October 26, 2009

Chez médecin

Posted in la vie bordelaise tagged , , , , , at 5:29 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

I woke up rather early, on this, my first real day of vacation, to call the doctor I’d selected from the “Pages Jaune” (Yellow Pages).  I asked for an appointment, and a rather abrupt voice told me that the doctor had open office hours today beginning at 2pm.

I was nervous about having to go see a doctor, and I would have put it off if at all possible.  I don’t have my Carte Vitale (health insurance card) yet, and I specifically decided I would NOT. GET. SICK this year!  Clearly, my body was not listening.

The cause of all this distress? A urinary tract infection.  Normally I’d spare you all such intimate details of my life, but in this case it does happen to relate directly to how I experience France and French culture.  So we continue.

I began noticing the first symptoms Saturday night.  I tried to deny them, but they haunted my dreams.  Sunday I made up my mind that I would call the doctor.  To put it off any more would only make my vacation miserable and put my body in more danger.  I’m prone to UTIs and have been having them with greater and greater frequency over the last few years.  Don’t get older, kids.

Around 1:30pm I set off for the doctor’s office.  It ended up taking me much longer to find it than I’d thought, due to some bad directions from the online map, but I found her office.  And five other people waiting outside to be seen.  By that point, I already had to pee again.   I asked a nice, elderly lady if we were all waiting for the doctor, to verify I was in the right place, and she said yes.  And then started talking to me for the next hour, complaining about the wait.

The doctor didn’t show up until 2:30 (despite telling me to come at 2pm!) and after she unlocked the door to her office, we all filed into her tiny, closet-sized waiting room.  After another 15 minutes of waiting with no patients being called, the elderly woman gave up and left, wishing me good luck.  Only 4 people ahead of me!

I HAD TO PEE.  There was a small bathroom, but I didn’t use it in case she needed a sample.  I mean, at home my doctor always takes a sample and analyzes it in the same building.  I wasn’t sure if this was the same.  So I held it.  And held it.  And held it.  For nearly two hours.

Finally it was my turn.  The doctor was very nice.  We sat at her desk first, while she listened to my symptoms.  I told her, “It seems I have a UTI.” I mean, I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I’ve been through this and I know what it feels like. If you’ll just give me some drugs, we can all go home.  I managed to explain all my symptoms and answer her questions in French.  She had me hop up on the examining table while she poked at my kidneys  (and I tried not to pee on her table), and then she took my blood pressure.

She complimented my French skills and accent, which pleased me.  She said she had a neighbor who was American who had lived in France for years whose accent wasn’t as good as mine.  I need to send that in an email to my former professors!

The doctor told me I would need to go to a lab to get a urinalysis done, but she was going to give me antibiotics now anyway. PHEW.  She wrote the order for the lab test and the prescriptions, I paid her (22 euros) and thanked her, and then I USED THE BATHROOM.  There was no way I could wait until I got to the lab.  This proved to be a mistake.

Receipts and reimbursement form in hand (not having my Carte Vitale, I paid the full amount and will be reimbursed later…much later), I set off to find the lab.  The doctor had been vague…”It’s on the street with the tram.”  Yeah, that’s a really long street.  I found a pharmacy on that street first, and got my prescriptions filled.  Even using a generic antibiotic, it was still 23 euros for three boxes of pills! That’s expensive for France.  The pharmacist also gave me a reimbursement slip, and then gave me more precise directions to the lab.

French drugs!

I was seen quickly at the lab, and I knew the drill.  One problem: now I was empty!  I sneaked back out to the sink and swallowed some water quickly.  That did the trick.  What an ordeal!  I rewarded myself with Cadbury Chocolate Chip cookies from the market across the street.

