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

French ‘Society’.

Saturday night was incredible! Lauren and I went thinking it was going to be some form of sit down dinner pretty much just with the family.  It turned out to be a big party and buffet with over 90 people, to celebrate the dad’s birthday!  Jessie, Lauren and I hung out most of the night and it was the lovely.  The food was mostly catered and very yummy.  We met the kids who Jessie looks after and they were gorgeous! The younger one was insanely active though!  We talked to quite a few of the family’s friends about what we were doing in Paris.  It was really nice to have just casual conversation in french.  Twas intriguing to see lots of regular parisian adults; what they wore, how they acted etc.  Fabulous people watching fodder! We stayed till about 12 then went for a quick drink in a nearby bar before Lauren and I got the metro back to mine, encountering some less than pleasant french boys along the way 🙁

On Sunday I went round to Molly’s at about 11.30 and we had such a relaxing Sunday! First we went to the market at Bastille (my first Paris market!).  It was so colourful and bustly!  Worth going to just for the atmosphere, even if you have no intention of spending money.  Once we’d wandered around and Molly had bought lots of organic veggies, we found a cafe in the sun by place de la bastille and had coffee while reading the sunday observer and discussing blogs among other things!  She invited me for brunch so went went back to hers and had yummy scrambled eggs with salmon, toasted baguette, salad, cheese and home made strawberry and banana smoothies.  I really need to get myself a blender asap so I can make my own! Later we went for a wander round the Marais and mooched in some of the clothes shops.. and I didn’t get home till like half seven.  By that time I was happily tired and had a cosy evening with cups of Tea! :p

This morning I had psyched myself up to go and give my bank man hell for my bank card STILL not arriving! So I get downstairs and check my mail, and the slip from the post man (for a registered letter from the bank) that I’ve been waiting for for over 2 weeks is finally there!  So that scuppers my plans for today as I can’t go and collect it till tomorrow.  I also recieved a letter back from the caf (housing benefit) people asking for some more documents, which is good cos it means they’ve recieved my application, especially as I wasn’t expecting to hear from them for another 2 weeks.

This does mean that I now have nothing to do today, which gives me time to get some writing done: mainly my french journal which I’m really starting to fall behind on!

I’m starting the babysitting tonight! So so nervous.  I don’t know if the kids will like me or if it will be difficult with the language barrier or what exactly I’m sposed to do?! Argh!  But all I can do is take it as it comes.  I am excited at the same time :p

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

I have a dragon in my back yard :p

Hello my lovelies!!

I’ve had a gorgeous weekend with my mom 🙂 Like I said we pretty much just chilled out on Friday, but we did go for an explore around the area later.  The road that my street is off is definately the prettiest that we saw!  We had a quick wander through Pere Lachaise cemetary (where the god that is Oscar Wilde is buried) but we didn’t have much of an explore.. something I’m definately going to go back and do properly at a later date.  We also found Parc de Belleville which is a gorgeous little park on a hill nearby.  We sat down on one of the benches for a bit of a rest (very hilly around there!) and I could totally picture myself sitting there with a book on a Saturday afternoon 😀 

On Saturday we had a venture out to the centre to see Notre Dame as my mum has never been.  Unfortunately (but perhaps enevitably for a Saturday) the queues to get in were so so long, so we decided to leave it this time.  We did have a good wander and cafe stop around the Latin Quarter and St Michel though.  I picked up the new copy of FUSAC (the french-english magazine with lots of personal ads) to look for an extra job as I really could do with the distraction and the money.  I got myself all excited about the idea of doing a bit of childminding.  Jessie, the american girl I met up with, does this already and I really like the idea of it.  I love kids and I don’t think I’d find it too straining.  It’s good money and it’d be a great way to get to know real french life a bit more.  It will depend on whether it can fit in with my 12 hours teaching, but I’m really hoping it can!

I am still waiting on my bank card 🙁 It has been 10 days now since I was at my bank and my bank guy was sat opposite me saying ‘you will recieve a letter in one to two days..’.  Yeah cos that’s happened.  I’m just getting worried now cos I’m gonna need to take money out soon!!

Internet on the other hand I think is getting somewhere.  Yes a technician was supposed to come ‘within 7 days’ to reactivate my phone line (the 7 days ending tomorrow), but I did manage to access online some staus report on my application and they do appear to be getting somewhere.  In the meantime, I’m still able to use the open wifi here and thus call people through skype too so it’s not too bad for the time being.

I’ve booked my two lots of flights for half term and christmas! I decided to come home for both because I know myself, and I know it will be better for me to have a bit of a break after all the stress of settling in.  I think after that though I’m gonna stay here for the other holidays and maybe travel a bit around here.  I should have more money to do that then too!  For half term then I’ll be home from Oct 25th- Nov 5th, and I should hopefully get up to Lancaster in that time to see everyone!! For christmas it’ll be Dec 22nd- Jan 3rd, and I really want to see as many people as possible cos I miss you all so much already!

This week I am probably going to be extremely boring in terms of blog posts :p (then again that assumes that I’m not being already.. I don’t know :s).  Mainly because I don’t have alot left to sort out for settling in and am probably going to spend this week cracking on with the following:

  1. Year Abroad Journal: Uni half module- Journal I have to keep in French of my experiences and observations of the culture.. i.e. translating this blog into French pretty much.. maybe with some extended rants about french men and the french service industry
  2. Year Abroad Project: Other uni half module- 6000 word project on an aspect of french culture.. I’m doing mine on the place of cinema in modern french society.  I haven’t done much on it yet but I’m hoping it’s gonna prove very interesting!
  3. Dissertation: How the narrative style of Madam Bovary is represented in modern adaptations of the story, mainly films
  4. 4th year reading: I have so much free time this year that I’m really hoping to get all the reading for my 4th year English Lit modules all done before I start them.

