Second Impressions

23 Sep

It finally happened! I moved back to France. It’s such a wonderful feeling to be back after a year. I could not be happier. However, being gone for so long can bring changes to familiar places and many things can be forgotten.

My first 5 days back in France were spent in Paris. My old hometown. My hood. My former life. During these five days I got some things set back up : my bank account, my carte de fidelité for SNCF (the train system in France), some photocopies of documents. I also got to spend time with friends I haven’t seen in a year. We went out for dinner and drinks and it was nice to see everyone back at our favorite bar… the N’importe quoi ! I also got to spend time with the family I worked for last year. I missed them a lot, so to see them was my favorite part of being back in Paris. They cooked me dinner and I picked up my kids everyday from school just like the old days. Boy have they grown up so much. When I first met them they were 9 and 12, now they are 12 and 14! They’ve both grown taller and the older boy’s voice has changed completely. But they are still the same family I remember and we spent most of our time watching movies.

Being back in Paris was like coming home after a long trip. That being said here are my 5 REimpressions of Paris.

The smell
Even though I joked all the time in San Diego that my apartment building smelled like the Paris metro, I remember now it really wasn’t that bad. The smell in Paris gets you every time. I forgot about how many people pee on the streets in Paris, and my nose was none too happy.
Les Halles
When I lived in front of Les Halles (a shopping mall) it was seriously under construction — you couldn’t see anything and it seemed like the progress was so slow. Well, a year later it is looking great! You can actually see what they’ve been working on and they started taking down some of the blockades. Really looking forward to what it looks like in another year.

People
This time around people seemed super nice. I had people helping me with my bags when they could tell I was struggling and even when I was telling them no (because I didn’t want them to steal my sh*t) they insisted on helping, and they really did. Thank you kind brother and sister pair for your help. However, there are still plenty of crazies who want to shake your hand on the metro and ask if you’re happy.

Food
Oh my goodness, I wanted to eat everything in sight. Crepes, goat cheese, crepes WITH goat cheese, fruit, chocolate, ice cream. Om nom nom it all went in my belly. I’ve been waiting a year to eat all this amazing food again, and I think I ate my body weight.
My French speaking
I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to communicate with people like I used to before I moved back to the states. But apparently I slipped right back in and I surprised myself even in how well I was speaking and understanding people. I still get tired at the end of the day from my brain working hard, but it’s a good tired feeling.

In the end, being back in France = happy Mikayla

Growing Pains

17 Jun

Kids are a pain in the ass.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that twice. So why is it that I can’t stop spending all my time with them ?

Is it the good money ? Sure, I guess that’s part of it.

Is it the lack of realistic ‘work skills’ ? No definitely not that, I DO have those (thank goodness, I mean at least I think I do ?)

Could I actually really love working with kids ? Must be.

I have 7 kids.

No not real biological children that I painstakingly birthed myself, no. I have 7 kids who I’ve worked with and who I’ve shared life experiences with which now make them my ‘kids’.

2 years ago, if you would have told me that I was going to be a nanny and love it, I’d have laughed in your face. And when I began my first nanny job in Paris with Aimé and Ange, I still thought I hated it. But then something amazing happened. The kids and I started bonding. I know for a fact it all started when out of the blue I just decided to buy some gummy worms as a snack for Aimé on the way home from school. Before this time, we got along, but not too well. He didn’t want me there and I didn’t fully want to be there. I loved the family but Aimé and I just hadn’t clicked. He criticized my French, wouldn’t talk much to me on the way home from school and would just hide behind a book so that he didn’t have to really deal with me. That was fine, I didn’t care. I’d bring my own book. But that day I just thought, ‘you know what ? I’ll just buy these because I’d really like some and I’ll share them with Aimé, maybe he’ll like them too. He was so surprised when I opened up my bag and pulled out the candy. Astonished, he said thank you and we ate the whole bag while chatting the entire way home about all types of nerdy things. From that day on we talked all the time, and would play games and would indulge in sweets every once in awhile (we both are giants sweet-tooth people). We started bonding and by the end he was telling me how great I spoke French and how wonderful of a teacher he thought I would be one day. I really grew to love coming to pick him up from school because we had formed such a wonderful bond and he was such a great friend even though he was only 9.

When I was getting ready to leave Paris, I was already devastated, but during a conversation with Aimé’s parents, they told me about how upset he was that I was leaving. Aimé is a very special child, kind and caring, but didn’t get along well with a lot of his classmates. His parents told me that they saw how much he had grown under my care and friendship, and that Aimé had said that he was especially sad that I was leaving because I was the first person who had ever listened to him. That struck a deep chord in me. I never thought I was doing much, but to him it was the world. A few days after that conversation, Aimé asked me a very interesting question. He said: Mikayla, when we are old, do you think our paths will cross again ? (Makes me tear up every time I think about it) I replied: Aimé ! I’m moving back in a year ! He responded: Yes, I know, but when we’re old ?

