Tag Archives: Tapif

Just another night in Nantes

I’m back in Dallas!! I officially finished teaching almost two weeks ago and said good bye to some of my favorite students (and some of my not so favorite) and my teacher colleagues. Saying good bye to them was difficult because they were so nice and welcoming when I arrived and I learned a lot in their classes but as a going away present they got me some earrings and a USB stick with over 100 French songs divided into categories such as “Songs every French person knows”, “Disney songs in French”, and songs that they chose to put on. It was so sweet and such a nice way to remember my time in Nantes.

So my original intention was to catch up on the last two weeks but I can’t even remember what all happened, and I feel like we were so busy going out and trying to do nantais things while we still could. And I want to use this post to just kind of process the whole TAPIF experience.

I guess to start, for the first time ever, I would rather not be in Dallas right now. When I graduated from Lehigh I obviously wished I had more time there and didn’t have to leave but once I got to Dallas I was ok but even now that I’m in Dallas I want to be back in Nantes. However, I know that even if I were to go back to Nantes right now it wouldn’t be the same…I was in love with Nantes and my life there but so much of it was the other assistants who were there too. It was a once in a lifetime experience and now I have to move on.

There is so much I miss such as the French attitude and how they say hello to everyone…flying into Atlanta was just overwhelming with so much Deep Southern-ness around and English all at one time. However, the longer I’m home, the more the little conveniences of being in the US become apparent. At the airport I had a two hour layover and was debating whether I should buy wifi on my iPad while I was there and then I realized I can turn my data back on and use the 4G! Also, I went grocery shopping today and it was so weird to not have to think about how much/how heavy the stuff I was buying was because I had a car! Side note: I bought wine today and couldn’t believe that the cheapest wine was 8$! I’m used to buying 2 euro wine!

This experience has also changed me, hopefully forever, just in how I approach culture and everyday life and especially food. On my Delta flight back we were served a baguette roll thing and it was just horrible! And later they gave us a calzone and again, I could just taste the processed-ness in it all! I miss having to eat fruit within the two days you buy it before it molds and the locally-sourced food products. I’ve already picked up wine for the week because I can’t imagine not having wine with dinner every night.

I also just can’t believe how lucky I am to have been placed in Nantes and right in the center on top of that! It was so great to meet so many nice French people and Anglophones who have the same interest in French that I do.

The first rendez-vous with the assistants

The first rendez-vous with the assistants

Nantes is such an amazing, quirky city. At times, it feels French, but most of the time it doesn’t because a lot of the architecture is modern and was built after the bombings during WWII. In general, the city has a really strong and unique sense of culture…what other city has a giant mechanical elephant, along with other mechanical animals, that you can ride around? Or a bar at the top of a business sky scraper called “The Nest” with a giant swan and eggs to sit on and an observation deck where you can spot the fried eggs painted on the roofs of the surrounding buildings? Or an old, iconic biscuit factory turned into a cultural center and night club? Nantes has such a sense for re-purposing things and creating a unique identity. It also has a strong connection to Bretagne and the Breton culture which surfaces every once and a while. With that being said, I definitely have a list of favorite places (which seem to be mainly bars):

Le Shaft
Our favorite bar located in Bouffay where the drinks are cheap and it’s pretty quiet during the week but busy on the weekends. We got to the point where we knew all three bartenders and I’d like to say we actually became friends with them! The last two nights we went there it was pretty quiet so the bartenders who were on duty actually came and sat with us. Of course we got lots of free shots out of them. One of the last nights the adorable one named Benjamin was working and he made us these flaming rum shots that we had to drink through a straw. Then he took a bunch of pics with us behind the bar and said “this is your bar!” I’m pretty sure we could not have been happier…Knowing them so well though made it feel like we had finally became part of the local life there and also made it even more difficult to leave.

Benjamin, Flo, et David!

Benjamin, Flo, et David!

McByrne’s
The Irish bar located in Bouffay where we spent most of our early days, along with St. Patty’s of course. All the bartenders are Irish so it’s a good place to go if you want to speak English. They were also really friendly and we would always run into a couple of them while we were out or walking around Nantes.

St. Patty's at McBryne's

St. Patty’s at McBryne’s

Le Nid
The bar located at the top of the Tour Bretagne. You walk in and see the giant swan’s head and it’s body goes all the way around the bar. The seats and tables look like eggs with the tops chopped off so you can see the yolk and you can go outside to get a view of Nantes and also spot the painted egg yolks on top of some the roofs of the buildings below.

