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…

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