Rugby in Paris

Bonjour!

First thing, I  want to say sorry that it’s been so long since my last update!

As some of you may know, there was a pretty important rugby match in Paris a few weeks ago, one between France and England. And guess who was there, in the Stade de France, watching England win the Grand Slam? I was! And it was probably one of the best nights of my life!

I headed to Paris to meet up with one of my best friends, and I actually flew this time! No Megabus for me. Before the match, we bought a metro ticket and headed to see some of the most famous monuments in the world but I’m sure you can all guess where we went first! McDonalds. Not the most exciting of meals, but it was the perfect way to fuel up for all of the exploring we were about to do!

The first sight we went to see was, of course, the Tour Eiffel. It was my friend’s first time in Paris, so we did a tour right around the tower, and of course we took lots of photos! Next, we walked to the Arc de Triomphe where we decided to have a rest with a Nutella crepe. Magnifique! We had a walk down the Champs Elysees before heading to our hotel to get ready for the rugby!

After painting on our England flags and wearing our England shirts, we caught the metro to the Stadium! We bought a scarf each, and some chips, we entered the Stade. With about an hour and a half before kick off, we got comfortable in our seats, and took some selfies. I would describe the match, but I’m still struggling to find the words! The atmosphere in the Stade de France was incredible! Being surrounded by France fans was a little intimidating at first, but we English can definitely stand up for ourselves, especially when it comes to chanting!

On our second, and last day (well it was supposed to be mine), we did even more exploring! We had another Nutella crepe for breakfast, this time outside Notre Dame, then we headed to Montmartre where we saw Sacré Coeur and Moulin Rouge which was pretty cool! Then we headed to Le Louvre where we had a look around outside, the queue to go in was HUGE! We did a lot of walking around Paris and we even bought some souvenirs. We had steak frites (steak and chips) before heading to the airport to come back to Toulouse.

My real adventure was just starting! The French are well known for their strikes, and up until that weekend I hadn’t been affected by any. My flight to Toulouse was cancelled, after I had spent almost 5 hours waiting in the airport. So I got a hotel for another two nights and got a new flight back to Toulouse.

Definitely a Parisian adventure!

à bientôt,
Kara.

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Almost Skiing.

Coucou!

The past couple of weeks have been pretty relaxed, but I still managed to do a little adventuring around the mountains!

Last Wednesday, I went up into the Pyrenees with Nadege and Jean-Claude – two of the people who I dance with – with the intention of either doing some skiing or some snow-shoe walking. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much snow at the ski station in Guzet because it’s been a very warm winter, apparently. So, instead we walked around the station, ate some lunch and I took so many pictures! I’ve never been so in awe of a place before, the mountains were beautiful and I think I fell in love a little.

 

After lunch and even more walking, we went out to somewhere called Mas D’Azil, a village about half an hour out of Saint-Girons, where there is a huge grotte (a cave) which even has a road running through it. We drove through the tunnel and then walked the path inside. The cave was ENORMOUS, and it was really loud inside because there is a river that goes right through the middle of the cave. I even learned that there used to be a bungee jump station on the outside of the cave where you could jump down towards the river. I don’t think I would have jumped, would you?

On Tuesday, it was La Chandeleur, which is the French version of Candlemas. It’s a Christian celebration that happens at the start of February where, in France, they celebrate by eating crêpes. Any holiday involving pancakes is definitely okay with me! I love pancakes.

 

One last thing for this post, I told you guys in my last update that I was potentially going to be in a French newspaper. I am in a French newspaper, in a cowboy hat and some cowboy boots.

à bientôt,

Kara.

Back to France!

Salut!

I hope you all had a really good break and enjoyed your Christmases and New Years! I definitely did, I got to spend some time with my family, and I got to meet my niece, Ruby, for the first time on Christmas Eve. And I got to watch the new Star Wars film.

So, I’ve been back in Saint-Girons for about 3 weeks now, I think. Unfortunately, for my first week and half back, I was pretty ill – blame my brothers for giving me their English germs! – so I didn’t get to do much.

