Day 37 & 38: Take me to church…

I took on Paris again on the Sunday and had a completely different experience to what I had on the Saturday.
I went to meet a French girl I met online (that’s the only way to make friends out here without talking to ‘strangers’ – has no logic, I know!) and despite not being religious myself, I agreed to go along to church with her before we had lunch.

Having not gone to church since the age of 11 (except for christenings) I didn’t really know what to expect, particularly as I most certainly hadn’t visited a French church before.

When we arrived, I found that the church was in fact a theatre and was used during the week for workshops and performances (obviously).

It was absolutely crammed full of people – of which my friend seemed to know the majority – and I was introduced to a new person approximately every ten seconds.

As we gathered in the main area, we found a seat, and just as I went to sit down, my friend grabbed my hand and pulled me to the front near the stage.

It looked ominously like a dance floor.

Having stood there, probably looking both frightened and confused, suddenly a band and a group of people entered the stage.

They then, proceeded to sing in a fashion which actually reminded me very much of a mix of Kelly Clarkson and Glee whilst the crowd jumped and sang along.

Obviously the lyrics were centred around religion and worshiping their god, but I have to admit, that as surreal as it was, I couldn’t say that the music was bad.

It was strangely catchy, and considering I am very much agnostic, I was surprised to find myself rather moved because I was in awe of the people that surrounded me.

They shut out everything and everyone, they did not care if they were singing out of tune or jumping or waving their hands in an amusing way – they were absolutely and totally devoted to worshiping their god.

I couldn’t help but respect that.

After concluding the mini concert, there were sermons, which I admit I did find rather lengthy and boring but again, I could see how transfixed everyone else was and I think this is the moment when I truly understood religion.

I could see that to them, religion is not just a concept and that it is a way of life which they devote themselves to fully.

Admittedly as I looked across the audience to see younger people, a question did cross my mind. Had they chosen religion because they truly believe in it or because they have been inaugurated into it by their family members? 

Who knows.

In a sense, I almost envied these people. They believe that even in the darkest times, they still have hope and they feel that they have answers to some of the biggest questions of mankind.

It must be reassuring to believe so fully that someone is looking over them.

Nevertheless, I still do not believe in such a thing, so I still find myself in between being an atheist and an agnostic.

I believe that everything happens for a reason and that there can’t just be nothing when we die – but that is all I am certain of.

Anyhow, we all went out to lunch and I met friends of my friend and attempted to chat in French to them.

They were really good and nice people and I would definitely not hesitate to meet up with them again. 

After I left and headed back to Versailles, me and another friend decided to meet for a drink.

We got chatting to some French guys too, who weirdly enough had studied in England close to where we both live. The annoying thing however was that we didn’t get to practice our French (AKA the whole point of our conversation) as they spoke perfect English.

Oh well. It kept us amused before we went back to hers to sit watching netflix.

The next morning, she cooked us a really good lunch as we had picked up her youngest child from school.

Getting her to eat was difficult.

She kept getting distracted and I believe she sat at the table ‘eating’ for almost an hour.

This was a new experience for me – my kids eat the second they have food placed in front of them. I normally haven’t even had time to get a drink and sit down before they ask to leave the table.

It is always strange thinking that I could have ended up with a different family, a different house and different friends.

I’m glad to have met the people I have – I can’t tell you how vital it is to make friends out here – and I’ve made friends which I know I will keep in touch with.

Lauren 

Day 33 and 34: Out came the rain which didn’t wash the spider out…

In all honesty, Monday and Tuesday were rather quiet – well as quiet as living with two children can be.
After returning home from England on the Monday, the children welcomed me with open arms – to get me to carry their stuff.

They also decided to collect every available stick in sight to use as magic wands, light sabers and even walking sticks. 

Naturally the ten minute walk took a little longer than necessary.

On arriving at the house, I took comfort in knowing that the snack draw was fully restocked as the parents had gone shopping on Saturday – plentiful snacks always lead to happy children.

