LIZ HARROD

Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Changing Plans and Unhappy People

In Au Pair, France on November 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Here we are again. I’ve planned one thing. I’m doing another, and yes, some people have been hurt along the way.

So I ask you this: If we’re supposed to do the things that make us happy (not smiley faces and sunshine all the time, but truly blissful), what do you do when there are other people involved, and they simply can’t understand?

For the past two and a half months I have reveled in parts of my life here. Despite the hiccups that come with any transition, there have been so many good things to enjoy: living with a French family, studying the language, museum going, the fabulous other au pairs… and Paris. But all that aside, reality has caught up with me. Little did I know it was so close behind. Read the rest of this entry »

An Unexpected Visit from an Old Pastime

In Au Pair, France on September 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Ah – wednesday….

For most of the working world, Wednesday means hump day – halfway through the week, over the hump, and well on your way to the weekend.  Though it most certainly still means that for me, Wednesday has another important significance to au pairs in france, especially those with kids in primary school.  Wednesday is their day off.

Now, I love kids, but a full day of activity can be daunting – especially with a language barrier involved.  Even if I could explain some of the games I know how to play, many of them don’t make sense in French.

So it was with a little reservation this morning, that I started my day.  We did a bit of homework, which finally seems to be moving along swimmingly (Thanks google translate for teaching me geography in French) and had a bit of reading time.

Then came the lull.

One of my main obstacles at this point is getting them off the Wii.  I mean, I love Mario Kart as much as the next 90s child, but spending an entire day in front of the Wii is simply not acceptable.  So I set out in search of alternatives.

First of all, lunch was a smash hit with what was, apparently, the debut of grilled cheese sandwiches.  Seriously, you’d think a country so obsessed with cheese would be all over this, but no, it was their first, and they had me make them seconds. So I’m taking that as a good sign.

After lunch we had a little review of homework, and then came the moment of truth.  I was prepared for protests.  I was prepared for arguments.  So I said it carefully.  “No Wii until 3:30pm.” Read the rest of this entry »

Moving Along

In Au Pair, France on September 17, 2011 at 8:59 pm

So I’ve realized, as I’ve tried to think about how to start writing about my life here, that there are basically three important categories that I deal with each day:

1. the family I’m living with

2. my personal life – friends, dating, personal projects

3. the french language

So, there you go.  It seems as though I’m keeping it pretty simple as far as balls in the air, or at least trying to.

These first couple weeks have been a bit, interesting.  There have been ups and downs and kinks to work out, but I’m happy to say that with each day, overall, I’m feeling a bit more settled in and comfortable in my new environment.

The first thing I have to keep in mind is that this is my life.  Having moved around quite a bit since graduating Boston University, I’ve found comfort in the revelation that the things I am doing are my choices.  In fact, that was probably the biggest lesson that I practiced continuously while at Tao’s in Greece, and it’s something I continue to remind myself each day.

When I find myself in a situation that is trying my patience or throwing me for a loop, I try to remember to breathe and recall the fact that it is my choice to be in that situation.  If it is too much for me, I can decide to leave, but as long as I’m facing it, I’m choosing to be there.

This idea, by itself, is liberating.  Remember that you are in charge of your life, the things you choose to experience, and the things you choose to walk away from is empowering, not to mention a powerful aid when starting a new kind of life in a new kinds of place.

So here we go, my situations and how I’m choosing to face them: Read the rest of this entry »

A Return to Paris and a Return to the Blog

In Au Pair, France on September 2, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Oi – well I guess it’s time to get back in the blog. Obviously, I slacked a bit while home in Indiana. Time just went a bit quickly, and there was lots to be done.

I’ll cover it all eventually, as some of it is a bit interesting – thanks to immigration – but for now, I’ll jump into the present day.

So, after just over a month of time in the states, I was back on a plane – willingly of course – to Paris. For those who have forgotten, when I was in Paris a few months ago, I simply fell in love with the city all over again and started to look for opportunities to move here for the next year.

After some fairly desperate research, I found one, and, with a little effort and speedy paperwork, I was able to get everything together in time to accept a position as an au pair.

Long story short: a friend of mine, one of the infamous tripod members, was an au pair last year. She had an overall positive experience, and seeing as I like working with kids, I figured it could be a good fit for me. Read the rest of this entry »

When Plans Change

In France, Travel 2011 on June 4, 2011 at 2:52 am

When I first started this trip, I set out to head around the world. My plan was to scoot through Europe as quickly as possible before hitting Greece, Turkey, Egypt and then getting over to Southeast Asia. I wanted to spend about three months traveling there, and then enjoy some time with friends in
Australia before heading back to America via Seattle or LA for a grand voyage across the states, arriving in time for Thanksgiving….

