I started writing this post in mid-August, when both life at the office and life in Paris were considerably quieter. What people say is true: the city tends to empty out each August as a large proportion of parisiens go on holiday, leaving mostly tourists. The métro was generally quieter because of that, but it remained as busy as ever during rush hours. A year on from my summer school in Heidelberg, one thing has certainly not changed: I still find myself losing balance, slipping, and stepping on peoples’ toes. It makes it harder to “laugh along with myself” in Paris, though, because there are rarely smiles of amusement when this happens.
I mentioned in my last post that the family was going on holiday for most of the month of August. In their absence, I attempted to water their garden. Supposedly, this should be a manageable task that doesn’t take too long. The reality for me, and I imagine for many others who struggle with their coordination and spatial awareness, was the opposite. The greatest challenge was not tripping up in the hoops of the hose pipe as I moved from one area of the garden to another. I can only hope the family remained blissfully unaware of the stalks that snapped as a result of my awkward maneuvers around the garden… On a few occasions, water wouldn’t stop spraying out everywhere from the hose pipe. It took many attempts at fiddling with the setting and turning the lever backwards and forwards before I managed to stop the fast flow of water, by which time it was not just the poor patio that was covered in dispersed soil, but also my legs… thank goodness no neighbours were about at the time to witness the drowning.
I made the most of my final month in Paris, by exploring most of the remaining musées and parcs on my to-do list. I was fortunate to have a few visits from friends and family during the final six weeks of my placement, which made it a lot easier to focus on office work during the week. I saw an incredible cabaret show at the Moulin Rouge, and experienced some great classical and jazz concerts indoors as well as at the Parc Floral. I have increased my tolerance to loud music – oddly enough, it hardly bothers me now (depending on the quality of course!). I enjoyed a few wonderful days with one of my German friends who came to visit – the photos above are courtesy of her talent! We had a great day in Chantilly together, visiting the château pictured above. A few days later, I travelled out of Paris by train again, to catch up with one of my French friends in the town of Auxerre. Back in Paris, I also fitted in some final visits to art museums before the end of my placement. My favourite museums within central Paris include the following: Musée Marmottan, Musée de l’Orangerie, Musée national Eugène Delacroix, Musée d’Orsay, and Musée Rodin. Go and visit their exhibitions if you get the chance! Needless to say, of everything I know I will miss, I will miss Paris’ vibrant arts’ scene the most.
It is now the beginning of September, widely known as “la rentrée” to parisiens, who have been reluctantly returning to work – and school – following the quiet month of August. The métro is no longer so calm. The office is no longer empty. There is once again a sense of colleagues buzzing around the office, after two weeks of less activity. The rushing-around starts all over again, and fortunately, it is now that I leave – just in time! My départ from the hectic world of Paris was not dramatic at all – my year abroad ended quietly, in contrast to some very loud moments along the way.
I feel a mix of relief and pride as I claim my seat on the Eurostar train back to London. I saw my final placement through to the end, an achievement which at times felt doubtful. I have proven to myself that I can often accomplish a lot more than what I initially consider to be possible. With the right support along the way, a year abroad can absolutely be realistic for a student with specific learning difficulties.
I intend to continue my blog in time, with advice on some of the practical challenges I have not been able to detail in my posts, and more reflections on what I have learned this year. I will also update you on how my final year at university goes! Misspraxic adventures, although not abroad for the time being, will definitely continue.
Thank you to anyone who has read my posts this year. Thanks to your support, I have achieved my biggest challenge yet. I will now be taking a break from scanning machines for the foreseeable future!