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Blue Skies

Posted on Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Look, I exist! Promise.
I'm still here, very much alive and well!  The truth is, when I sit down to update my blog it's generally sunny and bright outside, and I think "Well I should get outside while it's nice..." and then I'm off!  With my newly-minted year long Vélib pass, I've been roaming all around Paris on bike (while trying to avoid cobblestones at all costs) which is one of the best ways to see the city for sure.

Catching sundown over Notre Dame from my bike.
Last week, my parents were generous enough to invite my friend Jackie and me down to their house in the Loire Valley for a few days.  After a whirlwind first few weeks in Paris, it was nice to breathe some country air and catch up on sleep - not to mention being wined and dined extensively!  With our poor girls' budgets, we've been mostly subsisting on powdered soup from the super market and baguette, so it was with wide eyes and grumbling stomachs that we greeted the bounty of fruits and veggies my mother had in store for us.  Perhaps the most notable part of our trip was a short visit to the Chateau de Beaulieu in Saumur.  My parents' friends operate the chateau as an intimate little B&B on the banks of the Loire (See their website here!).  We were invited to dinner and Jackie and I couldn't believe our luck! While just days before we'd been chowing down on baguette on the windy steps of Sacré Coeur, here we were enjoying a three course meal in a 17th century chateau thanks to the incredible generosity of Conor and Mary, the chateau owners.  (If anyone's looking for a fantastic B&B in French wine country, I can't recommend this place highly enough!)

Home sweet country home.
Check out the site here if you're interested!
A day spent at the Chateau de Brissac
Our days in the Loire were so relaxing, and I think we might've seen more cows than people!  Roadside wine tastings, cheese after every meal, and so many hours of sleep... It really was nice to recharge even though it had only been a few weeks of madness here in Paris.  I'm more city girl than country girl, though, and so it was nice to pull back into the Gare Montparnasse last Thursday evening and see the Eiffel Tower twinkling in the distance, welcoming us home.  I'm really starting to feel at home in my little shoebox room apartment.  It's just so small, but so perfect too in its own way.  Now that I've got a table and a little chair, I can sit by my window and use my computer or eat my dinner while looking out over the rooftops of the 7th arrondissement   Not bad, my friends, not bad at all.  My neighborhood is wonderful and well-situated, and I continue to be grateful for the friends I've met thus far (and those with whom I've reunited!) that make me feel so at home here.  I can't believe that this week marks the one-month mark of my stay!  On one hand, I can't believe it's only been a month - I feel like I've stuck back into my Parisian routine so quickly that it's like I never left. On the other, though, with a seven-month work contract beginning this week it's frightening to think how quickly one month has gone by already.

Room with a view.
I begin working at school on Friday.  I'll be teaching at two schools located just north of Paris, in the infamous Seine St-Denis area.  It's a far cry from the 7th arondissement where I live (on my block alone there's a Céline, Yves Saint-Laurent, Christian Louboutin...) and has, in the past, been the center of riots and violent protests, but I visited my schools yesterday and felt completely safe and ready to start work.  I'll be doing 6 hours in each school per week, helping the English teachers with kids aged 11-14, and after meeting a few of the classes yesterday I'm really looking forward to getting to know the students and helping them progress with English as much as I can.  I report back on Friday morning to present myself to my classes and to get to know them.  Some friends who've already met more students have been met with such entertaining questions as "Do you do brunch?" and "Have you heard of Jay-Z?" so I'm really excited to see what kinds of things I'm asked by my students.  I think the experience will be fulfilling if challenging, and I'm curious to see if it encourages me to persue teaching as an actual career.

Aside from all that, Paris is still as beautiful as ever.  The food (Oh là là... The food.), the people, Sometimes I still need to pinch myself to see if it's all real - the most mundane activities make me feel so unreasonably happy that I'm not sure I can take all the good things that are coming my way.  I successfully opened my bank account and got my debit card, so I'm well on my way to feeling "real" in this new life.  I also received my absentee ballot in the mail the other day, and in a fairly rare moment of patriotism I cast my vote and sent it back to Bucks county.  I'm proud that the US makes it fairly easy for its ex-patriates to continue to be involved in the policital process, and I look forward to watching the political process unfold from way over here.  Here's to hoping my Parisian vote helps a favorable outcome in November!  

Beautiful autumn morning at Invalides.
I'd rather have this than money.  Is that wrong?
If it is, I don't want to be right.
Watching my money disappear so rapidly is tough, but I'm hoping to find a side job shortly that will afford me a bit more flexibility in spending - though my dwindling bank account doesn't seem to stop me from buying a falafel every week in the Marais, or splurging on a stinkier cheese... Oh well, being broke is half the fun of it (right??).  Even if, after a soirée at my neighbors' apartment, I come home reeking of cigarette smoke and full to the brim with quiche and cheese, it's these minor discomforts that remind me how lucky I am to actually be here.  The weather is turning colder in Paris, but rather than the usual gloomy gray of Parisian fall, it's been bright and sunny and clear.  The city comes alive in this sunlight, more than in the hazy heat of the summer, and there's no greater joy than walking across a bridge that's older than the United States and finding myself in a new or unexplored neighborhood.  While I'll be busier once work starts in full, I'll try my hardest to never forget that these little pleasures are what makes life here worthwhile. I'll leave you now with a French rap song written about the area in which I'll be teaching - it might give you an idea of the kind of scene I'll be a part of...  xo



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Sinéad Cloughley said...

As long as you learn those sweet dance moves I think you'll do just fine, ma cherie. Miss you xx