Deux milles onze
I recently received a Christmas letter from my aunt. You know, those one-page summaries of the family happenings throughout the year. I love them, from people I don’t see all that often. Which is just about everyone in Australia now. So here’s mine!
January saw us bringing in the New Year near Briançon, in the French Alpes, with about 30 of Sim’s nearest and dearest, most of whom I met for the first time then and there! It was my first month in France, and I was pretty typically culture shocked.
February saw me getting my bearings, a little, and exploring more of Lyon and surrounds. I sat in on some English lessons, and went to some dinners with English-speaking French people. I had a job interview with a language company in St Etienne and started looking into how to stay in France for a longer period of time – work or study?
In March, I enrolled at the CIEF – the international school at the university – for a July summer course and the 2011/2012 academic year. We spent time in Paris with Seb and Clo, and I returned to Australia. It was a lovely reunion with my family and friends, and I picked up some casual teaching work.
April was paperwork month – visa applications are huge! I went to Sydney for my interview at the French consulate and, although I applied for a student visa, left with a 12 month visitor visa. For some reason, Australians aren’t able to study French in France on a student visa. I continued with the casual teaching work, and got a job at the Foster pub.
May was a quiet month. Working, saving and Skype dating with Sim. I house-sat and worked on an assignment for my TESOL course.
Things started to get exciting in June. I helped friends with the cleaning and painting of their new house, did a little Jump Rope for Heart at school, and returned to France. And one hot, stormy summer! It was lovely to be back, and see everyone and everything again! I got a bank account, spent many hours at the pool and met up with some Foster locals for a day.
My summer course ran for 3 weeks in July – approximately 2.5 hours of language classes and 2.5 hours of culture class per day. Intense! But gosh my French improved, and I made some lovley new friends. Great fireworks for Bastille Day on the 14th. Discovered Annecy with my school group, and Poitiers with Sim and Seb.
August was hot. So hot, in fact, that I went to the UK for 2 weeks, to escape the heat! It was lovley to catch up with old friends there, and see the sights around Kirkoswald, Sheffield and Edinburgh. In France, we had day trips to St Etienne and Cluney Abbey, plus I caught up with Fish Creek friends in Paris.
Sim spent a week in Porto, and the school year started in September. After 2 weeks of placement tests, information/admin days, classes started. Although I could say much more than just bonjour, I couldn’t read well or write much at all, and was placed in level A1 (preps!) with 13 others from all over the world. We had around 4 hours of classes per day, Monday to Friday.
October = school! Plus driving, hospitals and doctors, as Sim did his knee playing soccer. I had my first doctors visit, and the weather was still unseasonably warm. I walked to and from uni a lot, along the Quai du Rhône, and had a few hobo experiences! Sim was under house arrest from the medical insurance company, and we played a lot of Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit!
In November, we had mid-semester exams. Speaking, listening, reading, writing… We observed Remembrance Day, French-style, and I met my first Australian in Lyon! There was also a hot trip to Dijon, and a cheese-tasting at a little fromagerie. The Christmas market opened in Lyon and we (I) loved looking after Tutcho the rabbit.
In December, I discovered trivia night, plus fish and chips, Coopers, Strongbow and Bulmers at the Scottish pub! It was the fabulous Festival of Lights in Lyon, and school finished for the 2 week Christmas break. It snowed and, of course, I fell over. We had amazing Christmas lunches and dinners, plus gave and received some very cool presents.
Now it’s come full circle, and we’re geting ready for New Year’s again. It’s the same, but different. I know everyone now, and can speak much more of their language. They know me, and whilst they accept my Australian-ness, they help me develop my French-ness – in good ways (such as wine, food, culture and swear words)! The language of family and friendship is the same in both of my worlds. Roll on deux milles douze!
Happy New Year!