Ahhhhhh, another day in paradise surrounded by crêpes, baguettes and wine and everything is perfect- said no assistant ever. Then again, being uncomfortable and getting out of my comfort zone is kind of my hobby. It’s week number two and I still haven’t experienced much culture shock. On the other hand it’s mostly little frustrations that get to me easily. My French is no where near where I want it to be and I’m realizing how much vocabulary I’ve lost in the 2 ½ years since I’ve been here. Obviously going from being 100% understood in the states to not so much in either language can be a bit taxing. It will get better. I know.
Don’t get me wrong, this job is a dream and being back in France feels amazing! But adjusting is something that happens when you move to a foreign country. Again it takes me back to when I worked for Study Abroad and we went through skits or other representations of ‘cultural adjustment’. So in the back of my head i’m like UGH surface adjustment.
Beginning of last week I went to Nancy for orientation and got to interact with all the assistants from everywhere. Of the 60-ish of us in Académie Nancy-Metz there are assistants from the US, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Jamaica and India. We’re all kind of in the same boat so it was good to get perspective on how to start this adventure off and make some friends in the area. Plus Nancy’s a very pretty city.
Shoutout to Cindy for hosting me and directing me towards ‘Eurodif’ which saved me with cheap leggings and replacement for that one sad boot I left somewhere in Strasbourg…(rip).
Improving my French is my second purpose here, my primary purpose is teaching! So specifically I’m teaching high school which has three levels here terminales, secondaires and troisiemes (ages 15-18). I finally have a grasp of the way the public school system works and it’s vastly different from high school in the states. I’ve done my intro a few times but I was way more interested in the questions that the kids had for me. Some highlights include:
Do you like French people? Do you like French bread?
What do Americans think about French people?
What do you think about Hiliary Clinton/Donald Trump/The Election?
Is America like the movies…..(like what movie?) Uhh Project X?
When you finish high school do you really (student motions throwing a cap in the air, a la High School Musical) ?
Have you ever met a star/celebrity? I so could have lied and said yes but I didn’t want to be confusing. These kids have no concept of how big the US is really.
It’s kinda fun to be an ambassador of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. But really representing all I love about the Midwest, Michigan, Detroit, WMU, Kalamazoo all of that. My accent is so different from what they’ve heard and what they’re used to. Even the English Teaching Assistants from the UK said we sounded like ‘people on TV’. I actually showed one class the lip dub my high school did last year which has a song from High School Musical and I had to reassure the students that not everyday in American high school is like that….we have exams between the songs and dances.
I’ve been feeling pretty lost around my lycée, as I’m sort of a teacher but I’m not. I’m not as young as the kids but I’m also not as old as most teachers. Everyone does know who I am which is useful but without a schedule I’ve been kind of floating around without a goal or purpose. However, my schedule is pretty much finished now….and it’s nearly time for the first break! I taught 5 classes on my own this Friday and it went pretty well! I’m thankful for my experience as a TA, with study abroad and Girl Scouts, as I’m pretty good at thinking on my feet and coming up with ideas for lessons.
I kind of wish all of us assistants could start in September because then it would at least feel like a break and we would have more money to go places. Also with my visa and OFII I’m not sure I could even take a little trip to Luxembourg since it’s outside of France. However, everyone has been x10000 times helpful in navigating administration here, which isn’t always fun.
In the mean time, I’m starting to make friends and push myself and put myself out there and slowly things will get even better. I just moved into my flat in the cité scolaire with a German Assistant, Anna and it’s so much nicer than the dorm I was staying. Little by little I’m feeling more at home in my new home.