Hellllllo Internet Peoples! I hope all is well since the last time I wrote.
As I write this post, on a rather solitary Friday night (enhanced majorly by peeling the foil off the lid of a tin of lemon SanPellegrino), I am excited by the fact that I find myself at the start of a two week break for half term- YES!! I have so many adventures planned, and I can’t wait to share them with you. But for now, I thought it was about time I stopped being so lazy, and filled you all in on my January adventures.
- Returning to France
One of the luxuries of being at university is that 6 week state of having exams but not actually going to class, and so you find yourself with a loooooong and wonderful break- however, the French school system wasn’t about to let me have the lazy snoozefest that is the exam period, and so I jumped on a plane back to France on the 2nd January. I had the most perfect and wonderful and lovely two week break at home, so I couldn’t complain too much! However, I had… a very interesting(?) welcome back, which I thought I might as well share with you, my dear readers, so you can laugh at how awkward my life can be.
It was my first time getting the metro from CDG to Gare du Nord, so I was a little confused. I had a 20kg suitcase in one hand, a metro ticket in the other, and absolutely no sense of direction. So when a helpful man saw me wrestling the beast of a suitcase down the steps to the metro, I was really thankful when he grabbed it out of my hands, helped me find out where I was going, and even put it onto the train. What a sweetheart! He even sat beside me and we chatted for a little bit about how he works at the airport, about my Year Abroad and why I found myself in France. Really banal, normal, everyday, UNFLIRTATIOUS conversational topics.
And then he said “Those eyes, you’re just so… *gasps”.
And that’s how I met the creepy, strange and somewhat helpful man on a metro in my first night back in France. Of course.
Better still, he didn’t stop there. Oh no. He went on to talk about how we could make things work, about how he would be my “tour guide” in Paris, how I could stay at his apartment. He told me about how his dream of owning his first car was becoming a reality soon, and how we’d cruise around Paris together at night. And how he’d love to teach me Arabic someday, and I’d teach him English. I just didn’t have the heart (or the French) to gash his dreams against the stinky tunnels of the French train system, so I just stayed quiet. I think he thought I was playing hard to get.
The last straw was when he tried to pay for my train ticket home to Compiègne, which resulted in the wonderful spectacle of him putting his credit card into the ticket machine, me pulling it back out (repeat that about ten times), and finally me, not knowing what else to say, screaming “JE SUIS FEMINISTE! ARRETEZ, JE SUIS FEMINISTE!!!!!”
The course of true love never did run smoothly…
Thankfully, I made it back to Compiègne in one piece. I think I’ll have to wear a disguise when travelling through CDG in the future!
2. My Birthday!
I’m 21! And I was, for some weird reason, DREADING celebrating my birthday in France. I think I thought I’d be alone and I HATE Tuesdays anyway (5 hours of work plus tutoring? Non, merci). But it actually turned out a lot better than I thought! I got letters and packages in the post, which was SO cute, as well as a lovely care package from my lovely friend Bekah! And to top it all off, the other assistants threw me a little shindig, complete with pizza and a dodgy cake I’d baked the night before (which didn’t rise because APPARENTLY the French don’t have self-raising flour?!).
Some of the English department also took me out for cocktails in one of our local bars! I had a white Russian in France speaking English to some of the kindest, loveliest ladies you’ll ever know. And then we switched to French, and my brain slightly melted, but it was still glamorous and lovely.
21 is weird to say and feels old and scary, but the day didn’t go unmarked, and for that (and all of the amazing messages on Facebook from everyone back home) I was profoundly grateful.
3. Paris Wednesdays and OAP Saturdays
Myself and Bekah (fellow English assistant and pal extraordinaire) came back after Christmas feeling itchy. Itchy for travelling and exploring and adventures. And seeing as we both have every other Wednesday off, as well as the weekends, we saw the birth of “Paris Wednesdays” and “OAP Saturdays”. The idea is exactly as it sounds; on a Wednesday, we go into Paris and do something new or exciting, and on a Saturday, we take a little day trip, much like pensioners.
This has honestly become one of my favourite things.
I’m definitely going to blog a little bit more about our adventures in detail, but so far, our OAP trip has taken us to the amazing Pierrefonds (i.e. the castle that you see in Merlin), and we’ve done some of the best Paris sights- Notre Dame, Galeries LaFayette, Shakespeare and Co etc. It’s been wonderful, and I can’t wait to continue after the holidays!
4. (Another) Trip to Amsterdam!!
YES I WENT TO AMSTERDAM FOR THE THIRD TIME OKAY I KNOW.
This time, I went with my boyfriend, and it was amazing as EVER! I am obsessed with this city. Paris is beautiful and magical and romantic, but Amsterdam has it’s own brand of magic (and no, I’m not talking about drugs here, people).
We spent three days just wandering around, being proper flaneurs and making the most of this gorgeous place when it wasn’t just so busy. The best place we ate was a little café called Toastable, which makes a variety of toasties and has loads of fresh juices. If you visit Amsterdam any time soon, GO THERE. We went back twice because it was so good, and the staff are just little rays of Dutch sunshine too.
We did a canal tour too, but seeing as it was my third time, and the guide literally didn’t speak, we quickly got distracted and started pretending that he had no idea how to drive the boat- which resulted in us dissolving into laughter and stifling giggles while the other passengers raised eyebrows. I also lost my nose piercing for the duration of the visit, and was in a terrible mood until THANKFULLY, Chris picked it up at the very end of the tour. Yay!
We stayed in the ClinkNOORD (the hostel I’ve used for all of my Amsterdam visits), which was as good as ever. The best part was finding a secret room at the back of the building, which was so cool and had a deck, plants and a picnic table, and nobody else knew about it. It felt like a fabulous discovery, and we spent most of our time between walking and eating, resting in there.
Amsterdam makes me feel so at peace with the world. If I had to choose a different place to live out the rest of my days, it’d be Amsterdam, no questions asked. Despite the crazy pigeon stompers (you don’t want to know).
I thought I’d include a little paragraph on how my teaching is going, so that when I look back on these blogs, I’ll be able to remember my experiences. Teaching is still going well- I am NOT looking forward to sitting on the opposite side of the desk in September! My classes are generally lovely, and I find myself doing a lot of oral exam practice this semester- which means unfortunately, I don’t really get as much banter with the kids as I used to. Some highlights however, have been:
- One class getting very excited telling my how one of the other kids had killed his cats with a shovel (complete with an illustration)
- Meeting new classes who only wanted to know if I had a boyfriend (and the groans when they found out I did)
- The one kid who listened to me describe my job, and when the teacher asked him what he understood, he said “Elle aime bien le whiskey” (she really likes whiskey)
- Finding a french person who knew Fleetwood Mac and Alice Cooper
- The class who thought Irish people wore “Hand-made, woollen clothes” (for real)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love this job. It can be tough, but it makes me so happy.
And that’s it! Some other, smaller but still noteable highlights have been
- Finding violet macarons
- Receiving a letter from one of my old teachers
- Planning all of my half term adventures
- Buying more Emma Hardie cleanser
- Reading Dubliners
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my January adventures as much as I’ve enjoyed reminiscing! For the next few weeks, I’m planning to talk a little bit about some of the practical aspects of living in France, so that future Year Abroaders can stumble upon this and hopefully find it useful. I’m also going to write about some of my favourite things from January, and ALSO about the different places I’ve visited. So stay tuned peeps!
As always, thank you for reading and thanks for all the love and support during this weird and wonderful time. You guys are the best! 😀