Thanks to inno and family682’s support, a new chapter of Les Interpretes has been released. Also, this has not been fully edited, so I will update with the fully edited chapter.
Firstly, we did not hold back on Les Interpretes on purpose; rather, we all have our own personal lives beyond this blog so all the crew of Les Interpretes were rather busy. Thanks for your understanding!
After a 10 hour flight heading in a westerly direction, I arrived in Paris around evening.
I took my luggage and departed. Foreigners with high brows and deep eyes passed by me while the sound of talk buzzed softly in the background. In a blink of an eye, I already knew I was in an unfamiliar city.
I wanted to take the high speed train at the south of Montpellier. After asking around, I boarded a bus, which travelled through the city towards the train station under the drizzle of light rain.
There was an evening mist in this floral city.
The scenery along the journey was so beautiful; one pair of eyes was simply not enough to fully appreciate everything.
The scenery was filled with ancient Chinese parasol trees, neon street lights, roads that have endured hundred years of rain and bleak-looking pedestrians. There was a pretty boy who was hurriedly walking a large dog along the street. There was also a mysterious girl who lit a cigarette by the window of a cafe while silently gazing outside. There was so much to take in. I could vaguely see the shadow of a tall tower, which was still a distance away. It was a faint impression. I gently knocked on the window and quietly muttered in French, “Eiffel, Eiffel”.
The foreigner in front of me turned around and asked me: “First time in Paris?”
I nodded my head, feeling a bit embarrassed. “Yeah, that’s right.”
I arrived at the train station at around 7. As I purchased the tickets, someone told me that the last train heading north had just departed and the next train was not until 6.30 the next morning. I had no other choice but to wait. The ticket seller took pity on me for my young age and the long waiting time I had to endure, so he gave me a 50% discount.
I took a seat on a bench as I waited, and wanted to remain like that until the next morning. I snacked on some biscuits that I brought along with me. As the crumbs fell to me feet, a large group of dark gray pigeons started to gather, jumping around and pecking at the crumbs.
I lost track of how long I had waited as the number of people in the train station grew less and less. Some tall policemen with large, ferocious dogs that were muzzled passed by. A few people standing a short distance away started whispering and occasionally threw glances at me.
How improper, I sneered at them in my mind. I was accustomed to solitude and have already mentally prepared myself before coming to this foreign land. Their whispers meant nothing to me, and whoever dares to give me trouble will know my wrath.
I recited a speech I had prepared inside my head in case something like this was to occur: I am a citizen of the People’s Republic of China and received my education in the Ministry of Education in the French Republic. I have been invited to study in France by the Paul Valéry University in Montpellier. If I receive any unfair treatment, I will be protected by my country’s Embassy, and I have the right of access to justice and-
Oh wait, this is a French democracy?
Okay, one more time.
The person who approached me was relatively young. He smiled, and in broken English asked: “Chinese? Japanese? Korean?”
I replied in French: “Chinese. I speak French.”
“That’s great.” He rubbed his hands, “Miss, you cannot stay here.”
“Why?” I was so close to blurting out my speech, but the person began to speak before I could start.
“This place is unsafe at night, single women better not stay here. Plus, the last train has already departed and the station will close in half an hour.”
The train station will close?
I was stunned for a moment. Why was that not stated in the teaching materials?
However, his attitude towards me was never unpleasant. The problem now was where am I supposed to go? It was already very late and even the cafes were closed.
“Do you understand what I’ve just said? Okay, I’ll repeat it again in English…”
I quickly stopped him with my hands and honestly told him: “Look at my luggage, I have no idea where to go.”
The young officer looked at me and had an expression that showed that he was in a difficult position and went back to ask his colleagues what he could do. In a round of discussion, the few people smiled at me in the process. Right now I felt that I was too impulsive and was making things difficult for others.
The young person came up to me and said: “There is a youth hostel nearby for prospective students. I do not know if there is still vacancies, but I can escort you to there. Are you okay with that? If not …….? “
The second suggestion he suggested was for me to go to a nearby police station to wait for the next morning’s train.
What kind of logic is this? Ending up in the police station on the first day of studying abroad? This is extremely unlucky.
