Sunday 30 December 2012

Noël/Xmas 2012

This year my sister and I spent Christmas in Paris because of her job. It was a bit sad, but we tried to make our flat as festive as possible (my sister eventually agreed to get a tree!), invited one good friend and ate till bursting point. Best of all, my presents are waiting for me under the real Christmas tree at my parents' in England :)

Cette année, ma sœur et moi, on a passé Noël à Paris à cause de son travail. C'était un peu triste, mais on a essayé de rendre notre appart le plus festif que possible (finalement, elle a accepté qu'on puisse avoir un sapin), on a invité une très bonne amie et mangé jusqu'à se faire exploser. Le meilleur de tous, c'est que mes cadeaux sont en attente pour moi sous le vrai sapin de Noël chez mes parents en Angleterre :)

Bûche de Noël, 30€. Cette ville est fou chere!
30€ yule log. Phone to emphasise size, Paris is bloody expensive!

Notre petit sapin, tellement mignon
Our cute mini christmas tree

Repas de Noël, a l'anglaise
Christmas dinner, British-style

Stupeur post-prandiale
Postprandial haze

Et pour finir, le cliche obligatoire de fin de soirée
The requisite end-of-the-night photo

Friday 28 December 2012

Hair, Here, Everywhere

 My friend Andreea, who moved to the US last April, loves my natural hair and often asks me about taking out my braids. Anyway as she is currently busy studying for her NCLEX-RN exams, I thought it'd be nice to make her happy with pictures of my hair, so I took my braids out last week and have been wearing various simple styles. Each one takes about 5minutes, except when I have to mould the hair with a scarf overnight...warning, picture-heavy post!

Andreea, mon amie qui a déménagé aux États-Unis Avril dernier, aime mes cheveux naturels et elle me demande souvent de les porter sans des tresses. Comme elle est actuellement occupé à étudier pour ses examens NCLEX-RN, j'ai pensé que ce serait bien de lui faire plaisir avec des photos de mes cheveux, alors j'ai enlevé mes tresses la semaine dernière et depuis, je porte que des styles simples. Chacun prend un peu près 5 minutes, sauf quand je devais moule les cheveux avec un foulard pendant la nuit ... je vous préviens, il y a beaucoup des photos!

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Thursday 20 December 2012

Testimony Time :)

Praiseeeeee the Lord! Hallelujah! Praise, praise, praiseeeeee the Lord! Hallelujah!

(Sings) Come and see, come and see oh, come and see. Come and see what the Lord has done, come and see....

My brothers and sisters, I have come to tell of the miracle God has done in my life.

You see, when I moved to this country in 2011, I was young and very foolish. Being an ajebutter British girl, I assumed that most countries were as advanced and as efficient as my beloved old blighty, but I was soon to learn the error of my ways. As soon as I arrived, I found myself a job and applied for my social security number, something that is so important here in France, that it is issued a "carte VITALE."

Immediately, I encountered great difficulties. You see I had taken advantage of the very liberal British name change laws, and made the terrible mistake of changing my last name by deed poll. Ordinarily administration in France is hellish; with many of the civil servants being incompetent or just callous, but where there is even the slightest complication, the person is "foutu" as we say. Basically my case was hopeless! They kept asking me for strange documents that either didn't exist in England or weren't required according to their own rules. I in turn, got quite adept at writing begging letters and resending my dossier over and over again.
Example of some the absurdities I encountered. I was asked to send my "livret de famille," a document we don't have or use in the UK. When I told them that, I was advised to get my embassy to confirm my identity. Of course the guys at the embassy said that was mission impossible, and wished me great luck in dealing with the French. Another time, they asked for my last three payslips which I sent, except they were so slow in processing stuff, that each time they got round to my dossier, so much time had passed that I needed to resend them my latest payslip. They returned the whole dossier each time and asked me to add the required pieces and re-post. So bloody time-consuming and expensive! The whole process was infernal, and I actually started wondering why I left my beloved England. 

