Monday, 30 March 2009

Update on last week's business

Last week was busy, mentally and physically! I took the whole weekend to recover. I blame the blockade for making my energy levels slump! The students are right at this moment deciding whether or not to continue the blockade...there's been rumours that they hope to continue it until the Easter holidays in three weeks. Imagine how lazy and lethargic I'll be by then if it does continue!

So, I had my two careers appointments and I'm so glad I had the two as the second one turned out to be an almost complete waste of time. More on that in a bit.

The first one was with the 'maison de la formation et d'emploi' in Amiens. I'm not sure if it's a national thing or not. I was sceptical but the lady was very understanding and gave me hope. Wow, a foctionnaire that gives hope?! I know, crazy. (maybe she's not a fonctionnaire actually). She suggested that I do the 'bilan de compétances' but said that she needed to study my rights before she could help me further as being a prof complicates things enormously. In theory my employer (the government) should pay for this bilan but she is going to check it out and I have another appointment with her this week. I cut right to the chase and said that I doubt the gov would pay for me and she gave more hope and said that there are other ways of accessing the bilan free of charge. hmmm. To be continued...

The second appointment was with the chamber of commerce and I was less sceptical about them but how wrong could I have been? The person made me wait 50 minutes after my allotted time and then didn't even apologise. As I had nothing else to do (blocus) I grinned and beared the looong wait as I was hopeful! and what else do you have in France if you don't have hope right?! I was sadly let down though when she seemed perplexed when I said I didn't like teaching (I didn't go into details with her of the extent I hate wouldn't have been good French). She then took it upon herself to photocopy a mass of pages with physics and chemistry BTSs/DUTs when she saw I'd done this at uni...... and suggested that I get my degree evaluated for its level against French qualifications allowing me to see the 'gaps' in my qualification in order to complete it to achieve a French qualification. I love the fact that she assumed that whatever I had done in the UK would be inferior to anything in France! I left feeling the same I did when I had my career interview with my high school in which they evaulated a test we all did aged 14 that suggested I would be a good librarian. hmm, yes quite. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but so far off the scheme of things it's untrue. 

Friday I had my French test (TCF) in Lille. I had to get up at 5am to get the train to Lille for 8.30am. I found the place ok and felt quite at ease with all the students also waiting to take the test. There were only a few English speakers there and only one other clearly non student. We were about 40 and I was planning on trying to get a seat near the CD player in order to hear the listening test well but unfortunately we were assigned seats and mine was, sod's law, right at the back of the lecture theatre. I had to really concentrate to hear the listening part of the exam which lasted 25 minutes, 30 questions, ABCD type responses. It was okish although my early rise and tiredness didn't help things. The grammar part of the test was really hard for me. The same exam format but I wasn't expecting it to be mainly about conjunctions. In the following sentence should the conjunction be A tandis que B alors que C à condition que D pourvu que...... aggghhhhh. As I've learnt all my French in France, I've never once said tandis que and never even heard of pourvu que. We just don't speak like that (or the people I meet don't). I can't be too upset and I'm not as I've never learnt this type of grammar so I can't expect to be good at it. Luckily the written comprehension part of the exam was fine!! 

The exam will be marked within three weeks and I'll get a European language level for each part and then an average. I was hoping for C1 but now I'm not so sure. The exam is out of 699 and I need 500 to get a C1. I only did the test for my own benefit so if I don't do very well at least the next time I do it (maybe to enter a masters at uni) I know what to expect!

Monday, 23 March 2009

This week will be a biggie emotionally speaking

Ok ok, so, I'm not getting married and no one is ill but I am looking forward to the end of this week!

I have two appointments with different career advisors from different organisations (CCI and la maison de la formation if you're interested) and I'm trying to prepare myself mentally. They are obviously going to ask me what type of things interest me and I'm trying to look stuff up to get an idea so I just don't look blankly at them and then get told off for wasting their time. The thing is, I honestly don't have any fixed ideas on what I would like to do and I'm interested to see what I am capable of doing in France.

My main problem is my confidence. Yes, I can speak and understand French very well, but I can't really write it well as I've never really needed to. Thus I feel I'm rubbish and will not find any job!

I've also considered that I will probably need to retrain at something but I don't fancy doing a BTS as I feel it's a step back as I already have a degree in science but it seeme that BTSs are the dogs dinner when looking for jobs around here. I would consider doing a masters but I'm not sure I want to do research which is basically what science masters are about and would I qualify to do any other type of masters? In France I doubt it. Please tell me if you know differently!!

I've been told by the ANPE recently that the fact that I am bilingual means a lot to any employer and I know I definitely want to be able to use my English....but that's as far as my career plan goes at the moment.

and then there is the crise. It's not exactly the time to want to change career path is it?! I can be a lectrice for another year but then would that help much as teaching options will have dried up at this point...and I don't want to continue teaching....but it is the safest option for me...

