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Showing posts from October, 2005

Time change

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to exist in a totally different plane of existance, where, say, you had very little concept of time??
I no longer have to wonder, I know - I don't want to be there. Last night, after a very cool concert on the other side of town, Anna and I spent 45 minutes trying to figure out if the clocks were going to change in France today in respect to Daylight Savings Time. And, alas, it did. However, as Anna so graciously put it, "It doesn't matter if we gain an hour of sleep, because I'll have lost it trying to figure out if it exists!" This was sadly true. The good news now is, that I think I am only 5 hours apart from US time due to President Bush deciding he had the right to fiddle with TIME - a worldwide phenomena. One second, let me check CNN online and find out what time it is in the US .... (please hold while Heather searches...)
As it turns out (many minutes later), Daylight Saving Time (note the lack of "S&qu…

Wandering mind ...

So I have been sitting here NOT doing my research for next week's lessons. I have been reading other people's blogs, and adding friends at MySpace, checking in on Facebook, and otherwise lolly-gagging about on the internet. But now I'm hungry and need to go upstairs to get some lunch, and have still accomplished almost nothing so far today. I think that it is really some sort of record, how much nothing I have been able to do.
I don't even know what I have been thinking about! At first, I was just so excited, because I was getting to see all the pictures from Little Michael's wedding. Then I realized I never even called to congratulate him. And I haven't really written any postcards or letters that weren't on the internet (although I did finally buy some stamps). Ugh. This is more evidence of me doing nothing. Tonight there is this gig at a local bar. I think if I go back to my room and rest, read, or doing something quiet for a bit, I should be be…

Sedan

Yesterday, Anna and I went to Sedan. Sedan is this relatively small town about 30 minutes away by train with Europe's largest château in it. The place was huge (duh, hence why it was famous). It had been built up in 6 stages beginning back in the 1300's, I think. We got audioguides and wandered around. The tour takes you through the guard rooms mostly, and then a bit of outside. I took a ton of pictures, which I promise to upload later this weekend. The coolest part was how they described building the ramparts. (You should know that word from the National Anthem, but in case you never knew what it meant.... Ramparts are wall fortifications that were added to castles and forts after the cannonball started being made out of harder metals, because the old walls couldn't handle the pressure. It was a type of cement called, wait for it ... rampart, that they added between the layers of stone.) In the case of this particular château, the walls had increased from 14 to 26 feet th…

And so it begins...

This is the beginning of my first real week of adventures. I thought I had already told you all about the jazz soiree in Givet, and taking the train on Saturday with the random french youth, and getting a train pass, and doing laundry at the laundromat, and having dinner with Anna's family until midnight, going to church, eating a three hour long Sunday lunch, reading and hanging out in the afternoon, watching Il était une fois with Constance and the sausage meatloaf escapade. I knew I hadn't told you about watching Spiderman in french with the crazy man (turns out his name is Laurent Herr), drinking wine out of a giant coffee mug, getting up and reading, breakfast in bed, and then lunch with the Dominguez family; but to tell you the truth I just don't have the energy for a long blog at the moment. Also, I promised the smaller girls next door they could come over and watch a movie (if any of mine translate to french).

So, the beginning of my decline in writing has begun.…

Already Friday

It is already Friday. Sometimes time goes so slow and sometimes it just flies by. This week had a little of both. Let's jump backwards to Tuesday evening.

Tuesday evening I went to the Youth Group at church. It was nice to be able to talk about God for a bit (we read Mark). But we also sang some churchy songs (LOVE singing), and we eat and chat together in fellowship too, which is really cool. I have about 5-6 years on most of the young people in the group, and at least 5-6 years less than the group leaders, but I feel right at home because they are A: welcoming and B: my french isn't really good enough to comprehend a more somber group. Teenagers here are basically the only ones that speak with intonation and emotion, they use their hands, and they mostly talk about school and friends, so I know more of the vocabulary. I got to take home some of the apple tart (their version of apple pie, except it has no top, and they slice the apples in round bits first and lie them in a spi…

Planning

There is alot (I know that that isn't proper English, but I really like it, and it is in the dictionary) of planning going on here right now. First, I am trying to plan all my lessons. I think I have it pretty much covered at this point, but you never really know, do you? I make the worksheets twice a week, but finding good links is often difficult. Even when I find a good page, it tends to be three or four clicks in on another page, and the longer the address, the more likely they aren't going to type it in properly, so I have to choose shorter, more simple addresses.

