Au Revoir, Besançon.

Tomorrow is the day that my year abroad comes to an end and I am going home to England. I’m feeling a mix of emotions. I’m happy to be going home to my family and friends and all of the things i’ve missed, but i’m sad to be leaving the life i’ve had here for the past 7/8 months. Besançon and all the people I have met here have more than exceeded everything I could have hoped for. I thought for my last year abroad blog I would write up a list of everything I am thankful for and the things I will be leaving  with from my time in France as an ELA.

  • Friends for life. Never did I expect to make so many close friends in the time that I was here. I really do feel part of a family and I feel so lucky to have shared this experience with so many people from all over the world who I know I will keep in contact with forever.
  • Confidence. I will never forget how scared I was coming here on my own and not knowing at all what to expect. My parents and my friends will be able to tell you how nervous I was in the weeks leading up to me moving. Looking back to then from where I am now, I feel so happy and proud that I did it. Also my confidence with speaking French has increased hugely, which is something i’ve always found hard to overcome.
  • FOOD. I am going to miss all of the cheese SO MUCH. ESPECIALLY COMTÉ!!!!!! I have tried so many new foods whilst I have been here (courtesy of my housemates who have actually been my parents this year and fed me), and of course wine, so I will definitely miss the French Cuisine. Not sure my uni cuisine next year will quite live up to this year. Hard to believe that I used to be such a fussy eater who would only eat chicken nuggets and chips and no veg at all. Side note: I will also miss my new favourite drink Monaco which has been by go-to here because I miss strongbow dark fruits. Here’s a nice pic of me with the love of my life Monaco.IMG_0167
  • The Travel Bug. I have been so lucky that I had the chance to travel as much as I did. I saw new things everywhere we went and it has just made me want to travel and broaden my horizons even more. My favourite place was probably Annecy, but it is so hard to choose! And now that I have so many different friends all over the world, I have an excuse to go and visit them all. See you soon guys x
  • My Job. While I am not sure I want to be a teacher in the future, I am so happy that I spent my year abroad as an ELA and got to have the experience of working in a school. I could not have asked to be in better schools with better teachers or students. From the get go, the schools and the people who run the program itself have been amazing and I can’t thank them enough. I know that my experience could have been a whole lot different had I been in different schools or regions. I will miss all of the teachers that I was lucky to work with, but also the students who were such a pleasure to work with.IMG_0556
  • Free time. While this year has had it’s ups and downs (mostly ups!) and the occasional stress, there’s no doubt that I have had way too much free time on my plate. It’s been a nice break from uni and i’ve watched more series on netflix than I can count on my hands. For that reason, I know that it is going to be such a big shock going back to uni for final year, but i’ve still got all summer to worry about that!

I could go on forever and ever, but you get the idea. I really can’t put into words how happy I feel to have such positive thoughts at the end of my year abroad. It wasn’t easy but this year was definitely the best thing I have ever done. If I have any advice for people who will be ELA’s next year or in the future, I would say : 1. Don’t be scared, because everything will work out as it is supposed to. 2. Have confidence in yourself, because you can do it!

So tomorrow morning, I leave my little apartment and my lovely friends who I will miss so much. Not so much the spiders that have tormented me for the last 7 months 🙂 I don’t know when I will be back in Besançon, or even France, but I will 100% be back one day hopefully not too far away!

Emily x

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Time to say goodbye…

It actually feels so weird saying it, but yesterday was my last day as a language assistant here in Besançon! I have officially finished!

After the best 7/8 months, it finally hit me this week how sad I am going to be to leave. This week has been full of goodbye hugs and it’s made me realise how lucky  I have been to be surrounded by so many amazing people here.

Saying goodbye to all of the students was sad and they were all so sweet and genuinely seemed like they are going to miss me (probably because I made scones for a lot of the classes). It also made me feel like a celeb as they were all asking for pictures and selfies with me. The boy I tutor even got me an easter egg and a bottle of locally made lemonade, so naturally I cried on the bus journey home. For my final class, they even brought some cake that they had made which was really nice and we had a nice chilled out last lesson together!

