Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Birthday Weekend

I turned 22 on Sunday!! I had initially intended on spending a quiet day, keeping warm lol, but one of the assistants encouraged me to do something fun! This year was the first time I spent my birthday away from home. Things went fine though :-)

On Saturday it was nice and sunny (although like 2°C) so we went to Aix-les-Bains (3 € round trip by train). There we walked through the town, walked to the lake, walked back to the town lol, had some delicious hot chocolate (chocolat chaud viennois) in a Salon de Thé, and visited the Christmas market. Oh, and later had store-bought pizza dinner in Chambéry.

Next day ---> Sunday, my birthday!!!! What did I do? Well, I hiked up a mountain with the same assistant friend! LOL, a mountain?? bet you didn't see that one coming... neither did I!!! I never would have imagined doing that, plus it was my first hike! We started in Challes-les-Eaux (one of the towns comprising Chambéry Métropole).

It took us 2.5 hours to hike up the 850 metre Mont St Michel (located in Savoie, and not to be confused with the exceedingly popular Mont St Michel in Normandy). It was a relatively sunny day, but since it had snowed some days earlier, the path was covered in snow! We even went off the path for a short while, but only realised this when we found the path lol.

At the top of the mountain there's a tiny chapel.

Of course the views from the top were lovely (e.g. the Alps, Chambéry Métropole, la Croix du Nivolet, etc)!!! I couldn't help wondering if I really did hike up a mountain!! Wow!!! There was also good cell phone reception up there haha, so I was able to call my family back home to let them know about my adventure!
There were some other people who also hiked up the mountain. I saw some cute doggies (lol, including one who ran away from his (sexy) owner and barked us... too cute though because he only wanted to play!).

Well, since this is Savoie, of course there were cows!

It was much faster coming down the mountain, 1.5 hrs! However, once we reached the road my feet were hurting. I guess I have to get used to the new sneakers I bought for the hike. As a result of my aching feet I almost missed the last bus back to Chambéry. Unfortunately, that night I wasn't feeling too great at all! I believe it was a result of my aching feet, tiredness and just poor eating this weekend. Sigh!

I went to Grenoble with some assistants on Monday evening to have pizza. The marché de Noël there was quite nice :-). I was quite tired on Tuesday, and with my feet not totally back to normal I had to forgo ice-skating! Well, today I was able to take advantage of a day of nothingness/rest/relaxation lol, except for a quick grocery run to Monoprix.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snow, snow and more snow!

As the title of this post suggests, it snowed A LOT today!! I woke up at 12:30pm and it was snowing! In fact, last night it was snowing when I left to go ice-skating around 8pm... so I guess it has been snowing since then. Around 2:30pm today I went to Carrefour, tugging along my little suitcase to put the groceries in. Remind me never to go grocery shopping again while it's snowing!!! It's quite frustrating having to deal with the snow, trying to avoid slipping and potentially embarrassing myself lol. Nice to look at yes, but now all I want to do is cuddle up under my covers!!

Enjoyable teaching...encounter with a pervert...and skating!

Yesterday was an interesting day... good and bad!lol

In the morning I had two classes at one of my schools. The first class was so much fun. For a half hour each, I had two groups of pupils from 5ème (form 2), who were more or less quite enthusiastic!! (I love it!) Their teacher allowed to me to read dialogues to them instead of playing the relevant recording on the CD player. Haha, I enjoyed doing a bit of "acting", changing voices depending on whether the character was a boy or a girl. I can tell that the students enjoyed it. We went then through some vocabulary and pictures. The second class was 3ème (form 4) and I stayed with the teacher for the hour with the whole class. It was an interesting activity as he had the students imagining what they would carry if they were on a desert island and why!

Since teaching/classes are from 10 to 12 on a Tuesday, I usually stay for lunch at the school. The lunch is always very good, and vegeterian options are available! This Tuesday I had: vegetable couscous*, a cheese pie, green salad (lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, salad dressing), bread, apple and raspberry crumble, yogurt, and water ..... all for the low price of 2.40EUR!! Yummy!!
* While I said that I never wanted to eat couscous again after the Marseille trip, I must say that the couscous at the school was very delicious!

After lunch I decided to walk from one school to another to see how long it takes (20 minutes). A little before I reached the other school (about 5 minutes away), a guy asked me something. Now the guy wasn't bad looking, seemed relatively normal, seemed to be like late teens - early twenties, short dark hair, brown eyes, blah blah blah lol ... he was a pervert so no need to elaborate! I didn't quite hear him, but when he repeated I realised he wanted to know the time. Being my friendly self (plus I was in a particularly good mood after teaching that morning), not thinking it was a pick-up line, I smiled and said "Une heure et quart, une heure quinze" then continued walking. Only that he started following me!! (Hint... don't answer/talk to perverts). So then he started telling me how I'm pretty, asked what I look for in men (no response!), if we could meet later, oh how to just talk to him for 2 minutes, how I have a joli cul (I quickened my pace but it's only so fast I can walk!!!), grabbed himself (no need to elaborate), made some sexual suggestions, and then like practically in front of the school I was walking to, the psycho reached out and grabbed my left butt cheek!!! I mean..... getting talks is one thing, but actually touching someone?? He has got to be losing it! By that time I was not being nice anymore, and since I don't really curse people in English lol and probably because of the shock of it all, the only French that came to mind was "arrête!!!! (stop)"... although he didn't stop, but by the second "arrête!!!!" he did!!! I hope I never see him again, and hope he doesn't trouble any of the students from the high schools!