I’m learning the ropes! Socialized medicine can definitely have it’s pluses and minuses.  It seems that Mondays are the only “open office” days — if I’d gone another day I might have gotten a real appointment and not had to wait so long.  But time was not on my side, since I leave on vacation Wednesday morning.  It’s definitely not convenient to have to go all the way to a lab just for a urinalysis.  But the doctor’s office was very intimate, and she was exceptionally nice and caring.  Which I appreciated, being sick and scared in a foreign country!

October 25, 2009

Sunday morning musings

Posted in la vie bordelaise, travel tagged , , , , , , , at 5:42 am by Fat Girl Dancing

It’s hard to wake up from a dream where I’m home and holding my kittens again and snuggling them after so long.  I like it here, but it’s so hard to believe I have to be away from them for another 9 months : (  Last night I dreamt I was holding Sabrina, and I was so happy to have her in my arms again, but she didn’t really remember me. : (

It's hard not to miss her!

It's hard not to miss her!

I remember when I could just throw some clothes in the laundry two hours before going to work, and have them washed and dried by the time I needed to leave.  No longer.  The cleaning process is at least a two-day operation here.  Hope you didn’t need that for tomorrow!

Absolutely no hope of throwing something in the dryer for a minute or two on a cold morning to warm it up.  What a luxury!

I find it weird that my US phone and my US-based laptop computer both automatically updated themselves for Europe Daylight Saving Time, but my French phone didn’t.  For the next week, I’m only 5 hours ahead of everyone on EST!

I was thinking of going out to the Jardin Public for a pique-nique today, but it’s been rainy, so the ground will be wet… And I’m not sure if I feel like going all the way into Bordeaux.  Maybe I’ll just have a lazy day here in Talence.  I have bread, cheese, and smoked salmon, anyway.  What more do I need? (maybe some wine…)

I’ll be heading up north on Wednesday!  I’m doing a whirlwind tour in a week.  Bordeaux to Nantes to Vitré (with a day to visit Rennes) and then from Vitré to La Rochelle and then back down to Bordeaux!

October 22, 2009

Impractical boots

Posted in la vie bordelaise, travailler tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:32 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

Woot, Bordeaux won the football match last night!  It’s nice to be in a town that actually wins sporting events.  Yeah, I’m totally looking at you, Cincinnati Reds and Bengals.  And Dayton Dragons, while we’re at it.

Yesterday I went into Bordeaux and spent a good chunk of my savings (that I hadn’t already spent on tickets to London or Wicked tickets).  First I bought some ridiculously impractical and expensive new boots.  But I wanted them.  I wanted them more than any of the other practical or cheap boots.  Plus they were warm (the only impractical aspect is that they have 2-inch heels! Well, it doesn’t snow here…)

Impractical (but warm!) boots

Impractical (but warm!) boots

I also bought a set of hand weights, so I can continue my workouts here.  I’m getting in a lot of good walking, but my arm muscles are turning to jelly from lack of use!

I continued walking up rue Ste. Catherine, the major shopping street in Bordeaux, and entered the SNCF office.  It was still an hour before they closed and the place was packed.  Moments after I took a number, the manager locked the door and removed the number tickets so no one else could come in and get in line.  I just made it!  I waited nearly 45 minutes to buy train tickets from a very nice woman.

I needed lots of different tickets because I’m city-hopping instead of going directly from Bordeaux to Vitré.  I needed a ticket from Bordeaux to Nantes and then from Nantes to Vitré, and on the way back I needed to go from Vitré to La Rochelle and then from La Rochelle to Bordeaux.  She printed the tickets, I paid for them, and then she asked me if I planned to make a lot of trips around France.  I said yes, and she asked me why I wasn’t using a discount card.  I explained I was too old for the 12-25 discount card, and she told me about the Carte Escapades, which was only good on weekends.  Which would normally be when I’d be traveling in France — when I’d want to make trips down to Pays-Basque or other close towns.  She re-ran all my tickets with the new discount — even though they weren’t on weekend days.  She was incredibly helpful, and I thanked her profusely as I was leaving.

