Visite d’entreprises 2012

Today, the 20th February 2012, the day before our stages d’observation (work experience) and the week before the winter holiday, is the day where we visit two enterprises, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

This morning, I was lucky enought to visit ircof (laboratory of research). We were welcomed, firstly by a woman wearing a white apron, secondly by a man, who has a son in my year.

We were taken into an “amphitheater” where they played a presentation and talked about the laboratories, and their research. We were due to spend the whole morning there, so they spent one hour with the presentation and explication. I have two pages of notes. I actually found it quite interesting, and I don’t normally like science.
They then showed us around, we were split into 4 groups and we each got a floor to visit, swapping around when two groups met. There was even a glass blower, who was on the ground floor, with a mini flame thrower attatched to his desk, enormous magnifying glasses and a glass tube. It was amazing to watch, and it reminded me of the time I went to see a glass thrower on holiday in France when I was younger.

We returned by bus, and in the afternoon, we had to visit another place.. I was signed up for vesta (not the original place that I had chosen).

Vesta is a dump, literally. But it is a dump that recycles their material. For example, the paper they collect is bundled and sent off to news paper companies, such as Paris-normandie, Liberté dimanche, and Rouen magazine.

So I suppose it’s a sort of good dump, but I feel really sorry for those people who have to work there, sorting through the rubbish with 50 minutes break each during the day! They must get so bored grabbing a piece of stray clingfilm and putting it in the bin, over and over again!

That’s one job that I could never, ever do, even if it payed well.

But I suppose that, if you really needed money, and coincidently little or no qualifications, then this would be the best job to get.

La neige à Rouen

Better late than never!

We’ve been waiting for this, and, even though two months late, it’s welcome. 10 to 15 cm, just in time for my birthday. What I want is that it’s not on my birthday, else I may have to cancel my party.

Live to far in the countryside, or too far away from school or work, with jut 10cm of snow, you’re stuck home from school.

Cars struggle to mount the slanting roads!

Quelle chance! But for those who can walk to school, quelle dommage! 

I am in the Quelle dommage section, because school is little over a 3 minute Selena Gomez ft Pixie Lott song.

Just before lunch, my brothers and I spent an hour playing on the street with a cardboard box filled with polystyrene and snow, running down a bit of the road, then throwing ourselves onto it, and sliding down the rest of the road. It was amazing! The first-floor children were looking at us, and only when they saw that we had harribo tagadas; they opened the window, yelled out at us, and asked if we could spare one or two. I threw the (small) packet up. Now our gloves are drying on the radiator, and our wellies are drying by the door, and I’ve even created my own abstract, 5 minute art!

Drying our Wellies!

Une Stage d’Observation

In troisième, it is obligatory to find a stage d’observation in an industry or a company. I’m here to write about it, just in case on of you decide to move here!

In November, our teachers started talking about choosing a stage d’observation, by finding what we would like to do when we’re older. I found what I wanted to do, as soon as she said it; JOURNALIST! I absolutely love to write, read and anything to do with literature.

Getting a stage d’observation is harder than I thought, and even though it is obligatory to have one, all 15 companies that I have asked, have refused. It is actually stated in the law that you  have to do it.

I started by asking the main newspaper in Rouen, Paris Normandie, but they refused. I then asked their partnering newspaper Liberté Dimanche (the newspaper that my mum was featured in) who refused also.

On the whole, 3 months went by, whilst asking for nothing but one stage. It seemed impossible. I was actually ready to give up, and say “I’ll just do my stage d’observation at school. It’d be easier.” But mum kept pestering me until I wrote more letters asking. And even my mum took up to writing emails to companies… with no luck.

I eventually went and told my form tutor that I was having extreme problems in finding a stage. During the whole time, my boyfriend somehow found this hilarious. I ended up poking him with a stick (well, a pencil…) anytime he threatened to laugh, or tease me about it.

Not long afterwards, my form tutor and an English teacher that I’ve never had, proposed to take  my letter asking for a stage d’observation down to the Mairie‘s publicity department, to improve my chances.

Three days later, the directrice de publicité from the town hall (La Mairie ou L’hotel de ville) got in contact with my mum, accepting my demand. Mum, didn’t understand the lady’s accent enough to write down the name of the company at first, resulting in me panicking and stressing out. It actually turns out that the lady didn’t mention her company’s name, just that of her department.

I called the number that the lady had given, only to get through to the answer phone, where there was no clue to who it was.

But now, it’s sorted; I have my stage, but we have yet to get the conventions de stage (the informal contract for the week) back from them.

And, according to my mum, I have to be insured by a company to be allowed to “observe” their ways of living (and working).

Party Time!

This year, I’m hosting my very own party. I designed the invitations, with the help of Picnik and a special site where they design and sell invitations – although, I got mine for free!