But! In the past week or so I’ve been to a couple of events to do with the country dancing I’ve been doing one of my colleagues at the school. The first event was a ball (a ball) but , it definitely felt more like a Hoedown! There were dance clubs from all around the region and everyone seemed to bring food with them. I ate so much food! We had quichetarte de chevre (a goat’s cheese tart), riz au lait (rice pudding) and a galette des rois. A galette du rois is a traditional French pastry that is eaten around New Year, and super delicious. Then came the dancing! It was really fun, even though I had forgotten most of the dances that I’d learned before Christmas, woops!

The second event was really fun too, it reminded me of going carol singing with my school choir when I was little. We, the dance club I go to (Lez Country), and some dancers from Dakota Angels, another dance club, went to a maison de retraite (a nursing home) where we danced for, and with, some of the residents. It was a really fun afternoon, and there was even a local journalist there to take some photos. So I’m going to be in a French newspaper. That’s exciting! I’ll make sure to show you when I get a copy!

Another exciting thing that happened while I’ve been back is that I met the FIRST English Assistant to ever be sent to Saint-Girons. His name is Geoff and he was an Assistant in 1968. He actually lives in the area, still! Although I think he and his wife lived in England for a while too. It was really interesting talking to him, and learning about how Saint-Girons has changed – not a lot, apparently – as well as how the role of Assistant has changed too.

Here are some of the photos from the ball and a picture of the songs we danced to!

If you want to know about the galette des rois, here’s a link:
http://anglophone-direct.com/la-galette-des-rois/

à bientôt,

Kara.

A Very French Christmas!

Salut!

This blog post is all about Christmas, or Noël

Last weekend I went to Toulouse and I got to experience a French Christmas market! Unfortunately, the Christmas market in Saint-Girons is the day after I leave! There were so many people and hundreds of stalls selling everything from jewellery to shoes, from toys to mulled wine! The atmosphere was fantastic, there was a Papa Noël (Santa) stall where you could get your photo taken with Santa! We also ate Churros, a Spanish fried dough – kind of like a doughnut – and they were probably my favourite part of the day!

Saint-Girons has some decorations up throughout the town, there are lots of mini sapins de Noël (Christmas trees) around the town. They’re decorated with guirlands (tinsel) and nœuds (bows). There is also a big Christmas tree in the town centre!

I asked some of the students to write a few sentences (in French) to describe what they do at Christmas, so here they are!

Laura-Lys:
Nous célébrons Noël en famille. Durant le Réveillon, nous chantons des chants traditionnels. Pour le dessert, nous mangeons la bûche de Noël. Le matin, les cadeaux sont sous le sapin de Noël. Les enfants adorent le Père Noël. We ccelebrate Christmas with our families. During Christmas Eve dinner, we sing traditional songs. For desert we eat Yule logs. On Christmas morning, the presents are under the Christmas tree. Children love Santa Claus. 

Lydie
Pour Noël, nous nous réunissons en famille et le 24 décembre le soir, nous nous offrons des cadeaux. Nous mangeons du foie gras, du saumon, du canard laqué, de la dinde. Nous décorons nos maisons avec des guirlandes et des sapins. Sur les sapins, nous accrochons des guirlandes et des boules. For Christmas, we get together with family and at night on Christmas Eve, we give eachother presents. We eat foie gras, salmon, Peking duck and turkey. We decorate our houses with garlands and Christmas trees. 

Elia
La veille de Noël, le 24, nous allons à la messe chanter. Le 25 décembre, nous mangeons de la viande mais surtout beaucoup beaucoup de chocolat. Au début du mois de decembre nous faisons le sapin de Noël et décorons la maison. Quand il y a beaucoup de neige, nous sortons faire un bonhomme de neige et de la luge. Nous chantons beaucoup à Noël des chants comme « Vive le vent ». On Christmas Eve, we go to Mass and sing. We eat meat, but most importantly, lots and lots of chocolate. At the start of December, we put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house. When there is lots of snow, we go out to make snowmen and go sledding. We sing a lot a lot of Christmas songs, like “Vive le vent”. 

