Wednesday, December 30, 2009

English Store, Driving, LASAGNA and First Kindle Book

A day or so ago Patty took me and Oli to Waterloo to the english store there so I could see if they had anything I needed or missed from home. One of the most important things I found were BAGELS!! They had frozen bagels and you could pick the types you wanted and they were only .55/ piece. I bought honey wheat, poppy seed and a sesame one. I really missed having american breakfasts and this was the topping on my cake. Speaking of cake, I found small containers of baking powder, baking soda and cream of tartar. I picked up those too. As I made my way through the candy section, to my surprise, I found receses pieces. Yay!!! I haven't seen them yet in France because people don't eat much peanut butter but Patty tried them and she liked them so maybe if hershey's expands their market I'll be in luck. :)

After the Yummy fest in the English Store, We went to Claude's house to chat and catch up (thats my future father in law/beau-père). He lives with Béa in Nivelles which is like 10 minutes from Waterloo. Béa just bought a cute house on the other side of Nivelles so they'll be moving sometime early next year. We had some coffee and sausages, chips and talked a lot about random things which is always nice.

After we left, Patty took us to a random strip of offices with two round abouts at the ends so I could practice driving. I'm getting pretty good at the shifting and shifting down is getting better too. Next time, patty says we're going to tackle hills. :)

On our way home we stopped by carrefour to pick up the key ingredient to Lasagna here- Béchamel sauce. I'd only ever made lasagne with a mixture of ricotta, eggs and other cheesy italian stuff but according to french/italian recipes here I needed béchamel sauce. Instead of making it, I just bought it premade because it was already 7 and I wanted to eat before 10. We had bought early sauce in which I added in french cooked veal, burger meat, and mushrooms. I put everything all together with the sauce, béchamel, mozzarella, noodles and some spinach in two layers. I baked it all for about 30 minutes and we ate it. I know this was my best lasagna yet because Oli licked the plate and he told me about a million times he loved it. He thought it was less heavy than the one I made before we left Toronto. :)

Yesterday, I also finished my first book on the Kindle. I really like this cool gadget because it fits in my purse and I don't have to worry about changing books or anything. Its amazing so I bought another book last night and I'm already 20 % through the next. This is quickly turning into a $$ habit. I think my gift requests from now on are going to be amazon gift cards so I can buy books for my kindle-lol.

I also finished my first french book on christmas eve. La rentrée de Petit Nicolas. Cute book, and totally easy vocab to read. One down, 4 more to go! :)

All in all, english store = success. driving= success. Lasagna= success. Kindle= Success. French reading =success.


Monday, December 28, 2009

I need sales!

After an interesting holiday things in Bruxelles got a little less hectic. I sort of miss the sales at home right after christmas because I always found good deals. Here the 'Soldes' which is a two week period twice a year, don't start until the 1st or sometimes later in january. I'm trying to conserve my money so I can buy some more euro stuff.

I've been feeling sort of sad the last week and a half but finally this wave is lifting. I realized that either I'm getting depressed or the homesickness is wearing off after the holidays. I still feel sad at certain points but I no longer burst into tears anymore which is good. I hate that feeling of being alone at the bottom of a pit and I'm not sure why I was so sad because I absolutely love being in France and Europe. I love my life in la Lozère (except that Oli isn't there) and I wish I didn't have to go in May.

Have a happy new year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Joyeux Noël

Merry Christmas Everyone!

In Europe most people celebrate xmas on the 24th so this post is a delayed/on time version for both sides the pond. Last night we had fondue with Mamou and Oli's dad's side of the family and today we're spending xmas with Oli's mom's side.

Bonnes Fêtes pour tous!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

White Christmas

I finally figured out why instinctively I don't listen to Christmas music anymore. It's because every time I hear white christmas I remember when I was younger and my mom would put on the cd and light candles around the house and get ready for the following week of relatives and holiday stuff. I remember this and then I feel sad because this no longer happens. I heard white christmas today in the vie scolaire during the christmas celebration and automatically I wanted to cry because I don't get to be home again this year. It's totally not homesickness but that this is the third christmas in fours year where I haven't been home and I miss it. I like christmas time a lot but ever since being in St. Chely I feel sad and lonely when I think about the holidays. I get to be with Oli's family again this year but it's so not the same as being home. I think next year regardless I'm going to my parents because being away is too depressing.

So to conclude this depressing post:

I'm dreaming of a white christmas
Just like the ones I used to know...

Merry Christmas all.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Misbehavior, birthday's and another marche de noel!

Friday was a mixed day. I had a horrible school day and a wonderful night!

With my 'juniors' specializing in business management they were horrible. It had been augmenting week after week but I've finally had enough. I told Mme H that I can't be in a class like that where I am obligated to scream every time I want to say something. One of the students had everything packed up and ready to go the minute the bell rang and I told her to sit down and that she had not been dismissed by Mme H yet and that it was extremely impolite on her part. (Keep in mind we were doing something very fun- listening to english music to find the words which the other classes liked)

Mme H and I talked to the 'responable' ( B ) of this group of kids and she laid it into them during her afternoon class with them. She told me that this particular student mentioned that I do not have the right to tell her to sit down and that I am not a teacher and it's Mme H's responsibility to say something. (She is way too nice with them) Good thing is that B reamed them that I am a teacher and that I have just as much right as Mme H to demand they behave as her and if they continue like they have been I won't be coming to their class anymore. Today I took the four girls that work hard and never cause trouble and the others were completely crazy mad. Well they have only themselves to blame. We'll see if I come back after christmas break with the whole class. I don't need this trouble because there are students here in the high school whom I don't work with that would be glad to have me come in their classes during the week. Apparently they were 'wise' today but I honestly can't take two of the students in that class. They control the others and they have outbursts and they don't try really to listen and speak in english.

In contrast:

Friday night was the best! It was C's 24th birthday weekend so we all worked out and then had chocolate cake and champagne in the gym. It was sooo cool. Only in France do you run 7 km and then eat chocolate cake and drink! In that hour, I made many new friends and people finally got to know me a little. I don't really go to the gym to socialize anymore because I just want to burn the fat the steroids add to my body. Meeting people is just a side effect of me going every other day.

So there are two places to go dancing in St. Chely. The first is in town but it's really a restaurant and the discotheque is very small in a basement. The other is actually in a town called 'La Garde' and it about 10 minutes in a car but its a really club. I had the wonderful pleasure of going there this past Sat night and it was a blast. Unlike america, clubs don't get going until around 2 a.m. whereas in the U.S. that is when they close!

My new friend S who lives and works in St. Chely drove me there and we had dinner with our other gym goers on sat night to celebrate C's 24th birthday. S and C work together. (S is a girl and C is a boy fyi) All and all it was a successful night of french speaking, french techno and dancing. The only awkward moment was with one of my students. lets be real though, if they are going to go out and so am I and there is only one place to do it, we're bound to run into each other. We both agreed not to talk about it and pretend we didn't see each other. Suits me fine because I don't need gossip around the school. I do have a personal life that has nothing to do with my working.

When Sophie dropped me off around 4:30 I was so exhausted I fell right asleep. Then 5 hours later I was wide awake. Mme H called me to go to the Marche de Noel in St. Flour because i'd been dying to go this week. We went and it was very pretty and cool things were sold. I got my mom's birthday present there. Also Mme H's husband bought Oli a xmas gift... which was sooo cool of them. I also noticed that Mme H loves to buy things from small private vendors. I like that about her because she supports the local economy here in rural france. I try to too but when it comes down to it I don't always have the money. One thing Oli and I should try to do in Toronto is go to the markets and buy local ontario stuff. It's a personal goal of mine.

After the marche de noel I was obligated to have a sieste. Which I absolutely love about France. I don't get backtalk from people for taking an afternoon nap because it's sort of expected. I expect to continue this habit in the U.S. regardless.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Formation et small minds

I just spent two days in Mende without stepping outside the confines of the two high schools there!

I had a 'formation' which is a training seminar, on technology in the classroom. I learned many cool things and how to use a 'smart board' too! I'm looking forward to incorporating this into my lessons here and in the future. Yesterday was mostly video conferencing which was boring and looks like its going to replace my job in a few years. I am so content to be able to add this to my experience because it is really something important for language teachers.

