Tuesday, November 22, 2011

So...November

I realize that I have been neglecting my readers...which is rude...I'm terribly sorry. The truth is that November has not been very exciting as a month. I haven't been anywhere too amazing in a while. I've just been working hard at school, cooking a lot (I'm really good at it by the way), and bothering Christine constantly (I don't know how she gets any work done with me around...she's good). Yep...with the exception of these rituals, not much is going on...things are calm... but this is a good thing right? Besides who cares what I'm doing...the important thing is that I'm exactly where I want to be right now :)

Anyway, my visa is finally validated! I think. There's no telling really, but the point is that I've done everything that I had to do with the immigration office...for now at least. I've got a nice new sticker in my passport that says I can work here legally which is fabulous. I love my sticker. Yeah...It took three trips (two of them failures) to Clermont-Ferrand to get my sticker, but on the third attempt (and the best...I think) I really had a lot of fun! I rode to Clermont-Ferrand with Christine and two other teachers at school because they were going to a "stage" (teacher's workshop) there anyway, and they were nice enough to let me come with them. I was so happy about this because it is so much faster by car than by train or coach...not to mention I saved 25 euros. That morning I went to the immigration office, and my appointment took all of five minutes. Yes, three trips to Clermont-Ferrand for five minutes of bliss at the guichet. After this, I celebrated by purchasing an over-priced backpack (really cute though) and two pairs of over-priced socks (also to die for). Moral of the story is you should never leave me alone in Galeries Lafayette...bad things happen.

Around noon that day, I successfully navigated my way to where I would find Christine and the other teachers so that we could go and have lunch...it was delicious. We had some great wine and pork ribs. I was pleasantly surprised to see ribs placed in front of me...I haven't eaten ribs since before my vegetarian days (glad those are behind me), but they were freaking amazing! God I love pork. Anyway, I was excited to hear that I could go back to the stage with the group because they had just watched The Fly (you know... disgusting yet fabulous film with Jeff Goldblum), and it had been rumored that even more fabulous film extracts were on the menu for the afternoon so I was dying to tag along. Not to mention the fact that my bank account would have been completely exhausted by the end of the day had I continued wandering around Clermont-Ferrand by myself all day. Anyway the film extracts that were shown at the stage were just what I needed...gorey, disgusting, hilarious, weird and very entertaining...loved it :) As my friend Bob would say..."It was the best day of ma life."


...someone's got a headache...



Isn't she fabulous?

Hmmm...let's see...what else have I been doing? I cook now! I know....huge development...and I cook a lot...and my food tastes good...I can't believe it myself. Recent victories include: boiled eggs, a chocolate dessert that I made up, scrambled eggs with three cheeses, and I also enjoy improving several dishes with sausage. Well, to tell the truth, I don't really know what I'm doing ever...so I make stuff up as I go along praying that I don't make anyone sick...when I say anyone I usually mean Maria Fernanda (for new readers, she's my roommate). She told me the other day when we were eating lunch or something...that I was a really good cook, and that she doesn't understand how I have all these recipes memorized...I laughed so hard.

Another thing I've been doing a lot lately is going to lycee (high school) classes that I'm not scheduled for. It all began when Christine made the mistake of telling me that I could come to her classes whenever I wanted to. She shouldn't have told me that because my new favorite thing to do is attend her classes when I'm not doing anything else. Why do I love doing this so much? Well, I get to spend more time around the students...they are getting used to my presence (and maybe starting to like me!!!) which is good...I get to see what teaching is all about which will help me decide what I want to do with my life in the future...and I get to hang out with my best friend so I enjoy it really. I really like working with the lycee! I think the kids like me which everyone knows is my main goal in life (to get everyone to like me). Bob wants to make a guest appearance in the lycee, but I don't think he should. He's English, and the kids might like him more than me...that would be tragic and I might never recover so...

Well, this past Sunday, Maria Fernanda's person (Isabel) took us to the local chocolate festival, and two charming villages that are only a few kilometers away from Brioude...not to mention she fed us lunch...so nice of her :) Anyway here are a few photos from Sunday...the first two were taken in Massiac and the third was taken in Blesle.

