I know I have been M.I.A. once again but there is good reason behind it! The Pretty Bird has flown and landed in St. Michel for the week....there will be details and LOTS of photos to come, so stay tuned!
Well, nearly a month after I have arrived in Paris, I have finally contracted my 1st cold.
Oui, je suis malade! :(
I'm congested, coughing and to make matters worse, even the weather isn't on my side because it is pouring outside. I was supposed to visit the second school I will be teaching at today, but I could barely make it to the boulangerie to buy a baguette, so I will be bed ridden today.
I have been chugging tea, orange juice and water all day because I refuse to take medication and prefer to handle this a more holistic and natural way. I'm hoping that this will not ruin my weekend, but at this point its hard to say. I've been avoiding communication because my French is already bad and the congestion is making it worse. However, the plus side is that its much easier to sound out the French "nasal 'n' sound" when you're sick!
In other sad news, Steve Jobs lost his battle to cancer and passed away. When I heard this news, I was deeply saddened by this because the optimist in me really hoped he would fully recover. As I type this post on my Macbook Pro laptop, I can't help but be thankful for the innovations Steve Jobs has provided to a generation. Within his wisdom he redefined how people used the computer, listened to music and communicated with others. I hope now that he has been laid to rest, he can finally be at peace....he will surely be missed.
My Saturday night started with a birthday picnic right in front of the Eiffel Tower on the Champs de Mars. I never used to do to picnics before but ever since I have moved to Paris I can't get enough of them! I have been here officially 3 weeks (YAY me!) and I have already been to 3 picnics around the city. It's just nice to be around fellow assistants, expats, students, Frenchies with some good cheese, wine, sauccisson and fruit. The illumination of the Eiffel Tower was the perfect backlight to set the perfect mood. The weather in France has been superb this week (high 70s) so I hope to have as many picnics as possible before the cold comes along.
The second reason why last night was amazing was because I got to participate in Nuit Blanche for the first time. It's a bit difficult for me to properly explain Nuit Blanche because my French is not the best and I didn't want to spend 4 hours trying to read and comprehend the program. In essence, Nuit Blanche is a celebration of culture and art in Paris. This year they focused on areas north of the River Seine and fortunately for me, 2 of the main areas of the night were around metro Pigalle and Anvers, the 2 metro stations next to my apartment. There were exhibits and displays all over the city and they were free and open to the public. The event started at 7pm and went until 7am, and 2 of the main metro lines were open all night long.
All in all the exhibits were not very impressive and I would see better things in a museum but I think the purpose of the night was to show of the best of Paris by night. It was amazing, at 3 am, people were filling the streets drinking, laughing, fighting, kissing, pissing. Out of the more than 50 exhibits, I saw only 4 but it was great to be apart of the Parisian nigh scene and see a bit of the art Paris has to offer. The best exhibit of the night was an installation called "Purple Rain" displayed in L'Hôtel D'Albert in the 4th arrondissement. The installation was created by Pierre Ardouvin and was inspired by the song "Purple Rain" by Prince. As we entered the hotel, we we each given a purple plastic umbrella and upon entering the hotel's terrace rain started to pour under the illumination of purple light. It was the coolest thing I've seen so far in Paris! My friends and I were trying to figure out how they were able to create rain in this completely open terrace but we could not find the source. It was such a magical moment! Here is a short video I recorded in my cell phone:
Well, it officially has been 10 days since I arrived in pay-reeee. So I wanted to give a brief recap of my 1st week of adventures so that you all know I'm still alive!! I meant to write this down as they happened, but being preoccupied + still being jet lagged = not happening!
Monday was my first day of au pairing, which means I pick up Little G from school around 4:30 pm and watching him while he plays in the park for about an hour. I take him home by metro help him do his homework and then chill out until dinner time. Thats the usual routine everyday expect Wednesday.
(Here's Little G, sitting in a tree.)
I have made it point to have dinner with the family every night, since it's the one time of day I feel I am bombarded with a large concentration of French at real time! I do envy my host family's traditional dinner time. With the fast-paced nature of our modern world, people don't really have the time anymore to sit around the dinner table. In the US during dinner time, family members are spread through out all the corners of the house. Sitting around a table, is now an "old-fashioned" concept no longer compatible with the current age. It's really refreshing to be around a family that has made the decision that no matter what, dinner time must be respected. My host mom cooks dinner, dad cuts the meats and serves everyone and the children help set the table and clean up after. No matter how deep the children are into their computers or iPhones, when my host mom says "À table" everyone heads to the table. I don't know how easily I can force the habit onto my siblings, but I have made a conscious decisions to instill that value into my future children.
