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…!

Falling in Love.

You know that feeling when you realise that you truely love someone?  It’s not necessarily when you say I love you, but rather when you say it and for the first time you mean it from the very depths of your soul.  You don’t even necessarily remember the situation, you just remember the feeling with that person.  I remember when I first got that feeling with the boy and I feel it every time I think about him now.  Well today, I felt that about Paris.  There wasn’t any particular reason except perhaps that I’m feeling very close to settled.  But jumping on and off metros, reading my book or scanning my copy of the new FUSAC as I walked, I just felt like I belonged.  I know I’m not anywhere close to being a true francaise or parisienne, but it all just felt natural.  It was as if there was some tiny me-sized space within Paris’ bustling little world that I was allowed to comfortably slip into.  I fell in love 🙂

I’ve been in Paris a whooooooole month!

So I’ve survived a month.  What’s infurating is that I still don’t feel settled and so many things still haven’t been sorted out.  But I know it will come.

Yesterday was eventful..! I met up with Jessie in the morning and we went down to the Tuilleries to meet all the other english teaching people for a big picnic meet up thing.  Lauren came along later and it was awesome to see her again! Twas a really nice day just meeting people and sitting out in the sun.

In the evening I had a meal with the english teachers from my school.  It wasn’t at all what I was expecting.  In the end it was only two of the teachers cos the rest couldn’t make it which was a bit dissapointing.  But we had a very traditional french meal of bread, cheese, wine and grapes! Twas rather yummy. 

The conversation was intriguing.  I feel like I can’t go into too much detail because I would be typing for a very long time but it was bizaare.  I was very impressed by how opinionated they were and how passionate for certain causes they seem to be.  For example, they told me how each year the french government create a number of immigrants that they aim to dispell from the country each year and for 2008 it was 23000 and something.  Aparently there are often cases of people, even their pupils, turning 18 and the police finding any excuse to arrest them and deport them.  Some of the teachers aparently have some sort of scheme where they try to help these people.  It’s obviously something I know very little about at the moment, but what I’ve heard so far does sound shocking.  I definately want to find out more and perhaps hear other sides of the story?

Also, the things we are taught about french culture, i.e. that their way of dealing with immigration is to try and irradicate any differences and make everyone the same, whereas in England we tend to embrace the differences and allow them to enrich us as a nation, I think is pretty true.  There seems to be no consideration of the arguement that even though relgious or cultural actions or signs may seem strange to you if they are not you’re own, they are still valid and acceptable to some extent.  In England I don’t think you could just dismiss something as being wrong without at least considering the cultural or relgious reasoning behind it.  In France they seem more inclined to alienate something without question if it isn’t the exact norm.  That’s what I’ve found anyway.  We shall see.  It may well depend a lot too on age, class and experience/upbringing?

I had a good time though and it was definately an eye opener to lots of issues and arguments to think about!

I got the bus home after the meal cos both the teachers said the stop just outside went straight to where I live.  I’ve now realised that the buses are fab!  O was saying that he hasn’t taken a taxi in years because the night buses here are so safe and efficient.  I’ve had a look into it and they do seem really good, if I can get used to them!  Will make it alot easier/cheaper to get home after a night out! Oh french public transport! <3

Tonight Lauren and I are going to Jessie’s host family’s for dinner.  Am rather excited, not sure why! Tis just nice meeting more people.. and feeling the family vibes will do me good I think 🙂

Au Revoir! xx

Flight Booked! Paris in T minus 14 days :s

I took the plunge and booked with EasyJet yesterday! I still haven’t heard from the school but I was getting nervous about finding an apartment.  Plus I had always planned to go a month early if possible to make the most of being in Paris.  Luckily some fantastic contacts have come through with bells on.  A woman my mom knows has allowed me to use her apartment in Paris for a few weeks while I find somewhere of my own.  Another woman I was put in touch with through my dad currently works in Paris and is going to help me when I get over there.

I’m flying out on August 27th which gives me 2 weeks from now to sort everything out that I can whilst in the UK and see everyone and say goodbye!

If I’m honest I’m getting a little freaked out now.  It is just starting to sink in that I’ll be spending an entire year LIVING in a foreign country.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a dream come true but for so long it has been just that: a dream; it’s hard to imagine the reality of something like this, until it’s right in front of you.  I’m excited but there just seems to be so much opportunity here and I don’t want to waste it.  I think I’m going to keep my head to the grindstone for the next few days and try to get everything on my to do list done.  Hopefully by next week I’ll have some time to calm myself down and get my head around what I’m about to do!

I know where I’m going!!

On Wednesday of this week I FINALLY found out whereabouts in Paris I will be teaching.  (Bear in mind some people in other regions found out 2 months ago!) But never mind, I know now!  I will be teaching at a lycée in le 18ème arrondissement of Paris which is around le Sacré-Coeur and Montmartre.  (For those of you who don’t know Paris.. think Moulin Rouge and all the bohemian world.. though that was in 1900..).

I managed to find the school’s website so I know a bit about it now.  Lycées in france are like the second half of english high school, with pupils aged normally from 15-18.  At this point you decide on different routes to take and it seems that my school mainly provides for people taking the ‘ES’ route which I think is économique-social and the ‘S’ route which is scientifique.  It looks like they don’t do the ‘L’ route (litéraire) which is a little disappointing as that would be more in my interests I guess.  Nevertheless, in general I would still be teaching the same thing either way so it shouldn’t make much difference in terms of my experience.

