rolemodel nandadevieast flickr

Role Models

There seems to be a lot of talk at the moment about how to ensure a moral upbringing for the current generation of children, and a growing number of commentators are starting to notice how parents seem to be left out of this discussion.

Among all the discussion over internet censorship, Charles Arthur was one of the first to pen an utterly compelling argument as to why giving ISPs the power to switch off ‘adult’ content would be both pointless and would be placing the responsibility on the wrong person, essentially making the point that it is parents who should be responsible for what their children see online.

Granted, it is not always that simple but it is surprising that so many initiatives for children seem to assume parents have no and can have no responsibility. Maybe it’s chicken and egg.  Did parents get lazy so the government had to step in, or did the government step in which led parents to get lazy. (I shall not expand that to its wider political implications!).

A recent study from Girl Guiding UK called Girls Attitudes Explored… Role Models found that 55 per cent of girls felt there aren’t enough female role models.  What I found sad however was that they said this despite also saying that mums were their top role model. I just wonder at what point we stopped finding our mothers (and aunties, and sisters etc) adequate role models.

Some girls just don’t have those people in the first place. Rachel Ward Lilley who runs Girls Out Loud, a social enterprise for raising the aspirations of teenage girls, says “All girls need role models. Some of us are lucky enough to get these informally with support from family and friends but many don’t.”

But even for those who do, sometimes it is just a case of wanting to know what else is out there, says Rachel.

“We often find when we are with the girls that they have very little knowledge about careers and certainly not in detail – sterotypes are frequently the norm – for example lawyers are all like the ones on TV, predominantly male, old and wear gowns.  When we had some young cool and trendy lawyers involved in a Discovery Day programme in Leeds last year the girls initially found it difficult to believe they were what they said, but once they did they all decided they wanted to be like them – we had a room full of would be lawyers.”

There are certain types of role models such as actors, journalists and writers who are more naturally in the spotlight for girls to look up to.  But there seems to be a desperate need to expose these girls to a far wider range of life and career choices that aren’t so obviously visible.  As Rachel points out “I believe in the saying that ‘it is difficult to be what you can’t see’.”

 

Thumbnail image: Nandadevieast on Flickr

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Let’s Compute

A few weekend’s ago I visited the National Computer Museumm near Milton Keynes. I was intrigued because of the history of the place, and Alan Turing’s northern links, and because I’d just written an article about computing in schools.  Our tour finished in a room full of BBC Micros and some very knowledgeable volunteers. Here are some of the best bits (I’ll try and cover everything in future posts).

The UK has a ridiculous amount of computing history: The Acorn chip, which was made in the UK is the basis of most modern phones and almost half of today’s broadband.

Opensource embroidery: Talk about cross medium.  Ele Carpenter led a project to create a HTML patchwork using websafe colour codes.  What I love about this is the whole taking computing beyond just a screen and trying to get people involved through completely different mediums.

 

Kids programming: What really blew me away was the amount of computing literature for kids that was published around the time of the BBC Micro in the 80s. Below are just a few snaps I took of all the books the museum have saved.  They were also screening daytime and kids TV shows that used to explain how to do basic programming.  Where has this gone?!

My favourite was a programming magazine for children called ‘Let’s Compute’, mainly because the boy and I have talked about mocking up a magazine like this for the present day.

 

While there I had the pleasure of talking to a number of volunteers including Chris Monk, who is working on museum plans to do more evening, weekend and holiday workshops for kids.  He told me they would probably start people off on the BBC Micros they have and then move people on to Arduino and Rasberry Pi.

Considering how difficult it still is for teachers to get programming onto the curriculum, it seems like an amazing opportunity for young people to learn these skills at least in an extra-curricular way.

 

If you want more info on the museum, ICT teacher Alan O’Donohoe has some fab videos and insights here, and the official website of the museum is here.

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

Almost how I imagined it.

