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Paris revisited.

Paris was almost two and a half years ago. It changed, well, everything. There was no life altering moment, but it opened my eyes. I was forced to sit up and see the world far more clearly than I ever had; the wide world, and my own world. I have always tried to make the most of every second, but that year was a biggie.

This December, for the first time since 2009, I am going back to Paris.

For some reason that has made me write again. I have wanted to write, so much, but the past two years have been something of a throwing everything in the air, seeing where they land, then starting to make sense of it all. It has been exciting, enlightening and empowering and I think (touch every piece of wood in sight, though if fate has other designs so be it) I’m more sure of where I am now.

I guess I’m looking forward to being in Paris as the person I always wanted to be in Paris. This is the girl I’d always dreamed of being. The only unfortunate irony is that I had to spend a year there as a lost and lonely little girl, and to grow because of that, to ever become this person I wanted to be. I accept that it had to be that way, but I am grateful that I have now moved on and finally get to see Paris with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

Only worry is that this time, I might have trouble leaving…!

The final days

Just thought I’d do a quick run down of my final days in Paris!

Sooo back to Wednesday 22nd, that evening I went to the host family once more.  It really was lovely, and they have been so nice offering to have me back to stay and things, I really hope we do keep in touch.  I said the kids were welcome to come stay here if they wanted to inprove their english and I hope they will!

That weekend, Paul and his parents came to visit.  It was so good to go round the touristy bits one last time.  We had a beyond perfect evening on Saturday, walking down from the Louvre at sunset, through the Tuilleries.. the whole thing was golden, and we watched it set behind the Arc de Triomphe.  Once we got to the Arc it was dark so we went up it and saw everthing lit up, including the HUGE looking tour eiffel.  Crazy beautiful :)  I think the boy was actually a bit sad about leaving :p  I guess he has spent an unusual amount of time here coming to visit.  I hope he does miss it too so we go back lots!

My last week was the LONGEST and BUSIEST ever.  By this point I’d said most of my goodbyes and I was just too excited to come home.  Unfortunately I still had teaching to do, and lots of admin :( On Monday I had to return my internet equipment (which cost £15.. yet 2 days later I recieved postage paid labels with which to send them.. nice.  Stupid SFR.. NEVER AGAIN) and in the evening I went to the conversation club to say good bye.. it was actually pretty sad and I have felt so grateful to those ladies for making me feel a bit safe and looked after :)  Mom arrived in the car on Wednesday and luckily found a carparking space.  That day I had to go change lots of euros to dollars (I’m not going to NY till September but I figured it was cheaper than changing money twice), and then close my bank account.  The latter seemed to be rather straight forward but we will see in June, when the money should be transferred!

On Friday mom and I had an uber packing/cleaning day.   My mom used to work during the summer in south of France, and her bosses, who she was quite close to, now live in Paris; so on Friday evening we went for dinner with them.  They were INSANE but utterly lovely, and it was great to meet someone from my mom’s past, and to speak lots of French.  I was also very impressed with how much French my mom spoke.. who knew?!  Friday was bank holiday in France, and I swear the whole city of Paris felt happy and relaxed for once, it was BIZAARE!

Saturday was an unplanned, pretty much perfect last day.  At lunch time I went to meet all the girls for a picnic at Sian’s.  Then we went out as sun came out and went for a wander and sit down in the Jardin de Luxembourg.  Again, so grateful at having had these friends in Paris..  friends really are your lifeline, and I hope so much that we all stay in touch.

I had planned to have a big wander around Paris on my own but I ended up staying with the girls for most of the day so I only had time to quickly pop to my favourite place in Paris, the Louvre, and have a little last look around (especially at my favourite view of Paris, from the top floor of the Richelieu wing) and then head back to the appartment.  That evening, Molly came round and she, my mom and I had a picnic FEAST including lots of french patisserie cakes 😀 It was nice to watch the sun go down on that skyline and see the eiffel tower and sacre coeur lit up one last time.  I might not ever get to see that exact view ever again.

