Thursday, October 6, 2011

La fin de ma premiere semaine en France

I have officially been in France for a week! Although I expected the first week to go by quickly, it actually has felt quite slow -- more like one month rather than just one week.

I forgot to mention in my last post that I went to Privas on Monday. To get from Bourg-St.-Andeol, I had to take a bus at 6:45 am, make a transfer in another town, and then arrived at the l'Inspection Academique (IA) by 9. My second bus driver was extremely friendly, partially because I chased his bus down and frantically knocked on the window, thinking that it was leaving me behind when it was actually just going to the stop on the other side of the road (where I'd been standing before) to pick up other people (me). After I made it quite obvious that I was not from the area, he kindly asked me where I was from and we proceeded to have a very pleasant conversation for the rest of the ride. He pointed out various sights and towns of note that he insisted I visit. Biggest lesson I've learned so far: Sometimes you have to embarrass yourself to meet people and make sure that you don't get lost!

Our meeting at the IA didn't start until 10:30, so I walked down to a cafe to pass some time and wake up with a cup of coffee. We mostly just took care of administrative paperwork during the meeting so there isn't much to say about that aside from the fact that it was overwhelming. Past assistants weren't kidding when they said that I'd need about ten photocopies each of every document. Madness.

At lunch we (2 American boys, 1 Canadian girl, 5 English girls, me, and JN, the conseiller pedagogique) went to JN's house for lunch. I volunteered to ride along with one of the British girls (L) in her car and follow behind JN. Within three minutes of following JN, we lost him. L wasn't comfortable driving as fast as JN and I don't blame her -- I'd be a little more cautious too if I were all of a sudden needing to drive on a new side of the road! We tried to guess which way he might have gone and made several wrong turns before deciding to simply return to where we'd lost him and wait until he came back to pick up the rest of the assistants from the IA. Sure enough he came back, but we ended up losing him again on our second attempt. Luckily his house wasn't much further and he was able to flag us down.

Here's JN's backyard:

We had pasta, sausage, cheese (compulsory), bread (also compulsory), and grapes. Every time I have grapes in France, I forget that they're not seedless. And the seeds are bitter and unpleasant. Just trust me. We went back to the IA afterwards to make more photocopies and then I began my trek back to Bourg-St.-Andeol.

Tuesday afternoon I visited the two other schools that I'll be working at, but it turns out that they won't need me quite as much as the other school that I've started at. The plan is to be at the main school for a full day once a week, and the other two schools for a half-day each. The teachers at the other schools weren't nearly as friendly as the other teachers I've met so far, but we'll work on that. Hopefully they'll be able to see that I'm just there to help out, not take over.

Yesterday was fairly uneventful. I made my appointment to open my bank account, had a raspberry ice cream with the little girl (P) in my host family and her grandmother, played various board games, got destroyed by P in an Asterix & Obelix themed memory game, and tried this fish pot pie food that I can't remember the name of. Today I observed more classes at L'ecole du Centre (the main school I'll be at) and got to see a thoroughly-entertaining English lesson! The teacher was so nervous that I was in the room but I assured her that I was not going to judge her accent. The kids had to listen and sing along to a song that repeated things like What's your name? What's your address? Where do you come from? What is your nationality? How old are you? etc. I had a hard time not laughing out loud because the person singing on the recording was so monotone and robot-like.

On my way back home, I met the mother of two American students at the school. They're from North Carolina and insisted that I come over for dinner sometime. Although I'm enjoying all of the French practice I'm getting, it's such a nice feeling to be able to listen and speak without needing to concentrate so much.

Next week I'm just doing more observation and going back to the other two schools again. I have some tentative weekend plans to go to some other towns, so hopefully that works out. I'm starting to feel a little trapped in this tiny town because there isn't much of a bus system and I haven't met many people near me yet, but that should improve soon.

Here are some random pictures that hadn't made the blog yet:

 French board games in my room
 Random bird decoration above my bed
Bridge to Pierrelatte

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