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!