The wait

is over.  Yesterday I received the prelimenary report from my Fellowship application.  I was so nervous to open the email it was not even funny; my stomach was in knots and I was close to hyperventilating.  Elsa initially did not realise why was acting like a lunatic but as soon as she did she opened the attachments and read the comments. As it turns out I will not be getting any funding (unless the other 1750 people that made the cut all drop out)   I am ofcourse disappointed but it is not totally unexpected.  Although in my head I had already moved to London and was working on my project. Peter (UK boss) was lovely as usual and still wants to help me in finding other fellowships so I have not given up on my London dream and am planning on applying for other grants.

I guess it is like everything else;  getting turned down for something SUCKS but it is never the end of the world!!  Or maybe that is just something to say in order to make myself feel better.  Yesterday I first went for a massive workout and then watched the show called INTERVENTION (it is this great real-life drama about addicts and their families and then they have an intervention and addict gets sent to rehab) and while the workout and listening to oldschool hardcore on my ipod made me feel good.  Watching a show like Intervention really improved my mood (oh I sounds like such a dick).  And this morning I walked to uni and cleared my head and decided to start focussing more on my project here ( I was  bit in limbo land).

In totally different news:  Tuesday I went into MonoPriX a shop that sells clothes and make up. And what I did not initially realise: they also have a supermarket attached to the back of the store  (I had previously gone in and bought body lotion, that makes me smell like a coconut cake). So I decided to quickly buy some groceries from MonoPrix.. I walked into supermarket heaven; this shop looked great and had absolutely everything even passionfruits that I had not had since leaving Sydney! Everything was ofcourse ridiculously expensive and it is the end of the month… But I can not wait to go shopping there next week!! I have a good excuse to since 2 friends are coming to visit.

And now it is back into the lab……..

Not that

I really understand but I will try and explain it anyway.  Labs in France get different labels/ranking. This means that some labs have a normal label indicating they get money from the uni and need to find other external funding and then there are the INSERM and CNR labels which are the highest achievable labels a lab can get. The lab I am in has the INSERM label because it is part of a unit. This unit consists of 6 research teams. Some do human research, some do animal research some develop ultrasound techniques and the kicker some test the ‘stress of materials’ using piezoelectricity.

INSERM gives funding to the unit and every 4 years the unit gets evaluated to see if they can still carry the INSERM label. Since the next evaluation is next year, the Unit decided to do a pretend evaluation this year. Each team invited their own expert and each team leader gave a 30 min talk on the projects that were realised and future plans. This time the talks were all in English so I could totally follow it and it was really interesting to hear about the other teams; except the piezo one since I really did not understand what that was about.   After the talks there was a dinner, not for us just the experts and the lab heads. But before dinner we had a chance to meet with ‘our expert” and in the 5 minutes that I talked to him I learned more than in the 3 months I have been in the lab.  It is weird but there is just no discussion in our lab, mainly because I think that most people (students excluded) don’t really care about the science. As I said once they have their permanent job the science is out of the window and their time is spent drinking coffee and complaining.  And on the other hand there is little opportunity to sit down and discuss stuff. There are no meetings,  Friday drinks etc and it SUCKS.  The ‘expert’ is from Portugal  and  there are flights from here to Porto for just 5 euros so am definitely considering flying down to talk to him once a month..

In other news: My hat is almost done (knitting project) I already made a scarfy thing and am trying to figure out how to knit cables.  French classes are still fun and next week the uni classes will start, unfortunately for me I have to give a presentation on that day (in English) and wont be able to make the first class but will be there for all the other classes.







Working without

electricity. For the past week there have constantly been power outages.  It is pretty sad when you realise that you are working in place that does not have proper electricity.  As I mentioned the offices and the histo lab are in a shed-like structure in the woods and suddenly the power cuts out,  about 3 times a day. Luckily we do have other labs and freezers but it is pretty crappy when it happens in the middle of your slicing!

