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

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