Apparently they had been so happy over the weekend that they had managed to eat two packs of cookies; two packs of pancakes; a box of crepes; two Milka bars and a bag of brioche.

Our snack cupboard was once again as baron as the Sahara desert.

Nevertheless, from one crisis to another, I heard the eldest child scream and run down the stairs.

I didn’t think anything of if it in all honesty – she is a drama student after all – but she had in fact encountered a rather large spider which fled the second I tried to scoop it up with a cup.

It was gone. Free to roam her room as and when it pleases and free to come forth whenever it chooses.

Evidently I could not break this news to her – something had to be done.

The only viable option (in my eyes) was to stage my catching and disposing of it – which I did.

With success.

Clearly my fake scream and the loud slamming of windows and whilst I theatrically shook the cup and piece of paper I had to use to contain the beast sounded better than I thought.

France today – Hollywood tomorrow.

The only remotely bloggable part of Tuesday is that I was yet again a victim of French torrential rain. 

I believe I had around four showers in a single day, changed my clothes four times and had to shove clothes in the tumble dryer five times…

It was five times in the tumble dryer as apparently some of my clothes were still clinging onto what remained of the cold, wet rain. 

I felt as if the clouds had just waited until I left the house for them to suddenly kick into action – apparently looking after children, teaching them English and making them food is a punishable act in the eyes of god.

Who would have known?

Lauren 

P.S sorry for a late post, I’ve been focusing on uni applications!!

Day 35 & 36: Getting personal…

For the past week or so, it has suddenly dawned on me that I need to start my application for university – because I am after all, planning to go in September.
When you go abroad like I have, it’s easy to forget responsibilities that are back at home.

But it has only been the past two days that I’ve actually started my application.

Whilst the majority of people at home have already completed theirs and sent them off – I have found myself staring at a blank screen, wondering what I need to write to convince a university to offer me a place.

It is actually really difficult to do this in just 4000 characters (49 lines) and I believe I’ve rewritten it and torn it into pieces in the space of just two days.

Having been given the ‘structure’ that my teachers issue to everyone, I can’t help but wonder whether I should ignore it completely.

I have quite a distinct style of writing and the idea of breaking that down and following the norm doesn’t really appeal – I want to stand out after all.

After reading exemplars, they are very different to the way that I’ve put mine together and they all seem very monotonous.

The question is do I risk it?

Take comfort in the fact that when I say mine is different, I doesnt mean that it contains ‘humorous’ content or that it could be read in a lyrical fashion. It just doesn’t have a paragraph dedicated to ‘teamwork’ and a paragraph explaining why I am a ‘team player’ – I tell the honest truth.

I state my desirable attributes, previous experiences, why I want to take the course and what attracted me towards the course.

It may not follow a regimented structure – but I’m far from a well organised being.

Do I allow my statement to be converted into the ‘norm’ or should I have trust in myself and leave it?

I really don’t know.

Lauren

Guess Who Went Home For A Weekend!!

I have decided that no matter how amazing I may find all these places in France, nothing can beat sleeping in my own bed, surrounded by my family.

I was lucky enough to go home for the weekend – courtesy of my Dad funding yet another Eurostar.

I am going to have to find a seriously good Christmas present to compensate for the highly overpriced journey time of two hours – or a journey that should have taken two hours.

Yet again, on the one day that I decide to travel home, migrants decide to take yet another wander into the tunnel.

I appreciate that they are fleeing towards a country which offers them security and above all safety, but I would have been a bit more sympathetic should they have chosen to sneak into our country another day.

I genuinely think that the migrant crisis at the moment desperately needs a solution.

Evidently, these people cannot remain in their country because should they do, they are signing away their life of themselves and their loved ones. I think people forget that it is far bigger than sneaking into our country to claim benefits or steal our jobs – for them, it is a matter of life and death.

Admittedly, it is worrying that people can physically gain access to and enter the tunnel – surely if they can get into the tunnel, then people that have dangerous intentions can do too.

Just a little food for thought.

