Very chirpy right now as I’ve found out my mum is coming to visit this weekend after all!
Yesterday was another down in my current rollercoaster. I went all the way to the Champs Elysees to get my mobile phone only to find (contrary to what I had been told by them the week before) that I needed my bank card to set up the contract for some reason (which I don’t have yet for some other unknown reason.. yet another annoyance!). I headed up to Jills to finish tidying up and things there. When I got home I had an email from mum saying she couldn’t come this weekend because of the whole eurostar fiasco. So yeah, I was in a major slump. Emma did come round in the evening though and we had a good natter so that cheered me up a little!
Today was lovely cos I met up with another language assistant here in Paris who I’d spoken to on facebook. She lives in a really bustly area of the latin quarter, and it was so good to just meet someone who’s about to do the same kinda things as me!
Later today mum and I worked out that she could get across on the ferry actually more cheaply than the eurotunnel anyway and eventually she was pursuaded! I’m so happy she’s coming so she can see my new apartment! Plus she’s bringing more of my stuff so that’ll help so much in making me feel more settled 🙂
I’ve also managed to take some pictures of the first apartment I was staying in, and of my new one which I shall put up here now!
Au Revoir! xx
I’m feeling very settled today which is awesome!
Saturday I did a big shop (well as big as I could considering I had to carry it all back to the apartment!). I have found a fancy little trolly thing in the flat that the Parisians seem to love, which helps to bring the shopping back! After that Molly text me to see if I wanted to come round for a brew. I took some stuff to take round to Jill’s apartment cos I figured I could go there after. I ended up spending the whole afternoon at Molly’s, first at hers and then we went for a wander around the 11th, round by the canal and stopping in a cafe there. Later she asked if I wanted to come to a dinner that one of her friends was putting on, and when I was sure I was definately welcome I said okay! Met some of her other friends and what I found really cool was that they spoke french for most of the night and I think I pretty much followed it all! Didn’t quite have the guts to speak any myself. I think its really intimidating particularly because Molly and her friend Sarah are english and speak french so I feel awful at it in comparison to them. I know that’s ridiculous because they’ve lived here for 10 years but especially when you’re around really competant billingual people, I think there’s alot more pressure to be good at the two languages.
We ended up staying there till about 5am then Molly, Sarah and I got a taxi home!
Today I inevitably didn’t get up till late! When I eventually got up and about, I tried to make some progress on the internet front first. Then I had to go round to Molly’s to get the bag of stuff I’d left to take to Jill’s. I stopped for a brew and a chat there, then Molly came with me to Jill’s. We ended up going for a drink at one of the cafes at the end of the road where I’d been staying the first few weeks. I hadn’t been there before but it is gorgeous and I’m definately gonna go there again on quiet afternoons :).
Hence getting home, I felt rather relaxed into the whole cafe, friends, wandering round Paris lifestyle! The apartment helps so much but even more so is having people that I can actually hang out with and experience it with 🙂 I’m so so grateful for that!
Finally managed to get a few more pictures up on the fickr account! Should have some free time tomorrow to take some pictures of both the first place and of this apartment for you to see 🙂
Au revoir! xx
So yesterday I moved the rest of my stuff into the new apartment, and proceeded to arrange it all perfectly! There was an awful lot of stuff provided by the landlord, but also alot of random junk left by previous tenants! I sorted through the latter and actually found a few nice bits and pieces to decorate the place with :). Today I pretty much just continued with all that, and right now I just about have everything as I want it. I do want to do more cleaning cos I’m a freak (but everythings so dusty!), but it’s definately looking very homely now!
Also, Molly came round again last night which was lovely! She was thinking of some friends she could introduce me to which is encouraging, as right now the idea of making friends with french people on my own TERRIFIES me. We had a look online too for sorting an internet and phone connection here properly. There seem to be so many hidden charges and I don’t know what to do because I can’t very well ring them up and ask them to explain because I wouldn’t understand a word! I also got my first view of the night time landscape from my balcony here, and it was stunning 🙂 We watched the eiffel tower when it started all the twinkling lights on the hour! Tis very cool.
