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 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!
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.
Well, here I am again: Haley in France. And I’m actually even in France this time!
I flew with Southwest from Dallas to Newark (with a brief, stay-on-the-plane connection in St. Louis) and then had a 4 hour layover in Newark before I took off on my 7.5 hour flight to Paris. Then I waited 2 hours at the Paris airport before taking a one hour train to Lille, where I was happily reunited with the boy. After an hour of shopping and dragging my suitcase along, it was time for our train to Hazebrouck. After nearly 24 hours of travel, I made it to his house and was ready to nap, but instead I was a good girlfriend and helped him rearrange his living room to make it work with the new couch that he bought that we had picked up on the way to his house. (It looks awesome. It’s even long enough for me to take a nap on!)
When I arrived in Hazebrouck, it felt like I had just been here. Two and a half months is a reasonable time to be away, but now this place feels familiar. This country feels familiar. It was perfect to end the night with a beer and some friends at the best bar in Hazebrouck, Shaka Laka.
Since it’s my third time to stay in France, I am hoping that it will bring me some sort of luck for figuring out what I’d like to do with my life during these next couple of years. Where do I want to live? What kind of job could I/would I like to have? These are deep questions to ponder on a Thursday afternoon, but I have already completed nearly everything on my to-do list today, including taking a bike ride on this rare sunny day in northern France…
Next week, I’ll start the job hunt. So, wish me bonne chance as I take a chance on France this time around. A bientôt!
Ohmygoshyouguys. I’m going back to France on Tuesday! How, you ask?
When I bought my ticket to come back in May, I basically decided to buy a round trip ticket from Paris to New York and chose a random date in August for my return flight. And it’s Tuesday!
I still haven’t heard if I’ve been renewed for the assistant position. Technically, I could hear anytime up to mid-September (it’s ridiculous). If I was renewed, I would come back to the US to get my visa and be back in France by October 1st, but my hopes aren’t high. So, this time my visit is meant for pleasure and a bit of job hunting. I’ll stay with the boy, relax outside in the garden with my tiny French coffee, ride my bike in the Hazebrouck countryside, and stroll down the (one) shopping street in town.
Friday was the start of my two week vacation, and it couldn’t have come sooner! I just spend a beautiful weekend on the French coast at Cap Gris Nez and will be heading to Krakow, Poland on Thursday.
Just over three weeks ago, I was lucky to have a sort of mini-vacation when my parents came to see me over on this side of the pond. I hadn’t seen them since September! Even though I had to work a few days while they were here, we made the most of our time by spending some time in Paris and some time in good ol’ Nord-Pas-de-Calais.
During the past few days, I have been reminded often that I am definitely not in Texas anymore. Although I’ve spent much time in France, and many weekends in Hazebrouck (where I’m staying until I move to Douai next weekend), it’s the little things that I see or experience that serve as clear examples of the unique French (and Flemmish) culture in the north of France.
The food. The drinks. Both are quite different from what I’ve been eating all summer. French people drink often. I don’t know how their stomachs can handle 4 cups of strong coffee per day, but they do. I’ve been getting strange looks for requesting just water to drink – no, not carbonated water, just water – which makes me giggle. It usually goes like this – Host: “Do you want a coffee?” Me: “No thank you, but I’ll just have water if that’s okay.” Host: “Juice? Coke?” Me: “Oh that’s ok, just water please.” Host: “???”
Due to the Barcelona mishap, I found myself in a car on the way to Lille for the weekend. After being dropped off at one of the train stations, I realized I had about an hour before Michel got off of work. I decided to wander through Lille Europe, a huge shopping center in between the two train stations. It was just like an American mall, although I had to pay to use the bathroom – definitely not American! Once I found my way to the other train station where we were supposed to meet, I just hung around near a big fountain out front until it started to rain. Luckily, Michel showed up pretty soon after and we hopped on a train to Hazebrouck, a town just outside of Lille where Michel lives.