Friday, 1 October 2010

French Red Tape

I am glad I have my internet connection now, I feel so cut-off without internet access! Just had to get the wireless password from the landlord.
I am going to TRY to make this slightly brief. If I write an essay every time I blog them I am less likely to do it as often! Plus I don’t to bore any potential readers to tears. I had also intended to add some photos to this post, but I haven’t uploaded them yet and wanted to get a post written tonight. There’s always tomorrow!
So...yesterday was a day of sorting admin out with my head of department’s husband, Pierre. Pierre and Christelle (head of the English dept at the Lycee) have been so helpful and welcoming to me. I also find Pierre very amusing, which helps with the slightly stressful tasks!
To cut a long story short...I managed to get a french SIM card for my phone, made an appointment at the bank, sorted out some school admin and met the headteacher etc. Nothing is simple in France. Which I find very frustrating. Ugh. Everything simple task is shrouded in a heap of paperwork. Obviously even less helpful when you don’t really understand the aforementioned paperwork.
Today I opened my bank account (not that it is actually available to be used for a while yet...) and had my first day at the school. I only met the youngest pupils today (aged 15) and sat in and observed their classes. The pupils seem to be generally well-mannered and polite at the Lycee which is good. I am curious to meet the older students though and see how they are in class and what their English is like.
I wandered into Lillers town for the first time today to visit the supermarket. It was bleak. Although I imagine this was partially down to the fact that it was raining. My colleagues appear to have no issues with telling me that it’s a boring town I’m living in though. I have generally found the French to be honest in ways that us English folk just wouldn’t! I don’t know if this is their intention or if maybe there is a touch of confusion amongst the translation. It amuses me though.
Something else I cannot get used to is the French custom of eating a massive, hot meal at lunch. My poor stomach is expecting a sandwich, but I force a starter, main and dessert upon it. And then promptly feel too full to move. Supposedly I would then have something light for dinner. But my stomach doesn’t know it is in France and would like a proper dinner as well please.
It’s Friday night and I am not sure what to do with myself this weekend. I don’t actually know anyone to go anywhere with. I might explore one of the larger nearby towns. If I can catch Liller station when it’s actually open... Oh and I have to avoid places such as Lille as there are mass demonstrations scheduled for tomorrow. Obviously. I met a lovely teacher today, closer to my age, who did say to phone or email her if I want someone to look round with, so perhaps I’ll take up her offer.
Finally, I have found myself saying a lot of ‘pardon?’ today. After a while I just get tired of it and nod along. I find it very difficult to understand when there are lots of people talking. I have to hone in on the person and really concentrate on the conversation. And if I get distracted for a moment then I am lost. I can already envisage a permanent headache. However, every day I am making a list of new words I’ve heard and not understood, or words that I have wanted to use but didn’t know them. I am hoping this will help.

Well, that’s the end of my not-so-brief post. I promise tomorrow will be shorter!
Bon weekend!


  1. Hi Hannah you are so brave, I know I would not be able to live in another country. My friend just finished a year in Italy and she loved it, i hope you have a lovely time. :)

  2. Aw thanks so much! Yes I think it's going to be a really good year xxx

  3. Hey not quite surprised to read that, French can be...disturbing sometimes... Hope you're gonna feel better very quickly though...
    One big tip : If you can drive and you're looking for some fun, you MUST go in Lille on thursdays: starts for Happy Hour from 5pm to 5 am, this is when "soirées étudiante" are taking place. This is massive! Also, on friday nites and WE, Lille is THE PLACE TO BE :)
    Sorry I don't know someone in Lille atm, bummer. could have been helpful...
    Have fun anyway!


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