One thing I did do today was go down to the local CAF office (conveniently located at the end of my road!) to sort out the housing benefit that I should be entitled to as a young person in France. It was a tad bewildering because I went intending to ask what paperwork and things I would need to provide, but the woman was very scary and seemed very rushed. I showed her what I had already and she literally just took the application form, a photocopy of my passport and an RIB slip (the bank give you these with all you details on it to make things easier), gave me a reciept and said it would take about a month! I just hope everything there was right. Having said that, the good thing about the caf (apparently) is that even if it takes months to sort out, I still get back paid from when I first started living here, so it doesn’t really matter if it takes forever.
Au Revoir! xx
Things are never bad for too long. I knew that, it was just damn frustrating having to wait.
So I’ve found an apartment 😀 Went to view it on Saturday and the past few days have been spent sorting leases and what not. It was great actually because literally as I was walking to meet to owner, another guy who owned another apartment that I’d really wanted called me. I’d seen this one on Wednesday night and he hadn’t called me so I had assumed he’d given it to someone else, but he was calling to say I was his second choice, the first had found somewhere else, so did I want it. I had to tell him I’d call him back after seeing this other one. ‘This other one’ turned out to be gorgeous, really bright, everything I want. So I had to tell him no. It was really nice to know though that people hadn’t been not wanting me to live in their apartments, that I was at least a second choice! :p
That was saturday day, then saturday night Emma invited me to a party at one of her work friends’ house. It was strange/ interesting because most people from Lancaster who are in Paris this year for whatever reason, were there. There were also loads of other English people and a few other internationals. Twas just strange that all these English kids my age, all in Paris for many different reasons, all manage to congregate in one place. It was great to meet some other people, but a big black mark for not speaking French :s I think, as someone said on our teacher training week, the best thing is going to be using English as a treat, because not speaking it at all WILL drive me crazy 🙂
Sunday was quite a lazy day but lovely. Met Emma and Leanne on the Champs Elysees for lunch and then we had a wander past all the fancy shops :p later Em and I just hung out and watched some Dvds… it’s scary how shattered I am ALL the time right now. I guess it’s just the culture shock but I am exhausted!
Today I horrifically attempted to change Traveller’s Cheques to get the deposit for my apartment. Why are people SUCH A RIP OFF? I’ve already paid a loaded exchange rate to convert pounds in euros in the first place; then American Express (of all places, i.e. the people who make the traveller’s cheques), charge 2% commision to change them into cash. Okay, I’ll admit there may have been places in Paris where one CAN change them without a charge, but it was beyond me to go trapesing round trying to find that place. Oh well, it’s done now!
Currently very excited because later I am going to get the keys for my new apartment, and am officially moved in from then on :). But also, Paul is arriving tonight 😀 He’s over for a few days and it is going to be amazing! I’ve been looking forward to this so much. Being here is great, but being here with Paul is just going to be Magic 🙂 Shall let you know what we get up to. And I’ll also get some pictures of the apartment up here asap!
Au Revoir! xx
Quick post because I’m in an internet Cafe as my internet has now died 🙁
Apartment hunting is IMPOSSIBLE. I just want somewhere livable with light and a comfy bed I can sit and read on all year now. I just don’t Care. Right now I hate Paris :s Right now it just sucks. I don’t want to have to say that and I’d glady welcome anyone to prove me wrong but right now that’s how it is and I figure it’s only honest to put it out there. I’m supping it up and getting on with it, but God only knows why.
Obviously the highlight of today.. finding that they’re playing the OC dubbed in French right from the first episode (starting today) on one of the main french channels. Emma and I managed to watch a whole one and a half episodes barely understanding a word but enjoying it all the same :p may be a sure fire way to soak up the french!
