Back to Pareee :)

And for once I’m genuinely totally happy about it.

I came back to Paris in springtime.  I’m sure people have told me about this, and it really is true.  It feels like she is at her most magical.  Everywhere is bright, the air feels fresh and happy, everyone seems more optimistic.  But maybe its just my mood.  I don’t think so though.

I’ve just had a regular week this week but everything seems more alive.

Major problem this week has been my STUPID housing benefit.  I shalln’t go into detail but they’ve basically messed up, completely through their own fault; my money has stopped being payed and they are technically asking me to pay back all I’ve recieved so far.  It’s supposedly being reassessed and sorted out right now but it could take up to 3 weeks and until then I’m in a horribly tight situation with money :s so annoying to be here again, especially when it’s my last few months and I want to be taking advantage of the last bits of theatre and trips etc that I can fit in!

I went to uni again on Friday which was a bit more fun this time, knowing what I was going to be doing! The phonetics course was actually really interesting, and I started feeling very itchy to get back to uni in England.  I miss being an overly eager student :p The other lessons were replaced by a sort of field trip to the Alliance Francaise, an organisation which has offices in many towns and countries across the world for people to learn french.  We were there to listen to some conference talks which were okay, but it was also interesting to see the place.  I’d LOVE to be able to do one of the courses there but they are beyond expensive :s I think maybe in a few years it’d be awesome to take like a month out and do an intensive one.

Friday night Lauren and I hung out, was so nice to catch up after our hols!  And on Saturday I had a lovely surprise visit from a friend from uni, Keith who had missed his connecting train in Paris and needed somewhere to stay!  We ended up having a really good night at one of the bars drinking (for once, good) wine :p.

I’m feeling very positive for the last few months here, lots of time focusing on work and a light at the end of this long exciting but scary tunnel 🙂

Au Revoir! xx

Looking to the future :)

So on Wednesday I went home via London.

It was strange being in London because it was like being able to directly compare one capital city to another.  Going home home from Paris, I never knew if most of the differences weren’t just to do with being in the country side or being with my family and friends.  It was bizarrely liberating to go into a cafe and ask for something in my own nuanced English 🙂  I had a lovely day there meeting up with Jo and old freind from home.  The interview was actually really fun.  I was just excited because I’ve never had a proper interview before so I’d no idea what to expect.  And to have been so interested in blogs and social media and all that for such a long time and finally be talking to someone who really knew their stuff about it, was pretty awesome.  Made me REALLY want the internship too.

I got the train back to mine late afternoon.  I really had missed train journeys.. both the Eurostar and Virgin were so relaxing, just with my iPod watching the world go by.  I love it!  The whole time at home just felt like an super preview of what life is going to be like in a few months time 🙂 I hung out lots with Paul’s friends who I love, and I went up to Lancaster too.  It was the first time too that I hadn’t felt sad coming back to Paris because I know coming back here is no longer the vast endless months of being alone any more!  2 months is nothing :p  It also helped that I found out that I’d got the internship a few minutes before I left for the airport :D!!

Everything is coming together so well for summer.  I am a bit worried about getting all my uni work done whilst I’m still in Paris but I do feel that I have so much more time now.  I’m not babysitting nearly as much, and the extra teaching I was doing has almost come to and end, so I’m really trying to focus and spend all my free time on getting on with all the work, and sparing some time for my dear Paris too 🙂

So summer at the moment is looking something like this!:

May 3rd- 17th: Home, relaxing, doing uni work

May 18th- 23rd: 21st Birthday week! (yes I’m having a week, because I can :p)

May 24th- June 19th: Internship in London

July & August: Possibly more work experience + Travelling round Holland + sunning myself at home.

September 3rd- 8th: New York!

Mid september: Travelling round Italy/ France

October: Back to university!

The thing about coming to Paris that bothered me the most was that I was leaving behind a life that had never been so good.  It makes sense to have a big change if life isn’t going so well, but my life was at a point where everything had fallen into place. And I just left it all.  I don’t regret coming (not that I had a choice) but it just always felt a bit silly to be leaving a ‘perfect’ life.  I’m so excited to be able to go back to it, taking with me all the new things I’ve learnt whilst being here.

Au Revoir! xx

Hi I’m Mae and I’ll be your tour guide this afternoon :D

My very good friend Emma and her best friend from uni, Helen, came to visit this weekend and it was AWESOME!

