Tag Archives: Friends

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!

 

La Rentrée: My First Week at the Sorbonne

Of course there are other buildings next to it, but here's my "campus"
Of course there are other buildings next to it, but here’s my “campus”

I made sure to get to my first class, “Introduction to the Cultural History of the Middle Ages” early.  French students? A French professor who will probably hate me immediately? A class all in French? Saying I was nervous would be an understatement.

Can we go back to summer now?
Terrified would be a better word.

The first class was a CM, Cours Magistral, or a lecture style class. It went surprisingly well. The professor, thankfully, had a powerpoint to go along with his lecture so I understood most everything he said when he was talking about the Franks and Visigoths. I even talked to a girl after class! Making French friends? I sure hope so.

Unfortunately, a CM is only about 1/2 of the actual course. The rest of the course is a TD or Travaux dirigés, also known as a seminar of sorts with a teaching assistant and only about 50 students instead of the 200 in the CM. Of course, the only grades you get are in the TD from your teaching assistant so when you end up looking like this during your first TD:

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Was that French?

You might have a slight problem.

Thankfully my other classes went much, much better.

Which is frustrating because I signed up for a backup class just in case the Middle Ages course was horrible (and it was) and it turns out my backup class is amazing! The TD professor has the perfect accent, talks at a normal pace, and seemed really happy to have me there! Unfortunately, as it’s an analysis of very recent history, it also has a real life application to my major and career path… Why do I say unfortunately?

My inner Diana Bishop just really, really wants to learn what the heck went on all that time ago… and maybe a little alchemy.

Who wouldn't want to learn the symbolism behind this picture??
Who wouldn’t want to learn the symbolism behind this picture??

So I’ll probably go to all of my classes again next week and then decide which one to drop. Maybe the Middle Ages class was just horrible because it was the first day and she didn’t know what else to do besides name drop all of these philosophers? When she wrote Huizinga on the board I was terrified. It didn’t look like a French word at all so no wonder I didn’t understand!

The only bad thing about my other classes is that there really isn’t an assigned textbook. They each hand out bibliographies with dozens of books listed. One professor actually told us that there was no required reading, but if we wanted to do well we should read a few.

Optional, but highly encouraged, giant reading list?
Optional, but highly encouraged, giant reading list?

I don’t even know.

As far as meeting French students… I’ve had mixed results. I feel like it’s your average university setting: unless you reach out to someone either by smiling, offering up a pen, or flat out introducing yourself, most everyone will just mind their own business and leave you be.

They obviously didn’t hear or see my inner plea for French friends.

I guess I need to work on my adorable, help me vibe
I’m taking lessons from Stitch.

But it turns out I have another class with the girl I talked to after my Middle Ages class! I talked to both her and her friend for a few minutes about classes and then sat next to them in the lecture. So I’m even more reluctant to drop the Middle Ages class because I’m very slowly making friends!

That sums up all of the information I have on my classes at the Sorbonne since I’ll only be taking 2 classes at the Sorbonne and 2 with Sweet Briar. I’ve already mentioned in a previous post how fantastic my grammar class is- yes, yes you can use that adjective with grammar- but I haven’t talked about my other Sweet Briar class. It’s an art history class where we spend an hour and a half each week sitting around analyzing paintings and sculptures in the Louvre.

I might have actually twirled like that too...
I might have actually twirled like that too…

I don’t think much more description is necessary here. Our professor is funny and has a massive knowledge of art and the Louvre in general. Apparently, he noticed that a painting was gone from its usual spot so he went and asked a worker where it was. They then told him said painting had never actually been in the Louvre’s possession. So he told the worker that if they didn’t email him the location of the painting in three days, he would write an article saying that the Louvre had lost a painting (or was robbed).

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Where is she?

Needless to say, they emailed him the information detailing the painting’s new location. So kind of an Art Historian bad-ass. Is that an oxymoron?

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