Technically I’m going to talk about my second week in Paris but because my first week was so horrific I’m going to pretend it didn’t happen. What I will say about that though is, I’m very grateful to all of my friends and family who supported me through one of the most difficult weeks of my life. I don’t think I would have got through it without them.
But onto better things… Last week got a whole lot better mainly because my mum came out to see me and to help me find somewhere to live. After a couple of stressful days we found somewhere and I am no longer homeless! Woo! As that was my main source of stress the previous week it was such a relief when I finally moved in somewhere. After moving in, my mum and I explored the area where I will be living, got some food (but no marmite, still fuming) and turned on the tv to watch Friends dubbed in French, i.e. the weirdest thing I have ever watched in my life.
I went to a language assistant orientation day last Wednesday which was both terrifying and encouraging at the same time. The first three hours was basically them bombarding us with the many, many, many forms that we have to fill in and submit. I think everyone else’s panic and stress rubbed off on me and I started to worry. But lucky me, I sat next to the one person who had been a language assistant in France before. He told me what was urgent and what could wait and gave me really good advice about the year.
Last Thursday was my first day at the school I will be teaching at. It’s called College Pablo Picasso and it’s in Montesson, Yvelines. All of the teachers are lovely and I really like the school . I went back for my second day today. It involved six hours of me answering questions about myself, which is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I obviously don’t know myself that well.
The most insulting question I got asked: Do you have any children? (Do I look like I have any children?)
The most original question I got asked: Do you like kebabs? (The answer is no, in case you were wondering)
The most hilarious question I got asked: Do you have to get a boat to the island you live on? (If I had a pound for everytime someone has asked me that…)
My biggest achievement so far though has been opening a bank account. Anyone who knows French bureaucracy will understand that you basically have to promise your first born to get anything done around here, so that was a big deal. It also means I will get paid! Woo!
I still feel homesick now and again but I’m starting to get so busy now that there really isn’t time for that. I have another orientation day tomorrow, followed by two more days at school. Then I have Warwick friends, Rachel, Libby and Flora, staying at the weekend and we’re all going out to celebrate Georgie’s birthday. Busy, busy, busy!
Étant client régulier du magasin Carrefour situé à Montesson, j'ai cherché des informations sur ce magasin que l'on décrit souvent comme “le plus grand carrefour d'Europe”. Si ce n'est plus le cas, cela a dû l'être.
Toujours est-il que ce lieu m'a inspiré. Je me suis souvent posé des questions: comment sa construction s'est décidée ? Quelles ont été les étapes ? Quelle a été les conséquences pour les commerces alentours ? Comment la communauté de la boucle de la Seine a été transformée par cet hyper qui a profondément remodelé la concurrence locale (à ma connaissance, il n'existe pas d'alternative dans la boucle, hormis Carrefour.. Sartrouville).
J'ai remarqué qu'il existe peu d'information sur ce magasin sur le net.
Je me suis donc dit que cette page pourrait intéresser des personnes de la région ou d'ailleurs.
Petite particularité: je suis “ménager de moins de 50 ans”, si cher au coeur de cible des pubs, sauf que chez nous, c'est monsieur qui fait les courses ! A bientôt
In my opinion, the one prospect of the year abroad that worries students the most is the accommodation problem. For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to have been offered accommodation, either by a university or by a school, the search for the perfect place can be hard. I learnt this first hand this weekend as I, with parents in tow, traveled to Paris to try and find somewhere to live for my year abroad as an English Language Assistant in France.
The school I will be teaching at is in a small town called Montesson, which is in the Yvelines département of the Ile-de-France. The town itself is very much like a suburb, i.e. it’s mainly houses and schools and is not close to a metro at all. So, I looked further afield for somewhere to live. I prefer the hustle bustle of a busy town and would like to be near a metro so I can take full advantage of my proximity to Paris.
Saturday morning, my parents and I set off, enthusiastic about our day of viewings. We had three places to look at and a lot of bus/metro hopping to do. The first place was quite far from my school and a long bus journey. Already minus some points. The place itself looked almost like a large shed that had been thrown together. The front door was wide open and the garden was so overgrown it almost covered the house. Minus a few more points. When I asked for the landlord, I was told he would not be back until 1pm even though I had scheduled to meet him at 11am. So we decided this wasn’t the place for me and left.
Apartment number 2 was in the very nice town of Chatou. It definitely has the hustle bustle I am looking for and very near to my school. From the pictures online I thought this apartment was going to be perfect, however it was just too small for the price they were asking.
The last accommodation we went to see was a room to rent in family house. The house was located in the town of Houilles-Carrieres-sur-Seine and was right next to the metro station. It was a lovely family home and I think ultimately that was why I decided not to take it. I think I would feel too much like an intruder in someone else’s home.
Although this sounds like an unsuccessful trip, I did learn a few things that will help me in my search for the perfect year abroad accommodation.
1) Location, location, location. While it may be tempting the more desperate I get, to take any apartment going, proximity to my school or a metro that will get me there is important.
2) Size matters. I don’t need a huge place to live but if they are asking for big bucks it has to be value for money.
3) The suburbs are not for me. I want to live somewhere where there are places to see and things to do. Especially if I am only working for 12 hours in the week.
4) Pictures can be deceiving. Landlords will spruce up the rooms for the photos or they will purposefully not post a photo of a particular room to make their property seem more appealing. You should always see the place in person and meet the landlord before agreeing to anything.
5) Finding the perfect place takes time. I was never going to find somewhere perfect in one weekend. It will be much easier to house hunt when I move here permanently, however daunting that sounds. I am lucky that I have a lovely friend who is willing to put me up while I search, which has certainly eased my stress.
If anything else, it put my mum’s mind at ease as I actually can navigate the metro and converse with other French people (even if it is in very broken French at the moment).
All in all, I’ve had a great weekend gallivanting around Paris and the Ile-de-France with my parents and my research has definitely improved my house hunting skills. Hopefully you’ll hear from me again in about a month telling you all about my perfect year abroad accommodation and my big move to France.
Special morning walk today. #cokersofinstagram #cockerspaniel #cockerlife #petsgram #gold #bestdog #ralph #puppy #cute #smart #funny #lovely #bestbuddy #seineriver #montesson #morningwalk #happydog by cocker_ralph See me at http://bit.ly/justpuppies