On Sunday morning we got up stupidly early, packed the car then waited for the landlord to come round.  I got ALL my deposit back, yey! (well clean meeee).  Then mom and I had one last breakfast in the cafe opposite Pere Lachaise and then we set off home.  We managed to get an earlier ferry, and we rolled up in the Valley at the not too awful hour of 12 midnight.

So that was Paris..

:)

Maya xx

The countdown..

So my time in Paris is almost at an end.  I will be back in England on May 4th.  I write this now because my internet should be cut off tomorrow ready for my departure, and so I may not have chance to update the blog until I’m on the other side of the water.

I don’t know what to say now! I guess there’s too much to say.  Paris itself has meant so much to me.  It’s an experience I will never regret or forget.  It has been awfully hard, and I think the trials of moving to a new country have changed me and made me more strong than I ever expected to be.  It wasn’t always enjoyable and yet I would recommend it to ANYONE, because of how much it tests you, and puts things into perspective, and makes you realise how capable you really are.  This was the real world.  When I started at university in 2006 I was completely underwhelemed.  I had been so excited to enter an adult world that uni just wasn’t.  Yes it was fun, but not what I was expecting and not what I really wanted/ needed.  Looking back on my year abroad I think I’ve finally found that new adventure I was looking for.  It had pushed my boundaries so that now, my life ahead of me has never looked so magical.

What have I got from this year abroad? Shall I do a list?! Why not :p

  • A life long love of langauges.  Though I haven’t actually improved tremendously, for some reason my DESIRE to learn new languages has quadrupled.  Because I wasn’t improving my french as much as I wanted, I was forced to research alternative ways of doing this, and now have so many websites, books, ideas etc for how to continue improving once I’m home.  I even desperately want to learn dutch now too; again like french, just for the love of it.
  • Communicating and dealing with people, expecially services.  To put it plainly, after dealing with horrendous french customer services, when I barely speak the language, I will never again fret over doing it all in English.  On a more subtle level I think my patience has improved, and knowing how to deal with different types of people.
  • Technology. Interestingly in this odd day and age, my experience has not just been of being in a new country; but also of being away from my own country.. which with the age of the internet has actually been a thorough testing and expanding of my use of technology.  I’ve always loved it, but this year I have depended on it.  Any news, info, music, films, correspondance.. it has almost solely relied upon my laptop and internet connection.  Yes I had french tv and ads and newspapers, but for when I wanted content from my own country (which let’s face it was ALL THE TIME) then internet it was.  My use of blogs, news sites, social media, skype, email has increased immeasurably.  And my INTEREST in all this, good lord has skyrocketed, to the extent that I’m pretty keen to involve it somewhere in my career now.  And yes, maybe I have spent more time on the internet and less time soaking up this country.. and thus have lost out somewhat on what I could’ve learnt here.  But what I have learnt about social media and the way that it is affecting me, and the whole world, I believe was worth what I sacrificed.
  • My understanding of the world.  Both in terms of living here and of learning about technology.  I have always believed that to travel and discover new people and cultures is one of the most sucessful ways to learn and to grow.  This year has completely reconfirmed that view.  I have met some incredibly interesting people from different walks of life, and certainly with different opinions.  Coincide that with all that has gone on in the world this year, with Obama’s election and the financial crisis, and I feel like everything I have learnt and studied during my childhood is finally finding some application.  I’m starting to really understand the abilitites and the realities of society, and especially what my place within it may be.  I am so grateful to be growing like I am and also so very excited.
  • The word Home.  Now my views on this have somewhat waivered during the course of the year, but what an incredible thing to be given, a refreshed view on that place where you’ve spent your first 2o years.  I know I am very lucky to have had that as many people don’t.  Probably if I hadn’t been away I would not be able to appreciate what an incredible and irreplaceable thing is that place that you call home.  Where your biggest growing was done, where your family are, where your very true friends are.  I will always need to explore and to get away and to travel, but home will always be home and it is truly my soul visualied and put on a map.
  • The boy.  Now I know getting too personal OR too romantic on this blog isn’t something I really care for.. but this has to be said because it’s a big one.  We agreed to stay together during this year abroad healthily accepting that if it didn’t work then it didn’t work and that we were sensible enough to accept that.  The point is, it did work, and fantastically.  It has been wonderful to have someone to share even the most insignifant moments with, as well as someone to make me keep going when I almost couldn’t stand it any longer.  He has been my rock and I am beyond excited for the year ahead with him, and I am just very very thankful.
  • Paris.   Because it will be with me forever.  It truly is as magical as people believe.  I would love (and really hope) to have apartment here when  I’m older, to let my children feel, even more, what I have felt a little being here.  I often felt alone being in a new country, but wandering the streets of Paris, I would forget that.  It is beautiful and spritual and I am so glad that I will always have it in my memory and hopefully in my future too.
  • This Blog.  Oh blog :p I guess this links with the technology thing, but it has been such a great experience to finally stretch my fingers and try writing for everyone to see.  This goes for my tumblr too.  If I’m honest, I don’t feel I’ve done nearly as much as I wanted to with this blog, mainly due to time constraints and stress!  But I have definately made sure to record everything I have done, which was my primary aim, and I am glad I’ll always have all the memories written down!  I guess the question now is where do I go from here?  As I take steps into the social media world, I guess I would hope that my blog could become something alot more worthwhile than I feel it is now.  Yes my experiences here in France were kind of interesting, but I know alot of it was annecdote.  There are so many things I am interested in now that I would love to write more substantial posts on.  So maybe I’ll start there for now.  I’ll keep this blog going but from now on it will be about more general things, the things I am interested in.  And we’ll see how it goes!

