Thursday, April 30, 2009

End of teaching contract

October 2008 to April 2009!
I can't believe those 7 months are up already! Today I had my final hour of teaching.

My last few days at the two schools were spent answering my students' most obvious question, "Pourquoi vous partez? (Why are you leaving)?" *accompanied by sad faces* Uhh ... well my contract has finished. Sorry!

I received a lovely card signed by the students from one of my 5ème classes, which included pics of the collège, a class pic, and the following text: "I love this year to spend with you. Pity that you leave." (Awww, aren't they sweet!). "Merci Beaucoup. Thank You."

Other cute gestures included a signed sheet of paper from some of my 3ème students, and numerous designs on classroom whiteboards: "Goodbye forever. Don't leave my darling because I love you. Don't leave please! I love you so much." Lol, awww!!! Even yesterday when I was at the cashier in Monoprix, getting ready to pay for my groceries, I heard two girls shout "Helloooo!!!". They waved and flashed beaming smiles. Lol, then the cashier at Monoprix smiled and said something about anglais.

I'm really glad I did the assistantship. It proved to be a nice, interesting experience overall and fortunately I had lovely students :-)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New récépissé!

Today I received my new récépissé!!!! Last month I had applied to change my status from travailleur temporaire to étudiant. I'm so happy that things worked out! ^^

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

1st Paris trip

I finally went to Paris for the first time! The SNCF had a lovely deal that I just couldn't resist. Thanks to my SNCF 12-25 card I was able to go to Paris from Friday morning and return to Chambéry on Monday (midday), all for the low price of 57€!!! My weekend was quite busy, and went like this:

  • Bus at 5:35 a.m. from La Motte-Servolex to Chambéry
  • Arrival at Gare Chambéry Challes-les-Eaux 15 minutes later
  • Patiently waited for my TGV Chambéry-Paris Gare de Lyon: departure 6:22am
  • Paris!!! A friend from Trinidad came to meet me at the train station.
  • After two RER trains and a tram, we arrived at his place in the 14th arrondissement.
  • Breakfast: eggs, grated emmental cheese and a yummy spicy sauce!
  • My friend had to work, so I was soon on my own, left to explore Paris.
  • I met up with another friend from Trinidad for lunch close to Boulevard Saint-Michel. Among the many touts trying to get us into their restaurants, she and I decided on a Greek restaurant. I had a tasty salad, salmon/potatoes/rice (didn't too fancy the seasoning), and a Greek dessert. We also got a free glass of sangria each.
  • She was leaving for Belgium that same day! I accompanied her to the bus station after we had lunch.
  • I then made my way back to Saint-Michel.
  • Visited the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris.

  • Walked around a little bit until I reached the Hotêl de Ville.
  • Walked back to Boulevard Saint-Michel, looked around a bookshop there, then looked at clothes in Etam to pass the time.
  • A little while after my friend (who met me at the train station that morning, who I stayed by) met back up with me since he had finished working.
  • We went to the Louvre: saw Mona Lisa (I thought it would have been bigger though), giant paintings, etc.
  • Back to the apartment. It was too late to go out for dinner, but we didn't starve! : store-bought gazpacho with homemade Trini macaroni pie.
  • Bonne nuit!
  • I woke up around 10:30 a.m.
  • I took a bus at around 11:45 a.m. then dropped out to visit the Luxumbourg gardens. The weather wasn't at its best though --> light rain.

