This past weekend, I spent my time in no other than the capital city of Haute-Normandie once again. True, I had just visited Rouen the Friday before, and had spent overnight there (which you can read about here), but due to bureaucratic reasons, I had to return the following week.
In other words, I had teacher’s training on Friday, and then my medical visit and VISA appointments on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Considering that I live not-too-close to Rouen, it would have been better for me just to stay the weekend in Rouen. Luckily, my friend of mine lives and teaches there, and so he was super nice to have let me stay the four nights in his flat, even though it was a tight squeeze. Forever grateful for the kindness of people! 😀
Any case, I was out of town from Friday through Tuesday; I had spent Thursday night after work at a colleague’s house, since she was also planning to go to Rouen for her teachers’ training (separate from mine, but in the same place), and suggested that we carpooled together. Definitely saves money from having to purchase train tickets to go all the way there. 😛 Had a lovely, home-cooked dinner with her mother and sister (turkey with peas, salad, and an amazing pear tart for dessert). Also a good amount of champagne and this interesting apple brandy called Calvados afterwards. Super strong, with over sixty percent alcohol, Calvados was definitely an experience to have! Seriously, I had sips that barely wet my lips, and even then, my throat was already burning from it! Good stuff, though. 😛
Turned in later that night, then woke up early the next morning to carpool with my colleague and another from town to Rouen. Arrived just on time for training, which went all day from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Learned about the French school system (still confusing to me), as well as tips to engage our classes in learning English. Pretty informal work, and somewhat off-tangent at times, but now I have some options for lesson plans in the future, in case that I run out of topics to teach the students.
Took the bus down to Hôtel de Ville to meet up with my friend (let’s call him “James”), who I was staying with for the weekend, until Tuesday. Gotta love the French city hall- how stately! 😉
Met up with James, and we went over to his flat (not too far from Hôtel de Ville) where I settled in and he cooked dinner (simple pasta and baguette). He lives in a studio apartment, which is really tiny, but nevertheless feasible to fit one more person (namely, me) in there. At least for a few nights- had to share the pull-out bed with him, but otherwise manageable.
After dinner, we decided to go meet some other teaching assistants in town for some drinks. Walked over to the Irish pub not-too-far from the flat, where we met the others. Ordered a beer, and watched my peers play “Never Have I Ever” and get progressively drunk over the time (I chose not to play, because I didn’t want to keep spending more money on drinks. Plus, I’m terrible when it comes to these types of games- you can say that I’m a pretty boring person). James and I decided to call it a night after 10:30, so we bid everything adieu and went back to his place. Was too tired even to shower, and so I just brushed my teeth and washed my face before hitting the sack.
Saturday, as well as Sunday, were pretty laid-back days. James and I spent most of our time at coffee shops in town, using their Wifi considering that James’s flat did not have it. Plus, I did not want to rely on my data all of the time to, you know, catch up on “life” (namely, the Internet). 😛 Had kebabs several times over those days, which are absolutely delicious. Seriously, pair ’em with a night out drinking, and they will cure even the worst hangover (not that I’ve tried, but I can imagine…). 😉
Visited the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen again, since James hadn’t gone yet. Although I really do enjoy its Impressionist collection, the museum’s sculptures and Joan of Arc paintings are pretty nice to look at, too:
Also checked out the Marché Saint-Marc (an outdoor market that sells just about anything you can imagine. Reminds me a lot of the Marché de la Bastille in Paris):
Also went into the Church of St. Joan of Arc, which I hadn’t done before:
Spend both Saturday and Sunday nights drinking wine at James’s flat. I had purchased both bottles of Chardonnay and Bordeaux as thank-you gifts for letting me stay the nights at his place. Finished them like water, and definitely had nice, long talks about our lives while getting, well, buzzed. We weren’t as close friends before, but I do think that we’ve gotten to know each other more through the weekend spent together. He’s a good guy, and I respect that.
Had to take care of business on Monday and Tuesday. Went to my doctor’s appointment on Monday, followed by my VISA appointment the next day. Let me say that, while I love France, I do not love the fact that French bureaucracy is so damn slow and inefficient. Apologies, my French friends, but seriously, doing paperwork in France is a pain-in-the-ass. Not to forget over two hours of waiting just to get my worker’s permit affixed to my passport- it’s insane!
Plus, les manifestations (aka “strikes”) on my way to the VISA appointment didn’t help:
That aside, though, I was glad to have *finally* completed my long-term stay process for my VISA for the next few months. I was super relieved to leave Rouen (a train and bus ride out) and return to my comfortable flat, where I now consider home. I need my space, I need a break from having to pack and unpack for temporary stays, although I am forever grateful for James and other assistants who I have stayed with for a couple of nights.
Rouen is great, as I have already been there three times since coming to France. Definitely the city life, but for now, I am good staying away from it until my next teachers’ training day, which is not until November. Until then, I leave you with a gorgeous (chilly!) view of the city by the river, and I will keep you updated with more of my travels there, as well as in the rest of Normandy! Take care. 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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