This week has been an up and down. I think knowing I was going home on Thursday made me just want the week out of the way. I had a massive downer on Monday night. What was wierd is that I wasn’t even unhappy at all, I just couldn’t help feeling anxious about the next day teaching. I hate that this job makes me feel like that sometimes. Having said that, once I was into my day on Tuesday I did feel alot better. I decided to hop on the metro in one of my breaks and go down to Notre Dame. I genuinely appreciated just sitting there in the quiet with the gorgeous choral music playing, just being able to think or not to think at all. Really appreciated living in Paris at that point. My school’s area might not be great, but there are so many amazing places so close by. I spent the last half hour walking from Notre Dame to the Louvre then getting the metro there. It is truly a magical place when you forget all the stress and homesickness of moving to a new country.

I guess that’s the main thing that had happened this week. I really really WANT to be here right now. I know that could be because I know I’m going home, like I said. But I’m appreciating it completely now. I am grateful for this opportunity and I finally feel like I’m getting a truly life changing and valuable and magical experience here :-) Good times.

That said, I came home this weekend and I was intrigued as to how that would make me feel about my new found appreciation of Paris. What I’ve decided is that the happiness I have in Paris is a hardened, this is a special and enriching experience kind of happiness, whereas home is more of a natural, pure, relaxed kind of happiness. I don’t know if or which one is better than the other. Maybe I’ll always look back and never be certain. On verra :-)

The weekend at home was just amazingly relaxing.  Saturday night was Emma’s 21st… what a stunning night.  Had such a great time and was fun to dress up and just be silly like old times.  Met some of Em’s uni friends too who were lovely! 

Em's 21st xx

Em's 21st xx

It was, as always, difficult coming back.  I think the stress of travelling for so long and then coming back to an empty apartment is always a bit too much for me not to feel sad.  But it was the first time I came back and (just) manage to hold off tears.  My head was so quick to get back into everything I have going on here.  So that’s something.  Currently trying to decide whether to have another weekend at home before I leave for good.  It wouldn’t really matter either way, I just have to make up my mind!

Au Revoir! xx

Finally a bit of normal Parisian life?

Longggg needed update; so where were we?

Back to Friday 9th January, Lauren, Philly and had a really chilled evening just hanging out, watched a  movie, chatted (/grumbled :p) about certain experiences here, and Lauren slept over.  Sad thing is I could totally do this every nite, I love good conversation above most things I think!

Saturday I was planning to get on with work but then Molly invited me out for coffee/ lunch with her mom who was over and who wanted to meet me, so we went to this beautiful restaurant just near where I live.. always nice to find new places to eat.  In the evening a friend of our’s, Kate, had planned a fondue party, so a load of us went round there and it was a really fun evening just all girls talking and laughing.  We also had a ‘Galette de Rois’ which is a special almondy cake that the french eat to celebrate epiphany.  The tradition is that the youngest person (in our case Lauren) goes under the table, and calls out who should have each piece of the cake.  In on of the pieces is a little ‘favour’ (a little coin), and whoever gets that piece is the king and has to wear a paper crown!

The Galette des Rois

The Galette des Rois

Lauren under the table!

Lauren under the table!

Sian as the King!

Sian as the King!

I always wish I had more time just to casually wander about in Paris, and on sunday luckily I got a chance to.  Philly, Kate and I met at lunchtime to go to a little crepe restaurant they knew about, which was very yummy.  Afterwards, as we were near the canal, we went for a wander a long it, popping into some of the shops along the way.  It was still really cold, and most of the canal was frozen so it felt very ‘winter wonderland’ esque :)

Canal Saint Martin

Canal Saint Martin

The locks at Canal Saint Martin.

The locks at Canal Saint Martin.

The days I work have (I guess luckily) have fallen into a bit of routine now.  Three days a week now I start at 8am, am at school for most of the day, then get home from baby-sitting at just after 7pm.  Especially when these follow on, it means I get about 2 hours when I get home to eat and whatever before I have to go to bed!  It’s a bit depressing but it’s okay I guess in the sense that the days I work, I work, and I don’t try to do anything else.  It does mean that in general then the days I don’t work are totally free and I can forget everything to do with teaching and children!

