I’m nearly half way through my time as an au pair, I can’t believe that I only have just over 5 months left here. I feel that it has both gone quickly and super slowly at times. No doubt the quickest were the first two months, everything being new and time just slips away. The slowest being those when I particularly miss friends and family, just before Christmas was difficult. Probably because I knew I’d be going back home so soon, which always makes the wait feel like forever!
As I said, I’ve completed about 6 of the 11 months I’ll be an au pair. I thought it would be good to reflect on everything that has changed in that time and to share a little about what I’m planning on doing when I finish in July. The first is an obvious one…speaking French. When I first flew out I hadn’t spoken or studied French for over ten years. That’s a very long time, especially when you haven’t studied in a classroom environment since graduating university. But now I’m able to hold basic conversations in French and I understand so much more. I’m by no means fluent AT ALL but I remember the first dinner party I went to with my host family, sitting there listening to everyone speak and being completely lost. Understanding one in every 30 or so words. Maybe less with how fast they speak! Compare that to last week when they had some friends over for dinner, I managed to grasp maybe 70% of what was being said. I still wasn’t able to easily contribute but it was progress. Last night a group of us from my class went out for drinks and it was cool that we were all talking to each other in French for most of the evening (English was also spoken at times). That wouldn’t have been possible 6 months ago when the only tense I really knew was the present. With the aim being to improve my French as much as possible, I’m also trying to read more and more in French. Just magazines at the moment, I started with the Metropolitan magazine you get on board Eurostar as everything is written in both English and French. Now I’ve graduated to trying out VOGUE…it also helps that half of the pages are pictures 😂. But again, I’m understanding a lot of what I read and I also make sure to look up any words I don’t recognise so I can keep building my vocabulary.
Next up, is switching out English things for French. 5 months in and I finally have a French bank account…I know it’s taken a while. Before I was being given my pocket money in cash and then occasionally relying on my English bank card when needed. Now I’ve got a French ‘carte bancaire’ I’m determined to use only my French money. I’ve stopped comparing from Euro to Pounds and now just compare prices from shop to shop here in France. It doesn’t help to compare everything to the currency you used to use, if anything it makes things feel more expensive! I still don’t fully understand how their banking system works…seems rather different to the UK but I’m sure it will all become clear in good time. I’ve now got a Navigo, the French equivalent of the oyster. I got mine a couple of months after moving here and I was so glad to get rid of those little paper tickets. They are SO unreliable, I can’t tell you how many times I had to get them replaced.
If you’ve read any of my early posts you’ll know that I’d like to stay here on a more permanent basis once my time as an au pair is over. I worked in marketing before and want to go back into that if possible. As my French won’t be good enough by then I’ll most likely need to work in English…which probably means working for a larger international company. Something I think would actually be a really good experience for me. I’ve been working on my CV (hadn’t touched it for far too long) and I’ve started casually looking at the kind of roles that are available. I’ve also been taking a look at LinkedIn and following lots of companies that have offices or headquarters here in Paris. I’m basically just keeping my ear to the ground (is that the right expression?) for the next few months until I ramp up the job search properly in May/June time.
So there you have it, a little summary of some of the things that have changed over the last 5 or so months that make me feel a little more like this is home. I’m sure the next 5 will bring lots of ups and downs too and will probably fly by faster than I think or might be ready for. Part of me still can’t quite believe I’m actually here and on this journey, but I’m really looking forward to the challenge of making Paris a permanent part of my life.