Speaking of dinner time, or rather food...wow! what can I say, the food in Paris is absolutely DELICIOUS!!! Because I haven't started teaching and my salary right now is very limited, I try to eat out maybe every 3 days. So far I have been to a couple of French restaurants around the 9e arrondissement, and I have been enjoying every moment. For the most part, I try to prepare small meals at home and of course have dinner with the family in order to save money. I love going grocery shopping so being in Paris and buying groceries has been delightful! What I like most is the mix between small, independently owned shops and super markets or supermarchés as they are called here. It seems that Paris has struck an incredible balance of giving people the options of something freshly hand made or mass produced. I'm going to try to go grocery shopping at least once a week, while I am here so that I can discover new tastes and figure out what works best with my tastes buds!
(Here's a pic of my very 1st grocery shopping trip, it's not much but it was great!)
One really cool thing I did the first week I was here (as if the Tour Eiffel wasn't enough) was to get in touch with other young international au pairs working in Paris, like yours truly. I was invited to meet some of the au pair girls by a friend do the TAPIF program with me. We met at metro St. Michel then bought some wine and drank it along the River Seine. It was such an awesome night! Any remaining anxieties and fears I had melted away just from being around an awesome group of girls who were dealing with the same struggles I was dealing with in Paris. Now I know I was recommended not to hang around to many English speakers so that I don't get stuck speaking it to much, but I figure that having someone there who speaks the same language as you is a great gate-way to met the Frenchies (there's more behind this phrase which will be explained very soon!) Plus the French are always intrigued by English speakers and I have my host family to practice with, so I don't worry to much. I got to hang out with some of the girls again later and I actually see most of them a lot because they take their kids to the same park as Little G.
During the day, if I don't sleep in too late, I like to walk around Paris and just explore. The great thing about this experience is that everything is so new and exciting for me that I probably won't be bored for a very long time! I went back to the Tour Eiffel and St. Michel during the day time to take in what the quartier has to offer when the sun is out. I love all of the street art and artists that fill the city, it is truly inspiring.
It is 2:45 in the morning here in Paris, and as I write this post in my super lovely and super chic Parisian apartment, my 1st day here will come to a close.
I still can't believe it, I'm here...I'm in Paris!!! I think the mixture of excitement and pure exhaustion is not really allowing me to understand the gravity of everything. All in all getting here was smooth and I could not have asked for a better flight. I was in traffic for almost 2 hours to get to Dulles airport and I was worried I would be running late. But as God would have it, I got there, checked my bags (sidenote: the really nice lady working allowed me to go over the limit without any extra fees) and went through security without any hiccups. I flew with Iceland Air because it was the cheapest flight I could get, however the downside is that they don't serve food, you have to buy it, and it ain't cheap!
I arrived in Paris around 1:30pm and after I collected my bags to go out the exit, my host family was there waiting for me. I got to meet Little G in the flesh. He was very shy, which is normal when a tall-big-curly-haired-black-girl you've never met before, is suddenly your new caretaker. We drove to the apartment and during the drive I got to see bits of St. Denis aka "Africa Central" since a crap ton of Africans live there. My host family treated me to a nice lunch at an Italian restaurant, then helped me unpack and showed me around the neighborhood. My exhaustion clouded my better judgement, so I didn't bring a camera with me but not to worry, many more pics of mon quartier are to come!
First Impression of Paris:
1.) Driving is NUTS here! Traffic is so bad (especially around St. Denis) and people drive so close to each other that I can reach my hand out and slap the driver next to me!
2.) Don't believe all the hype, not every French woman is skinny. I have mostly seen a variety of shapes around the "normal" frame. Obviously France does not have a huge morbid obesity problem, but not every woman is stick thin.
3.) When the sun goes down, I will assume any random trail of "liquid" is piss. There are random spots that smell like piss..et je DETESTE ça!
4.) Constantly hearing French will be a skill I will have to get used to. Today I felt like I could only understand maybe 1 or 2 words during a conversation. I will try to enroll in some cheap French classes.
5.) I love all of the open air markets that are available. Everything looks super fresh!
6.) Elevators...what are those?
