Tag Archives: France

Rep Life Part Deux – Dealing with life in the cold

For me the best season is summer. It’s hot, it’s shorts-weather, it’s the season where you stay outside all day and play sports, read books, chill out doing nothing. Even when you’re working and you’re sweltering inside, well, at least you’re not cold.

The worst season is winter. It’s never warm outside and even inside it’s dicey because the heating stops working and suddenly you’re living in an ice cube (true story if you’re interested). Yes snow is fun, but only for a little bit because then you have to drive to work and, all of a sudden, that takes twice as long in a car where – yep, you guessed it – the heating’s stopped working (my family aren’t the best at getting things fixed before they absolutely need to be).

So maybe moving to the Alps for five months in winter, when the temperature plummets and it snows all the time (I mean all the time) was not such a good idea on my part.

I have started to get used to the seemingly arctic temperatures, but it’s tough. Today I was out in the wind, snow and just plain cold for half an hour wearing a not very thick coat and jeans. I don’t understand how anyone can enjoy that – my feet were numb. What’s enjoyable about having numb feet!?

One of my uni housemate’s favourite season was winter, and we consistently had disagreements about it. How? Just how? There is nothing fun about it. Some of the views of things (a.k.a. mountains, trees and ESF instructors) covered in snow are beautiful, but you get these sorts of views in warm, dry places too. Just take Nepal for example, or Yosemite. Both stunning, both warm and both incredible experiences.

In total, I have not been dealing with the cold very well – instead I have decided to view it as a challenge. When I am interviewed in the future and they ask me to describe a challenging experience, living in an ice-box for almost half a year may be what I go with.

I love, love doing my season. It’s great. Now, if it was in Croatia in the summer, it would be perfect. As it is, I’ll just have to wrap up warm and brave the cold in order to get a beer and some decent internet for the next three months.

Speaking French in France

I think that trying to tackle the French language in its own country may be one of the scariest things I have ever had to do. I did French at A-level, but it is now very rusty, and it shows. Every time I’m at reception and the phone rings, my heart sinks. I know I have to answer it, but I am simply dreading the French person on the other end of the line who will speak quickly and is almost unintelligible thanks to the crackly reception we receive in the Alps.

I went on the bus ride from hell in Nepal. This is worse.

I am scared, terrified even, of flying. This is worse.

It’s not because I don’t want to speak to people – I actually love meeting new people and having a conversation with them. But there is so much technical language about hotels and ski passes and ice skating that, even if my French wasn’t shaky (at best), it would still be incredibly difficult. I had to ask a priest about church times and attendance – don’t ask – and I was terrified. How do you even address priests in France? Père? Ministre? And then you have to negotiate the minefield that is pleasantries, and simply reacting to the conversation that is being thrown in your face at such a break-neck, rapid speed.

I had to work unexpectedly yesterday, and thinking it was my day off I had got pretty drunk the night before. Negotiating a conversation in your mother tongue is a bit tricky when tired and hanging; in a language you can barely just remember sober it is close to impossible. Add in your boss sitting next to you as you try and you’re on to a winner for “Worst Day of the Year Award”.

I’m not an overly confidant person. Put me out of my comfort zone and I’ll adapt, but it may take a few days. But that’s in English and now I’m juggling a completely different language while trying to adjust and negotiate rock climbing prices.

For people  who complain about the person at the other end of the phone not being fluent in slang and having a strong accent – yes, I agree it can sometimes be annoying, and it will raise your blood pressure. But at least be thankful that it isn’t me answering the phone saying, again and again, “Je suis désolé – répétez s’il vous plaît?”

Off to France

So this is going to be a short and sweet post, because I’m busy getting ready to go to France for 5 months to work a ski season. (!!!) I am a bit excited.

I don’t know how I’m going to fare – I hate the cold (and it is going to be really cold), but I love France, and I love working abroad so hopefully it should be as amazing as everyone tells me it will be. I’m busy doing my final pack, getting all my big fluffy ski stuff to fit in one tiny suitcase, so I’ll leave you with this clip of Jake Wood and Janette Manrara doing the Samba on Strictly this week. Did it deserve the two tens it got? Maybe not, but Jake was twerking for heaven’s sake! So much fun to watch.