I bought a croque-chevre from a patisserie for dinner and ate it in the square near where my language group meets.  It was pretty much a chevre pizza on toast, but it was delicious.  As I was eating, a little girl about 5 years old entered the square, pushing her family’s garbage can out so it could be emptied; it was taller than she was.  She came over to talk to me.  She told me about taking the garbage out and about her mother, and then she asked what I was eating.  She asked if she could have it, and I laughed and said no, it was mine.  She said, “Please, just a little?” So I relented and tore off a corner for her.  She ate it and scampered off.  She came back out several more times to talk to me, in-between running in to other places on the square.  At one point I saw her run into a bar and come out with bread and cheese!  I don’t think she was homeless, judging from the trash can and good coat she had on.  She just wanted food!

I declined going out to the bar with the folks from the language group because I didn’t want to stay out too late and disturb my host family, plus I had to get up really early this morning.  I got home a little before 10:30pm to find they were all already in bed with the shutters drawn and all lights off!  Very odd, since sometimes we’ve only just barely finished dinner by that time!  I climbed the stairs in complete darkness, not wanting to wake anyone.

Today was my last day with my secondary school until after the vacation!  We worked on Halloween words, and I gave the two older classes a conversation to practice reading.  They have real trouble reading English words right now, but that’s to be understood, since they’re completely unfamiliar with them.  My older class (around 8 years old) did the best, and I was able to have two groups stand before the class and read the scenes in front of everyone.

They were very basic, but incorporated everything we’d learned:

“1: Hello.

2: Good morning.

1: What is your name?

2: My name is Dracula.  I am a vampire.

1: Nice to meet you.  I am a witch.

2: We are very scary!”

I showed several videos at the end of class; since it’s right before vacation, I can’t expect them to work too hard.  They loved the video for the Monster Mash and also The Skeleton Dance; my youngest class wanted to watch the Skeleton Dance again instead of something new!  And I’ve now heard the Monster Mash so many times it’s like I was home hearing it on the radio.

One more day of classes!  And it may not even be a full day, since it’s at clusterfuck school, and I heard they’re planning a Halloween event in the afternoon, so I may not teach my afternoon classes!  But of course no one’s told me anything yet!

October 20, 2009

Stickermania

Posted in travailler tagged , , , , , at 12:30 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

Plans, they are being made!  I just booked two tickets to see Wicked in London on December 21st, and I also booked a flight for myself from the Bordeaux airport to London from December 18 through the 22nd.  As much as I’d really rather not fly again, it ended up being cheaper round trip to fly than to take trains.

I’m still in the process of confirming my plans for the upcoming break next week.  I had really wanted to visit a couple of different cities, but my secondary plans keep falling through.  Right now it looks like I’ll just be going to Vitré over Halloween weekend, with a stop in La Rochelle on the way back.  I’m so excited to be traveling and seeing new sights!

I taught my kids a little about Halloween today.  I showed them pictures from a few years ago of my uncle, my cousins and me on our annual voyage to Shaw Pumpkin Farm, and they LOVED IT.  They loved seeing the giant pumpkins all over the place, they loved seeing me in America, they loved seeing my family.  “Who’s that?” they asked over and over again, wanting to know every last detail.  I showed them pictures I had of Jack O’Lanterns outside my old apartment in Centerville, and they had more questions.  “Is that your house?  Do you live there? It’s huge!”

Little kids also love stickers.  I gave away stickers as a prize to bingo winners in a class today, and I thought the non-winners were going to start a riot.  “Can we have stickers too?” they begged.

“Not today,” I said.  “There will be plenty of chances to win stickers throughout the year.”

“Can we play another game now so we can get stickers?”

“No, the class is over.”

“Can’t you just give us a sticker?”

They were going crazy.  HELP.  SEND MOAR STICKERS.

I only have two more days of teaching before the break.  I’m thinking the last days of class will be fun days, where we watch a bunch of videos and learn the words for Halloween terms like “witch,” “ghost,” and “spider.”

