Hey! It’s Aiden and Austin! One of the coolest parts about living in France is seeing how differently a lot of things are designed. Today, on the way to school I noticed a public trash can being emptied, but alas, it was no ordinary trash can! No the French are not content with those run-of-the-mill trash cans. They put the opening to the trash can above ground, and the actual trash can below ground. It’s like a chute that goes to a underground dumpster. What’s really cool about this is that it can hold a lot more trash, therefore the dump truck has to come by less often which means less overall waste. Yay!
Another cool design I saw today was a self cleaning porta-potty. Yep, that’s right, they don’t have those cramped, stinky, unhygienic, bathrooms in France. This public toilet actually cleans itself after every use. I had to wait about 2 extra minutes after a person came out because the toilet and the room were being cleaned. Didn’t mind at all though! Pretty great design, if you ask me.
There’s also just small design features that make things 10 times better. For example, all toilets have two buttons, one flush for going #1 and one flush for going #2, so you can conserve water. Also popular in bathrooms are efficient hand dryer. I stress the word “efficient.” These things get the job done in 10 seconds flat. They’re nothing like the hand dryers in the US which take so long that after 30 seconds you just leave with your hand still slightly wet and dry them on your pants. Okay, let’s move on to how the French improve the dining experience. They have these spoons with little prongs on the side for when you leave the spoon inside a jar but you don’t want to get the handle of the spoon dirty so the prong allows you to put the spoon on the edge of the jar. Its pretty great, trust me.
Another great part of life in Montpellier is the amazing city layout and lack of traffic. The town has a brand new railway system known as “tam.” Built in 2012, tam is the preferred transportation of both adults and students, second only to walking. I am the farthest student from the center of town and although it would only take me half an hour to walk, riding the tram system gets me to la place du comodie in five minutes!
In stark contrast to the noisy, dirty, broken, and forever delayed MBTA that we all grown to looove so much, the tam is not only reliable, but well organized, and beautiful to look at! There are four specific lines that each go to different places in the city; one goes to the ocean and back, while another makes its way through the major attractions of the town. Each tam line also has its own car design. One is plastered with pink, yellow, and green flowers, while another looks somewhat like a pair of vineyard vines shorts with white seagulls on a blue background, and yet another looks like an intricate kaleidoscope placed on a black background.
Today each student stopped at the tam office building and had an unlimited ride pass made for them, courtesy of CSW. The rail system is going to be part of my daily routine and I can honestly say that I am looking forward to using it!