That afternoon, I had two hours of teaching and it was quite fun! I did the same desert island activity with the students at the other school :-) Tuesday night it was snowing when I left the apartment to go to the ice skating rink... but that didn't stop me lol. It was soooo much fun!! Although for the 1h40 mins that I skated I had some almost close encounters with the ice (e.g. like when I sped up during Brick & Lace's "Love is Wicked" woo hoo, Caribbean music!!) and I fell once! It was cold!!! (I should wear gloves when skating), and since I had my cell phone in my right back pocket my fall was a bit painful!! (maybe I have a cell phone imprint? lol).

So yeah... enjoyable day overall minus the pervert episode!

Fête des Lumières 2008

Last weekend was the Fête des Lumières in Lyon. On Friday I found out that the university had organized a bus to take students on the trip. Two Chinese students from my class and I hurried to sign up ... luckily we got the last three places available! That night I worked a bit on a presentation for uni, then went with a friend to Aix-les-Bains. It's close to Chambéry, and from the little I saw, I can tell it's very pretty! (oh it has a lake! - Lac du Bourget).

Saturday evening the bus left Chambéry at 5:30pm and we arrived in Lyon around 7:30pm. I met up with the two students and then we set off. We took the métro, went to the Tourism Office to get maps (very important!), and walked around a bit. However, a little later on, I had stopped to take a photo of one of the light displays and we ended up getting separated! It's not very surprising though since Lyon was packed with people!!!!!!! I continued using the map to locate more displays. There were also Christmas markets and people singing/playing instruments. Somehow I didn't expect Lyon to be hilly ... I sure got some exercise! lol. The métro was free because of the Fête des Lumières, so that helped!

Other activities for the night included visiting a church and taking a ride on a 60m high Ferris Wheel! Four teenagers/friends and I were in the same Ferris Wheel thingy (compartment? I dunno...). At first one girl was freaking out/screaming/laughing nervously and holding on to her bf! None of us wanted to fall off from that height! lol. Another girl said that she believed that last year someone jumped out... (uhhh? why mention that when we were trying to remain calm?! lol). Then that girl's gf started to spin the comparment we were in!! Hahah, it was scary spinning so high up, but funn! We didn't die, whew!! I was tempted to go on the ride again but didn't bother. After that I took a walk towards the Rhône river.

A little after midnight, I felt a bit sad/surprised when I saw a muslim woman and her little daughter sitting in the street begging, holding a sign written in Arabic. I'm guessing they were hungry since they were kinda close to a display for "Action contre la faim" (Against Hunger). (I made a small donation :))

Around 1am, I made my way back to the train station (Gare de Perrache) to get the bus. All the students were supposed to meet for 1:30am. I had a little difficulty finding the actual location of the bus since parts of the gare were closed. While explaining my situation to a group of security guards, I saw some students (including the leader/organizer) walking in my direction, yay lol! We then met up with the rest of students waiting for the bus. I even saw the German assistant from Chambéry! I didn't know he was on the trip too. Apparently he and some other assistants (Italian) got a friend at the uni to sign them up. I then met back up with the students I lost earlier on lol. Well the bus arrived some minutes to 2am, and by 2am we were off. It was sooooo cold when we arrived! I walked quickly to my apartment and was so thankful for the warmth!!:-)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ice-skating, Préfecture, Marché de Noël!

On Tuesday night I went ice-skating with one of my language assistant friends. It was sooooo much fun!!!! At the skating rink on Tuesday nights there is a light show and music ... a bit like being in a club lol. There were lots of teenagers there. It was my first time ice-skating and I guess that all the inline skating I used to do about 10 years ago lol really helped out! I didn't fall, yayyyy!! although I did trip a few times lol during the two hours on the ice... I just didn't come in contact with the ice - very important lol! I couldn't help but laugh uncontrollably at this sign that kept popping up on the big display screen at the rink:

Hahaha! I think the picture of the man/ass added to the comedy lol of this ad for some French association. At the rink, we were even treated to a short show from one of the teenager's there. She did some twirls n stuff on the ice, very cool! I think I'll be going ice-skating every Tuesday!!!

On Tuesday afternoon I had gone to the Prefecture to inquire about my récépissé or carte de séjour... I still didn't have anything and my visa is going to expire just now! Well, the lady I spoke to told me to come back on Wednesday morning to collect my récépissé. I did exactly that... and yayyyy!!! I got my récépissé on Wednesday. It's valid for quite some time so I don't have to worry about being illegal in France once my visa expires lol. Only problem is that if I go to England I may have problems entering France since I haven't received the actual carte de séjour as yet... I'm trying not to risk having any problems, so I think I'm going to be staying here for Christmas.

Yesterday, three of my assistant buddies and I went to Annecy to visit the Christmas market. However, the main Christmas market hasn't started as yet, so we went to another marché at the Impérial Palace Hotel. It was alright, but I personally think it was geared more towards children. There were stalls, Santa, reindeer, music, and even a Québecois stall, where we got crêpes and hot chocolate, yummm!

It also snowed a bit, awwww!! After the visit, we headed back to Chambéry.

Today was an interesting day. I walked to the university this morning because I was really tired and a little walk is good to get the eyes open lol. Plus, since I found out about the shortcut the walk only takes about 20 minutes. I guess I feel a bit lonely at the university sometimes... but besides that things are fine. I wish I had my Financial Management textbook (in English!) though! All this new technical vocabulary can be a bit confusing. Spanish was interesting, and I'm so glad the lecturer convinced me to do it instead of Français Langue Etrangère. After 3 years of not studying Spanish, it surely is coming back! yay!!! After a quick lunch, I went to teach at one of the schools. That was cool since one of the teachers had a great activity on clothes for me to do with the students. I plan to use it with my other classes tomorrow morning! Well, since my Spanish assistant friend returned to Spain, the studio apartment at the school is currently available. Looks like I'll be moving in for the New Year... the place is small but cute and cosy, 45 minutes walk from centre ville, not to mention ... the rent is pretty fantastic!!!:-)