Two Worlds.

I came home to England on Saturday after a rather busy week!  I started teaching on my own last Wednesday and Thursday, and it actually went fine.  I thought with knowing I was coming home, that teaching would drag awfully.  I still kind of wanted the lessons done with, but I think on normal days, teaching will be perfectly bareable!  I did the same introductory lesson with all of them, then gave Cadburys at the end :p  Which I think went down well!

Coming home, I thought I’d feel so wierd;  I imagined the feeling you get when coming back from a holiday, but intensified.  But it honestly hasn’t felt like I’ve been away at all.  I feel like I’m living two completely separate lives.  Being here, home, feels utterly normal.  The idea that at this moment I have an apartment in the middle of Paris, just doesn’t seem real.  It will be interesting to see how I feel once I’m back there.  Right now I feel so so happy and cosy and relaxed.  I love home so much! Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying Paris so much.  But my real life is here.  There is too much good here to ever really give up.  This weekend my dad’s doing a bonfire so I won’t miss out on bonfire night! And I have a halloween party in Lancaster tomorrow!  Having such a good holiday :p

Also, I’ve now put captions on all my photos on Flickr, and I’ll try to keep that up from now on so you know where the pictures are coming from!  See them all at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31040809@N03/ 

Au Revoir! xx

School!

So yesterday I started at the school finally! I had 3 hours of observation yesterday then 4 hours today.  I’m gonna bullet point my experience/observations here so it doens’t all merge into one long ramble!

  1. French schools, or at least mine but I think it can be largely generalised, are seriously behind the times technology wise.  Most classrooms haven’t even moved on to whiteboards let alone interactive whiteboards.   The registers are still done with bits of paper, even in my school which is huge.  (As far as I’m aware, alot of english schools now have a computerised network system for this).  This whole thing is worrying me a bit now in terms of being able to use video/dvd/internet tools, games, sites/ cds/ powerpoints.. all of which I got really used to during my teacher training, and which I know would make lessons so much more exciting.  I don’t even know if they have tvs with videos available?!
  2. Even though C had told me that most of the pupils were pretty bad at english, I thought she’d probably be exaggerating, considering how good europeans are at languages right? I was very wrong.  Some classes are actually very good ability wise.  But some are awful.  One girl didn’t get the word ‘april’ after I repeated it 3 times.  She just didn’t know the word.  The fact is the levels vary hugely.  Which is gonna make my job all the more hard having to adapt lessons to suit both age and ability, even within one class.
  3. There are a lot more girls in my school than boys, at least in my classes anyway.  I haven’t yet come across any overly cocky lads, which was one thing I was dreading.  There does seem to be a certain amount of respect for teachers in that way that you just don’t get at most english state schools.  This also means I’ll have quite a few all girl classes when I take them myself.. which may prove alot more fun in being able to stick to girlie topics, and putting my british cosmpolitan and marie claire magazines to use!
  4. I was introduced to two cool looking people about my age in the staff room, who I think are like student advisors or something.. they live in the library all day.  In fact the librarian is really camp and funny and speaks english, and the library itself is really new and nice with lots of computers so I might just end up spending all my free periods there, either chatting to the two advisor people, or the librarian or just planning lessons.
  5. When I came home yesterday I walked through Pere Lachaise Cemetary and took a few pictures this time 🙂 I think I may well try and walk through there most days on my way home because it is so insanely quiet and peaceful.  It’s completely walled in so it shuts out so much of the city noise, and as a cemetary rather than a park, there are never very many people there.
) I sleep so near to where he sleeps forever!

The god that is Oscar Wilde's grave 🙂 I sleep so near to where he sleeps forever!

 

Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin

Balzac

Balzac

 

A very pretty looking Ballerinas grave though Ive no idea whose.

A very pretty looking Ballerina's grave though I've no idea whose.

6. Completely unrelated to school.. I managed to block myself from my flickr account the other day, and after their customer services being no help whatsoever, I’ve just opened a new account.. hopefully it should work okay but yeh, right now I hate Flickr.

This afternoon I FINALLY got my bank card 😀 and subsequently went to get my french mobile.  Which means that actually now, I pretty much have nothing left to do by way of settling in.  I’m still waiting for my phone line in the apartment, but all I can do for that is wait.  So it’s actually rather nice to have this weekend where I have nothing I have to do, and can finally start doing the things I want to do whilst in Paris.