  • I then kept walking until I reached Châtelet.
  • More walking... including past a store with disgusting dead creatures (e.g. a giantttttt spider, rats,...)
  • Visited Centre Georges Pompidou. Ok, well I went into the bookshop there, then looked at the lovely exhibits (e.g. cool furniture, a pyramid shaped metal thingy with holes for storing oranges!, etc.) which didn't require an entrance fee.
  • Hunger! lol --> 4€99 for a vegetarian pizza at an Italian place outside Les Halles.
  • Quick tour of the Eglise Saint-Eustache.
  • I then spent hoursssss (a little less than 4 hours!!) in Les Halles. I did some shopping (3 tops at H&M), but mainly spent forever (not fun!) looking for a pair of comfortable ballerina shoes, which I didn't find!
  • Gave up the search for the shoes, left Les Halles and headed to Pigalle.
  • Lots of sex shops in the red-light district of Pigalle. Saw the Moulin Rouge.
  • I then walked up to Montmartre. Lots of stairs = exercise.
  • Visited the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. It was after 6pm and mass was taking place, while all of us tourists walked around visiting the basilica at the same time. :S
  • Walked around Montmartre.
  • I was going to take a photo of a mime, but he smiled and pointed toward a basket on the ground. Pay to take a photo? Hmm, nah.
  • Strawberry yogurt on a cone! Yummy!
  • Back down the hill, where I finally got a pair of ballerina shoes. They aren't particularly comfortable though, so I think I'll have to stop buying shoes in France! Can't find my size here, which falls somewhere between 39 and 40.
  • Métro to Opéra.
  • Then I searched for the Grands Boulevards stop where my friend said to meet him and his friend from Spain who had arrived in Paris earlier that day. With the one way streets it was a bit confusing to find the stop, but we eventually met up.
  • The three of us had dinner at the Restaurant Chartier. We had to wait about half an hour in a line before we got in.
  • The food... not particularly fantastic, but I must say that the building was nice. I paid 2€20 for a supposedly fantastic egg and mayonnaise entrée. Lol, it was exactly that! A single boiled egg, cut in half, topped with regular good-tasting mayonnaise... however I did get it with a bit of lettuce (a bonus I guess lol). Fish (like the whole fish! uhh, with eyes and bones...) with potatoes. The wine was fine.
  • We then went walking a bit, and looked at the Louvre at night, with the pyramid lit up.
  • It was raining and the Spanish guy was ill, so we decided to call it a night and head back to the apartment.
  • I slept well and woke up late once again.
  • I went with my Trinidadian friend to the market, which was right around the corner. It was cool.
  • Once we went back to the apartment I took a nap.
  • That afternoon, the three of us left the apartment to visit Paris a bit.
  • First we passed by Les Invalides.
  • Then we walked along the fancy bridge (lots of gold), Pont Alexandre III which crosses the river Seine.
  • Walked past the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais.

  • Then we walked along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées.
  • I was a bit hungry so bought a chocolate (Nutella) crêpe. Delicious!
  • Further along the Champs-Elysées, we stopped at Pomme de Pain for hot chocolate and a free? granola bar (in my case), and coffee. We sat outside in the terrace. It was cool, especially since the sun came out, hooray!!! Unfortunately, we had to try to avoid pigeon droppings. It was funny though! Those pigeons, those pigeons, lol.
  • The Trini guy then left to go back to the apartment to cook dinner for a get-together later that evening.
  • The Spanish guy and I continued along the Champs-Elysées. We had planned to spend 5 minutes in FNAC, lol, but that turned out to a bit longer. Then we visited the Virgin Megastore since I was looking for Spanish DVDs.
  • We then continued along the Avenue and looked at the Arc de Triomphe.
  • Métro to the Eiffel Tower.
  • We walked to the Eiffel Tower, where the Spanish guy (a professional photographer) took photos of me, yay! It would have been a lovely day to go up the tower, but since we had planned to meet up with some other people at the apartment for dinner we decided to leave. I could have stayed, but I think that it wouldn't have been fun walking up the Eiffel Tower alone.
  • When we arrived at the apartment, three of the guests were already there. More arrived a bit later.
  • It was a nice, enjoyable evening, spent eating Trini food (roti, channa, mango, pumpkin, and well meat for the non-vegetarians) and French dessert, talking about Trinidad, France, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Morocco, Spain, dancing styles in the different countries (along with youtube videos lol), etc. There were 8 of us there that evening.
  • A little before midnight, the 5 dinner guests left.
  • The three of us then embarked on cleaning the apartment. I did a little bit of sweeping, nothing stressful lol.
  • Talking, Spanish TV online and a bit of reading later (A year in the merde, borrowed from my Trini host), and I called it a night (or morning lol, since I went to sleep around 2 a.m.).
  • I got up around 6 a.m., said goodbye and left the apartment a little before 7 a.m. to head to Gare de Lyon.
  • A tram and two trains later, I was at Gare de Lyon, and I was quite early too (I arrived at around 7:45 for my 8:22 a.m. train).
  • My train Paris Gare de Lyon - Lyon Part-Dieu, arrived in Lyon two hours later, then I took the Lyon-Chambéry train at 10:38 a.m.
  • When I arrived in Chambéry a little after midday, I took a bus to La Motte-Servolex, returned to my apartment, dropped off my stuff, took a shower, then hurried to one of my collèges to teach for two hours! Yes, I was tired, but I survived the afternoon! After that I hurried to my university in vain since the class was cancelled.
  • I felt a bit "spaced out"/disoriented later that evening. I guess it was because of all the rushing.
Paris was great, however, I doubt I would like to live there. Too many people lol! Really high rent! I was actually happy to come back to my little town lol. Among the French cities I have visited so far, my favourite is Lyon! :-) Anyway, Paris is a lovely place and I do indeed hope to visit there again!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April so far

