July 5, 2010

Coming home

Posted in travel tagged , , , , , at 8:31 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

After 10 months in France, it’s time to return to the United States.
I woke up eaaarly in my hostel in Paris. I’d actually been up since about 5am because it started pouring rain, and I had the windows open. I finally had to face getting all my things from the last 10 months into three suitcases.


Quick run to the bathroom down the hall, and then get myself ready for the long journey.


I was on the 5th floor of the hostel, so I had to lug all my suitcases down the winding stairs.


I took a shuttle to the airport. It’s cheaper than a cab, but you’re sharing a ride with other tourists on their way to the airport. As we left the city center, I began to cry.


I pushed, shoved, and dragged my suitcases into the airport and immediately grabbed a luggage cart. It took a bit of wandering to find the Aer Lingus terminal. Fortunately I was early enough that the line wasn’t too bad, although I did discover that my “carry-on” suitcase was too heavy and I’d have to check it (and pay for it).


My first flight was from Paris to Dublin. I discovered there was another assistant from Bordeaux on two of the same flights with me, so we kept each other company.


I’ve never been to Ireland, and I didn’t even get a chance to explore the airport. The time between our connecting flight to Chicago was so brief that we rushed to get our new boarding passes and make it through customs in time.


I cried when they stamped me out of France, but at least I got a new Dublin stamp. US immigrations barely looked at my claims form before waving me through.


Giant airbus from Dublin to Chicago.


First we got a snack, and then I pretty much passed out from my tranquilizers (I hate flying). I remember hearing the attendant say “When she wakes up, ask her if she wants beef or chicken,” and I bolted up, “I’m awake! I’m awake!” (but very groggy)


Still a long way to go. We did fly close enough to see some of Greenland out the window. I was too tranq’d to pay attention to a movie, so I listened to the Glee soundtrack.


Scone snack. I hate raisins.


Two of my bags came out right away, but the third one didn’t come out until almost everyone else had left. I hate that, it leaves you thinking, “What if….?” Welcome back to the United States of America.


Welcome to (what was supposed to be) a six-hour layover. I only have Euros, so I need some cash (it looks so weird!), and then I hit Johnny Rockets for my first official meal in the US.


At this point, it’s around 11pm to my body, and I’m fading fast.


I officially take the adapter off my computer cord and watch some Mozart l’opéra rock videos.


7pm Chicago time – 2am to my body.


So excited! Finally almost going home!! And then, 5 minutes before boarding, they announce that the flight has been delayed 2 hours. I burst into tears. It would make over 24 hours since I woke up and left Paris.


Finally, finally, at 11:30pm in Chicago – 6:30am the next day to my body, we take off for Cincinnati. I’m so sad the adventure is over, but so happy to see my parents again.


And Mom and Dad were happy to see me too. ❤

March 14, 2010

Playing catch-up (part 1)

Posted in travel tagged , , , , , , at 12:41 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

Guess I should finally update, then!  Since my last post, we’ve had our winter break here in the French school system.  Only one more vacation period left….I know, no one really feels very sorry for me, but those last two months without a break are going to be tough!  They’re helpful not only for the children, but also for the teacher’s sanity!

My winter vacation was fantastic, but it passed way too quickly.  The first week I did absolutely nothing, and it was glorious.  After a long, cold and rainy winter, moving, and school stress, I spent the week sleeping, hanging out with people who were still in town, and organizing my room to my liking.  The week just flew by.

Saturday, February 27, I set off for Paris to be ready to meet my mom and my cousin who were flying in the next day!  I hadn’t seen my mom since I left on September 15, so I was terribly excited to finally see her again. The weather was absolutely gorgeous in Paris on Saturday, and I remembered why I was so in love with the city — it had also been since September since I’d been there.

Sunday France and other parts of Europe were hit hard by tempete Xynthia, and I got a text from Mom saying that their flight was being redirected to Brussels instead of Paris. As Mom put it, “The flight was fine until about an hour before we were supposed to land. The pilot came on, and I thought he was going to say we were about to start making our descent, but he said Charles de Gaulle airport was closed and we were being rerouted to Brussels!”

The winds in Paris were about 60mph, and there was no way they could have landed that early in the morning. I tried to take a walk around the neighborhood, and couldn’t make it down the street. I saw motorcycles and fruitstands blown over, but all I was thinking was “I WANT MY MOMMY!!!!” I went back to the hotel and cried and watched French music videos and waited for updates.