On wednesday, Lauren and I briefly braved the sales which are, in all fairness, incredible.  It’s the fact that they actually have decent clothes in the sales here which make then so different to England I think.  I did get me one nice black coat.  I also saw a beautiful one in Gap, not in the sale, which I intend to buy, but here’s the problem;  Gap also exists in England, and most shops that are both european and english (yes I know the two are technically the same but who are we kidding?) have both the price in euros and the price in pounds on the tag.  These prices, or rather the exchange rate bewteen these price have not been altered for a few years.  Thus with my particular coat I could either pay €99 or £68.  Consdiering the exchnage rate right now is pretty much 1:1, this is like a choice between paying £99 for something or £68.  Very annoying!!  It was even worse when we were in Ted Baker, and the coat there that I really liked was in the sale (woo!), but the sale price was €186, which was the same as the full price in pounds :(.  Difficult times.  Anyway the plan is now to buy the Gap coat in England when I go back in February.  So there’s my little saga of how the recession is affecting me. (I.e. not very much :p but still annoyingly).  Afterward we met my friend Sarah from uni for a coffee in a cute little cafe called (I think) ‘Cafe Lime Rouge’ which was a nice cosy end to the day. On Thursday I actually had a notably lovely day teaching; only 4 classes but the top groups so I actually got some discussion out of them!  I finsihed at 2pm, and nice surprise for me, didn’t need to babysit so had the rest of the day off yey!  In the evening, Lauren and I went to see Sept Vies (Seven Pound) which made me cry more than any movie has in a long time (be warned).  However it’s definately a film I am going to watch when I’m feeling down about the world.  There is an amazingly well acted speech from Rosario Dawson where, as someone terminally ill, she speaks of the simple things she wishes she could do, like run and travel, and see the world.  Things she just simply can’t and probably never will be able to do.  It just hit me, and I don’t think I’ve ever been closer to understanding what it would be like to be terminally ill.  And of course it made me suddenly appreciate everything I had and was doing and could do.  I have to appreciate it.  It’s hard to explain but I’m sure you understand.  I suppose it’s realising that however hard your life might feel, that the good things that are there in your life are not a given, they are not assured, and they need to be appreciated and taken advanatage of to the full.  If you don’t then it’s almost an insult to all those people who are desperate for those possibilities but just cannot have them.  And considering how up and down I get about being here, in Paris, it was a complete wake up call.  So yeh, good film :p

The weekend was super-dooper chilled out 😀 I went to the Louvre on friday night with Lauren and her friend Leo.  I really really REALLY love just hanging out there now, I think it’s already my favourite place in Paris :)  Then I went to meet the boy from Gare du Nord! And I have possibly never been happier to see him.  If absesnce makes the heart grow fonder and all that, my heart will be close to bursting by the time I leave here.  In the imortal words of Lonestar (hahaha) ‘It just keeps getting better..’.  We spent most of the weekend realxing and watching movies and going for brunch and being lazy :p.

Me and Leo in Napoleon's Apartments

Me and Leo in Napoleon's Apartments

So Tuesday was Obama’s inauguration, and the plan had been to go down and celebrate at a party in the 5th.  But the plans got all confused, and timing was tight anyway cos I was working till 7, so in the end Lauren came to mine and we watched as much as we could on the BBC website.  Although I know he’s not our president, it was nice to be there witnessing it as history was being made :) Again just another cool evening hanging out.  I LOVE that.

On Wednesday afternoon I had another training session for my teaching.  All in all it was actually quite useful, mainly just everyone sharing ideas for things that have worked and haven’t worked.  All the ideas coming out just seemed far more realistic that those suggested in all the guide books we have, and all the training we got back in England.  Those are all so idealistic, whereas in reality its all you can do to get the kids to participate at all; so it was nice to hear how other assistants had managed this.  Now here’s the thing that REALLY annoyed me :p (skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to hear a possibly very self indulgent rant). At the end, the two women running the session said something along the lines of ‘now is there anything you think we could do to improve the scheme for you’.  One girl put her hand up and said ‘Well is there any specific communication between you and the teachers at the school, in terms of their resposibilities to us’.  To try and summarize, everyone was agreeing that it’s a very unorganised scheme, the people at the schools don’t seem to have a set description of how we should be helping, there’s no standardization etc.  And the women seemed to just laugh it off, one of them actually saying ‘Well it’s just not very french to do it that way’?!  They talked about how all the teachers were sent a big instruction manual to which someone rightly argued, who is going to read through a whole manual?  Someone else suggested just a piece of paper summarizing what we should be expected to do, to which the woman at the front replied ‘Well in all fairness that would probably just go in the bin’.  What I don’t understand, is why ask the question ‘What could we do to improve this for you’ if they have no intention of actually doing anything? But maybe that’s just french people.  And if it is, then it’s a shame that they’re giving themselves such an image, especially to a room full of foreigners.  End rant :)

