maanantai 31. lokakuuta 2016

Why you should always be careful

I  can say that my life has turned to be a bit more dramatic than I would like since I moved to France. 

I wish my life was so boring that this blog could be about cute french streets, pictures of croissants and dreamy lavender fields. But here I am with a story of how I was harassed in the middle of a day by a strange man and now I carry a half illegal protection in my bag at all times.

It happened last week when I was on my way back to the school after my lunch break. A man had seen me walking by the road and had deliberately pulled over to talk to me (and in his mind to do much more). I turned around a corner and there he was. At the time the area happened to be also very deserted since it was the school holidays. He said he just wanted to see me because I looked so hot etc. and he wanted to get my phone number. When I told him I'm married it started to really get scary for me...he stood so close to me and wanted to know if I have ever slept with a man from his country (yeah, he wasn't french). I felt the fear squeezing my insides as I realized the seriousness of my situation. If I did any wrong move, it could escalate the situation into something horrible. Stifly but calmly I managed to say I really had to go. He admitted if I just gave him cheek kisses before. Terrified, I agreed and then walked away as fast as I could without looking back or starting to run. Luckily the whole thing happened just 300 meters from the school gates where I already saw people and was safe.

This was the third time something like this happened to me. Two other times were in Japan, but there were always other people not far away. But this time I was really terrified by my own helplessness there in the middle of a quiet street with that man than made my insides freeze with fear. It did change my feeling of security and it has taken some days to process what happened. For a few nights it was even hard to sleep. But we bought me a little something for my protection which has really given me more peace of mind.

sunnuntai 23. lokakuuta 2016


I have been doing better. 

After the first shock of starting the training of a receptionist, things have started running more smoothly. My french skills have been improving so much since this course is meant for the native french speakers. I have been having some intense french language training sessions with my husband  to gain even more confidence. Because of all this I have been so tired after each day and each week. Last weekend I slept 12 hours each night to recover.

In my last post I was not in a very good place, but as I predicted: first the suffering, then the success. Just few days later I went to the city of Avignon with my CVs and motivation letters in hopes to find a hotel that would take me in for an internship. I had it clear on my mind what I was searching: something small and cozy, preferably on a small street. My intuition directed me on a narrow street right next to the main one. I asked in two little two star hotels and answer was no since they would be closing for the winter. We left the alley with my husband and after 500 meters someone was calling out to us and asking if I was looking for an internship. Oh yes! It was the receptionist of a hotel that was on the very same street where we had just been. She had seen me asking around and decided to come after me since her place was looking for an intern. I gave my CV and motivation letter and I got myself an interview. And I got in! So far I'm also one of the only two people who have managed to find an internship in our course. I thank the universe for my luck. By no means I expect this internship to be easy though. It will be very challenging (mainly for working in french language), but I will do my best to raise up to the level needed.

We also finally booked our train and ship tickets to go to Finland for the Christmas. We both hate flying so we decided that why not go by land then. It takes longer, but I really love to see the landscapes while traveling. It also reminds me of the road trips we used to take with my family to southern Europe when I was a kid. Like this we get to have some adventures on the way and even spend a night in the beautiful Strasbourg.

I have been carrying on with learning to crochet and knit again. I finished one waaarm and heavy scarf already and more is on the way. The courses have also ignited my desire to doodle again of which examples on this post. My most artistic times seem to be when I'm bored haha...

maanantai 10. lokakuuta 2016

Blood, Sweat, Tears

The first week of my course is now behind and a new began today. In the last week I have challenged myself more than in a long long time. I went from hiding in my house, in my little comfort zone, to facing a class room of French people and a full time professional training course all by myself with my barely B2 level French. The course is five days a week, 8 hours a day and a two and a half months in total long. That includes a three weeks training period in an enterprise.

During the last seven days I have fallen from my high hopes to the bottom of the pit and slowly crawled my way back up. 

The first day wasn't bad at all since we were starting off slowly by just going through the program and so on. The day went fast without any bigger problems although I was silently the whole time very nervous and tense in the new situation. The nice thing was that the teacher spoke slowly so I thought I was doing well to understand most of what was going on in the class. It was extremely tiring to listen all day such high level French and try to keep up with all the others.

If the first day was just tiring and made me nervous, the second was much worse. The thin fragile ground under my feet cracked and I fell. We were doing a dialog exercise in front of the class in pairs and due to my nervousness I couldn't manage to understand anything my pair tried to tell me. I froze, though managing the best I could. I was so ashamed for my failure and scared I couldn't ever manage to finish the full course. I held the rest of the day my tears back. I felt like a lost child full of fear and panic. I made it through the day with a hot face, bloodshot eyes and an aching body. It was only when I was in the car safe with my husband that I couldn't stop crying.

But you know what? My dear little fellow expat on the other side of this screen. It does get better. It gets just worse before.

I cried all the heaviness of my heart out and then I went to have an ice cream with my husband. 
Next morning I opened my eyes to the new day with fear freezing my chest.

But it was a better day than the one before. My body had been tired for all the efforts it had been putting into adapting to the new things. I had cried because I had to do my worst to realize I could take failure. And as I had failed as hard I could and survive until the next day, I was able to relax. And as I stopped stressing I was able to perform better and have little victories.

It's amazing how powerful our minds and bodies are in the terms of adaptation. When faced with the absolute need to survive, it does what it has to. And we are made of much stronger stuff than we even know. May that be the thought that gives me faith to this new week of challenges.