Toulouse isn’t love at first sight.
Toulouse first impressions
When my friend came to pick me up from the train station after I landed, we were driving on the road and passed many ‘pink’ buildings. They didn’t leave a good impression on me at all.
Instead of portraying the picture of being romantic, I could only associate it with was the little countryside village where I lived with my grandma when I was a kid.
The buildings were more or less the same colour, and there was nothing dreamy about it. The colour goes together with the chaos and filthiness with that village that I never really enjoyed that much — still embedded deeply in my consciousness.
It was also a drastic change for me.
After being a full-time traveler for two years, and with the beach almost always just five minutes from where I lived, it was so hard to get used to a new lifestyle in Toulouse.
I missed the sunshine, the beach, the fresh fruits and vegetables, the friendly Australian people who’d always smile at you when they bump into you on the street, in the park, at the beach…
Toulouse has its moments, but my heart was elsewhere.
One with the wind
One thing I was looking forward to the most was the winter. Ever since I found my new passion snowboarding, I solemnly declared that the mountains would forever be my eternal love.
15th of December, 2019, I finally made it to one of the ski resorts in the Pyrenees mountains. I still remember how my heart was filled with joy and excitement when I was sitting on the bus, getting closer and closer to the mountains covered with snow.
I always admire those kinds of people with passions, the ones who never yawn, never say a commonplace thing, but still burn, burn, burn, like exploding fireballs. For that reason, whenever I find something I genuinely enjoy, I’d always carefully and attentively protect it, nurture it and save it in a special place in my heart.
How to describe the feelings of snowboarding in the mountains?
It was like having a small contest with the breeze. I try to chase it, and it will kiss my face when I get closer and faster. There’s always something higher and more significant to cross and challenge: a higher mountain, a steeper slope, a new trick.
There’s still room to get better, and you could never be perfect. Time would stop. To leave only, the music, the snow under my board, the mountain, and myself.
I could hardly find anything more romantic than this.
Magic all around me
Like it happened 100 times already. I missed the bus again.
When I returned the equipment to the rental shop, I asked the staff if there are any other options back to Toulouse. They replied that the only option would be taking a taxi, which costs more than 200 euros. Alright, maybe it’s time to pull out my old trick hitchhiking again.
I was sitting on the chair thinking about different strategies if I couldn’t get anyone to pick me up. At the same time, one of the staff went to a balcony to check and came back to me, saying, “The bus is still there, but you need to hurry up.”. All of a sudden, two of them run to me, pulling out of my boots, another one my helmet, some other people clapping there hands, giving some rhythms. I had no idea what was going on, and for a moment I wasn’t sure if I was watching some sort of drama or it was indeed a reality.
When I finally realised that I needed to hurry up, I didn’t even have time to tie up my shoelaces and started to run crazily to the bus. Halfway there, I saw one of the staff from the rental shop waved at me, yelling, “Hurry up! Hurry up!”. It turns out that when I was getting lost at the shop, he stopped the bus so I could catch it.
Out of breath, I finally reached the bus, and I heard the clapping and cheering of the staff from the rental shop behind me. It again took me away from real life. I wasn’t sure if I was in a movie or having a dream. It’s precisely at that moment that I officially fell in love with France and the people. I guess it wasn’t such a big deal. Still, I like how French people could turn an ordinary experience into something dramatic. You have to be the person who’s in it to truly get it.
I couldn’t stop smiling on my way back to Toulouse. I started to think about all the beautiful details of everything around me:
- How charming and relaxed people are.
- All the concerts I have been to.
- The lovely park I went running every weekend, and how different and special each of my classmates is…
I always thought I’m the sort of person who never takes things for granted, but until they experience in the Pyrenees did I realise how much I missed before. That experience from the rental shop is probably the most significant gift I received in Toulouse. They’ll continuously remind me to be always live in the moment and stay wild.
I know that many years later, whenever I think about my life in France, this part will always come first to my mind. It has already become part of me.
Tintin Yuan is a Chinese student at TBS pursuing her Master of Science in Data Marketing Management.