I miss that kid everyday. Luckily we have kept in touch through letters, gifts and Whatsapp and come September I’ll get to see him again ! I learned so much about having a bond with someone who you don’t always get to choose. We were so lucky to find each other and have each other as friends for life.

Aimé was so easy to ‘nanny’. I wouldn’t even say I was his nanny but more his friend who brought him home from school and hung out with him. However, some of my other children I’d say I had a harder time. I’ve had to learn to parent and establish boundaries and deal with crying children. Some days, its too much, all the screaming and fussing of a 2 year old going through the terrible times, or when one of my older kids does NOT want to go to bed and has a fit on the couch and I just wait for her to deal with it and go to bed. But then, there are those moments that remind you why you still care. They turn around and do the most amazing things. The 2 year old will be the happiest child the next day and run around in circles and make you laugh so hard that your cheeks hurt. Or your 7 year old pulls out her own tooth and dances around with such a joy after you’ve consoled them because they were afraid of the blood, only to come up to you before you leave and say ‘Thank you for showing me how to lose my tooth!”

It’s so worth it and I love these kids so much, it’s always so hard to say goodbye to people you’ve shared such experiences with. Experiences that a 23 year old me would never think I’d have to deal with. I’ve learned to think on my toes, how to console, how to say no, and how to be a friend and guide. That’s how I know I made the right choice to continue nannying: because at the end of the day I walk away knowing that I helped someone learn something, and better yet, they’ve taught me even more.

Image 1

Aimé and I

Nîmoise c’est moi ?

15 Jun

It has finally arrived ! My assignment placement city and school for this next year of teaching in France ! Since April I’ve known I’d be in the Languedoc-Roussillion region, but I was anxious in not knowing exactly where I’d be and always thinking I’d be sent to the middle of nowhere. Happily that is not the case.

So with a roll of a drum, j’ai l’honneur de vous annoncer que j’habiterai à Nîmes ! Aka I have the pleasure of announcing that I will be living in Nîmes !

Right there, in the south ! THANK GOD I’LL HAVE SUN AND A BE (SOMEWHAT) NEAR A BEACH STILL

Located in Southern France between Marseille and Montpellier, is this awesome city called Nîmes ! While I had originally asked to be placed in Lyon, I think this is a much better outcome for someone who loves the sun and who has to leave behind beautiful San Diego.

While I’ve never been there myself, let me tell you, I have been doing quite a bit of research.

There were questions I was always thinking about when moving back to France:

1. How much is rent going to cost/ How little is my apartment going to be ?

2. Will there be anyone there my age ?

3. Is there a Jewish community I can get involved with ?

My research has left me with these answers:

1. OMG RENT IS SO MUCH CHEAPER THAN PARIS I CAN HAVE A 4 ROOM, 75m² APARTMENT FOR LESS THAN MY 16m² PARISIAN ONE ?

2. There is a university there. Young people… CHECK !

3. There is a Jewish community but I think I’ll have to wait and see when I get there if it’s what I’m looking for. What I’m seeing so far doesn’t give me enough information.

Needless to say, I cannot wait. OH and did I mention that it looks beautiful ?! Nîmes at one time was a Roman city, and even better than the Colosseum in Rome, Nîmes has a complete amphitheater itself ! Not to mention ancient Roman buildings and aqueducts ! Definitely a different France than what I experienced in Paris.

Arènes de Nîmes… sorry Mom, they do bullfights here

Aqueduct

 

So I think I’m one lucky girl… now I just need to figure out where in Nîmes I should live so if anyone has suggestions please let me know !

How Embarrassing…

29 May

And I was doing so well ! Well, not THAT well apparently. It has been over a year since I posted and goodness gracious have things changed. I moved back to San Diego from Paris, I graduated with my Bachelor’s in French and Francophone Studies (Magna Cum Laude, what what! — though I’m upset because I ended up with a GPA of 3.79 and Summa Cum Laude is 3.8 -_-) and I started studying Hebrew.

Image

Graduated with more cords than you can count !

What didn’t change is that I’m still nannying, and most of the kids I watch are Francophone, so that gives me good practice. Funny enough I’m teaching French to French kids: the little girl I work with most (who is 2 years old) has a father from France and a mother from Iran and they want their girl to speak French. So in an effort to teach their daughter French, they hire a Francophone nanny…who just happens to be me (?!). I don’t know how it happened, the non-native English speakers speak to the girl in English, and the non-native French speaker speaks to the girl in French. Poor child. The accents she’ll have. But to see her grow and learn from me is absolutely fascinating and heartwarming. I have (somewhat successfully) taught her French and to hear her say things to me that I taught her is the coolest feeling in the world.

