Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Having long holidays isn't good for your health on the flip side

I am still alive, just. I started my lectrice job on Monday and have been hit by a wall of work and exhaustion. A million and one things to remember, each class with their special needs, exams, mentors. I'm swimming. Just about keeping my head above water. I came home today and sat for over two hours. I didn't move a muscle in all that time (ok, internet surfing on laptop on lap doesn't count as muscle usage - is a reflex trained action) and when I moved, I felt nautious. I'm no doctor, but I'm guessing that's not a good sign. I have zero appetite. I'm hungry and when food is put in front of me, I can't eat it.

All that aside, I'm sure these feelings will pass. Being on holiday for 11 weeks makes you lazy and I'm suffering from the change of pace. The students are as I expected, nothing that I haven't seen before although dealing with classes that have both bilingual students and ones that can hardly string a sentence together will be challenging I'm sure.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Poll results and starting a fresh for 2008 - 2009 season

Thanks for voting in my poll. I was really interested to see what other ex pats do in France and here are the result:

Teach English
9 (39%)
Work in tourism/hotels/cafés
1 (4%)
1 (4%)
Artist of any sort
0 (0%)
1 (4%)
Teacher (not of the type Ingleesh)
2 (8%)
Work with Animals
0 (0%)
In the city (bank, lawyer etc etc)
2 (8%)
Don't work, can't find a job
0 (0%)
Don't work out of choice
1 (4%)
1 (4%)
I don't live in France/Not an ex-pat
5 (21%)

Votes: 23

So, like I predicted, there are a fair few of us who teach English. It's obvious that it is a talent of ours, speaking English I mean, but I wonder how many of us actually planned to become an English teacher. I'm betting not many. I certainly didn't. It was something thrown at me when I moved to France. Don't get me wrong, it has its upsides, like the frequent and extended holidays allowing me to visit my family on a regular basis. I am so grateful for that, but teaching English wasn't on my list of 'things to do' when I was growing up.

Je fais avec for the moment. I start my new job as a lectrice at a university next week which involves holding conversation classes, teaching phonetics and creating and marking exams of English students. I've been so long on holiday for the summer (10 weeks ahem) that I'm a little worried about going back getting into the rhythm again. Now it's quickly slipping out of the grasp, I want to stay on holiday for longer.....ha.

I have also signed up to teach children a few hours a week. I know I know. I said I hated teaching primary school children, that it was exhausting and I got no reward from it, but here I am again. I'm hoping it will be a bit different. These classes are payant. I can't imagine parents would pay for lessons if their children weren't interested. I will let you know on that though soon. I always say that being able to get work experience in France is difficult so I couldn't pass up on this opportunity. You never know where it might lead me.....

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Wales, a country apart

As I am home for the week, I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about Wales.

Wales is a country and not a principality of England as a lot of people think. It is part of the Great Britain along with England and Scotland and part of the United Kingdom with Northern Ireland included. Wales has a population of about 3 milliom people (Great Britain has a population of about 60 million).

The Welsh Flag

There are two official languages of Wales - English and Welsh. About 20% of the population speak Welsh. Contrary to belief, the Welsh language doesn't look anything like English. For example, Bora Da means Hello and Dioch means Thank you.
We have our own governement but ultimate control is in the hands of the UK government, power held in London, England.

Our national sport is rugby. We have won the six nations rugby tournement twice in recent years.

The following celebrities (dead or alive) are Welsh:

Catherine Zeta Jones
Ryan Giggs
Anthony Hopkins
Shirley Bassey
Tom Jones
Roald Dahl
Richard Burton
Dylan Thomas

The Welsh are known for their singing. Aside from Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones and other bands such as Stereophonics, there is a strong tradition of Male Voice Choirs which frankly puts the hairs on the back of my neck on end when I hear them sing.

Our National Anthem (children singing it) is sung in the Welsh language and translates as 'The Land of my Fathers'. This is another video of our anthem sung by a male voice choir. Ok, I'm getting carried away - here's Katherine Jenkins singing it. The English translation is here. You might notice I'm quite proud of the anthem. Most Welsh people will say that it stirs something inside them. It gives me goosebumps when I hear it.

Our National Day is on March 1st where we celebrate our patron saint, David and induldge in our traditions.

Traditional food from Wales include Lamb (there are about 11 million sheep in Wales - they outnumber humans 4 to 1), Beef, Welsh Rarebit, Bara brith Cake.

Wales is famed for having the longest place name in the world. Its full name is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll-llantysiliogogogoch which means The Church of St Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio near a red cave. No joke. Locals usually shorten it to Llanfairpwll or Llanfair PG which is much easier to say. People come from all over the world to have their photo taken next to its signpost.

France and Wales

Having lived in France for three years now, I have a pretty acurate opinion of how the French 'see' the Welsh, or not as the case may be. Firstly, practically no one knows where it is. Then, they genuinely believe it's part of England. They are taught in school that Wales is a county (or region) of England, the French, as many other nationalities, call the UK 'England' so what hope do the Welsh have to be recognised? I've even seen Wales written as 'Whales' in a school text book.

I am introduced to practically everyone as 'anglaise' (English). So much so, that I have started to say it also. Saying that I am 'galloise' just leaves most people with a look of 'what the hell is she talking about' so I prefer to avoid this insult. I can introduce myself as Britannique but then they will usually follow that up with 'where in England do you live?'. Yes, Britain and England are interchangable. Sorry Wales and Scotland. I can't even imagine how Northern Ireland manage.

In a lot of restaurants in France you can order 'Le Welsh' which is our Welsh Rarebit in French form. Imagine my horror when on one menu it was described as 'an English dish that......' I mean, I give up.

I honestly don't think it'll ever change. It's hard enough keeping hold of my idenitity being in France, but when no one recognises your country, what I am supposed to do? Whenever it is brought up, I always point out that Belgium in 'just a region' of France. That usually brings them to their senses....if only for a little while.

Cymru am byth - Wales forever

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