Tag Archives: Paris

Jour 8: Lea receives her diplome!

5 Jul

I spent most of the day preparing my stuff to leave in two days. Laid out in the sun, read, transferred my photos to Google Drive so there would be space on the iPhone to take pictures, you know, the usual. I also did some laundry from the time I’ve spent here.
It was a very nice relaxing day. Tomorrow the kids have a day off so it’ll be nice to spend it with them.

Upon receiving my acceptance letter for a Masters in Teaching in the mail (Thanks for the email, Dad!) I decided to look/apply for scholarships.

Lea came into my room asking for an opinion on clothing because she had a boum (party) tonight. Assuming she had another sleepover at Sophia’s or something with her girlfriends I helped her put an outfit together but nothing was working. She asked me what my size was then tried on my clothes.
People, I’ve hit an all-time-low. First I’m only taller than some of the 6th graders in the school I substitute for and now my clothes fit the 5th grade girl in France whom I Au Pair. There must be something in the water…

So Lea borrowed my shorts.
About an hour or less later Au Pair mom comes up and asks me if I want to see Lea get her diplome from 5th grade. (She’s going into middle school next year so they had a 5th grade graduation.) Oh! They’re having a party for the grade AFTER the graduation. Got it.

So we went to the park nearby (Have I mentioned how much I love French towns?! Everything is there! It’s such a cute little community. I’ve met the same people 3/4 times at different gatherings. It’s so nice!) and we sat in this beautiful ampitheatre!

The woman who was speaking at this event mentioned the tradition of giving dictionaries every year. Apparently this has been going on for many years and she talked of her personally graduating from the school and keeping the dictionary on her bookshelf for at least 20 years.


Lea received her “diplome”/ dictionnaire and so did all of her friends.

At the end this woman came up to Au Pair mom and I. She could not stop talking. She totally thought I had a kid at the school, (quite a surprise from Michigan where I’m mistaken as one of the students,) I come to find out she’s running for Mayor of the town and was trying to chat us up.


I only WISH we had this to play on in Michigan.

So Lea and her friends left for the boum and I stayed back with Constantin as he tried to play on this.


Jour 7: Les Soldes encore!

4 Jul

Happy Birthday USA!! 4th of July! 🙂

Woke up at a decent time and went shopping! I LOVE THE SOLDES.
As I mentioned last year, in January & July it’s MANDATORY for all stores to at least have one sale rack in the back. Everything is marked down at least 20% sometimes more (like that t-shirt I got for 3 euros, 80% off)

I went around the usual places I discovered last year. Going through the stores again I remembered which were my favorite and searched through their stuff. I visited Zara, Promod, Mango, H&M, and of course, les Galeries Lafayette.

I really focused on speaking and thinking in French. Today was a fun, girly day but I also went to continue to have my ear adjust to the way the language is spoken. I also spoke with some of the cashiers and got compliments. YES.
Maybe I’m different than most but when I’m back home, I try to talk to the cashiers at the store. It must be hard to have people just buy something and leave, then there is the others who get really angry because a price isn’t marked down for whatever reason. So I talk to the girl at the counter, “Hey, How’s it going today?” It’s an acknowledgement of, I know that you’re a person and not a machine and I care about you. I mean, some people just don’t want to be talked to and then I back off but I think I might have made a slight fool of myself in Paris.

So at a few of the stores, I tried to start up a conversation in French with the sales people (not to take them away from their job but while they were putting my clothes in a bag and such. So for this one girl I asked, “Comment ca va?” How are you doing?
She stopped in her tracks. “Comment?” (It literally means “What”  or “what did you say? but it’s a polite way of asking, the equivalent to our “pardon?”) It’s almost like she’s never been asked this question in her life.
me – “Comment ca va?”
Smiles and giggles, “Oui, ca va.” (Yes it’s going well.)
My stuff was packed up at this time. me – “Bonne Journee!” (Have a good day!)
“A vous aussi” (to you as well!)
Well, I hope it brightened up her day. I asked a guy at the counter of another store and he seemed more receptive, but still weirded out. So friends & family should I keep this up or not? I think I’ll ask my host mom if these words have another connotation in a store setting.