Nevertheless, despite being late, I was reunited with my family and we went and enjoyed a traditional British pub lunch.

Just so you know, aside from dying to see my family and my boyfriend, I was also desperately craving English food.

I find it bizarre that you cannot buy proper ham, bacon or even pork sausages in France.

Despite whether they may say they contain 90% Pork or not, it is most certainly not as nice as they are in Britain and in my opinion – they don’t even come close.

Nevertheless, we went and walked my puppy, who was so excited to see me that he actually wet himself.

I would normally find this pretty disgusting but in fact, I was actually a little flattered. I had been secretly a little worried that he would have forgotten me – clearly he had not.

  
After we had taken him for a walk, my boyfriend then showed up as he had come down from university for the weekend to see me.

Skype conversations are obviously better than the previously available option of letter writing, but nothing feels the same as actually being with someone. I think when you’re away for such a long time you come to appreciate the little things like holding someone’s hand or giving them a kiss.

Anyhow, soppy thoughts aside, on the Sunday we went to visit family AFTER we had an English fry up and tested out whether I still knew how to drive.

In fact, I was pretty impressed, I didn’t have trouble with knowing the right side of the road and I was still able to operate my little Toyota Yaris.

My dad did say that although it was a good thing, it also concerned him slightly seeing as I bike and walk the kids to school in France – clearly I’m still not paying enough attention to the traffic around me.

Nevertheless, I finished my breakfast in record time – perhaps giving Man VS Food a run for his money. Even with my dog looking up at me with his cute, large chocolate eyes – I did not offer to share any of mine with him.

I love him really, I promise.

Besides, I was doing him a favour – he is crossed with a pomeranian and a yorkie, therefore his ‘cross’ name is actually a porkie. I was merely helping him to not live up to his name.

  
It appears however that it wasn’t just my dog that was a porkie for the weekend.

My mum cooked a legendary roast and my favourite pudding, steamed jam sponge. I could barely move from all the food afterwards – but I couldn’t have cared in the slightest.

We all snuggled up on the couch in front of the TV. Personally, it was the first episode that I had seen of The X Factor since it had started and well, I hadn’t missed much.

Think BeyoncĂ© battles and stereotypical talent show songs…

Sorry Whitney Houston, but X Factor contestants will always love you.

The goodbyes to my family and boyfriend were the only bad elements to my weekend. I don’t think I have ever really appreciated the cuddles under blankets and lounging in front of the TV with family as much as I do now.

That being said, I didn’t regret coming to France or that I had to go back – it is an experience which I really don’t want to cut short. I have already seen and learnt so much – who knows what tomorrow may bring.

Lauren

Day 31 and 32: Mortifying Moments…

Occasionally I feel that my blog is centred more around my being clumsy and making mistakes than actually living in France as an Au Pair.

Sorry about that.

It appears that despite my best efforts to be a graceful, young adult, I still find myself smashing into things and posing a permanent danger for those that surround me.

Bearing in mind I am entrusted to look after children, this probably isn’t a desirable trait that people would necessarily look for in an au pair.

The day began rather nicely. I took the children to school, I came back and lazed around the house before doing my chores and this is where things began to take a turn down a far too familiar lane.

I stretched out my arms, embodying a swan, which are notably known for their being graceful, yet instead, I knocked off three glasses and a mug that I had recently stacked on the work top.

Amazingly, the three glasses remained perfectly in tact, whilst the mug smashed into what seemed like a gazillion pieces onto the floor.

Out came the hoover for the second time that day.

I then opened the fridge draw, only to be met with a flying bowl which then fell at my feet and smashed, again, into a gazillion pieces.

Out came the hoover for a third time that day.

You get the idea. Hoovering may as well earn a permanent place on my CV.

But – my day was yet to come to an end.

I was still feeling in a particularly good mood – suprising I know.

I decided to make my own dinner, play with the girls and then, sit at the table whilst they then ate theirs to pick up on some more French.

This was what I had envisaged my au pair life to be like.

But no.