I’ve been dating a pretty cool guy named Eytan. He’s an EMT and working on becoming a paramedic with the ultimate goal of firefighting. So that’s fun.

However, in September…

I RETURN TO FRANCE ! WOO !

I was accepted to become an English Teaching Assistant in France for this upcoming school year ! So I’ll be moving to the south this time (Languedoc-Rossillion region). Being through the French government, they haven’t quite let me know what city I’ll be moving to, but once I find that out it will be wonderful !

So here’s to hoping that I can keep this up. And by this I mean my blog. Wish me luck.

France, here I come !

France, here I come !

Image

Paris at night

22 Apr

I haven’t posted in a long time. Please enjoy some photos that I took last night as a promise to update soon.IMG_1925 IMG_1927 IMG_1929 IMG_1931 IMG_1939 IMG_1941 IMG_1942 IMG_1946 IMG_1947 IMG_1948 IMG_1949 IMG_1950 IMG_1956 IMG_1962 IMG_1967

Avant la Fin de l’Année (Paris life)

16 Jan

Things in Paris have been pretty routine. Work is going well with Aimé and Ange and I love getting to hang out with their cat Simi !

Image

Yes the family is well aware this cat loves me more than any of them.

Other than that I’ve just been hanging out with my new french friends and learning lots about France and life here from them. One of the most fun experiences I’ve had with them is going to a bar to watch soccer…err I mean football. The best part was they weren’t all rooting for the same team. Luca for PSG (Paris Saint Germain), Simon for OL (Olympique Lyonnais). The things they were yelling at each other that night when a team would score or block were hilarious. And they were so into it. I was pretty sure Simon was going to cry when Lyon lost.

It’s been an interesting few months to say the least with this lot of french boys.

Avant la Fin de l’Année (Travels)

16 Jan

Normandie

The first trip out of Paris I got to take was with MICEFA, and we went off to Normandy for the day to visit sites related to Dday in WWII for the American troops. This included Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc and the American Cemetery. At first I wasn’t particularly interested in going, but at the end of the day I was really happy I went.

Our day began with a three hour drive at 7am… Thanks to a 6 hour skype conversation the night before that lasted until 4 am I only got to sleep for about an hour and a half before I had to wake up to get to the bus. So when you ask yourself ‘I wonder if she slept during the three hours on the bus?’ Let me tell you the answer is YES.

Our first stop was Omaha beach. We didn’t spend much time here since there really wasn’t much to see. But this was where the Americans descended onto the beach on D-day. There is now a monument there, but other than that just a normal beach.

Image

Alan and I – Les Nouveaux Braves

We then hopped back onto the bus and continued onto Pointe du Hoc–another site of the battle and also a fantastic place to take pictures (which we all found slightly more important).

Image

Reenactment

ImageImage

Our last stop to this rainy, cold, and windy day was the American Cemetery. A very moving and informational monument in memory of the soldiers who fought here.

Image

Tombstones of the Soldiers

Concluded the day by sleeping the now 4 (thanks to traffic) hours back to Paris.

Châteaux de la Loire

This day was cold. COLD COLD COLD. It was in the negative degrees and we were going to explore some castles that had no heat in them. We were not pleased. Well about the cold. We were excited to see the castles and once again take beautiful pictures !

The first castle we went to was Chateau Chambord. A very old, very huge castle which was absolutely freezing. Our frozen bodies all congregated in front of the 2 fires that were built throughout this whole castle and we didn’t enjoy it as much as we could.

Image

One of the only pictures of me that exists from this day.

The next castle was my favorite of the day – Chateau Chenonceau . It was built over a river and was stunning. I was ready to put a down payment on it !

Image

Hey! Whats that shiny thing in the river?

But then, a terrible thing occurred. I asked my friend Efren to take a picture of me (nothing new here). However, he had on slippery gloves, and was trying to adjust all of the electronics he was holding when all of a sudden my camera slipped from his hands. *In slow motion in my head* My camera bounced off of the bridge and valiantly flung itself off the edge and straight into the freezing waters 50 meters below. Camera suicide. I was devastated to say the least, and lost all my beautiful pictures of the day. And that’s pretty much how that day ended.

Lyon

Thanks to having no camera I have no pictures from this weekend which is a shame since it was the Fête des Lumières. The previous month, I had made friends with a few people from Lyon and one of them invited me to stay with them to see the festival, and so I did! I really enjoyed this little-big city. Apart from the lights and animations at night, I also got to meet a lot of new people, speak lots of french as well as learn about the french culture of Lyon and the Rhône-Alpes region. However, I will be going back in a week, this time armed with a camera.

That’s pretty much it for travels before the end of the year.