Being a Language Assistant

A little video where I talk about my experience as an English language assistant in France.

 

Hope you like it,

Emma

xx

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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

 

24 hours in Avignon

So as the school holidays have arrived I have lots of free time on my hands. All of the girls have either gone home or are off travelling , leaving me alone for most of the holidays before I head off to Austria next week. I decided to book a little trip to break the week up and so booked a night away in Avignon. This was the first time that I had actually travelled on my own so I was excited to see how it would go. I got up nice and early on Wednesday morning and headed for the train station to catch my train. It was cheaper to travel in 1st class in the TGV so I thought why not, my first time in 1st class and I have to say it was very nice. Everything was going to plan until some truck decided to get stuck on the bridge meaning we couldn’t pass and so making the train delayed by 20 minutes. Normally I wouldn’t mind this I mean these things happen but when you only have a 15 minute connecting time between your two trains this makes it a little difficult, needless to say I missed the next train. This meant I had to book on to the next one which wasn’t for an hour and a half although the bright-side was that the lady booked me in 1st class again on the TGV which was great. I grabbed a muffin and a drink in Marseille as I waited to continue my journey. Finally 2 trains later and 2 hours later than planned I arrived in Avignon.

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Walking into the city walls from the station I got a very good feel about the city. I was a little early for checking into my hotel so I stopped in to a restaurant called Tost which I had seen when I looked up places to eat. You can get toasted sandwiches ( you would never have guessed from the name right) and also salads and then they do amazing juices. I had a toasted sandwich with mozzarella , tomato sauce and pesto and then a gorgeous juice. Sitting in the sun having my lunch was a great way to start my trip. Then I headed to my hotel to check in. I was staying in Hotel Central , a 3 star hotel right on the main street. It was lovely as you walk through a little courtyard to get to the hotel and then my room was on the top floor. It was small but perfect and had everything I need for my short trip. I changed and freshened up and then headed out to explore Avignon.

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Palais des Papes

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Point Saint Bénézet/ Point d’Avignon

I headed to the Palais des Papes, and the Rocher des Doms to explore. The Rocher des Doms is a lovely park which as you walk up gives you a lovely view all over Avignon and also of the Point d’Avignon as well. I then headed into the Palais des Papes which I had to pay for but at €9 it wasn’t too bad and it was impressive walking around all the different rooms and learning why so many popes called Avignon home in the past. After this I headed to explore and wander the streets and I also headed into some museums. Many of the museums were free for the week so I took full advantage and gazed at many pieces of art. After exploring some more I headed back to the hotel to relax for a bit and get freshened up to head out for dinner. I head to Place de l’Horloge as there were a few restaurants and lots of people and being alone I thought it would be nice and have a little atmosphere. Eating alone is a little weird and it takes hardly any time but it was all good, I had pizza (what’s new) and then there was nothing on the dessert menu that caught my eye so I just headed back to the hotel. I saw a bakery open on my way back so stopped in to grab a cake to eat curled up in bed watching television.

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When dining alone make sure you look the bomb!! Rocking double denim and in love ❤

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Thursday morning I was up early to have breakfast, which was your typical french buffet style with fresh bread , fruit and croissants. After this I checked out and head to explore for a little bit more before I had to head and get my train home. I headed to the Petit Palais museum which again was free for the day which was great. Then I just wandered around the streets stopping into a restaurant called Vivtto which was recommended to me by a friend for a mousse au chocolat and a juice as I wasn’t very hungry. Then it was time to hop on the train back  and this time it was direct which was great. When we arrived I had 10 minutes until the next bus which was grand although then someone was parked where the bus comes out and the bus hit them so there was a big hulabaloo and all the information had to be exchanged so we ended up getting off the bus and waiting to get the next one which was in a half an hour. It was a little annoying as all I wanted to do was get home. I eventually got there and spent the evening relaxing.

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Thank you Avignon

Although my trip was short and sweet it was lovely. For my first real solo adventure it was perfect and it definitely showed me that travelling alone can be fun and not scary at all. It certainly won’t be the last time I book a solo trip. I also vlogged my trip which you can watch here.

Emma

xx

Two Sleepy Villages

So as you saw in my last post I headed to Les Gorges du Verdon last week and while we were day tripping we stopped off in two little villages to break up the drive.  The first one we stopped was a small little village on the way called Comp-sur-Artuby . It is a very small village surrounded by mountains with little streets. It is very small and on the gloomy Saturday morning it was like a little ghost village. We headed out to explore the village and stretch the legs after being in the car for about an hour. There were some really cute houses and great views. We climbed up to a church that gave us a view over the whole village and the mountains around us. We also made two new friends with a dog and a cat who led the way up to the church and acted kind of like tour guides which was cute. After our short stop it was back on the road.