It used to be a sushi theme, but after blotting out the sushi pictures, I replaced them with Picnik’s own birthday designs.

Trendy?! I would love to invite you all, but I cannot, due to my mom saying twelve people only.

But, yes, my birthday is on the 10th of February, and hopefully, I will be having all my friends over for a bowling session and then a pizza and a movie! (And then of course, a sleep over with my girls!)

This is, though, the second time I’ve designed the invites – the first time, no body could come… Even though it was just one day later!

You guys actually get the first preview of my invitations, non of my friends have seen them yet!

Last year, I didn’t have a party, so this year, I’m determined to make this one a success! Any movie recommendations?

It’s Partay time!

When I’m with my best friends!

In February 2011, I spent 4 days with my best friend. One evening, we were feeling a tad bored, because we had spent the afternoon on YouTube, watching ‘chin videos’ when we decided to make our own. Here’s the link:

Cheryl Cole and Simon in Telephone Factor and an Interview with Katie and Peter

You may think that we are crazy, and need to be calmed down, but we decided to film it and put it on YouTube. We are both quite creative, but our make-up skills aren’t the best. We aren’t professionals, and we had a very small budget – make up from magazines.

It took us about 2 hours to create this video. We didn’t really have any scripts, except for the second part, where Peter André had his lines written out for him. Cheryl’s accent went a bit funny nearer the end, but there is NO racism or anything intended.

With my friends, I have to treasure each and every moment that I get, mainly because I don’t see them that often. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to see them 2 or 3 times a year.

One of my best friend even went out and got a passport so that she could come and visit me in the summer holidays!
I think, because of the distance between us, we have bonded more, and we have become extra best friends, not just best friends. So I can say, moving to france has it’s advantages.

Have fun, and remember, you can make things happen.

A Letter to my best friend (15th December 2011)

*I would just like to say that I have recieved permission from my bestfriend, myself and my boyfriend to publish this, and that a video will soon follow. Names have been changed for privacy purposes.*

Hi P*!

So, it’s the Holidays! And the weather is getting colder and colder! Maybe some snow might come! ( I hope so!)

Christmas is a;most here, presents and candy canes and little treats… And worst of all, only 8 more little chocolates in the calender to go!!

But yes, that was all pretty random, but I have the christmas feeling. And what makes it better is mine and L* are celebrating our one month anniversary on the 24th December 🙂 Yess! One month already. We were planning to go to the cinema on the day, but our mothers don’t want us too (boo!!) And so, we are possibly going somewhere another day.

Today, during Lunch break, he was so sweet. I was hanging around A* (one of my best friends) when he came up to me, sat down beside me, and wrapped his arm around my waist and kissed me on the cheek – in public!! I certainly didn’t expect that! Though, we decided to not give presents to each other for christmas, because we don’t have any money (due to les stupides banques) He apparently loves my hair, he says it is bizarre mais super (bizarre but superb). He says my hair is a mix of blond, brown, red and black. (I’ve never noticed the black!) Sorry, I’ve been rambling on about L* and I too much!

In January, we have our Brevet Blancs (mock end-of-french-secondary school exams – GCSE mocks, in other words) and I AM NOT looking forward to them AT ALL. They are also in my lest-excellent subjects. French (dans la merde – I’m dead) History Geography (ok) and Maths (I suck at maths).

We had an english test today… Not english literature, but english as a language (like french for you guys) and it took me the whole hour to do it! Not normal! Normally I take 20-30 minutes and get 20/20 (or A star).

Today I ate at school, and there were onion rings… Except they weren’t onion rings. I ate them all and then after I’d finished, someone told me that they were squid rings. AWKWARD and disgusting.

In art, I am failing, because the teacher doesn’t appreciate individualism… She said my artwork was incomplete, when it actually was! I’m going to get an amazingly awful result for it, then.

In music, I am passing with flying colours. My general is 17/20 (or an A) BECAUSE we are allowed to “teamwork” on his exams! He is the WORLDS  BEST music teacher!

What’s more is that R* and the girl he went to the cinema with AREN’T going out! (Boo) Though I wish they were because R* needs a girlfriend really badly. Just for the sake of it, he makes really wierd noises with his mouth in public. The only thing that I think people think is that he needs someone to tame and/or calm him down.

And he sings at the table. (OW.)

And that’s enough about me.




The summer holidays started well. We started our summer holidays one week before ‘Primaire’ and one month before English schools. Two weeks in, we travelled to Switzerland. To Les Diablerets, to be precise… Like last year. We spent one week there, amidst the mountains and heavy rainfall. It wasn’t nearly as beautiful as last year, mainly due to the rain. We did, however, visit the chocolate factory ‘La Maison Cailler’ and the food museum ‘L’alimentarium’ and Aqua Parc, which is rumoured to have the worlds best water slide; the Booster Loop. Personally, I think it’s a rip-off. You have to pay extra to ride it. The best is the black water slide, where 2 people ride on a black dinghy, funded by Nesquick coffee. Though I recommend a full day pass, rather than 5 hours… You are most likely to lose track of time.