À Bientôt Paris! xx

This time in 2 weeks I’ll be back in my beautiful England :)

This week has failed somewhat! On coming back from Strasbourg I was hoping to use my free week to get on with alot of work.  But, following from my last post, there was a problem.  Most of my uni work is reflections upon my experience and the culture here in France.  Yet right now I don’t want to think about France.  I feel like I’m rolling down the hill towards England, and to try and stop it and focus back on France is far too uncomfortable now, and I imagine will be until I am back home.

It’s funny but I actually cannot read the first month of blog posts from September! It hurts me to believe I went through all that alone.  I’m glad I got through it, and I am proud, but I don’t want to remember it right now :)

I had a lovely weekend though, making the most of my last weeks here.  On Saturday Charlotte, from uni, and I went for a long wander round the centre, gossiping, got some dinner too and then came back to mine to hang out and gossip some more!

On Sunday Emma and I got up early and went for a wander around Marche de Puces then we headed into the centre to Angelina, the famous tearooms.  We had their famous hot chocolate and a cake each.  It was literally liquid chocolate and incredible.  Very similar to Betty’s Tearooms in Yorkshire :) But with a parisian twist!  After that we headed down to the Arc de Triomphe and climbed up, as all museums and historical monuments in France generally are now free to under 26s!  I hadn’t been up since the first time I came to Paris, and the views were utterly spectacular!

On the way back I realised that I had somehow lost my Navigo Pass (for the metro).  Luckily, as a Paris resident, you can have it replaced for a charge, and your monthly credit is still on it.  Which was lucky, but I still didn’t enjoy the hugeeee queue today to get it replaced :(

2 weeks left; Paul and his parents coming to visit on Thursday, leaving on Sunday; mom coming on Wednesday in the car.  Once I stop feeling fed up I may well start with the emotional ‘the end’ posts :p

You have been warned.

Au Revoir! xx

Coming to an end.. :(

On Monday evening, Lauren, Em, Becka and I went to the ‘Dinner du Printemps’ at the conversation group.  It was such a lovely night and wierd to realise how grateful I’ve been to this group of people for making me feel welcome!  I’ve made some great freinds here and it’s one of the only places I’ve really spoken much french too!  It has definately inspired me in terms of helping people settle into a new country.  I really want to get involved or even just myself help foreign studetns/ assistants back home!

Diner du Printemps

Diner du Printemps

I had to say goodbye to Lauren on Tuesday :( Lucy and Philly had a little gathering at their house to say goodbye to Lauren and Julia, and walking to the metro I realised it was the last time I would see the girl!  I can’t really say right now how much she has meant to me.  I never dreamt I’d make such a good friend in such a short time being here, but I feel truly blessed to have had her in my life and I hope she stays there for a long time to come!