I went to fetch a chair, and lost in concerntration over constantly translating, in some way (I’m still not entirely sure how I managed it) I managed to fly across the room.

Not literally, but I did manage to ram my chair into the radiator, bounce off the radiator, to then bounce off my youngest girl to then land on my knees clutching the chair legs like a mother would a child.

The only way that I could describe it was that it was very similar to a game of pinball.

I think you can imagine how mortified I was.

Lauren.

Day 30: Bare faced?…

On Wednesday, I went to meet a friend in Versailles.
I’d like to point out there isn’t a huge amount to do in Versailles – but it is my nearest town none the less and is always a good meeting point.

I made the very risky decision of going into Sephora. In all honestly, it’s the only shop that isn’t either tourist-y or aimed at the people who live in the beautiful mansion houses that I look longingly at as I walk through Versailles.

I did part with a considerably less amount of money – but I had been given a shopping list by my sister too.

I must stress that make up is so expensive in France. I won’t lie, I do have mini heart attacks when I see the price of a high street eyeliner – as far as I’m concerned, the sooner I have health insurance, the better.

Perhaps they are encouraging people to avoid wearing makeup completely – however I fell victim to the well arranged shelves and colourful packaging. 

But I bought presents so I did feel slightly better about myself.

That being said, when I came down in the morning, the chocolate that I had bought had been eaten and the wrapping was suspiciously in the bin.

Serves me right for leaving it unguarded.

Sorry guys.

Lauren.

Day 28 and 29: Christopher Columbus and Cottage pie…

I have decided to write posts every two days now, as I feel like I end up having to play catch up all the time and when I do blog, it seems that it is rushed and messy.
Feel free to disagree.
Anyhow, I found myself cycling once again on Monday.

Risky I know – but after eating several croissants at breakfast and seeing that the sun was shining, it felt like a good time to break out my bike and helmet again.

Notice how I said break out and not break – at this moment in time, my bike still remains in tact.

Nevertheless, after having cycled around for a bit, I started to see signs for Montigny, which is the biggest town near to where I live.

I would like to point out, that I clearly hadn’t remembered that it has taken me around 30 minutes by BUS to get there before – so naturally it took me a fair amount of time to get there.

Once I had finally reached Montigny, it occurred to me that perhaps this is what Christopher Columbus, who first discovered America, felt like when he had finally reached land.

Proud. Triumphant. Overjoyed – and perhaps a little (or a lot in my case) fatigued.

I rewarded myself with a chocolate muffin and then wandered around a little. I then had to think about getting back as school pickup time was quickly approaching.

I basically cycled five miles for a chocolate muffin…

At least Christopher Columbus didn’t have to worry about such a thing.

Sure, he may have encountered some natives fending for their territory but I had to face the children when they realised that their parents still hadn’t been shopping, so we were all out of snacks.

I had to kiss goodbye to my cereal, croissants and yogurts.

On Tuesday, I decided to tackle our no snack scenario.

I’d like to point out that I didn’t go to buy them – otherwise my entire salary would be spent on biscuits for they literally eat them like machines.

Instead, I made some classic shortbread cookies.

They were cooked well, they tasted nice and they had come out just as I wanted them.

Except for the fact that they wouldn’t actually come out of the pan.

By the time I had prised it out of the tin, it was closer to crumble than it was to biscuits – so much so, that the younger one accused me of eating the whole thing myself.

WHICH I DID NOT.

As I was feeling particularly British, I even messaged my host mum asking if I could make a cottage pie for dinner.

You can tell I was feeling productive.

It actually turned out really tasty – even if it did take me around two hours to prepare it.

It also cost me the life of a large serving spoon, as I was unable to find the utensil to mash the potatoes and two teacloths to wipe down the mince infested worktop.

I have never been a particularly tidy person (which is putting it lightly), especially when it comes to cooking!

But it was worth it – I had a dinner which reminded me of home and I hadn’t burned the kitchen down.

I’m sure my host family are pleased by the latter as well.

Lauren