The good news is; I am FINALLY in the lab and it feels really good to be doing something else besides browising the interweb! It keeps me from thinking about London and the fellowship. I sent an email to Peter to say hello and expressed my concerns (I know PATHETIC) but I got a lovely reply back and it just makes me want to go to London so much more!! There is really nothing I can do but wait for at least another 2 weeks….

Things have been rather quiet on the going out front; just a few beers/wines here and there and the reason is: Elsa and I have totally gone into knitting mode we spent Saturday night knitting together (YES I do realise how stupid that sounds).  So far I have made a scarf and am finishing off a hat. Will post pictures; am even considering starting a knitting business.  Ok I am not that great but I really do enjoy it a lot!

My French lessons are still very enjoyable; but I find that there is not enough practice in speaking French.  It is basically a course on how to fill out government forms.  I am still learning so am happy to participate!


Language course

Yesterday was my first lesson in french  by a proffesional and it was fun!! Elsa found this course at the community college and so I went to check it out.  I was going to go on saturday and I did but google maps totally sent me to the wrong side of the street and I could not find it, yesterday I did!

The course is mainly meant for foreigners who are trying to get permanent visa to stay in France;  and besides me there were mainly people from Libiya, Marocco and Turkey.  While they were actually pretty good at speaking French I realised that their main problem, except for one dude who is a doctor, is that it seem they  are not very advanced in writing skills.  The doctor was pretty annoying, interupting constantly and not given others a chance to even answer a question.  The other students were all really lovely and we even managed to crack some French jokes.  The course is only 30 euro per year and you can go as often as you want.  So besides being fun it is also really cheap!!

And then yesterday I got an email from the uni saying if there are enough people they will start a beginners course for free on the 30 th of November, given two 1.5 hour classes per week!!  So I think that the chances that I will be able to speak French at the end of this year have increased dramatically and I am very excited!!

In other news,  my secondary anti-bodies have arrived so hopefully by the end of the week I will have everything to start my pilot study. In the mean time I am keeping myself busy with Sydney stuff; knitting and online shopping.

Tours is getting ready for Xmas with lights hanging everywhere it looks pretty but they have yet to be turned on and when they do I will definitely take some pics.


When suddenly the

weekend starts on Thursday and ends on Sunday without much of a rest from drinking, dancing and eating, Mondays really do SUCK.

I really can not complain about my social life and eventhough the work situation is not at all what I expected or hoped for, having fun on the weekends definitely makes it  worth it!

This weekend the original plan was  to go to Vendome to a festival,  however I ended up staying in Tours and seeing a Michael Jackson Cover band in an Irish pub.  Yeah it was as bad it sounds.  However being able to sing/scream along to all the songs was GREAT. The other nice thing about the Irish pubs in Tours, they often have ‘estrangers’ there so I also got to chat to some other foreigners in English.

Sunday was going to be a quiet brunch with Elsa. We went to the markets near her house to buy some food and a bottle of wine since it was Sunday and the brunch was turning into a lunch because it was already 1 PM.  We ate and drank and were having a very good time when Arnaud dropped by with some more wine and before we knew it we were once again dancing in the kitchen, getting dressed up and walking to the shop to buy even more wine.  Initially we were convinced that having wine in the afternoon was a great idea and we should do it every Sunday but I think I speak for all of us when I say that it was not one of our finest moments (but very funny).

I am getting a little nervous about the whole fellowship thing, the results are out in December so it is still a bit early to even worry about it.  But I am not so sure what I will do if  I don’t get it or what I will do if I am successfull (I highly doubt the latter will happen). My contract here is for 1 year and my boss has said on a few occassions that she is happy to have me stay longer, I am not sure if it is what I want though. I guess all I can do is wait and see what December brings, hopefully an early Santa gift.

Oh and incase you were wondering, my french still SUCKS but I think that I finally found a place where they teach beginners and that does not cost 8597 euro’s per week.  Fingers crossed that I can start mid semester.