Me and Lauren back in summer :)

Me and Lauren back in summer :)

I had to leave reasonably early on Tuesday to go get my family!  Parents and 2 bros flew in very late and ALL stayed at my house on the Tuesday.  Which was fun.. :s  They moved to the nearby hotel on Wednesday and it was a trial having them here but lovely all the same.  I never do well with my family on holidays, I don’t know why but I imagine it is my fault.  Anyway it was nice for them to have got some glimpse of my life here before it was over!  Saturday was particularly glorious, wandering round the Marche de Puces in the scorching sunshine!

Almost as soon as they had left on Saturday night, I was up and travelling to Strasbourg on Sunday morning.  I went to visit my friend Anthony from sixth form who is on his year abroad there.  I absolutely adored sitting on that train and getting out of Paris.  Just travelling, it makes me feel fantastic and refreshed.  Especially on the train :) I really hope my future is full of lots of travelling (short term though!).

It was the first time (within memory) that I had visited Strasbourg.  It’s a stunning city, and a really good size.. plenty to do but with a friendly local feel too.  I thought more than once that perhaps this place would have been more suited to me on my year abroad.  It was big and different, but manageable.  Perhaps Paris was too overwhelming to do in the space of a year?  On the final day there, I went and explored on my own and had a lovely time just wandering, every part of the city is just pretty.

We also crossed the river Rhine across to Germany which was bizarre!  We went for lunch in Kehl, the first town, and trying to speak a THIRD language felt so unnatural and odd to my tongue!

By all the European Parliament buildings in Strasbourg

Bridge between Strasbourg, France and Kehl, Germany where Obama etc. walked over for the 2009 NATO summit

Idyllic Strasbourg :)

Idyllic Strasbourg :)

Again coming back was such a lovely feeling, looking out the window on the train listening to my ipod :) but as we came back into Paris I felt a bit wrong; I did feel like I was coming back home, but it didn’t feel right anymore.  Just the experience of going somewhere new, I think, made me realise all the excitement of doing something new, something different.  And that’s where I am now. I’m ready to go.  I love Paris, I always will, and I’m sure after a week at home I will start to miss it and will never stop missing it.  Right now though I just need to go, I need to finish this chapter and start my new one in England :)

Au Revoir! xx

Work and Escape.

This week was relativley quiet because of all the work I was trying to do.  I think I made reasonable progress, maybe not as much as I’d like, but who ever does that?  Lauren came round on Monday night as she needed to use the internet for Leeds tickets, and we ended up making a night of it, having tea and then she stopped over.  Was so nice to have a decent night together as she was leaving two weeks later.  Started to realise how stupidly much I’m gonna miss her.  It’s strange because the nature of this year has made it all feel so temporary, and yet we have been here for as long a time as the first year of  university.  If I think of the close friendships I’d made by the end of that year, it seems silly to not have realised that I may make the same bonds here too.

Two administrative things came up this week, one very good, one very bad.  On the plus side, my CAF (housing benefit) was FINALLY all rectified!  If you remember, they’d totally messed up and were asking me to repay everything I’d recieved so far.  Well now that has been scrapped and I’m back recieving my monthly instalement, yey!  On the down side, the wages for the extra lessons I was doing with the nursing school have not been paid.  I have endlessly emailed and been to the office of the director of the school but I don’t know if I’m getting anywhere.  It’s one of those infuriating france moments.. the lack of efficient contact and organisation.  I just hope it sorts out before I leave!

It was somewhat a week for french annoyances.  The reason I was off work this week was because most of the school were effectively on study leave, but I still was supposed to have one hour of one of the older class.  So I go alllll the way in on Tuesday afternoon, only to find my room taking up by an exam and my pupils nowhere to be seen.  The teacher in the room says that some pupils came by 10 minute before (20 minutes before the start of my lesson) looking for me.. I’ve no idea why, or where they went after.  I said I’d wait in the staff room for them, but 20 mins went by and no-one came.  In the end I called my responsable, who let just say was neither helpful or even polite to me, which was just a shame, when I was only trying to work out what had happened.  I shalln’t rant about it more here, but I was just very annoyed at having taken up over 2 hours for nothing.  Yet another notch on the ‘means to an end’ tally. :s

On Wednesday night, Lauren, Emma, Becka and had got £10 tickets to France v Lithuania at the Stade de France (France’s Wembley equivalent) and the atmosphere alone was incredible!  The seats were great and just the noise and the size were so overwhelming.  We had an ace time and got really into the match.  And all for £10!  It’s amazing how you can entertain yourself when you where to look.