After a week there, we re-packed our bags to go to Yorkshire. We were meeting all our cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. It was fun to meet our newest baby cousin, who had only been seen in photos. We spent a week in the wilderness, supposedly away from computers and phones, but that rule didn’t hold out very long, seeing as my brother has a nose for wi-fi. Now, being stranded in a non-Fish-and-chip land leaves you considerably in need of an English meal, so we went off in search of a pub (no, they only have cafés in France, which manque the beer pumps and the salted peanuts in packets) in the end, we came across this typical english pub, filled with tourists and residents. Two hours later, after a long meal, we went around the village, stopping to look into some of the oldest of shops, sweet shops, fabric shops and wool shops.

We then decided to go on a rambly walk, deep in the forests, only to be driven off course by my dad, who spotted a rope swing over a river. We lit a fire in the corner of the pebble beach, making sure it stayed lit. We managed pretty well, I think!

It was somewhat a disappointment to part after spending one week with my cousins, but it ad to be done. We had already been ordered down to the Loire Valley, by some great friends that we met in france when I was 7. I was very excited to see them, as I hadn’t seen them for almost a year.

We acted like tourists, well, to be honest we were new to the area, so it wasn’t that hard. We visited lots of villages and even canoed down the Loir (not the Loire)  and a few cafés. But most of all, us three girls messed around in the pool and sun-bathed. We are now quite tanned!

The only problem with holidays is that they finish too soon. (Not the end of the summer holidays, but of these three weeks). I just had one more major event to look forward to.. My  best friend from England was dropping a visit into us for 4 days during her 2 week visit. So, I showed her around the major shops (Bizzbee – I recommend you check this shop out, it has some amazing clothes – Pimkie & Printemps) some sights, and some beaches, where we tanned and surfed. Smiley face! Today we went ice skating together – very unusual for her, seeing as she doesn’t speak much French! But I translated for her, so she knew what to do. It was so nice catching up to her, and I can’t believe these days are already over, but that explains how much I love spending time with her, and although I only just said bye a few hours ago, I’m missing her like crazy!

A couple of months ago, on the 16th  May 2011, I did my official French iGCSE two years too early. (iGCSE is the best GCSE to do, because there is no coursework and you aren’t told what the exam will be about). But today, the 25th August 2011, I got my results, like all the year 11’s. And, I got an A*, just like my brother. That shut him up, because he was all going on about how he was better than everyone else in French. The cheek! I am so proud of myself, and it just shows, if you try hard, endure the difficult bits, you will always come out stronger. (This calls for a celebration. To all the year 11’s, my brother and I.)

The 5th September came very quickly, one day it’s a month away, and the next, it’s tomorrow. I was nervous, but then, I think everyone is a bit anxious before “La rentrée scolaire” but then afterwards, you laugh, and say how silly you were to be worried! This year, I wasn’t put in the same class as my best friend, but it didn’t matter, we’d still see each other at break and we’d laugh more, and more. I was put in the same class as two other friends, whom I don’t know as well. This is the last year of college, one of the most important years of a secondary school. I have to pass the brevet at the end of this year, get be accepted into a lycée and get the best results I can. Luckily, my English is fluent and I’ll get nothing but 20/20’s during the whole year! That will get my average up!

Every week, the French get a Wednesday afternoon off school, to be used for sport or some activity. This year, after a few painful decisions, I have taken up skating (on Monday evenings),  swimming (solo – not in a club) and deep-sea diving (Wednesday evenings)! Last year I did diving, and I have got to say it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done! You spend 1 hour with the bottles of air, swimming up and down the 5 meter pool, and then 1 hour with snorkels swimming lengths and doing “Le Canard” (The duck – where you dive down with the snorkel, swim a bit, then pop up and breathe the water out of the tube.) Quite fun, but I panic a little bit if I can’t breathe out!

Of course, we also do 3 hours of sport at school too, at the moment (September-October), we are running for 2 hours and then doing basketball for 1 hour.

A lot of you may be (or maybe not) asking what I do when some friends propose going to the cinema… I go with them, of course. In the first year, you must be joking to think I understood even 50% of a film… In the second year, I could understand about 75% of them and in September of the third year, I can understand 99.9%! I’m really proud of myself.

Today, (25th September) I went to the Smurf movie (Les Stroumphs – I think that is how you spell it) and, only today did I realise how far I have come since 2009. I used to get compliments from friends parents,  who only realised that I was English after their children had told them, after I’d left.

