Thursday, 14 April 2011

Wave au revoir to ma petite vie francaise

Well, we have come to the final week of my contract and, in fact, my final week in France (well...I actually have only 2 days left here as I am writing this...but I will catch you up on the week!).

So...since the last my internet had actually been broken for 5 days. I can assure you that 5 days (when you live alone) without the internet/ a tv/ means of talking to people can be preeeetty boring! I managed to read 3 entire books though. And watched the series 1 DVD of Gavin and Stacey about 3 times too. Luckily my internet is now fixed though! (Obviously...otherwise you wouldn't be reading this...)

My last week has passed really quickly. My final lessons with the kids went really well. We just listened to music, played some vocab games and I basically bought their enthusiasm with lots and lots of sweets. Must have a spent a fortune on over-processed sugar, but it worked! The students were generally very sweet and it's been actually quite sad to say goodbye to them, particularly the ones who I have in small groups and they really take an interest. I received a couple of very sweet notes, thanking me for my lessons and giving me their email addresses. I also got given a picture/wall hanging from one of my students whose mother made it! It's lovely and obviously a souvenir I can keep forever! It's going to be so very weird not being a teacher any more and not having those sort of responsibilities or duties.

I could go on and on about how i feels like only yesterday that my parents dropped me off and then buggered off back to England or how I am going to really miss living here... But I don't want to bore your socks off. It is all true though!

Yesterday afternoon I met Luisiadh in Bethune (obvs we went to La Halle...for old times sakes!). Are you ready for this?... I actually handed in my social security paperwork successfully. Yes that's write, 3 days before I leave. But better late than never! And I HAVE been trying to obtain my carte vitale since November. I am assured it will arrive in 3 weeks. Unfortunately I won't be here to judge them on their punctuality. Before leaving Luisiadh (for the last time!) I assured her I would be venturing to Glasgow to visit her in the summer. After all, Stansted - Glasgow is one of ryanair's cheapo deals! I will obviously have to keep my newly acquired scottish slang on the down-low though. Don't want to get beaten up for being an English twat.

Last lessons were yesterday but I was asked to go into school today for a proper farewell, which I did. Thanks god I did as well, as I forgot I had some paperwork to get signed or otherwise have to pay back my erasmus grant!

The english teachers had clubbed together and book me two lovely books on the local area and its history and the things to see in the region. I am assured that one of them in basically the classier version of Bienvenue chez les ch'tis but on paper rather than film. I had a quick look and, low and behold, there are photos of the slag-heap-come-ski-slope-with-quarry-now-lake in all its glory! Gotta love northern France! They had all signed a card for me too and some of the messages were really lovely.

(At this point I'd like to point out that, whilst bitch-teacher did apparently contribute for the present and card, all she wrote was the equivalent of 'have a safe return' and she left school 5 minutes before the farewell thing so as to not have to be present. So that definitely clarifies her position!)

Nathalie also gave me a cookbook with typical french dishes that I can make for my family and friends, as we joke that I just eat cheese, bread and cakes here. I don't know how successful these dishes will be, but I'll give it a go!

I gave 3 of the teachers cards and gifts of english chocolate and goodies (all of which were well-received) and was invited to stay with them if I ever want to come back and visit. It was lovely and I really appreciate the gifts and the kind words they've written. It seems very odd to have made a little life for myself here and then to just be up and leaving it all 7 months later! I want to stay in touch with everyone and hopefully come back to visit again.

Well I suppose that's it up to date! It's now Thursday afternoon and I am leaving on Saturday. So I have precisely one and a half days to ram in anything I want to do! I don't much fancy moping around my apartment in a 'woe is me' fashion, so tomorrow shall be heading to Lille to spend some hard-earned euros and hopefully fill my stomach with all food that is uniquely french.

After that all I have in my mind is this blank that is labelled 'packing'. This is not an area I want to visit. I don't know how much stuff I have acquired whilst here, but I remember thinking I travelled light when I came. And I definitely won't be travelling light to go back. (Myself included!....helloooo extra half stone!). Thank god my parents are driving to get me and I don't have to grapple with public transport.

So now all that remains to be done is to tie up some loose ends, buy my landlady some flowers and then bugger off back to England as if I was never here!

I am going to both enjoy and miss no longer being 'l'assistante anglaise'!

I don't think this will be the last post in the blog. God knows I do love to talk! Shall probably update you again.