I ended my first day with a midnight visit to the Eiffel Tower, which gave me the opportunity to ride the metro fr the 1st time . My friend went with me to the tower but I took the train back by myself. When I first saw it, I started to cry, it is so beautiful and is a structure that epitomizes Paris, it is truly a dream come true to be able to see it. And the light show? FANTASTIC!! Here are some pics form tonight:
Well, the week has finally arrived! I have exactly 5 days left until I leave for Paris. I have been running around nearly breaking my skull trying to buy last minute assorted items like clothing, medications and other nick-knacks, that I haven't really been giving the actually journey much thought.
Packing is probably one of the biggest annoyances I have ever dealt with. I really don't want to over-pack because the fees associated with packing over the weight limit is no joke and NOT cheap! But I'm conflicted because I am a US size 12/14 and with all that I've heard about French women being extremely skinny, I am concerned that I won't find clothes to fit my curvy frame so I want to bring enough that fit me and look trèschic. And then there's the issue of shoes.....ohhh shoes, I love all of my shoes and I wish I could take them all with me, but sadly I can not. Other teaching assistants have advised me to only take 3 pairs of shoes......yeahhhhh not sure that is feasible for a shoe fiend like me!
(Discalimer: these adorable suitcases are not mine ;-)
As with any major life change/ transition, I have been experiencing a lot of "pre-departure anxiety". This anxiety has made me very nervous about my journey, but I supposed these are all normal feelings. Recently I have been waking up in the middle of the night contemplating what awaits for me in Paris. I'm really excited about seeing Le Tour Eiffel and all of the museums but, and yes there's a but, I am not looking forward to being reminded that I've only taken a year and a half of French, when people try to converse with me and I look utterly baffled and confused. Back in January, I wrote about how badly I needed to practice my French, but nearly 8 months later, I have yet to crack open my French book. I failed so badly at keeping this promise to myself it's comical. But it's not completely my fault, I had to work full time and went to school part-time so I was way to preoccupied to practice. I'm hoping to take a refresher course at L'Alliance Francaise, and like everyone says hopefully the French that I've learned and forgotten will "all come back to me".
But nervousiness, fear and anxiety aside, in just 5 days I'll be here......
...decisions, decisions. I hate making them and wish someone else would put me out of my misery and decide for me.
With less than 20 days to go before I leave for Paris, I came to an outstanding realization....Mama needs a new camera.
My 5 year old Sony PowerShot 870SD that I purchased my sophomore year of college has run its course and now its time for a much needed upgrade! I love photographs and I admire the process of photography but for once I want to be the person behind the camera taking great pictures instead of the person in front of the register dropping serious dough on some nice pictures. I figured my fast approaching European excursion would be a great opportunity to upgrade to a DSLR photography as well as truly make photography a hobby of mine. I have been admiring the image quality and "artsy-ness" of DSLR cameras for a while now. The problem is I don't know how to properly use them and $600 is wayyyyyy to much money to speed to use the camera's automatic setting. Plus, I don't know how to use Photoshop, nor do I have l'argent to buy it...so that's out of the question.
I like DSLR cameras because if used properly with a good eye and good composition, you can capture the pure essence of a moment in time. I love photography, because each story tells a story, for example, this picture was taken by my very talented friend Beth Fortson. I've seen photos that have ignited a passion in me, made me feel happy, sad, angry...a wide variety of emotions. For me, I feel like there is a rawness that little point-and-shot cameras can not express. Sure, you can get pretty and clear shots, but sometimes I crave more than that.
But another issue for me is the size. Good grief, those things are chunky! Because of my inexperience, I am not used to holding a heavy camera, so a special camera bag is needed. Well, me being the research whiz that I am already found an alternative to this issue:
Voila! Ultra feminine and super fabulous camera bags that actually look like women's handbags! These particular bags are from Kelly Moore.
But it gets even more complicated; what do I do when I just want to go out with friends to a bar or a club? Hauling a big $600 camera would not make because there's nothing artistic about being completely inebriated with your friends in a dimly lit bar plus there's the concern of losing it or breaking it, so a point-and-shoot will do.
grrrrrr....I just don't know what to do! Should I replace my poor PowerShot with another point n' shoot or should I take a bold step into the world of DSLR photography???
The countdown has officially begun! I have exactly 30 more days until I move to Paris and I couldn't be happier! Before today, I was way too lazy to keep track plus a 30 day countdown is easier to mentally cope with than a 75 day countdown!
(I made a countdown calendar and stuck it to my wall as a reminder to myself and everyone else!)
