A Travellerspoint blog

Fighting the break of dawn

back to the USA!

sunny

I once again find myself in MacDo, sipping on a coke so I can use their interent. I hate macdonalds, and sadly have eaten here more than I wanted to during my time in France, yet its cheap and now that the internet in my apartment is gone, i have no choice.

But really sitting here makes me remember my first time walking here to use the internet with Paty. I was startled when someone came up to me and started taking my order before I made it to the cash register. I stumbled through ordering and trying to understand that they were asking me what size drink i wanted. I had to really focus on to understand what people around me were saying. That was the first time. This time I walked in and had no problem giving my order for a large coke (which is like a medium coke for us USAers). I knew exactly what they were saying and they had no problem understanding me. And I really don't have to focus that much to understand what the large group of babbling teenagers are saying as they sit next to me. Even with all of the slang and expressions they are using, I understand them when they talk about their classes, and as they mock a random person walking by.
"Ca va, toi?" "Oui! Nickel!"

I do plan on writing a better entry about how I see things now. How things are a bit different, but I do'nt have the time or the battery power at the moment.

Therefore I will just wrap it up quickly and try to write more when I am waiting in the airport.

Tomorrow is my last day in Roanne. My bags are packed (amazing, right?!? i mean tottlay packed!! Ahead of time! NOt like when I left the USA and I was still packing 30mins before we left....) My room is clean and we are having a dinner tomorrow at our place to say goodbye.)

Am I sad? That is a stupid question. Of course i am. I'm saying goodbye to a life i've been living for 8 months. To people who are my friends, colleagues, students, advice givers and traveling buddies.

but i'm excited too! to see all of you at home!!! can't wait to see those smiling faces!

battery dying. i'll update when i can!

P.S no room for French candy. sorry folks!

Posted by jauntypag 11:39 Archived in France Comments (0)

Dancing Frogs

sunny

You lucky ducks, another random blog before they cut my internet!

Some interesting events of the week:

When in France, Do as the Frogs Do
A group of us decided to ago out to dinner together before every parts ways. We went to a cute little restaurant in town which served typical “Savoyarde” food, which basically means there was a lot of cheese on the menu (fondue, raclette ect). When I sat down at the table, the first thing I noticed was the little sign with the specials for the day. In big bold letters was the meal I simply couldn’t turn down; frog legs. I felt that it would be a sin against all things French to spend the majority of a year in this country and not try one of the things it is known for. So I ordered the frog legs, along with Paty and Christian.

They came on a big steaming platter, completely covered (or swimming, haha!) in garlic, oil, parsley and butter. Lucile gave us a demonstration on how to eat them, since I was a bit confused. Basically they come in a little round circle. You then take the end of them and pull them apart (in other words you take both of their legs and pull them in the opposite direction) then you eat the meat off the bone. The action of pulling them apart was a bit unsettling to me, since that is when you really recognize the shape of the frog and realize what you are eating. All in all, I liked them. They taste a bit like chicken, but have the texture of fish. Paty and Christian agreed that they were good, and we had no problem finishing off the plate!
frog legs

frog legs

Do the Hustle!
This was my last week of classes, so I tried to make my lessons extra fun. One of my classes of students is always super energetic and excited to get up and walk around. Since teaching culture is a large part of the assistantship, I decided I needed to teach these kids how to dance! So we pushed the tables aside, broke out the Steve wonder tunes and danced the hustle! Some people were a bit shy and opted out of dancing, but most people were excited to get up and try an American dance! They caught on very easily and were soon twirling, clapping and laughing along with the music. They left the class smiling, which was exactly what I wanted. Maybe its not the typical American dance (there is no way I could teach them square dancing) but they enjoyed it and will hopefully remember this class.

Again it was sad to leave all of my students this week. The look on their faces and the kind words they said to me proved that I have succeeded in my job. Students, who were too shy to even ask me a question in October came up to me and confidently thanked me, in English, for working with them this year. The students who couldn’t understand a word I said in the fall nodded their heads in comprehension when I asked if they feel that they had improved. As a teacher, there is nothing more that I could ask for. They feel a more confident when they are speaking; they added to their vocabulary, they learned more about the American culture, and the most important…. They tried (and most of them loved) peanut butter!

Final note:
Its interesting how one little thing can make a huge difference. One smile, one letter, one nice conversation, one extra class, one extra minute can change everything. I’m now making sure to go out of my way to say hi to the person I see across the street, to take the extra time and thoroughly revise my lesson plans, to thank everyone for the little things they do and to remember that nothing is set in stone. :)

And a random side note... I have my lovely window wide open and hear instruments being played on the street. The instrument being played: the bagpipe. Oh Roanne, you never fail to surprise me...

Posted by jauntypag 11:19 Archived in France Comments (0)

Barbie goes Hiking

and some other events you've missed.

sunny

le monôme: 30 days before the students take their major end of school exam (the exam which determines if they have to repeat a year or if they can get their high school diploma) the Senior students celebrate the end studying. They celebrate this by throwing flour, eggs and shaving cream at each other all though out the city. As I carefully walked past the school and out into the city center, I passed store windows covered with egg shells and huge piles of flour lining the streets. I could literally see the flour floating through the air as I walked from store to store. Oh those crazy French kids.

