19 November 2009
At this point I’ve been in Europe for over two months, and I’m feeling quite settled-in. I’ve accustomed myself to “normal French life.” My “normal French life” includes a lot of Sudoku (easy level only), lots of time familiarizing myself with the RER D (regional train that I take to work), reading Direct Matin (the FREE metro newspaper), feeding Baba what’s left on my plate after a meal, copious amounts of Activia yogurt (vanilla flavor), hanging out with assistant friends on any day of the week, 85 cent baguettes, and budgeting.
BUT! One can never predict the events that will unfold during a day in Paris. At least once a day I will start to smile uncontrollably. It just hits me. I live in Paris. I LIVE IN PARIS. Sometimes I have a hard time believing it myself. I’ve had these smile fits while exiting the metro station, walking home with bags of groceries, reading the free paper on the train on my way to Corbeil Essonne. It’s such a great feeling!
One of my favorite things about this city is that almost every new friend I have made I have met in a haphazard way. It has always been when I have decided to get off of the couch when I’m tired and go out and do something. And get this… I’ve actually ran into people in Paris who I know. I see Alexis at the train station every once in a while, I saw another assistant on the same metro car as me, and I’ve met people at a conversation group who know other friends of mine. Today I was getting on the train to work and I saw a face coming dangerously close to mine. It was another assistant, Roberto, who was coming to greet me with the French bisous. It’s a small world after all!
School is going well—at the moment. I really enjoy being around the kids. They still treat me like I’m a celebrity, and that makes me feel good. They’re not quite as intimidated by me anymore. This is both good and bad. It’s bad for reasons of discipline. For instance, if I yell at the kids, I have to speak in English, and they take this one of two ways: (a) What is this lady saying to me? I’m scared! Or, more commonly, (b) What is this lady saying? It’s hilarious!
I have one student in particular who finds everything about English absolutely hilarious. It’s as though someone starts to tickle here every time I open my mouth. I find her absolutely frustrating. She also happens to be the student responsible for pulling the fire alarm on Tuesday, though she claimed she “fell into it”.
Last Friday I was inspected.
My advisors came to my school to watch me teach and give me advice. They ended up infuriating the teachers at my school and upsetting the balance. Now my schedule is probably going to change and I’ll have to work all day Friday. Boooo!
10 November 2009
It’s been a tough couple of weeks. I’ve had to face some personal deamons while working more than I’ve had to since August doing a job that I don’t feel qualified to do (in a foreign country nonetheless). But I’m not complaining because I feel that I am dealing with what is difficult and being one-hundred percent honest with myself. Listening to your gut isn’t easy, but it’s the right thing to do. Oh, and I get better at the job with each day that passes.
Last week was supposed to be vacation from Monday until Wednesday, but I accepted a position doing a stage in a high school because a) I need the extra money, and b) I wanted the experience. I’m so glad that I did it ! From this experience I learned a little about French high schools, made a new friend, and learned how to command the attention of a class of 15-19 year-olds for three hours at a time. Overall I’d say that French high schoolers are the same as French elementary students, just a lot taller and a little sassier, but nothing I couldn’t handle.
On the last day of the stage we showed the students part of the movie Zoolander and ate twix bars. I had some of my students act out scenes from the movie—an activity that they found hilarious. Apparently Ben Stiller as a male model is funny even if you don’t understand English. It was one of those rare moments when I feel really proud of American culture. We make such funny movies !One thing I have been wanting to do while in Paris is attend a French-English conversation group. I had been looking for a good one, but all of the one’s I had found had entrance fees. No thanks ! So one reason I am really glad to have met Victoria (the girl who I worked with at the high school) is because she informed me of Tempo Tea Time. It’s a FREE conversation group that meets every Tuesday evening for two hours. The first hour of conversation is in either English or French and then you switch to the other language for the second hour. I went last week and had a great time. I met a few British girls who are in the same program as me, one of them even works in the same town I do ! I think that from 8:30 until 9:30 last Tuesday night was the most I have spoken French since I got here almost 2 months ago !