Thursday, 22 January 2009

YesMan and pleasegodnomoreWoman

It's been a week since my horrible (but unfortunately reoccurring) experience in a French Office and I'm still none the wiser to how I should sign up for the French test. grrr.

This week is the the first week back after the exam period and I'm exhausted. Genuinely exhausted. I have the same amount of work, but there are loads of timetabling problems and usual issues with organisation which are tiring me out! Thankfully I've been blessed with Thursday pm and Friday off this semester so I'm officially on weekend now although I will be spending much of this time marking exams.

Despite being ready to drop, I went to the cinema last night to see the film remake of my favourite book YesMan by Danny Wallace. Reading this book honestly changed my life. I read it in my first year in France, and it really motivated me to make a change in my life and yes, I moved to France permanently. Have a look at this link to get some info on all his books.

I knew the film was likely to be very different, I just hoped they didn't wreck it. Thankfully they completely changed the story to make it very American and after a period of adjustment at the beginning of the film, I did actually like it Very Jim Carrey of course, silly faces, quite crude...but it was fun. My friends and I went for a drink afterwards and I think everyone felt very motivated by the film. Yes, we shall say Yes more often to offers and be more open to life!

I would 1000% recommend the book if you haven't read it. Danny Wallace is a British comedian who has written a number of books about his life quests. He started a cult by accident and asked everyone to join him, he has explained how to start a new country, he went on a trip around the world with his friend Dave Gorman looking to meet all the other Dave Goremans in the world. He's written about 365 random acts of Kindness (I was once a precipitant to one of these. A random boy in London walked up to me and gave me a flower saying that he thought I'd like it) He wrote about his Yes adventure and most recently he wrote about his quest to find his school friends to see what became of them. I'm reading that one at the moment. The humour is very laugh out loud. When I read YesMan in my local French cafes, I had to often stifle giggles.... Above all, he writes about real things, the human condition - and I can totally relate to it.

YesMan was great. Now I must be a pleasegodnomoreWoman....cup of tea to warm me up and then I'm off to mark yet more exams. It's forecast to be stormy tonight here, at least I won't get bored eh if there's a power cut..... ;o)
If all goes well, I can schedule in some sleep soon, could easily be a YesWoman for this.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Dear France

Dear France

Why do you make life so hard for the non-French to survive in your country? Not being content in making it near impossible for anyone to get a job without the specific qualification, you are now trying to break me just by trying to find out my French level in order to be allowed to study on of your precious diplomas.

After not having a written reply from the person in charge of French testing, I thought I'd get more luck if I passed by the office to see aforementioned person. I waited very politely in the office of International affairs. I listened patiently when the staff were busy talking about pregnancies, bank details, cheque books, boots. I was polite when the office staff spent an eternity helping some Frenchies decide what to study when they go abroad. France, when it was my turn, I expected some help, how wrong I was. 

I was told that the establishment didn't do French testing. I disagreed. I mean, France, you wrote it on your website. After asking around, low and behold, I was indeed correct. I'm sorry for this, it obviously wasn't a good starting point. I am always wrong, I try to abide by this. Unfortunately France, I didn't realise that because I wasn't a student, the office could no longer help me. I was directed somewhere else, quite rudely, with big sighs from the part of the staff for wasting her time. Please France, if I ever pass the exams it took that lady to get her job, can I be as incompetent and rude as her? I do hope so.

France, what do I have to do to be accepted in your country? I am trying my hardest to understand but it's all too much for me. I am trying to validate my three years of linguistic hell as I didn't study your precious language at university, but it seems I am not even worthy of this validation. Imagine if I decide to go to university to do a diploma allowing me to work in a pet shop? Oh god France, I know you wouldn't know how to cope, pass me round 100 offices, taunting me with 100 incompetent people with their diplomas proving they are worthy in making me suffer.

I will not expect your reply,

yours Madam, Sir, with my distinguished feelings of hate, confusion and frustration.

Miss Emmy

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Job prospects...please give your thoughts

I've been in France for over three years now and as I never really planned on staying, I never really thought my career path out, I've been living one year to the next, yearly job contract after another.

I've been teaching English for all this time. To primary school, high school and University students.

I am certain that I don't want to attempt the CAPES which is the high school teaching exam which works on a competition basis. No, not the kind where your entry is pulled out of a hat (although then again.....) but the type where there are a determined number of teaching positions in France available, and that number of people pass the exams. If you are unlucky enough to miss out by one place, tough luck, try the procedure again next year. No thank you. I do not want to go through this to be a) not be good enough and have to do it all again the year after, or b) to pass and then be sent 100s of miles away where I will be forced to work. That's the deal kids. French school teachers don't get a lot of choice where they work! Anyway, I don't want to teach high school students, so no CAPES for me....

You see, I have problems. I did a physics degree, have now spent over 3 years teaching English, would like to change activity, but don't know what to do, or what I am qualified to do in France. I've talked a lot about this before, but really, what are my options? I could continue teaching, try and get a lab job in industry (I doubt it would go down well my 'break' of 3 years to teach English) or I could retrain. This is where you guys step in...

I've been thinking about jobs that do not require working at home. This is the biggest problem for me concerning teaching. There is always something to do...marking, preparing....I absolutely HATE working the weekends, but it is forced upon me.