P.S. This post has not been even a little bit funny, so i apologise for that guys! Just a drone about the end of my trip! However 2 small anecdotes I did just remember to include....
1) Walking home through my small town today I noticed the window of a shop said 'we sell men's clothes up to 6XL'. Only in northern France would it be necessary for a small town to cater for that level of obesity!
2) Yesterday morning on my way to school and random man (who I do not know and who was lingering on the corner outside a school) said to me 'Good morning!' .... in English. I definitely have never met this man. How does he know I am english?! I must just ooze non-frenchness. I joked about this with a teacher and said that I didn't look english as I wasn't wearing a mixture of different brightly coloured clothes. And he laughed for about a year. Seriously, where did we get this stereotype from?!

Briefly back to England we go

(I actually wrote this post on Friday 8th but my internet died from then until yesterday so I couldn;t publish it!)

The rest of the time has just sort of passed.

Last  weekend, after Mum left, the weather was absolutely beautiful. I met Luisaidh in town and, after doing our usual rounds of H&M and Zara (and buying matching sunglasses, natch), we went further into Lille, Luisaidh assuring me that she knew the vague direction of a lovely wee place we could enjoy the sunshine. And low and behold, she was not wrong. All of the bars and cafes in the glorious sunshine were absolutely heaving (no surprise there) so we cut down our cafe requirements to ‘we just want to sit outside’ and found a slightly strangely set-up free table on the street. Alas there was no cold cider to be had (this was the beverage that was calling to me!) but the waiter did assure us the wine, or champagne if we preferred, would be absolutely better. Whilst sipping our oh-so-sophisticated afternoon glass of white we noticed the bakery opposite had a constant queue that we into the street, so obviously took this as a sign of an excellent bakery.

This was our next stop. Cakes to take and eat on the grass in the 25 degree sunshine (Yes, that’s 25 degrees celcius. In nord-pas-de-calais! This is probably just an early-onset summer and it’ll now piss it down for the next 6 weeks). Now if you’re thinking that a hugely in-demand bakery with a queue out the door was a sign of variety and decadence well,’d be wrong. (At this point Luisaidh would make her strange Glaswegian cake joke about being wrong or a meringue...but with my home counties accent, it just doesn’t marche). Inside the bakery the choice seemed to be between many merveilleuses. Which we don’t enjoy.  Later realised the bakery is called ‘Les Merveilleuses’. Really that should have been a sign of the nature of cake inside. I can’t remember the name of what I ordered. Well, what I pointed to, what with being blind as a mole without my glasses on.  Luisaidh panic-ordered a Royale, which didn’t disappoint.

I’m sure we were surrounded by more English speakers than frenchies when we went and sat on the nice grassy area. Made the mistake of approaching a frenchie to take our photo though. Obviously she couldn’t possibly just yet, as she had a gauffre prepped for the eating. She did offer for us to wait until she was finished though. I am still not sure why the (gauffre-free) woman with her didn’t step in instead. She looked sceptical of the whole situation, like it was a ploy on our part to get our hands on the woman’s waffle.

All in all it was a lovely day. AND we didn’t even have to wait the standard 3 hours to get home. Result.

Fast forward a little and I actually went back to England on Monday for the interview. The deputy head okayed it all (as I was obvs going to miss lessons) and I just had to do 3 replacement lessons today (Friday) to catch up a little. I am still not sure why it is the deputy head who seems to deal with everything that needs dealing with. What exactly does the actual head do? Apart from come round and shake everyone’s hand in the staffroom, obviously.
I taught all my lessons on Friday and then rushed straight off to get my first train of the trip in the afternoon. The interview was actually at UWE in Bristol so I drove down to Bath on Tuesday and stayed with Kim overnight, so I wouldn’t have to leave at ridiculous o’clock to get to the interview on Wednesday.

The interview was fine. I think it went quite well, but obviously I have to wait to hear, so fingers crossed. The other 5 people in my interview group all actually went to UWE, which I thought was odd. I guess the job must have been advertised on campus or something?
I am majorly impressed that, sans sat nav, I didn’t get lost at all driving to the campus. Who needs a voice telling them to ‘make a u-turn as soon as possible’ when you can have AA’s route plan instructions faffing about the steering wheel whilst you’re negotiating a junction. (On another driving note...I did almost have an accident on Monday driving through Bath when a spider fell from my car ceiling and landed on my face. The less said about that the better.) Also, UWE definitely have their parking situation sorted. Students pay £3 for 4 whole days parking. It’s £1/hour at Bath!