I said: “Could you please take me to the youth hostel.” I looked at the few people over there and had some doubts. I smiled: “How am I supposed to know if they are really the police?”
The young person also laughed : “We are not the police, we’re the patrolling gendarmerie. I am an intern gendarmerie called Zeus Ferrandi, my service number is …… .”
I gave a reassuring look, smiled and said: ” ah, yes gendarmerie, haha …… “
He turned around and pulled out a small book that was written in Chinese: If I stumble upon any misfortune, I would have been taken away by an intern gendarmerie called Zeus Ferrandi. His service number is …… I was a little dazed. Who was it written to? Who will see these words?
Cheng Jia Yang.
I casually wrote his name in a messy manner.
Being tall sure was useful, my heavy box was lifted up easily by the young gendarmerie and he took big steps, leaving the train station in place of me.
On the way, we did not talk at all.
The youth hostel was not a far distance away. I was lucky there were still beds available. Prices have been lowered to 18 euros for young students around the world. I did not dare to think how much it cost in renminbi (Chinese currency).
After registering, the gendamerie said to me:” It is 2 o’clock now, what time do you have to board your train?”
I took out my train ticket and checked: “6.30.”
“Do not be late. Goodbye.”
“Thank you. Goodbye.”
I washed up, and lay on my bed feeling very awake.
Although the journey was tiring, but I felt excited and a feeling of novelty.
Where am I now? Oh Paris. The Paris that has the Eiffel Tower, the Paris that has The Louvre, the Paris that Napoleon was born in, and the Paris where Hugo is at…
The place that I am about to go is the picturesque Montpellier.
I had actually realised my dream.
But I also felt heart wrenched that the 18 euros that was able to accommodate me for 4 hours, after giving some money to my family, the rest of my savings that I had brought along was left with only a mere amount of a few hundred euros that I had put in my underwear.
I had to be careful in my spending.
I thought of the scene that just happened at the train station, and found my nervousness and carefulness amusing.
As I continued thinking, the sky soon turned gray and it was going to be dawn.
I looked at my watch, oh it was still according to the time in Beijing. Then the time now in Paris…
At this moment, someone knocked on the door. I opened the door and saw a tall French guy. I carefully looked and realised it was a young gendarmerie that had just ended his duty.
“Miss, it is 5.45 now. Please head to the train station and get onto the train after having your ticket checked. No hurries.”
“Okay, thank you.”
I closed the door, quickly changed my clothes and washed up.
The gendarmerie was still helping me carry my luggage, shipping it to the train station.
On the way I asked him: “Are French gendarmeries still responsible for escorting foreigners?”
“The staffs working at the train station has to ensure the safety of the citizens and foreigners.”
“Responsible for escorting?”
“Not really, I am off duty for my night shift. I am worried that you would sleep too late and delay the train. Anyways, it is convenient for me when I return to my hostel.”
“Oh, thank you very much.”
We entered the station, and I saw a few bullet-shaped high speed train that was stationary. Gendarmerie pointed out to me the ticket gate : “Please have your ticket checked here .”
I kept taking the train ticket out and then keeping it again that it made a small chip on the ticket.
The gendarmerie told me: “The train conductor will check your ticket, so please keep your ticket somewhere that is convenient to be taken out easily.”
Of course.” I said.
At this time, the train station had very few passengers.
I shook his hand, feeling very thankful towards this enthusiastic youth. I repeatedly thanked him.
He looked at the train: “Where are you heading towards?”
“Montpellier. I am going to learn about interpreting.”
“No wonder you are so eloquent in French.” The youth said while smiling, “Montpellier is a nice place. The weather there is warm and sunny.”
“You went there before?”
“I am from Montpellier.”
“Oh, you came to Paris to work?”
“ Oh yeah, you told me that yesterday.”
I had to get on the car and thanked him once again.
Young gendarmerie Zeus Ferrandi said to me: “All the best.”
It was a distance more than 1100 km. The high-speed train was speeding so quickly, it is no wonder it is known as the fastest and most secure transportation on land.
There weren’t that many people on the train. Some were conversing in soft voices while others were in deep sleep. As it was my first time taking the train, I lamented as I looked at the scenery along the way that went behind me so quickly that it caught people off guard, just like our lives that are full of twists and turns.