Vive le vent on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-PD5iz7qdE.

Joyeux Noël et bonne année! (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year)

à bientôt,

Kara.

Answering some Questions!

Bonjour a tous!

I hope you’re all looking forward to Christmas, I know I definitely am! I want to say a HUGE sorry for not updating sooner, I’ve been really busy in the schools!

In today’s post, I am going to answer some of your questions!

Eilidh – did you get a cadeau (present)?
Yes! I got lots of English chocolate from my family and Caitlin gave me lots of sweets and some jars of peanut butter!

Lucy – how did the ham taste different from each other?
This is a really good question! Some of the hams had a stronger flavour, some tasted more like hazelnuts and some were more salty, but they were all very nice!

Sophie L and Matthew S – have you made lots of friends?
I have! The Spanish assistant, Cristina, is really nice and she lives in the flat next door! I also made friends with the people who I do country dancing with – they’re lots of fun! And there are two Canadian girls who live in same building as me who are both lovely! Everyone I’ve met so far has been really nice and really welcoming, which is great!

Eilidh – can you remember everyone’s names?
I really, really, really, want to say yes! But, if I’m being honest, I’m finding remembering names very hard! But I am definitely trying to remember more and more every week!

Callum – Will they (the classrooms) have displays up by the end of the year?
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to put displays up in my classrooms! I teach in different rooms every lesson so I don’t have somewhere of my own where I could put up some displays, I wish I could though!

Charlie and Kacey – how many classes have you taught so far?
So far, I’ve taught lots of classes and they’ve all been really different! We’ve talked about Hallowe’en, movies, Christmas, our families, immigration, and fromage (cheese). I spent a whole lesson talking about cheese! It was a little bit weird but it was very fun!

Craig, the tartiflette was amazing, I’ll try to find a recipe to send you guys!

Thank you for the advice Sophie! Even though I’ve been here for 3 months, the fact that cars use the other side of the road is still really weird to me! I’m getting used to it though.

And a huge thank you for all the birthday wishes, everyone! I love reading all your messages and questions, so keep them coming!

À bientôt,

Kara.

Birthday in Barcelona!

¡Hola a todos! 

I was lucky enough to spend the last week of my holidays, and my birthday, in Barcelona with one of my best friends. So, I guess this blog post is actually about my Spanish adventure!

Going to Barcelona was the first time I’d been to Spain and the first time I could use Spanish somewhere other than a classroom! While we were there, we did so many fun things, we saw some pretty amazing sights and definitely experienced something very unique!

Le zoo and l’aquarium were a lot of fun! We got to see so many animals and we even got to see a spectacle des dauphins (dolphin show) where the dolphins did tricks! We also saw a tigre (tiger), dragon de Kimodo (Kimodo dragon), some phacochères (warthogs), a zèbre (zebra) and a familly of singes (monkeys) at the zoo! At the aquarium we got to see lots of requins (sharks) while we walked through a tunnel in one of the tanks!

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My best friend, Caitlin, and her family are pretty big Barça fans, so we definitely had to visit Nou Camp, which is the stade (stadium) that the football team uses! We got to go through the musée (museum) of the history of the club, which was super interesting and we even got to see Messi’s Golden Boots and his Ballons D’Or. Then, we had a tour of the stadium, we sat in the media room, walked through the tunnel onto the pitch and even got to see the away players’ dressing room!

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We did lots of other tourist-y things, like a Bus Tour around the city, and we took a funiculaire (cable-car) over the Bay. We got to see famous buildings like the Sagrada Familia, an unfinished cathédrale (cathedral) designed by Gaudí and the Arc de Triomf, not to be confused with the one in Paris!

