Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Things that are not so beau about having my jobs.

I am currently wearing two teaching hats and I'm not sure if they fit. You see, I work in 3 primary schools and one university. This week I remarked that this stark difference was actually a blessing, one soothes the other's wounds so to speak but there are definately things that aren't so rosey about either situation.

Take the uni for example, I am not a permament member of staff, a vacataire if you want to learn a french word. This is cosy as I get paid tres well for the honour but has annoying consequences too. I go in every Tuesday to photocopy my lessons for the Wednesday. The photocopying department comprises of one lovely man, but he's not always there. Not so problematic if you work there permamently, you just go have another coffee, go back to your warm office, but poor old me, nowhere to go except home. This is just what I've done. Walked to uni, the man with the photocopying power isn't there, back in an hour was post-it noted on his door, so I've had to walk back home and then I'll have to make the trip back later. I could have stayed there and hung out with the coffee machine, but it's such a waste of time. Either way I've wasted time. It's annoying!

The primary school job is far from being cosy in any way. It's exhasting and frustrating, with only tiny glimmers of good moments. i have this one class where if I died right in front of them, only 4 or 5 would notice and only 2 would care, such is the lack of respect/enthusiasm. Their main teacher seems to have totally given up on them behaving in my classes and he just shrugs his shoulders. They were so bad last lesson that I wanted to cry. I've had much better success with another class in the same school where there has been a real turn around in their behaviour and yet it still isn't good enough. They were being partiularly rowdy during a game recently but it was because they so totally engrossed in the game. When someone won the game everyone went crazy - yes, i've won, oh pants, i only needed one more card etc etc..... and the teacher comes storming in thinking I can't control the class. He was really cheesed off with me. So, the one class where i need his help, he can't see the point, and the other where they are very motivated but noisey, he thinks i can't control the class. I can't win. The oily thing that works with the terrible class is the idea of competition. If they think they can beat the other team, it's serious business. But I think I've already mentioned that they are evil about it and they pick the weakest members of the opposite team to play against. Oh, and they cheat something awful. It's just not nice and spoils it for the ones that genuinely want to play.

Having said all these things, I am enjoying the uni work, and the primary school work has it's moments. Like watching a school prepare for the christmas carol concert today and hear them sing 'jingle bells' and 'we wish you a merry christmas' that I'd taught them. :oD

Monday, 19 November 2007

Time to take stock

Going home a few weeks ago was great. It was so nice to see my parents, meet my gorgeous new baby cousin and see my best friend who lives in London. But as usual coming back to France was diffiicult. I am just reminded about how different my life is here.

I would kill (any government worker in france) for a group of girlfriends that i could call up and go for coffee/go shopping with, but it just aint happening! Crystal, a fellow madwoman who stayed in the North of France to be with her frenchie, hates the North of France but I've always held out, thinking it's nice, there's everything you need etc etc. Yes, except friends and a support network! I know this type of thing takes time, but how long ? I've already lived in Amiens a year - i'm not sure how much longer I'm prepared to exist here in my current existence. Unfortunately I can't 'live' on Julien. It's just not possible!

On a brighter note, last week, a few of the uni students told me that the uni had a real need for 'new blood' teacher-wise and that I was it! They said that they really like my approach to lessons, and they felt they had improved since the start of the year! wooooooo! I was very happy to hear this,, as you can imagine!

Today I have started doing Christmas songs with the children. Shakin Stevens, Merry Christmas, everyone. It's epic and a very brave choice from the teacher. oh well, if all else fails, i can always resort to the usual 'we wish you a merry christmas' or 'jingle bells' like I'm doing with all the other classes. their christams concerts are in december, one of them on the 8th, so wish me luck - there's not much time!

ok, i better finish as I can no longer feel my fingers - it's freezing here!

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Home is where the baby is

I am sooooo looking forward to going home on Saturday! It's been 3 long months since I was last home. Things I'm looking forward to:

1. seeing the olds and Sammy of course
2. watching crap on tv. I'm hoping I can pick up the storyline to Hollyoaks in under 2 minutes.
3. meeting my new baby cousin called Niamh.

Actually, it seems there is baby fever in the air. Recently we've been saying 'congratulations' a lot. Julien's friends have just had a baby called Axel, a family friend had a baby called Loriane (i think it's spely like that...)....when Ju's brother rang up last night to ask if we'd heard the new, we replied, yea, she's called Loriane blah blah blah, but no, that wasn't the news! Ju's bro's girlfriend, Celine is pregnant! I screamed down the phone like any respected woman would do while julien started to discuss the train journey they would have to take at christmas rather than the car journey! Typical man eh?!