After all the lesson planning there is vacation planning. Yes, I have been teaching for two weeks (and observing for one) and the French government is giving me ten days of vacation! The question is, how do I make the most of my time here without using every ounce of savings that I have? Also, how do you travel to foreign places or strange new cities without a travelmate?

Because I don't like being alon…

Sick

This weekend was slightly bummy because I was sick the entire time. Friday night Anna and I hung out at home and watched The Skulls and then an episode of the West Wing. We went out to try and find something to do before that, but wound up just walking around for hours instead. The walking around was good, because we got a chance to see a part of the city that Anna hadn't been to yet and to figure out where we could go the next time we went out. Eh, not much.

Saturday morning we got up and had breakfast in the Place Ducale. We have adopted a restaurant to be our own there. Breakfast was good, and it rejuvenated me, because my throat was incredibly sore. Afterwards, we went to the bus station, got a schedule, and caught the next bus to the hyper-mart, Carrefour. I got an adapter for my computer (thanks Carl!), a broom to sweep up the floor with, stuff to make quesadillas (Anna has never had any!), and some other little things we have been missing. I also bought L'Auberg…

Teaching

This was my first actual week of teaching. It varied from students who could explain the subtext of a quotation to those who couldn't even ask about the words they didn't understand. I find the differences challenging, but am excited to have the opportunity to work with different types of students.

As is the American way, we start with an icebreaker. You know 'em, you love 'em. I never thought I would force people into playing these games, but they work, they are easy, and they are in English.

But since we can't play games all class long, I made them all worksheets about American "stuff." The worksheets have a variety of things on them. There is, of course, the day and date. This is followed by a random holiday. For example, today is World Egg Day. We also discussed more regular days, like Columbus day, but it is still exciting to talk about the weird ones. Also, it is amusing for them, and amusment = interest. I can't get them talking witho…

Sports & Such

The past two days have been incredibly sporty. Tuesday night, Anna and I went to the gym after dinner to play badminton. Due to my lack of hand-to-eye coordination, I was not exactly the star player. Anna, however, was awesome! She played for a club team back in England, and all those years of serious competition were really showing off. We ducked out a little early to catch a film series at the Metropolis, which is this giant movie theater in our town. We got there just as the film would have been starting, and the line was forever long. So we decided to see a different film instead. We walked in to Caché. I read the description and discovered it was a scary movie. I hate scary movies. So then I had to go out and get permission to change movies. This is not as easy in french or in a french theater. I had to tell three different people that I was a big chicken about scary movies until finally the cashier called the manager to make sure it was alright for us to change - at…

The past five days

OKay here goes with the exciting adventures of Heather in France.

Last Wednesday night we went out to a pub, and I had a pretty bad time. This is mostly because I hate smoke (bound to be found in a pub) and I don't really drink all that much. There were a lot of other assistants there, almost all of them actually, so that part was fun. However, as usual, the table split itself in two and spoke german on one end and english on the other. I really want everyone to speakin french, so I can practice. Also, it would be good to not draw so much attention to ourselves all of the time. Eh. Dommage. (too bad)

Thursday night, I went to this meeting for young professionals - like a young adult group - that was sponsored by the church. It was long, difficult to understand, and generally I felt like I was much too young to be there. One interesting note however, is that many of the people there were about 25-30 years old and were just now working in their first jobs. So, I even found it hard to …

Personal thoughts

I promise to recommence with the description of what has been going on here soon, but I feel like I need to write a little bit about my inner struggles for the moment.

First, let me start with something funny. This is especially for Kayla and Kim. Remember that night last spring when we had M&M's and wine? (For my younger viewers, I am 22 and actually legal - especially since the drinking age here is 16 or 18.) Well, the wine we had had no effect on me really except to make me giggly after a bit. Last night I went to dinner and had the strongest wine I have ever had in my entire life. I hadn't even had two whole glasses and I was completely overwhelmed by how hard it hit me. Nothing happened, obviously, because I could feel the difference and stopped drinking, but I thought you would want to know. Next time, I have a much better idea of what kind of wine to get!