IMG_3872

Fried egg!

Fried egg!

The Lieu Unique
The factory where LU biscuits used to be made which now houses temporary exhibitions and plays as well as a restaurant and bar.

Nantes-Tour-LU-4

Callaways
The bar we went to when we were in Bouffay after all of the other bars closed…they have great gin fizzes!

Cafe Flesselles
My favorite cafe! Josephine took us here one of the first afternoons we hung out with her (also where we said goodbye to her:( ) and it’s where Anna and I spent hours applying to grad schools and jobs!

Bar Graslin
I actually don’t know if that’s its real name but it’s a cute little bar with great wine right next to the opera house.

Le Jardin des Plantes
Where else can you play with goats! And also get eaten by them if you’re Anna!

IMG_3460

The Machines de l’ile
The mechanical elephant is definitely a symbol of the city and is actually a really cool attraction.

Riding the elephant!

Riding the elephant!

Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne
In what other city can you find a castle right in the center?

chateau

I guess that about sums it up. The experience was really incredible and just so surreal. We worked a minimal amount of hours and had really no other responsibilities except to show up at a certain time, speak English, and have some sort of a plan of what to do with the students. It was really a charmed life in Nantes.

Les Assistants

Les Assistants

Nantes <3

Nantes ❤

Advertisements

Clisson, Pornic, Nantes

DISCLAIMER: This post was written four days ago but I was too busy to upload pics thus the delayed posting…

Spring has sprung in Nantes!! The sun has been out and it’s been around 70 degrees…I couldn’t be happier! But apparently, we’re going back to winter this weekend (the last weekend with all of the assistants together).

The past two weeks have been filled with trying to take in as much of Nantes as possible, visiting the little areas surrounding Nantes, and taking advantage of the sun finally coming out to play in Nantes.

A couple weekends ago, Anna, Sarah, Katie, and I took the train to Clisson, a village located about 30 minutes south east of Nantes and considered to be part of the “vignoble nantais” or the Nantes’ vineyards. It’s right at the confluence of the rivers Sèvre and Moine and is a small, picturesque village which is also called “Clisson l’Italienne” because of its Tuscany-inspired architecture. We arrived at about 12:30, had lunch, walked around, tried some Muscadet, and were ready to leave by 4:00…it was gorgeous but tiny. There was of course a church and a chateau but there was also a big park with outstanding scenary. Fun Fact: Clisson is home to the music festival, HellFest. Despite its small size, we enjoyed walking around the little main street and sampling some really good Muscadet!

Clisson street

Clisson street

During the week, we went to see our friend Joséphine in her German play, which was quite the experience. Apparently, it was based on German children’s stories but we could not understand any of it and watching it didn’t really help to clarify things either…but she did great!!

And speaking of Joséphine, her friends from Colchester came to visit for 5 days and it was nice to spend time with some new English people (gotta get used to that accent for next year) and to spend more time with Joséphine and her French friends whose English is impeccable.

Last weekend was boat weekend. We rented an electric boat to cruise on the Erdre river! We had a nice view of Nantes and La Chapelle from the river and it was only drizzling and not full on raining like usual, which was pleasant not that bad…But it was nice to spend time with the asisstants and enjoy some wine, brioche, and honey while on the river.

Driving the boat!

Driving the boat!

That night, we finally made it to Le Remorqueur, which is the club that’s on an old boat. Not the best place we’ve been but at least we can say we’ve been there!

This past weekend, a bunch of us went to the town of Pornic which, like Nantes, was historically part of Bretagne and definitely feels more Breton than Nantes. It’s right on the coast of the Atlantic, about an hour away from Nantes by bus. The weather was perfect! Sunny and warm, not warm enough to go swimming, but comfortable. I had the best galette (a Breton specialty) I’ve ever had at this small creperie.

The Creperie in Pornic

The Creperie in Pornic

It had a chateau (of course) but you can’t go inside so we just spent the day enjoying the views and the weather on the beach. A perfect (almost summer-like) day.

Les filles in Pornic!