Wednesday evening I was going out for a birthday meal of one of the girls; the meal was very near the training but with 2 hours to kill.  So I finally went and made good use of my Louvre membership.  I went and had a coffee in the Starbucks there to wake myself up, then had a gorgeous two hours just wandering around by myself.  It was such a luxury to just spend however long I wanted staring at the paintings.  It’s a lovely place to relax and think, though my legs did get tired eventually :p  Alex’s meal was at a yummy Italian and it was cool to have everyone together there :).

My faourite view of Paris so far, from the 4th floor of the Louvre.

My faourite view of Paris so far, from the 4th floor of the Louvre.

I’m having a very relaxing weekend, just slowly getting through bits of uni work etc.  Went down to Bercy Village yesterday to see Revolutionary Road which was an incredible film, but VERY depressing! Later, some of the kids at my school had invited me out to the Fleche d’Or, an indie club v close to where I live.  I’ve heard about it and wanted to go for ages.  Lauren came with and though I was apprehensive, it was actually beyond awesome.  It’s not too big but had a fantastic atmosphere.  Reminded me so much of going to local gigs when we were younger.  They had four bands on then a DJ later in the evening.  It’s just so cool knowing that it’s just down the road too; definately want to go there more often :)

Felt my first really upset twinge today of being away when everyone’s turning 21 today.  One of my best and oldest friends, James, is 21 today and I hate that I’m not there.  Time has flown so so quickly!  Also it’s my Opa’s Birthday today so Happy Birthday!  I’m so gonna just tour the country next year to see everyone for their birthdays, to make up for this year :p

Au Revoir! xx

SNOW! snowsnowsnowsnowsnowsnowsnow :D

I’m not exagerating.  Paris is covered.  It’s magical.  I did get grumpy at odd moment because it’s also horrifically cold.  But it’s snow, I can’t stay angry at it for long.  I havne’t had my camera out enough to capture how pretty everything is.. but this was from my balcony on the first day:

looking downish

looking downish

That isnt fog.  Thats all snow.

That isn't fog. That's all snow.

 

Oh novelties.

I got back to Paris feeling fairly positive, but slumped very quickly, making me miserable for the first 2 days back.  I think I just needed to get back into the swing of things cos once I was in school on Tuesday then saw Emma for coffee afterwards, I started to feel much better.  This week I also set up the extra lessons I’m going to be doing in school for some trainee nurses.  I’m nervous because I think they expect alot more than the lycee kids, but then that’s also really good because most of them actually WANT to learn english.  I just don’t want to let them down with my limited knowledge of how to actually teach…! :s

It’s been a strange week really, slowly trying to get my mood up and sorting stuff out (oh yes, 4 months in and something still aren’t set up.. this is not my fault..!).  Thursday I was supposed to have 6 hours of lessons and ended up having only one comprising of 4 students.  As someone on another blog once said.. at the end of the day of course I’d rather kids to not show up than to show up, but it is annoying having to sit in school from 9 till half 4 doing nothing, when I could be doing a million more productive things elsewhere!  Anyway, I tried to make the most of it and planned future lessons etc and I was quite relaxed anyway so it didn’t really matter.

I realised over Christmas that I’m half way through my official time in France.  I do not know when this happened.  I have many thoughts about this, most of which I won’t go into right now.  The best I can do I think is just to really get my head down and get on with alot of the work I have to do here and really get my french going somewhere.  I’m not worried because I know I always have the option of coming back after I graduate if I need to still improve.  So that’s what I’m focusing on right now.

Au Revoir! xx

The run up to Christmas!

On Monday 15th, Christmas really started to kick in!  In the evening Lauren and I went for a traditional french christmas dinner put on by our welcome group!  Twas such fun, eating good food and wine, lots of christmas decorations and even some christmas songs in many different languages :p  Definately got me out of my slump and into the christmas spirit.