Aaaand that’s pretty much us up to speed then. I eurostar-ed back yesterday and spent the rest of the evening watching catch up tv. I did also have a rather successful conversation with my landlady, who was very sweet. We actually chatted. And not just in the usual ‘we’ll both squint confusedly at each other and answer with ‘oui’ because we don’t really understand’ way. An actual conversation. And she only wanted half rent for this month as I’m leaving in 8 days. Result.

Taught 3 lessons today to make up for a few I missed whilst away and now have the (sunny) weekend to soak up as much nord pas de calais-ness as possible before I have to leave in 8 days. Yes, 8 days. I don’t want to go. So let’s not mention it again, okay?

Sunday, 27 March 2011

This post is for Jenny

As the title suggests, this post was written with my friend Jenny in mind, as she has been nagging me for a much-overdue blog post. So here you go Jen, just for you!
I guess there have been a few things which I could have updated the blog on since the last post. I just always forget until they're gone and forgotten!
Well, to follow on from the last post...
I did have a rotton week or so after I came back from the holidays. To cut a long story short, the bitch-teacher continued to be a bitch. For some unknown reason she just hates me. I am always nothing but pleasant to her and, honestly, I am an easy person to get along with! But obviously not for bitch-teacher. She has f***ed up my classes basically, and it's her issue to sort out. But she told the other teachers that she has no intention of speaking to me at any point and that if I want to contact her for any reason then I know perfectly well how to use email. Just charming really. Ughh. It makes me angry just to remember all of this! I will not be contacting her to grovel and ask her to sort out her mess and arrange her classes. This is her job. Not mine. Several people have told me I should just refuse to take her clsses for the last few weeks. But, as I am constantly reminded, I am just the assistant. Blah.
This situation has blown over slightly now though. Not because anything has been fixed. Not because bitch-teacher has had a change of heart. But because I am ignoring it. And her. It's just a shame for her students. But at least everyone knows she's horrible and they don't think it's me being abrasive.
Hm...what else can I update you on?
I went to Paris. And I LOVED it. I want to go back; there just wasn't enough time to do everything that I wanted to! It was lovely to be somewhere more exciting than Lillers though and to see my uni friends. It was definitely a refreshing experience. Paris really is a lovely city. So much nicer than London. It's hard to explain, but it's just more 'open', whereas London can be quite claustrophobic. Paris still feels like there's air and space. We did some of the usual things really. Went up the Eiffel Tower, visited the Notre Dame, went around the Musee D'Orsay, walked around A LOT. I did get stuck in the metro doors though. Typical of me! In Lille, at certain metro stations, they run a sonar shock through the doors in case you're considering jumping on last minute. No such gadgets in Paris. You just get stuck. Luckily a kind local unwedged me. Ruthless of the french really. Unlike in London on the tube when people just get pissed off with the doors re-opening when people get in the way. The buskers are much more entertaining too. I did find it a bit odd that beggars were allowed to just live on the metro line. But we were (generally) entertained by the singing beggars on the trains. One man with his violin was truly terrible though. All the train-goers crowded at one side of the carriage to avoid his horrendous squeaky notes.
I think I also caught some kind of plague on the metro as I got some kind of bug and then irritated everyone by complaining that I was ill. I'd like to point out that I was actually ill, as I was off work ill for my whole working week (3 days) last week when I got back.
All in all, Paris was great. It made me want to do another year abroad and have another kind of year abroad 'experience' as a student in a big town or city.