In September, I decided to write the things I would like to achieve on a little post-it which I stuck on my wall. One of the things was getting my number by September 2013...that's how hopeless the situation looked. I even stopped praying about it, because it started to feel like God was omnipotent except when it came to French administration. Kai, those people almost made me lose my faith and blaspheme! Anyway, about two weeks ago, my sister noticed my little post-it note and cracked up in laughter. She asked me why I was stressing myself by hoping for something that would probably never happen, and she advised me to just relax and hope I would get it at some point before I die. Apparently, at her law firm, there's a British lawyer who is married to a French woman and has been living in the country for more than ten years. He is still waiting, and has resorted to fighting for his number through legal channels! An American friend told me she's been waiting for three years! I realised my sister was right and I should just give up. But, the discussion reminded me that I hadn't heard anything from them in almost six weeks, so I called the next day asking if they needed any more documents. My brethren, imagine my amazement when the man told me I had been issued a NUMBER!!! I started dancing on the spot and almost started speaking in tongues sef. Apparently, God is more powerful than the "fonctionnaires" and even the French administrative system itself. I rang everyone I knew and posted the news on facebook. Brethren, my faith in God was revived, there is nothing that is impossible for our God! Once again, praise, praise, praiseeeeeeeeeeeeeee the Lord! Hallelujah! 

Postscript: When I called, I was told I'd get a letter proving that I had the right to social security, within eight days (getting the carte vitale itself is a whole 'nother story. I've been warned it can take up to two years!). I reminded the guy that I had moved houses in July and had sent them the contract for my new address, but I took it in my stride when he said he didn't have that information.  I wasn't even stressed...just jejely gave him the address again. I waited for eight days, and was starting to get anxious, when I got a text from someone at my OLD flat telling me I had a letter from social security. Gallic shrug, "on peut pas toute avoir."

P.P.S. One day I will tell the of equally traumatic process of registering as a nurse!

Tuesday 18 December 2012

On My Way to Utrecht!

I had tons of annual leave to use up before the end of the year, and as I haven't seen my friend E in almost two years, I decided to go visit her. Being my usual last-minute self, I didn't book the tickets until three days before, by which time train tickets were insanely expensive so I ended up taking the bus. It was okay, I guess...practically empty; only 2 passengers between Lille and Amsterdam, WiFi was available, and  my fellow passenger was affable enough. I'm spending three days here and really looking forward to hanging out/catching up with E.

J'ai beaucoup des congés annuels que je doit prendre avant la fin de l'année, et comme je n'ai pas vu mon amie E, depuis presque deux ans, j'ai décidé de lui rendre visite. Comme d'habitude j'était trop dernière minute, et je n'ai pas réserver les billets jusqu'à trois jours avant. Pas étonnant que les billets de train soient exorbitant...j'ai fini par prendre le bus et c'était pas mal je suppose. Pratiquement vide; seulement 2 passagers entre Lille et Amsterdam, WiFi était disponible, et mon compagnon de voyage était assez sympa. Je vais rester trois jours ici et vraiment j'ai hâte de passer du temps avec E.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

J'ai Mon Numéro Secu!

After 400 days (1 year and 1 month after I started the process!), I've finally succeeded in getting myself registered with the French social security system. In eight days, I should have my social security number and state-sponsored health insurance cover. If you have any experience with French administration, you would understand why and how I was so happy to hear today that I'd been allocated a number! 

Après 400 jours, soit un an et un mois, j'ai enfin réussi mon inscription à la sécurité sociale française. D'ici huit jours, j'aurai mon numéro de sécurité sociale et une assurance maladie. Si vous connaissez l'administration française, vous comprendriez pourquoi je suis aussi contente. C'était incroyable de recevoir ces nouvelles ce matin! 

Tuesday 27 November 2012


Got two pairs; one red and one black, because I couldn't anyway, dear citizens and denizens of the interweb, which ones do you prefer?

