Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Today I received two very exciting emails, both from Carolyn, the contact person for all American assistants.

The first was a response to an email that I had sent last week.  I had been hearing from other assistants (through a TAPIF group on Facebook) that you could find out information about your contract if you emailed Carolyn.  I hesitated at first, afraid that it would be obnoxious of me to do this.  From the beginning, we have been told that this process is very long and we won't find out much information until later in the summer.  How frustrating would it be to get 1500 emails from American assistants trying to find out information because they just can't wait?  But my curiosity got the best of me, and in all honesty, it wasn't so bad.  In her response that I received today, she informed me that I have a 7 month contract teaching elementary school kids.

This is exciting, although not surprising.  I have heard that this year they have phased out the 9 month contract (why they still included it as an option on the application is a mystery to me).  But at least I know for sure now that my contract will go through April 30, 2012.  On the other hand, I am VERY relieved to know that I will be teaching elementary school students.  Honestly, I would be terrified if I had to teach high school.  I don't know why, but I feel like younger kids will be easier for me to manage in a classroom.  More on that to come.

The second email was a general message to all American assistants.  Attached was the Assistant Handbook, which I have been anxiously waiting for.  It includes a ton of information you need to know about the process, including visa info, housing, paperwork, etc.  I had taken a peek at last year's handbook, but I am pretty excited to have up-to-date information.  I can't wait to go home, print it off, and really dive in!

However, the second email confirmed what I already knew... The next few months, all I can do is sit and wait.  As far as I know, the next step is receiving my arrêté de nomination, my work contract, from Martinique.  This could come anytime between June and mid-August.  No problem, I love waiting for important documents to come last minute and then having to rush to get everything else worked out.  Ah, bureaucracy.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Favorite Journal

A few days ago, as I was organizing my room, I stumbled upon this notebook that I got for Christmas a few years ago.  I had completely forgotten about it, but once I found it, I fell in love all over again.  Hands down, this is one of the coolest notebooks I have ever seen.

I love journals, and I love old French books.  This journal combines the best of both worlds.  The company that makes them finds antique books, saves the cover, keeps several of the original pages, then fills the rest of the book with blank white pages for writing/sketching, all bound together with a plastic black spiral.

Of course I am absolutely smitten with mine since it is an old French Grammar book.  It even has the original owner's name in the inside flap and pencil underlinings on some of the pages.  This journal is incredibly inspiring to me, and I've written in it almost every day since I rediscovered it.  I use it to write down ideas for my future: dreams of travel blogging, going to grad school in Europe, opening a pub, etc.

Get one for yourself!  All of these notebooks are one of a kind and only $13 including shipping at

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Michigander in Oregon

Since nothing exciting has been going on recently in relation to Martinique, my blog is currently going to be used to simply record pre-departure insights and adventures.  Comments and suggestions are always welcome!  (I'd like to know if my posts are interesting or simply putting you to sleep!)

I just returned Monday morning from spending 11 days in Oregon, visiting my (for lack of a better term) boyfriend, Ryan.  Now that I've given myself a couple of days to relax and recover from jet lag, it's time to dive into a post about my vacation.

After Ryan picked me up from PDX, I spent about 9 days with him in Corvallis (home of OSU--Go Beavs) spending time with friends and doing things that I used to enjoy while I lived there.  Of course, this mostly consisted of eating at different restaurants that I miss.

At the top of my "Must-Eat" list was a Squirrel burger (from a bar downtown--Squirrels).  It was here that I was first introduced to the idea of having a fried egg on my burger.  Since then, I have been known from time to time to put an egg on pretty much any type of burger or sandwich.  I know it sounds strange, but try it; it's delicious.

Squirrel Burger
(Swiss, Cheddar, fried ham, fried egg, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, mayo)

Unfortunately, my favorite sandwich place in Corvallis, Natalia and Cristoforo's (an authentic Italian deli), was closed due to fire damage.  My taste buds cried a little when I saw the sign.  Instead, we decided to eat at Pastini's.  Although I'm generally not a fan of chain restaurants, Pastini's is specific to Oregon and only has 8 locations.  I've eaten there several times over the past 2 1/2 years and have yet to be disappointed.

Rigatoni Zuccati
(butternut squash, mushrooms, spinach, rosemary, cream sauce)

Of course, I am always looking to try something new.  For my last meal in Corvallis, I enjoyed a quick lunch with Ryan and my good friend Colin at a food cart sitting in a parking lot downtown.  I had never eaten at a food cart before, and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience.  Of course, it didn't hurt that they served crêpes...

Crêperie du Lys

For my last weekend in Oregon, Ryan and I headed north to Portland.  Right off of I-5, we stopped at Willamette Valley Vineyards to do some wine tasting.  My family and I have fallen in love with their Riesling, so it seemed necessary to stop at the vineyard during this trip.  Even though the vines were bare, the views were still beautiful.  Most importantly, my palate was pleased after tasting a crisp Pinot Gris, a slightly smoky Pinot Noir, and, of course, the smooth and subtly sweet Riesling.

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2009 Riesling

My visit to Oregon brought on a new fascination with food carts, which seem to be hugely popular and trendy in Portland.  There are an insane number and variety of food carts all over downtown (dozens that  congregate in various areas, forming food cart "pods").  Being an indecisive person in general, I had a difficult time choosing which cart to try.  In the end, my desire to find authentic French food won over, leading me to seek out Addy's Sandwich Bar.

Addy's had a menu with baguette sandwich options such as a duck confit or turkey and brie, but when I finally decided on the ham, gruyère and butter baguette, I was not disappointed.  For $6.50, I enjoyed the best French food that I have had stateside.

Baguette sandwich
Jambon, gruyère, beurre 

While my time in Corvallis had been low-key and relaxing, my weekend in Portland was very busy.  I still managed to find time with a couple friends to experience a Saturday night in downtown Portland.

Vodka Pineapple Whipped Cream drink
Laurelwood Organic Free Range Red (front)
10 Barrel Sinistor Black Ale (back)
Red Star Tavern

For my last dinner in Portland, Ryan wanted to take me to a sushi restaurant that had a balcony overlooking the city.  Unfortunately, it wasn't open on Sundays.  Instead, we found Koji Osakaya, which didn't have a view, but still had delicious sushi.

Spicy Tuna Roll
Alaska Maki (smoked salmon, crab, smelt eggs, cucumber, mayo)

Finally, before heading to the airport to catch my red-eye flight back to Michigan, we stopped at the infamous Voodoo Doughnuts.  If you have never had Voodoo Doughnuts, you are missing out.  Call me crazy, but I am not a huge fan of sweet pastries, especially doughnuts.  However, these are hands-down the absolute best doughnuts ever.  Maybe I'm a little obsessed with them because they're such a trademark of Portland, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to stop by and get a Maple Bacon doughnut.  Yes, it is my favorite.

Maple Bacon Doughnut

Overall, I had a fabulous vacation.  I got to spend quality time with wonderful people that I miss dearly, and I was able to indulge in some delicious food without breaking the bank.  Most likely, I won't be able to visit Oregon for quite a while (at least a year), and it was the perfect way to spend my "last" trip there.