Sunday, September 30, 2012

I will always be considered a child a France...

After a walk in the woods we arrived back to our apartment to find four of our wine bottles from the night before just outside our door. We had incorrectly disposed of them, and someone saw us doing so, so they went into the recycling, pulled them back out and left them outside our door.

Oh, French neighbors.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Meanwhile at Lycee Einstein...

I stopped by Lycee Einstein today to meet some of the English professors and see the building. Didier (or Didi as he asked me to call him) is a FAST talker. Luckily I understood most of it, but that guy kept going at 100 mph. I learned a lot about Lycee Einstein; the actually school buildings used to be a factory (it looks pretty cool inside), the feet to the Eiffel tower were built there, a good number of my classes are actually BTS (after graduation- I'm not quite sure, I get all the degrees here confused most important fact of it is that my students are more like 20-22 rather than under 18, almost all the students are male, they have body work, mechanic, networking, plumbing and heating courses, they wear jumpsuits and work shoes to school (well, the shop classes), they had housing I could have taken, but my housing would have been in the center of the school and no one is there on the weekends- I'm glad I went with Mme de Stael, they gave me my schedule, i think I already lost it :( hopefully I just left it at my apartment.

Didi lives in the medieval center of town with his wife and 3 kids (his wife is also and English teacher and his student Adrian is likely one of my students at J. Ferry. He said that his wife "drives the car and he does the cooking." Oh, and when he collects mushrooms this weekend, he's going to collect me some.

I tried to register at the swim center for swim team and ended up meeting one of the coaches, he said to just come by the practices and register later. Now I need to find a bike. The swim center is about 4 miles away from my place and the bus doesn't run at the right times. Decathlon does a used bike sale in October, but I'm going to try to borrow one from someone in the apartments until then. There seems to be a lot of bikes down stairs that haven't moves...

The other 2 (maybe 3?) assistants that I'll live with should be arriving today, we'll see!

I got my bank account sorted out yesterday. The agent was really nice and had also opened the accounts of the other 2 assistants as well. She also kept asking me for a student ID so I just gave her my ACC id from when I took one continuing education Spanish class. That card saved me 40 euros and my bank card will also serve as an international student card, a win all around! Oh and the education pass that I asked Lycee Einstein for (a teachers pass for entry into national monuments ex. Le Louvre, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, etc.) well, they gave me the student's version instead, I guess that matches the student ID I have for Credit Lyonais!

I got an October bus pass and some individual tickets for the rest of the month yesterday. My dogs have been yapping so I'm glad to be able to take a little rest. I also stopped by the library yesterday. I thought it was just a children's library (with a CD section...?) until about 20 minutes later I realized the rest was just across the hall. It looks to be a pretty good selection so I'll get a card once I have my bank card (and therefore a student ID as the card will be free).

I'll try to get some photos of Montlucon tomorrow, today was finally sunny and I hope it holds!

Today's french expression "Peter plus haut que son cul"- To be bigger than ones britches, think too much of yourself or literally "To fart higher than your ass."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

State of the Apartment

these took forever to upload and I'm tired of sitting at Mcdo. Basically they are apartment photos, the last one is the view out my window, the other outside shot is from our living room, the bathroom with the toilet and show is mine and the rest are self explanatory. 

State of Affairs

Warm Fuzzies

-I got my railroad reduction card and completed an oral survey about my buying experience- aka spoke more French.
- I met James and Naomi yesterday. I overslept and missed meeting them at the train station, but I figured out where their building was and walked over and was able to meet them.
- Had a drink and a pizza dinner with them. The owner of the bar had the most adorable Westie dog, who she kept trying to yell at to go to the back of house but instead kept playing with me :) . The owner of the pizza place is from Turkey and I talked to him a bit at the end. If the place was closer to mine I think I would go there often and try to make friends with him. As it is, it's a bit of a walk.
- James and Naomi live at a youth housing building. When I arrived, James was in the process of checking in and getting his paperwork settled. He was tired from the train ride and also hadn't eaten in a while so he had a bit of difficulty understanding all the paperwork that was being asked for. I was able to help a bit and understand all the papers they were looking for. It's a really great feeling to understand even just a bit more than I did when I arrived in Coutances. While it's hard ot see the progress happening at the time, when I look back to my language level at the beginning of study abroad, it's really amazing to see how far I've come.
- Not that many people speak English here. Most people know a little, but when I stop those who try and ask them to continue in French, they do and it works better. It was really frustrating in Normandy that so many people spoke English and it really cut my efforts down at the knees to always have that happening.
- The principal and assistant principal stopped by the apartment to introduce themselves. The principal actually lived in Australia for a while so he said his kids might stop by sometime and that they speak English well (however I have no idea if the kids are 7, 17 or 27.
- The apartment has TV and DVD player. I' m going to get a library card so I can watch movies here (It's good language practice!)
- I stopped by SFR (phone and internet company) to see about getting internet for the apartment. While there were a few awkward moments of miscommunication (like when he asked me for my street name and I said I didn't have one yet..) I still understood what he was talking about, even when talking about different ways to get internet, how much it would cost a month, what papers I would need to get it, etc.
- I stopped by my college to say hello to the principal and all the people there were fantastically nice. Additionally, the college used to be a lycee (and before that a nunnery). What's important about that is that it is a BEAUTIUL building with a lovely green garden courtyard in the middle.
- Bought some nice hard cider from Normandy :)
- I found a cheese shop. Yummmmm a whole shop of yummy delicious cheeses!!!!