J'ai acheté deux paires de lunettes car j'arrivait pas a choisir....mes chers et cheres citoyens du web, vous preferez lesquelles? Les noires ou les rouges?

Monday 19 November 2012

Ma Vie Amoureuse a Paris 2

There is no English word to describe exactly what I mean, so I have had to use the French phrase...anyway, since July/August, I've have quite a few "aventures amoureuses". Here are the stories in order of which they happened.

Bastien, French, 23, banker guy and friend of work colleagues...
We met at a birthday party. He had been to school and was best friends with one of the girls. This should have been a warning sign for me, but we live and learn. Anyway, before anything could happen between us, he had to travel for work to Japan, so in the mean while, we "talked" by email via Facebook  To my horror, I discovered that he had been telling his friend every little detail about our chats. She in turn told the other girls in her group of friends and they began to tease me and talk about it ALL the time at work, even texting me at home to ask constantly how things were  going. As someone who is extremely private, this soon became intolerable and I quickly put an end to the "liaison." It was a very short-lived affair...

Ben, Jewish-American, 25, PhD student on a see-where-my-family-came-from trip around Europe...
When I first met him, I had felt zero attraction. He was super blond, with the bluest eyes and not very other words, not at all my type. The thing is I have never fallen in love, but I've always imagined that being as opened-minded as possible, is the surest route to finding the right person. Anyway, I decided to give B a chance because he was persistent and deaf (I'm an equal opportunities kind of girl ;) ). He told me that he had a job offer with an Engineering firm in the UK after his PhD (scheduled to finish before the end of the year), and he was planning to move to Europe, so this was also kind of a reconnaissance trip. Things went well in the beginning, but as I got to know him better, I started to regret having given him the chance. He embodied every negative stereotype about Americans! He was loud, believed America was the perfect country and everywhere else was uncivilised, farted/belched in public, and was generally as uncouth and disagreeable as possible. It became obvious to me that it was going nowhere, so I put an end to it pretty sharpish. The only thing I gained from this relationship was the discovery that I am fine with having a "disabled" partner, something which would become important later on.

Antoine, French, 23, Masters student and intern at Ad agency. 
I met him at my birthday party in August, while I was still going out with Ben. He was a friend of my sister's work colleague, and he had been invited even though I knew neither him nor his friend. I didn't really notice him to be honest, but my little sister (who was spending the summer with us) later told me he had spent the night staring at me. Anyway, he left the party early and took my number under the pretext of contacting me if he found a nice club... Both my sisters and brother hated Ben, and they kind of opened my eyes to the fact that A might like me. Long story short, we went out a few times in the beginning and he was very sweet. However, I had also met F at around the same time, and he was much more attentive than A who would take days to respond to texts and never had time to hang out. He seemed to spend his time apologising, for not responding, for cancelling dates, for not having time. In the end, I asked him point blank what he wanted, and that's when he said he was being flaky because he was confused. He liked me, was attracted to me, blah blah blah etc., but wasn't sure if he was over his ex or wanted to start a new relationship. Besides, he was worried about starting something and then having to leave Paris (which he hates!) after his internship. I tried to reason with him, but realised that I didn't want to be in another ambiguous relationship, so we agreed to end things. Since then we've tried to keep up the friendship, and gone out once, but I think he is still confused. I stopped texting/emailing, because as I said he is absolutely rubbish at replying and it bugs me. Sometimes he writes, just out of the blue, in ways that make me wonder about us and what's going on in his head. To be honest, I'm not sure either of us got closure from this "relationship,"  and although I still wonder about what could have been, I've definitely moved on.

