Saturday, 13 October 2012

Railways, Rouen and Raclette

On Wednesday, I and three of the other English assistants went for another wander around town stopping by the enormous fair which is here until the end of the month and ending up at the Coty shopping centre. The fair had Kinder crêpes for 3€ – pretty ­­­­­­­cheap for a taste revolution! Kinder chocolate seems to be really popular in France, especially amongst my students, and I’ve gotten a little bit addicted. Although it makes me feel like a 5 year old, it’s a lot nicer than Milka which I really don’t like that much!

After this we went to the Monoprix in Coty and discovered that they sell PRINGLES and Tyrells’ popcorn (Sweet and salted in the same bag, existing in harmony. Cinemas, take note). Such a good day for food!

On Thursday I should have had a whole day of classes but there was an ‘exercise de confinement’. I’ve tried hard to come up with an English equivalent to this and can’t so we’ll try ‘confinement drill’. In the event of a chemical accident or other major incident, the response is to shut the doors and windows, stay inside within your ‘zone’ and wait for the all-clear – pretty sensible, really. In order to avoid this, we took the 1ere­ and the terminale (lower and upper sixth) to a science fair at the town hall. This was quite good fun although stopping students sneaking outside proved quite a challenge. When we got back, confinement had ended (I think the drill lasted around an hour) so we ate lunch and in the afternoon I taught groups. I did a very brief starter on idioms and the disbelief of some students that we say ‘a frog in the throat’ instead of ‘a cat in the throat’ was hilarious. I conceded ‘raining cats and dogs’ as a stupid one though – the French version of ‘it’s raining ropes’ does make more sense when you look out of the window. The evening took the form of a pizza night at Natalie and Katie’s – it was so much fun! I’m so jealous that they have both internet AND a kitchen. That’s just showing off!

Friday introduced me to the spotless, punctual world of French train travel. We went to Rouen on the high-speed TGV which is a brilliant experience. It’s a double decker train (exciting in itself) and does a journey which normally takes over an hour and a half in just over forty-five minutes. I won’t talk too much about the assistants’ training day other than to say that I’m very sceptical that anyone can teach you how to teach and that I think you need to discover your own style through working with particular groups of students.

A teacher from one of my schools picked me up from the train station and took me back to her house for dinner. I really love where I live – it’s cheap (so, so cheap), convenient for work and actually quite homely – but it can get a bit lonely. Some nights I finish school at 17:30 and don’t see or talk to anyone until 8:00 the next morning. For this reason, I’ve come to really love going out. I put my French-speaking head on (difficult after an entire day of speaking English) and had such an amazing time. French people are incredibly welcoming and hospitable – already, a few of us are saying that we think we’re going to find the UK REALLY rude when we get back – and an evening out always seems so much fun. We ate ‘raclette’ which I’d never had before but it was SO good. It’s a very sociable way of eating – you melt slices of cheese and eat them with ham, bacon, chorizo etc. I've put in a couple of images in case you can't picture it. After dessert, we played a game I’d never seen called ‘Time’s Up’ which is a mix between Taboo and charades. It’s always fun to play a game like this when everyone’s been drinking and French isn’t your first language – working out the meaning of the word on the card in order to describe it… not always easy! France is really fun sometimes.

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