Mom & Dad, Part 1

I was so excited for my mom and dad to visit this spring. So excited, in fact, that I somehow gave them the wrong dates for my spring break. Instead of coming for a week and a half during my two week break, they came for half a week during my break and a week while I was working. At first I was so disappointed in myself, but then I just blamed the French bureaucracy for the problem, let it go, and made the most of my time with them here!

Last time my parents flew into Paris, I was also working (as an assistant at the time). They had to haul all of their luggage to the hotel, where I met them later that day. This time, I was off, and met them directly at the Paris airport. We even spotted each other through the glass between the arrival hall and the baggage claim.

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Crazy eyes for everyone! (Also, take a look at those gums!)
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Mom and Dad on the train into Paris from the airport

We booked two night in Paris in order to do some sightseeing while they were here. The first day, we took it easy: lunch near our hotel (croques and onion soup) and an elevator ride up the Eiffel tower.

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We had been there during their last visit, but we had never all gone up together. My dad had fun taking photos from the top with his 40x zoom lens on his camera.

The next day was our big outing to Versailles. My mom had wanted to go for a while; we tried to go last time they were here but everyone was ultimately too tired at the end of our stay in Paris. Therefore, we prioritised the trip this time and headed out to Versailles the second day of our time in Paris.

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We had absolutely beautiful weather so the 30+ minute wait to get inside was not a problem for us. Plus, I had grabbed a pair of 5€ sunglasses at the ticket shop on our way to the entrance line. The château was definitely worth the trip, even with the crowd from spring holidays. Mom and I especially enjoyed the gardens, where we goofed around and Mom did her mom duty of telling teenagers to get down from the garden walls (I mean really, those kids could fall at any moment! So dangerous! That’s just my teacher voice, right?).

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Peekaboo!

Once back from Versailles, we rested for a bit before heading to a pub style restaurant for well-deserved beer and food.

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Like father, like daughter.

Our final day in Paris was really only a half day, since we were taking the train into Cassel later that afternoon. Both Mom and Dad wanted to see the Arc de Triomphe, so of we went for a stroll down the Champs Elysées.

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Can you believe we gave our camera to a stranger to take a picture? So 2000s. I’m pretty sure we were part of the 10% of tourists that didn’t have a selfie stick.

That afternoon, we headed to northern France. After a train from Paris to Arras (I think), another train from Arras to Hazebrouck, and a final train from Hazebrouck to Cassel, we had gone from giant city to tiny village.

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Mom, the Luggage Queen.

Overall, our time in Paris was just as nice as the first time around in 2012. We saw new things together, enjoyed lots of pastries and coffee, and just enjoyed being reunited. Thankfully, the weather was much warmer this time around, being in the 50s instead of the 30s.

I was especially excited to show them our new house in Cassel. In 2012, I was working 12 hours a week as a high school language assistant and living with three other girls in an apartment attached to the high school. Now, I’m a full time certified high school teacher, and M and I live together in a real house in an adorable village with a dog and a rabbit and a backyard. We even have a guest bedroom, where Mom and Dad got to stay for the week. Oh, how times have changed!

An American in Paris

Paris is a special place. It’s filled with architecture, history, people… lots and lots of people… so many people that I can really only handle a few days there at a time.

Although I may not like the crowds, there is something that I really love about Paris: each time I go there, I reunite with someone. Whether it’s family or friends, someone I’ve seen recently or someone I haven’t seen in ages… I’m never alone in Paris!

It was the first real French city that I ever visited, after getting off the ferry in Cherbourg, dropping off my extra luggage at the train station in Caen (thanks for helping out, Jonathan!), and then finally stepping off the train.

Since then, I’ve been back several times.

Although I’ve had to go to deal with visa issues, paperwork, or passport stuff most visits, I make the most of each time I go.

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Michel especially loves (making fun of) Paris. Ha!
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I picked up my friend Amber in October 2014 from the Paris airport. We spent a few days there and then spent time in Lille and Belgium. It was her first trip to Europe, and her first time taking a plane!
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Three weeks ago, I met up with my childhood friend, Kate. We were reunited after several years of not seeing each other!
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I’ve met up with Baylor study abroad friends several times in Paris. Three weeks ago, we celebrated our friend Flo’s birthday – three of us came in from Lille, London, and Brussels!
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A few years ago I met up with my friend Heather, who was traveling in Europe at the time.
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Two weeks ago, I met my parents in Paris to spend a few days there (and in Versailles) before they stayed with me for a week in Cassel.

In July, I’ll meet up with my good friend Shane there, too!

So thank you Paris, for only being an hour and a half away by train, and for serving as the official meeting point for me, my friends, and my family in France.

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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week 3!

It’s been three weeks since I came back to the north of France!

In the past week, I’ve looked for work in Lille, visited Paris for two days, participated in a traditional cousinade, and started giving private English lessons.

The job search scene has been full of ups and downs, but I am trying to feel optimistic. I finally called the Parisians to see if I had been renewed for the year, and their answer was no. In fact, they informed me that they weren’t renewing anyone for the year because of the 20% decrease in assistant positions. This is totally false, because I know some British assistants who were renewed, but whatever! They also told me that I could call the Académie de Lille to ask them directly starting on September 3rd. This way I can check with the school district itself to see if there were any assistants that pulled out last minute and I may be able to take their place.

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third time’s a charm?

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…

Country roads in Hazebrouck

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!

mom & dad in france

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.

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grant & matt in france: part 1

Don’t worry, it’s still Haley in France here, but for my winter vacation time I was joined by my dear brother Grant and his friend Matt. I figured, why would I go home for Christmas when my brother and his friend could come to Europe for their first time ever to celebrate it here? (Well, I would go home to see my family, enjoy a fabulous Christmas meal, and catch up with friends… but that was supposed to be a rhetorical question.) So, I took the opportunity to show two American high school boys why France is awesome and why they should travel later in life. I think it was a success!

Grant and Matt at the Eiffel Tower

They took a direct flight from Dallas and arrived in Paris on a Tuesday morning. I know how difficult jet lag can be, so that’s why we went directly to the hotel to drop off our things and I let them take a nap and headed to the Eiffel Tower. The only time I have ever even been near the tower was around 2am on a Saturday night and it wasn’t even lit up, so I was just as thrilled as they were when we climbed up the stairs from the metro and were bombarded by the direct view of the tower. “Now we feel like we’re in France,” the boys said. The line was extremely long so we didn’t climb up, but we did take lots of silly pictures (which I can now cross off my list). It really is gigantic.

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