I keep pinching myself to believe it's true! I was very touched when Francois (ju's bro) said that I now had the decision between two words for auntie...Tata and Tatie. Yes, i'm becoming a tata emma. Or a tatie emmy!! hehe. Anyway, I was touched that they really do think of me as family. It's a total shame that they have just moved to Toulouse to be closer to Celine's family. I was gutted when they left as Celine was the closest thing I had to a french girlfriend here! grrr. Oh well, all the more reason to go and visit them !! I haven't spoken to Ju's mum yet but I'm sure she was overjoyed and probably screamed louder than I did!!

So, back to normal things, I smell burning coming from my oven....lunch is served!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Blood sweat and tears

A lot changes in 48 hours here!

Yesterday, a teacher trainer came to see me teach a class of monsters and told me that I should play more games with them - they could be playing up because they are bored....yes, but my thinking is that they play up now so i don't want to get them more excitable and hard to control. can't win.

Straight after she left, I had another lesson in the same school and a boy poked a girl in the back with a compass. She cried and then all hell broke loose. The headmaster came in and to prove that it didnt hurt, the boy poked himself in the arm 3, 4 times with the compass, and promptly bled. everywhere. Onto the table and everything. Great.

Today, I was even struggling with my usually calm nice class. The teacher said that I should play games with them that doesn't involve standing up etc etc. Again, something totally opposite to what I have been advised to do. During break time, all the little girls were playing with my flashcards and a tiny boy came over. I said in French, you alright? and he burst out into tears! Even the girls were completely perplexed to why he was crying. The teacher came over, took him away and I heard him saying 'I'm scared of her' (ie, me!) charming! The teacher then proceeded to explain that I was nice and that I liked sweets and chocolate etc etc. (!) I know it's qute normal for children to be a little frightened if someone speasks another langauge to them, but I asked him how he was in French! I'm losing my touch eh?!

All this after a fab moment of winning over a monsterette. She's renowed to be difficult in class and was a nightmare in my first lesson but I have won her over with the song 'one potato, two potato, three potato, four.... ' She ran up to me at the end of the lesson yesterday and told me she liked playing the game and even helped me collect the blobs of blutac off the blackboard! result! I just need to match the excitement of one potato....to keep her on my side. Heads shoulders knees and toes anyone!?

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Could it be magic?

Just had to write and say that for the first time in my French life, I got mistaken for a frenchie. Or more importantly, the person didn't realise I was an anglophone. It's a miracle and fab!! I've been here two years and 3 weeks now. To be precise, this happened yesterday. (for future reference). A teacher at one of my schools who i met for the first time thought I was a 'normal' person until one of the children said ''ello Emma'. Then she turned and said 'oooh, i didn't realise you were the English teacher.....I thought you were French.
The excitement has been short lived. Just bumped into some builders in my building and with one muttering of a response from a question, he replied 'you are English? voila. Oh well, I will store up the excitement for another day when I need a boost. I will keep this information next to the dairy milk and tea bags.
Had 4 hours teaching at uni today. It actually went ok. One lesson better than the other, but I am feeling more at ease now in the classroom and actually plan too much. Ie, i need to plan less ie, spend less time doing it. Now, that's what I like to hear!

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

hurry up and slow down

Wow, i didn't realise it's been a whole month and a bit since I updated my blog. That's crazy. I can hardle remeber how i felt a month and a bit ago because the NOW is taking up so much of my time. I wish it would all slow down and that I could have some free time.

I started working at the uni in september. 4 little hours a week. two tiny classes of 4th and 5th year engineering students. one HUGE stress for Emma. It's exhausting. The students are really demanding 'Is this going to be in the exam?' 'Is this relevant?', 'Why are we doing this?'...'This is too easy.....' .nightmare. I'm struggling. Think ant in marmite.

On top of that, I finally started my third year as an English Langugae Assistant. What was I thinking?! I'm working in 3 primary schools. I've only been there a week, but I have already booked my appointment at the hairdressers to cover the grey hairs that I will be getting. Might also need throat surgery. I'm shouting THAT much. In a meer week, I have been called 'conne' (very rude way of saying stupid), had a ball thrown at me, had to deal with a kid that was poked in the eye by a pencil thrown by another kid.......these children at at max, 10 years old. yikes. I'm in trouble n'est-ce que pas.

