I’ve almost been here two weeks. In some ways I feel like I’ve been here a lot longer (apart from my french still being pretty rubbish), in other ways I can’t believe two weeks has gone so quickly.
I need to point out before anything else that I’m not an Au-Pair in a traditional sense. I don’t do any of the housework, and I don’t look after the children. You could think of it more like a paid student exchange. I speak English with them, and live with them. That’s it.
When I arrived a week ago at Gare du Nord my phone didn’t work and neither did the numbers for their phones. I spent about 40 minutes wondering around the station trying to work out how I was going to contact them until some tall, red haired man came up to me and said ‘Heni?’ Or it was more like ‘Eni?’ (Only the French can’t actually say my name). I assumed this was the father of the family, for all I know it could have been a random man that just happened to know my name.
For some reason I’d got it into my head that I was staying in Versailles. I’m not staying in Versailles. I’m staying in Triel sur Seine which is about the distance of Leighton Buzzard from London except it still counts as the île-de-France and Parisian suburbs… Even if no one in Paris has heard of it. I spend most of my time in Paris however which is about a 40 minute train journey - although I’ve had some pretty traumatic journeys to and from Paris which I will post separately.
It’s weird sharing a house with another family that you don’t know. I’m used to my family’s routines of when we eat, and who showers when, and all those small things you don’t normally think about. At home I will often drink tea (herbal or otherwise) in my room. Not only do they not really have a lot of tea, but I can’t drink or eat outside the kitchen. This is a very sensible idea but I can’t get used to it and desperately crave drinking tea in bed.
My French is okay. It’s getting better, I think. I still can’t understand a lot, and hate having to ask ten times for then to repeat, which makes it difficult to communicate. But I’ll get there.
I’m going skiing for a week now and might not have any internet. So I’ll have to do a series of catch up posts when I get back…. On meeting new people, hitch-hiking home, and cultural differences.