Christmas Songs at the Diner de Noel

Christmas Songs at the Diner de Noel

That night Lauren stopped over and then Tuesday I had a few lessons during the day.  Have to note that the students were striking tuesday morning and tried to not let me into the school!  They had barricaded the entrances but luckily were letting teachers in still and all knew who I was so let me in eventually!  In the evening Emma (friend from home) flew in and I went to get here from Charles du Gaulle (longwinded but got there in the end).

Wednesday was possibly the most magical day ever.  I went to Disneyland Paris with Em, Lauren and the rest of the group of friends I’ve made here in Paris.  Was such a good day despite the miserable whether.  Twas so bizarre going back after 10 years; I have vague memories of going with the fam when I was 10 and it was wierd to think how little had changed there but how much had changed with me in that time.  Everything was done up for christmas and I just revelled in the disney/christmas excitement of it all 😀

Beautiful Disney at Christmas

Beautiful Disney at Christmas

In the evening Em and I went round to Molly’s, who was having some christmas drinks before everyone headed home to the UK for christmas.  She made the YUMMIEST mulled wine ever, and we had mince pies too.  More christmas cheer!

On Thursday I supposedly had my last day of teaching.. but it didn’t exactly go to plan :s  The day before alot of the other assistants had been told not to come into the school because the student strikes had got worse so I’d spoken to my responsable but she’d said to come in and see what the situation was first.  So in I went only to find all the entrances completely blocked and students crowding and not letting anyone at all in.  I hang around with some of the other teachers for about 2 hours and then we went off for a wander to pass the time until the students dispersed.  One of the other teachers lives right next to this really old cafe where lots of films are often shot.  That week, Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt were shooting their new film!  The teacher who lived there was saying he saw Tarantino the day before! Was a tad exciting :p So we stopped there and watched all the 1940s cars and costumes for a while! So cool.  P.s. I was very impressed with the students really.  Even if what they were protesting about was a bit pointless this time, still to have any interest or passion for politics at that age was really cool to see. 

Strikes outside my school.

Strikes outside my school.

Thursday evening we all went round to Lucy and Philly’s to watch Love Actually and do secret santa :) We had a budget of £5 and didn’t know who we were buying for.  I got a ‘christmas hamper’ from Lucy which was actually really cool! Lots of food for when I get back after the hols.  Again, very chrismassy!  It also made me very happy in realising how lucky I am to have made such a really good group of friends in Paris.  Makes me really look forward to go back.

Friday was my first free day of the holidays! With Em here we had lots of touristy stuff to get done! We spent most of the day at la Defense looking round the christmas market and the shopping centre, doing some christmas shopping.  In the evening we headed to champs elysees and walked from there down to the Louvre and mooched!  We wanted to go to the ice skating outside Hotel de Ville which was supposed to be open from Friday, but when we got there we were told it didn’t open till the next day :( Lauren came to meet us and we went and sat outside Notre Dame and saw the big christmas tree there, then headed back to mine to chill for Lauren’s last night in Paris.  I actually got really sad when Lauren left, and like with Lucy and Philly’s, I realised what an awesome friend I’ve found in her.  I miss her already!

At the Christmas Market

At the Christmas Market

On Saturday we headed up to Montmartre and Sacre Coeur.  We stopped off at the Haagen Dasz shop and I indulged in a big pot of ice cream!  It felt so lovely and relaxing just strolling up the hill to the church munching on my ice cream, in no rush to do anything for once.  Next we headed to the Eiffel Tower and then walked from there into the centre.  We found the Theatr Hall shop I’d found earlier for Em with all the masquerade costumes and masks, which was awesome!  We stopped for a meal in a restaurant near there, then headed to the ice skating again.  This time however it was horrifically busy!  So we decided to give it a miss :(  It’s supposed to be there until March so hopefully I’ll be able to go back with Lauren at some point!  I did decide at this point that I really want to buy a pedometer; the amount of walking I do around Paris, especially when I have guests, is incredible!