Au Revoir! xx

I’ve been in Paris a whooooooole month!

So I’ve survived a month.  What’s infurating is that I still don’t feel settled and so many things still haven’t been sorted out.  But I know it will come.

Yesterday was eventful..! I met up with Jessie in the morning and we went down to the Tuilleries to meet all the other english teaching people for a big picnic meet up thing.  Lauren came along later and it was awesome to see her again! Twas a really nice day just meeting people and sitting out in the sun.

In the evening I had a meal with the english teachers from my school.  It wasn’t at all what I was expecting.  In the end it was only two of the teachers cos the rest couldn’t make it which was a bit dissapointing.  But we had a very traditional french meal of bread, cheese, wine and grapes! Twas rather yummy. 

The conversation was intriguing.  I feel like I can’t go into too much detail because I would be typing for a very long time but it was bizaare.  I was very impressed by how opinionated they were and how passionate for certain causes they seem to be.  For example, they told me how each year the french government create a number of immigrants that they aim to dispell from the country each year and for 2008 it was 23000 and something.  Aparently there are often cases of people, even their pupils, turning 18 and the police finding any excuse to arrest them and deport them.  Some of the teachers aparently have some sort of scheme where they try to help these people.  It’s obviously something I know very little about at the moment, but what I’ve heard so far does sound shocking.  I definately want to find out more and perhaps hear other sides of the story?

Also, the things we are taught about french culture, i.e. that their way of dealing with immigration is to try and irradicate any differences and make everyone the same, whereas in England we tend to embrace the differences and allow them to enrich us as a nation, I think is pretty true.  There seems to be no consideration of the arguement that even though relgious or cultural actions or signs may seem strange to you if they are not you’re own, they are still valid and acceptable to some extent.  In England I don’t think you could just dismiss something as being wrong without at least considering the cultural or relgious reasoning behind it.  In France they seem more inclined to alienate something without question if it isn’t the exact norm.  That’s what I’ve found anyway.  We shall see.  It may well depend a lot too on age, class and experience/upbringing?

I had a good time though and it was definately an eye opener to lots of issues and arguments to think about!

I got the bus home after the meal cos both the teachers said the stop just outside went straight to where I live.  I’ve now realised that the buses are fab!  O was saying that he hasn’t taken a taxi in years because the night buses here are so safe and efficient.  I’ve had a look into it and they do seem really good, if I can get used to them!  Will make it alot easier/cheaper to get home after a night out! Oh french public transport! <3

Tonight Lauren and I are going to Jessie’s host family’s for dinner.  Am rather excited, not sure why! Tis just nice meeting more people.. and feeling the family vibes will do me good I think 🙂

Au Revoir! xx

Falling into Place.

I’m very happy that at least a few things are finally coming together!

Catherine gave me my timetable for my first 3 weeks of teaching today! This will all be observations so after that the timetable will change again but I’m so excited now! I can plan the next 3 weeks and look forward to them.  She sent the timetable to me and the other english teachers and there was a note at the top to the other teachers (and I guess sort of to me) about how it would work for the next few weeks.  The teachers are supposed to leave 20 minutes at the end of every hour so that the pupils can ask me questions! Argh! Cool but argh! I’m assuming (hoping) that this will all be in english.  I suppose it can’t be that bad just talking about myself.  I can’t wait for some of the stereotype questions though :p Shall be sure to document them here!

Another fabulous thing I’ve managed to put in place is the baby-sitting I mentioned I really wanted to do.  I called a woman who I found in FUSAC who lives really near me and went round to meet her tonight and it’s all sorted already!  It will depend a bit on what my timetable works out like after my observation weeks, but Catherine is being such a doll trying to make sure my timetable fits! I’m gonna be looking after two kids aged 10 and 13 for 2 hours, 3 evenings a week, basically just making sure they’re getting on with homework and stuff before their parents get home from work, and teaching them a bit of english along the way.  I reakon it’s gonna be great for my french too being exposed to these kids speaking it constantly, and I’m also really looking forward to getting a bit of a view of real French family life!  It also means I have little bit more money coming in which relaxes things on the financial front.  I do still want to get some tutoring set up and things like that, but I can do that in my own time now; there’s no presure money wise.

I also THINK I’ve made progress in the saga that is getting my bank card (if it wasn’t such a long, infuriating and repetative story I would recount it..), though I’m only going to believe that when I see it now.

