Monday, 27 September 2010

Cake, and gender-ambiguous security staff.

The headteacher just knocked on my door and presented me with a rather large slice of cake.

I love it here. However, I still can't speak French in the past tense. Avoir, être, whatever...

Tomorrow I have a meeting to discuss my timetable with the other English teachers, then I think I'm going to Paris to meet some other assistants in the evening. Should be nice :)

Anyway, I haven't filled you in with the details of my weekend, so I now shall do that.

Saturday, I decided to go into Paris to have a look around and generally see what all the fuss was about. London wins.

I got myself to the Gare de Lyon, planning to find the river, walk along it until I got bored, and then go home again. That is exactly what I did. Well. Once I found my way out of the Gare de Lyon, that is. After several minutes of following exit signs with little numbers next to them, I found myself stood on another platform. Turns out, the numbers had nothing to do with the exit signs, and I had been heading for the metro. Well done me. More lost than ever. Well, until I found myself in the vinegar section of Carrefour today.

After a bit of desperate wandering around an immensely confusing train station, I found my way out into some fresh air and onto a bridge overlooking the river. Such a pretty river. Crossing it, I stumbled upon a garden of some sort. Forgive me, I cannot remember what it is called. But it is the sort of place that my mum would like to visit, I think. Wandering around there for a bit to take photos of pretty flowers and angry pigeons, I soon got bored, and decided to head back out onto the road to go see what interesting stuff Paris had to offer.

Which was when I realised why Paris carries all these stereotypical connotations of romance.

A young couple, around 17, were sitting on a bench. Well, he was sitting on the bench. She was sitting on him, if you know what I mean. They saw me approaching, but do you think they cared?

Did they fuck!

Keeping my eyes fixed straight ahead, I quickened my pace, to get 1) past them and 2) out of the most boring tourist attraction I have ever seen since going to the Pencil Museum.

I carry on walking once I manage to escape this flowerbed of pain and misery, down to Notre Dame, bought myself a souvenir corkscrew (for the wine I'd been so cruelly stopped from drinking the night before) and somehow found myself in the middle of some variety of techno music festival. I am not even exaggerating when I say I must have been the only person on this street not to be on a drug of any description. It looked like fun though.

After escaping the parade, I decide that it is time for me to go and find some food. As I approach Le Louvre I see a McDonalds in the distance. That'll do, fairly simple food.

I get in there, and see that the menu is mostly written in English. "Ah, easy enough", I think to myself as a very tall, slightly intellectually challenged young man yells out "Bonjour?!?!?" desperate to serve the next muppet tourist.

"Bonjour, un Big Mac avec Deluxe Potatoes et un coca s'il vous plait". No.

It would seem, that I had not asked for my "Big Mac" or my "Deluxe Potatoes" in a French enough accent. The look I recieved was hideous. And I didn't even get my potato wedges. Bastard.

So I, very selfishly, took a table for 4 in the seating area, and took a very long time to eat my food. That will teach you, pompous twat.

I finished my food and continued to Le Louvre to take the necessary tourist snaps, I would so love to put a brick through one of those glass pyramids. Just to see what they said. Continued towards the National Assembly building, when I decided to head back, leaving the other side of Paris for another day.

When I got home, My feet and legs were killing me, I forgot my jeans had a tear on the inside leg and it had spent the whole day rubbing my skin until it was raw. Not a good look. At least I could have a bath, seeing as Jacques (my eight-legged housemate) got himself evicted that morning.

Freedom Friday

So, my last blog was written ermmm Thursday, yeah?

Plusieurs developments since then. I have 1) internet (you may have noticed by the uploading of my blogs) and 2) a key to escape the confines of this school.

So firstly, I escaped and went to Carrefour, where I got myself disgusting amounts of camembert, some meat (I'm so going vegeratian while I'm here, it all looks disgusting, They sell ducks with the legs and wings still attached and the heart hanging out - talk about adding insult to injury to the poor dead ducky!) and a few other bits and pieces, the details of which I shall not bore you with.

