Tag Archives: French

That Isn’t Too Heavy For You?*

*(And other things I hear while lifting weights at a gym in France)

Since I’ve arrived my teacher contact has been taking me with her to her gym in Dreux. It’s a tiny two room gym with a weightlifting section, two treadmills, two bikes, one rowing machine, and one or two ellipticals. In the second room is a wide open space where they hold classes.

To give you guys a little bit of a background I lift weights *at least* once a week and have been doing so for over a year. And when I say lift weights I don’t mean the little 2-5 pound weights. I’m talking about thirty to a couple hundred pounds depending on the exercise/machine. That plus I’m a yoga instructor so I’m no stranger to fitness. (I promise I’m not trying to brag haha I just feel a little defensive as a girl in a gym where there aren’t really other girls who lift)

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The first day my teacher brought me to a Body Pump class (which exists in English too, you can check it out here) It’s basically a high rep class that uses a bar with weights and you hit every part of the body with squats, lunges, deadlifts, bench presses, tricep dips, abs, etc etc.

My first day was a little confusing just because it took me a little while to get used to the vocabulary. (Add more weight, take weight off, release, etc)

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But at the end of the class we did “stretching” and well… I stretched like a proper yogi.

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I swear this is absolutely normal for me/isn’t something I consider to be extreme or strenuous at all. I don’t get much of a stretch if I don’t go down this far haha

But then it was great because while everyone was freaking out about my extreme stretching thinking I was about to hurt myself… I got to speak to them in French and tell them I was a yoga instructor.

Then the next time I went there a couple days later for a crossfit class. I’d never done crossfit in my life before, but I walked into the class and the coach loaded up my bar for me. And the great thing is he didn’t go easy, he put easily twice as much weight on my bar as any other girl in the room.

And that’s pretty much when I knew I’d be sticking with this gym.

It was honestly the best thing ever because as a girl who lifts weights, sometimes guys just tend to underestimate you/look down on you and think you can’t actually lift. And considering that culturally in France girls are even LESS likely to lift weights/do sports I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the people in the gym were!

That doesn’t mean I haven’t had my fair share of strange incidents. I think everyone knows that there’s a redhead American at the gym now so they all come to talk to me while I’m working out. (As in like in the middle of my leg press reps…) And maybe it’s just the culture at this particular gym, but when someone new walks in they shake hands with every single person they pass (without introducing themselves sometimes awkwardly enough) I think I prefer the head nod culture in the states.

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Voila. All the interaction you get at a gym in the US. 

Whereas in France you do “La Bise”

This is what it’s supposed to look like:

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Oh and don’t forget to make a kiss noise for each cheek

Except you go down the line and do this with EVERY SINGLE PERSON. And when I’m at the gym sometimes I feel like this:

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I’m sweaty! You don’t want my cheek sweat, I don’t want your cheek sweat!

But regardless of odd introductions:

Just last week a guy told me:

“Oh you’re flexible, but you’re not that strong.”

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Pretty much my exact reaction right here

I straight up told him: “That’s an insult. You insulted me.”

Him: “No! I said you’re flexible! You know the word flexible! Like elastic!”

Me: “Yes. I understand your French. But it was the stuff you said after that.”

Him: “Oh yeah, you’re not strong. That’s not an insult!”

Me: (fuming) “Uh, yes it is.”

But the bright side is I told the coach about what he said and he told everyone in the gym and they all thought it was an insult too. So at least its not a cultural thing! There are jerks everywhere I suppose.

The main reason I’m writing a blog post on my gym though is because I’ve started teaching yoga there! In FRENCH!

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First time I’ve ever taught a class with more guys than girls… but it IS after Crossfit!

It’s been a little crazy, but it’s been going super well. I’m grateful for everyone at the gym for dealing with my eternal American accent when speaking French!

But yeah. So the gym has turned into my social life haha I go every day I can. Everyone there knows me and tries to talk to me (insults or not haha) and at the very least the Coach who teaches all the classes respects me haha.

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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!

 

A Busy Parisian Bee

Now that the first week of full classes has gone by I can admit that this is going to be a very busy semester! 4 days out of the week my schedule is packed and then the other three days I’m like this:

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What do you mean I’m in Paris? It’s cold!

This semester I’m taking 3 classes at Sweet Briar (the program I’m studying abroad with), 1 class at the Sorbonne, and I have an internship at the École Militaire. 

I intern there. (It's not a joke)
I intern there. (It’s not a joke)

My study abroad program finds internships for the spring semester students and so I’m working in a journalism/international relations office where I’m translating and will soon be writing my own policy analysis articles. I had to create a CV all in French and apply like normal, but now I have one of the undoubtedly coolest internships in all of France. I’m probably one of the dozen un-uniformed people there and I am constantly surrounded by generals and strange French working customs.