We also had to say goodbye to the teachers which was sad. I said goodbye to most of the teachers at the collège two weeks ago and they took me out for lunch and even got me a bottle of perfume! On wednesday, me and Alain were treated to a gorgeous lunch with the english teachers from the lycée. It was so nice to all eat together but also sad to be saying goodbye because I have been so lucky to work with all of the teachers there and feel so welcomed.

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As a celebration for finishing, the assistants in Besançon went out for a drink last night. Although I will be staying here until May, last night we had to start saying goodbye to people because people are leaving and travelling. It feels really surreal at the moment because there is such a nice group of us now and we’re all like one big family. I feel like especially in this last term we have spent so much time together and become so close and it’s really weird that in a months time we will all be back home in different parts of the world (depressing af). Last weekend we even had a cute picnic in our back garden as our last sunday altogether!

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Anyways, before it all gets too much, me and Libby are going on the second instalment of our AdFrenture tomorrow. We are running down south to the sun and cocktails to continue pretending to be classy anglaises x

Bonne vacances x Happy Easter x

Emily x

Here comes the sun…

Wow it’s been so long since I last wrote a blog. To quickly catch up i’ll make  a list.

  • Skiing – Me and Kenamy went to Métabief for a day trip! Neither of us had any experience skiing for it was a fun day. I actually nearly died because I couldn’t stop down the beginners slope. Fun.
  • Germany – I was invited by the Lycée to go to Germany for the day with one of my classes. They’re 17-18 year olds and they study for a Pro Bac in architecture. We went to the Vitra Museum and it was a really interesting day. After a tour and a big free meal for lunch, we had time to look around the Vitra Design House, which is basically a really posh IKEA. I was in dream land.
  • Barcelona – At the beginning of Feb we went for a cheeky little weekend trip to Barcelona for Sarah’s 21st! It was short but sweet and we managed to fit in lots of tapas and Spanish culture. And it was just really nice to catch up with my uob friends.
  • Geneva, Annecy, Grenoble – It was the February holidays and we had two weeks off. Me and Libby decided to meet whilst our holidays overlapped. We started in Switzerland and stayed for just one night because it can get expensive in Switzerland. We had the best time sightseeing and sampling a lot of the French wines. If i had to choose a favourite I would say Annecy. The lake was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, with the snow-topped mountains in the background. And also we stayed with a lovely French family in the Air bnb there.
  • I went home! – Not as exciting but it was definitely nice to get home for a bit during the holidays whilst I had no other plans. I got to see my friends and family and of course my dogs! It went really fast but i’m glad I made the last minute decision to go back.
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Lake Annecy ft moi

So that was all the stuff I could have written a blog about. Anyway, i’m still really enjoying my time here. I went back to the schools last week for the last 6 weeks of my contract 😦 Some of my classes stayed the same, some changed, but all the kids are great so i’ve been really lucky once again!

Just before the holidays, on Wednesday afternoon’s I started tutoring a student who’s dad works at my lycée. He’s only 12 so he’s relatively new to learning english, but I have so much fun working with him. They live in a cute little apartment in town and it’s really nice to experience a French family. His parents are lovely and they always feed me lots of little french snacks! It’s also been a great way for me to try and improve my French as they don’t speak any English.

Now i’m just trying to make the most of my last few weeks here. The weather has been  gorgeous and sunny which is what inspired me to write this blog! I went out for lunch today to a cool noodle bar and we sat by the river in the sun, and now i’m sat in our little garden lesson planning and writing this. Makes me realise how much I will miss this cute lil city I call home.

Byyeeeeeee, bise

Emily

 

 

French stereotypes in real life.

English people seem to have a lot of stereotypes about French people, just like a lot of countries do about us. Some good some bad, but since being here I have definitely learnt which ones aren’t true!

1. French people are rude. THIS IS SO NOT TRUE!!!! In my case, they are some of the nicest people I have ever met. From the moment I got here everyone has been so welcoming and willing to help me. Even the students are really lovely and they are always extremely eager to learn English.

2.French people were stripes. Ok so it’s not entirely false because I have seen people wearing stripes, but not any more than a person from England would. And French people certainly don’t all walk around the streets wearing stripes. Ironically when I told my class this stereotype about them, I was wearing a long sleeved striped top and they all laughed at me.