I also got the pleasure of encountering the french antipathy yesterday too. Oh how I love the dismissal nod and ignoring anything I say the second I open my anglophone accented mouth. I would at this point say an obscene word to describe this lady. Let me give you the pretext of the conversation:

There is a spanish assistant in Mende that is supposed to work in St. Chely three hours a week via video conferencing. I suggested he come the first time to meet the students and teacher and his 'responsable' ( who is not at all responsable) told me that he is not paid for that and he doesn't have a car. I suggested the bus and then I was interupted and told that there is no bus. BLATENT LIE! I know there is a bus because I take the buses often here. Then I wanted to offer another free option but she wouldn't listen to me. There is a teacher that comes here three days a week from Mende to teach and he could hitch a ride with her I'm sure. (There are more but I know that this lady would be willing). She refused to let me explain to I told her that she was unreasonable and I sat back down in my chair. THE worst thing is that this teacher wait TWO months to tell us we had a spanish assistant at all and her response to my teacher was 'I've been too busy'. What about the assistant? Doesn't he have a phone or email? He's not completely incapable. THEN my teacher explained the ride situation after she sensed I was pissed this teacher wasn't listening to me and the lady listened to her. I'M SORRY, I DO HAVE A VOICE! I'm not insignnificant. Insert bad word about her.

So enough about french obstenance- I have the pleasure of finding out that I speak much better than some other assistants in my region. That is a total confidance booster. I know I have a thick accent but I'm working on it!

This week has literally been non stop for me though. On tuesday night I went over to Mme H's house and played with her son for an hour. He taught me a new verb too : cracher. This means to spit and then he proceeded to spit in my hair! It was all fun and gross. Mme H has two older sons too so her youngest doesn't really know how to play with girls. It's very cute.

I have no plans for the weekend really. I need to buy my dad's gift but I may end up ordering it online because the stores in St. Chely are very 'chic expensive' which is annoying. Then as soon as I get it, I'll mail their gifts to the U.S. just in time for christmas!

I also got my save the dates in the mail. So cute! Can't wait to send them off :)


Monday, December 7, 2009

Some random travel photos and new hair!

Here's some pictures of recent events:

This is Millau Viaduc and it is simply so beautifully constructed. In addition, it saves us 45 minutes from having to go down into the Millau valley to get to the other side of the mountain. As you can see it was a gorgeous day on friday! Also I feel like I am closer to the sky every time I am places like this. The clouds are so easy to reach up and touch!

Here's Kimmie and I on the cours mirabeau drinking our vitam fruits. It was the only picture I took and I'll have to refer you to to see a good picture of all of us.

And here is a picture of my new hair color I got done today. I'm going darker and this was phase one. I'll do it again in two months even more darker. :) She curled it big but I thought it was cute since I never curl my hair anymore.

I'm off to my seminar for the next two days on technology in the classroom. Three of us english teachers are going to Mende for this special training. I'm excited to up my professional training.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

A return of fond memories

Aix was amazing. We picked up like it was two years ago. Things changed around town but it's still one of my favorite cities to spend time in with friends. I loved it and it was exactly what I needed after two months away from friends and family. I really wish that we all lived closer together so we could see each other more often...

All I can say about Aix was that this was the best non francophone weekend so far this year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Two months later...

I saw Twilight 2 today! Or rather, new moon which was soo good. I won't go into details but needless to say- the DVD is on my birthday list. :)

Also rather unexpected and pleasant news- I'm off to Aix-en-Provence for the weekend to meet up with G, K and A. I didn't think it would work out with me being sick lately and being so far from Aix but a teacher friend of mine is heading down for the weekend to montpellier so I'm hitching a ride to get to the train station there which will take me to marseille. I can't wait to hang out with my old friends where my true passion for all things french started. I'm just hoping there will be no purple projectile this time. ;) haha.

I'm up to running 5k now a day. I hate running because it's so boring but I love the feel of the high I get afterwards. I feel like I can accomplish anything and I have more energy afterwards. I'm hoping to get to 6k before christmas break but that might be a stretch on the 30 min time limit.

The H1N1 flu is going around but not in St. Chely thank goodness. Everyone keeps talking about it here and there is a huge debate on whether to get the vaccination or not. I never thought that this was such a big deal and I still think people here are making a mountain out of a mole hill. Strepp is going around though here in the internat (boarding school). I live right next door and most of them are my students so I'm trying to load up on Vit. C. This weekend in Aix will be a good break away from all the sickness of early winter.

Well until the next time...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bread, snow and fire!

I've found my boulangerie (bread store). This is something I've always aspired to do because in France everyone has their favorite place to buy bread and when you buy it elsewhere its sort of like cheating on your best friend with another one. Luckily for me this boulangerie is close to where I live and they make more than just baguette. They make my little ficelles and they also make sandwiches, pastries and other types of bread. I like this one because their bread has flavor. It's this sweet but plain bread flavor that the other places don't have. I think the lady is getting used to me now that I've been going to her for two weeks straight.

I have a flat screen t.v. now which was donated to the school by one of the teachers/secretaries. The only downside is that I'm missing the cable to connect it to the antenna so I can't exactly use it yet. I expect to be watching color french t.v. in two months. (That's how long my internet took)

Today was the first day I got frustrated and pissed off at my students. Mostly I don't care if they pay attention or not because ultimately I can't make them but today we were working on role playing and they kept asking me questions (in french which they are not allowed to do) and the answers were on the board. In addition, it was graded and they only half of my 12 kids actually tried to pronounce 'arrive' correctly. Considering the 'th' sound is extremely hard, I thought I would focus on the 'i' sound which sounds like an 'e' in french. I told them before we started and had them repeat it with me. Even after I gave them a chance to improve their scores by saying it correctly they still didn't do it right. Keep in mind that we have been working on this sound for the last 4 weeks! I wanted to rip my hair out for the first time since I started teaching two years ago. Needless to say I decided to man up and grade them down for it. (I've been too nice in the past)

I learned how to 'purge' my radiators today! Now I can do it myself which will help the heating thing. Considering today was the first day of SNOW that stuck the heating thing is going to become an issue. The snow was so cool this morning but then the sun came out and it all melted away this afternoon. I hear more is coming...

As for my health, I've been feeling amazing all week. I haven't needed to take my stomach pain pills which I consider a sign of the entocort starting to kick in!

I'm going to St. Flour tomorrow to see New Moon-in french. blech. I wanted to see it in OV but I'm going to settle for sparking vampires in a sexy french language. Oh edward... ;)

I started knitting again. I was sort of hesitating but there isn't much to do and it keeps me occupied. Here's what I'm working on now...

Also here is a picture from sunday night with Mme H. I went to the marche noel here with her family and afterward we all had dinner together. Her husband even lit a fire since it was pretty chilly sunday. It was the perfect sunday! I played with Mathise, their son, a lot and I think he really likes me now! He asked if I could come over and play monday night too. lol. I love how I can win over a 4 year old but not the girls from the gym. I guess I'm still a kid at heart!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Today I went to Clermont-Ferrand which is the largest city near me and the head of the northern academie to me. It's about an hour and fifteen minutes drive and Mme S took me with her husband. We left around nine and went to the commercial zone first where there were craft stores and cool home goods stores. If I had tons of money I would have loved to buy things for the apartment in Toronto but alas, no. So this commercial zone is something very different than a mall or anything we have in the U.S. It's usually a bunch of spaced out stores with parking lots, some are strip mallish others are just random buildings but here you find all the chain stores and cheaper stores. St. Flour has one too that is growing nicely but not as big as C-F. After we went to a few craft stores and the galerie (inside strip mall) across from auchan the grocery store we went to have lunch. In France everyone, I mean everyone eats at noon. By 1 everyone should be digging into their meal or at least having dessert. We decided to go to a chinese all you can eat buffet. This was the best food I have had in a long time!!! I ate some different stuff like frog legs which taste very light. I even got to eat all you can eat dessert. The best thing about the food was that I had no pain whatsoever and it tasted great! I definitely want to go back there next time I go to C-F.

After lunch we went into town to walk along the little streets and go shopping. Today was the first day of the marche noel there. I didn't really find anything i liked but I bought a pair of gloves since I lost one of my thinsulate ones. I also bought some other things in town for gifts that I can't really mention here. Anyways, all in all today was an amazing day!

A la prochaine fois...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

So today is Thanksgiving. I am thankful for many things and I thought I would take the time to write them out.
1. I am thankful that I get to live in France this year.
2. I am thankful for my family which includes Oli too!!
3. I am thankful for the french healthcare system and the healthiness I'm slowly starting to feel.
4. I am thankful that I do not have to cook a huge turkey today but am sad I'm missing nana's spetchels.
5. I am also thankful that I am getting paid today. haha.

We've been doing thanksgiving lessons all week which makes me reflect upon the true meaning of thanksgiving and all that surronds the family get togethers and the food. This year is different but teaching about it somewhat makes up for the lack of family and food. I'm over the homesickness thing now but spending a whole day with my family? I do miss that.

St. Chely is slozwly starting to get colder and the closer we get to christmas the more promotions there are everywhere. For example for an entire month carrefour market was giving away these stuffed animals if you collect 25 tickets. You get tickets from the amount you buy and the kinds of things you buy. Mme H collected all 5 animals and she had some tickets left over so we combined ours and she got me the monkey. I have a stuffed monkey now....haha.