I’ve even been asked to babysit, and that was pretty extreme! I was being put in charge of 3 children, ranging from 2 years old to 8 years. I suppose I’m trusted then!

The Rouennais Pilgrimage

Next week, there is a pilgrimage to Lourdes (surely you have all heard of it? It’s got that magic healing water, of course, France is practically the only country in Europe (correct me if I’m wrong) that will go on a religious trip… And, what is more, the teachers said (and I quote);

“This trip doesn’t cost very much, and I’m very sure that you’d all like to be a part of it, but there are only 72 places.” Our RE teacher said.

“How much?” I inquired, very much interested.

“300 euros.” You have got to be kidding me, I was thinking. 300 euros? That is more money than I get in 3 years! Every one was buzzing about it… for about 5 minutes until the teacher carried on, with her next jaw-dropping bit of information…

“Every morning, after breakfast, we will find ourselves inside a church, for two hours for la messe, then we will go and see a grotto, where Saint Marie was rumored to be seen. Then, at lunch, we will quickly eat some sandwiches before going to la messe encore and then helping the terminally sick get better. Then, before supper, we will go to la messe, and then after supper we will not go to la messe, but we will sing around the campfire, singing songs. Did I forget to mention we sleep in cabins? Now, who would like to go?”

There were 15 hands up, out of 28. I think most of the hands were to get away from school for a week.

Recapping on the voyage a Lourdes, and that I am not going, leaves me (and 12 other classmates) classed with 13 others from a different class, we have been given a completely new time-table, one late start (9:05) and one early finish (3:30) and NO homework for the week… That’s a first!

– La photo de classe

The Class photo is a major event in 3e. The girls make themselves pretty (and those who aren’t pretty, put some of their inside prettiness on the outside.) The boys find the coolest clothes possible – 3 quarter length trousers and a white shirt and a pair of Ben Simons. The teachers… well, they magically find some happy and paint it over their faces. In our year (troisième, as marked clearly), it is custom to have a normal photo taken, and then the ‘Mucked up’ photo where every one pulls faces, and does silly stuff. I just hope they don’t choose to print the mucked up one…. I really mucked it up! (And not in the good way!)

Then we had our single photos, the calm, embarrassing, close-up photos, that go on the wall, picture frames, and even to our grandparents.

We get them back in the end of October.

– La cross

We do a cross country on 17th October… I’ll tell you how I do in it, but I think my place remains, as always, fifth-to-last. I’ll celebrate if I come before fifth-to-last!

Le jour du crosse. Would you like me to tell you where I came? Well be prepared for a shock. I was 10th to last, which is 5 people better than I came last year. And 3 people better than the year before that. But then I walked most of the way, rather than sprinting 3100 metres.

– L’éléction de délégué (form rep)

This happens on the 17th October, as well. Once again, I’m going to present myself for form representative, I don’t expect to be chosen, for the second year, but it is worth putting one hand forward. Well, I’m deputy form rep, would you believe!

Moving on, You all know how I was talking about ice skating? Well last Wednesday, I finally got my own skates, that are MUCH easier to skate in, all that is left to do is to get better at skating. I am starting to wish that I could get more than 1 hour of skating a week. It’s really fun!

Last week, we said good-bye to our other teacher (who is 16 and an AMAZING skater! Apparently, he started when he was 3… So, without a doubt, after 13 years, anyone would be pretty amazing. This week (monday) we had an 18-year-old teacher, who is amazing too, but she’s not as fun as our old one.

And after, from the 10th October – 4th November, the lift was taken down due to maintenance… So, every day we had to climb four flights of stairs four times to and from our fourth floor appartement. I’m so glad that’s over, now there is no more walking up and down twice a day and the lift is amazing (which is a bonus)!

From the 7th November to the 10th November, my friends have been playing tricks on me… They kept going to one particular boy and saying I love him (when actually I don’t).

On the 11/11/11 France isn’t at school, it’s a Férié (bank holiday) and this year, I am extremely glad that it came on a friday, so we have a four-day week. I actually sound a bit selfish there, but I don’t forget the reason why. On 11/11/1918 Germany surrendered to England and their allies and from that day, we commemorate the loss of the men’s lives, who were fighting for the things we have now.

We had our parent-professer meeting on the 18th November, and yes, I was quite worried! I didn’t know what they would say about me at all! Mum only had five or so meetings, ranging from 5pm to 6:30pm. The upside was that, out of the 4 teachers seen, my mum had four positive reviews.

December came, arriving fast, before slowing down.  My mum decided not to pay out 20€ for christmas calendars (4 children x 5€) so she went to her favourite fabric shop, and bought some fabric and foam and made our calendar… for three quarters the price! It is much prettier. It takes the form of a christmas tree, a greenish triangle with twenty-four buttons and a red box with one button at the bottom… On the red box, hangs a plastic ball, where, each morning, mum puts four (lindt) chocolates and a small decoration. Then, one of us puts the decoration on one of the 24 buttons.

