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Next weekend is the start of one crazy week!

After nearly 3 months in France, I decided that the best option for me at the moment is to go home, work as much as possible, save as much as possible, and come back to France sometime after March. The job hunt here was frustrating but I feel like I did my best. I’m definitely considering doing my masters in Lille next year (studying modern languages), and with a student visa, I’d have the right to work 20 hours/week anywhere I’d like (or anywhere I can get hired). The main problem this time around with interviews was never the conversation, but the fact that I didn’t have valid working papers. As a student, I’d have already jumped through that hoop, so hopefully it would be much easier to support myself.

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quirks

Even after living in France for a combined total of nearly 15 months, there are still little quirks that I discover about this country along the way.

A fantastic picture book by Vahram Muratyan depicting differences between two of the world’s best known cities. Examples: Amélie vs Carrie, baguette vs bagel, cancan vs Gaga.

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Bruges for a day

The boy and I found ourselves browsing airbnb.com for villas in Bali one night when we decided, why not spend a day in Bruges? It was a much more feasible plan, being that this Flemish city is only a 1 and a 1/2 hour drive from our house, and we wouldn’t need to spend $10,000 to stay there for a night. So the next Sunday, we set off on the road along with his mom, dad, brother, sister, and sister’s boyfriend to spend a nice little afternoon in Bruges.

Group shot on a side street of Bruges, taken by the boy’s brother

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a year in review

Exactly one year ago, I started my first day of work as an English teaching assistant in Douai, France. If things would’ve worked out as I was hoping for, I would be doing the same thing today! Unfortunately, that’s not the case – but when I look back at this year and everything that has happened, I am like whoa.

I spent 8 months in France, teaching 12 hours a week to French high school students. I definitely had my ups (like my great class of senior students who always greeted me with a smile) and downs (like that one time that I ended up yelling in French at my sophomores who didn’t want to listen to a word I was saying), but I definitely learned a lot. If I ever have the opportunity to do the assistantship again, I would take it.

I lived in a small city but made great friends from all over, including my roommates from Spain, Italy, and Germany and my other assistant friends living nearby.

Cydny, Sarah, me, Viviana, Inés, and Lidia

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the wonders of a quiche.

Foie gras, Camembert, and champagne… who needs it when there are so many things you can do with a quiche? This has become my go-to meal because it’s super easy to make, we usually have the ingredients on hand, and well, it’s just delicious.

Pre-packaged dough for the crust (or you can make it by hand if you want to be fancy), a few eggs, and a splash of milk are all you need to make your way towards a fantastic quiche. I’ve found that it doesn’t even really matter exactly how many eggs or how much milk you put in, but for a normal-sized quiche, I’d go with 3-4 eggs and between a 1/2 cup – 1 cup of milk. You can even use cream if you want! (See, the options are endless!) Throw in all of the other stuff you want, stir it all together, pour it into the crust, and voilà! 30 minutes later, it’s ready.

The first quiche I ever made: a quiche paysanne.

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FIBA!

Normally FIBA has something to do with basketball, but not in northern France: it’s the Festival International de la Bière Artisanale! 

The International Craft Beer Festival takes place once a year in the small town of Sainte Marie Cappel, just outside of Hazebrouck. Nearly 20 independent breweries are represented at the festival, and most of them come from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. With 5€, you get a souvenir tasting glass, three tasting tickets, and of course, the whole FIBA experience, which is priceless.

The city’s gymnasium was packed full of local beer tasters. Luckily for us, the pouring rain started 30 seconds after we made it inside.

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city job hunting, market treasure hunting

The time of year has come to France, when thousands of foreigners enter the country to begin their year abroad as a language teaching assistant. Americans, Canadians, Brits, Germans, Spanish, Italians, and many more have been placed in elementary, middle, and high schools all around the country to serve as a cultural and linguistic link to their respective country and language, and I so wish I were participating in this program again!

But, I was unfortunately not renewed for the job and am therefore continuing to hang out in France, trying to find some form of employment!

Enjoying English! for French 6th graders.

I am now giving private English lessons to 4 clients, who are all very different. It’s nice because I am making a bit of money on the side and getting to practice adjusting my teaching methods for different students at different levels with different needs. I am working with a 10-year-old whose family is moving to the States next year, a girl my age who is preparing for an English airline exam, a boy my age who is getting ready to travel abroad, and a businessman whose company just went international who will need to be able to express himself in English. Each lesson is personalized, so that means I’m preparing a lot on the side, but getting a lot of experience teaching in varied situations.

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