Right, so the inner struggles. Language barriers aside, cultural differences here are sometimes hard to handle. Fo…

Festival of Bayard

Sunday, there was this crazy festival in Mézières for this man named Bayard. The general idea was that they were going to unveil the statue of him. The tricky part was, they seemed to have six places on this little route on the brochure. We arrived at the first meeting point and there were girls dancing and a small band was playing. After we walked through the crowd a bit, we saw that there were also two horses. One of the horses was pulling a cart that was full of women who were pretending to be dead. (I should note that these women were by far the most interesting part of the festival because they were terrifying and simultaneously funny.) When we went walking on Saturday, I read a sign that explained how Bayard had saved the city of Mézières. This explained why a short man in knight's attire was sitting on the horse that wasn't attached to the cart. OKay, so I think we might have missed the special thing that was supposed to happen at the first stop, because we wer…

Internet

OKay, so after I sent out my email this morning, they decided to fix the computers in the teacher's lounge, and now the internet isn't allowing me to get back to my email. So, I thought I would let you all know what was going on. I am going to run for now, and try again in a little bit. Hopefully the tech guy will have it figured out in a short while. Talk to you soon. ~Heather

Walking & Night life

One of the best things about Charleville is that you can walk everywhere. Today, I got a very good taste of all that walking. I had class this morning, and then a lunch date with a lady from the church. She is a documentarian at a local middle school. A documentarian is an awful lot like a school librarian, except in France, libraries only have books in them. You have to go to a mediathéque or media information center to use the internet and online documents. A CDI - Centre de Documentation et Informations (Center for Documentation and Information) can be found in most schools, and it has the internet, periodicals, international newspapers, and of course reference books. It also has books that are directly related to courses being taught in the school, which is lucky for me, because they teach theater here. Right, so the walking.

I met Frederic Drumel at her school in the CDI. Her school is a good thirty minute walk across town. After a short tour of the CDI, we went to a Tur…

Class Observation & Ice Cream

Observing a French class is a lot like studying in reverse. However, it is pretty funny because it makes you realize that people in the US really have it easy. The first teacher said they were studying irregular verbs. Well, as it turns out, most English verbs are irregular, so these poor kids are struggling like nothing I’ve ever seen before. But, their spoken English is about where a student in their second year of college might be – except these kids are about 15. It is really amazing.

Also, it is sad sometimes when observing because Americans make mistakes between their, they’re, and there all the time. Here they do too, but this is their second language. It makes me want to pay better attention in school. Except, I’m not in school anymore. So, if you are in school, take advantage of the situation – learn something, would’ya?

Besides observing, I have had an opportunity to wander around town. In my travels, Anna and I got a phone. We are going to split the bill, because the only pho…

Hyper-mart Weekend

Let's do some back-tracking.

Saturday, Anna and I went to Carrefour, a Walmart type of store on the outskirts of town. The funniest part about this (besides the four wheel drive carts(=buggies for you in the south)) was that we had to take the bus. Line number three has a stop right outside the doors. So we got what we needed: a pillow, thumbtacks, a toothbrush, one each of kitchenware (plate, bowl, cup, etc), a hand towel, and then a wide variety of foods. This variety was really important, because the grocery store in our town (the only one close enough to walk to anyway) only has it's own labels of food. So, imagine going into your local Food Lion or Bi-Lo and only being able to buy their version of products; generally alright, but lacking in a certain quality usually referred to as taste. Anyway, we were thrilled about all of this, and the bath mat and cleaning supplies we were able to pick up. We check out, and return the cart (to get my $.50 back) and then wind up …

Reims / Orientation & Training

It is Saturday morning after two days of training in Reims. First, about Reims.

Reims is famous for a few things, but most popularly, a cathedral built in the 13th century. The kings of France were corinated there and Joan of Arc was either 1: sacrificed there OR 2: made a saint there. (That part was in French, so it didn't really come out right.) to learn more about Reims, check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reims

While we were there, they took us to a champagne cave. We got to taste a 110€ bottle of champagne from Taittinger (sp?) which is one of the most premier champagnes in the world. It is only sold by two retailers in the US, one in NY and the other in Chicago. The cave was awesome, as it had been built underneath an Abbey and there were all sorts of tunnels in it; including one that went 2 km to the Reims Cathedral as an escape route for special people who were staying there! Some of the rooms had light shafts. These had been build by the Romans. They looked lik…