Another Adventure Over

So as I write this I’m sitting on the boat waiting to leave France. I finished my year as a language assistant a week ago before spending a couple of days away with my parents but now it is time to say ‘Au Revoir‘ to France for the time being. This year has been amazing and better than I thought it would be and I was a little sad to leave my schools. From the chorus of ‘no’s’ and ‘please stay’ to all of the lovely pictures and gifts that I got from my three schools it certainly made it a little hard to leave. Along with that I had to leave the girls in the apartment not knowing when we would see each other in person again, the problem with us all living in different countries. Travelling to a different country not knowing who you are going to be staying with can be hard, you never know if you will get along or how the year will go. I was very fortunate that we all got along so well and became like a little family, moaning about school problems together and going on day trips to avoid boredom setting in. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls to pass the year with.

Before setting off to be an assistant I didn’t really know what I would be doing and the idea that I had was not very accurate so lets talk about a few things you might want to know before becoming a language assistant. Of course as I was in France the paperwork and ‘l’adminstration’ was complicated, I think they must have a form to fill out for every little thing that goes on in society so be prepared. From the schools to health insurance to the infamous CAF you will probably spend half of your time filling out forms that you have already filled out a thousand times before. Also be prepared to have about 100 photocopies of every document you have because you never know when they might asked for ‘your mother’s mother’s birth cert‘ or something ridiculous. Once everything is filled out be prepared then to wait an eternity for a response, they aren’t going to rush, sure they take 2 hours for lunch so that stamp on that form can wait until tomorrow.

Another thing to note is to not be fooled by the name of the job ‘assistant de langue’, of course literally translated this means language assistant and when you hear this you think yes I’ll be in the classroom assisting the teacher with English. Well that is what I thought as well but let’s be honest that’s not what I was doing. I was basically the teacher for 30-45 minutes which when you arrive the first day is very daunting, thinking you will only be helping a little bit but are actually teaching the whole class when you have nothing prepared is certainly one way to start the experience. Let’s just say that after that I was lesson planning every week to make sure that never happened again. The old favourites of Simon Says and Bingo are great when you have no idea what to do. I would say be prepared to be in front of a class of 25-30 eager kids staring at you waiting to say something. Preparation is key and I wish someone had told me that before I came over, would have made my first week a little easier.

Even though I had many days when I would come home to the apartment and have a moaning session with one of the girls about the french school system in the end it all worked out. When you see the progression in even one child from the day you come in to the day you leave. Maybe they have a little bit more confidence when they speak or can proudly say ‘My name is‘ then it all makes it worth it. As I told myself there is only so much that I can do in the short time that I am there but I can give them the basics and make my classes as fun as possible. Those were the things that made the experience, everyday walking into the school to a chorus of ‘Hello Emma‘ and ‘Are you doing English with us today?’ to meeting my kids on the street and hearing the whispers ‘C’est le prof d’anglais’ as explication to their parents who were looking at me strangling thinking who are you saying hello to my child.

I would certainly recommend being a language assistant to anyone who is doing a foreign language. It is a great way to travel and see a new country, you only work 12 hours a week so you have plenty of time to explore. You will get to meet some amazing people in the other assistants who you will party with having only said hello to them once about 2 months ago at orientation. You will get to have some amazing classes basically acting like a child again, that is if you do primary and of course there were people who did not have the best of experiences with their classes but for me it was all positive. It true that there may be days when you really just want to shake the kids when after 4 months of doing the same to questions every class and they still don’t know, or when your teachers are just getting on your nerves or nothing is going right but hang in there. In the end you will look back and think that they were the things that made the experience and made you a stronger person for sticking it out.

Alors c’est au revoir pour le moment la France mais je reviendrai , c’est sur.

A bientôt.

Emma

xx

 

Holidays have arrived

So this week I think Draguignan finally decided it was October because up until now the weather has been pretty good but for the last week it has been windy and raining and just generally pretty crappy.  This week was the beginning of the holidays of Toussaint so I only had school on Tuesday and Wednesday which was nice. I spent the week talking about Halloween and trying to explain the traditions that we do. We got there in the end with the use of flashcards,me explaining things about a thousand times and also acting things out like an idiot. I can now see that this year is going to be part teaching and part me acting like an idiot but hey if the kids learn something by the end it will be worth it. I am also still like a celebrity in the schools, every time I walk in I am greeted with a chorus of ‘hello‘, it is very nice I have to say but I wonder how long it will last until the novelty wears off.

Also this week after having a cold and then talking so much my voice gave out and by Thursday it was pretty much gone, luckily I didn’t have classes. It was a strange feeling because I talk ALOT and I thought I had built up a tolerance for talking but no , one week of teaching and it was gone.  The old favourite of hot water and honey plus me not talking at all and it is back and right as rain which is good. It would be a bit hard to be an English teacher with no voice.