There is also a new store that opened yesterday in St. Chely. It's called bazarland. It's a sort of smaller gifi (for those of you who don't know what gifi is it's a homegoods store but really cheap and more for decorations than cooking). I went last night cause it's right next to the gym and it was insane. There were so many people there shopping!!! I think this place is cool and now I don't have to go to St. Flour to get things for the apartment. I've also been considering the amount of things I have been buying to keep. I need to keep that in check as I only have 2 suitcases!!! At the rate I am going, I'm going to have three of four suitcases to take home. At least bazarland has cheap ones...hahaha!!!!

A la prochiane fois mes amis and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey slices and more turkey nuggets for Thanksgiving

So this week is Thanksgiving and while everyone is enjoying turkey and mashed potatoes, I will be teaching 12 hours on Thanksgiving while reaping none of the benefits of eating it. I'm kind of alone this year so I saw no point on roasting a turkey and making the traditional fare. I did however buy some sliced turkey and potatoes so I'm planning on having that for dinner. I can always resort to my turkey cheese nugs!

I have 13 department magnets now. Yay! I was promised some by the other teachers but I think they want to keep them and start collecting them too. Bums. I guess I can look forward to eating 1,000 nuggets this year-at least. :)

I've been hanging out with the running lady at the gym recently. She really likes me and she has tons of friends my age at the gym. The only thing is, people smile at me and nod but they never really talk to me anymore. I wish I didn't put up this wall and I was more approachable. In any case, I've started passing on the word that I'm looking for a french tutor exchange with english tutoring. Ideally I'm looking for two partners twice a week for 30 minutes. I'm hoping to work on more difficult conversation topics such as hypotheticals and subjuntive statements. Plus this will help with pronunciation. :)

Nothing interesting has happened recently. I'm looking forward to christmas break and dubai in february. It's sad that I'm in France (the country I love with all my heart) but the only place I'd rather be is with Oli. I keep telling myself, 269 more days, 269 more days.

A la prochaine fois....

Friday, November 20, 2009

Week Summary in Brief

Wow, I can't believe it has been almost a week since my last post. Now that I have internet, I sometimes forget to post! Well a run down of this slightly eventful week:

I went to a Russian circus on ice on sunday with Mme H and the others. I was a little embarrassed to be going to kid thing but it was actually very enjoyable. There isn't much to do here in St. Chely so I'll take any entertainment I can get, especially on a sunday.

I've been feeling much better this week and confirm my remission the doctor approved me to continue with a 'normal' diet on tuesday. I still can't have dairy from a cow (apparently goat dairy is ok) and definitely no butter or high fat foods. This should be interesting. Lately I've been eating pasta with pesto and a slice of turkey meat. I'm still eating my turkey cheese nuggets (I have 9 magnets!!!) to rotate my diet.

For now my hospital bill is floating around somewhere. I suppose I'll get something in the mail soon if the MGEN doesn't pick up the tab. (that's the extra mutuelle I signed up for that covers visits 100 percent supposedly) Eventually I'll get a bill but I think I have a month to pay it anyways.

Wednesday I spent all day in Montpellier. I so never want to go back. I hate going there for just an hour for a stupid medical visit. I took the bus at 5 in the morning and arrived around 9. My appointment wasn't until 3:30 so I had too much time to kill. Unfortunately for me, time to kill= me spending money. I bought two books at FNAC since we don't have a good book store. One was to help my french grammar and the other was a dubai tourist guide since I'll be there in february. The medical visit went well for the most part. I got yelled at again for not telling them that I needed to be out by 5 to catch my ride home. (my appointment was at 3:30!!!) So typical french that it's my fault for not telling them to keep to my appointment time. *rolls eyes* Needless to say by 4 I went up to the entrance to say something and from then on I was rushed through the visa authentication process and medical exam. I bypassed about 20 people just because I live 3 hours away from Montpellier. I don't feel in slightest guilty because those people didn't have to spend 40 euros plus food for the day just for their medical visit. As of now, I am officially allowed to live in France until next september. Woot.

Thursday was random and I didn't do much other than teach most of the day. I'm getting kind of tired of teaching the same lessons over and over again. I'm going to variate my material the week after thanksgiving. Since I have to teach the same thanksgiving lesson to every class I have. Boy am I excited.

Saturday was cool. I went to a clothing party at Mme H's sister-in-law's house which is right next door. I got this cool tunique dress. I also got to play with matisse again at Mme H's. He's the cutest 4 year old ever and very stubburn!!!

A la prochaine et gros bisous!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Connected to the world!

Internet!!! The perks of being sick just keep on rolling in! Friday afternoon I came home to the busy worker bee installing the cable in my apartment. This is such a relief because now I can do lessons, get email and talk to people all in the comfort of my own place.

I went to St. Flour again today to go shopping with Mme S. I was kinda tired today but I really needed to go grocery shopping and I prefer to do it with a someone's car. I ended up spending more than I wanted even though I had a list. This should last me until the end of the month though. I'm trying not to eat so much these days and eat what the doctor recommends which is basically pasta and meat. So far the best things that's held is plain pasta with literally a sliver of butter, and turkey slices. I like to top it off with applesauce. I'm so glad I can eat anything I want in the food capital of the world. *sigh*

I also went out with Mme H and the gang plus two others to a club in st. chely. I had a tons of fun, albeit a little embarrassing with with them. These people really know how to enjoy themselves and I like feeling relaxed.

However my insomnia hasn't subsided. I thought by going out and tiring myself out physically that I'd be able to sleep better but as it turns out I can't. I'm going to use this time wisely to catch up with friends on the phone that I haven't talked to since being here.

Bonne nuit et à demain(g)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Flare-up around the world!

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while but I have good reason! I haven't been feeling good at all lately and I was hoping that it would pass like in september but alas early on tuesday morning I called a friend/colleague to take me to the hospital. My flare-up had gotten worse than I thought it would and there was nothing I could do except seek help. Luckily I have made some very good friends here whom have helped me through this rough patch. I'm feeling a better and hopefully tomorrow I will feel even more so.

I don't really like hospitals except for the fact that they always make me feel better but this was an experience unlike any other before in France. For the first time being here I really wanted to find an english speaker. I was scared that my situation wasn't clear and that I wasn't expressing myself clearly to the doctors and nurses. On a positive note though, I learned so much vocabulary in the last two days to last me a lifetime! My flare-up was exactly the same as the one in april with the same MRI scans and all which was interesting but I got through april and I'll get through this one too and there won't be another. I thought I was serious about beating this disease before but now I am just dead set on putting myself into remission. I can't keep going on like I am and if there is the slightest chance that I won't have to have surgery in the future I am going to do everything in my power to take it.

For now though, I am back on the steroids and staying the next night at a friend-colleague's house. Mme S was worried about me being alone. Another bonus too is that the school is installing a phone in my apartment so that if I need to call anyone in the building such as the headmaster or nurse in the night I can. Everyone in the building seemed pissed that I called Mme H to take me but she's the only one I could think of that would help and not think I'm crazy. Plus it was 2:30 in the morning and everyone works the next day and I knew Mme H doesn't on tuesdays.

The hospital as it turns out is in St. Flour which is about a good 20 minute drive from st. chely. I have to go back to see the gastroenterologist next week but I have a colleague who lives there that can give me a ride hopefully. It's a smallish hospital that is undergoing renovations on pretty much all floors. I had room to myself for a half day and then this really old deaf woman came. I have nothing against old, sad, sick people but this lady was crazy. She peed and pood in her diaper during the night not telling anyone and I had to ring the nurse for her. Needless to say I ddn't sleep well in that stink. Then the next morning she pood with the door open and left poo all over the seat and lid. I felt so bad for her because no one came to visit her.

Much love and until the next time...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Le Petit Chaperon Rouge and Turkey-Cheese Nuggets :)

ATTENTION! I have a nickname among the students. I'm "Le Petit Chaperon Rouge" which is the little red riding hood in french. I LOVE IT! All because of my red coat (that doesn't even have a hood btw). One of the teacher's overheard the students talking about me (should I be worried??!) and they called me that she said. :)

One thing I will never appreciate cross culturally is how the French never seem to want to put forth the effort in some cases but they will in others. For example, it was sleet/snowing when I got out of class at the middle school today and I could have really used a ride up to the the high school. Of the three teachers I know all of them were leaving as I was and we all commented on the sleet and I laughed because I had to walk. In this case, I would have offered a ride to the person walking considering its like a 1 minute detour for any of them but a 7 min walk for me. This small thing that I would treasure more in my day then anything else was not achieved. Of the three teachers leaving some of them have been very helpful when it comes to shopping, keeping me occupied etc but not of the things I consider very simple and not out of their way. In conclusion, similar to everything french related, I have to ask for something if I want it. The only risk here is if they say no and I feel guilty for asking.