Like I said, I didn't teach last week at all as I was ill. One of my colleagues was very sweet and offered to bring me food and medicine. She also tried to force me to go to a doctor, which was completely unnecessary. I only managed to get her to drop this when I reminded her that I had my social security paperwork returned to me 'incomplete' 4 months after I submitted it, so therefore wouldn't get reimbursed by the state. This was no joke. I submitted my application for social security in November. In person. I had it returned by mail this month, telling me it was missing 3 things. ALL of which I definitely included when I handed it in. They wouldn't have taken it off me otherwise. Once again, I am astounded by the inefficiency of french administration. I shouldn'tt be really though, it's quite a common occurrance. As a passing visitor/inhabitant it's mildly amusing. If I lived here though I would have snapped by now. They could do with more than a little German input in their efficiency standards.
Now I don't wish to alarm you...but I have 3 weeks left here.
Yep that's right. 3 weeks! Ahhh don't make me leave! I definitely didn't shed any homesick tears when I arrived (if Jenny's reading this then she can confirm I'm not the teary kind), but there might well be a little weep when I leave! The thought of leaving terrifies me for several reasons. But mainly, I am scared that this is it. What if I'm never going to live in France again and what if this is as good as the language is going to get. Don't get me wrong, I've improved A LOT but I want more!
I know people always say time flies. But really, this has gone ridiculously fast. It seems like only yesterday I was terrified about upping sticks and moving to France on my own. Now I'm just as scared about leaving!
It had been my intention to stay a couple of weeks after I finish, until the end of the month. But then my landlady came round a couple of days ago and basically told me she needs to rent the place to someone else then. Soooo decision was pretty much made for me :s
Realistically, would I have stayed here for 2 weeks on my own? Probably not. I was intending on using it more as a travelling base. But 450 euros/month is a lot to pay for a 'base'.
Realisitically I probably would have left then anyway, but it made it very real. So obviously I rang my mum and unloaded my woes onto her.
Speaking of mummy dearest, she's coming to visit next weekend. I can only imagine how thoroughly entertaining she will be in France. I will update you on how that goes!
A minor anecdote...when I came back from France my landlady came round to give me special delivery letter that had arrived for me and she had to sign for whilst I was gone. I opened it and it was just 45 euros. In an envelope. Sent by recorded air mail. No note or anything. It would appear, from the sender's address, to be from my uncle. Very kind of him, but also very odd! I have sent him a Paris postcard to thank him for his anonomous kindness!
I had to endure a 40 minute phone interview on Friday for a summer job teaching english to kids in a summer camp in Belgium. I THINK it went well, but I have to wait until tomorrow to find out if I have been invited to the face-to-face interview day. I was quite nervous. I was grilled on teaching methods, english grammar and had to take a spelling test over the phone. I haven't done a spelling test for years! The woman sounded positive though. If successful I have to take an incredibly inconvenient trip back to England in A WEEK for an interview in Bristol. This means incredibly expensive last minute eurostar tickets and missing one of my final weeks of teaching and trying to rearrange lessons. All will be worth it if I get the job though. I would be really excited for the job, although I must admit I'm slightly intimidated by it!
I guess this is all my France happenings up to date then. This weekend was quite laid back. I spent yesterday in Lille with Luisaidh which was nice. Although she promised me glorious weather, and it subsequently pissed it down. Standard. We shouldn't expect anything less but we had been out-witted by the previous days of beautiful sunshine! I hope the sun's back next week. I am feeling a little out of practice as I didn't teach at all last week. So tomorrow will be a come-back!
I promise (to Jenny and all other readers) to update again relatviely soon. Obviously with the level of activity in my life permitting.
P.S. To the girl who commented on my last post (I'm sorry I don't know your name!), your comment really made me smile. It was really sweet and picked me up when I was a bit 'blah' and I had made a menta note to message and thank you for writing it earlier but, true to nature, I forgot. But thank you very much. I'd love to hear about your year abroad some time :)