But first to back track.  On Wednesday morning, Lauren and I had agreed to meet at Bercy Village in the am as she’d never been before.  It was disatrous as we discovered our generation’s sickening dependancy on mobile phones.  Lauren forgot hers and had no way of contacting me.  We hadn’t agreed on a specific place to meet so we both spent a good half hour waiting and looking for each other to no avail :s she ended up having to go all the way back to hers before she could contact me!  I did manage to have a half decent morning though, I read for a bit in starbucks and went to see all the puppies in the huge pet store <3

In the evening I went round to Molly’s for dinner and we had a good catch up which was loverly!

On Thursday I attempted to start on some uni work, but as this was the first free day I’d had in the hols, I ended up having too many little bits an pieces to get done first that I didn’t really get anywhere with proper work :s

Friday was my first day at the university, and to be honest it was just very mediocre.  It wasn’t awful but it really wasn’t all that exciting and I’m torn as to whether its worth doing now.  All the lecturers are so disorganised and unenthusastic.  And more to the point is the fact that the courses are basically that or nothing.  They aren’t courses I would have chosen.  When I first considered doing some uni study I imagined having a bit of choice and maybe doing some politics or art of culture or literature or even french language.  But not this.  I think if initially I’d been given a list to look over and this was my only choice, I just wouldn’t have done any university study.  On the other hand it is a day a week of sitting listening to real french.  The question being, is it worth spending a whole day out of every week just to improve my french listening.  I think the answer might be yes, because I am so short on any options of learning any french now before I go.  Again on the other hand, that whole day of time could be used productively at home working on my french, but then technically anything I can do at home on my own, I can do when I’m back in England.  Argh!

But never mind because on Friday night despite being shattered from the day, I got to go meet my lovely Emma from Gare du Nord.  It was so awesome to see her, its always ages between the times we get to catch up.

We spent the weekend exploring Paris, me showing her and Helen round.  It was so refreshing for me to make myself just take it all in properly 🙂  On Saturday we got the metro back down to Charles de Gaulle Etoile then wandered along the champs elysees towards the tuileries and the Louvre.  Stopped for coffee in the Louvre starbucks then went shopping on Rue de Rivoli.  After we went around Notre Dame, saw Shakespeare & Co and walked up to the Opera Garnier and Galeries Lafayette.  Long day! In the evening we stayed in, cooked, and watched movies.

On Sunday we went for brunch and then headed up to Montmartre, going via the Moulin Rouge and visiting the Erotica Museum! Was actually intriguing when you realise that its such a normal thing and yet all these artifacts are relegated to this one museum because of people’s prudishness.  After the Place du tertre we got the metro down to the eiffel tower and hung around there as it went dark.  First time I’ve seen it at night up close!  Later we went to Chartier for dinner which was lovely as always always!

On Monday we were all pretty exhuasted so we slept in then went for lunch at Bercy Village, then went for a look at the puppies!  An absolutely exhausting but fantastic weekend 🙂  I’ll put a sample of the pics here but the rest are on flickr (Em very kindly let me put all hers up too).  Once they’d gone and for Tuesday, I spent most of the time recovering and preparing for my interview on Wednesday morning!

Au Revoir! xx

Because I couldn’t avoid Valentine’s day in Paris…

Oooh what a flurry of activities and plans! I love it but boy does it get confusing and scary at times..!

I found out on Tuesday that I have an interview for this internship in London.  They offered to let me do it over the phone, but seeing as I’d been thinking of going home for a bit anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and just fit it all in together.  What followed felt like a horribly confusing and rushed scurry to book trains and flights as cheaply and effectively as possible, which even for my obsesively organised personality almost got to be too much.  Anyway it is done now.  I’m getting the eurostar over to London on Wednesday morning (very excited, not been on the eurostar since the first time I ever came to Paris), interview, spend the day with my old old friend Jo who lives in London at the mo, then get the virgin superdooper fast train back to Preston.  Kinda sad that the latter is superdooper fast cos I’ve got myself a window/table seat with a power point.. and honestly I would gladly sit on a train with my laptop for days 🙂 I miss trains!!  Then I decided to fly back because there’s no need for me to go back via London, and flying makes it all an awful lots quicker, so less time wasted travelling (and more time at home :p).  And the flight was £19.