I work 12 hours spread over 4 days at the primary schools, and have to walk everywhere. some days, I walk for 90 mins. I'm shattered! On no school day, ie, Wednesday (children at primary schools don't go on a Wednesday) I work my 4 hours at the uni. With all the preparation I have to do.....it's currently taking me at least 6 hours to prepare 4 hours uni lessons, I am lucky if I get Sunday off. Unfortunately, this last Sunday, I spent 2 hours cutting out flashcards and laminating them for my primary schools classes for the week. So, maybe not.

Ok, that's all folks, I will try to update more often,
I'm off to watch super nanny a la francaise.

Friday, 31 August 2007

Well, that was the summer

I can't believe that August has been and gone! Crazy!

At the beginning of August my best friend came to visit me for the second time in 2 months. She obviously wasn't put off by the frigtening pidgeon incident the first time she visited Amiens!

Straight after, we went to the South of France, cap d'agde, like we did last year. I can't believe it was a WHOLE year ago that I went on holiday with Julien and his family. and here I am again, cap d'agde II. Everything was better...the weather was great - not one drop of rain, I didn't get ill, no mosquito bites, and I was able to talk! Yes, my French has improved, it's official. I can see it from making a comparison from this time last year on holiday where Julien had to translate what I said (in French I would like to add) so that his parents would understand! haha.

After cap d'agde, we went to Grenoble just the two of us for a couple of days, and I think I love Grenoble. It was gorgeous. Grenoble is a completely flat town completely surrounded by mountains. beautiful. We bought a booklet from th tourist information centre that gave us good deals on all the tourist attractions and we used it to the max for 48 hours. We had a personal guided tour of the town, took the tourist train (!) did 3 museaums, and most spectaculary took the cable car up the mountain where the view was breath taking and where we had a theatrical tour of the fortifications of the mountain and ate dinner in the restaurant with a panoramic view. bliss.

I was sad to leave, but like I once famously said to my best friend 'it's not moving anywhere' I can always go back!

Last weekend was momentous in my emmygration. I went to my first French hen night! I was really worried that I wouldn't like it. I felt I was only invited because Julien was going on the stag night and that I wouldn't understand everything and that no one would really bother with me! but it was FAB!

we dressed the hen up as obelix (as in asterix - soooo french) and went into town and got her to do challenges as is the tradition in france. She had to busk in the street, get her Tshirt signed, get kisses off ginger people (that was my idea - careful.......). Obelix is ginger you see! Then we went 10 pin bowling which was hysterical for her in her costume. She wasn't able to bowl straight because her 'arse' was so wide! haha. It was here we set her her hardest challenge. Selling toilet paper sheet by sheet! She did it though! and got 40euros for her troubles! Was great! After the bowling, we stuffed our faces and went clubbing (her, still in her costume!).

All in all, it was brilliant and I'm proud of myself. It was the first time I've been out with a group of french girls, and the first time that I've been out with French people without Julien there to help me out when I didn't understand. :o)

Next week I start my new job at an engineering university in Amiens. A mere 5 minutes from my apartment. It's only 4 hours a week, but it's an opening. I am worried how i'm going to 'entertain' the students for 2 hours at a time, I'll just have to be super organised. I've been told that their level is not good at all. I'll just have to wait and see........

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Summer Camp was amazing

So, I've been in Taunton in England for two weeks doing a summer camp for children from 8-12 year olds. In the morning there were 3 hours of teaching English, and then the rest of the time I was helping with the organised activities. There were 49 children there, mainly French with a sprinkling of Russians, Italians, Spanish, and one German and one Japanese boy.

The whole experience was incredible and I'd just like to jot down a few memories:

1. being woken up to the sound of screaming boys - there was a spider in their room. Being terrified myself of spiders made me find someone else to deal with the problem!
2. being taught Russian by a 9 year old girl called Nastasia. She spoke only Russian to me for half an hour and we played a card game - I had to work out the rules myself as I had no idea was going on! I can now say 'i love you ' in russian amongst other things.
3. breaking up a physical fight between two French boys. easier said than done.
4. numerous translating duties
5. dancing a slow song at the disco with an 8 yr old boy who was no higher than my chest! comedy moment for the other teachers!
6. teaching to adorable children and feeling very very proud when they got good marks in the tests.
7. re adorable children - was teaching them 'have to' and 'can' and the difference between these verbs. When I asked one boy during a break 'do you have to use your mobile phone?'....he replied......'I don't have to, but I can'......before turning and fleeing! I didn't know whether to kill him or kiss him!

