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…