Hi everyone and welcome to my blog! The main purpose of which was to keep my friends and family up-to-date with what I was up to during the LL.M. Also includes general ramblings - all views my own.
Although I have now completed the LL.M I will be keeping the blog active in case it is of any use to anyone wanting to study abroad - to get an idea of how I found it. Of course if you want any "inside info" drop me a line in the Contact tab and Good Luck!
|Posted by Rachel J Roche on August 13, 2012 at 9:05 AM||comments (2)|
Last day! The weather on Saturday morning was perfect. The sun was out and the temperature was just right for rollerblading! It was such fun! We went over to Parc du Luxembourg and up and down the adjacent streets. I noticed quite a few police about and wondered if we were going to get told we weren’t supposed to be rollerblading around the Palace, but on closer inspection, they were just laughing at our attempts to stay upright! The park was really busy, with people jogging, doing yoga, tai chi and all sorts! I can’t wait to go there with Adam and have a picnic on the lawn. I’d also love to visit the Palace inside which looks really impressive; there are so many beautiful buildings everywhere you look.
After rollerblading, we had to pack up, check out and take the rollerblades back to the rental shop near to the Bastille before finding somewhere for lunch and getting our flight home. We found a really lovely place for lunch just off the main Boulevard Saint-Germain. A little family-run restaurant which I will definitely be going to again, I can’t remember what it was called but I’m sure I could find it. It served exclusively French food and the staff were lovely. I felt really bad however as we totally forgot to tip them as we left as we were too busy thinking about how much (or little) time we had to get to the airport before check-in. Oops!
Heading back on the Metro, we hadn’t realised (and hadn’t been told by the attendant at the station whom we asked for directions) that there was work on the line. Luckily, a nice French man chaperoned us all the way to the RER B station where the train would take us to Charles de Gaulle! I think he took one look at our worried faces and realised that he couldn’t just leave us stuck there as we had budgeted only the time it took on the train to arrive for check-in! Big mistake. We cut it VERY fine … with only 5 minutes to go before check-in closed! I have never run so fast in my flip-flops in my life (note to self: get some sensible shoes!) Plus we had bought the wrong ticket to get to the airport and the electronic doors wouldn’t let us in! It must have been our lucky day however as a lady and her grown-up daughter let us sneak through with them – we didn’t exactly have much choice though as by this point we were panicking! The queues at check-in were pretty long and so we tried to use the automated check-in but it wasn’t working so we grabbed the first official looking man we saw and he checked us in straight away! Phew. By this point I thought I was going to faint. That was a bit hairy. We were both totally worn out after all that and it was such a relief getting on the plane! Nice that we didn’t have to wait around before boarding, but I don’t think I’ll be leaving it so late next time!
All in all a really successful weekend trip and very enjoyable! Thanks B for being a great travel companion; I can’t wait to head back.
|Posted by Rachel J Roche on August 11, 2012 at 8:10 AM||comments (0)|
More from last weekend.
Today (the Saturday) was all about finding my bearings and B was also keen to go roller-skating in the Parc du Luxemborg so we scouted out a rollerblade rental and sock shop to visit later in the day. Breakfast was typically French of course – a pain au chocolate/croissant and a coffee near to the Pantheon and, upon looking at the map, it was clear that my new apartment was just around the corner from the café. After breakfast, we headed over to the Pantheon which is right next to the Sorbonne and worked out that my new place is literally about 300 meters from the famous landmark. Making our way over there, it was strange, like I’d stepped straight into my computer as it was exactly like it was on Google maps! Not that I suppose that is much of a surprise! Before our 2:30 pm meeting at the apartment, B and I wondered through the park and I bought Mimi a bunch of flowers and we found a sock shop for rollerblading later on – the most expensive socks in the world, a precariously wrapped bunch of flowers and about 45 minutes later we were back to meet Mimi. Now, I had spoken to her over the phone briefly a few weeks before as she had called me to firm up our plan for this weekend, and we had exchanged a fair few emails – plus I had spoken to her on Skype in May when I saw the advert for her room to rent on Craigslist, but you never know whether someone or somewhere is going to be as it appears until you actually get there. Not to mention the many scams that pop up on Craigslist for rooms to rent that don’t even exist - I had a couple of those but luckily when someone sends me a photo of an apartment in Paris with a sea view, I think I can safely assume that it’s a no-go!.