What I’m watching, reading and have viewed: Part 2

What I’m watching: The Fall

The show that follows a serial killer, and the police investigation that’s trying to catch him.

What’s it about? Gillian Anderson is a MET Detective Superintendent sent to Belfast having been assigned to review the investigation into a single high-profile murder, but who ends up heading the hunt for serial killing Jamie Dornan. You see both her investigation, his daily life, but also the things that do happen in a murder case that you don’t usually see on a TV show – the finding of the body, the heartbreaking call to 999, the simple logistics of attending a crime scene (“stepping plates where applicable”).

Why watch it? It is the latter point – the things you don’t usually see – that have drawn me into the The Fall. In most police procedurals, even those about people whose job it is to collect evidence from a crime scene, there isn’t much evidence of the procedure actually happening, it’s all about the mystery. I do like the pragmatic air this show has in that sense. On the other hand, The Fall is insanely creepy – Jamie Dornan has given me nightmares. Don’t watch if you’re going to be sleeping home alone.

What I’m reading: Harry Potter et le Prisonnier d’Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

It’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban … but in French.

What’s it about? If you actually need to ask what Harry Potter is about, I may have to ask where you have been living for the last decade and a half. Even living under a rock wouldn’t excuse you from not knowing about the phenomenon that is J.K. Rowling’s series about the boy wizard. The Prisoner of Azkaban is the third in the series though, really, you should know that already.

Why read it? The PoA is my favourite of the Harry Potter series – I adore this book. Reading it French then was a no brainer for me, as it would help me to know what is actually happening while trying to negotiate French idioms. (Who knew that to ‘pick’ a lock translates into ‘crocheting’ in French? Not me.) It’s also fun to see how the names and places that are so recognisable in English are changed in French – Snape is now Rouge, Hogwarts is Poudlard, and – my favourite – Hufflepuff transforms to Poufsouffle. A lot of fun.

What I’ve viewed: Wadjda

Watch a young girl negotiate the streets, her school and her home in Riyadh.

What’s it about? The first feature length film to come out of Saudi Arabia, this story follows Wadjda who desperately wants a bicycle so she can race her friend Abdullah, and is told by almost everyone that girls don’t ride bikes. She decides to enter the Quran reading competition in order to win the money that will pay for the beloved green bicycle she has set her eye on.

Why see it? This is such a heart warming and sweet film. All the actors are great, even – especially – the kids, and the story is so engrossing. The film is much more than just a sweet story, though, especially on repeat viewings. For example, in a country that seems to be so restrictive for women there are surprisingly few men in the story – three in fact, and and only one is a main character. It is worth seeing the film to watch how women are complicit in restricting themselves: for example, everyone tells Wadjda that women don’t ride bikes, but the shop sells girls bicycles, and Wadjda is desperately worried her chosen green one will sell. This is one example of a plot that is much deeper when you look past the simple story, and forget some of the pre-conceived ‘facts’ of Saudi Arabia.

Also, Abdullah is adorable. Watch just for the scenes between him and Wadjda.

Where I’m travelling: France. In less than two weeks I’ll be working in the Alps -I’m so excited/nervous!

Have you seen any of these? Does The Fall become even creepier? (I have trouble believing that’s possible!) Let me know.

Reading en Français

Yesterday was my birthday,  and I was given one of the best gifts I have ever received. You know those gifts where it’s obvious that the person both really knows you and has thought about the present they’re giving you – this was one of those.

It was my favourite book Good Omens – in French.

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I didn’t even know they had translated Good Omens!

I love French. I used to be able to speak it quite well but have become rusty, and in about a 5 weeks I’m going to live in France for six months, hoping to get it back up to scratch. In the meantime I’ve been using Duolingo like a fiend to try and remember all the vocab that I have lost.

Reading a book in French will help to prepare me I hope. Unfortunately, Good Omens may be too tricky a translation for me to start off with. Luckily though, my sister bought me the third Harry Potter book (my favourite one!) as well. Best get reading!

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Are these good translations? Do you even like reading translations or do you prefer original works in whatever language you enjoy reading? Let me know.