What about becoming a bilingual secretary? Or translator? If anyone can give me some help on what it's like doing one of the aforementioned jobs I would be very grateful. What training do I need? I've seen courses by correspondence for both of these positions, but are qualifications from the CNED or Educatel taken seriously? Or are they just a waste of money? I don't want to go back to Uni for another 3 to 4 years so I'm in a bit of a pickle.

Then again...I haven't really tried teaching adults, well, not for lomg periods of time. Would I prefer this? I keep going round in circles. I hate teaching - but I like the holidays (good for going home to see family etc) - I want to do something else - but what? I get the impression I am qualified for nothing in France - I'll do a course by correspondence - will it find me a job ? - what can I do that is more sure ? Teach. Voila, the circle continues.

I'm sending myself crazy, approaching ill. I think about my future a huge amount, cry too much about it too (twice already today). Did I waste any chance of a career by moving to France? I can't imagine spending the next 40 years of my working life going from one 1 year teaching contract to the next, not even really liking my job, but I can't see a way out of it.

I really need life to give me a break, please give me a sign, if you're out there.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Hello, maybe we can get to know each other?! I don't think so.

What is it with men? French men? Or do I just seem to fall into paths of weirdos......(be gentle with your reply!)

I've just got back from braving the minus temperature (currently -5oc) to go shopping and this guy just walks up to me on the corner of my road...

Weirdo: Excuse me, do you live in the residence?
Me: No.
Weirdo: But you live in the area, I've seen you around (debatable and very fishy !)
........could we get to know each other?
Me: Why? (I was short of any other reply to this)
Weirdo: But we could get to know each other, yea?
Me: Panicking to think of an easy way out of this....I'm cringing as I write this.......Urrm, sorry I don't really understand, I'm not French.
Weirdo: Oh right, he smiles....let's face it, if I wanted him to believe that i didn't understand I should have made myself incomprehensable and not used so much good spoken French.
Me: Crap, that line didn't work.....
Weirdo: Who do you live with?
Me: Again.......why oh why oh why me...........My boyfriend.
Weirdo: Ok, well, have a good day.....bye.

What was he trying to achieve by talking to me? Trying to get me to be his friend? Girlfriend? Trust me guys, this tye of behaviour won't get either. If it did, I'd be on all street corners asking if 'we could get to know each other' you all know, it's tough to intergrate into French friend circles . But yes, I know this is NOT the way to go about it.....

Have you ever had this experience in France or anywhere else? How did you get out of it without being outright rude? Although, my 'Why?' reply to his question about 'being friends' was quite rude I should have insisted maybe.

Monday, 5 January 2009

New Year or Same Old Same Old?


Let me introduce myself. I'm Emmy. I used to blog a bit, you know, funny bits from my life, the stresses of living in frogland, but a few months ago it all got a bit too much and I retreated into my broken shell. As a New Year has begun, I thought I'd give life another shot, well, life in France another shot at least..the last shot at that.

This might sound like one of my mopey posts but I promise you it's not. I actually feel quite positive inside, albeit, maybe a little naively (?) But hey, being naieve brought me here over 3 years ago, and i'm still here which must count for something.

An unrecommendable concoction of crappie work conditions, drawing in nights, the desperate need to spend time with nice human beings, several trips to the doctors, all ended with a rotten cherry on top.....a had an accident at the ice rink and was signed off work for a week just before Christmas. Yes, work was cut short (joy) but being in agony was not the pay-off I was hopng for! Things were not pretty ladies and gentlemen.

I was sooooooo happy to go home for the holidays. It's been the longest, most crappie 4 months ever since I last went home so I was definitely ready for the rest. I had a superb time, it passed too quickly and before I could shout fois gras, I was in France preparing myself for two mammoth French New Years dinners. I spent more than 14 hours at a dinner table in 48 hours. Yes, I cried and yes, it was painful.

Thank god the (French) festive season is over. Give or take a few Galette des Rois parties that are to come, I can finally put it all behind me. I'm so glad 2008 is over. The last few months have been terrible (I think I've already said that, sorry) and I'm hopelessly looking to the future for inspiration.

A few things for 2009:

1. Ring friends more often. I have free unlimited calls to over 30 countries, why do I not ring them?? Hearing a friendly voice always helps.
2. Count to ten in my head every time something starts to stress me out. Hey, I've had therapy, I know my warning signs...I should learn to listen to them.
3. Now this might be shocking (and will be the hardest one to implement).......don't spend as much time on the internet. Partly because I've just reformatted my computer after a virus killed it, and partly because it's simply not healthy. I mope on the internet. I waste hours when I could be working or doing something in the house, or following a hobby (reading, knitting, mario know, that type of stuff) ie, relaxing. This does not mean I will forget my friends (see point 1) but there are other ways to communicate and I want to give the other ways a chance.
4. I'm also thinking of setting up another blog because this one has become known to people I would rather not which had led to me censoring my posts. And we all know that's no fun at all! If/when, I'll do a shout out and you can email me to ask for the new private address.

There are more things to say but you've probably started to skim read by now so I'll sign off. Tonight we're going to one of the aforementioned gallette parties.....I want to find the lucky charm and be the Queen....maybe it'll bring good luck.

Happy New Year to you all! We all like a clean slate, please wish mine the very best of luck. I'm thinking even Cilit Bang won't clean mine this year if it gets dirty.

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