The Christmas holidays arrived, bringing my grandmother and my cousin to visit us for a couple of days. My cousin slept in my room, whilst my gran on my dad’s side, slept in a B’n’B just up the road from us. We went into town, where I showed her some amazing shops, typically french ones, expensive ones, cheap ones… On wednesday, we went to the swimming pool, and thursday, we went to the outdoor ice-rink.

Our christmas tree is looking very beautiful, with John Lewis LED lights, energy saving and very pretty:

Even mum gets a present. It’s sometimes quite hard to get presents for mums, because often they say ‘I just want the family together, safe and happy’ or something like that. So I, being the responsable(ish) teenager, started thinking of gifts to give to her… I ran a few past dad, when I came across one that would suit her perfectly, colour and all. We even gift wrapped it with A4 paper and decorated it by ourselves. (It was a longchamp bag; one that she’d been admiring for ages, and one that she has been using non stop since!)

Santa, our big friendly red man, filled up my stocking last night! And there are some very useful things in it, like a hairbrush, nailfile, mirror, paper, rubbers(!), a magazine (an english one!) and some english sweets. What a thoughtful man. (Or possibly, woman…)

In February, we have to go on a ‘Stage d’observation‘ which is basically work experience, but we aren’t allowed to do anything – except watch what they do. We have to write ‘une lettre de motivation‘ (a letter well written, talking about why you want to go to their company for work experience). I’ve finished mine, my teacher must now read through it and correct the errors (I’m sure there’ll be a few grammatical ones). I’m very excited, but since I haven’t sent it yet, I’m not entirely sure I’ll get a place or not. Fingers crossed.

I can now tell you, that sadly, I have not been able to get a place with the Newspaper I applied for, Paris Normandie, so I will have to apply for a new Stage d’observation. To be honest, I am not very happy, but I might see if I can get one in England. Having been refused two times de suite, I am hoping third time lucky! Unfortunatly, non this is the ninth time running that I’ve been refused.

On a desperate hunt for a stage d’observation, I am having to think of all the possible news papers, publishing companies, anything to do with writing. Yes, I will say it again, it is almost impossible!

From the 10th January to 11th January, were our brevet blancs… They are just like GCSE mock exams, but harder. French Maths in troisième is almost the  same as maths in the last year of sixth form in England. In french, we don’t just recite stories and learn poems, we improve our vocabulary, write essays and stories and have tests every week, with a dictée.



Welcome to the second year of my life in France.
As you read in the previous article “Cinquieme” I introduced you to the change: in houses, language, traditions and food.
Although, what’s strange now, as I look back, France seems more homely than England ever did. I suppose I have more friends here, and I got one of those ‘Instant popularities’ because I spoke a different language and the French found that très intéressant!

I’ll re-wind to the very beginning of 2010-2011 so all you can keep up to date!
During the summer holidays of 2010, we went near Lac Leman in Switzerland for 2 weeks, right high in the mountains. The scenery was gorgeous, very green, loads of mountains and streams – fresh and cold. There were even cable cars from the village to the Middle mountain (the mountain directly behind the cabin we were letting.) And then, from the cable car station on the mountain, you could walk to Mont Blanc, and thousands of others!
In the village, there were shops – of course, it wasn’t that remote, though it was actually 30/60 minutes to the nearest City/huge town – and there was a gorgeous swimming pool, with water fresh from the mountains: cold but very refreshing in the 35 degree heat. And of course, restaurants, and a tiny super market that sold just about everything. What was funny though, is I didn’t mind being eaten alive by insects during my visit – very unusual behaviour by me, whereas, my brothers were all the same as usual!
Every night, at around 4pm/5pm, there were huge thunderstorms that raged harder and harder. In twenty minutes, the whole mountain in front of our house had disappeared in a mass of clouds and fog.

The summer holidays, after that gorgeous holiday, sped by and disappeared all together. The school book buying competition between mothers, daughters and sons raged on and on, and all of a sudden, the first day nerves were upon us.

Now, because my school here is not at all like my secondary school in England, they do things differently to the schedule. Each year, we get sorted into a new class, so that we are never with the same people twice. This year, I was put with plenty of new kids, and one of them became one of my closest friends. I knew a guy, called Romain, who was my brothers’ friends’ brother, due to start mon collège for 2010-2011. He was put into my class, so it was easier for him and, because I already knew everyone, I could introduce him to people. He didn’t need my help though, he was a socialist!