To be honest, I do hope these last 30 days don't go by tooo quickly because there is still a lot that most be attended to before I board the plane, one of which is going head-to-head with all five of my lenders (we'll see how that goes). Plus there are shopping trips that must be made, weddings and baby showers to attend and many many many goodbyes.
So after a fantastic workout at the gym, a thought came to me as I was washing off the gallon of sweat I had accumulated, I have decided to add a couple of new featured posts to my blog. Because I really want to force myself to take this blog seriously (step 1: makeover, check!) I need to spice things up and increase my viewings. More details are to follow, but within the next 30 days you will see some "featured posts" relating to things that I am either passionate about or interest me. They may or may not directly correlate with travel but this blog is a hodgepodge of things that I like.......so stay tuned!
Hmmmm, if you have been following my blog, you will notice something slightly different about the appearance. ;-)
If you are new...
Welcome to the new and super-fabulously improved
"The Traveling Pretty Bird" Blog!!!
After reading numerous blogs with beautiful layouts, I was starting to get jealous that everyone else seemed to have a nice looking blog but I was still using the carbon stock provided by blogger.com. Even though I was jealous, because I am "artistically challenged" I did not even know where to begin to make changes. Well, thanks to the inspiration and advice from fellow blogger I Fly A Star Ship, I have finally personalized my blog to make it unique to me. When I saw the finished product (after a couple of hours of OCD-like tweaking and nit-picking), I had to give myself a pat on the back for creating something beautiful I could whole-heartedly and proudly call my blog (yes a bit sappy for a blog...but hey, it's the little things in life).
Ok so ever since I found out I will be teaching in Fontenay-sous-Bois, I've been on a mad scramble to find housing, cheap housing. Assistants in my program will only receive 750€ per month after taxes, so I knew that my budget will be tight and I knew that would only be able to pay max 400€ per month. I knew from the beginning that a better and more economical choice for me would be to work as an au pair. So I set up a profile with three different online au pair agencies. After numerous emails, hopefuls and flat-out rejections, I found a good fit! I will be the au pair of an adorable little 8-year-old boy who I will call "Little G". My job will mostly be to watch him after school everyday and help him learn Spanish (porque yo hablo Español tambien!). Little G comes from a wonderful family and he has a super-mom so I'm really looking forward to working with them.
And the best bit.....I get my own FREE studio apartment!!Oui, madames et monsieurs, my housing crisis has been adverted!! I will be living in Montmartre aka "Le Bourgeois Bohême" (well, technically I'm still within the border of the 9e arrondissement, but I'm only 2 blocks away from the Sacré Coeur soooo I'll still consider myself a future Montmartroise!). This is a complete dream come true for me because not only do I get to live in Paris and only have a 30 minute commute to my teaching job, but I get to live in my dream location!
I have been in love with Montmartre ever since I watched the movie "Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie". The movie depicted Montmartre as a whimsical and enchanting village, a bohemian tavern with hints of bourgeois chic. And although it has a much-to-be-avoided red light district, I am sooo excited to embark on my journey in my new home.....less than 2 months to go!
I can see it all now.....
....drinking un café au lait at Duex Moulins
...hopping on a train at the Abbesses metro station.
Wow! It's been so long since I have given a proper update, where do I even begin?
.....so much has happened in the past few days and I'm so giddy with excitement, I hope I don't forget anything!
Ok for starters....
As you all know, I was expected to teach in l'académie de Créteil but you are probably thinking "Ok, so where in the academy will you be teaching?". Well thanks to the help of a very resourceful Spaniard, I was able to find out well in advance that I will be teaching in a commune 5.8 miles east from the center of Paris called Fontenay-sous-Bois.
I will be teaching elementary school students (or ecole primaire in French). However, there's slight confusion with my placement. How? Why? Well when I emailed my contact person (le conseillere pédagogique) she told that I would be teaching in 3, yes THREE, different schools! Naturally I was initially bummed by this news because I've been a teacher before and one school is a lot to handle let alone three! And to make matters more frustrating, le conseillere would not give me the names of the schools (mais c'est la France!)
The part of the commune where I'm teaching is pretty dull and boring looking, loaded with concrete buildings. Fontenay-sous-Bois neighbors Vincennes (to the west) so the areas closest to Vincennes are very nice, but the other areas.....kinda poopy. But I'm not complaining because I was given this great opportunity and I'm not passing it up, let's be real...it could have been way worse. Besides if worse comes to worse (aka if some shit goes down), I can always utilize the punches and kicks I learned in my kickboxing class!