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Back In France

This is just going to be s short-ish post as I have many other tasks to get done this sunny Sunday afternoon!

The two-week half term holiday has just passed and I spent mine break back in good old Angleterre. I wasn't actually going to, but with no one else here and wanting to not spend ridiculous amounts of money, I decided it was the best option.

I had a really nice, albeit slight chaotic, time at home. Just the usual really. Made the rounds of family and friends. Whenever I go through the eurostar terminal on my way home I always feel that slightly strange sensation of 'oh I can English now'. Swiftly followed by 'oh I actually blend in here and won't be stared at like a foreign weirdo on my daily travels'. Always nice to know. Not a lot to report from that really. Although I will mention (purely because I'm so proud of it) that I managed to travel ridiculously light! I packed up my tiny suitace and even had space to spare. The same can not be said for teh return journey, where my mother had plied me with hot cross buns (amongst other things) to bring back. As you can imagine, the buns are now rather squashed. But still tasty!

So...I have been back in France for 4 days now.
And I am bloody bored.

If you asked me what I'd be doing if I was in the UK instead right now, then I'm not quite sure. But I know that whatever it was I wouldn't be this bored!

I don't know if bored's the right word really. More just...'blah'. I had a strong sense of this before I left for the holidays but figured I just needed a break to shake things up a little. But I have returned to the same feeling, stronger than ever. I have only had myself and these four walls for company for the last 4 days, so I imagine this hasn't helped. Although I don't mind my own company, having days od nothing-ness just makes me feel unproductive and lazy.

Don't get me wrong, I love the charm of the area of France that I am in and even the charm of my little town. But I think I'm getting a little cabin fever-ish now, what with living alone in a tiny place. France is generally not a country of convenience either, so I find it difficult to think of places to just 'go'. I really value the experience that I've had so far on my year abroad and love where I am, but I also can't help but be a little envious of those who are in big towns with lots of other assistants. But everyone's experience is different!

I have, however, just booked my TGV tickets to go and stay with Paul and Ivo is Paris for a few days in 2 weeks time which I'm rather excited about! It'll be really nice to see them and, let's not pretend the city is of no consequence,'ll be fabulous being in Paris! And then 2 weeks after that my mum is coming to stay with me for the weekend, so I will again have some more company. I'm hoping these trips will break up the monotony!

Back to teaching tomorrow! Now this is another reason as to why I've been feeling a bit 'blah'. I do actually like my job. But what I don't like is turning up to countless classes where the students don't come. Or where 2 turn up. What use am I when there are no students? It annoys me because I have to plan the lessons, I have to come to school for them. And then I wait for half an hour and no one turns up. When I tell my colleagues their response is generally just sort of 'oh'. Gahh. It's so frustrating. Some of these kids I haven't seen since the first week of December!
Apparently my list of pupils changes this week. Not that I've been informed. Oh and apparently half the final year students have exams so won't be around. Not that I've been informed. Stupid french organisation.

I'm not really feeling particularly 'teacher-like' at the moment. Having returned to uni for a few days I just feel like a student again. Teaching is far too much responsibility for me!

I am toying with extending my contract at the moment. I definitely wasn't going to. And then I definitely was. And now I'm definitely not sure. I would really like to, but not if I'm going to be in this 'blah' state of mind permanently for the next 12 weeks. The main spanner in the works though is that the interviews for a summer job I've applied for (and really want!) may clash with that extension time. In which case, no can do. But I need to make my mind up pretty sharpish, as the deadline is very soon! I haven't actually mentioned it to my school yet though, so they might not even agree to it!

Well I'm gonna go now. Lesson planning and the such-like to do. I hate lesson-planning. I've decided I must have absolutely no imagination, because I just don't know what tasks to get the kids to do!


Monday, 14 February 2011

V Day

I'm not entirely sure why I have entitled this post 'V Day', as really I don't plan on writing anything about Valentine's Day, I just happen to be posting on the 14th.

I am typing this from school, which is something that I never do, but I have some free time on my hands this morning and nothing to really fill it. To set the scene (as if anyone is vaguely interested!)...all this week there is a 'bac blanc' (like mock A levels) for my terminale students. So I have no terminale classes to teach this week. Therefore no 8am start today, yay! So I am working a very light 2-day timetable this week, consisting of 6 hours teaching time.

However this also means my room is required for some sort of exam-ness, so I have replacement rooms. Contrary to my concerns, I did manage to find the 'Salle Video' this morning. Unfortunately my students did not.

Well, quite clearly my students know full-well where the room is, they just didn't come. Unhelpful, some might say. And they can't even blame the faux-pas on being a clue-less foreigner like myself! So...I was here at 9am for a class that didn't show...and I don't have another class until 11am. It pains me to think I could have spent another precious 2 hours in bed! This 11am class had better bloody show up. If I get sent pupils who have already had the lesson I've planned I may scream.

(I would like to point out here, before we get any deeper into this post, that typing on a french keyboard is incredibly difficult. Whyyyy move the letters about? If I wanted a 'q' everytime I type an 'a' then I would request it one!)

I was concerned that, what with today being Valentine's Day and all, there might be some kind of horrendous staffroom protecol involve face-kissing and other formal salutations. Luckily I witnessed no such thing at breaktime. Although students did come round selling single roses, one of which was purchased by a married male teacher and given to a single female teacher. Some might call that quite the sweet gesture, but it's all a bit suspect if you ask me.