The year started off like any other. The ‘carnet de correspondance’s’ were handed out, one to each student. The handing out of the carnet’s  officially meant we had to work hard. ‘Youpi…’ And, the homework started kicking in. Déjà. Not even one hour after, we already had two bits of homework; French and Concertation. (Guidance)

I’m going to admit it, I was a bit hesitant about this year, because a good friend, that I made the year before, had moved to a school closer to her home, and left me on my own. So there wasn’t any one to go around in a group with. (French people usually hang around in groups, never just one or two people… NEVER.) Until a week in. I met the nicest girl, and we were friends straight away. Her sister was in the year below, and until she met some friends in 5ème, she hung with us.

I would skip the school part, but if I did, the blog would end pretty much here. There have been no school trips, no important event, no dance party.

The 13th December was  the day we moved house from destination A to destination B. From a house to an apartment. From the countryside to the city. And this apartment is cute and old, dating from before the second world war. You can tell by its intricate  ceiling decoration.

The christmas  holidays started on the 18th of December, leaving us plenty of time to get used to the new apartment, its ways of life, and atmosphere… No loud noises after 8pm, and no loud noises before 7/8 am. Christmas dawned, with my brothers waking up at 2 am, parading out and around the house, their christmas stockings at hand. I guess I’m the one to blame… I said that I might get up at 2am to look in my christmas stocking, but I changed my mind and turned off my alarm. There was a bit of shouting, and the following morning, each of us had to write a letter of apology to the Lady who lives below us. We were allowed to open a present after breakfast, and then, just before lunch, we went for a walk. After coming back, mum popped out to get some baguettes. After lunch, we were allowed to open the rest of our presents, I will just list the four presents:

A scarf and hat, some books, perfume and some chocolate.

But before we knew it, we were back at school for January. January is January, there is a buzz in the air, because every one chats about their Christmas presents… an I pod, a designer  bag, 10 CD’s… But then every one stops and thinks: there  are only two terms left until the end of the year.

January sped by and February arrived… and so did my Birthday. I love birthdays, because they are centred around you, you feel nice, and a year older too. So this day, I was officially 14.  For lunch, I had invited two girls for a meal at home. We had a starter, main and a pudding… the pudding was revolved around chocolate. Yum. I think that I shouldn’t have eaten all this chocolate. Mum had also baked a cake for me to take into school. Cut into 40 pieces, it took 3 people to carry it up.
We had Etude (study hall) and History before we started on the cake… On Thursdays we finish at 3:30, because we don’t have 3 afternoon lessons. The cake was gone in 5 minutes. (!)
As soon as I got back, I watched Letters to Juliette. It is a great film, and I loved it!

The rest of the term passed quite quickly… And astonishingly enough, June quickly arrived, bringing rain clouds and winds. One school trip was organised for the 9th June. A religious one, where we visited an abbey. It wasn’t very fun. At all. (I’m being very honest)! Although the architecture was pretty amazing! But the best thing about it was hanging with friends and eating all together, sat on grass in the sunshine.

Soon, the trip was over, after one day of walking from abbey to abbey in a certain section of Normandy, unknown to me and my class mates.

The end of the school year approached, slowly creeping up, threatening me with a fast flying summer vacation and then one of the hardest years in my life. The Brevet Year. (see next instalment (next year)). Now, those who are clever, will be able to say:
“The brevets are GCSE equivalents.” Which is very true. But instead of being covered over 2/3 years, France does them in 1 year!

Friday 24th June arrived. The last day of 4ème. There was no P.E. In music, we watched a film. In English, we watched Postman Pat, with French subtitles. In French, before the teacher arrived, we organised a goûter. We all brought a couple of items of food in. I had previously made some scones so I brought them in. Half the class asked for the recipe! I took that as a complement! I offered my form tutor a scented candle as a thank you gift, and we all had put 2€ into a collection box to buy her a huge bunch of flowers and a card. I want to spare her some embarrassment, so I’ll say, we all cried.

That afternoon, as the bell signalled the end of school, kids screamed as they ran out the doors, hugging and chatting excitedly, before swapping numbers and running out the gates, swarming down the street, arm in arm.

My Verdict:
This year, my life had been so much easier. Since I understand so much more, and have some fantastic friends here to help me, and some fabulous friends in England who encourage me, I keep going.

Fin du chapitre.♥


Summer Holidays. Perfect. The end of school, the beginning of that short period of life where you can head on down (or – depending on which part of the country you live in – up) to the beach with sandals and cute bikinis (and a jacket, gloves, hat, a scarf and trousers tucked into your hand bag) and then, with your sweet eyes hidden behind gorgeous, big sun glasses you can spy on those hot boys surfing in the (freezing) cold sea… and then, all of a sudden you wish you were in the south of France, not England.  Yeah, well, my summer holiday was different from ALL of yours! And this blog is just one personal view from a country girl, who moved far away from her friends in an 8 person Toyota filled with three duvets and sausages and water and a TV and some other things.

