Wow, my first two months in Strasbourg have FLOWN! It’s amazing how settled you can become in eight weeks… London? Where? Did I actually live there for three years? Really??
Although, when I headed back there recently for a few days, it felt like I was just returning from a regular visit to see the man; the only difference being that I was staying at a hotel and not my cosy old East London share flat.
But back to my new hood! Here’s a little highlight reel.
I had the warmest welcome courtesy of my boyfriend’s mum, and I may have cried a bit when she gave me a big hug and welcomed me to my “new home in Alsace” with this amazing brunch spread.
I’m taking French classes at the Universite Populaire, and unlike the classes I took in London, this course is virtually solely in French (duh) and the students don’t share a common language. Though when we’re REALLY stuck, most of us understand if the teacher switches to English to explain.
While my reading and comprehension is definitely improving – thanks also to reading children’s books – I’m not feeling overly confident trying to use French day-to-day, and know I need to be braver. However it’s tricky when my understanding is still so limited. If I throw out a sentence in French I usually don’t comprehend the reply (unless I’m in a store and can kind of guess). I feel like it’s a bit of a waste of everyone’s time so right now there’s lots of “Bonjour” and “Merci” .. and I don’t get much further before needing to sheepishly ask “en anglais s’il vous plaît?” Baby steps.
I joined a new BJJ club which is the same one that I have been visiting for the past two years. Everyone is really friendly, and learning jiu jitsu in French is easy in some ways, challenging in others. Of course it’s so visual which makes it easy, but while I now recognise the words for knee and foot for example I often miss if the instructor is saying like, “never do x this way.”
I’m so grateful for training partners with the patience to explain things again to me in English.
Holy HECK, I was frantically thinking about how to get off Europa Park’s Blue Fire Megacoaster even as we were strapped in and making our way out of the loading bay. It was seriously OUT of my theme park ride comfort zone!
Europa Park is pretty amazing (in saying that I’ve never been to Disneyland), and if you’re ever in this part of the world it’s totally worth a visit (I found this article after our day there, which sums the place up nicely).
The park was decked out for Halloween when we went (with a crazy-huge number of pumpkins lining the walkways). I’ve never been one for the super thrillseeker rides but this time decided to push myself … I won’t lie, the recent tragedy at Dreamworld was playing on my mind a bit that day.
I knew when I first moved to Strasbourg that I couldn’t be working five days a week from our small apartment – I’d go a bit mad – so I joined a co-working office and for about €10 a day I can work in a really fun, open plan environment with a great bunch of people, and they have frequent four-legged visitors! Much cute!
I’m making new friends because again, I’d go a bit mad without my own circle here, so I joined Girl Gone International and went to my first catch up with them in my second week in town; a brunch and spa day, such bliss! As the name suggests, they’re (mostly) international gals who have found their way to Strasbourg for various reasons. A truly lovely, supportive group I’m so happy to be part of.
I’m getting Christmassy because how can I NOT when I’m living in the Capitale de Noël? Tree’s up, presents are mostly bought and Christmas markets visited, multiple times. It’s really a great time of year to be in Strasbourg.
You know it’s the season for pretty coloured belts and shiny new stripes when your social feeds blow up with photos of said belts and stripes, and heartfelt posts about the BJJ ‘journey’, amazing coaches, teams, God and next chapters etc.
My own version of the above happened two months ago (early, since I was moving countries before the next Fight Zone grading). And while I mentioned it on Instagram and Twitter at the time I neglected to post about it on this frequently-neglected blog so, here tis:
My third stripe!
Four years in the making, and my second stripe from Bruno Ferreira and Marco Canha. I was super chuffed and a tad emotional, obvs.
I’ve posted before about my progression hang ups, and finally feeling like I could push them aside and just enjoy training without being all angsty. This stripe was such a surprise, and reinforced to me that I WILL get better, slowly but surely, one class at a time, and while having fun.
It was also a really nice way to say goodbye to a club that has been my home and family for three years. I’ll be visiting Fight Zone relatively often I’m sure but, I’m still sad to have left the morning crew and such great coaches.
Sending a big congrats to everyone receiving new belts and stripes this grading season!
Consistency has been lacking, but I head back to London from Strasbourg tonight, and I WILL smash the next week and a bit with some solid exercisy, I swear. My day summaries continue, starting with when I eventually arrived in Strasbourg..