I'm going to babysit for Mme L tonight because her husband and her are going to try rock climbing in the place next the gym. I hope that things go well because I really like kids and I think this would be a good opportunity to learn some 'french kid lingo'. We'll see how that goes.

As for my internet in my apartment, I won't have it this week but maybe next week. I'm kind of disappointed but at least I'll have something and soon. I was happy to come home to a nice clean apartment a few days ago but alas like normal that didn't last very long.

I received my medical visit papers yesterday and I was extremely disappointed. I was lead to believe that I didn't have to go to Montpellier for anymore administrative stuff (it hurts my budget because of the cost) but the date and location on my papers was indeed in Montpellier. At least I think I can make it there and back within the bus times in one day so I don't have to miss any school or pay for a hotel room. In any case I'm going to call the OFII and see if I can have my medical visit in Mende with a registered person there but I fear that it is going to cost me the 70 euros while in Montpellier it's free.

Apparently it is going to start snowing soon here according to the kids. I have mixed feelings regarding this. While snow makes me feel at home, I detest it because it's sooo cold.

Today this really old teacher tried to tell me about something electronic on my mac and I was having none of it. No offense old man but I think I know more about it than someone who has probably never even seen a mac before. Especially since I tried to tell him I already knew how to fix it. I should be teaching him a thing or two!

On a strange note, I've been eating a lot of turkey/cheese nuggets because the brand is giving away these magnets of each department in each box. So far I have three different departments but not the lozère yet. I calculated that I would have to eat 100 boxes of these turkey-cheese nuggets. If I eat half a box each meal (there is ten in a box) that would take me about 100-200 more days to go assuming I don't have anymore repeats. They aren't that expensive either and I know they are for kids but whatever. ANNNND, my stomach loves consistent eating! Watch out Carrefour- You better start ordering these boxes on a bi-weekly schedule. ;)

A demaing. (Yes, it's inevitable that I'd pick up the accent. Please forgive me french gods!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I'm so glad that I'm able to do things finally and that I have internet! Geraldine and Henry and I went around the downtown area the last couple of days. It was so great to be around people my own age and people whom I get to chill with. I bought some new flat black boots, a sweater dress and then a shirt. I really need jeans though but I can't find a suitable pair! I'm hoping that after tomorrow I'll be paid and I can get some in Lille. We're going to Lille tomorrow with Patty, Geraldine and I. I'm very excited.

A plus!

Monday, October 26, 2009


As I'm sitting here in BRUSSELS I'm listening to an old Hanson song 'where is the love'. Brings me back memories I think only american girls can truely appreciate. As I said, I'm in brussels which is amazing to say the least. I think color has come back into my spirit finally. I've been speaking mostly french to oli's mom which is great too! I feel bad for being selfish because I know she wants to speak english before the wedding but I really need to practice! Henry arrived last night and we got to hang out and drink at the bar in his hotel. It was so nice to see a very familiar face and joke around about europe and our experiences. Geraldine is coming in today so I'll have my fill for americans this week :). As much as I love the French, I just need something where I don't have to constantly care about how I act or what I say because these are my friends and I know they like me already. (At least I assume they do!!! ;))

I love it here despite the weather. I knew that though- its cloudy in belgium like 90 percent of the time. We saw sun yesterday right before is rained when Patty and I took Kipling to the 'bois' in town. It was this cool place where families, dogs and couples were walking, playing and having fun in this huge park downtown. It's not really a park but this woodsy section downtown that is so beautiful. Brussels really is the green capital of europe. I love it!

A plus!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I'm unique :)

October 24, 2009

I met this wonderful woman at the gym again this morning. She was the one who invited me to the running club on Tuesdays and Sundays but I haven’t gone yet because of my spinal issues and I think running up hills will make it worse. She told me to come next Friday that I’m in St. Chely and she’ll introduce me to all the girls my age so that I can find things age appropriate for me to do around town.

When I say age appropriate I mean that I’ve been attending events where I am THE youngest person there. I love hanging out with my teacher buddies but I really need a night out dancing, drinking and just messing around because I don’t have any responsibilities waiting for me at home.

I saw a small theatre production on Friday night with Mme H and her friend Mme I. It was pretty funny because it was a reading of Guy de Maupassant’s Contes Grivois. Literally: Smutty stories. ;) The only thing was that I only understood about 75 percent of the French. It was old fashioned language and there was a lot of colloquial knowledge needed. After the theatre, we three went to Au Bureau which is a pub by the train station. The owner was so nice as we were leaving and Mme H likes to introduce me to everyone so he took a special interest and invited me back to drink and use the internet. I’ve never gone to a bar myself and I don’t think I’m going to start now however nice the offer was.

I talked to Henry and Max via skype yesterday too! It was so nice to see some familiar faces as much as mine looked haggard. My eyes were sunken in and purple around them and I was very pale on the video screen. I’m hoping this is not a side effect of loneliness or else I’m going to look like crap very, very fast.

On a different note, I think I’ve been having too much dessert. In France, there is literally a whole aisle devoted towards single serving desserts and yogurts. For me this is like heaven in a 100g serving size. I need to stop buying them but every time I see something new I’m just dying to try. So far I haven’t had tiramisu because it’s been out of stock but my new favorite is this liegoise au café. It’s like this light coffee pudding with light whipped cream on top. YUM!

A la prochaine fois mes amis….

Friday, October 23, 2009

I c-a-n s-p-e-a-k s-l-o-w f-o-r y-o-u.

I got the hole drilled for my internet in my apartment! At this rate I'll have internet in about a month. :) lol.

We had a 'pique-nique' for lunch today with some of the teachers that participated. It was basically a huge potluck of 20 or so people. It wasn't something I think I 'll do again because I still get weird looks by some of the teachers. For some reason I think they think I'm retarded, slow or not worth their time to talk to. Plus I was talking to Mme A all morning in english and lesson planning with her so I was so not in french mode. I'm not stupid, I just have a hard time with noisy situations and informal vocabulary. For the record, so do most second language speakers! Arg.

I'm going to see a play tonight with Mme H and then we might go get drink at the pub nearby since her husband has a meeting and I thought it would be nice to hang out before I leave for a week.

Alas the gym, I'm going to take a week off and not run at all. I'm hoping this won't set me back too much in my stamina.

A question for the readers! I need english expressions with food!
For example: A piece of cake, I'm going nuts!....
Send me an email if you can think of any please :)

A la prochaine mes amis! ( de bruxelles)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Little pleasures to occupy my time

I saw a movie with Mme H last night! It was called Le Petit Nickolas and it was so very funny. I even talked to the owner of the theatre, it's a small one and he told me I could buy the old film posters for 6 euro after the film has passed through the cinema. Now I have a cheap and easy way to decorate the appartment!

We're having a pot-luck tomorrow here for lunch which I think is great! I'm going to make my apple and pear tarte again since everyone loved it last time. (I told Mme H to take home at the end of her day if there was still some left since I knew her boys would eat it but it was all gone within two hours she said!) I can't wait to buy a cook book in belgium and start making different things for the teachers here. They are all so nice to me and I just really feel welcomed by most of them.

My spinal arthritis is getting worse but I looked up online to see if running was bad but actually it says that any activity is good for it. I'm glad because I'd hate to give it up so soon after I started liking it again.

I'm a little blocked by the french language at this point though. I'm not getting better but I'm no worse than I was a week ago. I can hear my accent now thouroughly and it frustrates me that I can't say things the way they should be. I think I'm going to ask Mme A if she has some time after tutoring her in english if she can help me with my pronounciation. The only thing is she has a thick accent du sud and I'm wary to pick that up from her.

A la prochaine fois mes amis!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

*Heavy Sigh*

I love that while I'm trying to post people are leaning over me possibly seeing what I'm writing about them...

Nothing too spectacular has happened here. I went to the gym last night a saw about 6 girls there my age. I haven't said hi yet but hopefully after a few weeks maybe I'll get to meet them? I forgot that making friends is a delicate process here in France and that's probably why I never made any last time I was here. I took an 'abdo' class with them last night and it was nice. The gym offers sometimes these free classes for the members. I would so love it if they bought another treadmill (tapis roulant= rolling rug!! haha) so I don't have fight to get on it. I literally sit on the bike in front of them and bike very slowly until one of the two is free. On a great note...I'm getting in shape! I can't really tell for sure but my engagement ring is super loose these days and that happened with my other rings last summer... :) I just wish the gym was open more often! It's very hard to get a good workout in 20 minutes!