Mimi was lovely and she had gone to the trouble of making a pot of tea and coffee, plus had some cakes and macaroons laid out on her coffee table in the lounge, bless her. The conversation was exclusively in French (as expected) and B said that she found it quite strange being in someone’s house that she didn’t know and not understanding what we were on about! Although saying that, whilst I could understand most things that Mimi was talking to me about, there were a few times when I found myself nodding my head in agreement to something that I didn’t understand at all! I’m fairly sure it was nothing fundamental however so I wasn’t too concerned. By this point, it was general chit chat – about the Olympics, about the macaroons, the weather and getting out and about in Paris. I think the rendezvous went fairly well and after firming up plans for my arrival on the 1 September and handing over my first months’ rent as arranged as my deposit, it was time to head back out for more exploring. Mimi lent us an A to Z of the city to help us find our way around.
Next stop was a late lunch. Directed by Mimi, B and I walked round to the left side of the Pantheon and down some narrow cobbled streets. It wasn’t long before we found a nice restaurant which was still serving food and we ended up sharing a salad and some cooked meats. It was a welcome boost before heading towards Rue De Rivoli over the other side of the river, near to where my first weeks’ study will be held. Although my feet were starting to hurt from all the walking, and I suppose I had better get used to that, I was on a mission to locate the building which we eventually managed to do with the help of Mimi’s A to Z. For those of you who know me, you will know that my navigational skills are a bit rubbish, but we did eventually find the building and then it was on to search for rollerblades!
The rollerblading shop is just off the Bastille (uk.nomadeshop.com) and it was pretty inexpensive to hire a pair each for 24 hours. I can see myself going rollerblading a fair bit when in Paris as it’s also great exercise!
In the evening, B and I took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower and had dinner close by. There were lots of people in the Champ de Mars (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champ_de_Mars) despite it now being dark and I can’t wait to have a picnic with Adam there when he comes to visit me!
More updates soon.
|Posted by Rachel J Roche on August 10, 2012 at 3:15 AM||comments (2)|
What a beautiful day. I am sat in Montpellier Park in Cheltenham having lunch and typing on my little netbook. There are plenty of people about but it’s still fairly quiet even for lunch time. Well, apart from a couple of young girls who have now sat right by me laughing incessantly at something some boy has text them. Please be quiet I am trying to type!
There is so much to say as I’ve had a very busy week. This time last week, my friend Becky and I were on our way to Paris by plane – in fact, we would have landed a short while ago and we were probably wondering around Boulevard Saint-Germain about now, trying to find our hotel. We stayed in Hotel Observatoire (observatoirehotel.com) directly opposite the Jardin du Luxemburg (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jardin_du_Luxembourg) and it was exactly what we expected. The staff were super friendly and although the lift to our room on the third floor gave me the heebie-jeebies because it was a bit of a squeeze to get in there even with just our carry-on suitcases, the room itself was just what we needed and the bathroom was huge; perfect for a couple of friends of a girlie weekend away. The first night we had dinner at the restaurant which was adjacent to the hotel – a typical Parisian eating house and I couldn’t wait to tuck into steak frites and a couple of glass of vin blanc. The waitress was really helpful and I managed to get some tips from her about where best to go to get a French mobile. We had such a great evening. Becky and I hadn’t really had chance to catch up properly over the last 12 months or so despite me working in the same town as her since Christmas. All we had managed were a few short lunch breaks and that was never enough time to fill each other in properly on what we had been up to. Later in the evening after dinner, we took the Metro over to Le Louvre. The view walking though the square was phenomenal. The sun was setting and the light was perfect to make the most of the beauty of the place. Although I had been to Le Louvre before (a whopping 18 years ago) I certainly don’t remember it being quite as spectacular. Paris was also starting to feel strangely like home although this is probably my minds way of diluting the anxiety of moving to another country. It was still pretty early and Le Louvre was still open so we went in. We had a wonder around for about an hour and for those of you who have never been, it's a must-see! Totally amazing and I'll be back again to spend some proper time in there as soon as I can. Thereafter, we headed over to the Jardins des Tuileries where there was a fairground and had a wonder around there (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuileries_Garden). Persuaded by B we went on the air swing which was ridiculously high but gave us an amazing view of the city. It was dark by this point and Paris by night with Le Louvre and L’Arc de Triomphe looked pretty awesome. We resisted the urge to get doughnuts or sweets from one of the many stalls but we did stop by an open air bar where they were serving pancakes – we shared a chocolate pancake and a carafe of wine before heading back to the hotel. They were showing the Olympic basketball I think - strangely enough France v GB! We didn’t stick around to see the outcome!
