Thursday, 30 October 2008

Guess who classic moment

Last Friday on my last lesson before the holidays, we had 10 minutes to spare at the end of the lesson and I decided to play an old favourite with them...."back to the board", or "guess who" where a student has to guess which famous person they are (the answer is on the board). They can ask questions where the response is either yes or no but nothing else.

The first student had to guess that she was Stephanie de Monaco and did so in a few minutes. The second student I picked on because she had done no work at all in the lesson (meanie that I am) and I never imagined that she would make us all laugh like she did. She had to guess that she was Homer Simpson. After a few tentative questions (she found out she was American and male) this was the the transcription of what happened (I couldn't make this up)

(me, suggesting that she should ask questions about her (or his) personality)

Student: Ok, am I stupid? (why the hell she chose this adjective first is beyond me)
Class: Yes
Student: Am I George Bush?


(me suggesting that she should ask about the appearance after recomposing myself)

Student: Am I black?
Class: No

Student: Am I white?
Class: No

Student: Am I Micheal Jackson?!!

Honestly, what she said couldn't have been funnier and the thing is, she was being totally honest and serious. The fact that in her own questions she almost repeated the line to Micheal Jackson's song Black or White just made it even more comical......

She did finally guess that she was Homer Simpson, but she was left feeling a bit bewildered to why we were laughing. Classic Comedy Moment.

Friday, 24 October 2008

My Frenchie works for free

Before I start my's the holidays! woop woop. To celebrate, I just took a two hour afternoon nap. Yes, the holidays are badly needed! For the next week I'll be scheduling in lots of naps me thinks!

It's 5.15pm on a Friday and my Frenchie should be home, but you've guessed it, he's not. He has a 35 working week like most other French people, but this doesn't stop him working way beyond the hours he is paid for.

My Frenchie should work the following hours: 8am - 6pm Monday to Thursday and 8am - 12 noon on a Friday. Don't forget the two hour standard lunch break in this, that's why the day seems a bit longer. If he does these hours, he works 35 hours a week. The norm in France. The problem is, he does so much more than this and is not paid a penny, oops, a cent more. We frequently have heated discussions about this. He argues that he gets a bonus twice yearly, and his boss will (magically) take into account all the extra hours he works in calculating his bonus. I say 'magically', because my Frenchie does not clock in or out. Why would he need to? He works 35 hours a week right?! So how would his boss know how hard he's been working his ass off? He also points out that he spends a lot of his time in the car going between clients. He does up to 1000km a WEEK.

I point out that his boss wll not take into account how many extra hours he works, and the fact that he spends time in the car is because his company has decided to do a project in Paris, Lille, Rennes or Reims and it is not HIS commuting time. His car is his office. He is constanty on the phone to clients, organising things ie, working.

This week he has left the house 3 times at 6.30am and gets home at 8pm. 13.5 hour days. x3 = 40.5 hours, (34.5 hours if we count the non existent 2 hour lunch break, he eats a sandwich in the car) One day this week he got home at 6.15pm and I nearly died of shock. So add another 8 hours to his working week....48.5hrs or 42.5hours (with lunch). Today is his half day, imposed by the government to keep to the 35 hour week. Here's the catch...he just rang me and he's still in Paris. On a Friday, at 5.30pm. He'll be home in 2 hours if the traffic isn't too bad. Today he will have worked 13 hours (ok, 11 hours, let's be generous with his lunch break). He is meant to work 4.

The grand total of hours working this week ranges from a bad 51.5 hours (if he took all lunch breaks) to a ridiculous 61.5 hours if he didn't.

Who's more stupid, me or him? Me for being angry with him, or him for accepting to work fo 26.5 hours a week free of charge?! I honestly can't decide.

Is there anything I can do? Does anyone have a similar experience?

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Ice hockey....allez amiens allez

At the weekend we went to an ice hockey match in Amiens. Amiens has a very good ice hockey team so we thought we'd go to see what all the fuss was about!

I had such a good time despite not really understanding the rules! I kind of guessed them as we went along, We were sat in the Amiens supporters area and the atmosphere was great! 10/10 for effort...there was a group of about 30 people with flags and drums that chanted and sang for 2.5 hours nonstop! Even now I can remember the chants!