The heat is out in my apartment again. I never know if I should be pissed about it like a 'normal' french person would or if I should just tell the gestionaire and **hope** that it gets fixed. It seems to me they think I purposely am causing them more work or something. The reaction that I get is always this "heavy sigh" plus "I'll take care of it this afternoon". I told them YESTERDAY and it still isn't fixed. They seem to think that I'll be able to sleep in an apartment that is approximately 40 degrees. It's not that cold here yet but at night it drops significantly and the wind here doesn't help either. **Heavy sigh** on my part.

Whenever I get frustrated with the french 'attitude' i just think about this song and I laugh and forget ever being frustrated :
Même pas fatigué----

On met l'ambiance
Y'a pas de problème
Khaled, Magic System ça c'est le son qu'on aime
Partout c'est la même, pas de fatigue et c'est le theme
On n'est pas fatiqué
Ce soir il faut danser
On va tout donner
I opened my first bottle (or two) this weekend on my own with a very very basic bottle opener. Yay for wine this chilly weekend!

I also discovered via one of my students that the avergne region produces its own type of coke cola. It's lighter that regular coke and has a funny flavor. I can't decide if I like it or not....

A plus mes amis!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Exhaustion and Melancholy

What a long day. I'm so exhausted from having to get kids to not speak french and speak english with me. I got to one on one tutor with one of the tenth graders this afternoon which was great! I don't have any plans for the weekend and I'm a little worried that I'm going to go insane for lack of internet, its cold and I don't have any money to go shopping. I want to prep for some of my classes but lacking internet and suitable materials really frustrates me. I could be a really great assistant but I just really want/need internet. I might try to go to Mende for the day on saturday just to walk around and maybe meet up with the other assistant that I have yet to meet in my region.

Au contraire, I found the only club/bar in St. Chely. Its not at all far from where I live in walking distance. I would never go there by myself but if someone were to visit, I now know where to go to get some drinks and maybe dance.

The proviseur, aka the big head guy of our school, asked me to stay during the vacation coming up next weekend for La Toussaint but I already have plans. While that would be great for my pocket money, I just can't stay here without going crazy by myself with horrible students who need "soutien" aka addition help in english. Which I felt bad about because he's like the big chief important guy and I was kind of worried about saying no since I know it would totally help their school.

I'm hoping a workout will help with my melancholy that's started again. I hope I'm not getting homesick already.

With the accent du sud,
A demain(g)....

French food and conversation

Wowza! I spent basically all day speaking French. I love my life!

This morning I had class for 30 minutes but then I got to do my thing. I had lunch at the lycee which was great. Mme H invited me to her house for the afternoon to hang out and I could use her internet to call nana. It was so nice to talk to nana this afternoon! Everytime I talk to my family I start to miss home and I know that’s normal but I don’t want to be homesick so I think I’m going to limit those calls for awhile. Even with Oli I start to miss him a lot. Maybe if we switch to french it would be easier for me. (as if he’d ever do that…)

Hanging out with Mme H was cool because she showed me pictures of her wedding and we talked about mine and what my plans were for next year when I return. (I don’t have any)

She took me back home because I needed to clean and get my stuff together for tomorrow and tonight. I had dinner with all the teachers at the college which was so great. Everyone is so nice and it seems that they have all heard good thing about me from either colleagues or their own kids at the lycee. YAY! I caught about 99% of the conversation for the before and during the meal but after I was starting to fade and I got a major headache. Boo. There started to be so much background noise in the restaurant that I was having a hard time hearing and the more I tried the more it took to concentrate and I was just getting soo tired. I wish I was fluent already which would have made my life easier tonight. Mme S and Mme B are the coolest teachers. They are like me a lot which makes sense since we’re all language teachers. (It takes a certain personality to do this job) I’m so excited that I’m starting to make friends here. Even if they are older that me, its ok because I like these people. Your soul doesn’t age past 20 in my opinion! I’m also glad that since they speak English they never force me to speak it with them too. They understand that I’m really here to speak more french and that English is for the students’ time. Thank god the closest assistant is 35km away. 6 ½ more months and I’m golden!

All in all today was an amazing day and I can’t wait for tomorrow! A full day of classes and then the weekend! Woot!

A plus mes amis ….

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

French kids and UFOs

I’ve officially watched everything on Oli’s external drive. Bring on the boredom!

I also can access facebook now on my computer via a shield. Yay oli! I also got to see photos from the Ren Fest before I left. I miss you guys!!

I taught my first two classes by myself today too! I don’t like French kids I think. They are much more disrespectful than American students. They have an etiquette where they stand upon entering the class and won’t sit down until I tell them it’s ok. However the one thing that annoys me that my American students hardly ever did was talk while I was talking. Its extremely annoying and hard as I try to get them to stop they just keep on talking. No wonder their English sucks. I hope they do well on the quiz next week!

I made myself some black and mint tea tonight. It made me really miss living with June and Anastasia at 410. I always used to drink that and sit with them in the kitchen since I never really had any homework last year. I miss you chicas!

Oh and I believe in UFO's now. As of tonight I think I saw one and I know it wasn't a star because stars don't move fast like this bright light did. It wasn't a plane either cause it wasn't moving in a straight line. I'm not crazy and it was scary!!! I think maybe I should close my skylights during the night so I don't get freaked out again like that.

A la prochiane mes amis!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Attention! Wet paint!

Nothing special happened today other than it was freezing cold and windy. I may need a winter jacket sooner than I thought. I was hoping to make it until the end of November before buying a heavy jacket.

The painters finally finished in the stairwell! That was the longest two weeks ever! It seemed as if they only worked two hours a day but they were here all the time working. At least it’s going to stop smelling like paint everywhere now. I love how the school is doing all these things to improve the building and modernize things! Since they show a sense of pride in the building, I can too. It makes it hard to when landlords don’t care about the property but TR totally does.

Pictures are to be posted on facebook. I won’t always have access to them or my account so they will only be posted infrequently.

They have indeed been posted on facebook as of a few minutes ago.

@ + mes amis…

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday’s, music and love in Mende

I always have to try and find things to do on Sundays in france. It’s definitely not one of my favorite days of the week. I do enjoy the freedom to do whatever I want. For example I got to stay in the bath for like 40 minutes this morning. I was so wrinkly when I got out which I never do! I also sat in the sun on a bench and did nothing but think and relax which was nice. I wonder what I figure out to do in the winter?

Tonight I went to Mende with Mme H, her husband and two of their friends I met last week. There was a choir concert at the big cathedral celebrating its 700th year. Can you imagine?! It was so nice and I enjoyed it a lot. Mme H’s husband and L (the husband of Mme I) were so funny the entire time. They kept making us laugh because they kept falling pretend asleep and making jokes. It’s nice to know that not all french people are uptight in public. During the 10 minute break we had drinks at a little bar. (Such a french thing to do!) I’m glad I got to see Mende and I can’t wait to go back! One of the teachers at the school lives in Mende and she offered to let me stay with her if I wanted to visit. I was going to take her up on her offer this weekend but I think I might have plans with Mme S. I want to wait until I have money though so that I can go shopping or something so I’ll probably wait until after la Toussaint. We get a week off in two weeks for la Toussaint which is the day after Halloween I think.

It was cute to spend some time with adults but I was single between two couples and I missed Oli. Both couples were so still in love and having fun together and I want what they have still in 20 years too. I hope oli adores me as much as he did in the beginning as Mme H’s husband so apparently does. I’ve never seen older couples act like that in the United States before. I wish I could stay here in france forever. I love it despite the cultural differences, language barriers or job potential. Vive la France!

A la prochaine mes amis…

Saturday, October 10, 2009

St. Flour and Lozerian foraging

Today was a typical Saturday in St Chely. I went to the “gym” and then I got together with Mme S this afternoon to go shopping. She took me to St. Flour which is about 20 minutes from here in St. Chely. I finally was able to go to real clothing stores, shoe shores and a few home decoration stores. I can’t wait until I get paid! The prices were reasonable and I can get there on my own even without a car. She also took me to the grocery store so that I didn’t have to lug all my food by hand tomorrow morning. I bought some new running pants for the winter. Those were kind of expensive but that’s ok because I really needed them. I also got some things to decorate the apartment since it’s a pretty bland white. All and all it was a very successful trip and I hope to go back to buy my clothes there when I get paid!