Wow, so much has happened within the past month and there is so much that I want to share and promise to share later this week. But it's 2:30 in the morning and I have to get this off my chest:
I told my mom about Paris.
I actually did it! It was weird, I felt a lump in my stomach that was bubbling upwards towards my throat just itching to get out. I've had that feeling ever since I found out I got accepted into the program, but I would suppress it and suppress it. Well I could no longer do the avoidance dance especially since in approx. 87 days from now I will be on a plane to Paris.
When I could feel the truth trying to escape from my mouth, I frowned and instantly my mother knew something was up, so from there, I sat her down (and my heart started racing) and I told her everything.
She was shocked all she could mutter was "wow", and then it got quiet, she looked at me then looked away. Of course she asked me about med school, my future, the MCATS and blah, blah blah, but I approached her woman to woman and I projected my point without making it seem like I was asking for her permission. Even though she said she needed time to process everything, by the end of our conversation, she joked about giving Paris a second chance and visiting again.
Now I feel silly for not telling her (as all my friends would agree) and I actually regret waiting so long but what could I do? the fear of her disapproval and judgment was overwhelming.
So there you have it, my mother knows everything and for the 1st time since I received my acceptance, I can actually be whole-heartedly and openly excited, frustrated and terrified by this journey.
For now, the weight is lifted and I'm all smiles....
Paris, Paris, Paris, The city of lights, the city of love... my new home in September 2011. I'm going to embark on a journey I have only dreamed about for so long and now it is suddenly a reality, and even though I'm excited, its a dream come....I'm terrified, I'm terrified, I'm terrified.
I never give myself credit about how much I'm stuck in my comfort zone, how much I'm stuck in this place. For the longest time I would say to myself, "I want to travel, I what to get away, I want to see the world". And now, now that I have that chance, the chance to run, to go, to fly, to be free and yet I'm scared, I'm terrified, I'm terrified, I'm terrified. There are so many questions what if, what will happen what will become of me
I bought my plane ticket to Paris on Friday the 13th. It's funny because, I remember staring at the computer for 5 minutes before I clicked "Finalize Order". I thought to myself, am I really about to this? The whole time I starred I thought, "this is it, this is it, it all becomes real now. So I took a deep breath in and out and clicked Finalize Order. There, I did it, I've done it, I'm going to Paris.
This week I had a break down, I had a break down because fear took over me. I've never done anything like this before in my life. As much as I am excited to have an opportunity like this, I'm so scared. It not like me to leave my comfort zone. I mean I been to 3 different continents but I never gave it much thought because before I knew it I was back home. I'm 23 years old and my life has revolved around the same 25 mile radius. Born in Washington DC, moved to Maryland, went to school in DC and moved back home to Maryland. DC, Maryland, DC, Maryland. I never really knew how much of an impact this place has on me and even though I want to leave, part of me is not willing to. I can't believe this is all really happening, I can't believe I am going to Paris, I'm going to Paris, I'm going to Paris. A dream come true, now a frightening reality.
I hope all the worry and anxiety will go away soon, so that I can get back to being excited about Paris but je ne sais pas.
I wrote this because I needed to be honest with myself before I can be honest with anybody else. This journey I'm about to embark, will be a chance to learn about myself, and how I can handle myself in a new place. I will be in another country with a completely different culture, language and way of life; and me, the Nigerian-American girl, sheltered and yet spunky, sassy and spontaneous has to somehow fit in and deal with it. I can't help but fear, there are so many unknowns, where will I live, what will I eat, what will I do, will I have any friends, will I kiss a boy...I don't know. I want to be excited but I can't quite shake this feeling off yet.
Maybe it's just the preparation jitters, it'll going away soon....right?
So today, le 4 mai, I turned 23! WOW, I am 23 years. I'M 23 YEARS OLD!
As I sit inside the library preparing for my finals (as I usually do during my birthday), I can't help but think about my past and my future. It has been an incredible 22 years and for my 23rd, I know that God has great plans in store for me. I mean within this 23rd year of my life, I will be moving to France, something that 16 year old me would have thought was an impossible dream. But it's going to happen and I'm actually doing it!