Unfortuntately Amiens lost 2 - 1 to Tours and I must say, the supporters were not graceful in defeat! Everyone booed and stomped their feet in disgust as the Tours team celebrated their win.

The atmospehere was great and it's clear that people are really into it. There were a few fights on the rink which was quite exciting too.

I've always liked contact sports like Rugby and Karate and I think I could get into Ice hockey! It's really physical, quick paced and easy to get into. Just don't hold your breathe in seeing me on the rink. I can barely stand up on ice skates, never mind play a sport! Definately a spectatotr sport for me!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Egg in the eyes

Just thought I'd share my fantastic French fault of the day. Was talking with my class about food and one girl was talking about a dessert I think we'd call egg custard in English. In French I think it's crème aux oeufs (she didn't know the word for it in French...she's not French) and I said: 'Oh yes, I think she's talking about 'crème aux yeux'...... dam it. It just slipped out. You try it.... crème aux oeufs or 'crème aux yeux' Please tell me it's not just me!!

In any case, it amused the students.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Exhaustion with a cherry on top!

I'm sooooooo tired. Was at uni for 10 hours today, teaching for 5 of them, sorting stuff out for the rest. The lessons aren't too bad if you like juggling 10 fire balls at a time I guess.

I had a mixed bunch today. Goldfish and animated arguments. I prefer the latter. At least they were SPEAKING (in English !! Believe me, that merits exclamation marks) Getting the goldfish to speak even in French is hard. pff

The cherry on the top is that I signed myself up for free French lessons! If I had the time I could have 5 hours of lessons a week - 2.5 of civilisation and French culture (might help me understand Frenchies more eh?) and 2.5 hours of conversation and grammar. I can fit the grammar and conversation class into my timetable so I start next Monday! I'm quite excited although it'll be really odd being the other side of the desks! I know I'll be a well behaved student!! There are 25 in the class, all of who are international students. I'll be in the highest level class (C1) and it'll be interesting to meet other people learning French. Apparently there is only one other English speaker, an American, so little chance of me 'cheating' in class!

Monday, 6 October 2008

Three years in France...the fourth starts here.

I can't honestly believe I've been in France for three years now. Officially, my three year anniversary was on the 23rd September. I remember thinking a lot about the last three years that day but didn't get round to writing abut it as I'd just started my lectrice job.

I've been through a sort of roller coaster ride in three years. I've realised through writing this blog that all us ex pats seem to go through the same peaks and troughs. Booo to French paperwork, closed friend circles, struggling to get to grips with the 'real' French language and not the one we learnt at school.....the list could go on and on and on. but I would like to be positive here.

I have learnt a huge amount about my inner strength over the last three years. I know what is important to me too. I am still sensitive and maybe still too sensitive, but I know I have developped a thicker skin, if oly a few milimeters thicker. Being away from everything you know, finding your own path does that to you. I've learnt to take knocks, and I'm stronger than I thought - I'm still here, still fighting. For those of you that knew me for my first year in France, who would have thought I'd have stuck through attacks from a certain English teacher.....somehow she didn't put me off living in France.

Last night I was talking to Ju and suddenly switched conversations to something that was being said on the tv. Ju was impressed that I could do that. He's been with me from the start and I think he realises now just how good my French is. And it is. I am sooo proud of myself that I came here with only GCSE French (age 16 exams in UK) and now am a level C1 in the Common European Framework of Reference for Language. One more level and I will be as good as natives. haha. If only it was that simple. Unfortunately, going from a C1 level to a C2 is going to take a long time. Maybe a decade? More? Maybe I will never achieve that level, it doesn't matter. People compliment me on my French, just today a lady at the bus stop did. I know it doesn't matter what others think of my level of French, but it is nice to hear all the same, and it proves that I can more than get by.

To think that I used to write a script each time I had to phone someone....Julien had to order for me in restaurants....sometimes he still goes to do so and I step in and reclaim my part in the conversation. You see, he got so used to talking for me that sometimes he forgets that I am capable now...sometimes more so than him. It's been known in the bank/insurance brokers that I have had to explain something to Ju when he didn't understand what the bankman etc was trying to get at! ha

France has been a nighmare and a dream. People ask me if I am going to stay in France and the honest answer is that I can't see myself leaving, not at the momet. The problems I encounter here are the same I would encounter in the UK. Speaking to my friends back home only confirms this, so why not stay?

After all, I've come this far.

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