At Carrefour today I bought “l’aligot” which is a typical lozerian side dish. It’s mashed potatoes with some sort of cheese mixed in to make it stretchy. It’s very good. Usually people here have sausages with it. I bought some sausage meat to eat along with it since I haven’t had meat in a few days. (I have to force myself to make meat since I don’t like it very much but I get too anemic otherwise) There are a lot foods in the lozere that are traditional but most of them have foraging involved in the preparation because here the terrain is so rugged that people can’t grow proper crops and traditional “french” foods. For example, lots of my students go foraging for mushrooms on Wednesday afternoons (there isn’t class anywhere in france) but the season is pretty much over now that its gotten colder. I saw lots of “edible” snails this morning on my way to the gym. (I took a picture!) It was pretty cool to see wild snails since we don’t really see that in Michigan. We have slugs but I haven’t seen snails like this before. Of course there is the famous lozerian yogurt made from goats I think. Even though I see more cows here than goats it’s still a traditional local food.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Civilization and back

So we had our assistants meeting today in Montpellier. I’d say about one hour of the 6 1/2 was actually useful. I don’t want to seem like a know it all but I’m already a trained teacher and half the meeting was about teaching middle and high schoolers. It was like a summary of the last three semesters at school. In addition we had to sit through two boring and aweful hours in the morning about the french educational system, what an assistant does, and who the people in the panel are. For introduction in the auditorium the guy was describing the academie and he mentioned the lozère and then asked, are there any assistants from the lozere evn here? Then he continued on to describe the lozere as being very different from the other departments that make up the academie. What a joke! I’ve made my way down to Montpelier by way of a five hour bus and then I have to sit here and listen to this jerk make fun of my department. Like any one is going to want to visit me after that!

Since it rained last night , rather down poured to the point where we lost electricity four times during the night, I didn’t really get to meet any of the assistants from my academie. The even worst part is that I had to leave the meeting at the end before the mingling and getting to know each other could start! I was so bummed but in the end I don’t really care about meeting English speakers because I’m here to learn french.

The few people I did meet from Montpellier had a completely different first week or two experience. I think it was probably all my fears summed up about france that they wet through. Some of them didn’t have housing yet, some of them were in a hotel for more than two weeks, some of them don’t speak a word of french during the day, some of them don’t have their time table at all and worst of all some of them are annoying. I am so thankful of where I am and I quite honestly can’t wait to get back and do my own thing. As it turns out I actually like St. Chely despite its location and popultion. The people there are much more welcoming and they don’t at all treat me like a tourist. Yay. (this is probably the only time I will ever say this!)

The academie is going to pay for both my train tickets and hotel and lunch for today which is great. Al though I can’t wait to get home to eat something blandish. I’m feeling heartburn come on bad from all the bad food I ate.

The bus ride back was just as bad as on the way to Montpellier. It’s not the buses fault though its mostly because I’m really in the middle of nowhere. At an altitude of 1000 meters St chely sits on a hill side by la marguiride. (I have pictures of this too! It’s a beautiful valley about 5km away) The lozere is very different than any france I have seen before and I guess I’m glad to be here because I’m sure few people get to experience what I’m about to this year. Speaking of altitude, I never really noticed it until I went to Montpellier but the up and down is killer on my ears. Plus, I wonder what other effects the altitude is having on me? I’ll have to research this. I’ve never lived anywhere that hasn’t been sea level before so this is cool. I wonder if I fall into that *cook pasta longer in higher altitudes*? Lol.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thunderstorms and Electricity

October 8, 2009

Yesterday was kind of weird. I only had 30 minutes of class a day but Mme H expected since I didn’t have anything to do I could do some proofreading. All I really wanted to do was send some emails, prepare for my trip today and do my laundry. Like I had a chance of getting all that done! The internet went down in the whole school so that screwed up all my plans. I did get to do my laundry but then I missed lunch with the teachers. Since it was Wednesday, the students have the afternoon off and the streets and park were flooded with young people up to no good. I met up with Mme S around 5 so she could bring me the oven and some other furniture. She’s kind of like one of my adoptive moms here taking care of me and making sure I have everything I need. Plus I love her daughter-we’re very similar and she’s super nice even though she is a bit younger than me. She doesn’t act embarrassed when she sees me at school which makes me feel great unlike some of the other teacher’s kids. I offered them some pop to drink after hauling all that stuff up 4 flights of stairs. Then I realized that I had a meeting with Mme H at 5:30 so I had to run quickly back to the teacher’s room. I felt so bad after Mme S gave me all that stuff I had to rush out so quickly. We made plans to see each other on Saturday so I’ll apologize again.

After the meeting with Mme H about the penpals thing AGAIN. (She’s really driving me nuts with sending them) She gave me a lift to the workout room because she had to pick her son up at Judo which is across the street. I really like the workout room because I get to observe French people working out (amusing) and how they interact. Plus there are a lot of my students there that see that I am not a recluse living up blow the roof au lycée.

I finally came home exhausted and happy about my new digs. I have a shelving unit, a side table for my bed, an oven and a lamp cover. Woot.

Today I woke up early to finish the dishes and finish packing for my meeting in Montpellier tomorrow. I knew it was going to rain here so I brought my umbrulla. Boy am I glad I did!!!! It’s raining cats and dogs right now. We wanted to go to the bar and meet up with some other assistants but with this rain and thunder its not really possible. (ie why I am writing in my blog and not out having fun!)

I met up with A in her town on the way down to Montpellier and we spent the entire trip talking. It was soooo nice to finally speak my own language!!! We had so much to compare and talk about it was nice. We met up with J in the hotel room we’re staying at. We tried to go back together but it’s not working out so I’m going back by myself tomorrow night. Speaking of the trip down here….ugh. I thought I was going to vomit about 20 times. The road is literally up and down all these mountains and then there was this terrible fog where we couldn’t even see 10 feet in front of us. (I took pictures). As I sit here now the entire hotel has lost electricity. I think this is amusing but frustrating because I finally figured out the internet issue and now its gone. Boo on the pluie! I met some assistants that came here to see A but it was a bit overwhelming for me. I’m not sure how I feel about all this American in one hour. Its kinda like I’m sitting in a room of people I don’t know and I want to drink a whole bottle of vodka to sit through it. I hope the orientation/mtg tomorrow goes well and I make it back to St. Chely (prounouced Saint- shelee) in one piece.

Love you all!!!

A la prochaine….

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sucess, small talk and projects

October 6, 2009

I wrote my first french check today! It was so cool because it’s literally backwards from the American way. I even get to practice spelling the numbers haha. The lady at the bank had to show me how to write them because I didn’t know. I felt like she was talking to a mentally handicapped person. I’m American, not slow! I don’t get why people talk slow and enunciate everything as if I’m deaf sometimes. Now because of the checks I can officially eat in the SELF without feeling like a thief.

I spent most of my day at the middle school today. After that I realized why I prefer high school. Middle schoolers drive me crazy!!! As it turns out, I’ll be teaching my own class (*yay*) for two hours on Tuesday and Thursday and then after lunch I’ll be heading the English club for 5e and 6e students. At least it’s a free hour a week where I can really have fun with the students! I think. M. C is kind of different. I’m not sure if I like him or not. He teaches the younger students so it’s a totally different world than the 4e and the 3e students. His rigidness with the students makes me a little uncomfortable. I personally just want them to try and speak in English no matter what comes out. I can work around what they are saying. I don’t need them to ask me questions in any “order”. Blah.

The penpals project is turning out to be sort of a big deal for Mme H. I thought it would be something relaxed and fun but she keeps wanting to do this video conferencing thing and I honestly don’t think that it’s going to work with the time change. Is she nuts? Not only does barb have to have the students at 9 or 10 in the morning (unlikely) but we’d have to do it only on Mondays or Tuesdays because it’s the only time open for the premier stg class. (Don’t ask me what that means cause I still don’t). I also feel bad because I know Barb’s schedule is loaded and she totally doesn’t need this work. I’m just feeling guilty because I want to do something fun the students.

I finally went to ED today. I forgot how much cheaper it is to go there. I also realized that it’s closer than Carrefour and on my home from the middle school. I also realized why I hated carrying groceries back in Aix because today I finally had to buy toilet paper, trashbags, water and pop. That’s heavy to carry even 1/8 mile let alone ½ mile.

Tomorrow I have one ½ hour class. That’s all! I’ll finally be able to go and do my laundry I think. My running clothes smell and I’m out of socks already. I should have brought more of both of those things. I didn’t think I’d be able to run here firstly and I don’t own many socks anyways. Since it snows here lots I‘ll have to buy more anyways.

I’m going to Montpellier in two days so I’m super excited to get out of this city. What- real stores? Real clubs and bars? YOUNG PEOPLE? God help me but I think I’ll be in heaven.

A la prochaine….

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 5, 2009

Today is Monday in france and like Sunday nothing is open. At least all the banks, little stores and most bakeries are closed. The big stores like Carrefour and ED are still open. It’s frustrating for me because I try to spread out my tasks throughout the week but I can’t really because things are truly only open Tuesday to Friday. In addition, everything pretty much shuts down between 12 and 2, sometimes even 3! I get used to it again but for now I’m still thinking American- life of the 24 hour store.

