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Mama I made it!

Welcome to Dreux:

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View over the center of town on a very cloudy day
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The belfry at the center of town–the cafe with the red tents has the cutest little terrace in the back and they have cheap wine!

I’ve tried to condense the last week into a series of bullet points to make it as easy to read as possible. SO much has happened!

  1. I moved in

When I got off the plane I had the most massive customs line ever waiting for me (like seriously it took 45 minutes), but once all of that was over my teacher contact from my high school was waiting for me just on the other side! I’m really lucky that I didn’t have to navigate Paris with two suitcases to get to the train station because then she tucked me into her car and we drove to Dreux.

Then she gave me the low-down on all the gossip of the school the hour drive we had and when we arrived at the school she dragged me inside to meet the Principal (Le Proviseur) and half of the administrative team. Who were all quite nice and tbh I didn’t remember half of their names because I was so jet lagged. And then she brought me to my room.

Basically I’m living in the student dorms. They’ve reserved a couple rooms for teachers. It’s a tiny bit bigger than a dorm room, but not by much, but I have my own bathroom and a communal kitchen I’ll share with another language assistant and the nighttime workers who stay awake to make sure all the kids are in bed and asleep at curfew. All this is fine because it’s free. 

Yes you read that right. I won the jackpot in this town.

2. Welcome dinner

On Thursday my contact from the high school organized a welcome dinner at the Italian restaurant in town & I was able to meet many of the people who work there. (And not just the English teachers) I sat next to the science teacher who also participates in National Novel Writing Month each November so we ended up talking about books quite a lot, the teacher across from me had fun trying to make me say as many French cuss words as possible, and I drank soo much wine.

I was so happy I was able to speak with people, outside of the work context and just have normal conversations *IN FRENCH.* I find there’s always a little “trial” period when new people try to figure out if I actually do speak French before they try to speak to me, but at least I got a lot of that out of the way at dinner!

3. I’ve adopted a café

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Dreux doesn’t have a Starbucks. It’s that tiny, but it does have a cute little coffee shop that I’ve been to… 5 out of the 7 days I’ve been here already. The second day I came in they gave me a rewards card… and I’m over halfway already… oops?

The employees all know me… probably as the American, but well that’s fine.  Plus the food/coffee/wifi is great there.

Oh did I mention that I don’t have wifi where I live?

Yeah, they don’t want the students staying up all night on the internet. I’ve got a little bit of data with my international phone plan, but for now if I need to do any heavy internet use I have to come to this café.

Besides internet surfing I have gotten quite a bit of writing done there too!

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How could I not get writing done in a place like this?

 

4. I still haven’t started work yet.

We had our teacher’s meeting in Orléans yesterday, which was really really boring.

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It might have been useful… If I hadn’t already lived in France before, so I felt a little like Hermione. #beentheredonethat

They didn’t give us any new information or give us any instruction on how to work with students. To me it seemed like a meet and greet more than anything, but at least there was free coffee?

But yeah, I’m not sure when I’ll actually go into the classroom for the first time, so we shall see. Tomorrow maybe?

5.  Phone companies suck.

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I’ll just leave that one as is.

Compared to living in Paris I already love this city more. I don’t feel quite so anonymous here & I’ll be able to get to know people better I think because I see the same people every single day–even walking on the street!

There’s so much more that’s happened that just couldn’t fit into one blog post! If you’re interested in keeping up with me this year, click subscribe!

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I’m Moving to France!

Hi World,

It’s Emily here… two years later and I’m graduating college in… three weeks?!

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And I’m reviving the blog because I’M MOVING TO FRANCE AGAIN!!

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I have been accepted to the TAPIF program which is a teaching assistant job in France. All I know about where I will be right now is that I have been placed in the Académie of Orléans-Tours. It’s that giant region under Paris.

 

The “Académies” of France aka the academic departments.

This region is also the châteaux region of France and home of the Lorie Valley (think wine and awesome cheese). It was one of my top picks for regions and I am so excited to be going back!

I will find out my specific city placement sometime in June/July.

This decision was not an easy one as I had been contemplating a more permanent job here in the states that would have assured me a connection to my yoga community (oh yeah I’ve become a certified yoga instructor by the way so get ready for a whole year of yoga pictures across France and Europe) which is something that I’ve come to value profoundly this year.

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Just a casual spring break sunrise headstand…

And then I realized, this teaching contract is only for SEVEN months! I’m not abandoning the permanent job or my yoga community – they will still be there when I come back.

This decision has ultimately been one of love and passion. I have many friends (soul sisters, best travelling buddies ever, and some friendship that were so hard to speak about aloud I created a blog for them) in Europe that I feel a profound connection and love for and the thought of never seeing them again has brought me to tears over and over. THIS is my opportunity to see them again and spend quality time with them one on one without the pressure of a job or a family to get back to.

THIS is my opportunity to write novel number two and maybe! get novel number one published.

Ultimately, I’ve realized that out of both decisions I would most likely come to regret the decision not to return to France. So here’s to living abroad and being nearly broke for the next year – that 40 hour grind can wait one more year 🙂

Until then… I won’t be going anywhere until September!

I invite you to catch up on all the adventures I had while studying abroad in 2014-2015 and follow me along this amazing adventure next year. Please subscribe (click Follow blog via email in the column on the LEFT!) to receive this blog’s updates via email! Also, I love getting feedback so please comment!

 

New Beginnings?

Well finals started and then I took a trip to Spain and before I knew it I found myself back on the plane to go home for the holidays! And just like that my first semester studying abroad was over!

How did that happen?
How did that happen?

So I’ve spent the last 3 weeks reading English books, Netflix binge watching with my sister, and just generally spending time with my family.