Les filles in Pornic!

la plage

la plage

Apparently, this time of year is Carnaval in Nantes which they celebrate multiple times during a week…so we went to the parade last Sunday during the day and again this past Saturday at night. The floats are pretty elaborate with music and moving parts and lights. And the French kids get really into throwing confetti and spraying silly string. There was confetti EVERYWHERE afterwards and it’s still stuck in the gutters and near the curbs of the street. The theme for the parade was ‘cinema’ so they had a Toy‘s Story themed float and A Nightmare Before Christmas one. Some of them were defintely creepy…but I guess that’s French Carnaval.

The Western float

The Western float

Carnaval de la nuit

Carnaval de la nuit

Unfortunately, we had to say good bye to Sarah on Monday 😦 We spent our last evening together enjoying the weather and trying to find an ice cream place that was open after 5:00!

We’ve made a bucket list of things we want to do now that we only have about 2 weeks left (whaaaat?!?) and so we’re slowly crossing things off. Anna and I went to the Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Nantes and saw a lot of taxidermy as well as several live snakes…Some of the assistants have started playing soccer every once and a while which has been so much fun! I’m loving my French theatre class AND I was quiz master for our weekly trivia session last Thursday…my Texas round would’ve made any Texan proud but I’m sure the other assistants were not as appreciative…

Snakes at the Natural History Museum

Snakes at the Natural History Museum

We have a party planned for Friday, a big night out Saturday night, a picnic with an Easter Egg hunt on Sunday, and perhaps a trip to another beach town on Monday!!

Mars

So I have been so busy/lazy/French/relaxed that I have not posted in over a month I think? And so much has happened! So settle down, cause this will probably be a long one.

First thing’s first: I got into grad school!!! I will officially be in London next year (technically Essex, but it’s on the Underground line, so it counts) pursuing my MFA in Theatre Directing at the East 15 Acting School! It was actually one of the last things I was expecting to do next year because I really didn’t think I would get in…but this does mean another two years outside the US. I’ve definitely been thinking about going home a lot recently and I was getting used to the idea of at least being back somewhere in the US next year but I’m really excited about this opportunity! It’s hard to imagine getting back into a busy schedule with a lot of work though; our lives here are so laid back and we definitely have too much time on our hands for our own good.

On a sort of related note, we’ve started our last month here in France. I’ll be back in Dallas exactly a month from today…it feels so surreal! Like I said, I’m ready to be home…for a bit. I want to go home, get my fix of Dallas and Tex-Mex and then come back to Nantes! So we’ve been trying to soak up all that Nantes has to offer and visit whichever little towns in the Pay de la Loire region that seem interesting. We recently went to Clisson, which will have to be its own separate post.

Right after the craziness I spoke of in the last post, it was time for les vacances! I spent my vaction with a French family, kind of acting like an au pair but the main reason this woman invited me on their holiday was to speak English with her four year old grandson. So we left Nantes to go to Geneva to spend the night at her daughter’s house and pick up their ski stuff/car and two other grand children to drive to the Alps. Geneva is a very pretty and international city. We only spent a couple hours walking around but I saw the big lake with the fountain and the cathedral…it seemed like a good city for shopping.

The "flower clock" was out of commission

The “flower clock” was out of commission

It was supposed to look something like this...

It was supposed to look something like this…

The next day we packed up the car and left for the Alps. They have a chalet in the Hautes-Alpes region near the Les Orres ski resort. It was about a four hour drive and we stopped at a local fromagerie to pick up cheese, a lot of cheese. We ate cheese after dinner almost every night and in France, you just put the cheese on the plate, you don’t cut it into bite sized pieces…which is what I did the first night (how American!) Their chalet was big with a great view of the valley and only a 10 min drive from the village where we skied called Crévoux.

View of the Alps from the fromagerie

View of the Alps from the fromagerie

View of the valley from the chalet

View of the valley from the chalet

It was fun to be skiing again even if I felt really slow compared to everyone. It was also the first time I’d been skiing at a non-resort/non-touristy area.

The week in the Alps was spent speaking lots of English, spending time with some great kids, and trying all sorts of new foods. I ate boudin noir (blood pudding) with apples for the first time…not too bad but it has an interesting texture. Lots of new cheeses, vegetable soup every night, raclette, banquette de veau, all types of crudités (very French), and a lot of sandwiches for lunch!

After the Alps, the four year old and I took a night train (the first time I’ve been on one) to Paris where he lives and I spent a couple days staying with his family and spending time in my favorite city! Overall, I had a great vaction and experienced so many new things with a very welcoming and interesting family.