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Our friendly tour guides.

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Our next stop was on our way back when we made a little de-tour to Tourtour which is another little village. There was a little bit more activity in Tourtour as it was after lunch and it was a little bit bigger. We wandered around once again taking in the town which had some lovely little streets lined with stone houses giving me house envy at every second. Up at the church we were able to see out over the whole valley which was amazing. The weather was a little chilly and we had been exploring all day so we stopped into a bar for a hot chocolate to heat us up. We again made friends with another dog who really wanted some hot chocolate.  It was nice wandering around the little quite village taking it all in before we headed back to the car to drive back to Draguignan.

Emma

xx

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Les Gorges du Verdon

So ever since we have arrived here everyone has been telling us to head to see the Gorges du Verdon. We looked them up and thought yes this would be amazing for a day trip but there was only one problem….we had no way of getting there. There is no train station or a bus to get there so without a car it made it very difficult but we found a way. Two of the girls went with a few of their teachers one weekend for a hike and they confirmed that they truly are amazing which just made us want to go even more… always want what you can’t have:).  Well luck was on my side in the shape of Klara’s (the Austrian assistant) mam who was driving to come pick Klara up as her contract was over a month earlier than ours. They had planned to head to the Gorges Du Verdon on the Saturday before leaving and very kindly offered to take me and one of the other assistants along too. What better way to spend our last day together than to go on a little road trip.

20170401_122035We got up bright and early and set of, it would take us about 2 hours or so to get there but that would also involve lots of stopping off for photos. We headed to the boulangerie to stock up on croissants for breakfast and some sandwiches for lunch on the road and then we were good to go.  We headed up and up out of the valley where Draguignan is situated and continued to twist and turn which I have to say was not the best for my stomach but the views were amazing so that made up for it. With rolling hills on either side it was strange to think we only lived about 15 minutes from this but had never seen it, the disadvantages of having no car. We made a stop in a little village along the way which I will give a separate post to so look out for that, then it was back on the road.

20170401_11512620170401_113633I don’t think I had quite prepared for how spectacular the view would be but I was not prepared for what I saw. Pulling into the side of the road for I think photo stop 1 of about 6 or 7 , all we could see was a sheer drop with a faint colour of blue at the end. Risking it to get the photo but trying not to fall off the edge of the cliff we thought we would head on to the next spot to maybe get a better shot. Then we saw a little pathway and decided to follow it which led us to a viewing platform which definitely gave us a better view. It was spectacular. The grey rock faces juxtaposed which the aqua blue of the river was just amazing. It was a little scary looking down because it was quite a drop and I didn’t want my phone falling to it’s death but just wow! It really makes you think just how amazing nature really is.

20170401_13220920170401_130006After a few more stops we arrived at the lake and it was time to get the sandwiches out for our picnic. I liked to think of it as a very Irish picnic because the weather was not on our side so we ate them in the car but  it was nice looking out over the lake and we still got some pictures.  After this we decided to head back , of course taking another de-tour to another little village which I will give a separate post to (you’ll get my little joke then).

20170401_115430It was so nice spending the day exploring and before we had to say goodbye to Klara which is always horrible but we have a reunion in Austria in less than 2 weeks so it’s all good. Also from listening to her, her mam and her mam’s friend all speaking German in the car I now what to learn German 🙂 This year has made me want to learn every language under the sun from french to Italian to German to Spanish. I’ll find the time some day.

If you get a chance to head to the Gorges du Verdon I would definitely recommend it, maybe on a day when the sun is shining but that is not always possible. I would love to head back and hike some of it because I’m sure that would be amazing.

Emma

xx

 

Hyeres

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So last week we decided to tick another destination off our travel list and we headed to Hyeres for the day for a bit of exploring. We met up with an Italian assistant there who kindly showed us around. We spent the day basking in the sunshine , walking up to the ruins of the chateau , having lunch in the park and finally ending by heading to the beach to relax until we had to head home.

Hyeres is such a nice little town and it was great to wander around with the sun shining down on us, spring has arrived. Instead of me telling you a play by play of our day I thought I would just show you some of the photos I took. I will definitely be heading back to Hyeres to explore more .

