartment, just outside of the historical centre of Lille. While Alban went to do some grocery shopping for dinner, Virginia let me free on her computer.
She also thought it would be a great idea to send emails to the French media, just to get me more invitations from people in French - because the list is pretty short and the country too big.
So I helped her write the perfect email to be send out to French radio, televisions and newspapers. I provided my English texts and she wrote everything in her words in French. We'll see how that will work out...
When Alban got back I handed this couple The Gift which I got from Jurgen this morning: it were six bottles of some very rare Belgium beers, some even selfmade by beerbrewing families). "That means we are going to drink beer tonight!" Virginia stated. Alban and Virgina looked at each other and thought about what they should give the next person....
During dinner (self-topped pizza and fresh vegetables next to it) I had a tough discussion about the French culture.
For example: the French don't accept English words in their dictionary, which is almost a habbit in The Netherlands. The worldwide uses word for 'Computer' became 'Ordinator'. For all common international words, the French have their own language versions.
And on the radio, there is a rule that some 90 percent of all the music has to be originally French music, the rest may be Spanish or English.
For me that looks they are closing their eyes for the rest of the world, but Virginia and Alban really agreed on those regulations.
I still think that the French close their own borders with this over-protection of their culture. They don't get any messages from another country and another problem: the English language is for most French people unknown.
I think I'll have those discussions for a while, especially after writing about it here, because I'll long run through France ahead.
We all got to bed early. They'll have school exams tomorrow and I'll need all day to get to this special city, which can take a while by hitch-hiking. You'll find out tomorrow...
Total ammount of money I have spent 'till now:
Thanks for all the supporting emails!
Have you seen the tracking map on Ludo's website yet? It's in Dutch, but you'll see a lot!