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The unique experience I mentioned earlier was a museum dedicated to ham. Or rather jamón (that’s Spanish for ham). We got to learn about how the jamón is made, where the pigs live and what they eat. I also learned that only pigs who weigh 150kg can be called jamón ibérico. The most fun part of the tour was the tasting! We got to try six different kinds of ham, and they were all really tasty! They even had a escalier (staircase) that looked like ham!

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Seeing as I spent my birthday in Barcelona, I thought it would a good chance to teach you how to say happy birthday in French, and Spanish!
In French we can say Joyeux anniversaire! or Bon anniversaire!
And in Spanish, we would say ¡Feliz cumpleaños!

I’m going to leave this post here, I hope you enjoy reading about my time in Barcelona! I’m going to update soon to answer some of your questions!

à bientôt,
Kara.

La vie scolaire

Bonjour tout le monde!

Today I thought I would answer a couple of questions about school life (la vie scolaire) in France and about l’alimentation (food) I’ve eaten so far! Thank you everyone for your questions, keep them coming!

To Sophie M, yes I have started teaching! It’s been really fun so far and the pupils here seem really enthusiastic about learning English, which is great! At the minute, I’m on a two week holiday from school, but I’ll be back in the classroom soon! Speaking of classrooms, I took a couple of pictures of some of the rooms I’ll be teaching in.

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Do they look any different to your classrooms? What do you think of them?

Craig, thank you for your question! The schools here are a little different to schools back at home like yours, and the schools I went to.

Firstly there is no uniforme in the schools I’m working in, which I find really bizarre! So students get to wear whatever they want to, including hoodies, jeans, leggins and trainers! I keep expecting to see school jumpers and stripey ties.

The school days in France are different to what we’re used to in the UK. They start between 8 and 8:30, but the pupils don’t finish until 5pm! The school day has two 30 minute breaks and a 60 minute lunch break, so that’s not too bad! The lessons here only last 45 minutes so there are 8 lessons each day!

The school dinners I’ve had so far have been fantastic! They have 3 courses, and lots of bread – every meal in France has lots of bread.

The meals that I’ve had so far include: confit de carnard (duck confit – I’m not really sure what it is either, but it tasted great!), pork with polenta, velouté de poireaux et pomme de terres au roquefort (leek, potato and cheese soup), tarte aux pêche (peach tart) and lots of other amazing things! I don’t have any pictures of the foods I’ve been eating, I’ve been too excited about eating it that I keep forgetting to take photos! Thank you everyone – Blythe, Craig and Aaron – for your questions about the food I’ve been eating. And Craig, the best thing I’ve eaten so far is the tartiflette I talked about in the last post! It really was fantastic.

While I’ve been in Saint-Girons, I’ve been doing a lot of food shopping.. I even managed to snap a picture of something. Why do you think I took a picture of this?

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I’ll leave you guys with this, and remember is there is anything at all you want to know, let me know!

Until next time and à bientôt,

Kara.

My first few weeks in Saint-Girons

Bonjour tout le monde,

I’m so so so sorry that I haven’t been able to update the blog before today, but I’ve had a bit of trouble with my internet, but it seems to be sorted now so I can update a bit more frequently.

The past few weeks have been really fun and I’ve been pretty busy! Plus, I’ve got lots of photos to show you.

I spent last weekend in a small village called Portet-d’Aspet, which is about an hour’s drive outside of Saint-Girons, where I stayed with Marilene, one of my colleagues. While I was there, I got to listen to the brâme du cerf which is the call of the stags that live high in the Pyrenees, and you can hear them for miles and miles around! Unfortunately, we didn’t see any stags, but I did see a goat and the stars looked incredible up in the mountains, so I’ll definitely count that as a success!

I also went collecting walnuts and I made home made mint syrup from mint I picked in Marilene’s garden. The best part of the weekend was the tartiflette I ate on Saturday night.. a tartiflette is a creamy potato dish with bacon, onions and garlic, as well as baked cheese. It was incredible, definitely one of the best meals I’ve had since I left home! I also went for a walk up in the mountains with Marilene’s dog, Rolex, where I managed to get some pretty good pictures of the Pyrenees. Despite the rain!

