Okay so I haven’t written in a hella long time- excusez-moi!
A lot has happened since. I’ve turned 22- hurrah! I’m yet another year older (and closer to 30 – yeech). But I’ve conditioned myself to think that 22 is a cool age, and just as nice as 21. Why? Because a Spanish teaching assistant here told me that in Spain, 22 is called “los dos patitos” – the two little ducks. Isn’t that the cutest? And a bunch of 22-year-olds have convinced me that being 22’s not half bad. So yeah. I’m quite sure I’m going to have a quarter-life crisis at 25, but I’m kind of digging 22 for the most part. And I’m actually looking forward to 23 and 24- I think those will be cool ages. I don’t have any pictures of my birthday as I was in Paris on that actual day, but when I came back to Orléans, I had a joint birthday party with 2 other people here on Saturday (the 6th). So that was quite nice. I also actually got paid on Friday (hallelujah!) so I was able to finally buy myself a birthday gift lool. I got myself a new outfit and a really nice hairdryer & a flat iron – I didn’t bring my ones from the US because the last time I came to France I ruined my flat iron. Something about the electricity, converters, and plugs being different in France destroys foreign appliances like hair dryers and whatnot. However, one little thing has been preventing me from using my new toys just yet:
Uh-huh. Rain. All. this. week. I haven’t seen the sun since…well, since my birthday in Paris. I stayed with friends I met 2 years ago when I studied at Sciences Po my birthday weekend, and toured the city with fellow English teaching assistants staying at different hotels. My friend and I went to a party on Halloween night, and thankfully I was able to invite the other English teachers. It was so cool to see all my old friends from Sciences Po at the party. And to be able to dance. Finally! We danced to salsa, samba, all kinds of Latin music, and some U.S. songs as well. I had missed that sooo much! Orléans has its fair share of bars for a French town, but in all honesty, I’d pick a club/party over a bar any (EVERY) day. Unless it’s a bar with a decent-sized dancefloor, in which case, you get the best of both worlds- no entrance fee AND great music. But I’ve heard the clubs in this town are wack (haven’t been to any of them yet, but have spoken to American/English/actual French people who have), and whenever my group does go to bars that play music or has a (mini) dancefloor, no one is dancing. OR only 3 tipsy French people are sloppily doing the electric slide to some peppy zouk song (whhyyy is it always the electric slide?!). OR I have to wait until everyone has had a few drinks before I can start dragging my friends onto the dance floor and persuading everyone to dance along.
I really do miss excitedly waiting outside the clubs in DC, all dolled up with my girls and shivering because I left my coat in whoever-it-was-that-was-driving-that-night’s car because I didn’t want to pay to check it in…wondering who I would see, wondering what they would play, ready to dance the stress of the week off. I miss that. It’s hard to transition to the French bar scene small-talk-talk-talk-talk-drink-talk-talk-drink-talk go home…I feel like I could easily do all of that in the comfort of my/someone else’s home. And it would be both cheaper and warmer. One, because everyone wouldn’t be forced to drink at a tiny bar table outside for the smokers: in an apartment, the smokers would be able to open the french windows and do their business (I SWEAR French people made their windows open vertically just for this purpose) while everyone else sat on poofs & chairs near the heat. And two, because everyone would bring their own bottle of wine and be able to have 3 or 4 glasses for the price of one in a bar. And throw in the extra bonus of no creepy 40-year-old men wearing cowboy hats and dancing drunkenly on tables (yes, this actually happened last Friday at a bar we were at. Highly disturbing, if hilarious).
So….yeah. Moving on. I have some pictures to share! I finally can take pictures! I don’t have a camera, but I got a new phone that has internet on it and a very good camera. Okay, first I have to explain how I got about getting my first cell phone so you can understand. The second day I came to France- Sept 29- I bought a prepaid phone that cost 39€, and I bought a 25€ card which had about 30 minutes on it and maybe 100 SMS. About 4 weeks after that, my credit ran out, but I didn’t recharge it since I didn’t want to go over 40€ per month on phone cards. So I bought a 10€ card after waiting a week. Then, I find out that in France, it’s possible to get a phone with a plan for a 7-month period and not have to pay a termination fee at the end! What the heck! So I realize that I wasted 39€ on the cheapest Nokia phone ever (the first color model, circa 2002) when I could have had a Samsung Android that cost only 1€ complete with internet, camera, and unlimited texting. And that costs only 35€ a month for people under 26. Ridiculous. So needless to say- after a week of consulting with other foreigners who were signed up with this carrier and double-checking that I got my facts straight (hey, a girl’s gotta do her research), I chucked my old phone and got an upgrade.
And now, after blabbing my mouth off, here are the pics:
This is Place de Martoi, the center of the city. You can see tracks on the ground. There is a tram that runs throughout Orléans, which was recently constructed. They are currently doing work on another line, and it’s projected to be completed in 2012- so there are tarps, ditches, and construction sites everywhere. The tram may facilitate public transport in the town, but it also is the targeted site of many demonstrations. When people here were protesting against raising the retirement age in France, they did it on the tram tracks in the center of the city. Very effective. The next time there is a grève (strike), I will capture it with my phone camera for you. They are huuuuge.
In Place the Martoi, there is also a statue of Jeanne d’Arc, Joan of Arc.
….Or as Provi and I like to call her Juanito de Arco hahaha. We went to La Maison de Jeanne d’arc (The House of Joan of Arc) in Orleans….where Joan spent one week (honestly, that’s like saying the ICC is my home because I took classes there…although, technically, Lau would probably be more of my home since I was always sleeping in that library lol). Anyway, Joan of Arc’s “house” had several pictures of the same man…that actually turned out to be her. So we started calling her Jean, the male version of Jeanne. Then Juan for fun- the Spanish version of Jean. And then that became Juanito (pronounced “Wanito”). Needless to say, we didn’t learn much at the museum, mostly because there was barely anything there…I need to go on Wikipedia to find out what actually happened in her life, going to Juanito’s house was a waste of time. But the statue, conversely, is quite magnificent. I like it a lot.
Anyways, take care! Will be back soon with a new blog post about teaching! Pics included. xo.