I was buzzing so much a bit earlier, but now I think I’ve just managed to block myself from my flickr account 🙁 so i’m feeling a bit depleeted!

I have a great time ahead of me now! There’s some meet up organised over facebook tomorrow for all the english teachers in Paris which should be interesting! I’m meeting up with Jessie and another friend, Lauren, whom I met on one of the teacher training courses I did back home; so excited to see her again!  In the evening I’m having dinner with all the english teachers at my school; I’ve only met Catherine so far so I can’t wait! I hope they’re all really lovely!  One of them has the name of my favourite French actress and I’ve got to keep reminding myself that they won’t look the same!  On Saturday evening I’ve been invited to Jessie’s host family’s for a dinner there.  The mom is English so I’m predicting lots of england reminicing.. which I would kind of reslish right now! Then on Sunday I’m heading to one of the markets with Molly I think!

After that it’s starting baby-sitting, some admin/welcome session for all the english teachers on wednesday, then starting school!!

I am SO SO relived to finally be busy with REAL things and not endless paperwork/admin/housing problems!!  Even though many of them are still there; at least I won’t have much time to worry about them now 🙂

Au Revoir! xx

My Lycée and Apartments!

I visited the school on Friday! Got up about 10am and walked over to Gare du Nord to meet my mum from the train.  Twas only about a 10 minute walk and very busy! Then about 2pm I walked to Catherine’s house.  Was very complicated getting there, lots of little streets; but good to get to know the area.  Her apartment was gorgeous, so cosy and FULL of books! 

We talked a little there about what I’d be teaching and things.  It sounds ideal really.  Apparently the lessons I teach will be a straight hour with each group, separate from their normal lessons.  This is because alot of their exam is speaking so apparently they need as much practice as possible.  Also for the older classes I’ll only have 3 to a class which sounds great and then only 10 for the younger ones which is still very manageable.  She also showed me the timetables of the last 2 years’ assistants and it seems like she tries to group the 12 hours I have to do into 3 days which is great because it means I can spend the whole day at the school on those days and then have 4 days free to do other things.  Not sure yet if I have completely free rein on what I can teach or whether it has to fit withing her topic areas, but even if it does.. one of those is women’s place in history 😀 so that’s all good!

After that we walked up to the school (only about a 10 minute walk from her apartment) and she showed me around and I met some of the teachers.  It seems like a huge school but very friendly and down to earth.  Everyone seemed to know each other and get on well.  There’s a big library so I might be able to borrow french novels from there, and a language multimedia centre I can use for lessons if I book it!  It has suddenly dawned on me that I really need to get my head around some fixed introductions and lesson plans but I think I’ll just focus on apartments for the next few days, then as soon as that’s sorted I’ll get down to work.

So speaking of apartments! When I got back from seeing Catherine, mum and I went to a phone box (mum came for moral support :p) and I called around lots of numbers I’d got from fusac.  From that I set up some viewings.  I also set some up over email from addresses I’d got from fusac. 

Later on mom and I went to a basic little restaurant just down the street from here.  Twas okay, filling food but just okay :p

 

This morning we went to see the first of the apartments.  This one was quite far out and rather cheap (well, for Paris); I wasn’t really thinking of it seriously but I wanted something for comparisons.  I actually didn’t think it was too bad but mom was horrified :p The bathroom was a little grotty.  But I just figured one has to be optimistic and they will be what you make them!

We spent the rest of the morning having a look around the areas of a few of the other apartments.  I’m really enjoying just wandering at the moment and getting to grips with everywhere 🙂

This evening we went to see another apartment near Buttes Chaumont Park and boy was it gorgeous.  The area is lovely.  It’s not right in the centre but it’s still quite bustly and I kind of like that it’s a little more private.  It’s definately at the expensive end but everything is included in the rent and I really have fallen in love with it.  We just have to wait and see now if she choses me over the other people who came to view it.  I really don’t know how that whole choosing thing works.  It seems to totally depend on the landlord whether they are really desperate for you to want the apartment or whether you are really desperate that they choose you as a tenant?! I guess we’ll find out tomorrow!

I shall keep you posted on the apartment hunt!

After that mom took me to a restaurant that she and her best friend went to when they were working in Paris, THIRTY years ago :p It’s called Chartier and it’s definately something to experience, really crowded and hot and basic meals but so so popular… we had to queue to get a table.  It’s like an 18th century majorly upper class dining hall or something.  Very bizaare!

Au revoir! xx