October 18, 2009

Happy French birthday!

Posted in la vie bordelaise tagged , , , , , , , at 2:58 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

So I had a birthday yesterday.  In France.  Happy French birthday to me!  Thank you to everyone who wished me well ^_^  It really made me feel loved and helped me not feel so far away from home.

I’d been very worried about my birthday, since it was so soon after my arrival in France.  I was worried I wouldn’t have made friends quickly enough to be able to spend day with anyone.  I was worried I’d be all alone in a foreign country.  And birthdays are a BIG DEAL to me…I feel like people should be treated special on their birthday and fussed over, and I was afraid I’d have no one to do that for me.

Several weeks ago my host family suggested that I invite some friends over, just for a soiree, and I suggested that I have them over for my birthday.  I invited a few English assistants that I’d gotten to know and liked and my friend from Wright State, Wesley, who lives in La Rochelle, was going be coming down for the weekend.

Generally my host family leaves Talence around 6pm on Friday evenings for their lake house about 30 miles away, and they spend the whole weekend there.  So I thought it was a great sacrifice they were making to spend the weekend in Talence for me.  My host father once told me their real house is the lake house, and they’re just in Talence during the week for work and school.

On Saturday I woke up around 9am, showered, and went downstairs to see how I could help my host mother with the preparations.  She told me she was already almost done!  So I went back upstairs and puttered around on the computer, which was generally dull because everyone I wanted to talk to was still asleep.  I had that excited “People are coming over!” feeling, which was nice to have; it made this place feel more like my house.

People were supposed to show up around 1pm.  Around 11 I realized that my host family wasn’t going to be staying for the party — they were still going to the lake house!  Around noon I wandered downstairs, and they were like “Well, have a great party, happy birthday, see you Sunday night!” and got the heck out of there.  So…yay for having the house to myself right now.

My friends found the place with little trouble, and we mostly chatted about life as an assistant in France.  People stayed several hours, and there was SO MUCH GOOD FOOD, so I think everyone had a good time! ^_^

French birthday party!

French birthday party!

French birthday party!

French birthday party!

Happy French birthday!

Happy French birthday!

Happy French birthday!

Happy French birthday!

After everyone else left, I took Wesley in to Bordeaux to show him around.  We walked up the Rue Ste. Catherine, the major shopping street in town.  We each got something at H&M — Wesley got a new French scarf and I got a new French hat.

New French hat

New French hat

While we were wandering around downtown Bordeaux, I ran into a few people I knew.  It’s really nice to start seeing people I know on the street, it really makes the town feel more like my home.

I introduced him to FNAC (giant book, music, movie, and computer store) and we spent a lot of time browsing French DVD titles.  We walked out to the Place de la Bourse and the mirror lake and then began looking for dinner.  I wanted both a salade de chevre chaude AND gateau basque, and it seemed that every prix fixe had one or the other, but then we found a great restaurant that had BOTH for only €12,90!  I also had vegetarian penne pasta.  It was all SOOOO good.  I don’t think I’ve eaten this much food in weeks.

I walked Wesley down to his hostel and then took the tram back home, where I Skyped with my parents for a little bit and then went to bed.

Today I met Wes at Place Victoire and we walked to the flea market in front of St. Michel.  Wes found two DVDs he’d been wanting yesterday at FNAC for only €2 each, and I found the Kyosphere DVD for only €2!  YAY KYO!

We wandered around for awhile looking for a cafe, and then sat and enjoyed an espresso (him) and a hot chocolate (me).  We sat by the river for awhile just laughing and talking and making plans to get together again.  It was so good to see someone from home, someone that knows me and gets me.  I dropped him off at the train station and we said goodbye 😦

It was a great French birthday!!

Wes and me in Bordeaux

Wes and me in Bordeaux

October 16, 2009

Mute

Posted in la vie bordelaise, travailler tagged , , , , , , at 7:47 am by Fat Girl Dancing

I have completely lost my voice from yelling at French children for the last week. Today in one class I tried to yell “Hey!” and all that came out was a squeak. I sure hope my voice comes back by Monday afternoon, when the yelling resumes.