Some of the words I’ve heard being spoken in Paris are definitely not the ones I learned in French class in high school. Just like in America, French people have slang they used on a daily basis. At the Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette
Gorgeous, right?!

I found a great book to help better understand the French slang, Pardon My French: Unleash Your Inner Gaul by Charles Timoney. This guy is an American (I assume) and his wife wanted to move back to her native country, so he found a job in France. Even with high school years of French under his belt, he felt left-out of daily office conversation and it took awhile to get the hang of many slang words. This book is a sort of dictionary where he lists the word then a detailed explanation of what it means, (in English of course) He lists funny stories/anecdotes about how he and his friends misheard the words or thought they meant something else entirely.  I read a few pages on the Metro home.

I like Paris the #2 time around, it’s not as daughting. There is still a lot to discover but at least this time, I have a basic understand of where I’m going and what certain areas have to offer. I definitely feel more comfortable here than I did last year.

My craving last year was Chipotle, I had to wait for that one until I got home but this summer it seems to be Oreos and Peanut Butter.
The kids informed me that France doesn’t just have peanut butter lying on the shelf. During my shopping trip I found this lovely window display:

Home sweet home
Feels like home.
I went to see if there was peanut butter and found it – FOR 9,90 EUROS. Umm, I’m not paying almost $13 for a jar of peanut butter.
Luckily Carrefour had another jar for 3 euros, a more reasonable price.

I never thought I’d say this but I’m liking the Metro too. I’m so spoiled in America. By having a car I can go anywhere I want to at any time (also Paris is a much busier town than where I live. Even if I had a car, I wouldn’t be able to get around very quickly.) Riding the Metro creates a nice break in between moving around all the time. Nice time to just sit, relax, read, eat and just be.

When the kids got home we had a lazy day and watched TV. Typically we eat dinner close to 8:30/9 so right after dinner Constantin has to go to bed. It’s hard to get used to. Maybe it would help to go for a little walk afterwards- attempt to burn off the calories.

parent trap

Jour 5: La Kermesse (School Fair)

2 Jul

9:00am – I got up at a normal time this morning (after resting my head on the pillow and being unable to properly fall asleep until 3am) and feel pretty rested right now. Let’s see how that lasts…

I got breakfast for me and Constantin where he was helping me with my French again. (I said “petite” instead of “petit” and he was mad because I basically called him a girl.) This 7 year old actually seems to like teaching me French. Which is weird because I taught him English last summer. I guess he’s returning the favor? Cool!

I’ve always had difficulty hearing and speaking French. (I’m more of a visual learner.) I can read, write, and understand it very well but my ear hasn’t yet full attuned itself to the Parisian accent and the correct pronunciaton of words. Surprisingly I can say 90% of words correctly but there are a few “japonais”, “enseigne”, and some others that I can’t remember in which I either have trouble pronouncing them  or was taught the wrong way to in class.

These difficulties are teaching me how important it is to learn a language through hearing it first then to introduce the writing/reading of it. I’ll really try to focus on that when it comes time to teach in my future classroom.

10:30 am – Constantin’s spectacle!
His grade put on a dance where he played the waves in the ocean, a crab, and a kangaroo.

Here’s the blurry crab: (with the red/orange gloves in the middle)

It was very cute and after the family threw a BBQ lunch before the Kermesse.

There is always a Saturday “Farmer’s Market” in town so Au Pair mom picked up some items for the BBQ lunch.
Meat from the Boucherie, and lasagna & fruit from the market.

Instead of having supermarkets with everything in them (like Walmart or Meijer) France has little stores that sell a lot of specifics. There was so much fresh meat in this boucherie. I mean Paris does have a Carrefour or Monoprix (super markets) but they’re far away and these stores are just a walk away in town.

2:30 pm FT – Sophia came over and Lea wanted to show her the short film I recently was in “Say Cheese”. Sophia is Lea’s best friend and one of the children that Courtney 1 au paired for last summer (MISS YOU, COURT!) We all ate lunch then left for the Kermesse. At lunch I asked the mom if France had peanut butter (it was something I had mentioned to Lea before when we got candy at the store yesterday.) Au Pair mom said it’s in some specialty stores. Au Pair Dad had no clue what it was, (he’s from France) WHAT? France doesn’t have peanut butter?! Strange.