At the Stade de France!

At the Stade de France!

Thursday afternoon I had a leisurely stroll into the centre and met Lauren at ‘Breakfast in America’, an american style diner that has been set up by an american guy who couldn’t find decent american food in Paris, so made it himself!  We had super fat meals, and it was cool the whole american diner feel.. made me excited about NYC!

At the weekend we headed down to the Loire Valley on an organised trip.  It was VERY crammed in and hectic and tiring but I had a great time.  It was good to get out of Paris into the countryside for a while.  I also learned an awful lot about french history from the tour guides we had around the chateaux.  It prompted me to buy a short history of France book in one of the gift shops because I think it’s about time I got to grips with it!

One of the MANY Chateux we visited! (Cheverny, Loire Valley)

One of the MANY Chateaux we visited! (Cheverny, Loire Valley)

The beautiful town of Vendome

The beautiful town of Vendome

Lavardin, Loire Valley (the frenchest village in France apparently!)

Lavardin, Loire Valley (the 'frenchest' village in France apparently!)

Me and the girls in Blois, Loire Valley

Me and the girls in Blois, Loire Valley

4 weeks till home now, very wierd.  Totally set on buying an apartment in Paris in the future now.  I need to keep up my fix somehow!

Au Revoir! xx

La Scène

I seem to have spent alot of time watching spectacles this week!  On Monday Lauren and I went to see the film Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which was translated in french to the far more romantic and logical title of  ‘Une nuit a New York’ (One night in New York).  It was awesome :p

I am a quotes person, I’m not ashamed; and the last line of the film, which summed up this year for me alot, was this:

Norah: Are you sad that we missed it?
Nick: We didn’t miss it. This IS it.

:p

On Tuesday, we had the stressful experience of attempting to get cheap tickets for Le Roi Lion (The Lion King) musical.  It’s a fantastic system they have in Paris for all the private theatres.  They sell any remaining tickets from category A (i.e. the best tickets that usually sell for £50 euros) for £10 euros to under-26 year olds, one hour before the performance.  It was a crazy hectic queue with lots of french pushing in :p but luckily we got the second to last 2 tickets!  I’ve never seen the show even in England, and it was absolutely magical, in such perfect seats too!  It’s one of the HUGE things I’m going to miss about Paris, or living in a city at least.. the easy access to theatres; it’s possibly the best thing about being here.

On Thursday night I went to a free concert at the eglise St Eustache which is the huge church by les Halles in the centre of Paris.  The young people performing were pupils from the Conservatoire de Paris, which is aparently the top ranked music school in the world, with the second being Julliard in New York.  And yes the performances were as impressive as that would lead you to believe.  I was lucky enough to hear one operatic piece and goodness my love of the voice as an instrument quadrupeled.  The girl in question handled her voice better than any instrument I have ever heard.  I was in utter awe :)

On Friday night I finally got chance to go visit my welcome/host family people again.  The problem is that they live quite far away from me, about an hour each way, so I have to stay over there usually which ends up taking an awful lot of time, which I usually don’t have.  But as usual it was lovely.  It really is the one time I really get to speak french non stop, and the fact that I always survive it and don’t get too confused or tired suggests that my french is getting somewhere!  I just wish it was more convenient to get there, I would totally go every week!  The mom was lovely and even invited me to come stay for a week any time I wanted to brush up on my french, which is so lovely and so helpful!  I said I’d be happy to return the favour too if ever the kids wanted to come visit England.  The middle girl seemed really keen to come over, and she’s very very lovely so it’d be so cool if we do keep in touch and she came over sometimes :)

This weekend I started a very dedicated work timetable! The coming week I have most of the week off during the days so I’m trying to get ahead with my reading especially.  We’ll see!

