So this week was the famous LEHIGH/laf week but sadly it passed by here with little celebration and while I did my best to explain to my friends here why this was such an important week, it was difficult because, to quote Cam’s tweet, “Try to explain Lehigh-Laf to somebody in the real world/at work…it’s like trying to explain the space shuttle to your dog.” This was probably the first week where I really wished I was home, especially when I started getting texts from my friends who were in Bethlehem for the weekend. I did however buy tickets to the 150th game at Yankee Stadium next year!!! And I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m in FRANCE…but it still would’ve been nice to have been able to go to Lehigh for the weekend (even if we lost this year).
I was hoping to be able to post pictures from a little suburb north of Nantes called La Chapelle-sur-Erdre where a fellow assistant Katie lives and teaches. For our day off Wednesday, we planned on going on a tour of the city which is apparently really pretty and sort of in the country side so we all planned our various routes and timed them so we’d end up in La Chapelle at the same time and as soon as we stepped off the bus it started POURING. And since our trek was going to be off the beaten path and most likely muddy, we crossed the street and hopped on the next bus going back towards our direction. We did stop though and spend the afternoon at Katie’s large apartment watching French reality TV shows and drinking English tea and eating some marmite! Overall, a well-spent rainy afternoon and we have plans to reschedule our little hike.
Classes seemed to fly by this past week but it is going to be tough getting used to classes on Fridays. I know every other job I would have right now would require working on Fridays but it was so nice to have a three day weekend. However, since I do now work on Fridays, I have the opportunity to eat lunch with the German assistant, Vanessa, and the Spanish assistant, Lizeth in the “cantine.” It’s 2,80 Euros for a complete meal which from what I could tell includes a salad, a warm plate (this week it was a choice of either fish/bolognaise sauce with mashed potatoes/noodles) cheese/yogurt/a donut (there is some sort of rule as to which two you can get of these three things…I ended up taking the donut because that’s what Lizeth, our cantine guide did, and I was trying to avoid what happened at orientation) and a piece of fruit. So at least this will be something to look forward to on Fridays. That being said, my class in the morning is a Negotiations class so I’m really learning a lot about marketing/business stuff and practicing my French and it’s actually a lot of fun for me.
A “highlight” of this week was in my TSTMG class, which is the Technology/Management/Marketing track where the students only get one hour of English class once every two weeks. So I take half the class and have to make them speak. Ever since I started working with these classes they’ve been really difficult. Their level of English isn’t very high and they just don’t care about learning the language, with the exception of a couple students. So I was doing my Thanksgiving lesson, which I’ve now lost count of how many times I have done this lesson, and basically the three students sitting towards the front were pretty interested in learning about the greatest holiday ever but the last two rows, save for one student, were definitely not. So this one girl pulled out a can of peanuts or something like that and we were told at orientation that French students are not allowed to eat or drink in class, but I didn’t want to be “that” teacher so I let it go. She was sharing with the students around her and then all of a sudden I heard what sounded like a peanut hitting the wall! I knew exactly who did it and every time I looked at him he was about to throw another peanut…I finally caught him and had to turn on my best teacher voice (you know that voice that all teacher’s seem to have, when as soon as they speak you know you’re in trouble) and basically told him I was being nice by letting them eat so they shouldn’t be disrespectful. The only thing that made me feel better was that the three students who were into the lesson came up to me afterwards and said they were amazed by my patience with the others and that the others are like that in every class not just mine!
The Christmas Markets opened this weekend! I’ve never really been to a true Christmas market so the first night they were open we met up with Josephine and Romane and friends to drink the vin chaud and some roasted chestnuts. The chestnuts might not live up to the hype that some French lady who drove us to Rennes gave them. They sell all sorts of things in the markets including crepes and waffles, scarves, hats, knives, purses, and wine, just to name a few. We actually went back again yesterday with some other assistants and I went back today for a crepe.
Anna’s sister came to visit this weekend and we had so much fun showing her the night life in Nantes! It was a fun weekend and the start of the Beaujolais Nouveau which one of my colleagues told me was a really big deal in France (even the tiniest cafes in the smallest towns celebrate…) turns out not to be that big of a deal according to my French friends and students. It’s a type of wine that is fermented for the least amount of time and is released on the third Thursday in November. I still partook in the tradition even though it really isn’t great wine because it hasn’t been aged and, as I learned in Bordeaux, 2013 is not a good year for wine.
After the Christmas Markets on Sunday, some of us went to the Chateau to see a photography exhibition showcasing how some kids around the world get to school everyday. From taking the ferry in Bretagne to riding a rickshaw in India, the photos were amazing and the stories really interesting. Sunday ended watching some Manchester United “football” at our favorite pub McBryne’s.
While it wasn’t quite the LEHIGH/laf I’m used to, it was still a very memorable week in France.