It was truly an amazing experience. Absolutely exhausting, but amazing. I'm sure I'll be going back next year!

The journey back yesterday was touch and go though! The floods were so bad that the station after my home town was flooded and all the other passengers were stranded. Thank god I live in the middle of nowhere! yay! I'd got up at 3.30am to put the children on buses to the airport and wouldn't have been impressed if I'd got stranded somewhere en route home!

Thursday, 5 July 2007

The comedy sketch show that is my life

The thing is, comedy sketch shows are usually funny, at least in places. Unfortunately, mine just seems to be a relentless string of unfunny situations. An unfunny situation can be dealt with, and we all often do, in a way that we can see the funny side in the end. I think I'm past this point.

I've really not been having much luck recently. In fact, I'm sure some divine force is strictly against me and its definitely not me who's laughing. Yesterday I spent most of the day feeling sorry for myself, catching up with my old friends and filling them in on my pathetic life. Today, I felt much better about things and tried to sort a few things out. So, in need of some ID since my driving license is to be taken from me due to medical reasons, I look on the internet and find a thing called a citizencard. They need a referee to make say that yes, my date of birth is correct blah blah, so i give them my doctor's address. No problem. Then I ring up the doctor to tell them to expect to be contacted, and low and behold...my doctor will charge me for verifying that my date of birth that I gave is indeed correct. How disgusting is that?! This is the same doctor who told me that they would charge £120 for looking at my medical notes in order to tell a future employer that I was fit to work. You can imagine my response to that one! (I saw a locum doctor in the end who simply stamped my page happily and said 'have a good trip'.) haha.

I guess there will always be people who want to profit from someone else's misfortune, but this time I can say that my life is turning into a joke.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

The babars have left the building!

Once upon a time there was a girl, who lived in an apartment with her boyfriend. Unfortunately they had very VERY VERY noisy neighbours who the girl called the babars due to their stomping about, loud music, noisy meowing cats and most of all crazy arguments, day or night.

For months, 8 to be precise, the girl tried to cope with the noise, until she could no longer put up with it and was looking for other apartments with the hope of fleeing. But one day, not too long ago, the noise got so bad (think hammers banging at 1am) that the kind boyfriend rang the landlord to complain for the 3rd time. "Behold, fear not dear tenants, for the evil babars are moving out today". The galant boyfriend came home to a distressed girl, only to change her mood into one of elation. The champagne was put in the fridge. and it was drunk. and it was good.....but the silence upstairs was better.


You know the saying about waiting for a bus....

Well, this is an analogy of course, because I walk everywhere in Amiens.....

Last week I was feeling particularly closed in in the apartment. I made my Mum laugh hysterically after I told her I've started talking to the homeless people who sit on a bench outside the apartment - they are the only people who talk to me here, and they are polite and never ask for money etc... so why not say hello?! They even ask how I am!

I realised that I was spending too much time in the apartment so taking advantage of the glorious weather (last week, not this week) I decided to take a book to Park Saint Pierre in Amiens and spend time there people watching and reading.

The park wasn't that busy, and I sat on a bench and got my book out. I was sitting facing the back on the bench so I could prop my book on the back rest. Five minutes later a man walking past with his mates lightly tickled my back. Very odd, but no harm was done. I just smiled and continued reading. A few minutes later, two guys stopped and asked if the park was called PARC St Pierre, because they weren't from the area. Yes, indeed it was boys. Odd. not even five minutes later a couple walked past with a pushchair and the man told me to be careful as they were some guys doing drugs on my bench this morning. aaggghhhh, I started to freak out generally. I've been 'on extended holiday' for 2 months now and I have hardly spoken to another soul and then I go to the park to read and be quiet, and I can't get any peace. I decided to leave, and go shopping in town, but alas, on my way out of the park, someone started speaking to me....he'd recognised me as the girl who was reading on the other side of the park. It turned out that he wasn't French either and I had difficulty in getting away from his babblings. I fled in the direction of town, only to be stopped for directions! I was getting frightened by this point!! I was so glad to get into town where I was assured that no one would speak to me! I was quite on edge though, and pleased to get back to the apartment!

It seems that at the moment I can't find a happy medium! I either amuse my Mum by resorting to speaking to the homeless people, or I get pestered in the park! For the moment, I'm steering clear of the park and have taken to reading in cafes in town.

Welcome to my new blog


Sorry to be complicated, but I decided to move my blog. Hope the move isn't too confusing for you all! I will update this asap.

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