Sunday morning we had a well needed sleep in.  When we got up I made pancakes and scrambled eggs and tried to pack and tidy up the appartment before leaving the next morning.  Later in the afternoon we headed out to Notre Dame to have a look around inside.  Once it had turned dark we went over to the Opera Garnier and walked up to Galeries Lafayette to see it all lit up.  Being 4 days before christmas, the whole area was INSANE!  There were even police having to control the masses of cars and people.  But it was a really beautiful evening and lovely to wander around.  We headed back to my area and had a hot chocolate in one of the cafes before heading back to the apartment.  A perfect last night.

Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette from the side.

Galeries Lafayette from the side.

Em with her HoCho!

Em with her HoCho!

 

The Inbetween Week.

Back up! WAyy too long between posts.  Lots to catch up!  On Saturday 13th Lauren and I went to see Le Mariage Force, a one act play by Moliere.  Twas nicely done with modern costume and actually quite pleasant only being one hour.  A nice blast of theatre without being tired out by hours and hours of concentration!   Twas also funny because it forced us to discover the carousel du louvre which is a shopping mall underground sort of off the Louvre Museum entrance bit.  This is where the theatre was but also some nice shops and eating places.. possibly a really nice place to hang out in the evening!

On sunday I went for a meal with a host family that I have been linked with.  The idea is that families volunteer who want to host a foregin person for a meal or things like that, and for the people like me, it’s a way to experience a real french family and to practice my french.  I got the train out to where they live (one of the wealthy suburbs of Paris) and met the mom.  In total there were the mom and dad, 3 kids, and one ‘petite-amie’ (girlfriend) of the eldest kid.  They cooked a really lovely traditional french meal and were very welcoming.  I think the wierd thing was the type of people they were.  I don’t mean this in an overly judgemental way, but it’s natural for one to make judgements or observations and basically that’s what I did :) They were very proper, 2.4 children, good jobs, all playing sports and playing instruments.  It felt like they were really trying hard to keep up appearances and I felt at times that the dad was judging me alot on things I said.  None of this was particularly negative, just very alien and bizarre to me.  I don’t want to sound obnoxious but these kind of families are those I’ve heard of, read about, even been aquaintances with, but never really had much to do with.  So overall it was just intriguing!  The mom told me to call when I get back after Christmas so I should be seeing them again so twill be interesting to find out mjore about them! 

We had a really good chat on ways to improve my french, and though much of this made me feel guilty that I hadn’t already done alot of it (the no time excuse is getting tired, even if it is very true), it also gave me some new positive things to try after the holidays!  The afternoon also got me to thinking about my attempts to improve my french.  So far I’ve just been grabbing any opportunity to speak french with anyone, like with this host family.  However, now I have a few options, I’m wondering how useful it’s going to be meeting with people whom I don’t have alot in common with.  At the meal I felt a bit like they were doing me a big favour instead of really being interested in talking.  So I think it might make more sense to stick to speaking with people my own age where the conversation would be more natural.

The wierdness of this sunday hit at a bad time where I was already feeling a bit weary with life in France in general.  The teaching has been starting to feel like a means to an end and nothing more.  And it also feels like any free moment should be spent doing something to improve my french, and it was getting exhausting!  I think I was just very reasy for the christmas break and to stop feeling constant guilt about what I *should* be doing while I’m here :(

Two Worlds.

I came home to England on Saturday after a rather busy week!  I started teaching on my own last Wednesday and Thursday, and it actually went fine.  I thought with knowing I was coming home, that teaching would drag awfully.  I still kind of wanted the lessons done with, but I think on normal days, teaching will be perfectly bareable!  I did the same introductory lesson with all of them, then gave Cadburys at the end :p  Which I think went down well!

Coming home, I thought I’d feel so wierd;  I imagined the feeling you get when coming back from a holiday, but intensified.  But it honestly hasn’t felt like I’ve been away at all.  I feel like I’m living two completely separate lives.  Being here, home, feels utterly normal.  The idea that at this moment I have an apartment in the middle of Paris, just doesn’t seem real.  It will be interesting to see how I feel once I’m back there.  Right now I feel so so happy and cosy and relaxed.  I love home so much! Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying Paris so much.  But my real life is here.  There is too much good here to ever really give up.  This weekend my dad’s doing a bonfire so I won’t miss out on bonfire night! And I have a halloween party in Lancaster tomorrow!  Having such a good holiday :p

Also, I’ve now put captions on all my photos on Flickr, and I’ll try to keep that up from now on so you know where the pictures are coming from!  See them all at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31040809@N03/ 

Au Revoir! xx

It’s Only Life :)

Sorrry! This is the last time I will apologise, but I am sorry for now or for any future instance when I don’t write for a while!  I think I just needed to spend some time getting into the life here without reflecting on it constantly!