Today was supposed to be a long day, but my primary school has some German students visiting, so my last two classes were cancelled for some festivities. So I got to leave at 11:30! YAY! I told the director it was like an early birthday present, since my birthday is tomorrow. And if you think I didn’t make my classes sing “Happy Birthday” to me, we clearly haven’t been properly introduced.

It has been cold here the last two days. It came on very suddenly, so suddenly that I saw two dead birds on my walk to and from the bus stop today. 😦 One minute it was 70 degrees and then we’re waking up to 30 degree mornings. I got out my winter coat today! I need to buy gloves and a hat. It’s supposed to warm back up into the 70s and upper 60s next week, thankfully.

Tomorrow my host family is throwing a little fete for me for my birthday, and my friend Wes is coming to visit from La Rochelle. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high, but it sounds like it could potentially be a really wonderful day tomorrow ^_^ Still, I will miss seeing all my friends and family back home on my birthday 😦

October 15, 2009

French drugs taste like caramel

Posted in la vie bordelaise, travailler tagged , , , , , , , at 11:52 am by Fat Girl Dancing

I slept terribly last night, thanks to breathing problems and a bad cough.  Needless to say, morning was a very unpleasant thing.  I don’t really remember much of it.

I tried to take a nap when I got home from classes only to have the same problem.  So it was time to get myself down to the pharmacy!

All medications are behind the counter in France and require an interview with the pharmacist.  That’s great for the personal touch, but not so great if you have problems interacting with people in general and especially in French.  So I had been putting it off.

I went in and asked the pharmacist if he had anything for a cough.  He asked me a few questions which I think I answered correctly, and he selected a cough medicine for me.  He told me to take it three times a day.  A 200ml bottle cost me 3 euros — less if I’d had my medical card, but it hasn’t come yet.  It’s caramel flavored.

Last night I went to my second outing of the Bordeaux BlaBlabylone group — basically a language exchange group.  For an hour and a half people come to practice speaking in another language, have some appetizers and drinks, and meet new friends.  Everyone I’ve met there has been incredibly nice, and I’m hoping to keep going and keep meeting people.

Last night it was just me, a guy from North London, and a girl from Dublin leading the English table with a group of French people.  There was discussion about who’s accent was easier to follow — one man said the Dublin girl was easier to understand, while another woman said she found my American accent more clear.

I also saw the last few songs of an acoustic concert by Da Silva at the FNAC.  It was pretty good, and I was tempted to buy a CD and get it autographed, but I decided against it.  I’m running low on funds until my pay advance comes in at the end of the month.

Classes are going, going, going.  I’m already ready for the two week break we’ve got in a week!  By now all of my classes can solidly say “My name is ___,” and we’re working on being confident with “How are you,” “I’m (insert emotion).”

My birthday is in two days!!  My friend Wes is coming from La Rochelle to see me!!

October 14, 2009

Still Tuesday?

Posted in travailler tagged , , , , , , , , at 9:58 am by Fat Girl Dancing

I’m getting better, but I’m still so very tired. I’ve been tired ever since I got here…at first I attributed it to having no schedule and TOO much free time, and now I’m sick, but I wonder if I’ll ever have enough energy again?

Yesterday I taught five classes at my primary school, or as I like to call it, my “clusterfuck” school. The teachers are definitely nicer here and everyone is more welcoming, but they were still figuring out my schedule at the last minute on Friday, compared to my secondary school who knew exactly where I was supposed to be and when.

I was out of cereal for breakfast, so I stopped at the patisserie near the bus stop for a chocolatine and a can of Orangina.

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions

I still need to adjust my lesson plans for time. Half the time I finish too early and half the time I have to leave while they’re still doing the worksheet. My second class finished everything with 15 minutes still to go, so I was glad that I had prepared some “filler” videos for them to watch.