As I said we started our holidays on Thursday so we spent Thursday and Friday just relaxing and talking some time to recharge. We planned to head on a little trip on Saturday but the bus time tables just weren’t being our friend. We could get to our destination but then the bus back would have already left, there was no logic in it. Seeing as we didn’t have any plans I decided to head to the market on Saturday morning as I hadn’t had the opportunity to go up to now. Markets in France are one of my favourite things and I remember when I was on Erasmus we spent nearly every Saturday morning just wandering around the market. The sights, smells and sounds are amazing, friends gossiping away in french , the smell as you walk by the cheese stand or the sound of sizzling skin on the roasting chicken. The really are a feast for the senses and such a lovely way to spend a morning, especially when the sun us shining. I decided to get a chocolate éclair to treat myself which I have to say was an amazing idea. The French really do know how to do bread and cakes properly.

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We have a little balcony in our apartment and as the sun sets right in front of it sometimes when you look out you can get the most amazing view of the sky all lit up. There is also a very large tree that is in the way and kind of blocks the view but it still looks amazing so I’ll forgive it, haha!!!

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Now with the holidays we are planning on doing some trips so hopefully my next post will be filled with photos and my thoughts on new places. Also the good weather seems to have returned and as I write this the sun is shining so I don’t think they have really got the memo here that it is October.

Until next time,

Emma

xx

 

Making the most of the days

As this week has only been an observation week we have been trying to make the most of the days when we aren’t doing anything before we start teaching next week. Along with this there is not very much to do in Draguignan so we have to try go out and do things otherwise we would go mad in the next few weeks. First up on the agenda was a afternoon trip to Saint Raphael. The bus in the Var region is only €3 for a single trip so we wanted to take advantage of this even if the bus does go through every little town and somehow makes it through the narrow streets without crashing into anything. We set off in the afternoon and after 1hr 30mins we arrived in Saint Raphael which is a lovely village by the coast. It was nice to get out and see the sea because being by the sea is one of my absolute favourite things, I could sit and listen to the waves crashing against the beach all day. There was not very much to see in the town but it was nice to have a look around anyway and it was gorgeous and sunny as well so we made the most of it. Boulangeries and Patisseries are everywhere in France and they are so good that stopping myself from buying things everyday is a challenge because everything looks so good. As we were out for the day I decided to treat myself to some ‘macrons‘ as I had never really had them before. I got a chocolate, lemon and caramel one and then popped back to eat them by the sea. Is there any better way to spend a Wednesday afternoon? Getting the bus meant that we were a little restricted for time but it was still a lovely day. I also got a post card to add to my collection of all the places I have been. I have it proudly stuck up on my wardrobe to give my room a little decoration as I haven’t gotten anything else to stick on the walls yet to make it more homely.

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Watching the waves crashing in Saint Raphael

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My caramel macron, so photogenic and tasted amazing.

When it comes to the weekend in Draguignan as I said there is not much to do, we can’t pop out to bop the night away unfortunately. Friday came and not wanting to spend it in again we decided to head out and try find a little bar to have a drink in for a change of scenery.  Of course as with many places in the world there is an Irish pub in the town centre so we popped in for a drink and a chat. After a late-ish night on Friday come Saturday morning all I wanted to do was chill out and catch up on the Bake Off now that I have internet. After spending the morning relaxing we thought we would get some culture in and head to the cinema. The tickets bought we settled in to watch ‘Radin’ a french film about a man who hates to spend money and how his life changes when his long lost daughter comes into his life. Although I have to say I didn’t understand every word it was actually a very good film with some parts that made you laugh out loud.

Sunday’s in France are a day when the world pretty much stops, shops close and people mainly stay inside and have family time. Luckily for us some of the bus routes still run which meant that we could make a day trip to Toulon for a little picnic by the beach with some other assistants.After a 2 hour bus ride which went through every town possible  we finally arrived. The weather was lovely and it was nice to go and see a new city and meet some new people. Having eventually found the right beach  we had a very french picnic with bread, cheese and wine, stereotype alive and well. It was lovely to sit and relax by the sea with some nice food and new people and just relax. Again due to bus restrictions we didn’t really get to explore the city so I will definitely have to head back and see what the city has to offer. I have to get a post card for my collection if nothing else.

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Le Port du Toulon

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Place de la Liberté, Toulon.

Now it’s time to get ready for our first week of teaching. I am still waiting on my timetable for 2 of my schools but they don’t seem to be worried so I’m trying not to but it is a little strange. I’m sure everything will be sorted Monday morning and I’ll be able to relax. I already have children’s songs stuck in my head that I have been trying to learn to teach the kids so it’s going to be a fun year.

I’ll let you know how the first week goes and if anything exciting happens.

Emma

xx

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Perfection, Saint Raphael.