Monday, 19 November 2012

Top 10 Things... France

10 Things I’ll Miss About France
With the Christmas holiday and a return to England on the horizon, it seemed a good time to reflect on the things that I’ll miss whilst I’m gorging myself on mince pies, catching up with family and visiting my beloved Londres.

1.      The food. There are definitely elements of British cuisine that I miss (MARMITE!) but in general food is just of a much better quality here. Even the discount lines in the supermarkets taste better than their English equivalents.

2.      On a similar note, decent wine is about 2,50 a bottle rather than the £10+ you’d pay in the UK to get something that doesn’t burn its way down your throat.

3.      My students. Obviously this varies from class to class as it does for everyone working in a school but the vast majority of my students are awesome and I will miss working with them over the break.

4.      My colleagues. I’ve been incredibly lucky in that I’ve been placed with some incredibly interesting, friendly and helpful people in my schools. Life here in France wouldn’t be the same without them and it’s an absolute pleasure to work with them.

5.      Trying new things. I don’t know why we don’t do more of this in Southampton but we’re really making an effort here in France to go to events in the local community – the weekly language café, a handball match, a breakdancing competition. It makes life a lot more interesting and it’s always great to get out of the house where the dreaded dissertation is sat waiting to be written.

6.      Extremely cheap (and yet nice!) accommodation. I pay less rent per month here than I pay per week in Southampton. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is.

7.      Having the chance to use and improve my French amongst some very harsh judges. It turns out using French in a country where it’s the native language is difficult, far harder than I’ve ever noticed when I’ve been here for a short time. Native speakers (as with any language) speak incredibly quickly with ridiculously beautiful intonation and perfect pronunciation. Until very recently (probably the weekend) I was utterly convinced that my language wasn’t at all improving and that I should just give up speaking French to save myself further embarrassment. Slowly but surely, though, I think I may be just beginning to see some signs of improvement.

8.      The music. Ridiculously cheesy music is played everywhere, often reminding me of singers/bands that I loved but thought had been well and truly lost to the 90s. Going to the shopping centre is like time-travelling, I love it.

9.      Respect for the arts. France has it, Britain’s almost completely lost it.

10.  Awesome products which I hadn’t ever seen in the UK. This is something of a catch-all category but I was running out of space. It includes things like (but is not limited to) rhubarb scented washing up liquid (I was sceptical but it’s a life-changer), rosé cider and salted caramel.

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