Yesterday was interesting. The day was lovely, mom and I pretty much just explored montmartre and the 18th. We went to Montmartre Cemetary which is full of well known dead people, and some stunning graves. The evening wasn’t so good. Mom left and I found out I hadn’t got that apartment I’d really wanted so I hit pretty low getting homesick. But I supped it up and watched Almost Famous and went to sleep 🙂
Today was busy; I had 4 viewings which Emma very kindly came along to. The first one was in Montmartre quite near where I’m staying and honestly it was lovely. Quiet area and far out but big room, nice spearate kitchen and bathroom, not too expensive. The second was right in the centre on Ile St Louis so the area was stunning. But the flat had almost no natural light and though it was cosy, it was definately small and I don’t know if I could handle spending all my time in there :s. The third was a bit poo, if it had been in a really good area then it would have been decent enough, small but light and pretty, but it was right in the south so probably not worth it. And the landlord was sketchy! The fourth one almost made me cry, it was near the champs elysees on a top floor and from the windows you could see so much of the Paris skyline; Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Opera Garnier. But the actually apartment was just BAD. Bedroom was okay but the other room had the bathroom just in the middle! Very little furniture etc but oh the view! Emma and I agreed that it would be a fab place to buy and do up and change around a bit as your own property but definately not fit to rent.
Soo I’m trying my bestest to get the first one but I don’t want to get my hopes up. I’ll keep you posted.
Au Revoir! xx
I visited the school on Friday! Got up about 10am and walked over to Gare du Nord to meet my mum from the train. Twas only about a 10 minute walk and very busy! Then about 2pm I walked to Catherine’s house. Was very complicated getting there, lots of little streets; but good to get to know the area. Her apartment was gorgeous, so cosy and FULL of books!
We talked a little there about what I’d be teaching and things. It sounds ideal really. Apparently the lessons I teach will be a straight hour with each group, separate from their normal lessons. This is because alot of their exam is speaking so apparently they need as much practice as possible. Also for the older classes I’ll only have 3 to a class which sounds great and then only 10 for the younger ones which is still very manageable. She also showed me the timetables of the last 2 years’ assistants and it seems like she tries to group the 12 hours I have to do into 3 days which is great because it means I can spend the whole day at the school on those days and then have 4 days free to do other things. Not sure yet if I have completely free rein on what I can teach or whether it has to fit withing her topic areas, but even if it does.. one of those is women’s place in history 😀 so that’s all good!
After that we walked up to the school (only about a 10 minute walk from her apartment) and she showed me around and I met some of the teachers. It seems like a huge school but very friendly and down to earth. Everyone seemed to know each other and get on well. There’s a big library so I might be able to borrow french novels from there, and a language multimedia centre I can use for lessons if I book it! It has suddenly dawned on me that I really need to get my head around some fixed introductions and lesson plans but I think I’ll just focus on apartments for the next few days, then as soon as that’s sorted I’ll get down to work.
So speaking of apartments! When I got back from seeing Catherine, mum and I went to a phone box (mum came for moral support :p) and I called around lots of numbers I’d got from fusac. From that I set up some viewings. I also set some up over email from addresses I’d got from fusac.
Later on mom and I went to a basic little restaurant just down the street from here. Twas okay, filling food but just okay :p
This morning we went to see the first of the apartments. This one was quite far out and rather cheap (well, for Paris); I wasn’t really thinking of it seriously but I wanted something for comparisons. I actually didn’t think it was too bad but mom was horrified :p The bathroom was a little grotty. But I just figured one has to be optimistic and they will be what you make them!
We spent the rest of the morning having a look around the areas of a few of the other apartments. I’m really enjoying just wandering at the moment and getting to grips with everywhere 🙂
This evening we went to see another apartment near Buttes Chaumont Park and boy was it gorgeous. The area is lovely. It’s not right in the centre but it’s still quite bustly and I kind of like that it’s a little more private. It’s definately at the expensive end but everything is included in the rent and I really have fallen in love with it. We just have to wait and see now if she choses me over the other people who came to view it. I really don’t know how that whole choosing thing works. It seems to totally depend on the landlord whether they are really desperate for you to want the apartment or whether you are really desperate that they choose you as a tenant?! I guess we’ll find out tomorrow!
I shall keep you posted on the apartment hunt!
After that mom took me to a restaurant that she and her best friend went to when they were working in Paris, THIRTY years ago :p It’s called Chartier and it’s definately something to experience, really crowded and hot and basic meals but so so popular… we had to queue to get a table. It’s like an 18th century majorly upper class dining hall or something. Very bizaare!
Au revoir! xx
You know what? I’m far too tired again to go into detail about that first day so I’ll just have to keep the feeling as a memory and detail any bits that come back to me later on. Needless to say is was a fabulous first day and I already noticed alot about Paris and its quirks.
Now onto today!