3.The beret. I don’t think i’ve seen one person wearing a beret while I have been here.

4. Garlic. This is a weird one. When I told my class that we think French people are obsessed with garlic and wear it on a string around their neck, they were so confused! Also, I think the lack of garlic bread here is enough proof for me that they are not obsessed with garlic.

5. French Kisses. French people are very affectionate. Everyone (no matter what age or gender) will greet each other with a small kiss on each cheek (they are called bise). Even when they didn’t know me and met me for the first time we did the two kisses. I see the kids at school doing it, teachers in the staff room, two guys who fist pump first and then kiss each other on the cheek. I think it’s a really cute gesture and it’s so nice that everyone does it. In terms of PDA, there’s a lot of that, especially in the highschool where I work.

6. Baguettes. This one is true. There is so much bread everywhere and I always see people out and about buying baguettes.

7. Smoking. SO many french people smoke! I see so many of the students from the high school smoking, and more than I can remember from when I was at school. I think it’s quite a social thing here.

8.Snails. In terms of true and false, it’s definitely true that they eat snails. But I think we assume they eat snails and frog’s legs 24/7, which is not true. Since i’ve been here I have encountered snails once and that was when Libby and Rachel ordered them in Paris. One of the teachers said she is going to make me some because I have to try them while I’m here!

9. Frog’s legs. Similar to snails really, in terms of I haven’t actually seen then but I know people do eat them. Lots of the kids at the school told me to never try them when a teacher offered to make me some! Whereas, some kids were telling me they eat them on Christmas Day!

10. Wine. The French do love their wine, and who can blame them when there’s so much of it and it’s so nice?! There have been many occasions at the school where there has been wine in the staffroom, and for the school Christmas Dinner, there was wine on the tables for the staff. When you go to the supermarkets it’s unbelievable how cheap it is for a bottle, and how nice it still tastes even if it’s the cheapest one!

Hi 2017

I haven’t written a blog post for so long, but now that i’m back here in Besançon i’m excited to be writing it again! The main reason I didn’t post anything was because the run up to Christmas was really busy for me. In the four weeks before I went back to England, my parents visited, I went to Strasbourg, I went to Paris and Disneyland and I was really enjoying the Christmas atmosphere of a cute French city like Besançon. While I would love to write about each of those things in more detail and tell you how much fun i’ve had, it would take me all day and I don’t want to bore you.

But I will just quickly mention that Strasbourg is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! I would definitely recommend going there for the Christmas markets if ever anyone is thinking of going somewhere in Europe for a cheeky weekend before Christmas!

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Being home for Christmas was lovely, though it went way too fast. Getting to see all of my friends and family was so nice after being here since September. But on 2nd Jan it was back to reality as school started on 3rd Jan and I had classes at 8am. I was welcomed back by the typical Franche Comté weather as it was freezing and snowing! Being back at the schools has been surprisingly enjoyable and I can’t believe i’ve finished my second week back already! Some of my classes changed but most of them stayed the same which has been nice because i’m really getting to know some of the students now.

Last weekend, I managed to fit in a last minute weekend to Paris with my friend Gemma from Sixth Form. It was nice to do some sight-seeing because last time I was in Paris we were mainly at Disneyland. Also a heads-up to anyone going to Paris soon or planning a trip, if you are under 26 and member of the EU most things are free! (smh all u brexiters). We couldn’t believe it, but other than paying for the Eiffel Tower, everything else we did was free. We only went for the weekend so we managed to fit in Versailles, Le Louvre, Arc de Triomphe (which were all free with ID) and Notre Dame (which is free anyway). I think my favourites were Versailles and L’Arc de Triomphe because i’ve never been to either  before and at Versailles my history heart was beating.

