I realize that my first week in France looks incredibly stressful through these posts, but it’s really all the wading through French bureaucracy and struggling to adjust to a new life. I now have a bank account, am on my way to getting my carte de sejour, working on the CAF, and finally seeing past the paperwork to the beautiful scenery around me. Valence is in the Rhone Valley and the mountains around it and the river that goes past it are beyond charming. I can already feel the French language coming back to me and I think I’m better at it than when I left. Or maybe just more confident. I think I actually had a somewhat intelligent conversation about the American financial crisis in French. However, I do feel like expectations are kind of high, as I perhaps unwisely mentioned that I did my honors thesis on Sartre, and now all the teachers think I’m some sort of French literature expert.
Except for one or two instances, everyone has been incredibly nice, from the man who stamped my passport to the woman I will be working with in the schools. Actually, I think that was the first time anyone at French customs has shown the least interest in me. The French certainly seem to be more engaged if you say you’re an assistant than if you’re a student. The woman I will be working with in the three primary schools in and around Valence has gone out of her way to make me welcome, even inviting me to her house for lunch in the countryside to meet her family, pony, and dog. And of course, the food has been delicious. I don’t know how a sandwich with just cheese, tomato, and lettuce can be so amazing.
I’ve been weighed down with English teaching materials (British English, of course). I still have a week or so of observation before I lead the class. It’s going to only be three days of the week in class, but the schedule is tight and I will work with at least three different classes of students of varying levels each day. Class time will make up all but three hours of my work, with the rest left to working with French teachers on English, having “English luncheons” with the students, or creating recordings. I’ve never worked with children before, but the ones I’ve observed here seem eager to learn, so I’m nervous but optimistic.
I’ll hopefully be getting an international calling card soon! I also have a landline in addition to my cellphone where I can reached. Oh, and I have an address, too. Leave a comment if you want it!