Oh how the plans have changed.

Traveling alone, I’ve learned a lot about myself. Some I’ve shared quite candidly. Some has probably just seeped into my writing naturally. Some I’ve kept under wraps only to be let lose in the sure to be best-selling novel. One thing, though, I’ll happily share now.

I made a plan. I set a goal, and it’s taken me awhile to let go of that – to acknowledge that it is my plan and my goal, and changing my plans and goal doesn’t mean I failed, it just means I’ve changed, and now I have new ideas of what comes next. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m Going to Disney World… Paris

In France, Photo, Travel 2011 on June 3, 2011 at 3:07 am

Disney World!

Anyone who knows me well probably knows that I have a slight obsession for Disney World and all things Disney in general. I can answer most any bit of trivia, identify soundtracks after only a few notes, tell you all the secrets for how to get on which rides faster – yes there are ways, and share would could be viewed as a potentially unhealthy number of facts about the parks in general.

I’ve been to Disney Orlando four times, three of those after the age of thirteen, and now I’ve been to Disneyland Paris.

My quest to go began while I was in Baiardo – could I find a budget friendly ticket? Could I justify a non budget friendly ticket? Stéphane, being French said don’t go. So I let go of the quest for awhile, trusting him when he said it would not be worth it.

Then I got back to Paris, and Kelsey told me she, Justin and a couple friends were going to go. There was a slightly discounted ticket available….
Uh, heck yes I’m in!

So we got tickets. Kelsey’s French teacher was unimpressed when she shared the news in class. Kelsey’s so sweet landlord even said that it would be so busy and it’s not that great, but to have fun anyway.

Dear, naysayers…. You were wrong! Disneyland Paris is awesome! Read the rest of this entry »

Football, More Football and French

In France, Travel 2011 on May 30, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Well, it’s a good thing I love my rugby, because it’s headed toward the final for the Top 14 in France, which means semi-finals were this weekend. Stéphane and I watched one match on Friday, and the second match we watched on Saturday.

Firstly, and I’m sorry Oz, but French rugby is actually a bit more fun to watch than Aussie rugby. I was pretty impressed by Toulouse, and figure they are going to win the final next weekend.

We also had a little peak at the Barcelona v Manchester U Champions League final. I’m not even a football fan, but I’ll admit that it was a pretty awesome game, and if I have to pick a football team one day, Barcelona is looking like a pretty good option. Read the rest of this entry »

La Fête des Mères

In France, Travel 2011 on May 30, 2011 at 6:39 pm

The month of May is certainly a month of holidays in my family. We’ve got Mothers’ day, my dad’s birthday, my parents’ anniversary – which now also doubles as my sister and her fiancé’s engagement – and just to shake it up, since I’m in France, we also have La Fête de Mères, French Mothers’ Day.

So, to celebrate, in addition to wishing my own mother a bonne Fête de Mères, I was invited to join Stéphane and his family in Versailles to eat lunch with my family. Read the rest of this entry »

Fun with French

In France, Travel 2011 on May 28, 2011 at 12:15 am

So, as I sort of half mentioned in my previous post, in an effort to see what life might be like living here, and working as an au pair, I enrolled in a oral French workshop this week: two classes with about 12 other people for three hours each. Part of the au pair visa requirement is to participate in ten hours of French language study each week. So I thought this would be a nice start to refreshing what I already know while also letting me see what it’s like to be formally studying a language once again.

First, I will admit that Alliance Française is absolutely not the cheapest option. However, it is probably the best, and they do have educational centers all over the world. So if you can afford them, which as an au pair I know I won’t be able to, they’re most certainly worth a shot.

For just the week, I decided to fork out the registration and class fees and take an placement exam. I ended up sort of splitting the difference between beginner and intermediate beginner (A1 and A2) on account of the fact that my written French is much better than my verbal and listening. So the oral workshop was a perfect fit. Read the rest of this entry »

Lunch Date and a Little Life Discussion

In France, Travel 2011 on May 26, 2011 at 12:57 am

Sigh, sigh, sigh, there’s nothing like talking things out with a best friend.

Kel and I grabbed lunch today, sadly not at a sushi place because much to our dismay, they didn’t have a sushi train. But still, we had a lovely afternoon of lunch, followed by a bit of gelato and cafe hopping with a few bottles of wine.

Both of us are reaching points where we have some pretty big decisions to make. Unfortunately, her story isn’t mine to tell. So I’ll leave it alone. As for me, if you’ve read this blog at all, you already know most of mine.

I won’t go into much detail about our afternoon mulling over life’s little questions, but I will simply touch on one thing that we both realized about our own lives… Something I think a lot of people our age struggle with. Read the rest of this entry »