Everyone crowded around my laptop, and I showed them The Yip Yips Meet the Telephone and Clap Your Hands from Here Come the ABCs.  They LOVED the martians, but who doesn’t?  I’m nearly 31, and they still crack me up.

I have one class at this school that is just awful.  Nearly every other student is adorable — example, as I was leaving for the day, some of my students saw me and called me over to talk to me and ask me questions about myself and how to say things in English.  They didn’t want me to leave! But this class is dreadful.  They laugh at my French, they don’t respect me at all, and there’s one little girl with a GIANT chip on her shoulder.  She asked if we were going to have to sing the song with the movements again, and I said “Of course!” and she rolled her eyes and said “But it’s ridiculous!”  She’s an 8-year-old with the attitude of a 15-year-old.  UGH.

Surprisingly, my French is improving in my classrooms.  I thought I’d be speaking mostly English, but I need to use French to explain game directions and worksheet instructions and to facilitate conversations.  I’m being forced to speak to these children, and that’s giving me the confidence to speak to other adults.

After work yesterday, I went to the post office in Talence to mail my OFII papers, which starts the process for my social security/medical card.  I also picked up my ticket to the musical Mozart l’Opéra Rock which was being held there.  Yay!

I went across the street to the bank to see if I could finally get my atm card and checks.  It’s only been 2 weeks!  The banker started to say my account hadn’t been verified yet, but then he double-checked, and it had been verified just that afternoon!  What luck!  So I now have complete access to my bank account.

I went outside to the ATM to deposit some money, and quickly learned that there are different ATMS for depositing and withdrawing!  I found the right ATM, deposited my 50 euro, and now my French bank account actually has money in it!

My host mother made a delicious seafood paella last night.  It was the first time I’d ever had paella.  We also had a little goat cheese (chevre) and then some apple sherbert and vanilla ice cream for dessert.

October 12, 2009

malade

Posted in travailler tagged , , , , , , at 2:28 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

Over the weekend, my slight sinus problems turned into a full-blown cold.  I’ve been medicating with familiar products I brought from the States and trying to rest and hydrate as much as possible.

This morning I had to put a new milk in the fridge, so I had warm milk with my cereal. That’s something weird about France. The milk doesn’t need refrigerating until you open it. There’s a cabinet with about 6-9 milks in it, just waiting to be used. We go through a milk a day, or at least a day and a half. I just use a little for my cereal in the morning!

I took an early bus and arrived at my secondary school with enough time to print out the worksheets for the day and make copies. I said hi to the teachers eating lunch in the breakroom, and they all said hi to me, but no one said “Hi, here, we’ll make room for you to sit with us,” so I ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich while I was using the computer.

I told the teacher of the first class that I was planning to give the students American names today, and she said, “No, I don’t like that. They’re name is their identity, and it really annoys me to change it.”

I said, “Well, it was recommended by the CDDP.” (the academic group who led our training)

“I know, but it really annoys me,” she said, as if to say, “The matter is closed.” She smiled at me in that very French way that says “So what are you going to do about it?”

I told her, “Fine, but I’m still going to discuss the differences between American names and French names, and tell the students what their name would be in the US. Because it’s important for them to understand there is a difference.”

(All of the above was spoken in French, by the way)

I came up with a replacement idea quickly, but it really bugged me that she was criticizing and changing my lesson plans.

The theme of the lessons today was “How are you” and six different feelings. The first class picked up on the feelings pretty well, but the other two classes, both younger, had more trouble. I showed them flashcards of the different feelings, had them repeat it several times, but they still couldn’t translate it into something that happened to them. We’ll continue working on it during our second meeting this week instead of moving on to something new.

One of the little girls told me I was pretty, and then we bonded our our Hello Kitty things (her pencil box, my socks).

Tomorrow is going to be much more difficult. I teach five classes, and one of them is an honor’s class, so they already know some English! I’m going to need some more rest.