I kinda want to know what kind of school it is in terms of ethos and reputation, mainly to get a better idea of what the kids will be like.  I think at this moment in time that’s what is worrying me the most, that they might be a nightmare to teach!  But I’m going to try so hard to make them LOVE english :p

In terms of preparation, I’ve had to do a fair amount since receiving my ‘arrete de nomination’ (the document which told me what school I’d be at).  Mainly this has consisted of forms confirming that I will be accepting the post.. I think I counted about 6 in total!  I also painfully attempted to write to ‘le proviseur’ (the head teacher) of my school.  I say painful because although my ability to communicate in French is definately there, I am also very aware that my accuracy and grammar is currently pitiful :(.

My other worry at the moment is accommodation.  I don’t know yet whether the school will provide it and if they don’t I really need to go over asap to find somewhere.  One problem is going to be that if I leave it till Septemeber I have been told that alot of places will go because of students returning to study.  However, going over in August means a lot of people will be on holiday 🙁 argh! Oh well, we’ll see what happens.  I’m relaxing more and more by the day about it, it will sort itself out eventually!

Now that all the paper work is largely out of the way, I have more lovely free time to play around with teaching ideas.  I recently got some new video editing software which I’ve been itching to try out and finally found a good excuse.  I read an idea (I can’t remember where, sorry!! I will quote when it comes back to me) about making voice or video recordings of your family and friends talking about basic things, or perhaps a little more detailed about their interests etc.  This should be helpful in terms of authentic speakers, but also mixes things up by hearing different English voices apart from my own.  So that’s the next lot of preparation, making videos! And trying to get together and create more lesson activities.  Another thing I have discovered is a collection of old english activity books that my mom had in a box.  Most of them are unused (we obviously weren’t the most studious of children..) and aimed at upper primary school/ year 7 age range.  I’m hopping they will prove to be really good activity sheets for photocopying, or just as games for the board.  Definitely something I’d recommend to hunt out at home or perhaps even buy.

Now I’m off to find some more lesson ideas!

Paris holds the key to your heart!

Yes, it is likely that my titles will usually be some line of cheese from a song.  That’s just the way I roll!

Okay, so I’m moving to Paris hopefully in late August/ early September to teach english in a french secondary school for a year. 

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m currently a student at Lancaster University in England studying for my BA(Hons) in English Literature and French, of which this coming year is a compulsory part.  Back home, I live in a little village in the north of England which I adore.  I have a seemingly endless excitement for life.  I’ve had so many great experiences so far and I really do try to make the most of every second of life.  I think I’ve managed it so far! 

Things I love to do… Reading (lots about anything, fiction, non-fiction; I get into phases of just wanting to know lots about a subject.. at the moment it seems to be Victorian life (that’s been a long running one) and also where Feminism is at today)/ Movies/ Writing (obviously :p)/ Theatre/ Singing/ Learning + speaking French (and other languages)/ Exploring places/ Staying up late talking to old freinds or new friends/ Wondering about life/ Lots of other little things!

You have NO idea how excited I am to start this blog! I’ve been reading blogs for years now and kinda had a little one on msn spaces for a while when I was about 16 but it fizzled out.  With my year abroad coming up, I figured it gave me an excuse to write about my experiences as well as all the other things I’ve been wanting to write about!

So why am I writing this blog?

1). First and foremost I want to document my experiences in Paris to keep friends and family up to date.  It’s going to be such an exciting time and I know I’ll want to tell everyone about it in the minutest detail.  I don’t want to make it less personal, I just figure a blog will allow me to document things as interestingly as possible along with pictures, videos, links and whatever else so that everyone can enjoy hearing about it! And also it might help me to not loose my voice, as I will inevitably do updating people on the phone. (I know I’ll do this anyway but every little helps :p).

2). Yes, I admit it, blogs are addictive and fabulous.  I love hearing the unedited opinions of everyone and anyone.  Now it’s my turn to add my opinions to the big messy web! I really hope people will comment on things I write as I want banter!

3). To help other people who go to France in the future, as a language assistant or otherwise.  If anyone ever stumbles upon this blog before they go, I hope my experiences and how I (hopefully!) manage to deal with them will inform future newcomers to France and Paris.  Actually, I suppose that works more generally too.  What I love about blogs is finding other people who are going through the same things as you (whatever that may be) and knowing how they cope, and that you are not alone.  So perhaps my experiences, whatever they are, might help anyone reading this in anyway they can!

4).  I suppose I would also like it to be entertaining for you the readers! (Dare to dream… :p)

5). And finally, in keeping with the fashion of the day, it saves me writing letters to everyone and thus saves paper (woo go environment!..).


Content wise, this blog will hopefully focus on…

1). My adventures in Paris: I’ll try and document them but not get too detailed to be boring.

2). My comments on french culture and how it differs from english

3). Any interesting finds in my research: My final year dissertation is on the narrative structure in Gustave Flaubert‘s Madame Bovary and how this has been interpreted in adaptations of the novel.  I also have a 6000 word project I have to write on an aspect of French culture.  I’m hoping to focus this on the place cinema has in french contemporary society.  Both of these topics then I will be researching whilst in France.  I know this will be of limited interest to most people! But I am still intending to document anything I think people might find intriguing!

4). General comentary on life! I have kept a diary for a long time and I think it’s time to start putting my reactions to things out there and see what other people think.  I do also have a new blog over at tumblr which I may stick to for more general life stuff.. I’m not sure.  I’ll keep to here for now and see how it goes.  If I have far too much to say that isn’t Paris related I may move it over there!

I’ll leave it at that for the intro I think! I really cannot stop writing when I start. Which is rather worrying in some respects.  I can see myself posting far more often than I should.  Well, I hope you enjoy and please comment and tell me what you think/ what you’d like to hear more about!

Mae xx