For example, you give handshakes at the office in France! (Which is weird for France. I’ve stuck my hand out several times only to be awkwardly stared at.) But of course if you’re a girl you shake hands and do la bise (French cheek kiss thing) which is typically the only greeting I’ve been used to here.

I just go with it
I just go with it

 

I might just be super lucky, but also the attire for the non-military personnel is decidedly casual (albeit French casual which is miles ahead of American casual any day).

Class wise, at the Sorbonne I’m taking the History of the Middle East in the 20th century, which is covering everything from the creation of Israel to the Arab Spring in 2011. Most Sorbonne classes are simply continuations of the previous semester so I was a tad bit nervous about not knowing what happened in the Middle East in the first half of the 20th century. Then the professor handed out the final exam from last semester and there was a big picture of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk so I knew I was going to be all right. (If you don’t know I did a big research project in Turkey last year and Atatürk was kind of the founder of the modern Turkish state)

My professor is clearly an expert on the subject of the Middle East, she’s easy to understand, and she informed me (the only foreign student in the class) that I will not have to take the final exam at the end of the semester.

That's one less exam I have to take!
Basically she’s 100% amazing.

For my Sweet Briar classes I’m continuing with the amazing grammar class and I’m taking the History of Art in France in the 19th and 20th centuries, which is basically a continuation off of last semester. (This is the same class where we visit the museums in person for class). I’m also taking the History of France and Europe in the 20th century, which I should drop because I only need to take 3 classes because of my internship, but it seems like a really interesting and useful class since I would get to know more about recent French history. (Which you know could be useful for an aspiring diplomat)

I’m also continuing to give English lessons to family’s kids a couple hours a week for a few extra euros. Gotta pay for my pastry and coffee addiction somehow! (Actually let’s be honest: I’m starving and saving all my money for the opera)

Oh also… It snowed this weekend. This Texan girl was like this:

"Are those actual snowflakes??"
“Are those actual snowflakes??”

(I had never seen snow fall before. It was a good day.)

Anyone want to hazard a guess from the gifs where I’m thinking of travelling next? (If you guessed England you would be right!)

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!

 

I am now a (beginner) French Pastry Chef!

I finally did it! I went to a cooking class with La Cuisine Paris a couple days ago and learned how to make croissants, pain au chocolat, pain suisse, pain au raisin, and then a bunch of other pastries I don’t remember the names of. Turns out they’re all made with the same croissant-butter dough so it was really easy to make a bunch of things when everyone had a slab of their own dough!

Pain au chocolat in the back, and something the teacher called a "basket" with the jelly in it
Pain au chocolat in the back, and something the teacher called a “basket” with the jelly in it

The entire class lasted three hours. The process of making the croissant dough is actually very complicated as it involves folding (like literal folding) a block of butter (yes that’s right) into the dough. However once you have the dough the hard part is over and it’s pretty simple to shape them into the correct shapes.

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Putting chunky sugar on top of these pinwheel things

I doubt I could ever recreate these on my own especially since the specific butter and flour would be difficult to find in the US, but I’ll probably spend a good week of my life this summer trying!

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Pain suisse: which has to be my favorite french pastry ever. That would be vanilla pudding/custard in there under all those chocolate chips!

At the end of those very labor intensive three hours, when the pastries came out of the oven we all looked a little bit like this:

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We were hungry.

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The end results! From left to right: pain au chocolat, those basket things, pain suisse (my favorite ❤ )

Then they brought us some tea and coffee and we all ate as much as we could!

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One of our croissants before I ate it

Then because there was still trays upon trays of croissants left, we were all given bags to take the remaining pastries:

So this is what happened
So this is what happened

All in all it was a successful morning and I can honestly admit I couldn’t even look at croissants and pastries the rest of the day!

I’m considering going back to the same place sometime this semester to learn how to make macarons (macaroons for all you English people) but it’s pretty expensive! But I suppose it’s worth the money to be able to tell people that I’m now a French pastry chef! What else did people expect me to learn when I came to France??

"Oh I don't know, maybe FRENCH??" -my parents
“Oh I don’t know, maybe FRENCH??” -my parents 

Moving beyond food: the first week of classes just ended, I snagged an internship, and even grabbed another pair of cheap opera tickets and went to see the German opera Ariadne auf Naxos! Stay tuned for a more in depth explanation 🙂

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How to: Paris Opera Edition

Dear future boys seeking to win my affection,

Opera tickets. Buy me opera tickets.

