Well, I’ve been in France for a little over a week, getting used to life in ‘pays rochefortais.’
On Thursday, we (claire, rose, julia and I) left Rochefort at 7am to drive to the town of Poitier for a sort of orientation for the assistantship program. As it turns out, we are a melange of Americans, welsh, Scots, Indians, Canadians, Mexicans (and the list goes on) all trying to get our bearings in this new country. For the most part, a few generalizations can be made: if you’re american, you’re in your early/mid-twenties, a college graduate, and generally looking for another adventure or clue-less on what to do with you life! If you’re from the United Kingdom, you’re nineteen/twenty, in your third year of university studying french and required to spend a year in France. Because its obligatory, some are pretty salty that they have to be here.
By the end of the orientation, it was safe to say that all of us were a bit confused. Throughout the day, we went from room to room where the French health care system, insurance responsibilities, and welfare system were explained patiently in french, and then papers were presented that had to be filled out and signed – some of us joked that we had just unknowingly signed up for the gendarme!
I learned more about the french that night when rose and I decided to spend the evening in the city. Our night ended at a Canadian bar, at a table with five french guys, switching from french to English in an attempt to get over that oh-so present language barrier. This is when I got my first lesson in real french conversation:
(French man): “Why did you come to France?”
(Me): “Why not? I love France”
“…I just told you: I love france”
“No, I need concrete examples. Why.”
One word answers do. not. exist.
The next day, I decided to continue with the paper work and open a french bank account, something that is necessary in order to receive my salary from the French government – everything is direct deposit, or direct withdrawal. In fact, your bank gives you six to twelve cards with your bank number on them to have readily available when you’re signing up for a phone plan, renting an apartment, or doing anything that involves billing.
Once again, I think I’ve signed up for things that I probably don’t need – I’m not good with things in the financial realm in English, let alone french, but I’m hoping that it will all work out. That is something that is very much to be determined….this is when we say ‘bonne courage’ in France.
Tomorrow begins my first day as Mlle Kelley – English teacher extraordinaire. Stay tuned for some interesting (I’m sure) stories on french teenagers! Also, if anyone has any tips on teaching in general, I think I could use all the help I can get :)