So this week has been filled with trying to get settled in and meeting lots of new people!
I’m finally all moved into my studio apartment and I’m in such a great location! The only time I take the tram/bus is to go to school, otherwise everything else is in walking distance! This has been great when we’ve been out and I don’t have to worry about missing the last bus/tram. On a side note, I did laundry this weekend (which costs 5.50 euros for the washer and dryer!) and the dryer didn’t work…It sometimes feels that every little thing over here is so difficult! I was able to get a cell phone so I have unlimited texts/calls, but only in France, which I did not understand before. I’m also supposed to have email but because I’m using a Blackberry, if I want internet, I have to actually get a phone plan instead of a monthly card… I also opened a bank account, but have yet to receive my card/any information to log onto my account online. And my transportation card came so that’s one thing I can check off! I still have to do something about the electricity for my apartment, my housing stipend, and some sort of doctor’s appointment. The administrative stuff feels never ending!
As for school, I believe I’ve met all of the students I’ll be teaching at least once. I had to prepare a lesson last Monday for the BTS students which are students who have finished high school but chosen a business/technical (I think?…it’s still a bit confusing) track instead of going to University. I decided to talk about the Government shutdown. In my first class, none of the students had read about it in the news so that was tough. My second class went much better and a couple of them were into the topic and couldn’t believe that 1. our government is just closed and 2. that we don’t have universal health care. They were also confused about whether the government was shutdown because the workers were on strike…typical French! A lot of them said that they think of America as the land of dreams and these things kind of taint their image of the US.
There are two or three classes that I see every week which is great because their English is really good and they really want to speak. It’s also nice because there is some overlap of students in those classes so I see about 10 of them in a couple different classes and it’s been fun getting to know them!
As for school this week, one of the English teachers is out of town for the week so I’m covering her classes in which the students have been assigned to find an article relating to business/the economy and present on it.
So last Thursday, the English teachers from my school invited me out to dinner to welcome me to Nantes! We went to a Provencale restaurant which was incredible! It was a typical French dinner which lasted about 3 and half hours with multiple bottles of wine and of course dessert! Everyone is really nice and I’m excited to get to know them better!
Last Sunday, a group of the assistants met up to tour the Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne located right in the middle of Nantes! The castle along with the museum of Nantes History was free because it was the first Sunday of the month. As it turns out, Nantes has a pretty rich history and was, and still is I think, a really important port city in France. The construction of the Chateau was started by Francois II, the last Duke of Bretagne and was finished by his daughter Duchess Anne of Bretagne, who was also Queen of France at some point. The Chateau has been restored and opened in 2007 as a tourist attraction. I plan on going back with my nice camera and taking pictures of the actual Chateau, which is open to the public to walk around, because it is quite an impressive and imposing building.
On Tuesday, some of the other assistants planned on going to an “English Cafe” which is where people go to a certain bar to meet up and practice speaking English. We thought this would be a great way to meet/become friends with French people (which has become our mission). Anna, another assistant who lives in my building, and I went and ended up speaking to a lot of people and making plans to meet up with some girls named Josephine and Geraldine to go to their university English night at a different bar the next day where we met some other Americans who are studying abroad now. On a side note, I’ve been having trouble understanding French people when they tell me their names! Even a name like Marie is difficult to understand with the accent. But it was a lot of fun and we met a lot of Frenchies!
The next two nights I went out to bars with the assistants and met up with Josephine and Geraldine again. There are also a good number of Brits hanging out with us so I’ve been using my Manchester/half-English street cred to be friends with them! The big night in Nantes is Thursday because all of the University students go out since most of them go home for the weekend. But overall the city is really busy during the weekend with so many people walking around and musicians and art displays everywhere.
Yesterday, we held Canadian Thanksgiving at a fellow assistant’s apartment! There are a good amount of Canadians in the group and apparently Canadian Thanksgiving is this week. Turns out, Canadian Thanksgiving is just like ours but earlier in the year! So there was turkey, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes! And of course a lot of wine! It is quite difficult to get a turkey in Nantes! My friend had to go to several butchers and then when he finally found one, they had to special order the turkey.
We invited Josephine to partake in this Canadian i.e. American holiday but before hand she took Anna and me to the top of the Tour Bretagne where there’s a bar called Le Nid and you get an amazing view of Nantes!
It was delicious and I’m thankful to be making new friends and to have TWO Thanksgivings this year!