Closing a Chapter

I came to France with the idea I would be here just one year. I wanted to learn a new language, experience a different culture, and most importantly grow. I have to say, that on my last day of au pairing, I can look back and say I have done pretty well. The past 10 months have been filled with up and downs. Most of the time I was sitting here wondering why I am so lucky, but there were also days I wondered why I ever chose to do this. Although my French is still completely rubbish, I really feel like I have gotten the most from this experience so far.

I never thought that today would be like this. I thought I would be filled with sadness to leave a family I cared so deeply about. Sad to say though, although I will miss the kids dearly, today is nothing what I imagined. With the feeling that I can’t go fast enough from the parents, it really makes me upset about all the time and effort spent. I understand that they are mad I am leaving but I do wish this could have ended on a better note.

On the other side, I cannot believe I am moving tomorrow into the center of Paris into my very own place. I havent even wrapped my head around it yet I don’t think. I have never lived alone, let alone in PARIS. Ahhhh. I can’t wait. I am really looking forward to the next chapter in my life. I have faith that everything will work out. And hey, if it doesn’t it was an experience, right?

Advertisements

When Being Civil Goes Out the Door

I always used to be one of those au pairs that said I was so fortunate because I had an incredible family. And I meant it. I really did enjoy my family and legitimately liked spending time with them. S … Continue reading

Bitter Sweet

I have been so focused on the chaos and uncertainty in my life that I forgot one fact that is certain. I am officially done with being an au pair on April 30th. I am quite excited to get a … Continue reading

A Full Circle

“Sun is shining, the weather is sweet. Make you want to move your dancing feet” -Bob Marley

Tonight I was talking to my mom when I was walking to mosaic class. I am in such a good mood today it’s ridiculous. I usually deteste Wednesday. I’m going to have to give all the credit for the permanent smile on my face to the incredible weather. It was 22 degrees today (this is in celsius, for all your Fahrenheit people that’s around 72 degrees). Perfection. I tried to spend the most time I could basking in this new found fabulous weather. I am so happy France decided to become friends with the sun again. The break up was really quite hard for me.

Anyways, sorry about the rant on the weather. Ok, so I was talking to my mom. And I was gleaming. I was going on about how pretty springtime is with all the green and blossoming flowers. And how it makes sense that everyone talks about Paris in the springtime. And… wait for it… how pretty Vaux is this time of year. Yep. That’s right. I gave this hell hole in the middle of nowhere a compliment. That is when I knew my good mood had hit record levels today. But really. Vaux is exceptionally beautiful right now. The French countryside is definitely something to be seen. Paris is phenomenal, but it is a city. I have grown to love (well, mainly hate, but still) the countryside. There is just flowers everywhere. In every color. It is crazy.

Back to mom. She told me I sounded like when I first moved to Vaux. I was so happy, the weather was great, and I couldn’t wait to go to mosaic class. Full circle. I have made it. These past 9 months have been insane. Crazy ups and downs. A lot of hard times and growing. But with one more month left, I can say that I wouldn’t change this for the world. I have an incredibly fortunate life. Yes, there are many thing that would have been better to do without, but it is with those shitty (and sometimes literally shitty) times that I have learned and grown.

I am happy.

Tonight, I walked into mosaic class to a group of familiar faces. Women I see weekly, some daily walking their kids to and from school and sport. I gave them bisous, asked “ça va?” and continued on conversation. It felt normal. It wasnt until my teacher said, “Coco, tu parles français?!?” and I responded, “Oui, c’est vrai!” that I realized how much has changed. Now, I am not saying that I was able to hold an intense convo. It was small talk. I am nowhere close to fluent or even someone who can feel comfortable speaking the language, but as I sat there tonight listening to their little French conversations about their kids and husbands, I felt proud. I could follow what was going on! I laughed when they laughed! Très bien!!!

I realize a lot of my posts have been complaining lately. And to tell you the truth I have had a lot to complain about. (Pre-warning. I am going to the Dept. of Labor tomorrow so I am sure there will be another angry post coming shortly). But. Today is one of those days to sit back and be happy. I love my life. I love the struggles I am going through right now in order to get what I want. I want to stay in Europe. I want to be fluent in another language someday. I want to live in the city. All of these are happening or in the process. I cannot be more fortunate than that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wanna look back on what I thought when I first moved here? Check it out.

Je déteste mon école…

It is required for au pairs to be enrolled in language courses. Makes sense. Why else would I pick up and move to France? Obviously learning the language is a large part of why one becomes an au pair.

However, what I dont want to do is spend an absurd amount of money for classes that are not making me feel good about spending that absurd amount of money.

La Clef. My inadequate and disgustingly overpriced school. I HATE this place. Yes, I am using the word hate. There is a huge feeling of animosity that sweeps over me when I enter this “place of study” (and I use that term extremely loosely). Au pairs make next to nothing for pay and this school knows that. They also know they are the only school that offers French courses in the area. Supply and demand. Therefore, they find it necessary to not only over price their classes but also make them at inconvenient times. Problem 1.