It's funny becasue when I tell people I'm turning 23, they all say "aww, you're getting old now Ugomma". Oh please 23, old, give me a break. I refuse to call myself old and I don't plan on using such a term until I actually am old, like full gray hair, wrinkles, you name it. So no, I am NOT old, but I do feel older, I feel more mature, a bit wiser and yet I feel a sense of "the best is yet to come", and to be honest I like it. I don't want to be one those "Oh I wish I was 18" type of people becasue the past is in the past and all I can do is move forward. And besides, with all the chaos that occurs everyday in our world, the fact that I am alive and 23 years old is a blessing that I do not want to tarnish by wishing I was younger.
So, now that I'm am officially a part of the TAPIF program, this means that I am officially about to deal with the "pain-in-the-assness" that is French bureaucracy! Today I mailed in the CERFA, which is the form that needs to be filled out so that I can a.) get my work contract and b.) get my visa. I've already heard horror stories from many about how annoying the paperwork process is, so I have psyched myself to be prepared for the absolute worst and the utmost annoyance. But who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and the process will go smoother than expected (but again thats a BIG maybe!). My only wish is that I get my contract ASAP so that I can quickly move onto another more annoying part of the process!
As excited as I've been about this journey I am about to embark upon, I can't help but feel a sense of fear. I've only ever been on a plane without my family once but I have never dome anything close to this program before. Whether I liked it or not, I've always been a sorta home-body, my life so far as always revolved around the same 25 mile radius, so moving to another country with a different language and being expected to hustle like everyone else for a euro...wow, it all seems soo real, almost too real. I think it just my nerves getting the best of me, especially since my family doesn't yet know, so I'm am worried about their reactions. I can't wait to get my work contract so that I can start looking for a proper place, not that it's stopping me now, but there are so many options and I can't agree to any of them without knowing where I'm going to be.
So as you all are very ware by my last post, I was waitlisted for the TAPIF program. Of course this sad/ slightly devastating news bummed me out and made me reconsider my whole life for a second becasue i was really hoping to be accepted.
Well, 16 days after that email, I got another email today:
I got accepted to the Académie de Créteil!!!
OMG OMG OMG, soooo excited and I mean really excited. I was in the library studying when I got the email and I literaly started screaming and jumping up and down, "I'm going to Paris!""I'm going to Paris!""I'm going to Paris!"
Now of course I know Créteil is not quite Paris but it is the Paris region, so there is a possibility that I can live in Paris and commute (and trust me being from MD and having a job in DC I am more than familiar with commuting to work!)
Whew...so in the meantime I need to start doing research on Créteil, seriously brush up on my French and dust off my teaching skills by volunteering at my old job.
Well, I got the email I have been waiting for for 4 months now and.....
I was waitlisted
When I saw it my first response was *Gasp*. I couldn't believe it, I felt like I had done everything right and that I was qualified for the program, almost so that I felt kinda insulted by the email. Well I guess it's better than a flat-out rejection. So, the real agony begins nows....I will hear a final response as to whether or not there is a spot for me by July 1st. Great, just what I needed more waiting. Well, the only thing I plan on doing is to hope for the best, but prepare for the absolute worse.
Well, I'm still pretty bummed by the news and it will probably keep me bummed for the rest of the week.
...in other news, I lost 5 pounds! Random happy tidbit I wanted to share.
This pretty much sums up how I feel right now. I've made it nearly to the end of March but when April arrives then the waiting becomes much more painful. I put my application on the back burner throughout January and February but now, now I the agony of the wait has sunken in, and my patience is truly being test.
I can't seem to focus or concentrate very well. The rest of this year will be determined by the contents of the email from TAPIF. For goodness sake, this is a year in France we're talking about! (and yet, Mamantrès chère is stillclueless about my plans...)
The more I think about how close I am to getting my response letter, the more I really want to do this program. I need a break from life, the pursuit of life in medicine and well, a break for the good ol US of A. I've been thinking about what my reaction would be to either response. I mean I honestly don't see myself crying if I didn't get it, becasue hey c'est la vie, things happen for a reason and maybe it wasn't my time (even if I wanted it to be).
BOTH jobs were a no-go....so I'm still in the running to go to France!!!
hehehe, I feel like a contestant on America's Next Top Model and Tyra Banks has just given me a big hug! To be honest, not getting either jobs (even the one where the Doc "liked me") is kinda a blessing in disguise. After the interviews I was puzzled how I was supposed to maintain a full-time job and still finish the rest of the semester AND get an A in both of my extremely hard and exhausting classes. Oh well, guess I don't have to answer that question!
Now, I sill have to wait to hear from TAPIF. And my goodness the wait is becoming less and less easy to bear! I just wanna know, am I in or out? (lol, shout-out to Project Runway!) and am I in Toulouse or not?