Proud of my achievement of going and buying a disgusting amount of vegetables from the supermarket and not squashing them all in my bag, I treated myself to ravioli with lots and lots of vegetables for my lunch. Scoffed the lot and sat back, feeling immense satisfaction, when there was a knock on my door.

It was one of the staff from the school, coming to collect me for the cous cous and wine lunch they had organised to welcome the new member of staff (that's me, by the way). Ah.

Not wanting to feel rude, I grabbed my door key and trotted off to what I assume is the staff room, where I was greeted by a very large group of teachers, who couldn't wait to sit me down and stuff my face. Now, I'm not going to lie, this lunch was gorgeous. Made by a teacher's mum, who is Moroccan, and it was full of vegetables, had chicken in it, and it was just really really good. But I'm so full up! So I'm eating nice and slowly, trying to find pockets of stomach that don't yet have food overload, whilst a member of staff on glass on wine #5 (at lunchtime), tells the English teacher next to me that he thinks I don't like it.

"Ahh non, c'est excellent!"

as I continue to torture myself with a carbohydrate overdose.

That afternoon, the technician came to my flat to sort my internet out. There were many problems, I have no idea what they were, but they're fixed now, and I'm online. So I spent the rest of friday on Facebook.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Sam gets bored with no escape route and no internet either...

Oh my good lord.

I thought this Year Abroad lark was supposed to be fun.

The reason I haven’t posted anything yet is because I’ve not had internet access since getting here. In the hotel, the man looked too scary to ask for the wifi code, and since I’ve arrived at my flat (which is pretty fit btw – more to follow) the internet codes don’t seem to want to work. Le blah.

I have been amusing myself with books and cooking, and being taken out for lunch and other French stuff with the head teacher (who lives above me). I don’t know how much longer I can do this. No internet, and no key for the front gate, so I can’t actually go out either. 

Anyway, on with my story.

Tuesday morning, I woke up at 7.30 after going to bed at 8pm (yeah, I don’t know what was wrong with me either, I didn’t even go for dinner) and decided to go on the hunt for some breakfast. McDonalds breakfast in France SUCKS. They have Bacon and Egg McMuffin, but 1) I don’t like McDonald’s bacon and 2) it was 1euro, I only had a 50euro note on me. Haha. After walking around for half an hour Leader Price opened (I think it’s like a shit equivalent of Lidl) so I got a ham sandwich and an orange juice, which was awful.

Once I’m ready to leave the hotel and make my way down to Corbeil-Essonnes, I grab my bags and suitcase to discover that the handle on my suitcase is jammed. So I’m going to have to carry this 28” dead weight through the Gare du Nord. Très amusant. Not.

Get my ticket sans effort, find the platform sans effort, get myself onto the train sans too much effort (they have double decker trains here – AWESOME) and let myself chill out a bit until I reach my destination.
Once I arrive at Corbeil-Essonnes, I make a fatal error. I look for the exit sign, and follow it, forgetting that I’d been told that the head teacher would find me in the waiting room. Well, no waiting room here. Just some stairs for me and my environs 50kg of luggage to get up, followed by a dirt path into what I can only describe as an absolute dump. People arrived to get the bus. That is it. I plonk myself down near a bus stop waiting for some kind head teacher type to take pity on me and let me get in her car to go and find my accommodation. Naturally, after an hour and a half of waiting, I begin to think “Maybe I was meant to wait somewhere else”. Back through the dump, through the dirt path, down the stairs with my 50kg of luggage, to find a waiting room that opens out onto a much prettier side of Corbeil-Essonnes, one that actually might be quite nice to live in.
Obviously, it’s now almost 1 o clock, I was meant to meet the head teacher at 11, so guess what? There’s nobody there. Beginning to panic, and already feeling slightly ill from my Leader Price Ham Sandwich, I take out my phone and begin to dial the number for the college I’m going to be working in, practising my opening sentence (French – I have to prepare myself). Just as I am about to press call, the head teacher finds me, and informs me that she’s been to the station 3 times today to find me, and didn’t actually think I was coming. 


