30 April 2010

Il y a un an


I have changed so drastically in the past year since I graduated from GVSU I can barely even wrap my mind around all of the things that have happened to me. As my dear friend Sarah told me this week during her visit, that means that I am doing this whole European adventure thing the right way.


I landed a babysitting gig for the month of July which was the final piece of the "How to stay in France through August" puzzle. Tomorrow Lauren arrives, and next week we go to London!

Closing thought:

I remember sitting on the plane on the way to Paris last September wondering "Who will I be when I am sitting on the plane on the way back to America?" Though this adventure still has some steam left, I am already amazed in the difference between that girl and this one.

22 April 2010

The week's happenings

Prepare yourselves for a really stupid metaphor (or simile I suppose):

This week I feel like a hot air balloon whose ropes have been snipped and is merely floating around in the sky without an anchor or a purpose. I'm going where the wind takes me, baby!

I warned you it was bad, but it’s the only way I can find right now to accurately describe my sentiments.

I also find myself using weird terms like “sentiments”. Normally I would refrain from the word sentiment to avoid sounding like I used the “find synonym” button on the word processor, but it’s not my fault! The French language has set-up camp in my brain and has taken my English hostage. AIDEZ-MOI!

So finally, after seven plus months of living in this city, I became self-motivated enough to visit a couple of museums this week. On Sunday, I spent the afternoon writing in a bustling and sunny park at Chatêlet (not a museum, I understand, but definitely some world-class people watching).

On Monday, I took advantage of my age and country of residency (national museums are free for European residents under 26 years-old) and visited Monsieur Napoléon Bonaparte at les Invalides. I learned quite a bit about French military history (by my own choosing, might I add).

On Tuesday, after my first spring trip to the open-air market by my apartment, I went to the musée Carnavalet (also free entry), which stuffed me full of nonsense about the French revolution.

Yestearday, after babysitting two non-English-speaking kids who live in spitting distance from la tour Eiffel, I wandered to the NYU in Paris “campus” because I am interested in applying to their “Teaching French as a Second Language” program. The campus consisted of a townhouse hidden in a garden behind a building and is ridiculously adorable.

On my way to the campus, an 80 year-old Parisian man stopped me on the street, told me I had a nice smile, and then asked me to sit and have a coffee with him. He seemed pretty harmless and so I said “oui, pourquoi pas?” During the next twenty or so minutes I endured his stories about old Paris and about how he used to own a famous café called “L’Ombibus” in Montmartre (the neighborhood where one finds the Moulin Rouge, Sacre Coeur, and all that jazz). He was difficult to understand, but I enjoyed his stories nonetheless.

On today’s menu: article writing and apartment cleaning. Nothing worth talking about, but the weather is beautiful, I’m in a Bobo café, and the overall mood in Paris is good. I couldn’t ask for more.

16 April 2010

Entering the Abyss

Bye bye Jean Mace!

I felt so incredibly sad when leaving the school after my last day of work this morning. I didn't realize in the slightest how attached I had become to those kids and the teachers. They were all so cute and sad today, and it really meant a lot to me. I was there to teach them English, but they taught me more French and enriched my experience here more than they will ever know. Yes, I did waste a lot of time inside of that building... but I'm realizing now that I learned a lot in the process. Maybe it wasn't a waste of time after all.

So that's all I had planned for life after college... now what? This is a weird feeling...

Stay tuned.

12 April 2010

The End of Life as a Teaching Assistant

I have not been feeling very funny or witty lately, so I apologize for my recent lack of anything remotely interesting to say. Actually, I did spend time writing a new post a couple days ago and then accidentally exited from the screen, consequentially losing all of my hard work. It was a big bummer mostly because I was entirely too lazy to type anything else until now.

I suppose a lot is new, though maybe the reason I haven't been writing or taking pictures as frequently is because most things have become so normal here. I have made the official decision to try to stay here until my visa expires in September, and I have been a busy little bee looking for babysitting gigs to keep me afloat until that fateful time comes.

This is my last week of work at JM! The principal gave me yellow roses last week, and one of my classes collectively wrote me a poem in English that has nothing to do with me. This is what it looks like:

(You can click on the image to blow it up and read the poem. It's quite hilarious, actually, and was written by what would be the equivalent of 2nd and 3rd graders. It was pointed out to me that at the bottom someone had written "A love you" and erased it. These kids are priceless.)

In other news, I really hurt my foot this weekend and could barely walk until today, which was good because I had to babysit this afternoon at the park. Speaking of which, I have found quite a few babysitting gigs to keep me busy this summer. I'm still not sure how this whole living-on-a-whim-in-Paris thing is going to work out, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will because I know in my gut that it's what I need to do. I'm just not ready to leave this country yet, and when I do, I know I will just be trying to find a way to come back.

My dearest friend Sarah is coming to visit in two weeks for a few days an I can't wait to have her here. And then in the beginning of May miss Lauren will be coming for a visit. I'm so excited to share Paris with her that I made a spreadsheet breaking down the days and what we are going to do for each part of every day that she is here.

The most boring tidbit of news that I have to share is the fact that I have been taking the bus instead of the subway more recently, and I must say that it provides much better views of the city. I mean, not that complete darkness complimented by intermittent florescent lit white tiled tunnels isn't interesting, but I happen to prefer ground-level.

No sooner is the rage of hunger appeased than it becomes difficult to comprehend the meaning of starvation. It is only when you suffer that you really understand.
-Jules Vern

04 April 2010


It's been a sobering weekend. Today I learned that a boy from my high school class died in a fire, and even though I didn't know him that well, it really bothered me. It made me think about the loved ones who I have lost. Sometimes I need to think about them to gain perspective...

RIP Fred, Grandma Rosie, Grandpa Johnston, Uncle Mike and Renden.

Your loved ones miss you every day.

01 April 2010

Poisson d'avril

This morning when I woke up and realized that it's the first day of April a couple of things came to mind:
  1. Excitement that warmer weather is hopefully around the corner. (But seriously, Michigan, what's with the 80 degree weather this week? Is this some cruel "haha you thought you were getting away from the cold by moving to Paris" joke that the Universe is playing on me or what? FYI: It's freakin' cold here!)
  2. Aggravation that I had to pay a whopping 109 euros for my monthly public transportation card this morning. Bye bye newly deposited paycheck...
  3. Fear from the sudden realization that I only have two weeks of work left and that I take the GRE in less than two weeks!
When I arrived at JM this morning I kept getting paper fish stuck to my back by the children. I eventually associated this with the fact that today is April Fool's Day, and that coloring fish and sticking them on people must be the French way of celebrating that. They're called the poisson d'avril, and it might be one of the stranger traditions I have encountered in the past seven months.

In the theme of "holy s*** my contract ends this month", I decided to remind the principal and all of the teachers of this fact. The principal had no idea what I was talking about, and one of the teachers seemed so horrified that I'm leaving that she promised to tell the inspectrice that she absolutely needs me to stay for another month and is going to try to get my contract extended. We shall see...

In the meantime I have found some extra work, though it wouldn't possibly be enough to support me without finding something more substantial. I'm pretty determined to drag out this whole living in Paris thing as long as physically possible, though I'm sure my recklessness will have some adverse effects on my financial situation. Oh well... when in Rome, n'est-ce pas?

Last night we all went out for Julie's 24th birthday. Alexis and I kidnapped her and dragged her to see the "How to Become Parisian in an Hour" show that we've all been hearing about. It's a one-man show where the guy makes fun of the differences between tourists (mostly American) and Parisians. It was entirely accurate as well as hilarious. Julie even got pulled on stage!