So, I know its been a while since my last post but things have been incredibly hectic these last couple of weeks because of school. I've had tests, quizzes assignments, everything you can image, due for my 2 (yes only 2) classes. Within the midst of the hell that is school, I have been patiently waiting for the notification of the TAPIF Program But over the last 2 weeks a strange thing, some would call a blessing, occured:
So during my lunch break 2 weeks ago, I decided to visit craigslist.org and see what types of clinical jobs were available for students. Out of all the listings, I narrowed down 2 separate dermatology clinics looking for Medical Assistants. On a whim, I decided to apply to both. I sent them my cover letter and resume without giving a second thought. I didn't think anything of it because I've been actively applying for health jobs since I graduated in May and to no avail, the only thing I could get was a volunteer position in a hospital. All the others were either no responses or rejected interviews. So becasue of my new-found discouragement, I pretty much rejected myself and didn't think they would reply.
3 days later....I received a phone call from one of the dermatology clinics and get this, they actually liked my resume and called it "very competitive". I was shocked! For a while I thought my resume was useless because I had been receiving so many rejections, but I guess it wasn't so bad. The women asked me to come in for an all-day interview to shadow the doctor and to see if I was a good fit for the office. You really should have seen how giddy I was during that conversation, all those applications I sent out and finally someone liked me, God is good! And to add a cherry on this already delicious cake of good news, the 2nd clinic I applied to emailed me requesting for an interview! Two interviews, somebody pinch me, I must be dreaming!
Long story short, I went to the first interview, which ending up being a 9-hour day shadowing the doctor as he saw patients, taking notes, learning techniques and meeting the staff. It was a truly exhausting day, because I basically had to put my best face forward for 9 hours straight, which ain't easy! By the end of the day the Doc said he really liked me (yes he liked me, he really liked me!) but I'm supposed to get the final word sometime this week. The other interview was a no-go. I made it to the 1st round, but by the next day, they emailed me and told me I didn't make it to the 2nd round, oh well, c'est la vie!
...but the prospects of having a full-time job, and not just that the Dream job I've been looking for to boost my resume for med school and give me more clinical experience, puts me at a cross-roads. On the one hand, this is the job I have been wanting for a while and I know that I will help me get into med school. But on the other hand, if I get this job its au revoir to going to France this fall and next year. Its like I'm so happy and kinda bummed all at the same time. I know that neither are guaranteed (I mean there's still the prospect that I either don't get into the program or they place in a tiny town- both would suck equally) but I'm going to be optimistic about my future. But, this is honestly the 1st time in my life that I'm face with a potiential crossroad...
No, I don't have a Valentine, because having a Valentine is bullshit, but I do think the day is pretty cute and the candy that will be half-priced tomorrow is also a plus (not that I know anything about that).
Ok so this post stems from an interesting conversation I had on Sykpe today with my Italian friend in Rome. We were doing the usual and talking his relationship troubles with his girlfriend, when I jokingly told him:
"Hey, you know, when I come to visit you, you need to hook me up with one of your friends"!
Completely perplexed by this phrase he said:
"Hook me up, what does means?"
So I said:
"You know hook me like you need to introduce me to one of your friends".
His response was:
"Ohhh Yes, Ugomma....but you need to be slim".
I became silent and couldn't say another word. After 10 seconds of silence he explained,
"Because...well you know in Italy they like the women slim not big, and my friends are this way. I don't think this way, I like women with the meat but my friends, no."
This comment lead him to a very long tangent about his friends who have visited and about how they had preconceived notions about what American women look like because of the American movies they watched, but when they landed on the good 'ol US of A, their dream were quickly thwarted by the sea of fat American women. I became defensive and my inner-American-patriot came out and I told him:
"Well you have to remeber, in America we have may people of differnt cultures and races, I mean, theren't even that many black women in Italy. And most black women carry weight differntly then white women. We have bigger hips, butts and breats, we not just fat".
So he said:
"Yes, but I think American food is very bad. How many hamburgers do you eat in a week?"
At this point I could feel my face starting to flush and I yelled:
"Hey, just because I'm American DOES NOT mean I eat hamburgers every fucking day. I don't have the money to eat like that and I wouldn't want to eat like that!"
So of course, him being the great Italian he is, responded:
"You know, you should do the Mediterranean Diet".
