La rentrée

Before a brief, critical analysis on my second week of teaching, shall I take a moment to gush about my multi-destination mini-vacation during the last week of October?  I think I shall!

My adventure started with a few-hours in traffic in a BlaBlaCar driven by a dad with a three-year-old son.  I sat in the back with the littlun on nounou duty, handing him his toys and books and, to my dismay,wiping the boogies off his face.  There’s certainly some majestic sites between Clermont-Ferrand and Provence, above all the mountains!  There was also a very nice German student in the car with us, who ended up being the copilote whilst we were stuck in traffic or getting lost.

After a few days in Aix, I can say that it’s quite a cute place, but definitely not as much to it as one might think.  I think of it as being part Bethesda, part European marketplace, part university town and…that’s bout it. But that’s ok! There are definitely some cool things to check out, above all, all things Paul Cézanne!  The sun and warmth are amazing!!

I also spent a day in Marseille!  It’s only a half-hour bus ride from Aix, with many students at the main university traveling between the two.  *Advice: if you are 26 or under, bring a passport photo and you can get a 24-hour bus pass for only 2 euros* I unfortunately, did not have a passport photo and had to pay the full the full price but it still wasn’t too much money!

Marseille is absolutely gorgeous!  The ocean!!!! Oh my God the ocean!  I’ve never seen such vibrant blue/turquoise/cobalt ocean!  *Le sigh* I visited Le MUCEM, Palais Longchamp, and le quartier de la Vieille Charité which are all amazing!

On Thursday I woke up early to go to Paris.  I ended up having a 3.5ish hour layover in Lyon, which is also gorgeous.  A really cool mix between really chic and industrial and elegant and rustic.  There’s super-modern architecture as well as Greco-Roman ruins! Aix is a small town with lots of charm a mix between university students,families, and old people (and Paul Cézanne’s studio!) but, I think I’ve seen what I’ve need to see, but if I ever get a chance to go to Marseille, Lyon, or Avignon, which we briefly passed through, I’d be one happy camper!

I spent two nights in Paris and definitely got a lot of rest during the day on Friday.  That night, my friends, including my host for the night, went to the birthday/housewarming party for our lovely friend Alberto!  A very sweet evening and a chance to meet a few new people as well as those who I hadn’t seen in over a year.
On Halloween day, I took a bus back to Clermont-Ferrand, getting back just in time to get dressed and unpack a bit (and scare my new roommate whose first image of me is me in full drag as Frank-N-Furter getting crumbs on the floor).  Before heading over to the Halloween/birthday party for an American guy who did the same program as us but is now still in town doing more or less the same thing at the university level, a few of us met up, put finishing touches on our costumes. My shocked roomie– bless her heart– even did my eye make-up!  Halloween was a fun night!  I got to meet some other assistants as well as a few  Frenchies, while also confirming that I’ve got a  solid “group” here, which is awesome!
And…. I GOT PAID!!!!!!  I think that I’ll be able to do a good job of managing most expenditures now and I definitely feel a little less jumpy.    Of course, most of it went towards rent and groceries, especially as we won’t get a full-salary until the end of November.

This week it was back to the grind!  While, yes, I only teach 12 hours a week and, no, that is not a lot of time, but preparing for lessons and dealing with rowdier classes can get a bit tiring.  As someone who is very self-conscious, self-critical, and afraid of what others may think of me, it can be hard for me to feel comfortable with the amount of work I’m doing.  Am I boring the kids?  Am I going to slow?  Too fast?  Am I bad at disciplining kids when they’re talking too much?  Should I even attempt to discipline them? Am I not using enough visual or auditory devices?  Am I relying too much on them?

Thankfully, I’ve only done two weeks of teaching, so there’s plenty of time to improve. God only knows the French sure like taking their time with things– I still haven’t gotten most of the stuff I’ll need for my visa, sécurité sociale/health coverage, etc. in order for me to, y’know, stay in the country.  Also still waiting on the CAF which should reimburse me for part of my rent for the year. In the meantime, I’ll continue to prep for lessons, live off of foyer meals, cheap grains, produce, and wine, and good company.


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