I'm three months into my year abroad, over a quarter of the way through. I figured at this point I should probably start writing things down, because
- I am a linguistic Midas, and every word I type is golden.
- The above is absolutely not true, but I’d quite like to think it is, and the only way to get to that point is by practise.
- Also, some people I’ve met here may want to read about my experiences.
So a brief rundown to start with - I’m working in two distinctly different areas; teaching and office assisting. In the former, I work with a permanent member of staff to teach English; she has kindly given me the higher groups and, since I’m at a post-graduate school, all of these students have a fairly high level of English already. I teach three conversation classes - although teach is really too professional a word for what happens, which is mostly debate and games - and one TOEIC preparation class.
The TOEIC is a Test Of English for International Communication, and is apparently highly regarded here. I am English, and can confess that even though I am studying French, I had not heard of its French equivalent until a month ago. This, for me, demonstrates the vast gulf between European attitudes to language and the British attitude to the same. However; a problem, once recognised, can be overcome, and I plan to take the equivalent test of French next year as a sort of triumphant, nerdy climax to my year. My assault on Barad-Dûr, if you will, only with more preparation and, unfortunately, less Ian McKellen.
I’m staying in Rueil-Malmaison, and as well as letting me live in a cosy studio rent-free, I also draw a very comfortable wage. Rueil - as we locals call it - is about twenty minutes from La Défense by the excellent bus service, and from there the Arche de la Défense serves as a gateway to the La Ville Lumière; The City of Lights.
See also: the city of rude people, expensive everything, sheer madness on scooters, casual and vile misogyny, theft, and achingly cool and fashionable people by the truckload. If trucks were achingly cool. They certainly give off enough smoke. I’ve used achingly, by the by, because that’s the sensation it gives me as I see them. They are effortlessly cool. Parisians - on the whole - put so little effort into being so chic, so everything-I-wish-I-could-carry-off-but-can’t, that it makes me irrationally jealous and a little achy.
I’m sure you’ve had the same experience, whether it was for a state of mind - seeing old, still-happy couples - a thing, like a suit or a dress, a piece of jewellery or that person for whom you still hold a flame. That sentiment occurs to me when I see a Parisian smoking and lounging, or multiple Parisians smoking and drinking little coffees and speaking so quickly. I hope that other nationalities coming to the UK have that sentiment, but somehow I doubt it. Maybe I’m wrong. If I’m wrong, do say.
So in conclusion: Paris is expensive, over-hyped, full of rudeness and death-by-Vespa. And I am very seriously considering living here forever.