3:45pm FT – The girls went off and hung out and I followed constantin around while he played different games. He absolutely rocked this one.



I mainly spoke in French with Constantin at the Kermesse to continue to practice speaking and to make it seem like I was not American to all the other kids and parents -SUCCESS. All of them spoke to me in French. 🙂

After spending most of the day at the fair, I headed back to the house to relax, take a shower and have a few minutes away from the craziness.
Day 2 of the first fun-filled weekend in Paris –  Tomorrow is Constantin’s birthday party! Mentally preparing for 13 six-seven year old boys to be here all day.

Jour 3: Returning home to my France family

30 Jun

The airline steward (yes he’s a male) woke me up with a lovely breakfast at 6:25am France time. We landed at 7:45 (about 45 min early and 3 hours earlier than it would have been if I had the connecting flight.)
I watched an episode of The Office and Friends on my little mini screen then we were off!

I landed at Charles De Gaulle, used the 30min free wifi to update the necessary people of my safe arrival, then searched for the RER to au pair home.
Okay Paris, seriously, is it that hard to print out some maps for the confused tourists? I didn’t bring my grungy map because I figured I’d get another one because they’d have loads of them lying around. Dumb Courtney. And the information office was loaded with confused people so I just did the old fashioned way and remembered my stop.
The train ride was nice and relaxing, I had picked up an Orangina and a magazine (Premiere) to bide my time and jotted down some notes for the blog.

Ah the metro, it was so nice to know where I’m going (the B.O. smell wasn’t so nice, but hey, welcome to Paris.)

Also props to the French young men for stepping it up and helping me lug my heavy rolling suitcase up the stairs (like it was no big deal, I might add) Who says chilvalry is dead?

After about an hour of carrying heavy suitcases, remembering exactly where to go and what to do, Ladies & gentlemen I’m on the way to the place where I will be staying for a week. And I’ve found the French equivalent of Chocolate Dunkaroos – I may never return home. All jokes aside, It’s so nice to feel like I’ve already done this before. I’m excited to learn more French slang so I can understand people when they’re speaking. I’m focusing on listening on this trip. Listening to what people say and how they say it.

On the Train ride over here This couple asked a guy in front of me for directions and the guy next to me was joking with me in French. You know me, chillin’ with the locals.

Side note: Google Drive lets you make Documents offline and it will probably be my new Microsoft Word while I’m in France. You go, Google.

11:30am France time – I’ve arrived, I’m exhausted and sweaty from carrying all of this luggage so I take a shower and an hour power nap.

My stomach hurts something fierce but this happened last time too. The first day/night in Paris my stomach is adjusting to the time difference. I just need to rest, drink lots of water and give it time. Although this time there may be some sore spots from the “ab workouts” (carrying a backpack, purse & rolling suitcase across cobblestone streets and up & down stairs) So I’m waiting for Latifa (their nanny/maid) to come by in an hour then the family will arrive after that.

1:30pm FT – Woke up from the nap – I forgot I was in Paris and my stomach still hurts. I’m holding onto God but if I could choose, I would be home right now. I’m still really sleepy, but I want to stay up so I can adjust to the time better. You can do this Courtney only 6/7 more hours. Food might help. Good food.

3:00pm – Food definitely helped and seeing Muriel and Latifa again. My France family! I sat and ate a salad that Au pair mom had bought for me (in the fridge with a sticky note saying “Bon Appetit, Courtney!”) I talked with Latifa in French for about an hour and slang-ish words/phrases started to come back. It was so great! She was willing to learn some English too. We got on the subject of saying “stop!” and how “arrete!” sounds really harsh and physically makes you stop, so I told her how in the states that harsh tone is in the word “Freeze!”. When the kids returned from school she tried it out on them, they stopped dead in their tracks haha.

I gave the kids their presents and they didn’t stop playing with them. Lea got a magazine and we all tried on different celebrities eyes

Taylor Swift

Harry Styles

After I hung out with the kids, their mom came home and we all went out to a Japanese restaurant for dinner.

