The difference between my current life and the one I was living only a few months prior is vast. In San Francisco the pace of my life was fast; I was always busy with some activity and sleep was not something of which I was accustomed. Thinking back on this time, it is quite hard to imagine how I ever pushed myself as hard as I did. Since arriving here in Sete I’ve acclimated (a bit) to the idea of having very little to do.
Though my contract officially started October 1st, my job as an English assistant only started last Monday. That’s to say, I spent the first 17 days of October chillin’ like a villain. When I received my work schedule on my first day of school, I found out that out of the 12 hours a week I am contracted, I will split 9 hours between two different schools. 3 out of my 12 hours are being kept for “fun days.” What does that mean, you ask? Fun days are basically a glorified English-speaking field day in which multiple assistants from around the region go to a school to play games with the kids. Thus, I work only Monday/Thursdays in my schools. Not too shabby.
My first week of teaching consisted of introductions and repetitive vocabulary about Vermont’s four seasons. By the end of my last class I was about ready to throw all my stupid flash cards in the trash. However, my kiddies are adorable. I teach ages from CP to CM2 (ages 6-11). I’ve already got my eye on a few English speaking stars, and yes, as expected, there are also a few classes that are incredibly difficult to control. For the most part, however, I stand in front of a class of doe eyed elementary schoolers and I make a complete idiot out of myself as I pantomime everything I am saying…something I quite enjoy, and which comes naturally to me. With two (exhausting) days under my belt, I profit from the benefits of the French education system A.K.A. a completely unnecessary, but all the same, welcomed, 10 day paid vacation.
Though I’ve become a bit more lazy that usual with my 9 hour work week in the schools, it is part of my nature to fill some of my free time with things to do. I’ve picked up some work on the side working as a server/barista in a little café-bar called Bistro du Marché. I befriended the bar man, Adil, (who deserves his own post on here really soon) and I asked him if he needed help. It turns out he admires the American work ethic more than the French and decided to hire me. I work some weekends, but mostly when he needs me. It’s been an excellent place to meet people, to practice my French in high stress situations, and it’s a few extra euros in my pocket. Plus, I’m learning a trade I’ve never done before. More on this soon.
I also picked up a language partnership. Like I discussed in a previous post, jumping at any opportunity to make friends can prove beneficial. Not only do I have a new friend, but I also have a new French tutor. Two days a week, my friend, Flavien, and I get together to practice speaking in English and French. Our levels are pretty similar, which is helpful. He is also easy on the eyes and has lots of friends. Two of the girls he introduced me to are also foreigners like myself. His girlfriend, Mariko, is a Japanese girl who works in Sete’s only sushi resto and Maman is a Chinese girl who promised to cook me dumplings…. Can you tell I’m missing some San Francisco classics? Another huge plus, Flavien has a car and works in the same town as me. Thus, he has volunteered to drive me to work on Thursdays saving me from having to take the train. Flavien has been a catch.
Travel is another things filling that will be filling up my free time. Tomorrow, my roommate, Ashley, and I are off to explore Bordeaux and Toulouse for a few days. As new members of couchsurfing.org, we’ve already hosted a lovely Québecoise at our appartment and will spend two nights being hosted in Bordeaux. I’ve been meeting great people from all over and I’m looking forward to making some new friends in some new places this vacation!
Okkk this was a long, not very well focused post, and I thank those of you who made it to the bottom. All is good. In fact, all is great, potentially even excellent.