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Last week, I went into Toulouse for a meeting with the rest of the assistants in the region. I couldn’t believe that there we so many other assistants, from so many countries and who speak so many different languages! There were assistants for Mandarin, German, Spanish, Arabic and Italian, and a few other languages. I met people from the USA, Canada, Bolivia, and Australia. Me and Cristina, the Spanish assistant who lives in Saint-Girons, navigated the metro system in Toulouse and we got to visit one of the huge high schools on the outskirts of the city! We didn’t get to see much of Toulouse though, but I’m definitely going to go back at some point soon so I can do even more exploring!

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been getting to know Saint-Girons, and what there is to do here! One of the main attractions of the town is the weekly market. Every Saturday, everyone and their granny seems to descend on the town centre! There are so many things you can buy, there’s books, DVDs, shoes, clothes, cheese – so much cheese -, bread, baskets, vegetables, jewellery, towels and so much more!

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The weather has been fantastic, it’s been about 20 degrees most days I’ve been here so I’ve been able to go out walking and exploring a lot, Wally came too of course! It’s starting to get a bit colder in Saint-Girons now, so I may have to get Wally a coat for the next adventure we take! Here’s some pictures we’ve taken so far.

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I’m going to end this post here, but I will update again in a couple of days with the answers to the rest of your questions!

à bientôt,

Kara

Bienvenue à Saint-Girons!

Hi everyone!

It doesn’t look like I’ll be getting the Internet in my flat for a while but I can use the computers in the salle des profs to give you guys an update, which I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for!

I arrived in Saint-Girons last Friday after about 40 hours of buses, bus stations and not a lot of sleep. I started my epic bus journey in Newcastle at about 2am, so it was dark pretty much all the way down to London. I did get to see parts of London in the daylight which was really nice, I even saw 221B Baker Street – that’s where Sherlock Holmes lives!

With part one of my journey completed, it was time to start stage 2 – the journey from London to Paris! For this part of my trip, I got to see a lot of the English and French countryside, as well as getting to go through the Euro-Tunnel. So, now I can say that I’ve been on the Eurostar, crossed the channel by ferry and been through the tunnel! By the time I arrived in Paris, it was starting to get dark but I did get to see some very nice buildings in Amiens.

Can you see the Eiffel Tower?The picture to the left is one I took from the bus as I was coming into Paris, can you find the Eiffel Tower in the picture? I promise it is in there! Somewhere…

So, after about an hour in a bus station in Paris, where I managed to get my first taste of French food – a McDonalds.. don’t judge me guys! It was the only place that was open! – before boarding another bus to take me to Toulouse. I arrived in Toulouse at 7am and had to wait until 3pm to get my bus to Saint-Girons, I had to try my hardest to stay awake in the bus station!

The bus journey between Toulouse and Saint-Girons was definitely worth the wait though, the views of the Pyrenees and the river Salat were beautiful! I can’t wait to do some more exploring and get some pictures to show you!

Since my arrival in Saint-Girons I’ve been on a few walks by the riverside, spent some time in a French café where I watched some of the Rugby World Cup, I’ve been country dancing – yeah, that wasn’t something I expected either -, I’ve even been to the bibliothèque and I’ve met most of the staff in the school I’m living in.

This is just a little look in to what I’ve been getting up to, hopefully I’ll be able to update later this week on my own internet connection and tell you guys a bit more. I’ll be able to answer some questions too, so if you have anything you want to know – just ask!

Until next time, and à bientôt,

Kara.

Bienvenue à France!

Hi everyone!

This is just a quick update to let you all know that I have made it to France and I’ve survived my super long bus journey! I’ve met one of the teachers that I’ll be working with this year and I’ve even unpacked my stuff into my very own flat!

Speaking of flats, mine doesn’t have the Internet in it yet, but as soon as I get it, I’ll let you know much more about my bus trip and my first few days in France!

à bientôt, Kara.