I’ve been so excited to write this next part because i’m so happy and sad about it. Anyway, yesterday was my last day working with my favourite class at Collège Lumière. Unfortunately, because I only work there for 4 hours a week, my timetable has to change in order to give other classes a chance to work with me. But this little class of 4eme (13-14 year olds) are the only class I have had right from the observation period at the start of October until now. I was really sad about it so I planned a fun lesson on the Royal Family and added some games and sweets. However, when I got to the class, I was only given 25 minutes to teach as they had planned a ‘surprise‘ for me as well. The surprise was a French tradition called Galette. This is a sort of pie/cake/tart thing and it tastes like a normal cake. They cut up the cake and everyone gets a slice. However, in one slice there is a small item (ours had a little marble rectangle and a small chicken) and whoever bites into this is given a crown as they are the Queen for the day! They were so excited that they brought 2 galettes and they made sure that I won one of the crowns. They also showered me with sweets and gifts and it just made me realise how lucky I am to be working in such a nice school. It’s so rewarding to know that they love having me in their lessons and I really am sad that I won’t be working with them anymore.

I even went into their class this morning at 10 am (even though I don’t work on fridays), because one student had left his galette at home yesterday! So this morning we had another slice each and they made sure I won the crown again. They even wanted me to finish yesterday’s lesson on the royal family so they could play more games with me!

Now one of my resolutions is to not leave it so long before I write a blog post again!

Bisous x

Emily x

 

Things I miss about home.

I thought i’d do a different blog post this week as i’ve been here for almost two months now and it’s less than four weeks until i’ll be home for Christmas!

Some of the things on this list of things will be pretty obvious. Starting with…

1. Friends and family. Of course I miss everyone from home and uni. Last weekend Neetu and Hilary came to visit me for the weekend and that was so lovely. It was so nice to see them and spend some quality time together that i’ve missed so much. However, it also felt very weird having them here in Besançon! They are the first visitors i’ve had so it was 15027593_10154054425963807_4527702942824142519_nbizarre seeing familiar faces here. But we did have the best weekend! Next weekend my parents are coming too, so that’s something else i’m really excited for! But yeah, even though I do miss everyone, I still speak to everyone all the time, so don’t worry i’m not sat here alone in my room crying or anything!

 

2. Nancy and Elvis. They deserve their own spot on the list because that’s how much I miss them. It’s weird because i’m used to not being with them when i’m at uni, but I think the hardest thing is not being able to tell them when i’m coming home and that I will be back eventually. My little Elvis cries every time my mum FaceTimes but I don’t really think Nancy cares that much!

3. Uni. I actually do miss uni. I think I miss the people and the lifestyle more than the actual work, but I do miss the work a bit. I have so much free time here in Besançon so it feels weird to not be stressing about how much work I have to do.

4. Milk. I’ve been doing ok for tea because my mum has sent me some good old PG Tips. BUT, I always forget when i’m out that if I order a cup of tea, I have to ask for the milk! OR worse, they sometimes don’t have any milk.

5. My car. I really miss my emo bam </3. Mostly because the bus drivers here are crazy and I swear they drive so much faster. My bus even crashed into the back of another bus the other day in rush hour traffic! That was fun.

6. GARLIC BREAD. Update: 8 weeks without garlic bread. Tbh I don’t even have any words. I never imagined I could feel so empty. I can’t find it anywhere! We even went to an Italian restaurant in Lyon and there was no gb of any sort on the menu???

7. Dominos garlic dip. Ordered dominos the other week and no garlic dip on the menu. Wtf France?

8. Tesco. I don’t miss working there don’t worry. I just miss doing my food shop there. Don’t get me wrong, going into a French supermarket to do a big food shop can be a magical experience. So much bread, cheese, wine. However, I miss seeing familiar brands and foods I would buy at home. Now it’s Lays instead of Walkers. A hunt to find some simple cheddar cheese.

9. Snobs and Fab. Obviously.

 

10. English money. I still can’t get used to all the coins. They all just look the same and it stresses me out when I have to pay for something. Therefore, I panic in the queue and mostly always pay with notes which just means I get more bloody coins!

So there. I think a brief sample of the many things I miss. Living in another country, you notice new and different things everyday. Even just a road sign that is in French, it always makes you think of home.

Bisous!

Emily x

We went to Lyon!

Bonjour, it’s been quite a while since i’ve given an update. In fact, it’s been so long that the two week holiday is over! But i’ll just fill you in on what I did in the holidays and our little trip to Lyon.