So in Paris, the weather was gorgeous (I left the morning the city made the public transport free due to pollution problems) and I hit up my usual haunts but some highlights include: a Van Gogh/Antonin Artaud exhibit at the Musée d’Orsay, champagne at Galeries Lafayettes, and a monument I’d never seen before honoring the Jews who were deported during the war. The exhibit was kind of a look into how Artaud studied Van Gogh and his mental illness and how it affected Artaud; it was really interesting, especially if you like Van Gogh…I would’ve liked to see more about Artaud and his work. The monument was just across the street from Notre-Dame and kind of almost under ground, from far away it just looks like a park. It was inaugurated in 1962 by de Gaulle and was created to depict certain features that define concentration camp environments: narrow passages, restricted views, and tigh staircases. It was very moving to walk into a structure like that.

Another protest...this time in Paris

Another protest…this time in Paris

Perfect weather...with a side of some pollution

Perfect weather…with a side of some pollution

I also had the chance to have dinner with my friend Sophie from Greenhill at one of my favorite restaurants Candelaria. It was just as crazy as I remember it and the food was just as good and it was so nice to see a familiar face and catch up!

Greenhill French reunion in Paris!

Greenhill French reunion in Paris!

Since returning from the vacay, we’ve celebrated St. Patrick’s day and Anna’s birthday, said goodbye to the Germans 😦 who leave a month earlier than us because of their school schedule, and said goodbye to Devin. It’s hard to believe that the goodbyes have already started and that we have so little time left to “profiter”!

Profiter-ing of our favorite Irish holiday

Profiter-ing of our favorite Irish holiday

Non à l’aeroport!

I’m officially on vacation (I have been since Tuesday since I only worked 2 hours this week) and heading to the alps on Monday!

So this past weekend there was a huge protest or manifestation in Nantes against the building of a second airport for the city in a farm region called Notre-Dame des Landes. Apparently, the former mayor of Nantes, Jean-Marc Ayrault, who is now the French Prime Minister proposed the airport while he was still the mayor and the farmers and a group called ZAD (zone à defendre) have been protesting the airport ever since. The farmers are protesting because it will obviously take up their land and the surrounding area while others are protesting because it will disrupt the schools there and could be dangerous for the people who live in that area, also, it will have negative environmental effects which is an important issue for the Nantais. 

Dogs were involved in the protest too!

Dogs were involved in the protest too!

We wandered out of our apartment Saturday afternoon to go to the observatory when we ran into the protest just around the corner. The overall feel was really festive and fun! People were selling crepes and gallettes and drinking and playing music! There were also hundreds (400 to be exact) of tractors parked on the street and along the tram line. We had heard there was a protest scheduled and that the trams wouldn’t be running into the center of the city during the day but we didn’t think anything of it because there are always protests scheduled and you just kinda walk around them. But this was huge.

So we wandered around until we got closer to the center where all of the tram lines/buses meet and it was crazy! There was a huge police barricade set up and the gendarmerie was there with human shields at every street. People (“the anarchists”) were throwing malakoff cocktails and fireworks and objects at the police barrier. We also saw them kick in the glass of the posters that are all around the city. Anna and I were pretty excited/inspired to be part of this giant protest until something came flying in the air towards where we were and everyone was running. So we decided to keep our distance from the center. We walked around the other end of where the barricade was and watched it from the other side and it looked crazy. The cops were hosing people and then started throwing tear gas at the crowd.

Tractors on the tram line

Tractors on the tram line

Protesting on the front lines!

Protesting on the front lines!

We ended up spending the afternoon in the good weather listening to the sounds of the protest at the Jardin des Plantes where Anna got attacked by a goat!

Watch out for the goat!

Watch out for the goat!

While walking to and from the Jardin we could see little pockets of protesters everywhere around the city AND members of the gendarmerie with their shields and guns. We also saw someone set a piece of construction equipment on fire and on the way back we saw them set the transportation huts surrounding the tram tracks on fire. We texted Josephine around this time and she said to avoid the center because it was really dangerous.

Some peaceful art in Place Royale amid the craziness of the protests

Some peaceful art in Place Royale amid the craziness of the protests

We later found out that at least 8 police officers were hurt and several civilians. The next day we went out to see the damage and there was graffiti EVERYWHERE, glass EVERYWHERE, the TAN (transportation) shop was boarded up, and some of the stones in the tram tracks were gone (an allusion to the student protests in the St. Michel quartier in Paris, where the students ripped up the stones to fight the authorities). It literally looked like a different city. We later found out that there was about a million euros worth of damage done that day by the left-wing anarchists. 

fire damage

fire damage

all kinds of graffiti

all kinds of graffiti

It was seriously crazy, I’ve never seen anything like this and I think were lucky to not get hurt.