My first semester studying abroad was great – not exactly what I expected, but still amazing nonetheless. I have to admit, it did get a little lonely at times (and I mean lonely for an introvert/ambivert) but I’ll chalk that up to not living in a dorm. I miss living with my friends terribly, but I just have to keep reminding myself that they will still be there for me in a year, whereas my next trip to Paris is quite undetermined after this year.

I got back to Paris two days ago and by a sad twist of fate I switched host families today and am now living in a giant apartment in the 16th arrondissement. It’s not as conveniently located as my last host family and I won’t have an awe-inspiring view of the Arc de Triomphe each time I go to the metro, but I’ll survive. (My budget will certainly be thankful that I no longer live off of the most expensive street in Paris!) The family has three kids who are all living away from home, but come back on the weekends. They range from 23 to 18 so hopefully it won’t be too difficult to get to know them!

Oh and also… my family has an ESPRESSO MAKER.

Real coffee!!!
Real coffee!!!

Essentially, I’ve been complaining about French coffee for the last 5 months since my last host mom had nothing but instant coffee. Which is fine if you’ve never tasted good coffee in your life. Or hate sugar.

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Classes for me don’t start until Monday, possibly… Not quite sure what classes I’ll be taking exactly, but I’ll keep you updated!

Don’t miss a single blog post of my entire adventure! Please subscribe (click Follow blog via email in the column on the right!) to receive this blog’s updates via email! Also, I love getting feedback so please comment!

The End of One Chapter and Into Another

As the school year is drawing to a close, I wanted to post again before finals start and everyone goes home.

If you didn’t already know, next year I will be studying abroad in Paris for the entire year. Not just fall semester, but ALL YEAR. It’s with a program called “Sweet Briar Junior Year in France” and I will be taking all of my classes in French with French students at the Sorbonne. If you have known me previously, you know that I am finally fulfilling my dream because France is my number one favorite subject to talk about ever. (Really. I think some of my friends may get annoyed!) I’ve been planning this trip since high school and I know next year is going to be the best year of my life.

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This will actually be my 5th time going to Paris and my second time going alone so the city is no stranger. When I go to France, it feels like I’m going home. As weird as this sounds, I truly feel that it is the country I belong it.

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Yet, as my first year of college draws to a close, I can’t help but feel anxious and well, heartbroken that I have to leave behind all of the amazing people I have met this year. Nearly every day I leave lunch, my chest tightens up, I feel like crying and it sucks. Most of my friends will still be here after my year abroad and we will all skype regularly, but I will miss so many things: eating lunch with them, dancing crazily together, procrastinating on homework… I could go on and on. I’ve been trying to make the most of my last few days here with them before we all go home for summer and I leave for Paris, but the pain of saying goodbye on that final day will not get any easier. Let’s just say that the plane ride there is going to contain some of the most conflicting emotions of my life.

Me being conflicted in front of the Thinker in 2012.
Me being conflicted in front of the Thinker in 2012.

On the other hand the realization that I’m leaving is rather liberating, yet extremely bad for my impending research paper and exams. I’m leaving for a year, so I have to experience everything here to the fullest before that day comes. Some of my friends may think I’ve gone a little crazy as my moods alternate from the depression of having to leave them, to the crazed intensity of wanting to do everything with them just a few more times. Why study when I could go to the pool or have adventures around campus with my friends?

Unfortunately, with all of these emotions I have realized that there are always two sides to studying abroad. The excitement of going to a foreign country to experience new cultures and meet new people, and the gloom that comes with having to say goodbye to the friends you will leave behind.

Even more frightening is the realization that this will be my entire life. My dream job involves moving to a different country every two years, with no guaranteed return. So this next year won’t just be about stuffing my face with macaroons and learning how to blend in with all of the super fashionable French women. It will be a test to see if I can really stand to pack up my life and move long term to another country and then continue doing so for the rest of my life.

It’ll be the best year of my life, but that doesn’t change the fact that I will be leaving my best friends, not to mention my family for a year.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors.” -Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

This quote brings up one final issue. I will be leaving here to spend a year in the country of my dreams. Make sure I come back. I’m really going to miss you guys.

 

Don’t miss a single blog post of my entire adventure! Please subscribe (click Follow blog via email in the column on the right!) to receive this blog’s updates via email! Also, I love getting feedback so please comment!

Seeing Istanbul through cats!

I don’t know how one city can have so many stray cats.

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Bosphorus University Cafe. Can you see them all?

In America, if you see an animal in the street, you pick the dog/cat up and you take it home and post lost animal signs everywhere until the owner inevitably comes to pick it up. If you did that in Istanbul, you wouldn’t have any room to sleep because every square inch of your house would be full of stray, homeless, animals!1779901_822624227753926_299665312_n Most of them look pretty well cared for though.1897856_821423467874002_371038843_n Even gorgeous.1890552_10152676204657786_951863118_o Some live in mosques.

Blue Mosque cat
Blue Mosque cat

Some prefer museums.

Hagia Sophia Cat
Hagia Sophia Cat

Some are very philosophical…

Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia

Or at least like posing for the tourists… mosque catSome liked to chill inside cafes like the rest of us…

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Bosphorus University cafeteria

Some hide from the tourists…

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Hagia Sophia gift shop

And most are very sweet and tame.

toki cat And here’s one guy having fun for you dog lovers… 1529885_825132247503124_551902269_o

All in all the people of Istanbul seem to love their strays. We often saw food set out for the dogs and cats and the people even protested their removal in 2012!

Decided to make this post a little less serious since the last one was so heavy! If you enjoyed this please subscribe (click Follow blog via email in the column on the right!) to receive this blog’s updates via email! Also, I love getting feedback so please comment!