Lamees Hejazi
Nov 25, 2022

Erasmus in Montpellier 25 years later! What?

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4 min read

Did you hear the phrase "patience is a virtue"? A dream of a 16 year old Jordanian girl of becoming a medical student at the oldest school of medicine in the world became a reality as soon as the plane touched down, 25 years later!  Can you believe it?! I am admiring Montpellier from the little plane window while remembering my journey! I started medicine in Lebanon then moved to Lithuania, and during specialty I applied for a training in Montpellier but the pandemic hit. I honestly forgot about it. Today I come a graduated, practicing surgeon for a training in Montpellier. Imagine my surprise when I got the call. To start with, I take a minute to appreciate the Mediterranean climate- the healthiest climate; well, at least for me. That breeze of not too hot and not too cold that is felt as soon as one steps outside the plane. What are we waiting for, Allons-y!

The plan is to find the Algerian-French local at the airport and drop the luggage.  There he is! The ride begins and I have all sorts of questions on my mind: what makes l'Arc de Triomphe special, where is the school of medicine, where is the hospital I will be training at, who is Gui de Chauliac and that is only the start.  Yet, I am a good listener and one of the things I am learning from him is that Mosson, one of the first areas in Montpellier to be chosen for settlement by immigrants, is the least fancied area of Montpellier. Nonetheless, the spectacular stadium where PSG were coming in February is in, you guessed it, Mosson! As he explains the transport system with excellent detail, I place my French sim card in my phone. I also get the chance to enjoy the most delicious Asian buffer dinner with a Mexican doctor and a retired teacher from Guadeloupe. They give me advice on the helpful phone applications in Montpellier, as we have a walk by the lake. I make sure to call my family to let them know I am well and head to sleep land and dream about the next day at the hospital, not as a medical student, but now after all of those years, as a specialist in training.

I don't know where the "slept like a baby" came from? I slept like an adult who does not have a baby! I can feel the history walking around, the smell of croissant at the boulangerie never fails to give me positive vibes, positive that I will get lost on my first day at the maze, aka the hospital. Hospitals are always a maze the first time you visit but soon you become the shortcut expert. Montpellier on the other hand is such a simple, yet sophisticated city.  I am following the trams' path to the city center and within an hour or so of walking I find myself at La Comedie. What a beautiful and busy square. Your girl is going live to show everyone the breathtaking architecture and the spectacular diversity. The sun is shining so why not try every little street I can find. First I reach rue de l'universite and had the most delicious cheese and thyme sandwich, a small turn and I made it! The school of medicine founded in 1220- Gui de Chauliac, LaPeyronie! Those great surgeons of France. I am in my zone! Then I walk further and meet Mme Sophie near the Arc de Triomphe- I can tell you Mme Sophie that you will be my hairdresser during my stay since you are telling me so much about the history here.  It is just amazing how every street takes you to discover a different area that you had no idea would even be there! I passed by the polygone and treated myself to a red raincoat inspired by the colors of le drapeau français. Guess who is excited about the rain now!

As the second day at the hospital comes to an end I keep thinking that maybe waiting till the age of 31 to come visit Montpellier is better, since maturity is important to appreciate the little things. Today I am set off on visiting Etang de l'Or. En route les musketeers! First stop, the markets at Philippides, you have got to see the varieties of France they have to offer. Saint Roch train station is where I take a small turn to be surprised by Rue Verdun! Oh Mon Dieu how it was almost hiding, but I found it! The buildings are ominous. Suddenly, the stomach calls the brain, and the taste buds explode as I enjoy my mouthwatering Mediterranean dish. Monsieur le pussycat at the corner enjoyed with me too.  As I am heading to Etang, I am appreciating every detail on the way, the trees are planted in a straight line, giving such freshness to the air, my eyes sparkled as I saw the golden bed of sand ahead; that feeling I got as I planted my feet in those granules of gold was indescribable. The sea is another story. Have you tried a picnic by the sea? Trust me, you want to! Take the French cheese, the raisins and those delicious nuts and juicy French figs and enjoy. Just be careful not to feed that one bird unless you have enough for all its cousins too. That was a sunset to remember, mesmerizing!

A doctor cannot promise to go out every single day but those are just the first few days, but I can surely promise you that it is never too late to tick that one last wish on the bucket list. Paper time in the Pays de Coque! Then I will be roaming around for sure. Le Chateau d'Or is on my mind for next week. Luckily for me my weekends are quiet free so Marseille, Nice, Monaco, Camargue, here I come! Follow me on social media to tag along on this adventure.

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