This weekend was the weekend of eating. I had a bunch of invitations to eat with different teachers and families, so I took advantage of each one and basically filled myself to the brim all weekend. One of these events was a bit more adventurous than the others. Sunday morning, Dimitri and I were invited to have a picnic with his dad, step mom and sisters. In my mind, summer weather + picnic= finally being able to wear a dress! (did I mention it was 80 degrees here all week? Hurrary for sunshine!) So I grabbed one of my summer dresses, threw on some cute sandals and jumped in the car to go pick up Dimitri’s sisters. When we arrived, we noticed that they were both wearing hiking shoes. The little tiny side note that we were going to go hiking after the picnic was not mentioned to us on the phone. So after our amazing picnic in the countryside, where we literally sat in an open field on a blanket staring at the hills in front of us, we went for a hike. Please refer to the above sentence when I mentioned I was wearing cute sandals and a dress. Can you see where this is going? Basically I was American Barbie hiking up and down the hills trying not to fall and kill myself as all of the other hikers stared at me in disbelief. Honesty, I was extremely lucky that I didn’t break or twist my ankle and everyone agreed with this. After about 4 hours of hiking by waterfalls, through paths so thick with mud your feet insanely sink as you touch the surface and clinging to Dimitri’s arm as we maneuvered through the rocky landscape, I survived with only a cut on the side of my foot. (It was decently deep, but better than a sprained ankle.) I hated being the girlie girl on this hiking trip, but I’ve learned a lesson from this. Next time I’m hiking and I see a girl all dolled up trying to climb over the rocks, I won’t think “wow this girl is a ditz, who wears heels while hiking?” I will instead assume that she, like me, was unaware that hiking was on that days agenda and therefore should not be judged for her ridiculous apparel.

We also had another great dinner with the assistants at my place this past weekend. Lots of good Italian food, home made by two Italians and chocolate muffins for dessert, representing Germany. It was our last meal together at the apartment, and I’m very glad that we got to eat together here one last time. Tried our best to avoid talking about leaving, but somehow or another it always came up.

This is my last week with internet, TV and a phone in my apartment. This actually makes me glad, I absolutely do not want to spend time in the apartment on the internet when I only have a week and a half left here. As long as the weather is good, I’ll be out and about in Roanne until I am on the plane home. No worries, I’ll try to find a café with WiFi so I can give you at least one last entry.

break by the river

break by the river

waterfall

waterfall

balancing

balancing

Posted by jauntypag 15:52 Archived in France Comments (0)

May: The Month of Work Holidays.

sunny

My weekend started on Tuesday afternoon last week. Since May is the month of work holidays, along with the combination of canceled classes, I only worked 4 hours last week. Don’t hate me. It’s not my fault that France has a ton of holidays in May; I am just using them to my advantage. The first couple of days, I spent some time with the girls, and basically stayed warm and dry in the apartment to avoid the rainy weather.

Dimitri also had the work holidays off so he came down to Roanne and we spent the weekend together. Thursday we were searching from something to do and discovered that there was“marché aux puces” aka a flea market in a little town nearby. So we hopped in the car and took a winding, twisting, nearly- made- me- vomit- out- the- window type road through the hills to get there. It was worth the nauseating drive; we parked on the side of a pasture where cows were grazing amidst the uncut grass and tiny yellow flowers. The landscape in front of us showed hill after hill merging into one another showing off spring’s recent shade of green. We strolled into town to check out the items for sale displayed on the tables lining the streets. While browsing, I came across a stack of used of the “Mr. and Miss.” Books (you know like Mr. Strong, Miss Sunshine.. ect) but these ones were in French. I was planning on buying a couple of these in a book store anyways because I think they are adorable. The man selling them said he would give me the whole stack of 10 for 3 Euros. I was floored; they cost about 5 euros a piece in the book store, hello super deal! Plus, the neatly written “François” on the inside of each cover lets me know they were once loved by a little French boy. That makes them much cooler.
On the way into town.

On the way into town.

After shopping we wandered towards the antique car show which was displayed in town. Of course it didn’t hold a candle to the Detroit auto show or the 9 mile cruise, but it was cool seeing the old fashioned cars. I can’t remember the names of most of the European ones, but I did like the bright red bmw bug with the coca cola logo scrawled across it. Almost took a picture next to it, since everyone here associates coca cola with America, but decided against it.
Cool Coca car.

Cool Coca car.


Arcinges

Arcinges

There was also a trick bike show taking place in the center of town while we were there. We stopped at a little booth to get some crêpes to warm up and watched as the bikers jumped off huge platforms and over flaming poles with their bikes. They also pulled people out of the audience to volunteer during the show. They had them lay down on the ground and basically jumped over them with their bikes causing them to flinch and make weird faces. The bikers would pretend they were going to land right on the volunteers face’s and then stop about an inch away. I would have flinched, or cried or gotten up and ran away if I was the volunteer, but these people were obviously much braver than me.
bike preformers in center of town.

bike preformers in center of town.