The service was surprisingly fast and the food was wonderful (my stomach was still a little upset, but I got down some chicken.) I now have WIFI for the next foreseeable week. I have no idea what will happen when the job starts.

A tout a l’heure!

My Hopes for This Trip

28 Jun

Hello blog – I’ve missed you so.
Before we dive into the first post I want to share some of my hopes & expectations of this trip.
I hope:
– To become more fluent in French
– To take LOTS of pictures/videos 🙂
– To have a great teaching experience
– To learn more about French history/culture
– To be able to sleep/rest on this crazy whirlwind trip

and probably most importantly for you all:
– To be able to post on this blog by 12pm daily (After the first week in Paris, I have no idea if I’ll have WIFI or the time to post. :/ So I will try to keep you all in the loop.)
“Does this mean that we won’t be able to hear of your adventures at all, Courtney?”
Do not fear! I will have a little notebook on hand (well, in purse) so I can always type up some blogs posts if I have an hour free, or you know, when I return home.

Jour 1 (Day 1) Will be posted today at 12pm MI time. 🙂  Merci et bisous!

Adventures in Syllabus-Making

24 May

For the past month now I’ve been busy formulating ideas, asking questions to my boss & teachers from previous years, and reviewing emails being sent to me left and right. This is all in preparation for my return to Paris.

Friends, I spent 3 hours today typing up my syllabus, 3 hours straight. My eyes absolutely hate the computer screen right now.  I still have another one yet to do, most likely, I will be revising this current one later this week. But it’s not just the syllabus, it’s the passion to create fun projects, fun topics for essays, and instill a love of learning that keeps me working these long hours. Even though this is tough work, I really like it. I mean, not right now but I keep thinking about the end product and start to get really excited.

Before I was slightly nervous about this trip but through looking at it again more carefully, the nerves disappear. This program offers so much for the students [and their chaperones ;)] to do. It seems like it’ll all be over in the blink of an eye. I hope I’ll be able to update this blog on a daily basis but I think I may be caught grading papers or actually out enjoying and living life in Paris. Don’t fret, I will definitely take tons of pictures and carry my trusty notepad with me at all times.

Good news is I won’t have to do these syllabuses and lesson plans when I get to Paris. (Well, I might have to do a few, but it’ll be more like tweaking the plans) More time to concentrate on being in the moment  and actually teaching since all the work is prepared ahead of time. 🙂

Day 37: Shopping après les Soldes

9 Aug

Melinda and I went shopping today.
The Soldes are technically over. However there are a few stores where the sales are extending to August 7th, and that’s where Melinda and I can be found.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned the different stores Paris has to offer.
Of course there are the major brands: Chanel, Louis Vuitton, etc. But who has that kind of money?
A popular store (much like Forever 21 back home) is Zara. It has multiple floors including baby and guys fashion.
I love Zara. Even though it’s based out of Spain, the French love it.
Another is Promod.
This store only carries girl’s clothes but I made my first Parisian buy. Everyone has been wearing these pastel-y florescent colored pants so I bought Peach. (Only 20 Euros, thanks Soldes!)
Peach and Mint Green are very popular for the summer time paired with a white shirt.
I’ve seen the Mint Green pants at home but had a harder time finding peach, so peach it is!
Melinda and I looked in other stores like Pull & Bear and then we ventured the Galeries Lafayette.
This store is much like that Printemps store I mentioned many blog posts back, although things here are actually affordable.
There are 7 levels all containing different things. There’s even a floor for souvenirs.
On the souvenir floor there was a whole library – jackpot.
I spent probably about an hour looking through French books. I bought way too many, but we don’t have these back home and they will definitely help me and the kids I tutor.
Melinda was totally crushing on the cashier (who graciously helped me with all my books and didn’t look at me like I was crazy)
He was pretty cute and hey, he spoke German, she was sold.
Unfortunately she was too chicken to say something and he was working so we left their relationship to serendipity!
Melinda had to watch the kids at 6pm, so we called it a night and I made dinner for myself then planned our day for tomorrow.