Year Abroad: Day 9

Before I started work yesterday, I got talking to a philosophy teacher in the staffroom, and he offered to give me lifts to work on Wednesdays. This is great news because, as I’ve said before, public transport doesn’t really exist here.

The first class I attended were doing an exercise about heroes, which included people like Brad Pitt and Barack Obama. It seems that a lot of the English taught here is Americanised, for example, they say copybook instead of exercise-book. And ‘guys’ is said a lot.

One of my colleagues said that the older the pupils get the quieter and calmer and less willing to talk they become, which I found to be true. I thought this was very odd because at home, the kids at school got louder and more confident as they got older. Honestly, sometimes trying to get the older ones to talk here is like pulling teeth.

Later on, my housemate came to find me and said some of the teachers at the college were looking for me – oops!  There had been some miscommunication between the staff and I had missed an observation class. However, all was not lost. I made it to the second one, and the younger kids were much more willing to speak English and to come and ask me for help. Weird. Somewhat awkwardly, I did have to correct the teacher again on her pronunciation of ‘Illinois’ (don’t sound the ‘s’), ‘Kansas’ (sound the ‘s’) and maple syrup (the ‘y’ sounds like an ‘i’). I didn’t want to undermine her by correcting her in front of the children, but she said feel free to do it, that’s why I’m here.

In the afternoon, I met up with another assistant, based in St Hilaire, which is about 15km away. She came by bus to Mortain, and we got a drink and some chips. I thought the barman said ‘en bouteille?’ as in, would you like your drink in a bottle? He actually said ‘emporter’ which means, to take away? I said yes, we sat outside in the cold. Oops.

She told me that her journey to France has been really difficult – in fact, we had both missed the same ferry last week. She also had a lot of stories that I won’t repeat here, but it does show that a year abroad can never be dull. Even after one week.  One of the stories I will mention, however, is that one of the teachers where she is working died just before she arrived. What a frightening way to start a new job, with the air of loss and grief all around.

Anyway, we went for another drink and got to know each other. She was lovely, so hopefully we will stay in touch this year.

At about 6.30, I did something that I never do, and that I may never do again. I went for a run with some of my colleagues. First of all, I put my foot in it a little. I happened to mention that I met another assistant and that she had told me about the death in her school. One of my colleagues burst into tears. She knew the lady who died and hadn’t been informed. It had been over a week. I felt awful. It turns out that it is quite common for teachers to switch between the schools in this area, perhaps because it is quite small, so that is how they knew each other.

I was relieved when we began running because that appeared to take my colleague’s mind off of the bad news. We managed 2 miles in about 20 minutes, so it wasn’t fast, but that was enough for me. I am not a runner by any stretch of the imagination.

That’s where I’ll leave it for this post, A +


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