Somewhere between these guys, I also had "encounters" with many others including Matthew (English), Guy (Congolese), Francisco (Portuguese), Pierre, Pierre and Sebastien (all three French). Most were just casual dates, and I was fine with not taking things further. However, with Francisco who had to go back to Switzerland (got an internship, as an economist at the ECB) and three of the guys who were older than me, I was a bit.... sadly, even though I tried really hard, things just didn't work out. I guess the older guys felt slightly paedophilic around me :(

Anyway, this brings us to Frédéric. 
French, 22, Masters student and intern. Current boyfriend :)
So when I first met F, he was super attentive, romantic etc. I liked all these things, but wasn't very attracted to him. However, I decided to give him a chance because he was very persistent. We have been together more or less since September, after a while I started to like him but there were initially a few bumps in the road. 

First, I found out that he had lied about his age, he told me he was 23, when in fact he was 22. When I confronted him about it, he said it was because he really liked me but was worried I wouldn't want to go out with someone so young. I thought it was kind of sweet, but was rather annoyed by the fact that we started the relationship based on a lie (my sister thinks it's not that bad!). I then found out that he had been in a very bad accident when he was 20, which had almost killed him, and which had left him with multiple disabilities...cognitive, speech, mobility. They are not obvious when you first meet him, but have a big impact on his life, for example he needs to spend lots of time with various therapists. As someone with a type A personality,  he also has a crazy schedule which would be hard enough for any "abled" person to manage, school work, internship, sports etc. When you add the time spent on therapies, it becomes almost impossible to find time for anything else. Right at the beginning of the relationship, the age and time issues made me quite reticent  but I thought that if we really wanted to be together we could work things out. So to test his seriousness, I sent him a message asking if he wanted to continue the relationship or wanted instead to be just friends. He replied yes, and cited the issues which were already on my mind. For me, this was a sign that he wasn't serious, so I decided to just cut off all contact. A week later, he contacted me, apologised and we decided to give things another chance.  We've been together ever since, and I'm learning to get over my upset at the way things happened initially...I think I like him, but my feelings fluctuate. I also haven't really seen him in about 3weeks, and I neither miss him nor care. At the moment I'm taking each day as it comes, hoping I'll eventually go back to feeling secure in the relationship, but I can kind of see the end in sight, so I'm keeping my options open. After-all who knows what the future holds :) 

I have decided that my very young face is not at all an asset. I only ever seem to attract really young guys, which I wouldn't mind in itself, except for the fact that maturity comes with age...SIGH!

Friday 16 November 2012

Ma Vie Amoureuse a Paris

I've decided to write this post in English because it's likely to be quite long :)

When I initially moved here, I was so preoccupied with acquiring the language, starting work as a nurse etc., that I didn't have the time or energy  to date. Besides, it's pretty difficult to meet people when all you do is go to French classes, babysit and teach children. I met one or two guys during that time, from my French school (had a girlfriend, so no!) and one really lovely guy from church, to whom I just wasn't attracted...October-December was pretty dry in that sense. 

Anyway in January, I met the guy that would really "basculer ma vie" as we say in French. J was on the same programme as me, teaching at a university where we had two-week contracts for intensive English classes. Right from the beginning, he seemed really curious about me, asking lots of questions and trying to show how much he knew about Nigeria and Africa in general. Now, I'm a VERY proud Nigerian, and he is a typical European (half French, half Scottish grew up in England), so I was pretty impressed by his knowledge. He told me about how his brother had been born in South Africa, how his parents were really into African music, how he spent two years in Tanzania, and would love to go back there to work after his Masters (his reason for being in Paris). We talked about the unfair privilege sometimes accorded to white people in African societies, as well as the good, bad and ugly about Nigeria. I usually am quite circumspect about these issues, because I know many people are already quite prejudiced against my lovely country, but I felt completely at ease with him...It really was like talking to another Nigerian. We talked about Fela, P-squared, D'Banj and Nollywood all of which he loved with a passion. He took me to see exhibitions about Nigeria (not easy to find in a Francophone country), and showed me an uber-cool "world music" bar where they sometimes played old King Sonny Ade songs! We loved similar books, music (he often sent me clips), wandering around Paris and going to cool places ("weird" contemporary art galleries, clubs, antiques markets etc). Gradually, I fell in love with the idea of being with him, he seemed so...perfect. 

