This week has been a touch crazy, to say the least! Monday was my first day of official work at my first school, which is located in Cergy-Le-Haut. Cergy is a relatively modern town, mostly industrial, and from what I can gather, a result of France's influx of immigrants from its former colonies. Caucasian children are the minority, while there are many Franco-Africans, Algerians, Chinese, and Vietnamese children in my classes. Never the less, they are adorable, and many of them are therefore already bilingual.
It goes without saying that I got lost on the way there. If there's one pet peeve I have right now, it's the fact that I keep getting lost, because I'm a pretty damn good navigator, in the US at least. I took the RER to Cergy-Le-Haut, which is the end of line A5 and hopped off expecting to catch STiVO bus 36 to my school only to find out that Bus 36 starts running at 9:15, which is when I start teaching. Instead, I hopped on Bus 44, and ended up having a lovely chat with a bus driver who was kind enough to help me out.
Irony of the week #1: the day ended with me discovering that I could've merely walked across a park to my school from the train station instead of worrying about a darn bus. Womp womp.
On Tuesday I went to my second school; I'd woken up super early to catch the trains out there since the syndicats for the RATP were on strike because French President Nicolas Sarkozy is attempting to raise the age of retirement from *gasp* 60 to 62! ( I'm sorry. The American in me understands the strike in principle, but laughs very hard inside. I feel that if I merely took all the protestors and threw them into America, they would not be complaining about retiring at 62).
Irony of the week #2: I arrived at my school just in time, only to discover instead that (haha) the teachers had decided to strike and no one was there. In fact, no one had even taken two seconds to call me or shoot me an e-mail to let me know I didn't have to go. Oh well. It turns out this was the experience of many other assistants on Tuesday, so at least I'm not alone in that?
I used my free time on Tuesday to take care of administrative things, mainly so I can 1) be paid, and 2) not be in this country illegally, both of which involved going to the post office for the first time, which was a trip. In France, the colors of the post office are yellow and blue, and mail boxes placed around the city are bright yellow, so they're hard to miss. It rather reminded me of a canary.
The children are also hilarious. My first sessions of the week were basically Q and A about all things America and myself. Some of the highlights include, and these are direct (translated) quotes:
1) "Is there really a fake Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas?" Me: "Yes."
2) "Is there a McDonald's in every neighborhood in America?" Me: "No!"
3) "Do you have the same brands and types of cars in America?" Me: "Yes and no, but
American cars are much bigger..."
4) " What kinds of food do you eat in America?" Me: "Lots of similar things, but in
California, we really like Mexican food too."
5) "Don't you have a black president?" Me: "Yes, his name is Barack Obama."
Kids: "Barack Obama!!"
I also realized (and you can totally hate me for this if you'd like) that I'm only actually teaching 9 hours a week, and that my adviser has given me 3 free hours, which I'm assuming she intends me to spend on class prep. Fine by me! Because of the strike though, I only worked 6 hours this week, and am still getting paid in full for the month. Part of the American in me screams "Lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy..." because I'm habituated to the hustle and bustle, the go-go-go-go mentality that is the states and very much California, but at the same time, I need the year to breathe.
I loved college and I especially loved Berkeley with all my heart, but I literally gave it all I had. I don't know, in retrospect, how I could've ever considered going straight from from undergrad to grad school without time off. I think I would've burned out and dropped out, and that's saying something, because I know I have a *special* amount of stubbornness in me. It's hard for me to feel "lazy," so I have to re-frame the way I think about this time "off."
Oh. Well. Potential plans for this weekend include: runs with the Paris marathon training group, the Paris apartment warming of fellow assistants from Texas and California (the rule being that you have to dress up as something from Cali or Texas), and gay club hopping with Sam! We'll see how it goes :)
A toute a l'heure!