                                   
                                     I think this is my bitch-face...didn't mean to make it though


Maria Fernanda takes a much better picture.


Blesle...so charming.

Catch ya later :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's Sunday so I'm blogging...

Hello everyone!
So, this week was weird. I only had classes for one day which was Friday. I was supposed to go back on Thursday, but it turns out that Maria Fernanda and I had to go to Clermont-Ferrand for our medical visits that are required by the French government because we are not members of the European Union...I think...well something like that. Anyway, I was pretty stressed about going because I've never really been to Clermont-Ferrand and it's a pretty big city. You have to take a tram to get anywhere really and that had me worried, but somehow we were able to navigate the city pretty well. We made it to both of our medical visits on time, but not to the OFII office (immigration office) because their hours of operation are shit. Anyway, Clermont-Ferrand is a very nice city...the church that's in the middle of town looks beautiful, but I haven't gone in yet...need to go one day and do some site-seeing instead of having my lungs examined etc. In order to let off some steam because I was dissapointed that we didn't make it to the OFFI office (oh yeah and I have to go back next week because we didn't make it...so happy...not), I decided that we should indulge in some retail therapy because I had been paid recently and I like shopping. There is a lot of shopping to be done in Clermont-Ferrand which is wonderful and dangerous for me. There is a pretty big shopping center in the middle of town which we had no trouble finding, and when we were inside of it for the first time I really felt like we were in the United States. It was just like any American mall only everyone speaks French and the prices are all in Euros....but that's ok because I have Euros now! Well...needless to say some damage was done to my bank account by the end of the day, but I bought at least one Christmas present, and I came out with a cool watch...that I love. Didn't take any pictures in Clermont-Ferrand because...well I don't know why I didn't...but I didn't...sorry.

Friday morning was glorious...absolutely wonderful. I had a new class that I didn't really have to prepare for because it was my first time with them. Granted I had to wake up early because the class is at 8, but I had so much fun! I really felt like I was just hanging out with some people at what just so happened to be an ungodly hour. Everything went really naturally, the students had no trouble understanding me, they laughed at my dumb jokes, they even liked me. Well, they probably thought I was crazy, but if it gets them to talk I don't mind...plus I am crazy.

Friday afternoon...not so great. I had another class...that wasn't new to me...which really has trouble with English. That would be fine if it were the only problem, but the trouble is that they don't really want to improve or learn English at all for that matter. They've told me this. With that class, sometimes I just feel like my efforts are for nothing...especially when one of the students is sleeping all the time. The experience with that class on Friday really got me down...was feeling pretty depressed...plus my vitamin D tank is on empty...we haven't had sunshine in a long time.

Luckily, I have some good friends. Bob forced me to get out of bed and fed me my favorite pasta...then we had drinks with our friend Billy (American assistant who never left). He is always funny, and by the end of the night we were all practicing our French with some other people we met while we were out...anyway it was a lot of fun and I felt much better afterwards.

Yesterday, was awfully boring for the most part because I was washing clothes from sun up to sun down...my fault...I let them pile up. However, Maria Fernanda and I were invited to dinner by my friend and Curtis' colleague, Alexis. Alexis is the guy who drove Curtis and I to Spain. He is American, but his parents were French or something so he speaks really good French, and his wife, Selene, is Mexican and so sweet...love her...and their little boy Daniel is super cute and he speaks a mixture of French, English, and Spanish...and he's obsessed with Carrefour Market. Anyway, I think we were invited to dinner because Alexis and his wife were hosting a Spanish Assistant from Nicaragua at their house for the week-end and they wanted to include Maria Fernanda in this night of speaking Spanish and eating Mexican/Nicaraguan food. Maria Fernanda doesn't know them, but I told them that I lived with an assistant from Bolivia and they were just dying to meet her so...we both went. The food was sooooo good and it was spicy...lots of flavor which is something I miss about home (and there aren't many things that I miss). They hadn't started cooking by the time we got there so we helped and it was fun. I learned some more Spanish words over dinner...and I'm kind of proud of my pronunciation. We chatted in French because it was the common language which is always good practice for me, and for the other girls too, but every now and then Selene, Maria Fernanda, and Ascencion (girl from Nicaragua...spelling is probably wrong) would burst out in Spanish, but I didn't mind :)