Right at the beginning of the relationship, I kind of told him I was just looking for a friend because I wanted to stay in Paris and he was obviously just passing through. He was also much younger than me at 23, I was 27... A few weeks later though, I asked him out and he told me he had just started going out with a girl from his university. I was so sad! Not because I loved him, but because I loved the idea of finally finding someone who seemed to totally understand my culture, my origins, and the unique result of being raised as a child of two cultures. As an aside, I have never dated a Nigerian (not for want of trying!), and it sometimes bugs me to know that I might end up with someone to whom I would constantly have to explain aspects of my culture. 

Anyway, even after his admission, nothing changed.  I became confused after a while because he never spoke about his girlfriend and we still spent entire days together, even though all the hand-holding etc. had stopped. Eventually, I asked him about A and he told me she was doing an internship in the Philippines (him, biologist, her archaeologist). I decided to be extremely careful around him after that, because I could see things becoming complicated really easily. Around his birthday in May, he asked for a Nigerian meal as a present and I promised to make him pepper soup, fried rice and dodo, clearly proof that he was getting under my skin....I had never cooked for a guy before that. After I got back from the US, we spent another whole day together just talking and wandering round Paris, and then he invited me to a "party" with his uni mates which I was a bit weird about, having decided to stop hanging out with his friends when I found out he was seeing A. I agreed to go though, because it was his birthday. That my friends, is when things started to go awry. 

First he sent me a message that afternoon telling me that A had met and was seeing someone else in the Philippines, but ended the text by telling me not to read anything into it! Then he spent the evening texting repeatedly, asking if I was coming to the party...In the light of the new information and behaviour, I decided to go with my sister, using her kind of as a cloak of protection. In the end, she left early because she couldn't stand the hippyness of his friends and because she said she could see he really wanted to be alone with me. Throughout the night he became more and more tactile even though I kept refusing his advances (we hadn't talked and I wanted to avoid any misunderstanding). Next day was the promised meal, and I brought up the text and his behaviour the night before, which he blamed on his drinking and the fact that he really liked me and found me attractive. However, he then said he was planning to try to work things out with A. In retrospect, I should have ended the friendship there and then, because as my sister said, his disrespect towards me meant that he was a bad friend and would obviously not do better as a boyfriend. I didn't listen to her though, so we kept hanging out and things  gradually deteriorated. We started arguing over emails, texts etc., even after he'd left for a four month internship in England, the arguments continued. 

Around July, I went to see my cousin and honorary big brother in Rome, and he advised me to just live my life and cut off all contact with J. I listened to advice this time, and within a few days was able to realise that even though we had loads of fun together, he would have made a crappy boyfriend. Plus I didn't love him (just the idea), and my sister hated him because she though he was ugly and not up to my usual standards :)

My "history" with J happened over the course of 6 months...until June/July. By then, I was on my way to becoming truly integrated into French society and was beginning to meet more guys. Part 2 coming soon....

Tuesday 6 November 2012

So What Have I Been Up To?

Just before my last desertion, I blogged about taking my French language exams and finally starting work as a nurse.

Well that's exactly what happened. I took the TCF (test de connaissance du français) with lots of fear and trembling  because I was sure that I would fail as a result of my laziness and general attitude of skiving off classes. Luckily  all those hours of watching shitty French TV and reading every material I could get my hands on, helped. I passed the exams, getting a C1 (B2 is the required level) and managing to save myself a fairly expensive 230€ resit! After a lot of hassle,  I was able to register myself as a nurse...French administrative (in)efficiency is a subject for another post. 

Anyway, to celebrate  I pierced my nose and took a well-deserved holiday, managing to fit in a very tiring but incredibly fun 2 week road trip around dixieland (southern USA). 