They waited in Brussels for 2 hours, then the winds shifted and they tried again, landing safely in Paris. Unfortunately, there was no gate for them, so they sat on the tarmac for another hour or so (having now been stuck on that plane a good 11 hours!). The later it got, the more plans we kept having to cancel, until they finally showed up around 4:30pm and everything was scrapped except Hard Rock Cafe, the Eiffel Tower, and dinner. (We’d bought tickets online for a bus tour that we never got to use :-() I was just so happy to see them!!!!

We started off at the Hard Rock Cafe with appetizers and drinks so Mom could get her souvenir Hurricane glass.  Going back to the metro to go to the Eiffel Tower, we discovered that mom’s 3-day metro pass wasn’t working, so I went to the cashier and explained the problem (in French). Mom and Jenny were terribly impressed. I began planting the seeds that I was helpful and they’d be lost without me when they returned next weekend, so they should bring me back with them, to make up for the day we lost.

We arrived at the Eiffel Tower just as it was sparkling, and they were very impressed. We could only go to the second level and not the top (see above re: windstorm and 60mph winds), but it was still a great view and a good time was had by all. We took a taxi back to the hotel and then picked a small brasserie on Place Maubert for dinner.

Jenny and Mom in front of the Eiffel Tower

October 20, 2009

Stickermania

Posted in travailler tagged , , , , , at 12:30 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

Plans, they are being made!  I just booked two tickets to see Wicked in London on December 21st, and I also booked a flight for myself from the Bordeaux airport to London from December 18 through the 22nd.  As much as I’d really rather not fly again, it ended up being cheaper round trip to fly than to take trains.

I’m still in the process of confirming my plans for the upcoming break next week.  I had really wanted to visit a couple of different cities, but my secondary plans keep falling through.  Right now it looks like I’ll just be going to Vitré over Halloween weekend, with a stop in La Rochelle on the way back.  I’m so excited to be traveling and seeing new sights!

I taught my kids a little about Halloween today.  I showed them pictures from a few years ago of my uncle, my cousins and me on our annual voyage to Shaw Pumpkin Farm, and they LOVED IT.  They loved seeing the giant pumpkins all over the place, they loved seeing me in America, they loved seeing my family.  “Who’s that?” they asked over and over again, wanting to know every last detail.  I showed them pictures I had of Jack O’Lanterns outside my old apartment in Centerville, and they had more questions.  “Is that your house?  Do you live there? It’s huge!”

Little kids also love stickers.  I gave away stickers as a prize to bingo winners in a class today, and I thought the non-winners were going to start a riot.  “Can we have stickers too?” they begged.

“Not today,” I said.  “There will be plenty of chances to win stickers throughout the year.”

“Can we play another game now so we can get stickers?”

“No, the class is over.”

“Can’t you just give us a sticker?”

They were going crazy.  HELP.  SEND MOAR STICKERS.

I only have two more days of teaching before the break.  I’m thinking the last days of class will be fun days, where we watch a bunch of videos and learn the words for Halloween terms like “witch,” “ghost,” and “spider.”

June 4, 2009

Bought the ticket!

Posted in planning tagged , , , at 10:59 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

After debating back and forth with my mother, Travelocity, Priceline, and my friend Wesley, who is also going to France as a Teaching Assistant, we finally bought my plane ticket on Tuesday! 

Wes bought a ticket on the same flight, so we’ll be going over together.  We probably won’t be able to sit together, but it’s my goal to take some xanax and dramamine and SLEEP my way through the flight.  I’m still very nervous about flying, especially in light of the recent Air France disaster from Brazil.

I’ll be leaving Cincinnati on September 15th and arriving in Paris on the morning of September 16th.  I’m hoping to spend that week in Paris before heading on to my assigned city in Bordeaux (I still don’t know exactly where I’m going yet!)

I had a bit of sadness last week when Alexandra, the cat I had been hoping to take with me to France, became very ill.  She was not eating or drinking, and after much testing it was discovered that she had lung cancer.  She still refused to eat or drink anything, and so it was time to put her down.  I miss her terribly, but I’m glad that she’s no longer suffering.  She was 19. 

Alexandra ~February 1990 - May 27, 2009

Alexandra ~February 1990 - May 27, 2009

It does mean that I will be going to France just me, myself, and I.  I will miss having a kitty in my house so terribly! 

For now I’m just waiting for my arrêté — my placement of city and school in France.