The walk back to the Metro to take us to the hotel reminded me that you can never be too careful in a city in the eveing. Two men were clearly following us part way to the Metro from Tuileries but we double backed on ourselves a couple of times before they eventually stopped following us and walked away - we then went straight back to the hotel taking no short-cuts and making sure we stayed in busy areas where there were plenty of street lights. I will definitely think twice before heading out alone at night but then you have to be careful wherever you are and it’s dark.
I had such a good afternoon and evening in the city, but couldn’t wait to get up on Saturday morning to explore some more. Saturday was also the day that I was meeting Mireille – the lady who is renting her spare room to me for the duration of my stay. I was also looking forward to finding out where the university was and the office of research where I will be spending my first week.
More updates soon.
|Posted by Rachel J Roche on August 9, 2012 at 10:20 PM||comments (0)|
This morning I received confirmation that I have passed my most recent Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) thesis which is just brilliant news! The topic was on making gifts out of income for inheritance tax purposes. I have one more thesis to write (and pass) and then I will become a fully qualified member of STEP. I will tackle that when I have finished my course and work placement at La Sorbonne.
The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) is the leading worldwide professional body for practitioners in the fields of trusts, estates and related issues. Full members of STEP are the most experienced and senior practitioners in the field of trusts and estates. Members advise clients on the broad business of the management of personal finance.
|Posted by Rachel J Roche on July 30, 2012 at 9:10 AM||comments (1)|
What a cool few days it has been! The opening ceremony to the Olympics, which Adam and I watched online, was utterly bonkers, but it didn’t stop us watching the whole thing right up until nearly 1am! (How many countries are there in the world? It was like a geography lesson when they were introducing everyone! In fact, I’m going to Google that in a minute).There were certainly some really memorable moments. For me, the Queen jumping out of a plane (as I believe I had previously predicted – albeit, perhaps sarcastically – on my twitter feed) and of course the British institution that is none other than David Beckham – looking very ‘swarve’* indeed in his James Bond-esq suit, pushing that speed boat to the limit! I wonder how fast he was actually going as it looked pretty quick to me. Very good Becks,.. tres bien. I had a quick look at the New York Times website to see what the consensus of opinion was over there. It seems they liked it, but they don’t appear to have received it with the nostalgia and imagination of us Brits, but then why would they I suppose! We like a bit of ‘harking back to the old days’. I think the only negative comments I’ve read in the press over here relate to the interpretation of the modern – oh, and the supposed political undertones but I’m not so sure about that.
Good luck to Team GB! Adam is really eager to get some tickets but the days are going by so fast, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t make it. We watched the swimming and beach volleyball yesterday from the comfort of home, which was awesome.
This week I’ve got a list of things to do as long as my arm! My car needs to be made good so that I can sell it, I need to find a handyman to do a few things around the house before we leave and I’ve got to seriously start thinking about packing the house up. I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of packing but we are leaving most of the furniture so that’ll make it a lot easier than last time. How exciting! A couple of junior doctors will be moving in so I’d like to make the place look tip top before they arrive.
On Friday, my law school friend Becky and I will be going to Paris to sort out my accommodation for September and I also need to get kitted out with a French SIM card whilst I’m there. I keep forgetting about that so maybe now I’ve written it down I will be more likely to remember!
I can’t wait to tell you all about the weekend. It’ll be all very real when I’m standing outside the Pantheon.
My next French lesson is on Wednesday and I’m not doing too badly at working my way through the homework or committing to memory the grammar rules that we have looked at so far. The real test will be of my confidence when I get to Paris on Friday afternoon. I can be so under-confident with my French language that it’s laughable! I will need to snap out of it ASAP otherwise Becky will be in stiches!