I may well post random things related to all this but I don’t think I’m gonna keep recording every single thing I do.  I’ll just post when I do something I feel worth noting or that I reakon you’ll like to hear about!  If there is anything you’d like to hear more about.. I don’t know what… the area/ random observations/ my feelings on settling in?!! :p whatever! Do send me comments or an email and I’ll try to cover things that interest people :p That said, I realise that a blog is first and foremost a totally self-indulgent hobby so I’ll keep writing on anything I feel is worth writing about too 🙂

Au revoir! xx

Time doesn’t stop in the city :s

You know what? I’m far too tired again to go into detail about that first day so I’ll just have to keep the feeling as a memory and detail any bits that come back to me later on.  Needless to say is was a fabulous first day and I already noticed alot about Paris and its quirks.

Now onto today!

So today I failed to look at apartments, though this wasn’t entirely my fault. This morning I went out to do many a thing that needed doing as well as make sure I could definately find a few places, and just to have a general wander around. I bought a ‘carte mobilis’ which is a public transport ticket for one day’s unlimited travel.
Firstly I went to place de l’opera to the BNP paribas bank there as this is where the ‘agence’ (branch.. of the bank) yesterday said I would be able to open a bank account without having a fixed address. Again it was rather strange coming out of the metro to a view of the Paris opera (which I’ve actually never been inside, despite all the Phantom of the Opera links!) but straightaway walking away from it to go do adminy ‘i live here’ type stuff. The guy at the bank was great, I think. Though I’m still not sure if I’ve just signed my life away to something horrible!! I was able to set up the account with some kind of 30 day lee-way I have to find an apartment and give an address. I’m not given my card or cheque book until an address but it gets round the bank-apartment catch-22 as I now have the RIB slips that I need to show a landlord. I actually came out of there overwhelmed that I’d been in a room speaking straight French all on my own for almost half an hour.
Next it was on to the american church where aparently there are lots of advertisements for housing and where I hoped to pick up the P à P and the FUSAC magazines (full of accommodation offers). However when I got there the whole place looked shut up and and italian guy sat outside didn’t seem to know when it would be open. Stupid me really should have checked the website I guess! So that kinda put pain to my plans to do some house hunting. I wandered from here to another metro stop and got my first glimpse of the eiffel tower which, despite the cliché still makes me a bit happy 🙂
The next stop was by the Sorbonne (one of the universities in Paris and I think the french equivalent to Oxford) and Lycée Louis le Grande where we have our welcome and teacher training for my teaching scheme at the beginning of October. The Sorbonne was beautiful and very imposing :p.
I wanted to get some clothes and I’d figured out that one of the main shopping streets was reasonably near so I wandered through the ‘jardin du Luxembourg’ which was stunning. There was a band playing with lots of people watching so I stopped to watch that for a little while. Then as I passed the lake I saw all the toy sail boats and motor boats that some of the children (and some of the adults!) were playing with. A bit further on some people were giving donkey rides 🙂

 

The girl second from the left gave me a wide-eyed smile as I walked past which clearly was saying ‘how can anyone expect me to enjoy plodding along at 1mph down some random path’ :p. Or perhaps she was just extactic with glee, being on a cute fury horsey thing.
I got to where the shops were and had a happy/worrying moment when I realised that it was in fact a huge street full of many clothes shops, and the metro stop at the end of this street goes directly to the metro stop nearest my house. Far to easy. Once I’d done some shopping I actually took the metro all the way to the stop by my school. I wanted to have a quick look at it before I start. It’s not nearly as bad an area as I thought it could be. I don’t think Paris can quite do bad areas really. But the school is huge!! Quite excited now though to start there. Ooo also, I managed to call Catherine today who is the english teacher responsable for me and I’m going round to her house tomorrow.
After seeing the school I came back to the house for a while then went to the Champion supermarket just down the road to get some supplies finally!

This evening Emma (a friend from uni who is working in Paris for 6 months as part of her year abroad) came round and we had spaghetti bolognaise and a gossip about all things french.  I cooked in Paris! It was so bizaare, especially as I haven’t really cooked at all in 3 months.  Twas lovely to have someone in a similar boat with all the struggles of settling in and finding an apartment and getting used to the french ways of life.

We looked at FUSAC apartment adds online and I feel a bit more confident and ready and optimistic to start looking tomorrow 🙂 And my mama is coming tomorrow morning so that definately adds to the whole confidence thing, having someone to go look at places with.  It was great opening the bank account this morning, knowing I’d done it myself, but the whole ‘look what you’ve achieved all on your own thing’ is overrated.  I know I’ll feel far happier, safer and more prepared with some one else there.  Emma offered to come with me once mum has gone too which is awesome.

Gonna write down some numbers from the FUSAC adds then go to bed I think!  I’m still completely shattered but I feel like right now I really shouldn’t stop before I’ve got a least the basic things sorted.  The good thing about coming a bit earlier I guess is that hopefully I’ll have an apartment soonish and then I’ll have some time to actually relax and settle in properly 🙂

Au revoir! xx