Au Revoir! xx

I kinda do NOT want to leave now..

.. except I do, I’m so excited to go home and for all the things I’m doing over summer.  I just wish I could be here too.

We had a kinda disatrous but also rather nice night on Tuesday!  Lauren and her friend Alex came round to mine and we had planned to head out later to Duplex, a club by the Arc de Triomphe,  as it was the student night and free entry before 12.30.  Somehow, although we’d been watching the time, we managed to get there stupidly late and would have had to pay 20 euros entry, which was NOT happening on a casual night out..!  So we ended up having to walk down the Champs Elysees at one in the morning (kinda damn pretty :p) and then negotiate the night buses, which we actually did quite well!  It was an odd night but actually quite a pleasant adventure 😀

I finally went for couscous with the English teachers from school on Friday night! (It’s been 2 months in discussion..) Twas such a lovely night and I wish they’d done it more often.  It made me pine for the kind of interactions I could have had during my time in France if situations had been different.  Oh and the couscous was AMAZING.

Saturday night was another lovely lovely meal at Kate’s house.  I still absolutely love that more than anything.. just sitting around with interesting people and discussing anything and everything over food and wine :) I want to do that for the rest my life!

Apart from that, this week has been partly lovely and relaxing (because of sunshine and being very very productive with work!) and partly emotional (for a number of reasons not fit to mention in the public domain!).  I’m starting to feel extremely bittersweet about leaving here.  I have really grown to love it and I feel, well I don’t know what I feel, but perhaps like if i’d had more time I could really have settled here.  I’m sure nearer the end or perhaps once I’m home I will write some posts on how I really feel about it all.. gosh now those will be dramatic pieces of writing :p

Au Revoir! xx

Sunshine :)

It has been sooo sunny this week.  It makes Paris a completely different city I swear.

I’ve been really trying to make myself do grammar this week and I already feel like it is helping.  Just actually concentrating on what it going on in the language, I guess I just learn far better that way than by immersion.

I was helping one of the science teachers at school translate some english articles on Tuesday and he was commenting on how good my french was.  It just surprised me because, since I rarely get chance to even speak french, I really have no idea how good I am at it.  In all fairness I think he was just being nice.. :(

Wednesday was a fantastically relaxed day.  Lauren and I went to french conversation, and because of the weather I felt so fun and silly and relaxed.. I quite happily stayed there for ages and actually spoke and awful lot! Yey!  Afterwards we wanted to take some advantage of the weather so Lauren and I went for a stroll along the Seine in the sunshine.  What a lovely afternoon!

On Thursday evening I went to meet up with some of the girls in a cafe near the Pomidou.  Was lovely to catch up as I hadn’t seen them in ages and I realised I really will miss these people when I leave!  Luckily most of them are heading back to England at some point so I’ll hopefully see them all again!

It’s crazy how much the weather must be affecting me but university this week felt so much more comfortable too.  The phonetics lesson wasn’t on so maybe not having such a long day helped, but I really felt I was learning some interesting things and managin to pay attention!

Paul came at the weekend and I had my first sense of finality.  I know it’s pushing it a bit but it’s the last time he’ll be here on his own (next and last time will be with his parents) so it’s the last time we could have a lazy weekend in Paris.  Twas lovely but I really kinda enjoy them and had got used to them; tis just a shame they are now no more :(  We went to the cinema on Monday and it felt like such a regular normal thing to do that it got me thinking for a brief moment of what it would be like if we lived here together.. my thoughts never went further than that but it was a very wierd thought!

Ooo and also we moved my room around! The dvd drive on my laptop broke a few weeks ago, so Paul (bless him!) brought a dvd player over with him!  We plugged it into my TV and moved my bed over so I now have all my books and my tv just next to my bed.  Makes alot more sense really and I absolutely love it!  Maybe it’s just the change but the space feels alot for positive now :)

On Sunday I went with Paul and most of the girls for a picknick in Buttes Chaumont parc.  The weather was absolutely glorious.  Springtime is totally here.. just makes me sad that I wont be here long to enjoy it.  I think spring and summer in Paris must be a million times better than autumn/winter.

Au Revoir! xx