I feel like relations with my fellow (non english teaching) colleagues are becoming more awkward. If possible. I always say 'hello', 'have a nice afternoon' etc to the other teachers, but other than that I really have nothing to talk to them about. They are all quite a bit older than me and, in a very french way, rather moany. I just have nothing in common with them to chat about. And I'm sure they feel entirely the same way about me, as they certainly make no effort in return. I just come in, teach my lessons, and then bugger off back home again around lunchtime really. I don't necessarily have an issue with this, I just don't want them to think I'm being rude.

In other news, it is currently house-hunting time at uni in England. I'm sure you can only imagine the fun. Stressful, to say the least.

Well I have struggled on with this bloody keyboard for long enough now, So I'm going to go and maybe coerce some students into actually coming to a scheduled hour with me. Any students will do, I'm not fussy. Just bored. If I have left multiple 'q's in place of 'a's then I can only apologise. At least it kept you on your toes though!


P.S. Happy Valentine's Day. I'm not personally a partaker in the holiday, but I'm sure some of you are.  Not saying I'm adversed to it, just neutral. Unless someone wants to buy me a big gift. In which case it's my new favourite day of the year.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

I'm a bad blogger

I know, I know, I haven't written for ages. I forget and then I don't feel like it and then I think that I have far too much to catch up I put it off again! However, writing a blog post is on my to-do list for the day, therefore it shall be done!

I am not going to recap everything that has happened since my last post, as that would be dull for both you and I. I'm sure nothing monumental has occurred anyhow.

I did have a friend visit me here in nord-pas-de-calais though! Paul (who, for those of you who don't know, does my uni course with me and is currently living in Paris) came to stay for a few days. It was nice to see him and again and to show him the sights of my beloved northern France. We sampled the local delights of 'frites fricadelle' from the friterie, which was surprisingly good! After asking people what a fricadelle contains and everything thinking they're very witty and all answering 'everyone knows but no one will say', I turned to my friend Google and it would appear that it's just a mixture of pork. I think.

We also explored Arras, Lille and, of course, Lillers. Paul dragged me to this god-awful 'attraction' in Lille, to see the PROBABLE birth-place of Charles de Gaulle. Horrendous. But thoroughly amusing when we got stuck between two organised tour groups of old people who smelt like TCP diluted with urine.

The underground tunnels we visited in Arras were very interesting and definitely worth a visit. I'll let Paul have that one. Then after four days I bid farewell to Paul as he returned back to the big city. Hilariously enough he then got to experience french infrastructure and organisation at its best. In typical french style, the already bare sunday train service got cancelled/delayed/replaced and he had to get a (horrendously overpriced) taxi to the station in the hope of reaching his TGV on time. Which he did. Thankfully. I may have killed him had he needed to stay for another night. I am massively looking forward to my return visit to Paris though. I feel I may have the best part of this deal.

Last week was the much-awaited 6 day trip to Essen, Germany with the school. I was excited but a little nervous about the trip but I actually had a brilliant time. I really loved Essen and the woman I was staying in was lovely. Everyone was so welcoming and hospitable and it was a really enjoyable trip, for myself and the students too (they cried when we left their penpals! How sweet!). I think I consumed more food in that 6 days than I normally do in a month here though. Who knew Germans were so big on breakfast eh? I could handle the standard 'bread, meat and cheese' but breakfast invitations were a whole other matter. Smoked salmon, prawns, salmon steak, cured meats, smoked meats, breads, cakes, fruits, champagne, juice, coffee. I could have popped.

All in all, a lovely trip. I was, however, repeatedly mistaken for a student. And I was so embarrassed that I couldn't speak any German. Not a word. I felt awful in shops etc. Typical ridiculous Brit on holiday. I can't believe the only sentence I remember from the school German is 'oh no, my camera is broken'. Although the Germans told me I had good pronunciation! I may take up beginners German at uni next year to re-awaken this skill! If it goes half as well as my stint at arabic did then I shall have quit it before the first semester is out haha.

Now I am back in France. And incredibly grateful that I can (sort of) understand things once more! I feel like I haven't been at school in bloody ages though! This shall be rectified with my 8am start tomorrow morning though. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think that maybe, just maybe, the mornings are a teeny bit lighter now, non? It is only February and I have already convinced myself that spring is creeping in! I bloody hope so anyway. It was freezing last week!