Last week (6th-12th) was pretty hard at times because I started to feel really underconfident with my language.  I think it makes sense because until I started the babysitting and at school, all the situations I had been put in were all ones where I could think through to a large extent what I would say beforehand (i.e. with the bank).  Now with my jobs most of it is completely spontaneous and thus ALOT harder.  I know it’s okay and i’ll get there, but last week it felt like a major confidence setback.

Other than that, most of last week was babysitting, in school and our teacher training which was largely uneventful.. though fellow assistants Agnes, Holly and I found a really lovely but insanely cheap restaurant/cafe on Boulevard St Michel which was impressive.  Oo and also we had a welcome drink thing in the Sorbonne which I took a few pics of because you’re not normally allowed in!

La Sorbonne

La Sorbonne

On friday night Paul came to visit and we had a gorgeous 2 nights just hanging out and watching movies.  On the saturday we went for brunch at the amazing brunch place at the end of my road, and spent a lovely 3 hours there sitting in the sun!

So Sunday morning comes; Paul has set his alarm; it goes of; we go about getting up sleepy and grumpy for various reasons of earlyness, having to end such a good weekend etc; on the metro; get to gare du nord; I walk down to the platform with him where he’ll get the RER to the airport.  Paul brings his phone out of his pocket looking confused.  I assume he is just worried that he might have forgotten it.  Then in some blur of confused exclamations and looking at the times on Paul’s phone and the station screens, we realise… Paul hadn’t changed the time on his phone from London to Paris time.  His phone was an hour forward.  Over at Charles de Gaulle airport, his flight check-in was closing this very minute.  What could we do? We both just stood with bemused expressions for a minute or too, then had no choice but to turn back and get the metro to mine.

We found out that he could pay a transfer fee to get on the evening flight, but that would require him going back to charles du gaulle, 2 hours before that flight, with no guarantee that there would be space on that flight.  So in the end he booked a new flight for Tuesday morning.  Mixed blessing really! Fair bit more money, but we did get 2 extra days together 😀 which were as fabulous as the first couple.

On Tuesday evening I had my first venture outside of Paris (kinda)! I took one of the suburb trains out to where Lauren lives.  Even though it’s barely out of central Paris, it just felt so nice just to pretend I was getting out of the bustle.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but it’s nice to be able to breathe a bit more.  Lauren lives in this gorgeous little village; so so quiet and very french villagey :p (I’m soooo good at describing thing right?!).  Didn’t get pics but will next time!  She was warning me how bare her apartment was but when we got there I personally though it was gorgeous.  Bigger than mine with the bedroom separate from the living area.  She got it unfurnished but has done a perfect job filling it out and decorating it to look homely.  We had an uber girlie night, munching whole pizzas each and lots of other junk, talking for ages catching up, then watching the Sex and the City movie that Paul so kindly brought over for me 😀 Fabulous night that I hope to repeat soon!

On wednesday I had a whole day free and really enjoyed just relaxing a bit and having the time and space to get started on alot of thing I need to do.

Yesterday my mom and her best friend (with whom she worked in France and Paris, lots of summers when they were younger) arrived at Gare du Nord for the weekend. 

The very very cute looking espresso from the Hagen Daaz cafe in Gare du Nord!

The very very cute looking espresso from the Haagen Dazs cafe in Gare du Nord!

We had another lovely meal at Chartier last night.  They used to go when they worked here (that’s how my mom knows of it) and it was so cute watching them when they got into reminiscing :p

 

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Mum and Sue in Chartier :)

Today I was looking after Ginger over lunch, and had some work to do, so they’ve gone out for the day and I’m meeting them this evening to go to the Louvre.

Also, the technician from France Telecom called today so it seems like in the next few days I will FINALLY have my internet up and running! And that’s the last thing to be sorted! Yey!

Au Revoir! xx