Day 19: Plane. Delayed. Ugh. But it’s better than cancelled. It did mean that by the time I landed in Basel, got my luggage, and we drove the hour-and-a-bit to Strasbourg it was pushing 2am. Needless to say this Friday was an exercise write-off. Got my work day done and crashed.
Day 20: Special cuddle time has to count for something right? The boy and I did trek through Strasbourg Ikea and some other stores today so, I got moving if nothing else.
Day 21: To the lake! Oh my, how nice is a Summer sun with actual warmth behind it?! We spent a solid few hours at a lake near his house, did some swimming, got sunburnt – oops. I’m now rockin’ the lobster look.
Day 22: Evening BJJ! It was tough actually, I’m so used to training in the morning so I find it hard to fire up at night. But my face turned a gorgeous, sweaty shade of red, it blended with my sunburn nicely.
It was super great to catch up with Marie-Laure again (now a purple belt!), she had her camera handy and took some candid photos. If you’re not following already, get over to her website and Instagram.
Day 23: I ventured into downtown Strasbourg on my own, actually the first time I have done so since my first visit, which seems mad but I guess not so much when every trip here is to see my boyfriend/go places with him.
So anyway, walking counts? And can you believe… ANOTHER delayed flight – this time back to London. Cue tears. There are always tears.
Day 24: Tired. Lacking sleep. Do not give two effs about exercise. Bed time.
Day 25: Feeling human! It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do. Up early and to Muay Thai class, really it’s 1.5 hours of cardio/circuit training with pad work, which I love.
I got a shitty partner who kept rolling his eyes and giving me half-arsed pad holding. It was like he resented being paired with me. I got jack of the attitude and when I had the opportunity, asked the coach to change partners. Immediately new guy and I were in sync; pushing each other, shouting encouragement and holding the bloody pads correctly – it immediately made the session more enjoyable.
Day 26: Had to be at an offsite meeting bright and early today so morning gym didn’t happen, nor did anything in the evening. Hmmph.
Day 27: No exercise, unless you count lugging three bottles of champagne to Ascot?? Had a fabulous day, won some pocket change and finally saw this iconic place.
Bruno’s morning classes at Fightzone have provided me with some much-needed motivation and consistency over the last few months. Work and other competing evening commitments mean night classes are regularly pushed aside, but 7am twice a week? Perfect for this early bird!
In these classes I have found a really wonderful, encouraging crew and an attentive coach who couldn’t be more supportive and positive.
At every grading Marco talks about attitude and how important it is to not compare yourself to others on the mat. And it has taken me a long time to truly find my happy place in this sport, and accept my life and body’s limitations:
I can’t train five days a week and that’s ok!
Other white belts will start after me and progress faster than me, and that’s ok too!
I’m going to have lower back issues every so often, and I need to listen to and rest my body.
I’m not super flexible, but it doesn’t mean a move can’t still work for me in SOME way.
2015 has been a turning point year on a few fronts, all of them good. I think this second little stripe turned up at the time it was meant to, and I’m now really excited to work towards the third!
What led you to take your first BJJ class? I stumbled into mine accidentally.
I rocked up to my gym in Melbourne for my usual kickboxing session, but I had read the timetable wrong.
“There’s no kickboxing on tonight, but Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is about to start – go jump in with the guys!”
I remember feeling so awkward, paired with a dude who was telling me to sit on him, grip his arm between my legs, press my chest into his back and try moving around whaaaat? SO many giggle moments for both of us and the poor guy may have copped a stray knee to the groin a few times too, oops.
I knew nothing about BJJ or grappling/wrestling or judo, but something about that class (other than the God-awful BO smell) stuck, and by my second class I had given BJJ a good google, and even bought a gi.
I’m a weird advocate for the sport. I kinda suck, struggle to make class consistently, don’t follow ‘the scene’ obsessively.. but I know how much I get out of training on a physical and mental level and am always keen to spread the love.
BJJ inevitably comes up in conversation when I’m meeting someone new. In this case that someone was a random Aussie girl I had followed for years on Twitter and vice versa.
She was in London, we caught up (met for the first time! Oooher) I mentioned BJJ and two days later she was wearing one of my gis and rashies, and attending Fightzone’s first Women’s Open Mat. Boom!
She had a blast, and seriously I couldn’t think of a better first jiu jitsu experience than with a mat full of friendly, uber supportive women. I have a feeling I’ll be spying some BJJ tweets in her feed in the future.