Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Only The Beginning

It certainly feels quite strange to be writing this post. Nearly a week after my gradutaion from the University of London Institute in Paris I am sat in my beautiful apartment trying to deal with a heatwave and the fact my family have returned back to the UK. Graduating was a more emotional experience than I think I had prepared myself for. Everyone must go through a number of different emotions when you don that black robe but for me it was a moment I hadn't seen myself arriving at considering what has happened in my life in the last year.
I received a 2:2 in French with History which was definitely not what I saw myself doing when we take into account the fact I applied for French Studies as a nearly straight A student almost 4 years ago now. I was diagnosed with anxiety with depression and PTSD earlier on this year which made me think that there was a possibilty I'd have to resit my final year. Luckily the help was there from family, friends and my university as well as the magnificent NHS to get me back on my feet again. From panic attacks to depressive episodes the attacks in November affected me deeply both pyschologically and physically. The attacks in Nice certainly resonanted with me as I waited to receive my degree and I was awash with emotions as I sat waiting. I grieve for those who lost loved ones as well as those who have been affected by them whether directly or indirectly. The day after my graduation I managed to return to the area that I was in the night of the attacks which has been a dark place for me ever since that night but armed with the coping strategies I have gained since then I coped.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that you can do it. It gets better. I am living proof of that. I now speak to you as a graduate of a unique instiution who has a job, a roof over their head and people who love them. I couldn't be more content which isn't to say I don't struggle. There are still days where I am a crying wreck on the bathroom floor but I just pick myself back up again and try to carry on the best I can. Panic attacks and social anxiety are not to be trivialised. If you feel like you can't cope and that you're expressing your stress in the wrong way then don't suffer in silence. I urge you to talk to someone, goodness knows I wish I had realised this sooner about myself.
The closing words I'm going to use about my university life are ones that I hope I adhere to throughout my adult life.
Don't let the bastards grind you down kids.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Mastering The Art Of Being Parisian

Recently the real world has kind of taken over for me. Finishing university was a milestone that I don't think I was quite prepared for but I have been trying to fill the void with work, work and more work! I've also been reading a lot more. Something that I surprisingly didn't have much time for during term time. My concentration levels have dwindled over the past year or so but now that I am getting myself back on track I am finding that I can read more. 

I've been trying to remind myself why I love living here so much and why I chose to live here in the first place! So the first book on my summer reading list was My Life in France by the one and only Julia Child. For those of you who aren't familar with the culinary giant - she essentially introduced proper French cooking to America with her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It turns out that when she moved to Paris with her husband in the 1950s she lived around the corner from where my university is and she used to shop on the road I used to go and get my lunchtime panini from the Italian deli. There were little coincidences like this that made the book truly magical for me. It has reinspired me to not only love France more but to cook more. Cooking and baking are two of my biggest passions but my desire to work on either of them while finishing my degree dwindled. 

A couple of weeks ago I plunged fully into becoming a proper Parisian and I invested in a shopping trolley. The quintessential French accessory. It came from Monoprix and that's where I take it back to pretty much once a week. Now I get excited to fill it full of whatever is in season - I've even started fondling vegetables to make sure they are just right. Don't get me wrong I still love a good old cup of tea and a dunkable biscuit but after what has been going on in the UK recently I'm ready to become fully French, or at least Parisian until Great Britain sorts itself out.