What have I been doing these past couple weeks? Well... voilà!

Dinner at an Indian restaurant with my assistant friends who I hadn't seen in a while (ok, so this was really at the end of March). Met a waiter from Bangladesh who asked if I knew Brian Lara. Admittedly I'm not a fan of cricket, but it was cool to meet someone who knew about Trinidad!

Cycling to Lac de Saint-André on April Fools Day

Teaching - almost finished! 19 hours to go!

Food at the collège - good stuff!
Bread, yogurt, flan, green peas, potatoes and veggies, fish, cole slaw, olives = €2.80

Finished!! Yummy :-)

University (including relatively stressful marketing project and guest lecture in Spanish)

Cycling to Lac du Bourget on the weekend
Boats at Lac du Bourget, pic taken from the Bourget du Lac commune

Stressing unnecessarily

Delicious pain de campagne which I'll not be eating again for aesthetic reasons :-)

Apartment cleaning... sigh I saw a spider! Lo maté inmediatamente! Fui muy valiente!

Vacances scolaires (for 2 weeks!!)

Lyon ^^ to visit mon copain :-)
(Also, tour with a student from New Zealand: Musée Gallo-Romain de Fourvière, Théâtres romains de Fourvière, Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, Cathédrale Saint Jean, Musée des miniatures et décors de cinéma)

Théâtres romains de Fourvière

Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière

Inside the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière

View of Lyon, taken outside the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière
You can see the Saône river, the Tour Part-Dieu (Lyon's tallest skyscraper, like a giant pencil, appropriately nicknamed le crayon), Place Bellecour, and even a flying object (looks like a bird!)

Musée des miniatures et décors de cinéma, Vieux Lyon

This is a miniature piece by Dan Olhmann, Le Boudoir Louis XVI.

The Saône river

Gaming - tried World of Warcraft in Lyon and yesterday bought Desperate Housewives le jeu

Dinner at a Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant in Villeurbanne ^^

Accommodation search for next year - student residence?!

Laptop issues - it's unable to close

Visits to the Mairie and the Préfecture - I should be getting another récépissé anytime soon

Warm, sunny days - some people are even wearing shorts!



Beginner's hairdressing

Watching TV series online

Cooking, eating, sleeping

7 months in France (as of today!)

Wondering what ESL activities to do with my students - ideas anyone?

Upcoming 1st trip to Paris this weekend ^^

Well, that about sums up April so far!