As I’m typing these very words I’m listening to opera music on YouTube. I have the terrible feeling that one day someone is going to ask me what I’m listening to and I’m going to have to tell them that I have fallen in love with the opera and it now owns my soul.

Because the opera was all like:

and I was like "Fine with me!"

And I was like:

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Sweet Briar, the program I’m studying abroad with, takes us out on excursions every so often to plays, and guided tours within Paris. A few weeks ago they took us on a guided tour of Opéra Bastille, the modern opera house in Paris completed in 1989.

The Opera Bastille
The Opera Bastille

Contrary to popular belief, most operas in Paris are actually held at this new building and not the historical, Opera Garnier, which the Phantom of the Opera is tied to. Opera Bastille is newer and therefore has better acoustics and now holds the most operas while Opera Garnier shows more ballets.

The Opera Garnier: fancy huh?
The Opera Garnier: fancy huh?

Our tour was like a dream come true. Our tour guide took our small group of 5 people to not only the empty amphitheater, but to the “super-secret” side passageway that led straight onto the stage. I went backstage at the Paris Opera. 

Backstage. At the OPERA.
Backstage. At the OPERA.

The crew on stage was currently working on moving all of the Nutcracker’s props onto one large square area, so that the elevator underneath could raise the entire square up so that the decorations could quickly be moved into one of the massive storage rooms that were also behind the stage and could move in the props for that night’s show.

We walked around the sets for La Boheme and Don Giovanni and then he took us down to the 6th sublevel of the opera house where they store the oldest props and make the new ones for the coming seasons. Basically, the opera house is an iceberg.

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You only see that cute little top part and you have no idea of the monster that lies beneath.

One of the questions I made sure to ask our guide was how to get cheap opera tickets.

How to get cheap opera tickets:

1. Buy 6 months in advance: They start selling tickets for a piece about 6 months in advance, meaning if you want one of those 15 or 35 euro tickets, you need to act fast. After I visited the Opera Bastille I waited for the ticket office to open and bought one of the remaining 15 euro tickets to see Swan Lake… in April. (The tickets went on sale mid-november and I bought mine November 22, just a few days after they started selling them) They’re not good seats, but hey, I’m guaranteed to see Swan Lake and for only 15 euros.

2. Super lucky young adult deal way: Last Friday morning I woke up as usual and was eating breakfast when I got a text from the opera. The opera texted me.

Basically the text told me that there was a special deal for young adults (under 26) to see the opera La Boheme this Sunday at 2:30pm. They were selling tickets in the second best area of the entire theater that normally cost 180 euros for only 30 euros. 

Me reading that text
Me reading that text

Basically, I had a panic attack, woke up my friends with frantic phone calls and hurriedly purchased my ticket. Two hours later my friend decided to go as well and she scooped up the last ticket.

Why did the opera text me? Because in order to purchase tickets online, or to even look at the prices for that matter, I had to sign up for an account on their website which asked me for my french cell phone number.

So basically, I made that account about a week ago and I’ve already gotten one of these “Young Adult” deals. Who knows how often these deals pop up? My advice: get an account at operadeparis.fr as soon as you can in order to benefit from the 26 and under deals!

Oh and my seat at La Boheme: AMAZING. I was in row 7 of the orchestra, my friend: row 3. I could see the expressions on the actors faces!

3. Super-super risky/lucky way: Apparently if you show up an hour and a half before the show starts the opera will start to sell the remaining seats for 30 euros. (My tour guide told me this so it’s definitely a thing, but I haven’t tested it yet) In short: you might get lucky, you might not. Definitely have a backup plan in mind just in case your opera plans fail!

The actual opera: La Bohème

Bohemian Paris of the 1800s, a story of love and of course loss. Stupid tuberculosis.
Bohemian Paris of the 1800s, a story of love, and of course loss. Stupid tuberculosis. Also I walked through this exact set only the week before. All that snow? Tiny pieces of paper!

I was actually shocked at how much I liked it. The vibrato in their voices really adds to the emotion you feel during the piece and I felt myself tearing up in the final act, when the main character laments the loss of his love.tumblr_m32kilRJ1y1r9fj13

Thankfully, there were subtitles in both English and French, so I understood everything and I read the plot of the opera beforehand just to make sure.

But do you realize how hard it is to restrain myself from buying the expensive opera tickets now? Don Giovanni will be playing on my birthday in February, yet tickets are already 100 euros! I sincerely hope that these “young adult” offers come often and that I will be able to get to see all the ones I want to! (Aka ALL THE OPERAS)

If you guys have any questions about the opera or how to get tickets leave me a comment!

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!