My only gripe in all this aside from the stress, was the fact that a Eurostar single is the same as a return?!!  I suppose that’s how it has always been in England.. I’ve just got used to the same trip same price system in France. 

On Wednesday I had an odd whole free day which really chilled me out.  The only thing I did was to go and see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in the afternoon.  I knew what was coming but I still wept.  I was beautiful, but so so sad.  I don’t appreciate how all the emotionally challenging films are all released the one year that I’m away from home, living in a foreign country, feeling slightly lonely and alienated, away from all the people I love.  Why couldn’t it have been Hairspray and Mamma Mia this year huh??!

Friday was a WIERD day.  (Skip down a few paragraphs if you don’t wan’t to end up as confused and emotionally exhausted as I was that day).  So right back when I first got to Paris, I really wanted to try and get onto some university courses.  This had been recommended by people at my uni before we left, but once I got here, no-one, not even people back at the uni seemed to know anything about it or had much to say to help me.  So I searched a little but eventually couldn’t find a thing and gave up.  Technically, with my program, I’m supposed to be able to sit in on lectures as an ‘auditrice libre’  (basically someone who just sits in on lectures) but, like I said, no one seemed to have a clue .  So a few weeks ago one of my tutors at uni contacted me asking if I was still interested in doing this as she’d been in touch with some tutors at a university in Paris who would be willing to let me do this.  I told her I wasn’t sure I could now, what with having a two week school timetable and baby-sitting.  Still, she assured me they were happy to work around my timetable.  After eventually getting in touch and arranging a meeting with one of these tutors (be it the French or be it the older generations, how do people not realise that email is usually far more efficient than telephone, argh!), we cut to this Friday where I was to go into the university and meet with her.  I went in not really having a clue what to expect.  She’d mentioned a few brief details on the phone, but none of which I’d really understood.  So I got there and, well my problem was that I had assumed she would sit down with me and look at a list of the courses that were available to me so that I could see which interested me and work out which I could fit in.  In fact, when I first got there that’s what she said we would do.  However what happened was that she spoke at me for 5 minutes, listing all the possible courses while trying to ask me about my timetable and seeing what would work.  It was all I could do to understand everything she was saying, let alone remember the courses and times she had mentioned.  (Bear in mind that at this point I’ve still no idea what the actual department is that she teaches in, i.e. what the core  subject of these modules even are.)  I tried to explain that babysitting every other friday morning along with my two week timetable meant I only had Wednesday and Friday afternoons always free, which meant there was only one course that I could possibly do.  However I did say I could possibly ask to stop babysitting on a Friday, which I think meant I could do two other courses in the morning too.

Once it was vaguely settled, she said well great that first course starts today so if you come back at 3pm you can start then.  It was 10.30 in the morning at this point.  I bewilderedly said okay and asked if there was anywhere I could wait/ use the internet (yes, and a big fat NO), and wandered out of the office.  As I walked down the corridor my brain tried its best to work.  Staying would mean I wouldn’t get home until around 6.30pm.  I was supposed to be going for a meal with the other english teachers from school that night, but my phone battery had died so I was panicing because I’d no way to contact them to find out the time/place etc.  Also the boy was coming that evening and I wanted to tidy the apartment, make him Valentines cookies (!!), and shower etc, which I wouldn’t have time for going straight from the uni, to the meal, to meeting him.  So I made a quick decision, turned around and told the woman whose course it was that I was going to have to come home but would come back later, to which she was just very nice and said fine fine don’t worry.  Once I got home, I did a shop and rushed around and realised I’d only have one hour to do anything before having to set off back to the uni (it takes about an hour to get there from me).  I so didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t want to be ungrateful to them, but all the same I realised the time was just too impractical, and besides, I’m trying my best to stop being so stupidly polite and worried about offending other people all the time :p  So I emailed her and explained that I hadn’t been expecting to start that day and that I hoped it wasn’t too much of a problem if I started the courses next week because I was very busy that day.  I wasn’t too thrilled with the reply I got, consisting of ‘Okay’ in french and that was it.  Maybe far too much was going through my head that day, but I thought as a university lecturer and someone who deals often with foreiners she might at least have some appreciation and sympathy for me not really having a clue what I was getting into, but giving it a chance all the same.

