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!