*Apparently ‘swarve’ isn’t in the real dictionary – but according to the urban dictionary (!) it means ‘one who is stylish’ – which is what I thought it meant and I can’t believe it’s not in the real dictionary! I might have to check that again.
|Posted by Rachel J Roche on July 25, 2012 at 8:10 AM||comments (3)|
Summer is here for sure! It’s glorious outside and about time too. Just in time for the Olympics and we may take a road trip to London one day to get a load of the atmosphere. I’ve had two brilliant French lessons this week already with Anne. She is working me hard on grammar which is what I need. Lots of committing-to-memory to be done over the next week before my next lesson, although when I don’t think so much about conjugating my verbs, I’m actually better at it! She says my accent is pretty good which is encouraging. It must be because I spent 6 months in France at school when I was younger. I have a week now to get stuck in with the work-sheets that she has given me and I’m hoping to be able to impress her with my grammar skills by the next lesson. Fingers crossed!
Maybe revising in the sunshine will be good for me. There are so many lovely parks in Cheltenham it would be a shame not to make the most of them. We also have a cute little courtyard at home although we also have noisy neighbours so that might not be so conducive to revising! I wouldn’t mind if it were loud music or parties; instead the woman just incessantly calls for her cat “Oscar!”… Every half an hour she is out there banging pots and pans and cutlery - and rattling the cat-food box in an attempt to get him to come home. I mean, he is a cat. Cats roam around! He probably just can’t bear it any longer and takes every opportunity to ‘leg it’ when the door is a-jar. I noticed a ‘Lost Cat’ sign yesterday on the lamp-post around the corner from the house and wondered if it was the elusive Oscar but I don’t think it was because I’m sure I’ve heard him jumping on the fence again lately. He always tries to get into our courtyard but he can’t because it’s cat-proof so ha! I do try to coax him in sometimes though, as he is cute and I do actually like cats! The prize for the craziest (and perhaps chubbiest) cat however goes to Wayne - Adam’s parents’ cat. He is awesome.
Adam got home today! He was supposed to be away for another week, but his jet is broken so he’s home early. He can test me on my grammar, he’ll love that... He’s on about going camping one day to the Gower which will be nice. The last time we went camping however, Adam burnt his hand on the BBQ which was a bit of a palaver…. Hopefully this time he will remember that the BBQ is quite hot and, besides, I much prefer chicken to human. When we go, and tomorrow is looking the most likely, it will be a one-night-only affair, as I can’t do more than 24 hours without a fully functioning bathroom with shower (girls, I am sure you understand this). Plus I need to be super speedy at reciting my verbs for next week and I can’t let the side down by going on too many ‘jollies’ before my next lesson!
|Posted by Rachel J Roche on July 23, 2012 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
Summer is finally here in what has otherwise been a dreary and grey UK. Walking into town to hunt for luggage whilst making the most of the sunshine, I am pleased to advise that I have finally bought what can only be described as 'the mother of all suitcases'. A huge purple thing which is about the size of a mini caravan. As some random guy pointed out to me in the street whilst I was wheeling it home, I could actually fit myself in it!
Adam is away at the moment with work and so I have spent the weekend meeting friends and listening to hours of Paul Noble teach me "the natural way to learn French". I have to admit, he is pretty good, and like nothing I have listened to before. It doesn't feel like I'm learning anything although when it comes to using some of the words and phrases, it's just in my head without much effort. If only everything could be so easy.
I have also spent some time online learning a bit more about the world of blogging and tweeting and everything social media. I'm really quite enjoying it although it makes the time go scarily quickly. I've learnt that blogging can be a full-time occupation - or at least a way to facilitate paid writing and I've read lots of comment and discussion on the reasons why people set up their own blog. The reason I decided to set up my own blog is mainly because whilst I was researching the scholarship and studying/working abroad generally, it was difficult to find someone who had 'been there and done that'. I wanted to know how to go about it, what I should expect and what did the person on the other side gain from the experience. Basically I had lots of questions but no one to ask. There were past scholars but they were now busy with their own firms or other projects and I didn't want to bother them. General information on all of the above is of course available everywhere online at the touch of a button, but I could find nothing that really stood out as being an honest account of the experience. I suppose what I hope to gain from this is first and foremost to record my 12 months and then secondly, perhaps to encourage someone who might need a little persuading to get on and do it. I nearly didn't apply and I can't tell you how glad I am that I did. Let's just hope I am still saying that in 6 months' time, although I am sure I will be.
|Posted by Rachel J Roche on July 20, 2012 at 12:15 AM||comments (1)|
For those of you wondering where I found my French teachers, the school is called Parlons Francais in Cheltenham and I highly recommend them.
