Monday, October 18, 2010

Presents!

I feel very loved today.

I received not one... not two... but three drawings today!  And they're all amazing!  They're going on my wall right now.
Mario - from a boy in my first class today
A heart balloon with my name - from a girl in the same class

And MOI!  UNE VRAIE FRANÇAISE!  heehee.  From Kent - thanks, dude!


Today I made a fool of myself by dressing up like a witch to explain what we do for Halloween in the states.  I also had them go "trick or treating" up to the front of the class and they got stickers instead of candy.  It was fun.  I love these kids!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wah Wahhh.

Le Gros-Horloge
This past weekend, 7 of my fellow assistants and I went up to Rouen (pronounced "Wah" - seriously) for a little getaway.  What a great city! I wish I was living there instead of here...  there's a really vibrant, big-city feel to it.  There's those narrow winding streets with big tall old buildings that I always associate with European cities.  Not the case in Evreux.  However!  I am beginning to appreciate Evreux for what it is.  A cute small city with charm.  And I could be living in a much smaller town!  It's a good balance.  A good place to call home.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Alright my heart just melted a little bit

Today began with a rather snarky 10 year old boy saying:
"Et vous faites quoi, vous?"
while giving me the once-over, which roughly translates to "what are you doing here?"

and ended with a little girl asking the head teacher
"Comment dit-on 'vous êtes gentille' en anglais?"
"You are kind."

and then to me:
"You are kind."

Second day was better.  As it usually is.  Just keep swimming.

And I leave you with a couple of other gems from today....

A French cappuccino  (surprise!  chantillyyyyy)

Now that's the way to move your stuff in to your high-rise apartment...  a motorized ladder.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bon Courage

Today was my very first day at one of the schools where I'll be teaching.

All I can say is that I hope it gets better.  Right now I'm trying to find free ESL teaching resources (thank you, internet) before going to bed.  Sleep always helps when I'm having a not-so-great day.

This weekend we're going to Rouen for some sight-seeing and shopping and fun things!  We drove through it briefly yesterday and it looks simply amazing.  Lots of old beautiful buildings and a there's a real city feel to it.  Evreux feels like a small town in comparison... and much of it was destroyed in WWII so there aren't many old buildings..  I still like it here though.  :)  When we were leaving Rouen, we drove by a Paul bakery and I literally screamed "PAUL!" and pressed my hands and nose up to the window.  I must have gone there a hundred times back in 2008... we Montpellier folks loved our Paul...   mmmm tarte aux myrtilles...

Speaking of yesterday - we had our big regional orientation in Rouen and I met a bunch of other English assistants who are teaching in other cities around Evreux.  Even a few from California!  (One went to USC - I had to bring up the UW game, just had to... probably not the greatest first impression but I was friendly enough.  heeh.)  One guy from England asked (jokingly?) if he could record my voice for his morning alarm (in a good way?).  Don't think I've heard that one before... 

Tomorrow is Wednesday, which means no class for les petits français, which means a day off for me.  Woohoo!  It will most likely be spent sleeping in, running errands, getting lunch with the girls, and maybe taking some more pictures.  I need to get on that.  It's just been sooo rainy here (aww, like home!) that I don't feel like taking out my camera.

Thursday I'll have another go at this whole going-to-a-school-and-pretending-I-know-what-I'm-doing business.  Hopefully the kids won't laugh at me this time...

First week here summed up in a photo.  Heyyy!..?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

St. Michel


Here's an awkward windy picture of me at St. Michel, looking over the town of Evreux!  We took a bus tour yesterday and it was quite lovely. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Où est la bibliothèque? Voilà mon passeport!

I had a really good day today.

This morning I met our supervisor who kind of oversees our stay here and organizes our teaching schedules.  I’ll be teaching at two elementary schools in the Madeleine district, which is just a short bus ride away from my apartment.  Right now I’m teaching on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, but it seems that the Friday spot on my schedule was a mistake, and the supervisor’s going to try to switch it to earlier in the week so I can have a 3-day weekend like the other assistants.  What a guy!  He’s very genuine and I can tell he’s going to try to make this experience as easygoing as possible for all of us.