In December 2008, my dad was offered a job over-seas, after being recommended by his work company. There were lots of disputes about it, no-one was sure what to do, by January, dad had moved over to a B&B in the country side of Haute-Normandie.  In February, when half term  had started, we travelled out to meet him for a week. As we sat in a café, dad surprised us all by announcing that his boss had asked him whether we’d all like to live in France,  go to school  there for a year.

One thought ran through my head: “eek” Yep, moving to FRANCE is so simple! (and trust me, I wrote that with sarcasm!)  But, what I didn’t plan to say was:
“Yes Daddy!! I’d love to stay in France!!! We should definitely try it!!!”
That’s not what I wanted to say AT ALL!! And now I had a huge secret to keep from my friends. :S At the end of the year, we had to present a presentation, explaining something we were good at, or something we knew really well. Yes, of course, I chose the french school system.   If I didn’t choose it, then there wouldn’t have been  enough time to inform the school!

The summer holidays dawned bright, and (sadly) fast. Our move was set for the 17th August 2009, but because the movers (men with round pot-bellies and blue overalls) were behind time, the set date was delayed to the 19th August, so I had two extra days to be with my friends.

The night before “The End of the world”, we slept on mattresses and in Duvets, yes, we had heating, but beside all the worrying and slight excitement and constant chatter from the boys side (we were all slept in 2 rooms only), it was pretty easy to sleep.

On the 19th, at 10am, we made the fateful move that could (1) wreck our lives, (2) be really helpful or (3) be the best year of our lives. The crossing was due at 13pm, and with the car stuffed full and baking hot, we set off, awaiting our future.

Half way there, just past the toll bridge in London, the oil warning light started flashing orange, making my mum panic. She pulled over in a “no stop zone” to try and sort it out, but soon enough, a police car pulled up behind us and demanded to know why we had stopped at the side of the road, where it was visibly marked “No stop zone.”

It was obvious that my mum was stressed (And I don’t blame you mum!), she was crying and struggling to explain what was wrong. But, the police man, being friendly, offered that we moved to the other side, then he would check our oil levels.  It turns out the oil levels were fine but a tad moody because of the heat -it was about 35 degrees – and because our car is huge and very old, it could have been the length of the journey.

We arrived at Folkstone at 12:45pm, to take the train at 13pm, as planned. I’ll skip the rest of the journey, because you probably all know what it’s like to go in a train, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a chunky blue toyota.

We arrived at 17:26pm, to see the movers and my dad lounging, drinking tea and juice and chatting! The table and chairs were set up, the beds, and chest of draws too. We sent dad out for some food, a simple (but boring) meal from McDonalds. Yes, it was strange to be in a new country, and it would be even stranger to go to a French school, but I was excited! What I didn’t spend my time during the rest of the holiday moping about having moved. Though, I was pretty annoyed, because I loved my secondary school. (And I still love you guys, don’t forget that please)?

The rest of the summer holidays were devoted to the buying of books and dictionary, to prepare ourselves as best we could for the next following year! The 3rd September dawned and, at precisely 7am ‘du matin’, mum frog-marched (excuse my joke) into my room, shook me awake and gave me my clothes. (Now, I will shamelessly admit, the clothes were a FASHION CRISIS!)

At 8:30, the school bell rang, signalling the school sorting (a bit like the Hogwarts sorting, just without the wands, weird hats and robes). I was sorted into my class at 8:45, into 5èmeE. I felt sick at the sight of this crowd of a thousand people looking at the people being sorted. Finally, our class was sorted into 32 people, then our ‘professeur principal’ introduced himself in the class room.
“Bonjour. Moi, je serai votre professeur principale pour l’annee, c’est mon boulot d’assurer que vous passez une bonne année sans problèmes.”
(Good morning. I will be your professor for the year, it’s my job to assure that you have a good year without problems.’ (Rough translation))
He handed out the ‘carnet de correspondance’ (a book where the parents can contact the teachers-not something that you note the homework in – we have an agenda for that).
Then, he posed the question. La question qui tue.