I know I should stop worrying and wait to see what the career advisors have to say for themselves but I can't help stressing out about the unknown. It's my weakness.

This week I also have a French test - TCF. I don't know if it will actually achieve anything but I really want to see what level I'm at as the last time I did a French test I was 16 and my French has certainly improved since school days! I've since heard the TEF is better for employers, I can always do that later I guess. Does anyone have any experience with French tests and if they are 'worth' anything at all. For me, this time at least, it's a personal quest.....

I really do feel lost this week. The uni is still blockaded, I'm not working and stressing about my future is my main activity. Now that makes a refreshing change ;o)

Thursday, 19 March 2009


Yep, I got to uni this morning to find that the students had blocked the doors from opening and were still adding to it. Tables, chairs, piled high, with table legs jammed into the door handles so there was absolutely no way of getting in. Or out as it happens...... how do the students that are blocking access plan on getting out? and what if there is a fire? eep. I also wonder what staff members said when the students started to pile the tables and chairs up? Did they just French shrug and let them get on with it? No admin staff are in either I'm guessing. Will I get paid anyway? Even though I'm now a pro at accepting the French need to go on strike weekly, this is new to me. Please don't take my money from me.... I was willing to have lessons today.

No one can can in or out of the uni. There are definitely no lessons today or tomorrow.
To be continued...

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Blocus or no Blocus, that is the question

So then, it's official. There is now a blockade that is being formed at the uni where I work. They plan to block access until at least Monday. I wouldn't mind so much, but I still have to prepare my lessons for tomorrow just in case I can get in and hold classes. My Thursday lessons are suffereing loads because there is always a strike or demonstration on Thursday. I think tomorrow is a general strike day too so I'm not even sure i'll be able to get to see the blockade if there are no buses to take me to aforementioned place. I'm getting into the swing of things though...on hearing the blockade news, I shrugged, pouted and rolled my eyes all in one smooth, almost French action. Vive la frencness I say.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Do I speak patois?

This morning a mate popped by to see me and we were talking Franglais as usual as he is an anglophile and is always testing out his new English on me. We got onto the topic of children who whinge to get what they want. Pleurenicher he said. Schwiner I said. Schwiner? Emmy, that has to be patois (dialect)., it sounds like patois. He comes from the same region my Frenchie and he doesn't even know this word. Do you know this word? I have no idea how it's spelt (adding to the idea that it is indeed patois) but it sounds like shweener/shwiner and means to whinge.

Please don't tell me that I speak patois.....damn my Ch'ti boyfriend.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

When the going gets tough, ALL the unis go on strike, I get a day off and go to the ANPE.

Happy Strike Day everyone! I'm still in my pjs, yes it's 11.30am, and I'm very happy about it. All the unis in Amiens are closed today. Not even the cleaners or secretaries are working. I still am a bit clueless as to why (are they striking over the teachers having to work more? or the fact that you now have to do a masters to become a teacher?) I don't really know. 

All that matters to me is that I didn't have to get up this morning and drag myself to work only to be met with students who don't care one bit aboaut English, or what I am saying, or how they can improve in the exam. Brick, head, wall springs to mind. I mean, if they are so uninterested, why continue coming to uni? They still insist in coming so i'm assuming they want to pass the exam in June so why don't they make an effort? It really is atrocious. Most of my lessons are with first years which apparently explains a lot. It's true that my second year classes (all 3 of them, the rest are 1st years) are more motivated. If I could, I would quit right now. I know I don't want to continue teaching, and I want to explore all other avenues asap but I might be forced to wait. 

I went to the ANPE yesterday and was very frank with them, asked for help, said I couldn't stand teaching any more and it turns out that the person I was talking to was an ex teacher too, that he couldn't stand it either and retrained. If anyone has any experience of the 'bilan de compétances' from the ANPE please could you give me your views.... he suggested that I spend 14 hours over 6 weeks with an advisor in order to do a bilan de copmpétances so I can get an idea what options I have for employment, the types of things I would be good at or would like doing. I really wasn't up for the idea of going back into education until I'm 30 but what's the other option? spend the next 40 years in a job I hate? When it's put like that, I'm up for anything in order to change!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Thank dieu it's sunny

What a difference the sun makes to our lives... This coming from a woman who lives in the officially coldest place in France. Keep it to yourself that, else Amiens will be flooded with tourists. hum.
So yes, it's sunny! Right now, at 5.30pm, the sun is streaming through the window, warming my cheek. It's almost a miracle that it's light at 5.30pm and will be light for a while yet. Winter seems to go on for ages whilst summer, blink, and you've missed it.

The daffodyl's are coming out (very important for my Welshness), snow drops in full bloom and there's definitely spring in the air.

These photos were taken in when I was home in Wales last week. I wish I had a garden here in France....

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