Classes are great. I have 9 out of the 12 hours I’m supposed to work all settled. I’m still waiting for M. C to get his act together. So far he hasn’t really impressed me so as far as I’m concerned I don’t really care to go the extra mile for him. (I do a lot of extra stuff for all my teachers like getting penpals for the U.S together for two classes, I’m tutoring one of the high school teachers with Beatrice, and I plan to do whatever they ask me to!) I met M. C once and he was very rude. He was making copies and Mme H introduced me to him and he acted like we were ruining his day. You’d think he’d be excited to have a natural English speaker for his students (as I would be of a french speaker) but he clearly was not. (Insert mean word).

The smell is gone in the apartment! One of the workers for the lycée came today to fix the awful smell and it was gone within the hour. Yay for M. mysterious-worker-who-comes-to-fix-the-apartment!

Today was a gorgeous day again. I think I brought the sun with me (I’m serious) because when I was in Toronto we have 20+ days of no rain and then I came to the U.S. right before I left and there was no rain and now there is no rain here. (Although it rained one day so far at night only.) Amazing! Quelle chance!!!

In case you were wondering about the sick feelings I had – they no longer exist. I’m 100% better. I think it was the stress of the traveling and moving to another country again. Or it could have been the peanuts. Lmao. I’ll have to keep those things in mind for the wedding/honeymoon so I don’t get a flare-up then.

Speaking of the wedding planning. Boo. This is so hard to do from here! At least most of the big things are done. I been looking and looking for my bridesmaid’s gifts here because I want it to be something cool from Europe but alas the lozere region pretty much sucks. I’m going to look in Belgium when I’m there for La Toussaint (end of oct break).

I’m excited for the assistant’s meeting on Friday. I get to go to Montpellier (the only place I don’t have a postcard from that I’ve been to already) and I get to meet all 170 other English assistants in my academie.That doesn’t mean I’ll ever see them again because the academie of Montpellier is actually pretty large in comparison to others like lille or rouen. There are only three assistants like me in the lozere department and St. Chely is actually the northern most city in the department of the lozere being the northern most department in the academie. Basically that means I’m in the boondocks. It’s a lot like Michigan here so I can relate. The only thing that is different is that I’m at about 1000 meters above sea level maybe more. The trees are relatively the same and the air feels clean like when I’m camping with my parents. One can really breathe here. There are farms and cows everywhere though. I got within 10 feet of a huge heard of cows yesterday at Mme H’s house. SO COOL! They were wild/grazing unlike the corporate farms of America so it was way different and I didn’t want to get too close.

I miss you all! Have the people from Clarkston gotten their postcards yet? I have yet to send the Ann Arbor ones…..the post office is open at weird times and I ran out of stamps!

A la prochaine mes amis!

Monday, October 5, 2009

October 1, 2009

I had my first day of teaching today. It was pretty good. There isn’t much on my plate right now which I’m totally going to take advantage of because it’s so nice out lately. I signed my contract in the morning and then scooted over to the middle school as fast as I could. Mme S is one of the teachers I’ll be working with. She’s great too. We have the same ideology about teaching. We talked about it after classes today. She’s already invited me to dinner this Saturday in her town. I have so much to learn and its and great opportunity to speak french more. Apparently I speak fairly well according to basically everyone here. There are two goals for the next seven months on the issue of my french capabilities: improve my accent and increase my vocabulary. I think I have the major tenses down and this improves as I go. My last post will be in french I hope.

Another assistant emailed the secretary at the high school to have me contact her. I talked briefly with her tonight and we made plans to gchat tomorrow morning. She seems nice but I don’t envision myself becoming close friends with another American at this point in my life. I did that in Aix and it turned out to be great but I didn’t learn anything. This time I’m going to force myself to be alone but learn french if that’s what it takes. I’m not saying I don’t want to make American friends but its not priority.

I’m going to tutor once a week one of the teachers at school. She’s studying to pass the English teaching exam but she needs to practice her accent. I’m not sure how much help I’m going to be but maybe I could get an article and we can talk about it or something. I want to help her but the only problem is that I have an American accent and people don’t really like that here. But anything is better than nothing right?

Eating lunch with the teachers has become a habit this week. It’s amazing to watch french people eat, mainly french women eat for a number of reasons. First, they use a knife and fork like it’s a piece of art. Everything is eaten and scrapped using a knife and fork. Secondly, they eat everything and they’re not fat. I never did mention that in the cantine we get an entrée, bread, yogurt/fruit, dessert and 2 entrée choices. I never can eat it all but the women pack it back like it’s nothing and they don’t gain any weight. So my real question is Why aren’t french women fat? I’m so jealous. Thirdly, I love how delicately they eat. It’s as if I can feel them savoring the food they eat and it makes me want to enjoy my meal too. Will I ever be french? I so want to be when I think about all the cool things about french people that I like but then I see the old french women and their stubby ankles and think I’d rather be vain and look like my nana. (Litterally all old french women have these stubby ankles. It drives me wild to know how that can possibly happen to them all?!)

There are a few sounds here in the apartment that distinguishes it from home, aix, Brussels, Toronto or anywhere else. First the radiators make this “water running” sound all the time. It’s kind of strange but they are new so I assume this is normal. Also there is the sound of ducks quacking from the park across my window. Instead of the sounds of cats having sex like in Aix, I have ducks doing it. Oh jealously. Lastly, this isn’t a sound but a distinct smell from the water heater. It smells so bad and air fresheners have failed so far.

On an extremely positive note I have found something here in St.Chely that I would have never thought possible. There is a gym here!!!!!! In addition to finding a gym which is only 60 euros a year, I found where all the young people hang out! Apparently the gym is the place to be in St. Chely. I guess I’m going to get fit this year to meet people. It’s a bit different though than American gyms cause I think people go there to socialize more than to work out. Everyone was talking and Mme H kept talking to me too while I was working out. Everyone does the kiss kiss or even a hug when they are all sweaty. I find this disgusting but w/e. If someone wants to hug me while I stink all the power to them. Haha. Mme H thought that I ran a lot but I didn’t think so. In fact I thought it was a pretty easy workout and I’m not sore at all today. 4km in 30 min. That’s not that fast at all. I didn’t know what mph was in kmph so I decided to take it easy and do less than normal. Also Mme HH told me that there is a running club on Tuesdays here but I’m not at all into like my mom nor as good. I just do it out of sheer boredom like in Toronto. Boy am I glad I brought my running gear!

A la prochaine. I miss you all!

October 3, 2009

I stepped in my first pile of dog poo today. In france this is a common occurrence for me and I’m surprised it took me this long. To be fair though, there aren’t many dogs here and people generally pick it up as they never did in Aix. It was bound to happen!!

I bought my tickets for Montpellier, Brussels and the carte 12-25. The discount I got to go to Montpellier was amazing! It was only 18 euros to go there and a bit more for the way back because of the time. It was 50% off. I think I’ve already saved the cost of the card in those two trips. I’m excited to get out of St. Chely for a while because to be honest I’m kind of lonely. I’m not used to be alone most of the day and sometimes I’m frustrated I can’t say what I want to in French.

I walked to Carrefour market today to do my shopping since I assume they are closed tomorrow as everything usually is. As I recall in Aix doing shopping always sucked because I had to carry everything back to the dorms and it was so heavy. This year is different and I’m not sure why. The bag isn’t that heavy and I have to walk further I’m sure. Maybe I’m buying less? I highly doubt it because my fridge here is much bigger than in Aix.

I signed up officially at the gym today. That was great! I met a very nice lady who insisted on showing me how to use some of the machines for muscle training. I’m not sure I’ll ever use them but it’s always good to know! I had to wait for a treadmill today too. There are only two and since I was talking with the lady it I missed out on getting one. One lady was on there for at least 48 minutes because I was on for 30 (which is the max you’re allowed) and I could see her timing. It kinda made me mad because she didn’t know if someone wanted to use it! This is sort of a french thing though. If you don’t speak up, no one will know. So I guess if I want something I have to speak up and go get it.

