Sunday, 27 January 2008

My 5 things about France

So, Crystal has given me the task of writing 5 things I love and 5 things I hate about France.

Here goes:

5 things I love about France:

1) Julien
2) French bakeries
(it's at this point where I have to start to think very hard......and moved with ease to my 5 'hate' phrases)
3) Umm, France is so diverse - you can sunbathe, go skiing, see beautiful mountains, and let's not forget the flat North. We Heart the flat North.
4) 35 hour week (or in my case, less). Never ring a French company on Friday afternoon, you will most likely get the answerphone....everyone has already left for the weekend.
5) long summer holidays that teachers get. But hell, we need them.

5 things I hate about France:

1) You have to be 'qualified' to even work in a pet shop
2) The paperwork you have to do even to get permission to sneeze
3) Being so far from my friends and family that are starting to forget about my existence
4) Small mindedness of people - yes, I'm not French, accept that I have an accent and that I'm not deaf - I'm Welsh, not deaf.
5) Finding girlfriends is seemingly impossible. Please will someone enlighten me how to acheive this other than clamping onto the group of friends of your French boyfriend.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Not giving up on giving up

My half hearted new year's resolution was to stop apologizing for not being French. Well, it seems this is working, I no longer care one monkeys what people think of me when I make a mistake in French etc etc but it has also had a side effect of that I want to move.

I have decided that I can no longer continue teaching the children. In fact, if I could, I would quit today. I hate it. Nothing has drained me more, physically or emotionally. I'm a shell of my former self and I know things have to change.

The problem is always the same though, what is a Native English speaker actually qualified to do in France other than teach English? It seems practically nothing. Well, certainly not working in a pet shop, that's for sure. Long story.

I think it would be a very good idea to move cities and to start a fresh. Also, easier said than done considering I have no idea what I am good for other than teaching, and I don't want to do that. I prefer teaching at the uni although it's really tough going, but I'm not prepared to be a replacement teacher forever because it's practically impossible to get a real, permanent contract.

Answers on a postcard please.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Blood, sweat but NO tears

In October I blogged about my nightmare school where all hell breaks loose on a regular basis and where a boy bled everywhere on trying to prove that a compass point being poked into one's arm didn't hurt. Well, today, in the same school (no surprises there) a little girl of 7 years cut her bottom lip with the scissors that she was munching on and bled EVERYWHERE. Thankfully there was another adult in the room and she took care of it. It was like vampire blood. It streamed from her lip like she had eaten teacher for lunch. Amazingly she didn't cry, although I nearly did because I was left with the job of clearing the blood up that was left on her desk and the floor. I think the other children learnt a valuable lesson there (well, two...the second being you can't use the board eraser sponge to clear up blood....two seconds later and they would have done, with only nasty consequences for smearing blood all over the blackboard...nice.)

Another wonderful day at school, n'est-ce que pas?!

Saturday, 5 January 2008

The next year begins...

December went by in a flash - and thank god! I spent a lot of time with my primary schools doing their evaluations...loads of hard work and exhausting, but at least it took up a lot of time. After that I did some Christmas stuff with them that got them even more excitable. Who would have thought colouring in a Christmas tree and making a Christmas card out of it would have gone down so well?! I had my last lesson at uni mid Decemeber as well, so i was definately winding down to Christmas.

Christmas itself was very different to usual. I spent it in France and so lost all of the usual traditions that make it Christmas - hearing carols on the radio, seeing classic naff films on tv, eating all things related to Christmas...turkey, cranberry jelly, mince pies. all gone.

But fear not, i had my fair share of food alright. In fact, we sat down to a 7 hour Christmas Day meal. no, this is not a typo. 7 glorius hours were spent around a dinner table. 1pm - 8pm to be precise. There were 14 of Julien's nearest and dearest and the food was, well, very french. apéro - munching on what we would call snacks - peanuts, little toasts with savoury things on them and alcohol - champagne bien sur. salmon and fois gras for starters, ostrich as the meat for the main course, cheese in varying colours and whiffiness, la buche (christmas log) ice cream stylie - 3 flavours to choose from, and coffee. it went on and on. and on. I didn't drink much at all as I had been quite ill a few days before Christmas but i wish I had have done as it might have passed quicker. I even thought about the Queen's speech that i missed, the episodes of eastenders that had gone to waste and the twiglets that we being neglected back in the UK. yes, i was a bit sad. It was funny to see the drunk uncles though - they drained a bottle of digestive cognac of such. Then they promised to go for a bike ride on boxing day morning, which of course never came to fruit! ha

As for opening presents etc...the tradiation is to open the presents on Christmas Eve which was very odd to me. Also, I still feel a little uncomfortable receieving presents off Julien's family. All in all, Christmas was ok although a bit odd for me. Just not the same.
We came back to the UK on 27th to spend the New Year and my Dad's Birthday with my family. As usual I was ashamed of the state of public transport. The train got delayed by an hour when we were on it meaning the journey from London to Wales took 3 hours. A joke for the money we pay. Anyway, we arrived in one piece and had Christmas #2 a la welsh style. It was great to see my parents and recover a little bit of Christmas spirit.

I was meant to see my best friend but again due to the shocking train services, she decided to give up as a job job and stay at hers.

New Year's Eve is also my Dad's birthday and we went to get an indian take away to celebrate. I was very happy as spicy food is a bad word in france and so hadn't had a curry in yonks. It was fab. The New Year was drunk in watching Big Ben and having a webcam link to Julien's friends in France who always have a big party on New Year and were missing Julien a lot.

The few days after New Year were spent sorting all things out for my parents that they need help with - how do I replace the ink cartridge in the printer? Can you sort out the new sky box and how do i now watch a video with all the new connections (and buttons to press). I realy like helping them with these things and it brings it home that I don't see them all the time. *deep breathe Emma*

I've made a New Year's resolution although I don't know if it will be easy to keep - to stop apologising for not being French. IE, stop worrying if someone notices I make mistakes, or if people are rude to me because of it. I've lived in France two years and I've had enough of rude, narrow minded people. Last year was a toughie for me and thought on more than a few occassions to giving up on things here. I think it's time that France accepts me. Whether or not that will happen is another thing.

I've also realised recently that no matter how hard you want to keep in touch with people, unless they too want to make an effort, and value you, then there is no point in making an effort in the first place. Being away from home makes me want to stay in touch with people from home more, but it's not as easy as all that. I spent time writing Christmas cards to people that matter in my life and hardly received any back this year, not even from family. I think I'll not bother next year, save about 20 euros on cards and stamps. bah humbug and all that, but I genuinely felt sad and hurt that no one bothered about me. Like because I now live in France, then I no longer exist. Thanks. Julien sees how hurt I am, although he can't imagine how I feel as all his family and friends live in the area.

Anyhoo, what will 2008 bring my way? We're hoping to move into a bigger, less damp apartment. Then I have to decide what to do with my life. Much easier said than done. I can't seriously think about being an assistant for the 4th year, and I don't really want to go through the pain and likely failure of 'real teacher' exams. Then what else? I really wish I could just work in a café, have a circle of girlfriends that I see regulary, and have a little less stress in my life. A British girl in France can dream can't she...?

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