October 8, 2009

Thrown to the wolves

Posted in travailler tagged , , , , , , , at 12:23 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

In a combination of nerves and some neighbors playing drums until past midnight last night, I didn’t get much sleep last night. I stumbled around my room this morning, repeating to myself over and over the things I needed to do before I left: put my jump drive in my purse, write down the words to the song to teach, make lunch, etc.

I quickly ate some cereal (all French cereal seems to have chocolate in it, even the adult cereal), and set out for the bus stop. I left within plenty of time, and still arrived just in time to see my bus speeding by. Bugger! He was 7 minutes early! I debated walking versus waiting the 20 minutes for the next bus, and decided to wait it out. It would take me nearly an hour and a half to walk, and I would certainly be late. Fortunately the next bus was on time, and I still made it to my school before my first class.

All French schools are locked to outsiders, so I stood at the gate and waited for someone to let me in. It turned out to be one of the teachers I would be working for who let me in and showed me around. She also told me what my exact hours would be at this school, and what grade levels I would be teaching. I knew I would be teaching the older students at my main school, so I had planned my lessons for them. When I found out I would be teaching the younger students, I got a bit nervous! I had only prepared one lesson, and I would have to adapt it to the three different levels I would be teaching today.

My first class was with the youngest group that Assistants are allowed to take, I believe they are 6 and 7 year olds. The teacher shares her classroom with them and an even younger group, so I take the 10 kids to another building for their English lesson. The orientation stressed that it’s important to build rituals early for the students, so I decided that we would sing “Following the Leader” from Peter Pan as we walked to and from the classroom. The kids had no idea what I was singing, but they went along with it.

This first class went very well, even though I broke a little rule by having them write. Kids that young aren’t supposed to write in English, because they’re just barely learning to write in French, and it messes them up. But since I’d only planned one lesson, I just went ahead with it. From now on, I’ll design a separate lesson for them.

All the kids in the three classes I had today were very cute and very French. The first class was the only class where I was entirely on my own. In the other two classes, their teacher is at least in the room to yell at troublemakers.

We sang two songs, a “Hello song” that I found on the Assistants forum and made up a tune to and then I began teaching them the words to a song I loved from Girl Scout camp. They can’t understand the words, but it’s got lots of movements and it’s silly, and they liked watching an adult do the silly movements.

The last class I had were the oldest, and although they had had English before, I started them at the same place, since no one had really told me anything else. We worked on “Hello,” “My name is,” “What is your name?” “girl,” and “boy.” Most of this group caught on quickly, although there were still a few that simply didn’t understand what they were saying and were just repeating the weird words because I told them to. This tells me that a refresher is probably not a bad thing for this group, but I can speed it up a little and maybe add some more content.

I ran out of material early in my last class, and asked the students (in French) what they knew about the United States, to try and bring in some culture. They knew that Obama was president and Bush was the former president, which is pretty impressive. If you ask any American elementary student who the president of France is, they would have no idea.

I walked to my other school after teaching my last class, because at my last discussion with them they had said something about Thursday afternoons. When I walked in and asked the Director if he needed me today, he said no. He did ask me for several papers such as a copy of my passport and bank info and such, so I can get paid, so I at least got that taken care of. And he finalized my schedule:

Mondays   13h30 – 16h15   Jules Ferry

Tuesdays   9h – 15h                Jules Michelet

Wednesdays FREE – No elementary school on Wednesdays

Thursdays  8h30 – 11h15   Jules Ferry

Fridays   9h – 15h                  Jules Michelet

So tomorrow I teach at Jules Michelet, and I’ll use the same lesson plan, but maybe beef it up a bit, because the students are all older.

I came home and collapsed for a few hours. I’m having some lovely sinus drainage that’s left me with a sore throat and a queasy stomach. I’m fighting it with some hardcore vitamins I brought from the States, but right now I just feel pretty run down.

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