I’ve sort-of stopped writing on this blog. Our life here in France has become quite ‘normal’. Work, school, shopping, cleaning, washing… normal stuff, not much to write about.
It is back to a good normal though, and only my life has really changed. A good change also. Last year I knew it was time to do something. You know, get out of the house. The kids are all doing their own thing now. They get on a train or a bus in the morning and at some stage arrive home again. You never know when. Very different from the time when every coming and going involved me taking them there.
I had the idea of doing computer graphics. I searched for a course to do, but couldn’t find something affordable, or nice. Then I found a course in programming, and thought, ok, I didn’t really think of getting back into programming, but… I will start there and see where it goes.
After several tests: logic, English, programming… I was accepted. (To my surprise.) The course is offered by AFPA (one could describe it as a government institution for adult education) and it’s paid by the region of Paris. So what it means: I am doing a six month course in Java, web development, etc. and I am paid monthly to do it. That’s only in France.
Well, I had to dust off my programming skills after 20 years of not using it, but in the end it is going very well. And I realized that I am actually enjoying programming, so maybe the graphics will have to wait first. We started in January and will finish in August. Then we still have to do a three month internship. I will do this with a company in Issy Les Moullineaux. Just around the corner from Danie’s work. : )
We are a class of 12 people. Different cultures, backgrounds and ages. Of course I am the oldest. A kind group of people. Lunch times they introduced me to Vietnamese and Lebanese food, or we had kebab, or sandwiches in the park. The formateurs (teachers) are good, and I am really impressed with what we have learned.
AFPA is in the 12th arrondissement in Paris. For me that meant train from Beynes to Montparnasse, and another 20 minutes on metro 6. It’s a full week, every day from 9 to 5, except for Fridays when we finish at 12 pm. And then I could also skip the English class on a Monday morning. : ) I still smile thinking of the Tuesday morning when the English class was moved. I arrived, not knowing it was English. The British teacher was surprised to see me, and I was wondering if I will now stay or not. After a while he said: “So, are you now staying or going, because your presence is a mystery to me.” : ) So I left. For a Starbucks coffee.
I learnt about life in Paris. It’s a big city, but you see the same people on the train, even on the metro sometimes.
You see that the quartiers in Paris is almost like small towns. On my walk from the metro, Dugommier, to AFPA, I often see the same people (and animals). There is the big, lazy dog who is always lying around the bar le metro where I get off the metro. I pass a blind man and his wife. His dog runs around loose, till he greets his wife, and then he gives a soft whistle and the dog is coming for his duties with a wagging tale. I pass the man on roller skates. The ones with four wheels, like we still had when we were young. And the Parisienne lady who walks her five really small Parisiens dogs.
I now know about metro and train ‘rules’. I understand some things that made me think that Parisiens are rude. If you stand on the escalator, you stand on the right. Don’t dare blocking the people who want to run up or down on the left. Now I understand how you feel when you have 1 minute to catch a train, and someone is blocking the steps. You always hold the swing gate for the person behind you, and they thank you with a smile.
I learnt French. I had no choice! This class and all it’s people only speak French of course. But they were kind and patient with me. There is still the report I have to write after the internship. At least 50 pages, in French. Then there’s the last presentation and evaluation in November for the certificate. I’ll get there…
The rest of the family is doing well too.
Mandi is healthy and finished with her treatment. She is finishing her schoolwork at home. In August she is off to Germany for a year as ‘au pair’. She found a lovely family with three young children, and will be in Regensburg for the year. An old German city, so of course I am planning a visit or two.
Franci finished collège, (middle school) and starts lycée, grade 10, in September. As it’s the same lycée that the others attended, it’s almost like old news. But it’s new for her, and she will have as much fun as one can have in school. : )
Pieter will be third year engineering at ESILV in La Défense, Paris. He still loves his school and will probably work and study next year. He is still waiting for confirmation about the work. At the moment he is working at children’s camps for the holiday.
Jaco finished his prepa in Mantes La Jolies and did very well. It’s always difficult to explain this, as it’s really something I think only exists in France. He did his first two years of university in a prepa school. Which gives you a really high level of maths and science. (After you have worked very hard for two years.) And with good marks you can get into the best universities in France. He doesn’t know yet where he will go. He will then be third year engineering, maybe in Poitier, or in Besançon.
Danie is still with Itron in Issy Les Moulinneaux. Nothing too exciting happening there. : ) He had his shoulder operation in June, which went very well. So, he is hoping to be back on his bike soon, after last year’s ‘little slide’ when he tore all the ligaments in his shoulder.
This next phase will be good. We are thankful and looking forward to new and good things.