Anyway, all in all, it was just a confusing morning, and I will see what happens when I go in this coming Friday.  I want so badly for it to work out because it’s such a good oppotunity to improve my french.  I just sometimes wonder if I’m insane to put myself out there and try things like this when it often seems to cause me more upset and stess than benefit.

SKIP TO HERE! :p So the rest of Friday was taken up tidying, showering, and marathon cookie making.  This proved to be interesting and rather improvised as I attempted to use a combi oven and mistook some american measuring units and then had to compensate with other ingredients to balance out!  The meal with the english teachers was cancelled and rescheduled in the end which is a good job because I only just had time to sort everything out at mine before going to surprise the boy at the airport 🙂

Valentines Cookies :) (Yes I am a loser.  But it was fun)

Valentine's Cookies 🙂 (Yes I am a loser. But it was fun)

We had a lovely realxed weekend.  On Saturday we went out for a huge brunch and then wandered Paris until it got dark.  Sunday we had a cosy day at mine watching lots of movies and X-Files 🙂

The boy at sunset on le jour de Valentin :)

The boy at sunset on le jour de Valentin 🙂

Monday was the official beginning I guess of my 2 week half term holiday.  The French have two weeks so that they can all go skiing basically!!  During the day I tried to get my head around the mass of uni work I have to do :s In the evening Lauren and I went to see He’s Just Not That Into You.  Mixed feelings but was intrigued to see it cos I’d read the book when it first came out and kinda actually liked it.  To summarise, first half too painful to watch, second half very happy happy! (Finally an antidote to the Seven Pounds/ Revoloutionary Road/ Benjamin Button tear fests!)  After Lauren stopped over and we had a good girlie catch up 🙂

This morning we headed out to Parc de la Villette/ Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie, which is basically a huge science park/ museum on the edge of Paris.  There was sooo so much to do and see, so it was exhausting!  But v v interesting, and we got to see a planetarium show and a 3D show as well as lots and lots of varied exhibitions.  Definately want to take the boy there next time he’s here.

La Geode at Cite des Sciences

La Geode at Cite des Sciences

 

3D Show at Cite des Sciences

3D Show at Cite des Sciences

So here I am now, at the end of that long day, very tired!  I’m feeling a little anxious about this day at the university on Friday, and a little about how little university work I’m getting through (I had a disaster the other day where my usb pen died with all my year abroad journal on it :s just praying I can get it back when I go home), but apart from that all is good.  Very nice to have two weeks to just do what I want.  Visitors this weekend, yey! And then interview excitement and London and home on Wednesday.  Summer is getting very close now too.  I won’t lie. I’m beyond excited and I’m pretty sure this is going to be the best summer of my life so far.  I appreciate every single thing in my life so much more now.

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

The first weekend I’ve felt I can actually relax a little!

So on Thursday I finished and sent off the plan for my uni project.  You may remember that I was intending to do a study of the place of cinema in French society.  BUT I’ve decided now to change it to new technology/digitial/social media in French society, because I felt it was more current, and I could get some really interesting results.  What handing in the project plan did mean though is that I now don’t have a single deadline until June.  And that feels SO good!  I love most of my uni work, I just hate deadlines.  This way I can do whatever I feel like doing whenever I want to.  I don’t have to prioritise one thing just because I have a deadline for it coming up, if that makes sense?  I just feel so relaxed and free about it now.  I pretty much have all my lessons planned till the end of the year now.  So I have time to actually do so many of the things I’ve wanted to do here, like reading for 4th year and exploring Paris.  So that’s nice!

Friday evening I went for dinner and stayed over with my host family.  I enjoyed it far more this time.  I think I worked out that it was the dad who was making me feel unconfortable.  The mom and the kids were just lovely and happy.  I really quite admire the mom actually, she obviously works hard but she also seems to dote on her kids and is so good and encouraging with them.   We had a lovely meal and talk, and she said next time we could maybe do some conversation in English to help the kids a bit which I thought would be nice.  I’m definately glad I went back.. It’s nice to see a real, normal family living here; my experience in general is of students and young people on their own and you do start to wonder if that’s all there is in Paris.  On the Saturday they drove me back into Paris and I WISH I could have filmed my drive.  They live out past La Defense, so our drive in was along the road between la grande arche at La Defence, and the Arc de Triomphe.  Surreal just doesn’t describe driving in a regular family car with the Arc de Triomphe looming directly infront of you!  This also meant we had to drive round the roundabout of death that goes around l’Etoile.. something like 8 lanes of traffic but no markings!! V Scary!  We eventually came out round pont l’Alma, and again, just turning a corner in a regular car and suddenly seeing that you’re right next to the Eiffel Tower. .! Definately a way to experience Paris at some point.  I went and did a bit of shopping myself on Rue de Rivoli, then headed home.