Emma

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The Chateau

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A view from the top out over Hyeres

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Ending the day on the beach

Birthday Celebrations in Cannes

So it was my birthday last week (Feb 17th!!!) which was very exciting, I am officially 23, ahhh , getting older. Anyway my parents decided to come over for the weekend to see me and to celebrate. After showing them around Draguignan for a little bit we headed to Cannes for the weekend. Driving along the coast road to Cannes was amazing, with the sun shining on to the blue sea, it was just an endless canvas of blue in contrast with the red rock cliffs, it really was beautiful.

When we arrived we headed to our hotel where we had a little 1 bed room apartment which was perfect. It was also a 2 minute walk from the sea and about 10 minutes from the centre of Cannes so perfectly located (good-job Mam). When we arrived it was nearly time for dinner so we chilled in the apartment for a little bit and then got ready to head out for my birthday dinner. We headed to a pizza restaurant called La Pizza Cresci which I have to say was probably some of the best pizza I have eaten, and I have eaten a lot of pizza but it was perfect. When we sat down the waiter heard us saying “Happy Birthday” to me and he also wished me happy birthday, I thought this was the end of it but it wasn’t. We ordered dessert and when mine came it came with a little candle and the waiters and restaurant started singing happy birthday to me , in french of course. I don’t like when a small group of people sing happy birthday to me never mind a whole restaurant,  who also all started clapping afterwards. To say I went a little red would be an understatement , think the colour of a tomato. I swiftly blew out the candle and dived into my fondant au chocolate , all the while trying to calm the colour on my face. It was a lovely thing for then to do even if I did get completely embarrassed but who wouldn’t with a whole restaurant singing to you. After this we made the walk back to our apartment along the beach with the waves crashing against the shore which was lovely.

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Me after getting completely embarrassed, you can’t see my red face when it’s in black and white 🙂

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The next day we all had a well deserved lie-in before figuring out our plan for the day. The weather once again was lovely so we decided to head out and explore Cannes. I had been before Christmas with the girls but I knew there was much more to explore so i was excited. There really was something beautiful with every turn and I began to fall a little bit in love with Cannes. Wandering through the old town with the little streets and cute houses either side, I could really imagine myself living there. We headed towards the beach to walk along the sea and we saw a ‘Petit train’ which we thought we would take. It is kind of a running joke with a petit train in our family because I think we have taken one in literally every town that we have been in. If you don’t know it is a little train that takes you around the town and you can listen to commentary about the history if you want. It is a real touristy thing to do but it is a great way to see a town and places you probably wouldn’t have walked to. With our little train ride over we decided to get a drink and a crepe on the sea front as we were a little hungry. I went for a gaufre nutella which was stunning, and looking out over the sea on Cannes was definitely a great place to eat it. We then headed back to the apartment to relax a little and get ready for dinner once again. This time we headed to another little restaurant/ brasserie called  Cristal Cafe. I had a gorgeous tagliatelle carbonara which was great, sticking with the Italian theme for the weekend with food.

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The next day we got up early to take the train to Monaco but I am going to do a separate blog post on that because otherwise this one would take you forever to read so look out for that one coming soon….

When we returned from Monaco we headed back to the apartment to relax and then headed out for dinner. This time we headed for La Piazza which we had looked at for our first night but then changed our minds. I was in the mood for pizza (yet again) so it was perfect. It is the first place that I have seen in France that does a pizza with pineapple on it which is my favourite and it didn’t disappoint. Along with this I had a mousse au chocolat for the first time since being in France this time which was amazing. We had a superb last night and all too soon it was time to get up and head back. My parents flight was not until late on Monday evening so we decided to head up to Grasse in the morning before they dropped me back home. The weather once again was lovely and it was nice walking around Grasse and taking a tour of one of the perfume factories. We were only there for a short time and as it was a Monday it was very quiet but I can see the place bustling in summer with people from all over the world coming to see how they make their famous perfume.

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Once again another amazing sunset!

We then headed back to Draguignan where we had lunch before I sent mam and dad off to catch their plane home. It was lovely to spend the weekend with them and do some exploring. Now I have time to have a little rest and get myself prepared before school starts again next week.