Cold Pricklies

- When I went to the school office to pick up my attestation de logement (a formal paper saying that I live and that school, basically a stand in for a rent contract) they said it wasn't ready and to pick it up tomorrow. That wouldn't be that big of a deal, except that I then had to cancel my bank appointment and they didn't have any other appointments available this week. Rather than waiting until next week, I chose a new bank and I have an appointment with them tomorrow. I should have my attestation by then (I hope).
- It's getting pretty complicated to have internet. To get a modem (router? I don't know half the terms in English) we need to set up our telephone line which is a little difficult given that we are only here for 6 months. Then once we have the telephone line we need to the internet company and given them a telephone book's worth of documents, AND bring someone from the school (or who knows you, i”m not sure which) and have them attest for you. To get a internet USB key for your computer is significantly less work. Which brings me to my next point.
- I don't think I'll be able to use skype this year. Given all the complications I've encountered so far (and knowing that once you even get all that paperwork it's still another month before it actually gets working) I don't think we'll have strong wifi set up for our apartment. A USB key sounds like the best solution for some light internet usage at home. Fun fact- the cheapest one they had was 10 euros a month and for6-8 hours of internet a month. Yeah, I use the internet a little bit more than that. However, I think the solution is to get something super cheap like that for home, basically for emails, and then use the college and lycee computers for anything else. But I between time zones, privacy and a courtesy to others, I don't think that I'll want to skype there. I vaguely considered getting a smart phone, but most require a year or 2 year contracts. I'll see if any of my roommates will want to put in the effort, but I think next Monday is my cut off, and if nothing is decided, then I will just buy a USB key then. UPDATE: I stopped by Orange on my way to McDo and they had a cheap pay as you go phone with email capabilities. So I have limited email chez moi, but not any internet (or fbook or anything like that. There's no apps on it)
- The swim center is really far away and the buses don't run at night. This means that if I join the swim team I either have to walk about 4 miles each way, find someone who can give me a ride, or buy a bike. I'm not really opposed to finding a ride or getting a bike. I'm just nervous that those options wont work out and that I'll have paid a hefty amount for swim fees and not be able to participate. Swim team registration ends this week, so if I want to do it, now is the time. I really was excited about swim team and the prospect of meeting some people and being a member of the community, but I wonder if I’ll be over doing it, given that I'm running as well.
- It can be frustrating to keep on trying to run errands, only to have them shot down (attestation de logement, bank, internet ) but I think that is a big reason that wine is so cheap here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Safe and Sound in Montlucon

I'm here! I made it to Montlucon yesterday without any problems; my flight was on time, my bags were some of the first off the plane, no problems getting to the train station, the train ride went well and Jocelyne was waiting for me at the station.

I was drifting in and out of sleep for the rest of the day, but I got in around 4, so I settled in, went for a little walk and then Sylvaine came to pick me up for a dinner chez elle. We had a nice light dinner of pizza and salad which was perfect.

The assistants apartment is nothing amazing but about what I expected. Somehow the kitchen is even smaller than last time around – it's about 5x5ft. Oh, something that is amazing- I have my own bathroom! Jocelyne said to just pick any room of the three, so I have the “studio” with it's own shower/ toilet. My room is just off the living room and actually has a second exit into the main building hallway. The other two assistants will share the toilet and shower bathrooms. Also, there is currently no internet chez moi so when the other two get here we'll talk about getting internet all together or I'll get a 3G usb stick for my computer. For now I'm hitting up McDo or the tourism office to mooch off their wifi.

It's really good to be back in France. It was a funny feeling landing into CDG. Other than Newark, Chicago and Kalamazoo it's probably the airport I've been in the most. I felt like I was just picking up where I had left off, or returning to something rather than a brand new adventure. And while there were times I was still nervous, it was nothing like the butterflies I had coming into Coutances.

Montlucon is a pretty town, with trees, enough activity to make it seems lively, without so much traffic to seem crowded. There is a chateau in the middle, up on a little hill with the main shops in a ring around it. Lycee Madame de Stael (where I live, also known as LEM) is just outside of that ring road and college Jules Ferry is pretty close to me, just of another part of the ring road. I'll be honest and that the area is not as pretty as Coutances, though that is fierce competition. The gravel and sand pits I passed on the train ride don't really compare with the beautiful farmlands and the cathedral rising out off the trees. All the same, it is a nice town. It's raining hard now, but yesterday's arrival was beautiful. I'll get some photos once A. it's not raining and B. I have somewhere with a good enough connection to upload them.

I'm off to open bank accounts, get a cell phone and other various chores. I'll try to write again soon!

