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.


J. Cape said...

I was looking at the library website today about how much it would cost today! I am totally motivated to actually do it now. nice

Kent said...

Jacques Cousteau!


Anyway, sounds like quite the adventure is a-brewing. Your town sounds a lot like where I live in a lot of ways. Except you might have a few more things open on Sundays. This makes me want to go to the (much less impressive) library now. But I work during their entire open hours. Once again, I will have to live vicariously through another. Enjoy the ska!

Mimi said...

Woaaahhhh! You already sound like you're having an incredible time! I'm so nostalgic for France...ahhh...and the library! AMAZING!