The weekend continued when Dimitri’s friends came down to visit. I played hostess and made them all American food to try over the weekend to prove to them that we eat more than hamburgers and Peanut butter. We had pancakes and bacon for breakfast, completely with maple syrup of course and barbeque chicken for dinner. The boys fired up the barbeque and I made the barbeque sauce according to dad’s recipe. Can French boys barbeque as well as Americans? Well the chicken wasn’t exactly the same, but it wasn’t a bad attempt considering they are frogs ;) We checked out a medieval fair in a tiny town nearby, but we arrived kind of late so everything was closing. We then headed back to Roanne and went to the museum in town, which was on my to -do list. Once a year in France you can go to the museums at night and they show you around the museum by torch light. (cool huh?) Well, we arrived a bit too early and didn’t feel like sticking around, so we just enjoyed the surprising large amount of art there and then headed home.

To finish off the weekend, Dimitri’s dad invited all of us (his friends included) to eat Sunday dinner at his house. Miriam, the adorable step mom of Dimitri, remembered that I wanted to try some food from Madagascar, which is where she is from. So she made this amazing Madagascar chicken covered with ginger and curry accompanied by potatoes aux gratin and rice. Sooo good and the meal was completed with an amazing coconut cake at the end. My good gravy, I do love coconut! We sipped on wine and talked about random things until the conversation turned to music. Dimitri’s dad asked me if I had learned any more French songs since last time I was there and if I wanted to sing them. He then went to the piano, and grabbed a microphone off the top of it so we could start singing. Of course I didn’t want to sing by myself, so everyone joined in and sang along as he played some French classics like “Emmenez moi”, my favorite “For Me Formidable” and the song which was played just because I knew all of the words, “Aux Champs Élysées”. I absolutely love days like this. Eating good food, trying new kinds of wine, singing French songs arm in arm to lovely piano music and laughing with friends. One of those “I’m so happy to be alive” time moments which don’t cost a thing but are worth more than any amount of money in the world. Absolutely perfect way to end the long weekend!

Posted by jauntypag 06:35 Archived in France Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

The Begining of the Au Revoirs

rain

I said my first goodbyes.

First: to students. Some of my classes here are completely finished due to student internships, exam schedules and teacher projects. May is the month the students really start studying for their exams, and some of the exams have already begun. Unlike the one week of exams we have in the US, French students have exams until the beginning of July, when their school year ends. How on earth the teachers manage to keep everyone focused on lessons in the middle of June when it is gorgeous outside is beyond me…

But back to the goodbyes. The students were a bit stunned that they wouldn’t see me again. They asked to keep in touch and everyone scrambled to find pens and paper to write down my contact info. Even though I didn’t see these students as frequently as my other classes, I will miss them.

The second goodbye was more difficult. Erik and Michelle, two exceptional friends that I’ve met here, invited Silvia and I out to their house for a Sunday dinner. They went way over the top and prepared a huge meal, bought more cheese for us to try, and found the sweetest pineapple and strawberries I’ve ever tasted for dessert number one. We were then whisked off to a little village for a photography expo on the rainy Sunday afternoon. We walked along the stone streets with the constant streams of rainwater flowing alongside us. The town seemed deserted until we got to the expo, where everyone seemed to be hiding out. We also went to a used book fair and I picked up an old French children’s story book for 3 euros. Hurrary for good cheap finds! We headed back to their place for a warm up cup of tea and dessert number two which was four exquisitely decorated little cakes which we all shared. Over our tea and with mouths full of chocolate and black current cake, we talked about the strikes in France, future plans and the differences in each of our countries. Example: did you know that in France you get about 300 euros from the government for each child you have, every month? Yeah the taxes are higher, but it’s pretty cool that the government helps you out with the kids you have.(I wonder if this means the kids demand a higher allowance since they know their parents are receiving money just for them.. .must ask a student about this..) We also talked about music (since Erik is a musician) and he gave me a great CD with a bunch of different French music on it, which I am now currently listening to.

I hated saying goodbye to them. They have shown Silvia and me so much kindness over the past couple months and have been more then generous with everything they’ve done. They’ve cooked wonderful meals for not only Silvia and I, but for my family as well when they visited. They took us to cultural events and tiny villages I never would have seen without them. I know we will keep in touch, but knowing I might never see them again, never laugh at their jokes and sing random French songs with them is disheartening.

I hate goodbyes, but what I hate most is how many of them I will have to go through here. “C’est le jeu” (thats the game) I suppose..

As I mentioned before, I decided I need to take every opportunity I have left here. So although I might hate myself for it later, I’m going full force on this. Meaning; If I see a delicious pastry in the window of a patisserie, I will not think “hmm I bet that is full of calories” but instead I will go in, buy it and savor it while strolling down the street. Instead of thinking “Wow I love that necklace! But I have so many, do I really need another?” I will think “wow I love that necklace! When will I have another chance to buy that? I”ll buy it now and wear it tomorrow!” (pretty sure those helping me pack will not be fond of this decision…) I might come back home looking like a blinged out rolly polly thanks to this, but it will be worth it I think.

Posted by jauntypag 14:59 Archived in France Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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