On returning home (feels strange to call Paris that!) I started looking for jobs and after a few false starts found something at a psychiatric hospital in what was surely the hardest three months of my life. I was working in an environment where I had no experience, with protocols/equipment/medicines which were often very different from what I had used in England, and in a totally new language. Trying to communicate in French, in medical French, with psychiatric patients who used lots of slang and were often delirious was DIFFICULT! Luckily I survived the contract, and I  was able to discover a previously unknown aspect of nursing which I love. I work in a new hospital now, in acute psychiatry (even more "difficult") and I am thriving. 

In the middle of all this, we managed to find a flat and moved from one of 11m² (11!) to a much larger, prettier 54m². We each have our own rooms and my sister can now shut her door when she gets tired of me running around naked. Best thing about the flat though,  is the living room with a canapé-lit, which allows us to have people over. The stream hasn't really stopped since we moved in, in August! Although we love having people, I'm hoping things will slow down soon, because we're tired and I need to hibernate for the winter.

So anyway, at the moment I'm loving my job; although looking for something much closer to home, I've started learning Italian, and I'm back to singing in a choir (we're doing Dvorak's Stabat Mater).

In other news, I have been dating A LOT! Not sure why, but I seem to be very popular here in Paris, although that hasn't equalled finding "the one" or one of "the ones." I'll probably do a post on the craziness that has been my experience of dating in Paris...

Allora, baci e buona giornata a tutti!

Wednesday 17 October 2012

La Ville Lumière 2

Le Moulin Rouge. Dix minutes de chez moi à pied!

La fameuse pyramide du Louvre

Paris plage 2012, sur le quai de la Seine

Les cadenas d'amour, pont de l'Archevêché

Iya Traore, le footballeur de Sacre Coeur. Très doué ce mec!

La Basilique du Sacre Coeur

Fatiguée après une journée de tours!

La Ville Lumière 1

Au bord de la seine, Champs de Mars. Lieux sympas pour des pique-nique 

A l'ombre de la tour Eiffel

Coucher du soleil, vu de ma fenêtre

Le Rickshaw, un nouveau moyen de faire la touriste

Center George Pompidou, boutique Amorino, Châtelet...bref, les temps perdus 

Monday 15 October 2012

La Ville Éternelle

In July, I spent three days at my aunt's and cousins' in Rome. It was a much needed and well-deserved break! As I had already visited the city many times before, I wasn't too fussed about doing touristy things , and so spent the weekend basically sleeping, eating and partying. I was able to try out Italian-style clubbing for the first time, and I can confirm the's definitely true that the men are STYLISH and GORGEOUS!

En juillet je suis partie à Rome pour  trois jours de repos chez ma Tante et mes cousins. Comme j'ai déjà passé pas mal de temps dans cette belle ville, j'avais pas trop envie de faire la touriste, donc c'était plutôt un gros weekend de bouffe et de clubbing. J'ai pu profité de faire la fête a l'italienne, et oui, les hommes italiens sont sûrement des beaux gosses!  :)  

Saturday 13 October 2012

Le Carnaval de Notting Hill 2

After ending my three-month contract, I decided it was a good idea to take a quick break before starting at my new permanent job. So, for the second time in my life, I was able to see the Notting Hill Carnival and I wasn't disappointed. I was lucky enough the next day to "run into" the (para)Olympic torch relay. Unfortunately, all the pictures I took were unclear...the infamous London fog strikes again!

Après trois mois de travail, je me suis dit qu'il fallait partir a Londres, afin de faire un petit pause avant l'entrée en Septembre. Alors pour la deuxième fois dans ma vie, j'étais au "Notting Hill Carnival," et j'ai été pas de tout déçu. Le lendemain, j'ai eu de la chance de tomber sur le relais de la flamme olympique (pour les jeux paralympiques), mais malheureusement le photo n'est pas trop clair a cause du brouillard londonienne. 

Le Carnaval de Notting Hill