Later in the afternoon I got the bus (5 minutes!!) up to Parc des Buttes Chaumont and met Lauren.  We had a wander round there and then down to Parc de Belleville.  From there it was a pretty quick walk back to my house.. but a lovely, sunny, relaxed afternoon. 

Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Parc des Buttes Chaumont

 

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Parc des Buttes Chaumont at sunset 🙂

View from Place des Fetes.

View from Place des Fetes.

In the evening was Philly’s 21st Birthday Part 3!  Had a lovely evening.. big meal with everyone, lots of wine and laughs and party games.  Later we headed out to some bars in the 5th and just had a really fun drunken night :p

 n11301710_38385063_7143

On Sunday the plan had been to head out to some museums, but Lauren was very much the worse for wear :p  And also we discovered that the supposed ‘All museums in Paris are free on the first Sunday or each month’ only actually applies to like 20 museums.. which is a bit poop!  So in the end we just had a chilled and lazy day :).

This weekend I’m going back to England for the last time before I’m home for good!  ‘Home for good’ by the way is now scheduled as May 3rd!!! So excited.. really allows me to enjoy my time here more, knowing that it is going to end soon.  Very excited to go back for a few days and just soak up some englishness, even though I’m really enjoying it here right now too.

Au Revoir! xx

Things are a-changin’…

It might sound strange but I’m starting to look forward to the start of the working week because one they start they always seem to fly by, I don’t have time to think or worry, and it’s the weekend before I know it.  I suppose that comes with my work being pretty regular and in routine now; I know what’s coming, I get it done, and then it’s over!  It’s a hastle, and the night before I always feel a bit anxious in the pit of my stomach, but like I said I know it will all be over for another week so very quickly.  Then I can enjoy the weekends where I actually get to do what I want to do 🙂

That said, the weeks aren’t just full of work.  Plenty of other things happen too!  The first drama of this week was that I had a call in the afternoon from my baby-sitting dad saying that he wanted me to come round that night and discuss not baby-sitting for him anymore.  I’d already mentioned this to him a few weeks ago because, the weeks where the kids are with him, he’s almost always home pretty soon after they are so I feel a bit superfluous.  So yeah he basically agreed and said they’re really to old to need a baby-sitter especially when he’s there most of the time anyway.  But he said their mom would probably still want me to work (so every other week) because she works alot later, and never gets home early, so more just so the kids aren’t always on their own every night.  It actually workd out great for me because I don’t really need the money anymore (like I did last term) and I’d been questionning whether to give baby-sitting up anyway to have more time for work.  This was I still get a little bit of money but I also get a little bit more time for me too!

On Tuesday night Lauren and went to the Comedie Francaise, again!  Love it there!  That general area around the Louvre is definately becoming my favourite area of Paris.  This time we went to see Moliere’s l’Illusion Comique.  It was great, and the lead actor was beautiful :p though in all fairness neither of us really understood what was going on.  What’s strange is that I never seem to get bored at the theatre even though I never understand much!  Such a great atmosphere though.

Comedie Francaise

Comedie Francaise

Me and Lauren at the Comedie Francaise

Me and Lauren at the Comedie Francaise

On Wednesday Lauren and I went to check out ‘Forum des Images’ which I knew had been refurbished and reopened in December.  It’s a really cool space dedicated to cinema; the best part for me is they have a big cinema themed library with free wi-fi and loads of work spaces, so definately a potential work/ hang out spot!  I got lots of errands done too during the rest of the day, so on my way home I randomly treated myself to a massage which was lovely!!

So it’s at this point where I should really write something on the strikes of ‘Jeudi Noir’ which, thanks to international media hype, so many people have been asking me about.  The fact is, it’s a big and varied topic/debate/ issue and not one I want to go into here.  But understand this.. strikes are normal in France, particularly in Paris.  This one, in my experience and many of my friends’, did not ‘paralyze’ Paris anymore than some of the others have.  Yes the march in the centre was big, but it didn’t have as much of an effect as the unions hoped.  And me?  I got to work 20 mins earlier than usual!