You’re probably wondering what the question was, and what that last sentence was. First, the translation of that sentence was ‘the question that kills,’ and second, the question he asked was:
“Est-ce que tu es externe ou demi-pensionnaire, Anabel?” The reponse I should have given if I had understood was ‘Externe’ but because I hadn’t understood, I looked blank. I should have said then,
‘Je suis Anglaise. Je ne comprend rien, desole, monsieur.’ He would have smiled. But I said, ‘Je suis Anglais. Je comprend pas.’ The class laughed, I was near tears. He told the class to ‘shut up’ and then he continued to say:
“Don’t worry, are you eating outside school ou inside?” And I replied outside.
But yeah, it wasn’t exactly a promising start. But it wasn’t just me. There were my three annoying brothers too. I’m so glad we were all in the same boat!
At the the lunch bell, I shot out of class, down the stairs and headed straight for my mum.
“I can’t do this,” I sobbed, “It’s too hard!”
Because all of my brothers were in the same boat, we could all understand one another. My mum wasn’t much of a help.
“It’ll be fine… It’ll be fine” she reassured endlessly. In the end, I shouted:
“No, mum, it won’t be fine. You’re not going to school-you don’t know what it’s like!” I ran upstairs and slammed the door. I grabbed my reading books and starting to read. Before long, there was a knock at the door.
“Go away.” I huffed, but, as mum’s do, she came into my room.
“I know I’m not much help, but it’s gonna be tough on all of us. Just try the best you can, and we’ll all get by. Take a book to read at break, and just try your best to find friends. You can really get some nice friends you know, you’re a sweet girl, my girl.” And she hugged me. After drying my tears, and packing my bag, we set off for school, arriving with ten minutes to spare. I’d taken my mum’s advice, and I’d taken the first of the Georgia Nicholson series to read in break.

Not long after I’d sat down down on a bench near the corner, some 3èmes came up to me, and since they knew that I was english, they put on their best English accent and introduced themselves, and chatted to me.

But, week after week, my language improved, and by december, I was speaking simple sentences, but harder than the ones you learn at secondary school in England.
Eventually, the holidays arrived, and then, before you could say ‘Christmas’, it was Christmas.

Our Igloo

The 25th didn’t dawn early enough, so at  2am, Angus woke up. He then woke Theo and then woke up Rory, and then he woke me up. We then opened our Christmas stockings together on my bed. I got quite a good set of presents that year- a jumper, CD’s, the Twilight books, and some make up.
As much as I’d like to tell you everything, I can’t help feeling guilty about talking about all my presents, because there are less fortunate people in the world, so I’m gonna cut the talk and move on to another date.
The one thing I like most about christmas, is that it lasts 3 days maximum, and then it’s over. And then another reason is because my birthday is 2 months after. For the whole of January, I went to school. Just like you. Then, I started counting down the days until my birthday… 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0!!! I can count down 10 on the 31st of January, and arrive at 0 on the 10th of February. I for my birthday, I got a Longchamps bag… A designer bag from Paris. I was SO happy!
As the weather turned sunnier and hotter, it became more and more like the France I wanted to see. And in the months of April, June, July and August, the weather made the change bearable.
On the 7th of June, the school organised a ‘sortie scolaire pour les cinquiemes’ and trust me, they organised the most tiring one possible!
Every 5ème class had to go to Henouville, a small village near Rouen. We were actually staying in a sailing base, where the River Seine flowed by the side. We stayed there from Monday-Thursday. Every day, we did a morning of cannoeing followed by an afternoon of an on land activity. It was probably the best week of the year! 4 days without family, just with friends, was amazing… Something that, if proposed, do not refuse – especially with three very annoying brothers.
On the thursday, there was the competition… In groups of three, you had to, canoe to the first checkpoint (to get a stamp on your laminated sheet) then canoe to the second – we were way behind, because we lost ours in the river – and in the three KM radius of the camp, there were 20 other check points, and you had to get each one of them.
Then, there were the on land activities (archery, rock climbing, golf and cycling) and for each one, when completed, were awarded by a stamp and a signature. My team, Jules and Theo and me, came 6th out of 11.
Sadly, the school trip was finished too quickly. But, each kid in our class had a better relationship with every one else, we were closer, stronger and more determined than ever…

My Verdict:
This year has been the hardest, most difficult year of my entire life. It was like learning to speak at 14 years old. But I managed it, and really, I don’t regret coming to France. I’m going to be able to get a better job and am more likely to get into a great university.

Fin du chapitre ♥

My French Introduction

Welcome to France !


My name is Anabel, I’m 14 years old and when I was 12, I moved from the East-Middlands, England to Haute-Normandie, France. It was such a big change that I thought blogging about it may show you the positive and negative sides to moving abroad.

At first, I was the one to think it was negative, but now, in my last year of college, I think that this decision has been one of the best ones yet.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a shy person, so I didn’t expect to be uprooted at the end of year 7 and be expected to speak fluent French to learn stuff. I wasn’t that good in French lessons either (the ones in England – The French French lessons in France were unreal) and so as soon as I arrived, the only few words I knew were greetings, a few verbs and a couple of clothes.

That was how difficult it was.

If you’d like to hear the rest of my story, go on to Cinquieme… If not, thanks for at least listening to my introduction, but It’s a shame you didn’t carry one.


Follow me via Twitter : @anabelgrace