Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This is what I woke up to this morning...

There is a second rainbow to the left that is a little harder to see.

Bonjour Bretagne...three rainbows in one hour this morning!

My favorite questions from elementary school children this week have been:  How do you say your last name in French? and Do lots of people speak English in America?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Côte de Granit Rose

One of the best parts of being in a small town like Guingamp is that we have met some wonderful people who offer to take us to see the sites in Brittany.  This past Wednesday our new friend, Marie took us to the Côte de Granit Rose, specifically Ploumanac’h, Perros-Guirec, and Le Gouffre which is a rock formation near Plougrescant.  She ended the trip by driving us up a “mountain” near Guingamp where you can see for miles in all directions and Guingamp is close enough to the coast that we could see it from the top.   I think that photos can probably describe the coast better than words, so I’m posting some from each of our stops.

My roommates and me (from left to right: Tamara, Me, Karen, Michele).

In other news I am finished with my first week of being in the schools and I’m really enjoying it.  Yesterday we worked on numbers and colors with the elementary students so I played matching games and bingo for three hours.  In the middle school some students were learning about cliques, and the younger group that I had practiced describing people (long/short hair, big eyes, bald etc.).   I’m most nervous for 6ème, which is the youngest group of middle school students, because I struggled with them on Tuesday.  For future reference, the French school system is broken up into four groups:  Maternelle, Primaire, Collège, and Lycée.  Starting with Primare the “grades” are:  Course Préparatoire, CE1, CE2, CM1, CM2, 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, Terminale, and Post-BAC (the BAC is the exam students take to graduate from high school).  Basically the numbers go in the opposite direction of grades in the United States, and I have students ranging from CE2 (8 years old) to 3rd grade (14 years old).  That’s my update for now!
À bientôt!

Apartment Tour

This is post one of two today... this first one is some photos of my apartment, it's not much to look at but rent is only €50/month.

Lycée Pavie
Hallway..and phone for those of you who've called me.
Kitchen... yes five of us share this space!
Our living room complete with "couches" and TV.

My Room!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

First week of teaching...

One of the best parts of being an English Teaching Assistant is that I am only required to work twelve hours a week.  I am now more than halfway done with my hours for the week, and have every Wednesday and Thursday off.  So far I have been at the middle school for for hours and three hours at the first elementary school.  The teachers at the middle school are kind and very supportive, which makes it easy for me to plan lessons.  I also eat lunch with the teachers which is a great way to get to know them.  The students at the middle school are a mixed bag.  Some seam more interested in English than others, and they all ask the questions that they have learned in class.  Instead of asking do you have, they always ask have you got (Have you got any pets or have you got any brothers or sisters for example).

My afternoon at the elementary school was eventful for a first day.  The students are adorable, but rowdy after their lunch.  I have three classes there (CE2, CM1, and CM2) so the students are between 7 and 10 years old.  When they lined up to come inside from recess one girl had lost a tooth and she presented it to the teacher and me.  The students asked many questions, especially CE2, and they must be shared.  One girl asked if I would sleep at home in New York every night, another said that I was very lucky to have taken a plane to Europe and not a ship.  In another class I was asked if I took a helicopter to France, and finally "are there movie theaters in America?"  When the kids had some more time to play, things started to go downhill.  One little boy was running in the hallway and ran into the door handle which punctured his shoulder.  He then ran outside screaming and all the teachers ran to him.  Of course this was my first day and I had no idea what to do, so I followed them inside.  The paramedics had to be called (plombiers) had to come to the school, and one told us that if the handle had been a little closer to the boys artery he could have bled out in three minutes.  It was frightening, and made it difficult to focus for the last class.  Hopefully Friday is more normal at the second elementary school.

This afternoon I am going to the Côte de Granit Rose with my roommates and next Monday we are attending our first soccer match: Guingamp v. Morocco  (the best part is that our tickets only cost €5.50)...hopefully this will give me good pictures and something more to write about!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ma vie en France

I’ve now been in France for almost two weeks, but with limited internet access I haven’t had a chance to post anything to my blog... this is the shortened version of what I've been up to!

I have finally arrived in France after months of planning.  Monday, the day of my flight was very stressful.  I arrived at the airport an hour and a half before my flight as instructed, only to be told that my flight to Philadelphia was delayed, but it should take off around 2:15.  I finally decided to say goodbye to my parents and go through security because it was getting busy, only to find that the flight was actually delayed until three.  When we finally landed in Philly after the loudest plane ride (it was basically a prop plane) I found that the bus connecting the terminals wasn’t running due to construction and was forced to walk the entire way, and go through security AGAIN.  The second time there was apparently a problem with my shoes.  I got to my gate about fifteen minutes before we boarded the flight when I thought I would have three hours.  The flight to Paris was uneventful, and after I picked up my bags I made my way to the train station and got on a train to Rennes and then to Saint-Brieuc, the biggest city in Côtes d’Armor. 

I spent my first few days in France with my contact person and it was wonderful.  I was able to relax and we went to the beach.  My first glimpse of Guingamp was on the Thursday after I arrived and the town is very cute.  I met some teachers at the collège (middle school) and got the key to my room.   I am living in an apartment with another American, a girl from Switzerland, and an Italian.  This weekend a Spanish assistant is moving in with us, but she has been in Guingamp for three years already.   Our apartment is pretty bare bones but it is cheap, linens are provided, and our kitchen has almost everything we need, even if those things don’t work very well.  We also have a TV, but no internet.

                       The view of Guingamp from my window.

I spent the first two days of this week in Saint-Brieuc for orientation, the first day was orientation for elementary assistants and the second was for everyone in middle and high schools.  I am assigned to three hours each at two elementary schools (one is pretty far away!) and six hours at the middle school.  I’m really looking forward to starting my routine on Monday!  I will also be helping other teachers with their English one night a week for six weeks starting in November.  It was great to meet other assistants, and we finished a lot of administrative work, so I now have health insurance and am set up to receive part of my salary in October instead of waiting until the end of November to receive some of my salary.  I also almost have a bank account open (still waiting for the card in the mail along with the pin and information for online banking). 

So far I love being in Bretagne and am very happy with my placement.  This town is great and so are the people I’ve met so far.  I’ve had some setbacks but that’s part of moving to a new country.

À Bientôt!