Guess who’s back! Yep, I’ve packed my suitcase, bought a flight ticket and moved abroad again! After spending so much time sending off job applications to work in Spain, I gave in and went for my plan B of moving to France or China to learn a new language and experience a new culture. So here I am, writing from my new bedroom in Paris, France! I’m going to be living here for four months, working as an au pair to two girls aged 7 and 5 and studying French while they are at school.
Moving to France has been a strange experience. When I compare it to when I first moved to Spain in 2014 or even Nottingham in 2012, I was sat in the airport last week feeling strangely relaxed and I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve taken this whole thing in my stride! The reason it’s so strange is because I have only been to Paris once before (unless you count visiting Disneyland four times) and I have a very, very basic level of French! It’s also strange because Spain was definitely not plain sailing so why am I doing this to myself again?!
I’m going to pick up my blog again and share with you all my attempt at being Parisienne whilst also trying to control two young girls so make sure you subscribe with your email and keep your eyes peeled on my social media! Echoing my blog about La Primera Semana in Alicante, I am kicking this off with La Première Semaine in Paris!
After making the decision that I might want to be an au pair I found AuPairWorld.com and started to speak with a few families about me joining them as their au pair. Some things I was looking for in a family were that they were French speaking, the children were old enough to go to school, they lived in/very near a big city and that I would live with them and not in a separate flat. I eventually came across the Canto-Bruno Family and after a few skype calls, it was decided and I had three weeks to get myself ready to go!
I was collected at the train station by Jean-Mi and Isabelle, and then two days later Ella (7) and Juliette (5.5) came home with their Grandma who stayed a few days. The family has been so welcoming and they have helped me settle in here faster than I have settled in anywhere! Their house is really nice too – the best way to describe it is that it is like an Ikea show home, decorated with interesting things that they have collected from around the world. They are both very well travelled and Jean-Mi travels to Africa often for work (this week he went to the Ivory Coast and brought home fresh mangoes and avocados!) The family also lived in Jordan until a year and a half ago so the girls aren’t doing too badly either.
Au Pair Life
This week Isabelle has been around to show me the normal family routine which has been really useful! Everyday I pick the girls up from school at 4:30 except Wednesdays at midday. They come home, have a snack and then I will play games with them and do craft activities with them in English. They also do some sports – on Tuesdays I take them to dance and on Wednesdays they do athletics. Everything is walking distance so it’s really easy for me! Their English is so much better than I was expecting. They are so confident and even speak to each other in English when I am around. Obviously they make a few mistakes but no child under 10 speaks any language perfectly!
They fight with each other occasionally but every evening when it comes to storytime, the three of us cuddle up together and it’s like nothing was ever wrong. They seem to have taken to me quite quickly and I get lots of cuddles and kisses. They also love that I have two cats at home and on the first day I met Juliette, she pulled her trousers down and showed me the two kittens on her knickers! Juliette’s favourite phrase is “it’s soooo cuuutee!” (Even when talking about a volcano) and Ella’s is “whyyyy??” (So I have to be ready with some quick answers)
This week we have been to the park twice, made enough shortbread to feed a small village with two of their friends and played uno more times than I can count. I’ve also got Netflix now so that we could watch one particular film (which I now can’t find) so a few days a week they can watch TV and they are obsessed with Miraculous: the tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. I’m not a fan but I can’t tell them that…
French Student Life
During the day I have lots of free time so I have signed up for French classes at Alliance Française in the centre of Paris. I have three-hour classes on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings and then in the afternoons they sometimes have cultural activities or I can go to the multimedia centre and study or read books. I’m in an A2 class (from beginner to advanced it goes A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 and I’m about C1/C2 level Spanish) so I have a lot of work to do if I want to come home fluent! It turns out that even with my 10 lessons with a tutor before I left, I’m really not very good at listening to French so I’m hoping for a lightbulb moment when I fully understand the rules of French pronunciation and then I can power on and become a pro!
In my class there are 3 teachers (one qualified and two trainees) so we get lots of attention which is good! There are 11 students from all over the world and I think there is only one other native English speaker so we all try our best to speak French to each other when completing tasks. In the class there is an Ana and an Ana-Paula so, for ease, I am Annalise instead of being another Anna! This week we talked about health and natural medicines and therapies. We also got given chocolate after the break in each class!
This is always a tricky one and something I struggled with in Spain because I was so adamant I only wanted native friends to practice my Spanish. This time I’m taking that pressure off myself. I know two people in Paris at the moment and I’ve discussed going for a drink or something with both of them which will be nice and I’ve also met another au pair called Mallory who lives on my road. On Saturday we went into the city and she took me for a walk around the main sights. Paris is so beautiful and it makes me feel happy on the inside!
I’ve only really made one other attempt at making friends and that was at a welcome drinks event at school I walked up to a couple speaking French and (in French) we spoke about ourselves and what we’re doing in France etc and then they left. They didn’t invite me to lunch or ask for my number so we’re obviously not friends but I had a proper conversation in French and I was SO SO proud of myself for being brave!! Once I’m a little bit more comfortable with my French, I’m going to go to an event called Franglish, which is like speed dating without the dating. French and English speakers are partnered up and we’ll speak seven minutes in French and seven minutes in English and then we can make friends after that.
I feel like I have seen the main touristy parts of Paris this week and when I was here in 2015 but what I’m really looking forward to is walking through back roads and finding cute little cafes and tiny shops. I’ll do another full post (or two) about this when I’ve done some more adventuring!
For now, I think that’s a pretty good introduction to my new life! Please comment with any recommendations!