After the morning meeting, at about 12:15, I headed to the bank so I could withdraw some money from my new account to pay rent… only to find out the bank is closed from noon to 1:30 (on days that it’s open at all).  Of course, the lunch break.  I checked the library’s hours because I wanted to buy a library card, but it was closed until 1:30 as well.  I decided to go home for a bit and have lunch.
Around 3pm I went back into town.  I don’t have a bank card yet so I can’t use the ATM, so I went inside to the teller.  “I’m sorry,” the teller said in French, “we don’t distribute cash in the afternoons.  You’ll have to come back tomorrow morning to withdraw money from your account.”  Of course.  Ok, no problem.
La bibliothèque!
Then I went to the library.  Alright, a bit of backstory… I found the library a couple days ago online and saw that you can get a library card for 12 euro a year if you live in Evreux (which I do, yay!).  It’s free for students.   I decided to go check it out yesterday to see if I could get a card.  I went up to the welcome desk and politely asked the man sitting there if I could buy a library card.  (Okay, so my French isn’t perfect.  I’ve only been back here practicing for a week, but I’m trying my best.)  He seemed bothered, and asked if I saw the brochure with the information about how much it costs.  He handed me one and went back to his computer.  I looked it over briefly and said okay, yes thank you, can I buy one?  He sighed and started to go through all the things I need to get one, like a photo ID and a proof of residence in Evreux.  He clearly didn’t think I lived here, with my awful French and all… I did actually have a proof of residence but I had left it at home that day.  So I thanked him for his time and said I would come back.

Okay!  So today!  I have all my paperwork with me from my meeting earlier and I decide to go back and face this surly Frenchman if necessary and buy a library card.   I go back to the welcome desk and this woman greets me with a smile.   I tell her I’d like to buy a library card and I start to get all my paperwork out.  She asks if I’m a student or an assistante.  I smile and shrug and say assistant (though I wish I were a student – it would have been free!).  She looks at my passport and seems interested – in a good, friendly way! –  that I’m American.  She looks at my proof of residence and remarks that, wow, she lives right down the street!  She continues chatting with me while she puts my information in the computer… oh, Norton, like the software! … so what schools are you teaching in? … do you like the city? … born in Los Angeles?  well, actually the city is “Orange” if you need a city of birth… oh!  Like in France!  Like the fruit?  yes!    Then she hands me my shiny new library card.  How much?  Oh, c’est gratuit.  …..Free?  are you serious?  But I’m not a student.  Yes but you’re a teaching assistant and you’ll be using materials for teaching English, and learning French… etc..  Wow.

Then she asks if I have a minute to take a tour of the library.  Um, yes.  She says she just needs to wait for someone to take over for her at the desk and then she can show me around.  She then proceeds to take me through every single aisle of the library, all four floors, through all the books and the CDs (uh, there’s a ska section by the way) and the DVDs and the childrens’ section and the magazines and the English childrens’ books/magazines/CDs (score!  resources!!).  She introduces me to every single staff member we pass (surly guy from yesterday is a world music expert).  Finally, after about an hour, she excuses herself and tells me to ask anyone if I need any help at all.  At this point I am completely floored and I feel like the Queen of England or something.  I thank her profusely and grab a couple of things to check out (some CDs including “The History of Ska”, haha.. a French comic book, and “Dr. House Saison 2” on DVD).  I have to hurry to get back to the office in time to pay rent, but I’ll be back.  Oh man will I be back.

So, that was lovely.  I keep meeting people here that completely go against the whole “rude French person” idea that a lot of Americans seem to have.  I mean, yes they exist, but at this point I’m thinking there’s more of those kind of people in America.  I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin'.

Aaaaand!  I was sort of wistfully looking at the DVD section at the library, thinking that none of them would actually work on my laptop because of the different “region” of the DVDs…  I just got House randomly to see if it would work.  And it does!  There’s a little button to change the DVD region on my computer, which I can change back and forth between US and Europe (and wherever else) up to 4 more times!  Ah, modern technology.  Ah, US television.  This may be the beginning of a bad habit.  I promise I will rent French DVDs and books as well…

Ok, off I go to Salsa night at the EuroFitness with the other assistants.  This should be interesting.