PS I've been reading and loving all your comments! I just forget to reply!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

12 In 2012 Wrap up!

So today I ran the Haworth 5k, finishing up my 12 in 2012 race series! It was a great run and while not a PR, still a good run.

So, given that I'm finishing up this goal and heading off to France tomorrow, I'm feeling reflective.

Twelve things about 12in2012:

1. The reason this resolution succeeded was because it was "SMART." Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound.
2. A good workout bra is essential. I would rather run in down comforter than with a bad bra.
3. Weight loss is a frustrating, irrelevant goal. I lost weight in the first 6 months, gained it back, and I might loose it again. Despite the weight loss and gains, I've still hit personal records since gaining back the weight and my health and fitness is way more important than what the scale says.
4. You don't need goo/ energy supplements until you are running 6 miles or more.
5. 90% of this goal was making small daily choices to just go out and do it. Yeah, there were plenty of times I would have preferred to sleep in or get some errands done, but this goal was more important. It's about priorities.
6. It's always a bummer when the event t shirt is a crappy cotton one you'll never wear again.
7. It's not necessary to have special gear. Yeah, wear shoes you like, a tech shirt and running shorts are more comfortable than others but when it comes down to it, a lack of gear isn't really an excuse.
8. Don't rush things. I did started with Couch to 5K last October and I am still slightly short of being able to run/ jog the entire distance.
9. Body Glide can be a life saver.
10.  I seriously underestimated the stamina that a splash and dash requires.
11. There's a lot of pride that comes from setting a new distance or pace PR.
12. The support of friends and family means a lot. Special thanks to Dad, Mom, Kate, Pam, Missy, Chloe, and Ellen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New kicks, time to use 'em

This weekend I picked up some new Nike Frees to serve as a secondary pair of sneakers while in France. I plan on wearing out the ones I have since I am registered for ....... the KZOO half marathon in May and will be registered for the Paris half marathon in March! (Paris registration doesn't open until mid October.)

Oh, and I happened to come across an amazing sale price of 50% off, so I finally got the shoes I've been wanting for two years but could never justify buying... Vibram Five Fingers!

Now that I've spent an obscene amount of money on foot wear, it's about time I got back to hitting the pavement. The hot and humid weather has been making me lazy and unwilling to unnecessarily move but I'm out of excuses with this cold weather that's moved in.

You know how your room gets clean when you don't want to write a paper or study? Well, I'd rather run than pack and France is less than a week away!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

11/12 Super Coop Run

I got the great pleasure of running with Pam, a long time neighbor and dear friend. We ran the Super Coop 5k in Chapel Hill and while I lasted the first mile and a half with her at a way too fast pace, I played tortoise to her hare on the second half. Despite the heat it was a great race and day.

Friday, September 14, 2012

NC Visit

I've been really busy making burritos.

Shane burritos!

Look at us cuties!

Tomorrow I'm running a 5k, with Pam, get excited!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

10 in 2012! Splash and Dash

Today I swam/walked the Self Transcendence Swim/Run in Harriman State Park. It certainly wasn't my best performance, but I was glad to have tried something new (1k swim, 10k run). Unsurprisingly, if you stop running for 3 months, you don't have the best performance when you try to just head out and run six miles. I had a decent swim, especially given that I had some issues sighting the different places to swim and, again, I haven't truly swam since working at Barton Springs. 

I have to say I have never met a more fit yet supportive group of people. I was fully expecting a group of that calibre to be a little standoff-ish. Every single person I interacted with was positive, with words of encouragement from other runners and all the volunteers. 
I'm definitely considering more of these races in the future (and who knows, if I learn to like biking, perhaps a triathlon will be in my future.)

"I do not compete 
With the rest of the world
I compete only with myself
For my progress is my true victory."

Sri Chinmoy
(On the back of the t shirt)

Monday, September 3, 2012

9 in 2012! Glen Rock 5k

I'll make it short and sweet, but I set a new PR at the Glen Rock Arboretum 5k! 37:21- that a full 2 minutes since I started running last October. I'm happy with the progress I've made, though there's still a lot left to do. Certainly those 2-3 months I took off while in Montana, Guadeloupe, being lazy in NJ didn't help (though I think those hills in Petite Anse DEFINITELY helped).

All nice and sweaty! 

Jam with Gram

For Labor day weekend we headed down to see my gram and celebrate her birthday. I had asked her at Sarah's wedding to teach me how to make jam, which she agreed to do.

1. Peel the peaches.
"Make sure you blanche them."
"How do you blanche them?"
"Put them in boiling water and then into cold water. Also cut them up. I'm going over to the historical society but you can do the rest."
"Gram, what do you mean the rest? That's why I asked you to teach me how to make jam."
"Well you can read, can't you? The rest of the directions are on the pectin box."

2. Cut up 10 cups of peaches

3. Wait for Gram to come back

4. Have Gram tell you that you only need 4 cups, but that's fine because she'll put the rest over her ice cream.

5. Follow recipe on the box of pectin

6. Delicious jam!

7. Thank your Gram. It's her dang birthday and she's teaching you how to make jam!
Happy Birthday, Gram!