Problem 2. I am sorry and this may sound extremely American but here I go…. If you are running an international school, I think having at least 1 staff member speak another language besides French it might be helpful. Someone like me, let’s say, knew no French coming here. Therefore, I am paying the school an exuberant amount of money to teach me. ok. good. on the same page. but wait, you need to know French to get anything done at the school…. hmmmm? I understand now, now that I have taken classes there and have a basic understanding of French why we would converse in French. But before, this doesn’t make much sense.

Problem 3. Hey La Clef. You are dealing with au pairs. You need to be flexible. A lot of us leave. A lot of us have families that demand we miss class. A lot of us get sick and need to miss class. These are all things that would be helpful to understand and sympathize with.

Problem 4. If I want to leave the country or get employed with a real job making it physically impossible to attend classes, my money should be returned. Plain and simple.

Problem 5. If you are going to charge that much for classes, perhaps you should make them worth it. Maybe I shouldn’t have to spend hours and hours outside of class to feel like I am learning French. There is probably one or two classes a month I feel like I get my money’s worth. Thank you.

Ok. I am sorry for all my bitching but I had to let out my frustration and complete hatred for this place. Nothing has been easy and yes this is France but c’mon people. I am paying you so much money. Try and be nice. Dont even have to be nice, lets just start with how about you teach me French?

Life in France

So here is my first blog post from France! How exciting! Never really thought this day would come but I can’t even explain how happy I am that it has. I know all the earlier posts were me freaking out about the decision but I am more than satisfied that I decided to make the move. I definitely had my doubts and I definitely freaked out the first night I was here, but I know this was the best decision to make. This year is going to be incredible.

So what have I been doing the past 3 days you ask? Let me tell you…

The first day was kinda tough but I was just adjusting so now I think all is good. My flights went really well. Air Berlin was awesome for my long flight. I got 2 meals, free wine, an amenity kit, free magazines, the list goes on. I also had prime seating in the middle with the seats next to me empty so I was able to sprawl out. Air Berlin seriously pampers you, which is extremely different from how awful the Germans were at the Düsseldorf airport.

I seriously got yelled at in German a thousand times. The airport is really confusing too. I had 10 minutes to make it to my gate once landing. First I had to get my passport checked and wait in this long line so I didn’t think I was going to make it. Then I sprinted to my gate which I swear was like 2 miles away through all these weird hallways and such. Then after I gave them my boarding pass, I had to walk down stairs to get on a bus, which took me to the middle of no where on the runway to this little dinky plane–four seats across. No one on my plane spoke English and I sat next to this smelly guy. Awesome.

Me on the bus right after Callie picked me up at the airport

I got in to Paris at like 430pm and Callie picked me up. From there it was seriously Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. First off, my suitcases weighed 400lbs. Callie and I dragged them through the airport, through the metro, on the buses, and then through the quiet town of Chambourcy. To make matters worse, one of my suitcases broke.  So we literally had to drag it. 70 pounds of weight getting dragged on cobble stone streets. Needless to say there are pieces of my broken suitcase in front of our house. You all would have died laughing to see Callie and I.

That day we went to the boulangerie in our town and got a baguette. I am so French… I know. Then Callie made a quiche and we had dinner. That night I slept awful because I was jet lagged and had a mental breakdown. But all is good now! 4am is not fun alone in the dark after you made the biggest decision of your life.

Yesterday was Bastille Day, which is basically like France’s 4th of July. We had all these fabulous plans like going

La Fête Nationale Parade

into Paris to watch the parade, then having a picnic by the Eiffel Tower, finishing off with watching fireworks. Of course, this didn’t happen because Paris decided to have a torrential downpour! The morning was beautiful and we went into Paris to watch the parade. Ok so here is where America has one up on France–we know what a parade is. For some reason the French just play music out of speakers and stand there in military uniforms. It was the weirdest thing. All of the tourists just stand there staring at French military standing. Strangest concept. So Callie and I decided to walk along the path and make our own parade. It was neat to see everything but unless you were walking along the route, you would have stood there and stared at the same guys the whole time.

Me in front of the Arc de Triomphe during the pouring rain

But then the storm hit which was hilarious. All of the sudden it just started pouring. I was luckily prepared with my backpack that had an umbrella and rain coat so while all the lame tourists sat under canopies in cafes, Callie and ventured in the torrential downpour to meet up with her friend Nicole. We sat with her for while by a park and then took the metro to her house which is a couple of towns away from ours. After hanging out there and me taking a nap, Callie and I went into St. Germain en laye (which is the big town by our village) to show me around a bit. This is where my school will be. Everything was closed of course because it was a national holiday but it was awesome to see everything. It is so precious. I love it here so much. Afterward we went home and made crepes. I love Nutella.

Most exciting thing is that I got a full nights sleep last night! I fell asleep at a normal time and woke up at 10am! Callie said that it was amazing for my second day.

Today, Callie and I went to the grocery store and had an incredible lunch involving cheese and baguettes obviously! On Friday, we are driving down to Reims for a day trip with Nicole. So excited. This is somewhere I really wanted to go. It’s a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France about 2 hours northeast of Paris. I think that we are going to some vineyards to try some champagne. We will also try to see some chateaus.

Then Sunday we leave for Biarritz and then Spain. I cannot wait. I absolutely love it here and it feels so natural to be here. I cant wait to understand French though!

Check out my pics from today!