I write this feeling a tiny bit fragile after a lovely evening spent with friends as a final gathering for a couple of weeks. Matt and I are moving to the chateau today as the Toussaint stage for teenagers kicks off tomorrow, and our friends (the majority of whom are Teaching Assistants) who are lucky enough to have Toussaint as a holiday themselves are jetting off to various locations around Europe. Safe to say that fun was had by all last night.
Side note: still not entirely over the fact that I have managed to make an actually very considerable number of friends in France.
I haven’t blogged for almost three weeks, and that’s largely because I haven’t had the time. My trip to Paris marked the start of a very busy couple of weeks at work (which is showing no sign of calming down any time soon) but I’ll try my best to keep this post as short and sweet as possible.
First things first: Paris. In short, I had an absolutely fabulous few days. The mystery work turned out to be a kind of trade fair at the Stade de France; very little effort was involved on my part and it all went fairly smoothly (aside from the fact that I turned up over an hour late on the first day after having got on the wrong RER line) and reaped many a free pen. The real fun, however, came from staying with Christina, my lovely friend from New College, who has fallen on her feet in a big way and ended up with an amazing apartment in the 5th arrondissement. For context, here is the view that greets you as you leave the building:
Safe to say that I was in very good hands. Two days of work was rewarded with two days to myself, the highlights of which were the best falafel I’ve ever had in my life:
a visit to a really excellent exhibition that allowed visitors to participate by taking bits of the artwork away with them, and a trip to a massive flea market in the north of the city where I had some more delicious food:
It was so nice to go away to a big city for a few days, but, upon returning to Laval with considerably fewer Euros than I left with, I couldn’t help but feel slightly relieved that I wasn’t spending six months there.
From Paris I took a train to Nantes where I met some friends from the foyer. Adri’s parents very kindly let us all stay at their house, and they were so hospitable and generous for the whole weekend. It was a very chilled couple of days, the highlight of which was definitely seeing Nantes’s famous mechanical elephant:
I feel like that photo makes my excitement perfectly clear.
So, after a dreamy few days, it was back to Laval for another week of work. Over the course of the past fortnight, it has become clear that the boss has realised that Matt and I are actually quite dedicated and hardworking, and not representative of our supposedly lazy generation about which she is so fond of ranting. After an initially shaky start (largely triggered by my asking about Christmas holiday far too early on in the internship) I feel quite relieved to have turned things round. Our dedication was tested to the max last weekend, when we had to get up at 6.15am on a Saturday (!!!) to go and work in Angers. Again, in classic Langue & Nature style, I was in the dark up until the very last minute about what would actually be required, and it turned out that we were teaching English to a group of adults. Despite being extremely (probably overly) disgruntled about having to work during the weekend, it was actually a really good day: the students were funny and enthusiastic, we got the afternoon to ourselves in Angers and, best of all and in probably the most surreal moment of my year abroad so far, we were invited to a party, hosted by the organisation behind the conference at which we had been teaching, on a boat, where there was much free alcohol and high-quality cheese to be had. Needless to say that it more than made up for the measly three hours of teaching that we’d done earlier in the day. Additionally, Angers is a great city: although we didn’t have tonnes of time there, we went to the castle and a museum, and had time to check out a couple of bars recommended by Breanna, one of our American friends. The most memorable moment of the day, however, was undoubtedly when Kellen, an American who recently arrived at Langue & Nature as a gardener and who came to Angers simply for a fun day out, vomited out of the window and down the side of our boss’s car. A sign of a very good night.
The week between then and now has positively flown by, and now I’m faced with the prospect of spending the next fortnight acting as an animatrice for a group of French teenagers. Surprisingly, I’m looking forward to it. There are two stages going on at once, and the group I’ve been allocated to work with is comprised of 16-19-year-olds, who will hopefully be a bit more enthusiastic and a bit less full of teenage angst than the group in August. I’ll only be with them for about half the time anyway, as either Matt or I has to be in the office at all times – which should bring some welcome respite.
So yes, that’s the last couple (and the next couple) of weeks of my life in a nutshell. To finish, a shameless plug: I’ve written an article for The Oxford Student newspaper about my experience as a vegetarian in France so far. You can read it here and, as always, any feedback would be appreciated! Merci bien et à bientôt xxx