Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Plans Change/I am Sabrina

Ok, it's a fact of life, plans change. For inevitable or unavoidable reasons sometimes things don't go exactly according to plan. But bring on that horribly overused saying, "Don't let it get you down!" (Please insert appropriate "When life gives you lemons..."saying here)

So I am headed back to Canada for an undetermined amount of time this week. I had planned on being paid by my company for the internship, however because of one completely unnecessary line in my contract I'm not eligible to be paid. This is not the end of the world. I obviously am very grateful for the grant that I received to come here. But the money from my company had been budgeted to get me through the next month. Oh well...I'm back at square one, and homeless once again! (Maybe Buttercup will take me back...)

It has been a beautiful week in Paris. Sunny and 15-17 degrees all this week (now insert the jealous sigh here!)! I couldn't ask for a better way to go out. Now I think that it is only appropriate that I take this time to reflect a bit on my time here...

So I've come to hate the term "Once in a lifetime..." because anything is possible and there's absolutely no rule that says you may only experience something like this once. However if I say that perhaps you'll be able to grasp the depth of my experience here. There is not one moment that I would take back over the past 6 months. True to the "Sabrina" lifestyle I've had, you know...finding myself...I am a changed person. At the same time, please expect the same Kate to emerge from the plane, however my outlook on many things, including myself, has changed.

I have, for the past six months, lived a life that I have been wanting for many years. I thought it was so romantic and grown up to move to Paris. To wake up each morning, and walk to my office in a very respectable organization, to walk out at night and buy my dinner at the outside market. I dreamed of this, I really did and I also lived it! Ok so there were crappy days, there were days I wished I had someone who loved me to hug me and tell me it will be ok. Some days I would have jumped on a plane the minute someone offered, however I quickly learned that those feelings were normally brought on by something beyond my control (i.e. sickness, I was sick so much here!) and you just have to roll though that.

The most important lesson I learned here had nothing to do with International Trade or Impressionism(art...museums...duh!) had to do with me. I learned a lot of my strengths and weaknesses. Let's just say that I will now rock the interview question: "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" Bring it on (no really, I need a job!)! I've had days where I was proud of myself. And that's a difficult thing to do, to genuinely be proud of yourself and the effort you put into something. I had an amazing boss, who took the time to praise you when you deserved it, he didn't coddle me...he gave it to me straight when something wasn't right. So many times I got back good copies of letters I'd drafted and they did not resemble anything I wrote. He made sure to let me know this was the way that he wanted it, and told me soon enough I'd hear his voice in my head writing the letter. He gave me tasks that I was scared to death to do. To call these big organizations to make contacts and get support. And when I succeeded he praised me and I felt like I had genuinely contributed to the organization and the future of this project. He told me that he couldn't have gotten through the last six months without me...and while I know that everyone is replaceable, and this line is given out too much in general to actual mean a lot to me, I certainly appreciated his gratitude for things I did. I take many skills with me, but one of the most important is how to be a good manager.

Everyone asks if I'm sad to leave. Well of course it's hard to pick up and leave right now. Wrapping up my work this week has been difficult. I have to train someone to replace me and it's hard for me to let go of it all. For the last 6 months I have lived and breathed Certificates of Origin and this project. I had a call today from a member in London to go over some projects and I told him that I would be leaving this week and someone else would be replacing me and he seemed so surprised to hear I was leaving. It's things like that I don't want to pass on. I have worked hard at making these contacts and having them trust me and now they will call when they need help. I can't help but not want to pass them over...but I'll get over it. I'm not sure if it's a strength or a weakness but I have an incredible loyalty for any company I work for. Just like the Tour Coordinator, you start somewhere, get into and then have to leave making your work as transparent as possible for the next person to take over. That's how I learned the important lesson that anyone is replaceable. You just have to make them want you to stay. My boss does want me to stay, but it's not that easy at the moment, no money, no visa, no money...but I at least know I have a strong reference!

Ok this is long and drawn out and I don't even care if no one got this far...this was a wrap up for me! Thanks to everyone who supported me, who listened to me, who loved me, who knew I could do even when I wasn't so sure myself. I didn't win the Olympics, I didn't find a cure for Cancer, but I got to know myself a little bit better and that's good enough for me. I am Sabrina.

Catch on the other side of the ocean y'all. It's only a stopover cause there's no way I'm staying away from this place for long!

Love love love


Friday, March 23, 2007

Stan, my man.

I have spent the past week with a wonderful, handsome, intelligent guy. It's rare in life that you find a guy who listens as well as he does, without interupting or adding his opinion. He just sits there quietly and stares at you with a big grin on his face. I think I'm in love. There's a bit of a downfall though, he's a bit short and well...a little flat. Literally.

Lynn and I have had the pleasure of showing Flat Stanley around Paris this week. Flat Stanley is the school project of my aunt's niece. He comes with a bio (he needs to be in bed by 8:30, and he's allergic to pineapple) and he's pretty portable so he goes just about anywhere! He's gone to the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Chateaux Versailles, among other great places in Paris! I hear he frequented the Great Canadian Pub too...