I also had dinner with Mme S and her family tonight. It was great! They came to pick me up (because most people don’t actually live within the city limits of St. Chely) in a cool old fashioned car. M. S told me it was an old 40’s Ford model that never got made in the U.S. and ford sold it to the Europeans. The car was called a Vedette I think. It was cool to ride in a car like that. There weren’t even seat belts it was so old! When we got to Mme S’s house she showed me around and we talked a little bit. Before dinner we went to Alberet St Marie which is a typical town in the lozere. Everything was pretty much closed up but I did get to see France’s smallest museum! It was an old communal bread bakery. After we saw the little exhibit inside we walked over to the a very old church that was built in the typical lozerian style. I have pictures and I’ll try to post them too! We had dinner and talked a lot in franglais because both of them are English teachers. I tried to keep in french because I really prefer it but they kept going back to English sometimes too. I think they wanted to speak English for the same reasons I wanted to speak in french! Mme S also loaned me a t.v, radio, oven and some towels. She’s great! I never thought that I’d ever have an oven! She told me it was silly to buy things to just have to throw them away or donate them and she’s right, I just never thought anyone would help me like that. It’s a little shocking but in a totally great and amazing way. I’m so happy the teachers are taking me in like this because I don’t know what I would do otherwise.

October 4, 2009

Today is Sunday and literally everything is closed in France. It’s nice to have a day of rest for the workers but it’s super annoying for tourists! I was sort of bored and lonely so when Mme H called me hang out this afternoon it was great. We were going to lay out in the sun and go for a walk but then some of her husband’s family was over at her brother in law’s house (they all live right next to each other in the one area because her husband’s family is from lozere). We went over and talked a long time until they left to go back to Montpellier. We ended up eating dinner together (pizza yay!) with Mme H’s cousin’s family I think. I wasn’t sure of the relation at this point because there were so many people today. Mme H’s little son still doesn’t like me and I’m not sure why. He has been sort of rude to me and he’s only 4! I’m used to little kids but this kid is definitely a tough one to crack! After I got back home I was bored again so I watched a little bit of Friends to pass the time. I’m going to have to work out tomorrow after all the food I’ve eaten in the last two days. One thing I can say about France, I’m pretty much never hungry and I eat sweets all the time!

A la prochaine mes amis…

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 28, 2009

Well I survived the move. After and intense night of vomiting and little sleep I managed to get myself to the school early enough to get the key to the apartment. While every one has been great in respect to my possession (or lack there of –I’ll explain later) of the apartment, I still feel a little weird about it. When I got to the school in the morning the lady in charge of money for the school (and the apt) told me she didn’t have the keys as the guys were still moving things in and out and doing work but we could see the apartment if I wanted. Did I want to see the apartment? HELL NO. I wanted my, pardon my french, fucking keys. So a bunch of the other secretaries wanted to see it so I went with them dragging my crabby and hungry ass up 5 flights of stairs. When we got there a guy was coming out and he had the set of keys!!! Thank god, Mme Lefevre gave me a key so I could finally move in. I hurried back to the hotel and grabbed an apple on the way to settle my stomach. Praise the lord for apples. I was starting to feel better already! What I really wanted was a pain au chocolat but the boulangerie was closed today. I ended up having Mme Lefevre’s “men” help me carry my suitcases up the stairs. WOOHOO! After the three trips from the hotel I wrote a note in the guestbook thanking the couple for everything. If my family comes or anyone I know, they are definitely staying there!

After getting my luggage delt with, I went downstairs to the school to give the secretariat my RIB (releve d’identité bancaire- a piece of paper with your bank account info for electronic deposits) and paperwork I finished for her. I also had some questions regarding my visa papers and secu. I was there for a while but everything is settled for now. After that I went to ask Mme Lefevre if I could borrow a comforter from the dorms for the year. This ensued a whole debate about what I was “allowed” to buy for the apartment. I just assumed I would be buying the things I needed and leaving them for the others or other assistants after me. I guess not. Everything for the place is to be paid for by the school. She wouldn’t even let me get a pot to eat in today! So I was like, if I can’t buy things for the place when will I have these things provided for me? I need to eat tonight and I don’t have tickets for the SELF yet. (This is the cafeteria). So basically Mme Lefevre and I went to Carrefour Market today to buy the necessary things I needed. I bought sheets earlier in the afternoon so I wouldn’t have to deal with borrowing them and she didn’t know if they would have any for me anyways. While at Carrefour we got pots and pans and mugs and knives and lots more. I even convinced her to get an iron and board! What luck I have that I don’t have to pay for any of this!!!!!! It’s so great that I’m also worried. There are two concerning things about this situation.

1.) Mme Lefevre keeps telling me that I’ll “have only one of the rooms and I have to share the apartment”. Uhhh what about the rest of the apartment? Am I not allowed to use it? I’m so confused/concerned. I think this has to do with the fact that the french value their privacy. I’m American so I don’t really. LOL.

2.) The rent. The conseille’s meeting is tonight to discuss a monthly rent for the apartment. As of right now, it is 10 euros/day. That’s pretty hefty considering I might not be allowed to have internet. (It’s up to the proviseur to “allow” me-I know you’re thinking wtf a basic privilege!) So 300 euros/month and I could get an apartment in town, internet possibilities and the CAF( French low income housing reimbursement).

Asside from these two things the apartment is great! Some gifts from the people who donate to the school included: a wok, a chocolate fondue maker (weird I know, I’ll never use it), a juicer (also never use), an electric kettle (necessity!!!!) and of course there is a microwave, hot plates (traditionally french) and a fridge. Perfect!

I can’t wait to start this Thursday. Sandrine called me tonight to see how I was doing since she didn’t see me today at school. She’s great!

Random things I’ve been meeting to comment about:

Sandrine said once in the car On va chercher le pain. Which means We’ll go get the bread. I find this curious because the is used instead of some. Anthropologically I think this comes from the fact that bread is a necessity in daily meals here. Neat that I’m able to make inferences regarding speech already!

One of the ladies today mentioned in passing (I don’t remember what we were talking about) that “Mais elle est ici pour apprendre le francais”. (But she is here to learn french). WOW. So not the case. It’s why I am here but not why they want me here. I’m actually here to teach English so it would be to there benefit to practice English with me. Tant pis, their loss! I’ll take any help/improvement I can while I’m here. I’m already noticing my lack of fear for trying new tenses. I try to stay in the present, use words I know well but lately I’ve been using the future, imperfect and passé composé. Next I hope to start using the subjunctive more often. I’m going to “re” buy a book on french grammar for practice since someone (I won’t name names) still has my reprise book!!! I’ll wait to buy it till I get paid. It’s not something I need and I’m trying to conserve funds to go somewhere for la Toussaint.

I miss Oli mostly here. At least when I was bored in Toronto I got to see Oli at night. I also miss talking to him. It’s different for us both since we both don’t have good Internet possibilities where we are. Hopefully that will be remedied soon. I don’t think I can go months without hearing his voice.

I also miss my friends and family. I hope you guys are reading this! Please comment!

Here is my new Address :

Lycée Polyvalent Th. Roussel

C/O Elizabeth DuShaw

15, Rue du docteur Yves Dalle

48200 St. Chély d’Apcher


[Note: Posted by Oli since Liz can't access Blogger]

Sunday, September 27, 2009

September 26, 2009

Sleep in day! Yay!!!! The weather was sort of grey today as you’ll see from the few photos I managed to take today of St. Chély. I woke up late to the cleaning lady complaining that she couldn’t get into my room because I was still sleeping. Whatever- I’m not on vacation so it’s not like I have anywhere to go. I went to the post office right away this morning so I could get stamps to send my post cards. Expect postcards people!!! I’ll mail them Monday once I’ve finished with them. After the post office, I walked down to Carrefour market. I wanted to get some fruit to eat and see if they had any prepared meals for me to eat today. I also wanted to get an organizer for all the paperwork I’ve started accumulating here. I didn’t see sheets there but they have clothes so I should be able to buy sheets there on Monday. Mostly I’ll need a heavy comforter or blanket right away since I brought one sheet with me. I’m so glad I have my pillow too. One less thing I’ll have to buy.

My mom called this afternoon, which was great. I’ve heard from my mom, Oli, Geraldine and Henry so far. I’m not homesick yet but it is nice to talk to something familiar. I was talking to Andrea online last night about why I chose this academie. It’s something familiar but something completely different. For example, I’m in the south where people generally take things slow, slower than normal french slowness. This is something I know how to deal with. However I’m in a small town where things are truly closed by 7 at night and not everything is open on the weekend, especially Sunday. I’m not sure what people do to occupy themselves.

It rained tonight for the first time since I came here. The streets were flooded with rainwater and since it is hilly here the water rushes down the street very fast.

September 27, 2009

Today was a lovely day. I went out in the morning and took some cute photos which I’ll post later. I read in the little park below the high school for a while too. There isn’t much to do here on Sundays or anywhere in france for that matter. I also took some good pictures of the high school where I’ll live. After I got back in the afternoon I wasn’t feeling good so I thought I’d eat some bread and cheese and also some nuts. Bad idea. I’ve not felt better yet. Hopefully this is just a passing thing and not a flare up. I’m praying I get better tomorrow. Also, as of tomorrow I won’t have regular internet for a while so my posts will become infrequent.

A la prochaine mes amis…