Cut and paste this link to your browser for more information - www.parlons-francais.co.uk
Parlons Français is run by Sophie Franklin, a French national with a wide experience of teaching to adults at all levels, secondary school students ('A' level and GCSE) and young children.Teaching locations include primary and secondary schools in the student's or teacher's home, as well as in industry.
|Posted by Rachel J Roche on July 19, 2012 at 12:30 PM||comments (1)|
We had French conversation club this evening and it was lovely to see Sophie and the two Annes who have helped me with my French over the course of the last 12 months or so. I also owe them a huge thank you for helping me with my application to La Sorbonne. I honestly think that without them I would not have been in the running for a place at all... merci, merci, merci. I should have taken some photos to post on the blog this evening. I need to start getting used to brandishing a camera everywhere I go.
This evening, I also met some of the other students who had, likewise, arrived to support the new French library in Cheltenham. This is a great project and I am sure that it will be a huge success. I will be digging out my old French books to donate to the library as soon as I have found them! I think they must be lurking somewhere in my mother's loft.
As my last day of work will be this Friday, I am lucky enough to have time available to organise some extra French tuition, which will be great. This will also enable me to see friends before I leave. I'm not exactly moving to the other side of the world, and of course it's only for a few months, but it's a lovely excuse to arrange a few evenings out with people that I may not see for a while. If previous students are to be believed (and I am sure they are right), I will be locked in the Cujas (the library) for the next 9 months and so I had better make the most of my free time whilst I have it!
Additionally, when I am back in the UK, Adam and I will be located further north than Cheltenham and so it's nice to be able to make the most of living in the Cotswolds over the course of the coming weeks, especially if the weather forecasters are right and an Indian Summer is on it's way... fingers crossed!
This evening, I also had a chat with an old colleague of mine (although when I say 'old', I simply mean 'previous'...! ) who has, as always, given me some fine words of wisdom. You know who you are.
More updates soon.
|Posted by Rachel J Roche on July 19, 2012 at 7:45 AM||comments (0)|
So, it’s the final day of work and it certainly went off with a bang!
Anyway, the prospect of not doing the ‘daily grind’ for a few weeks feels positively freeing. I've never been in this position before, much like a lot of people I know, and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. I am not beholden to the 9-5 any longer and it's amazing. Never being one to sit still for more than 5 minutes, it’s going to be a busy few weeks ahead, but with the sun out it’s almost like summer holidays… complete with French homework! Anne has organised a timetable of lessons for me which start in a couple of days. Although I am able to converse in French quite happily these days, I definitely need to work on my grammar and spelling, as well as how to use more professional (and legal) language and terminology. Being all foreign students on the LLM, the first week of the course does incorporate 9 hours of French language skills but, even so, I do like to be prepared!
In all, today has been very productive, and I even managed to squeeze in lunch with a very good friend of mine to catch up on all of her latest news. Tomorrow, the French books will be out and I'm also going to book some gym classes around my new timetable. I am loving this new timetable already, and we haven't even got started yet.
|Posted by Rachel J Roche on July 18, 2012 at 12:05 PM||comments (2)|
It is now only six weeks to go before I depart. I am very excited and have already starting scouring the shops and internet to find the perfect suitcase!
Currently working my notice period at work, I can't help but get distracted by the thought of what I will be doing in just a few weeks' time. All the formalities have been sorted, my timetable for the first week has arrived and I'm all set!
My friend Becky and I will be visiting Paris at the beginning of August to make sure that my Craigslist apartment really exists... and to find our way around. I also need to remind myself of how to use the Metro and I want to make sure that I know exactly where I am going on the first day.
We are treating ourselves to a nice hotel in the city and making a girlie weekend of it. I can't wait!