Thought I'd put a few pics from his travels. He's such a cutie.

Flat Stanley and I on the train

Stan comparing profiles with the bust at Versailles, spitting image I'd say!

Stan hoeing a row in Marie Antionette's Garden. He was breaking the law but shhhh...

Peakaboo! At Versailles

Pretending to be Wilson from Tool Time. Did I mention he's got a great sense of humor?

Stan's going to accompany me on my travels to the UK next month. Now my mom can breathe a sigh of relief, I won't be alone and Stan, my man, can protect me!

Anyways, I'm exhausted...too much fun and too much wine!

Love love everyone,


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Busy Busy Busy!

So I had every intention of sitting down and writing a nice long post about my trip to Scotland that followed the girls trip, but then last week came upon me, and I barely had time to take my clothes off before falling into bed!

My "less than 24 hour trip" to Scotland was a success! I had so much fun. Of course the point of the trip was to see Dave Matthews in concert and I can't even begin to describe how FABULOUS that was. He "forgot" to mention he was bringing Tim Renyolds along, best surprise in the world. Those two together are fantastic. It was an accoustic show, but Tim makes up for like 5 people he's so amazing on guitar. Jenn and I had a fantastic hotel, which included a full Scottish breakfast, haggis included (I left that alone for now, along with the blood pudding, puke!). We did a little pub crawling after the show with some friends of Jenn's. And by pub crawling I mean club crawling the exact opposite of what you would think of pubs in Scotland. These clubs had people dressed better than Parisians, and that's difficult. Needless to say we were a tad underdressed. But it was fun nonetheless! It might have been the best trip yet...

Work was absolutely crazy and pretty much great this week. I spent Tuesday in Brussels with my boss from Singapore and my boss from here as we had a meeting to attend at the World Customs Organization. It was fabulous to see all that goes on in a real meeting! The trip was short, there and back in one day but I did have a chance to stop and get some Belgium Chocolate. My intention was to send some home but let's just say I was in a chocolate mood lately so don't get your hopes up...! It was great week at work. A real confidence builder. I also learned some valuable lessons about not having TOO much confidence but thank goodness for a great boss who recognizes one's strengths and tries his best to show your weakness and ways to improve that. I will forever remember this internship and how I learned so much in the span of six months.

So onto the big news. I have an interview on the 27th for a visa to move to the United Kingdom. My short jaunt to Scotland made me fall in love and want to move there. I didn't feel I was ready to go home yet, and with Jenn being in Scotland and me liking it so much I think it's my next stop. I plan to become addicted to football, rugby and bad english soap operas and plan to drink too much beer in charming pubs while surrounded by boys in skirts. I think that's all the Scottish stereotypes I'm aware of...I'm very excited and will keep you posted on job prospects!

I'll leave you with a picture taken yesterday in Honfleur, Normandy. Not too far from the D-Day beaches. Dr Sun, an incredible woman my university set me up with took me there for a DIVINE lunch yesterday and I loved it!

I'll be back soon y'all. Love love love!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

La Vie en Rose, with the girls of CB

Ok so this is a bit late coming but for any of you wondering....I had a blast with my girlies!

So the girls week, sorry their 5 days here, was great. It went by oh so quick and I didn't get to see as much of them as I would have liked to, but it was fabulous. Some of the highlights would include:

  • Champagne and strawberries (to start the trip off right!)
  • Tea with Dr. Sun
  • Monmartre (mainly the ten million flights of stairs that gave us butts o'steel, wishful thinking)
  • Music quiz at the Long Hop
  • Versailles (aka Mary-Ann's house)
  • Almost missing Cabaret (ok this wasn't a highlight, this was a disaster but worth remembering, it almost cost me 351 Euro)
  • The man who drew our picture (Es looked like Mona Lisa, Dawn looked normal, and I wished that I actually looked like the girl he drew!)
  • The bad wine, checking our pulse and the boys across the hall who heard every word we said...
  • The Eiffel Tower (crying at the base of it, JDoggPop: scared man we took pictures of to email him, the Canadian Physio's at the top, Paris at Night)
  • And of course breaking all the wine glasses and losing the key AFTER the safety deposit was returned.

It was a great week. I love my girlies...the last time we spent that much concentrated time together must have been going to Quebec in Grade 9. They brought me lots of presents from some great people. You know when you move to another continent people feel the need to shower you with's great, you should try it. Everyone will at least send you Kraft Dinner, and really is there anything better than that?!

I wish they could have spent more time here, then we wouldn't have had to stuff everything into that short amount of time, but I think it was a success! They got to see this beautiful city that I live in, and me, well I got a little bit of home, and two of best girls in the world! Thanks for coming girls, maybe you'll meet me at my next stop...or I'll meet you on yours...

Esther, Dawn and I at the Long Hop

Ok more pics to well as my trip to Scotland! It just takes so long to upload the pics!
Keep checking back for the updates. Love and miss you all!

Kate xo