Yesterday I decided that it was time for me to give up the pre-paid cards and move on to a contract for my iphone. I did a little research at home and went to the store. I was planning on keeping my phone number but that turned out to be impossible and that should have been the moment that I left the store.. However I was determined to get it done and so I somehow ended up with the most expensive contract, a different number and a new phone… I have about 2345 hours of free phone calls, but only to France.. 758942 free texts messages only to France and as far as I am aware I can only access the internet through some stupid orange portal. So now I am paying 60 euro’s/month for nothing. I am going to go back today and see if it possible to change it to a cheaper option but doubt I will be successful.
Last weekend I went to Bordeaux to visit some Aussie friends and it was really lovely. Bordeaux is 1257 times nicer than Tours (and I really don’t mind Tours at all). Unfortunately it was raining on Saturday but we did have a lovely drive and a great lunch. It was also nice to discuss our experiences in the French labs and they were surprisingly similar; No communication/discussion, people working on their own isolated islands and bosses that are constantly absent. In contrast to my lab, the labs in Bordeaux do have a lot of facilities although they are not used very often. So having a bitching session was really great and it made me realise that it might not be such a bad thing to stay a little longer if it means I can get some publications (Yep that is a total 180). It also has to do with the fact that my experiment is finally falling into place; I received protocols needed for my project, probes are on the way and my boss agreed to the crazy amount of money I need to spend in order to get everything I need to carry out the experiments. While I have not given up on my dream job in London I know that I will stand a better chance in the fellowship application field with more publications so it looks like I will be staying in Tours a wee bit longer than initially planned.
French language is still a problem and I think I might need to get a tv and start watching French shows in order to learn by osmosis (this I also picked up from my Bordeaux weekend).
Wish me luck with my contract downgrading!
While nowhere near as bad as in some parts of Europe there has been a little snow here in Tours. I really think that it makes everything look beautiful but as soon as I step outside I HATE it! I can barely ride my bike, there are no buses and it is sooooooo cold.. Luckily for me the weather is changing no more freezing temperatures, no more snow just rain (another weather phenomenon I can complain about).
Last week I went to another lab to meet up with a guy to talk about my work and to see if it would be possible to learn the techniques that I need from him. He seemed really lovely and I will be able to go there and get some training. I really do wish I had met with him before the experiment started since he DOES really know what he is talking about.
The main problem for me is that the lab is 40 minutes outside of Tours literally in the middle of nowhere! So I will have to figure out a way to get to and from there without a car. Since the facility is pretty large and has quite a few people working there I am hoping that I will be able to carpool with someone. The main thing is that it does look like I can complete my whole experiment!
This weekend was pretty quiet, I seem to lose the ability to do anything when it is cold (except eating and sleeping). Sunday I went to Elsa’s parents house for Sunday lunch. They live in a small town just west of Tours. We had oysters, shrimp, salmon and bread of course and it tasted delicious. As the desert we had a cake, one that is only made in January to celebrate the 3 kings giving Jesus something (I am not too clear on the whole bible thing) in the cake there is a little toy or coin hidden and the person that finds that in their slice is crowned King or Queen and gets to wear the paper crown that is also included with the cake. In the first slices we ate nobody found the toy so we had to continue eating and in the second round I found it in my piece although I am pretty sure that Elsa gave me the piece after she had seen that the toy was in there. It does not really matter since I did get to be QUEEN for a day.
Today I checked my new slides once again and they looked FANTASTIC, I really think I am getting the hang of this immuno stuff! Now all I need to figure out is how to take a picture of my slides.
I spent Christmas at home with my parents for the first time in 6 years and it was lovely. Holland was covered in snow and very cold! While a white Xmas is lovely living on the farm means that no one cleans the snow of the dykes and driving was more than a little challenging. Luckily I did not end up sliding of the dyke when I did get into the car. I also met Judith’s son who was born a few weeks early but besides being tiny is doing great. Seeing judith with her baby was great and it is the first time that someone that close to me has had a baby which made it extra special.
Boxing day I went out dancing with Conny and her new and very lovely girlfriend. As per usual we had a fanastic time and I bumped into some very old friends I had not seen in 8 years! I came back to Tours on the 30th to spend NYE in Elsa’s house. Coming back to France was weird since I had really had to get used to hearing and attempting to speak French again, but I felt much better and less homesick. I think I have finally accepted the whole not getting the fellowship thing and am ready to focus more on my work here. I have an appointment to meet with another lab on Thursday to see if I can learn the in situ hybridisation there and hopefully meet some people who will be able to help me!
NYE in France was very different than in Sydney and in Holland. For one there were no fireworks and so nobody was outside. I went to Elsa’s house for dinner together with 8 other Frenchies. We started with some drinks and a round of Karaoke which was fun. Around 11 PM we finally sat down for dinner; RACLETTE. You sit around this hot plate with little pans and heat up special cheese, once it is melted you poor it over your cold cuts or potato and eat it. We had heaps of food, but after a few slices (they are pretty thick) my stomach had had enough. Because we were eating and there were no fireworks we actually missed midnight! So at 12.15 AM we wished each other a bonne Annee and continued with our dinner. After dinner we danced around the living room. I did not drink very much so by 3 AM I was really tired and went home. It was really very low key although I am pretty sure that the pubs and clubs would have been more lively. No real resolutions this year although I realised this morning when I was attempting to wrestle myself into my jeans that I should definitely start going to the gym (going today) and maybe cut back a little on my eating well at least all the sweets etc.
Today is the first day back and to be honest I am pretty happy to be back. I really enjoy being in the lab and I would have worked over the holidays if this had been possible. However due to the fact that our lab is a little under equipped I use 3 other labs at different departments to get my work done but I can only get in them if other people are around and during the Holidays all the Frenchies leave so there was no way for me to access my brains or slides or microscope.
I will be re-assessing my immuno today and decide whether or not I need to run more slides and then the fun of slicing will begin!