In my last blog post, I said that we were going to a salsa class that night and we did! We went with the Spanish teacher from Daniela’s school and it was so much fun! It took some getting used to but we all managed to keep up, I think we did pretty well. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I didn’t expect to ache as much as I did the next day!

Anyway, the school holidays for me started early as I don’t work on Fridays, my classes on Monday were cancelled and then Tuesday was another induction day for the assistants. Tuesday was also the day I finally got a French sim card so i was extremely happy. For anyone who doesn’t have my new number it’s +33 7 83 67 86 41, but my whatsapp is still my english number.

On the next Friday, I took a train in the morning to Lyon where I was going to meet Libby, Sarah and Ellie, my uni friends! I arrived into Lyon Part-Dieu at around 1:45, and after waiting at the wrong tram stop for nearly an hour, I got to our air bnb at about 2:45. Sarah and Ellie were already there and it was so great to see some friendly faces! The apartment was amazing! We weren’t that far from La Rhône (river) and we had easy access to shops, restaurants and the city centre. It was on the fourth floor and the style was so cool, mainly because of how the host had decorated his apartment. It looked quite old inside but he just had so many cool things, and he left us a bottle of red wine and a hifi system so I was just too excited.

Libby didn’t arrive until around 8 as she had a longer journey. By this time me Sarah and Ellie had already started drinking the wine and bought three extra bottles. Safe to say we had a fun night. We actually went on a péniche, which is basically a barge, in La Rhône, which was so much fun and so much bigger on the inside. However, when we left the struggle was real as there were no takeaways open like we’re used to after snobs. Instead we just went home and ate lots of Brioche that the host had left us!

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The next few days were really exciting and we did some sight seeing in Lyon. On Saturday after we finally got out of bed and ate, we went to see La Notre-Dame de Fouvrvière. It’s on top on a hill so we had to take a mountain train which was interesting. When we got to the top, the views were unbelievable. The cathedral itself is insanely stunning, and they were taking mass inside which just made it so much more beautiful. At the side of the cathedral, there is a wall where you can see the whole city. We stayed here during sunset and the view was something I had never seen before and pictures can’t do it justice.

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After, we walked down instead of taking the train, and it was now dark. The walk down took us into Vieux Lyon (the oldest part of the city). It was more touristy, but still beautiful, especially as it was the evening I think the small streets looked particularly nice.

The next day was Sunday, and as everything closes on Sundays we decided to prepare a picnic (mostly consisting of cheese and bread) and we went to the park. The park is huge and there is also a free zoo, so after our picnic feast we spent the rest of the day strolling around the zoo.

Monday was our last full day. We went for lunch near Vieux Lyon, and met up with my friend Adam from home. Again, it was nice to see another friendly face and catch-up. After lunch, we went the Musée des Beaux Arts. It only cost 4 euros each and I think we spent around an hour and a half inside so it was interesting.

I got home on Tuesday night at 7.30 and for the next few days I was home alone while my house mates were still away. I wish I could say I did more in the holidays but I didn’t really. Although, it was nice to relax after a few busy days in Lyon.

In France, the day after Halloween is a holiday called Toussaint. Me and Daniela went to the cemetery as it is tradition that all the graves have bouquets of colourful flowers upon them, and she told me there is a similar tradition in Mexico as it is a holiday for the dead. In our apartment, she made a lovely altar for the dead, similar to something she would have at home. So at night, we all placed things on the altar that reminded us of someone close to us who has passed. Then we switched the lights off and lit candles. It’s a tradition i’ve never heard of before, but it was really beautiful and humbling and i’m glad Daniela let us be apart of it.

Yesterday was the first day back at school, and now I am off again until Monday. It’s a hard life! I worked at Collège Lumière for four hours and it was the first time I took half a class into another room on my own. I really enjoyed it and I think they did too.

So next week will be my first full week teaching on my own and i’m really excited to get back into a routine. The holidays were good and i’m so glad I got the chance to see my friends, but it will be nice to get stuck in at work now. My best friends Neetu and Hilary are also coming on Thursday until Sunday so that’s something i’m really looking forward to. Not sure when i’ll have time for my next blog but I can’t wait to write about it 🙂

À bientôt,

Emily x