I guess that brings me to today...pretty uneventful, but I think I needed it to be. I finished tidying up my room, got my papers in order so that they're not in a big mountainous pile on my desk. Planned lessons for Monday and Tuesday of this week...picked a person that inspires me and why (for one of my classes)...performed a healthy amount of facebook stalking...did some youtubing... made some stir fry...had some tea...listened to classical music and rap, but not simultaneously...changed my desktop background...etc. If you've ever lived with me, you know that these are all simple pleasures that I enjoy on a boring, rainy Sunday, therefore I can honestly say that today I am perfectly content except for the fact that I am freezing my ass off right now, but I've managed to trap some body heat under my covers (it took like an hour though). Also the clothes that I washed yesterday won't dry...dammit.

Well until next time my friends...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Come on...it's the holidays!


Happy Halloween everyone (kind of late I know). At home, Halloween is my favorite holiday, but here in France it isn't really celebrated that much...just by random cool people. Yes, it seems that the French really enjoy buying mums and celebrating La Toussaint (All Saints Day) which is tomorrow. Anyhow, in honor of La Toussaint, I am in the midst of a little over a week-long holiday from school which is nice. Things were fairly uneventful this past week, except for the good times I've had with Christine and her family of course...oh and Bob too I guess, until my friend Curtis (who is assisting in Le Puy) invited me to go on a day trip to Spain!

I was really surprised at myself for actually going because I'm not usually that spontaneous, but obviously I really wanted to go because I've never been to Spain before and it was about time I did some travelling. However, I really enjoyed our day in Spain and I got to see some things that I've never seen before...like original paintings by Salvador Dali!!!!

Oh look here's one now...a self-portrait actually...



Yes it was a little crowded in the Dali Museum...at one point I was looking down at my camera...deciding whether or not to delete a picture I had just taken, and I realized I was leaning against the frame of another painting...I can't believe I wasn't thrown out for that...gotta love Spain. You know why else you should love Spain? Everything is cheaper there and you get more stuff. For lunch in Girona, we went to a restaurant and had huge meals, great service, and large wine glasses which were actually filled.

Oh yeah I guess I didn't say exactly where I went in Spain...the towns we visited:

Bisbal...ceramics capital of the world



Girona...lots of nice graffiti


And last but definitely not least....Figueres...home of Dali


I'm certain that Figueres was my favorite town of all because of the quirky museum, and because I felt it was a good sized town...not too big like Girona and not too small like Bisbal...but just right and there is an abundance of surrealist art. Yes, I only spent a day in Spain which was a little too short, but I'm glad that I did it, and I don't know what else to say about it except that it smells a little in Spain (like farm animals).

Anyway, I was glad to get back from Spain just because I'm always happy to return to my little town of Brioude. Oh yeah the day after I got back I went to Christine's daughter's birthday gouter...I felt honored to be invited because Christine's whole family was there, and I'm just some crazy American girl who's always hanging around. I brought them some Reese's because they're my favorite and I think they liked them...I mean they were devoured. Anyway the wine was good (as always) and I love Christine's family...oh and Christine :)

Had a pretty crazy week-end, but I met some cool people which is good. I had a soiree (little party at my place) on Saturday night which I was really excited about because it was my first time entertaining at my apartment. Let's just say I had too much fun at my own soiree...no that's an understatement, but whatever. It was nice to have all my fabulous friends over for a night of sheer indulgence...hopefully they all still love me :)

My roommate Maria Fernanda is back from Paris...it's nice to have her back in the apartment also I can get back to practicing some French at home. I feel like a jerk because I was supposed to call people/skype people this week-end, and I didn't because I was very busy, but hopefully those people will still love me too...I think I'll leave you with a photo that I really like from Spain...



adios!