So today I failed to look at apartments, though this wasn’t entirely my fault. This morning I went out to do many a thing that needed doing as well as make sure I could definately find a few places, and just to have a general wander around. I bought a ‘carte mobilis’ which is a public transport ticket for one day’s unlimited travel.
Firstly I went to place de l’opera to the BNP paribas bank there as this is where the ‘agence’ (branch.. of the bank) yesterday said I would be able to open a bank account without having a fixed address. Again it was rather strange coming out of the metro to a view of the Paris opera (which I’ve actually never been inside, despite all the Phantom of the Opera links!) but straightaway walking away from it to go do adminy ‘i live here’ type stuff. The guy at the bank was great, I think. Though I’m still not sure if I’ve just signed my life away to something horrible!! I was able to set up the account with some kind of 30 day lee-way I have to find an apartment and give an address. I’m not given my card or cheque book until an address but it gets round the bank-apartment catch-22 as I now have the RIB slips that I need to show a landlord. I actually came out of there overwhelmed that I’d been in a room speaking straight French all on my own for almost half an hour.
Next it was on to the american church where aparently there are lots of advertisements for housing and where I hoped to pick up the P à P and the FUSAC magazines (full of accommodation offers). However when I got there the whole place looked shut up and and italian guy sat outside didn’t seem to know when it would be open. Stupid me really should have checked the website I guess! So that kinda put pain to my plans to do some house hunting. I wandered from here to another metro stop and got my first glimpse of the eiffel tower which, despite the cliché still makes me a bit happy 🙂
The next stop was by the Sorbonne (one of the universities in Paris and I think the french equivalent to Oxford) and Lycée Louis le Grande where we have our welcome and teacher training for my teaching scheme at the beginning of October. The Sorbonne was beautiful and very imposing :p.
I wanted to get some clothes and I’d figured out that one of the main shopping streets was reasonably near so I wandered through the ‘jardin du Luxembourg’ which was stunning. There was a band playing with lots of people watching so I stopped to watch that for a little while. Then as I passed the lake I saw all the toy sail boats and motor boats that some of the children (and some of the adults!) were playing with. A bit further on some people were giving donkey rides 🙂
The girl second from the left gave me a wide-eyed smile as I walked past which clearly was saying ‘how can anyone expect me to enjoy plodding along at 1mph down some random path’ :p. Or perhaps she was just extactic with glee, being on a cute fury horsey thing.
I got to where the shops were and had a happy/worrying moment when I realised that it was in fact a huge street full of many clothes shops, and the metro stop at the end of this street goes directly to the metro stop nearest my house. Far to easy. Once I’d done some shopping I actually took the metro all the way to the stop by my school. I wanted to have a quick look at it before I start. It’s not nearly as bad an area as I thought it could be. I don’t think Paris can quite do bad areas really. But the school is huge!! Quite excited now though to start there. Ooo also, I managed to call Catherine today who is the english teacher responsable for me and I’m going round to her house tomorrow.
After seeing the school I came back to the house for a while then went to the Champion supermarket just down the road to get some supplies finally!
This evening Emma (a friend from uni who is working in Paris for 6 months as part of her year abroad) came round and we had spaghetti bolognaise and a gossip about all things french. I cooked in Paris! It was so bizaare, especially as I haven’t really cooked at all in 3 months. Twas lovely to have someone in a similar boat with all the struggles of settling in and finding an apartment and getting used to the french ways of life.
We looked at FUSAC apartment adds online and I feel a bit more confident and ready and optimistic to start looking tomorrow 🙂 And my mama is coming tomorrow morning so that definately adds to the whole confidence thing, having someone to go look at places with. It was great opening the bank account this morning, knowing I’d done it myself, but the whole ‘look what you’ve achieved all on your own thing’ is overrated. I know I’ll feel far happier, safer and more prepared with some one else there. Emma offered to come with me once mum has gone too which is awesome.
Gonna write down some numbers from the FUSAC adds then go to bed I think! I’m still completely shattered but I feel like right now I really shouldn’t stop before I’ve got a least the basic things sorted. The good thing about coming a bit earlier I guess is that hopefully I’ll have an apartment soonish and then I’ll have some time to actually relax and settle in properly 🙂
Au revoir! xx
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!