She’s awesome though, she showed me my flat then took me to the canteen to meet some other members of staff (including the majority of the English staff) who all seem pretty decent too.

I spent the afternoon unpacking and sleeping (never eating a Leader Price sandwich again) before going to dinner with the headmaster in her flat, with two young women; I didn’t initially realise that these were her daughters. Dinner was good, and I did this really French thing where you eat cheese after dinner and drink red wine. I can’t believe how well I coped with the wine. It was actually quite nice. I did, however, feel a little bit drunk after once glass. 

Note to self: - drink more wine.

Wednesday was pretty cool too; head teacher took me out to lunch with her and her younger daughter (and paid for me – result) before leaving me to go and buy myself a mobile phone and some food.  I have been so bored since, that I have eaten all my food and need to go again. Well, I still have pasta and Golden Grahams. And Nutella. Oh, and lots of garlic. I’m sure I could make an interesting meal with this. I found horse meat in the supermarket; it’s really red isn’t it!? I want to try it, but I can’t say it looks particularly appealing.

Another cool thing they have in the supermarket is a scanner that you take around with you, and scan things as you put them into your trolley. Le awesome. That way I don’t have to speak to anybody. French supermarket workers scare me. Especially the managerial types on roller blades. No, really.

Thursday, I have actually done nothing but cook, eat, and read. I can’t go out because I have no key to the gate, I might have to go out tomorrow anyway, and jump the gate or something. I can’t stay here without even the internet to pass the time. Oh, apparently someones mum is making couscous. I might have to attend, seeing as I don’t have any food. (By the way, camembert is like 1 euro here, expect to see me about 3 stone heavier when I come home!)

Sam arrives in Paris, noticably tired (Monday 20th September)

I am watching Family Fortunes. In French. There is a dog, and a woman sat there brushing her teeth. I’m not too sure what is going on here.

Cute dog though.

Arrived in Paris at about 18:45 local time after a half hour delay with the train. Comfy thing, that Eurostar. I’d love for you all to know that my first words uttered in France were “nah mate” when I was offered a ride of someone’s motorbike. You can take the London out of the girl, but... 

Found my hotel with relative ease, but my room is on the millionth floor, my suitcases are heavy and the lift looks less than appealing. Same goes for the view from my window.

I am awesome, though, I did a whole conversation, with a French person, in France. And my accent was fan-bloody tastic.

Genuinely thinking that dinner is going to be a McDo job tonight, I cannot be bothered to go exploring yet and I don’t want to go too far for food. I can explore another day.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Less than 1 week to go :)

Hi everyone.

Fancied doing a blog, you see I am off to France on 20th September for 8 months, and thought "what better way to recount my experience than to bore the internet?"

So here I am.

Current situation: Yesterday I recieved a letter from the English teacher at one of my schools, who very kindly pointed out with that condescending red-pen that all teachers use to point out your idiocy, that I had given her the wrong e-mail address.

Well done Sam. Good start.

On the other hand, the school is providing accomodation for me, which is nice because at least I have somewhere to live and don't have to become a troll under a bridge, and I hopefully won't have to get up too early to make it into work on time. Mind you, living in a school sounds a bit gay. Especially when you're a teacher. All that stereotype!

For the next week, it's going to be paperwork paperwork paperwork until I am ready to leave on Monday afternoon, I haven't even thought about packing yet, in fact I don't even have a suitcase. I need to buy a phone. I need a computer that works properly. I need a camera. Do I need a camera? Probably. Best get one anyway.

I could probably do with being able to speak an adequate standard of French too, to be honest.

Oh well.