From Pensford to Paris
A new week, a new guest blogger! Hannah Moore is originally from Bristol. She’s a third year student at the University of Birmingham studying English Literature and French Studies. Hannah has just started blogging for her year abroad and she’s hoping to document her whole time here with weekly posts. She’ll be writing about everything: film, food, days out, nights in etc. Check out her blog The Road Moore Travelled by clicking here!
From Pensford to Paris
Something you should know about me is that I’m notoriously bad at being away from
home. During my first two years at University I went home at least once a month, usually more, so moving to France was a daunting prospect to say the least. I spent the whole of my second year dreading my year abroad, with various worries running through my mind; what if my French isn’t good enough? What if I don’t get a teaching assistant job? What if I don’t get along with my housemates? What if I get home sick? What if nobody likes me? You get the idea…
Luckily, so far those worries were for nothing. Aside from worrying, my summer was a whirlwind of working (to be able to afford the move here) and paperwork (to make sure I even could move here). In the end it turns out I’m still pretty poor and still have a pile of forms to fill in…
The day I moved to Paris I flew over alone, which was something I never thought I’d be brave enough to do. While saying goodbye to my Dad, little sister and grandparents at the airport, I was oddly calm – I didn’t even cry. I felt ready to face the new challenging year ahead of me and as I trotted off to the departure lounge I felt a small sense of pride; I was no longer that girl who needed to go home every weekend!
I have to admit, I was ridiculously lucky that my move to Paris went very smoothly and was relatively stress free. I got a place on a teaching assistant scheme in Boulogne-Billancourt where the council provide housing for their 11 British assistants. Finding somewhere to live in Paris would have been a nightmare, so it was a massive relief to get free accommodation (though it does evoke quite a lot of jealousy from my friends on their year abroad).
In comparison with Pensford, the tiny village I live in back home, Boulogne-Billancourt is a great place to be living, it’s got everything you could possibly need except a conveniently placed airport. It took me 2 hours and 3 different métros to get from Charles de Gaulle airport to my front door. I was completely bamboozled when I first tried to figure out the public transport system here: the ticket types and the different kinds of trains (I’m still not sure what the difference between an RER and a métro is…) Luckily, the RATP app has been a life saver and I now feel like a seasoned Parisienne.
My new home was certainly not a home when I first got there. My bedroom consisted of a bed, a wardrobe and a small shoe rack and that was it. I didn’t let this dampen my excitement however, and made my bed with the light blue bedding provided, rearranged the furniture and had a great first night’s sleep. Since then my room has transformed; I have a desk, bookcase, rug, mirror, posters, photos, fairy lights – the works – and it’s finally mine.
Buying myself a T.V has also made me feel more at home. I know it’s silly and probably says something about my addiction to technology, but I thought that television would be a perfect way to soak up the French language and culture without even realising I was doing it. Turns out there are a lot of American programmes on over here so whilst I’ve been successfully tuning my ears to French, the cultural side of things is happening only on the beautiful streets of Paris. Life could be worse I guess!
I’ve been here less than a fortnight, but I’ve definitely discovered a few things about France and its culture.
1) Always start a conversation with ‘Bonjour’: it’s considered very rude not to!
2) On the other hand, never say Bonjour if it’s the evening: you’ll get laughed at…
3) Wine is cheaper than pretty much any other drink – yay!
4) They really do eat a lot of baguettes and fromage out here and while I’m not complaining, my clothes are certainly starting to!
Overall moving here has been an incredible experience; I’ve met so many lovely people already, eaten some delicious food, sampled some bargain wine and spoken some very questionable French. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!