Look out for the Monaco post coming soon…

Emma

xx

 

 

Lyon in Lights

It feels like ages ago but it was actually only last weekend that we headed to Lyon to see the Fête des Lumières. I had heard so much about it and everyone had always said it was amazing so seeing as we were only 4 hours away we made the last minute decision to visit just for one night. We headed off on Friday afternoon with our new friend from Blablacar which is a car sharing website were you can travel with someone who is heading to your destination as well. It was my first time ever using it but it was great, our driver was very nice and it was cheaper than getting the train so win win, he also dropped us right to our Airbnb which was very nice. Our Airbnb was a little apartment with just enough room for the three of us but we were only sleeping there so we didn’t mind. Then we headed out into cold Lyon for the evening, and man was it cold. I have become so accustomed to our winter in the Cotes d’Azur , I am currently wearing a t-shirt on the 17th of December (madness) that I was really hit by the cold. Wrapped up in hat, scarf and gloves  it was actually nice as it made me think of winter at home and Christmas when you wrap up warm.

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For the festival the whole centre of the town is closed off to traffic so that you can roam around and see all of the light installations which run from 8pm to midnight. It was nice walking around the city with all the amazing lights . I will let the pictures (and video here) talk for themselves but they really were magnificent and something I would recommend . How they made such simple things of lights and a building look so magical is amazing. After spending the whole night walking around we heading back to our Airbnb to warm up and get some sleep. We were then up early Saturday morning to explore Lyon in the day time and check out the Christmas markets before getting our train back. I was also reunited with my favourite dish Poutine for a short while which made me extremely happy.

It was just a quick trip but it was definitely worth it to see all the lights and I will of course be heading back to Lyon to spend more time there and explore the town a bit more.

Now it is officially Christmas as I finished my classes yesterday and I am heading home tomorrow for 2 weeks for the holidays . I can’t wait for all the Christmas shenanigans with the family.

Emma

xx

Holidays are over

The start of this week was spent recuperating after our travels and then preparing for our classes this week. I have successfully lesson planned for the next 4 weeks so hopefully we won’t have a repeat our my first week when I just winged it . It’s amazing what a bit of organisation can do.

I might regret writing this part considering my mother and aunts read this blog but here goes nothing I have shared all my other experiences so far… So I am on Tinder as I am sure many people are, it’s a great way to talk to people and here I have found it’s great , a nice way to practice my french and maybe meet some new people, and well that is what happened. I was talking to one guy who offered to be my tour guide for the day and I thought why not, what have I got to loose. Of course after sending his picture and details to about 5 friends just in case, our little day date was this week and it was lovely. We went to Ile Saint Marguerite just off the coast of Cannes.  This is what you get from talking to locals because I didn’t even know there were islands you could visit there. We took the short boat ride over and then spent a couple of hours walking around and chatting. I was extremely proud of myself that I was able to last the whole time speaking french and was actually able to make conversation. I have to say I didn’t understand everything and I’m sure I made every error in the book but I got through it. Other than the fact that we had to make a dash for the boat , everything went smoothly and I got to see an amazing sunset from the boat on the way back. So there you go, that was my Tinder Travels this week as I am calling it, it’s a great way to meet people I have to say. Of course be smart about it and don’t go  meeting someone in an alley at night but during the day surrounded by people and you should be okay and just leave if not. I’m sure after my mother reads this there will be some questions but oh well.

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Cannes from Ile Saint Marguerite

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Sunsets, need I say more…..

After this is it was back to class on Thursday for more dancing and singing as I thought my classes about their body.  I have to say the blank faces are becoming less or maybe I am imagining it but I think we are getting somewhere. When I ask ‘What is your name?’ and I get a correct response , I call that a success at this stage. Of course we only had classes Thursday and Friday so it was only a short week and then it was time for the weekend again.

Saturday morning came I spent most of it chilling in bed doing nothing which was great. Saturday night a teacher from a couple of the girls school invited us out for drinks with a few other people which was nice. We went to a bar for a few drinks (an Irish bar none the less) and a chat. Although the talking part didn’t really work out as there was a live band, who were great but didn’t really let you get a word in. After a couple of hours we decided to head to a bowling alley that was just across the way as it was open late and it was a little quieter. I was very proud of myself getting a strike and coming 4th if you don’t mind. By the time we finished it was 1′ o clock in the morning which is probably the latest I have been out while I have been here, haha. We couldn’t decided on somewhere else to go and most places were closed so we just headed home , kindly driven by our new friends who had picked us up too because we rely on public transport. It was a nice night with some new people and then we spent Sunday in bed because we didn’t get back until 2:30am and well France basically shuts down on a Sunday as well .

So that is it for this week,quite a relaxed one filled with lesson planning.

Emma

xx