Yesterday shall be rounded up briefly. I went to Lille with Hannah and Luisaidh and saw 'The King's Speech' which was thoroughly enjoyable. Colin Firth was excellent. Entirely questionable representation of Winston Churchill though.

That's all for now. I'm off to conquer the rest of my to-do list!

Monday, 17 January 2011

The good with the bad

Really the only thing that's happened between my last and today is...well, nothing. 'Les soldes' (or the sales) started in France on Wednesday, so I perused a little and bought some things in Sephora because that it a shop we are severely lacking in the UK. But that was all. I am doing pretty well in my mission to spend less money frivolously.

Today started off a bit bleurgh but now I am in a good mood. I didn't sleep well (quel surpris eh?) and woke up with that 'wide awake but as if I haven't been to sleep yet' feeling. Not condusive with an 8AM start. Then the woman who normally drives me to school on a Monday went without me. So I strolled their at a leisurely pace and was actually amazed to have made it on time for my lesson. The class was actually pretty good and surprisingly lively for the first class of the day. They asked me to go to a club with them at the weekend and offered to buy me whisky there! Haha. I pointed out that it woluldn't be appropriate as I am their teacher. To which they replied that I'm only 2 years older. True. But no.

A lesson that I had in the middle of the day was rubbish. No one spoke or contributed and I got the distinct feeling that I was being talked about. Obviously immensely fun!

After this lesson I enquired about the trip to Germany that I'm going on. A it is in less than 2 weeks I felt I should probably know some of the details. It would turn out I was right in suspecting I am one of only 2 teachers escorting these 17 kids on a 6 day trip to Germany. I imagine the coach journey there will be nothing less than horrific. I am staying with a young German teacher who lives alone. This is fine. However, I shall apparently be spending all weekend just with her. This is where I see the communication issues becoming a real problem. If in doubt I shall have to resort to standard British behaviour of shouting in over-pronounced english. That ought to do the trick. Topped of with the occasional 'ja' for good measure.

I came home to an email from the kids summer camp I had applied to as an 'activity assistant'. Their email said 'We currently have no positions available suitable for your qualifications so we cannot continue with your application'. It's not like I teach children english or anything. I had half a mind to reply with 'I am interested in what qualifications would be required in order to supervise children doing colouring-in.' It may have come off as slightly bitter though. A simple email saying they had too many applications or something would have sufficed. Especially seeing as the position requires no actual qualifications! It just irritates me that this period of teaching seems to count as nothing. No qualification, no certificate, nothing. Grrr nevermind, I shall apply elsewhere. Just thought the nature of the response was a bit annoying!

I never look forward to this 4.35pm lesson that I have to return to school for. Last lesson of the day is never fun, it's starting to get dark by this point, I've been at home for a couple of hours and frankly, some of the kids in that class are rude.

However, the class cheered me up today! It was a group of 6 and they are all fairly well-mannered. I don't mind the kids being lively, I just don't want them being rude to me! It always helps when they at least pretend like they want to be here. They were fairly hilarious today though. In answer telling me what their partner had described as their perfect holiday, one girl answered 'She would go to Brazil. And she would go with Damon from The Vampire Diaries'. Me: 'What what she do?'. Student: 'So that she could fuck him all the time'. The whole class, including me, was in hysterics. I was shocked! Then, after a while she added 'or make love, if you prefer'. I am not questioning her taste, merely her judgement on what is appropriate! She then told me that she herself would go away with Jacke Chan so she could touch his bum. Definitely an odd choice. I did question that his age may be a bit much. She said 'not for my heart'. All in all, thoroughly amusing. Odd, but amusing. I was also told by a student last week that he wants to be a dustbin man when he finishes school. A noble profession, I am sure, but I don't know that it should be any 17 year old's primary ambition! And no, he was not joking. When I looked a bit puzzled he clarified with 'you know, with big bins?'.

That is all really. I thought that they were fairly amusing anecdotes but I don't really feel like writing much else. This evening I am feeling a bit rubbish about what I'm getting out of this all at the moment if I'm honest. For various reasons/influenced by various things really. I'm reall yenjoying being here but my year abroad is flying past and I just feel like I want to clutch some of it back and rewind time a little! There's so much stuff that I haven't done yet! Truly I probably just need some sleep!.
On that note, talk later!