Finally, I know this isn’t really France related, but I did just send an application off for a proper internship for the summer (something I never thought I do).  It is strange but exciting that I’m really having to plan out the next step AFTER Paris now… only 3 more months here, and I know it’s going to go fast.  But more about that excitement and non- Franceness on my tumblr blog.  It does also call into question what happens to this blog once I leave France.  I think I may leave this one to remain my year in Paris.  But whether I start another to keep alongside my tumblr, we shall have to see!

Au Revoir!

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

Home is where the people you love are.

Possibly the best christmas ever 🙂  Here’s a quick rundown of my time at home!

So on Monday December 22nd, Emma and I got on a plane to go home for the holidays.  We were rather giddy as can be expected, and decided to get some little bottles of wine and listen to christmas songs the whole way.  Best idea ever; we got rather tipsy and very ready for christmas by the time we landed!

p)

On the plane home (note the sexy man next to us who we chatted to on the way :p)

That evening I went for a meal with my Qegs friends for a catch up which we’ve done almost every term so far!  It’s wierd to think we’re all about to start living real adult lives in totally different directions.

On Tuesday night I went up to the theatre where I worked last year; saw my boss and some work friends then watched their Christmas Panto 😀  Wednesday was Christmas Eve and I got to see both Annas, two of my best best freinds.  One Anna and I went to the Carol Service we go to every year which was magical 🙂 Then I went home and had a gorgeous evening sat round the fire with my brothers and some family freinds.  Christmas day was just lovely and relaxing as always.  As was boxing day.  On the 27th we headed down to Marborough for the big family reunion, which is always my second favourite part of Christmas (after christmas eve)… family is like my drug; as long as I have it I’ll always be calm and happy despite ups and downs, but if it was taken away I just wouldn’t be able to make sense of anything anymore.  Paul and I stayed the night there then headed up to Boston, passing some beautiful little market towns along the way.  Boston is the home of Claire, a friend from uni, who is also on her year abrod at the moment so it was lovely to see her for her 21st and catch up!  Made me really get excited for 4th year of uni 🙂  We were at her house in the evening then Paul & I stayed in a B&B nearby.  The next day Claire showed us around Boston and then we had to head home 🙁  I was v exhausted by the end of it but the whole trip just made me realise how full of little gems England is.  There’s still so much of it I want to explore still.

The Stump- Boston, Lincolnshire.

The Stump- Boston, Lincolnshire.

 

Gorgeous little shop in Boston.

Gorgeous little shop in Boston.

New Years Eve was magical 🙂 Paul and I were a Paul’s parents who have a dinner party every year where each couple makes one course (I brought the cheese from France!).  The meal was stunning (which you’d expect with two experienced chefs in the party..).  At midnight Paul & I ‘brought in the new year’ by going out the back door, standing by the front door freezing for 5 minutes, then everyone opening it to let us in.  Twas cute, and nice that they let us do it 🙂  We watched all the fireworks across the Ribble Valley from Paul’s balcony then lit some ourselves.  The rest of the night was party games!

)

Waiting to bring in the new year 🙂

On the 2nd Paul took me for my christmas present.. a shopping trip 😀 I’ve never had so much fun!  Had an exhausting but ace day in Manchester.  Last thing to note is that on Saturday I had to say goodbye to a very good friend of mine who was leaving the next day with the Marines.  It scares the *bad word* out of me, and I wish he didn’t feel he had to go, but we all have to do life our own way I guess.  I just pray he doesn’t do anything stupid 🙁

In conclusion, Paris is incredible, magical, a dream.  But it is not home.  Because with everything I’ve ever been through, my family and my friends have always been there.  Everyone is different, but to me, I want the people I love because that to me is the point of all this.  Don’t get me wrong, I want the rest of my life to be full of exploring, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop exploring, but I always want to come back.  I guess I’m just very lucky, because my mind will probably always be a bit lost, but my heart never will be.

Au Revoir xx

P.s. Yes I’m full of cheesy crap, If you know me then you already know this.  But it also happens to be true, so shut up :p

P.p.s.  Check out my family’s disgustingly huge Christmas Tree.  I’ve trained them well…

The picture just does not do justice to the magnitude of this tree.

The picture just does not do justice to the magnitude of this tree.