At this point I didn't want to go any further, so I said:
.....quite the conversation, huh? To be honest it was the first time in my whole entire life that a man other than my father inenvertedly called me fat. When he said "I need to be slim", it was strange, initially I didn't get angry or upset I just kinda sat there. I knew he was telling the truth because the truth is I am fat overweight and I would like to be slim and I'm trying very hard to lose as much weight as possible before going to Europe, but I was completely taken aback that he was so direct. I mean in the US it's unheard of for a man to talk about a woman's weight. I'm used to girlfriends giving me "Oh, Ugomma your a thick girl, but it would be nice if you lost a few" but for a man to call me out on my weight without any reservation....wow.....speechless. When we had this conversation at first I didn't think to much about it. wait that's a lie, I did think about it because I totally texted my friend about it an hour later. But sitting here many hours after the conversation, I am starting to feel the weight of his words. I know he probably didn't intend to be hurtful but damn, is this what I'm going to have to deal with in Europe? As an American I'm accustomed to the naiveté of topics about weight, so I completely felt out of place when he was so honest with me, and it felt kinda crummy.
Tuesday will mark the 1-month anniversary of my TAPIF application submission. To my delight, the month went by pretty fast but I think agony and anticipation are starting to creep up on me; plus it doesn't help that I started the spring semester and I'm ALREADY over it after getting a 200 page reading assignment (in cell biology may I add) due in 3 days.
So after certain sequence of events, I came to an outstanding realization.........I, Ugomma Nwachukwu, am losing MY FRENCH!!! Yes! It's true, it's really true!
I don't even know how it happened! I mean it happened soooo fast! It felt like one minute I could have a almost full-on conversation about a wide variety of topics and now, I can barely get my conjugations in order! I blame myself really, I mean the last time I was in a formal French class was in June and based on the college level French classes I'm only really only up to an intermediate level and at that level you either keep taking French until you are fluent or quit and forget about it. Of course I wanted to do the former but as life would have it, I ended up doing the latter. I have not been diligent in doing things to practice French like listening to music, the news or even having conversations in French, plus Spanish dominated my life again and now it seems Italian my invade my linguistic repertoire!
But...NO MORE! Like the beautiful album by Christina Aguilera, I have decided to go back to basics. How? Easy, I dusted off my neglected French book from college and opened the book to page 1. I decided that every day, I would read 4 pages of my French text book until I finish the book (it's about 490 pages). A lot of the pages have exercises so that will be extra practice. I'm going to do this hopefully into the summer time, which I will then hopefully take another French class before jetting off to France (Lord willing, if everything works out with my acceptance!). I made this new resolution to myself on Sunday and already I have failed. I've only done 3 days worth of reading instead of 6; BUT that is nay the point. I promised myself I would not be so hard on my self and beat myself up for slacking off, I can't change the past, all I can do is keep trying to fulfill my resolution.
Today, about 6 hours ago, I submitted my application for TAPIF. I can't believe I actually did it! I had been doubting myself and totally pschyed myself out into writing the essay completely last minute, but I did it. I am actually in the running to be in France for 7-9 months. Now of course I get to play the waiting game until April when I find out whether or not they even accepted me, but even with this I can't help but feel optimistic about 2011. This application was more than just an application, it was an self-acknowledgment that if I truly wanted something, I could go after it, no matter what anyone says. Doing this program may be one of the most frivolous things I will ever do that has absolutely nothing to do with my future in medicine, but at least it will bring into fruition a dream of mine to GO, be the pretty bird my parents named me and fly away.
As for the logistics of the application, for me the most challenging part, other than the dreaded essay, was deciding where I wanted to go. I knew from day one that I DID NOT want to be in Paris. I mean, yes, Paris is lovely and does have a certain je ne sais quoi, but I think it's such an overrated city in France with enough snobbery to last a millennia. So I decided that I wanted to see the other side of France and focused on the south. I really really really want to be in Toulouse. After doing alot of research on the city I fell in love with the city, its culture and student population. Here are my top three choices:
1.) Toulouse (fingers, arms and legs crossed for this one!)
2.) Montpellier (BEAUTIFUL city really close to Spain and Italy)
3.) Paris (ehhh, why not?)
...so I ended up putting Paris as a 3rd choice, not because I'm a hypocrite, but Paris is a great city and its the only region where you are guaranteed to be in a city, for all I know they could throw me into the boondocks of southern France far far away from civilization with a population over the age of 45, so just in case, I put Paris.
But to be honest I like my choices and would be extremely satisfied with either one.