Fevrier

Welp, I clearly have not been doing that great of a job keeping up with the blog but I’ve been busy! I’m in the midst of applying to grad schools/jobs and preparing lessons and spending time with my friends here! But because I havn’t posted in a while, it’s difficult to remember everything I wanted to write about but here are the highlights:

The first weekend of February Anna’s sister Mary to came to visit and we had a nice dinner at Jeanne’s with our French friends! They did a great job cooking dinner and we tried a gateau nantaise! The next day I got to meet Josephine’s grandparent’s puppy Ipswich (so cute) and she and Jeanne introduced me to Bottereaux which are pretty similar to donuts but deff better.

Des bottereaux...miam!

Des bottereaux…miam!

One Saturday here there was this animal rights demonstration right in the middle of Place Commerce. There was a huge crowd just watching these humans with pig and rabbit masks on, have “dinner” which consisted of a human head. There was also red corn syrup splattered on the ground…it was a bit intense.

yum?

yum?

We celebrated La Chandeleur on Feb. 2nd (also Groundhog day) which is a French holiday with Catholic origins celebrating the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, where you make crepes and try to flip them in the pan while holding a coin in your other hand. If you can do it, you’re supposed to have a prosperous upcoming year. There’s also some kind of indication of how long winter will last like Groundhog day. So we all went over to Jack and Sarah’s to make some crepes. They were a lot better than the ones I made when I was home which might be because we used just a regular frying pan or because Josephine recommended putting rum in the batter…La Chandeleur always reminds me of French Club at Greenhill when Madame made like 100 crepes for Bagel Break! I was able to flip the crepe and hold the coin so hopefully there’s some extra money heading my way!

I call this Jack's double flip

I call this Jack’s double flip

I spent last weekend with Grams in Manchester!! We did a bit of shopping and watched a little of the Olympics and drank plenty of tea and did lots of laundry! She also taught me how to make pancakes for Candlemas/Pancake day which is the UK’s equivalent La Chandeleur but celebrated on Mardi Gras.
The day I left Nantes, there were some strikes going on that would effect the bus schedules. My bus line to school wasn’t effected but the airport bus was working on a different schedule and there were people “protesting” in the street. I havn’t really been effected by strikes while I’ve been here so far but I’ve read about a couple of them and I find it funny that they plan a strike and everyone knows about it and they figure out alternative ways to compensate for the workers on strike…like it’s just so weird to me that they can all just agree to not go to work and everyone just works around them.

strikes!

strikes!

photo 3

On that note, since my classes have still been talking about the French bashing that occurred in that Newsweek article I posted in my last blog entry, I encountered a real-life example of someone taking advantage of the “nanny” state: We met this guy who paints houses for a living but is unemployed right now and he was telling us that he missed an interview for a job earlier that week and we asked why and he said he makes more money off of the unemployment benefits than he would working that job…Also, I’m sure if you’re in the US you’ve seen this, but my parents sent me this funny commercial which pokes some fun at the French! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGJSI48gkFc&feature=youtu.be

We went to our first English night since we’ve been back in Nantes this past Wednesday. Our French friends were a bit drunker than usual so we had a lot of fun. It included an impromptu musical session outside the bar and a macarena line…

English night concert

English night concert

I’ve also joined a French acting class with the woman I’m going to the Alps with in a couple weeks. Last week, I survived an improv scene in French, quite the victory since I was never a skilled improv-er and it was in French! I’m working on a scene from Antigone (pronounced Anti-gone in French) which seems fitting because it is such a classic and I’ve worked on it multiple times in English.

I also had a great Valentine’s day filled with good French food and even better French wine with great friends! It’s definitely not as big of a deal here though as it is in the US.

Steph and I have officially booked our tickets to go backpacking this summer…if anyone’s planning on being in Europe, let me know!

Goats

If I had to summarize the last two weeks in one word it would probably be goats.

So I’ve been super lazy/busy and have not posted in a while so this entry might get a bit lengthy.

I guess the first thing of note is that I SURVIVED my OFII appointment! It really wasn’t that traumatic but it was still an ordeal. I woke up early on a rainy Wednesday (my day off!) to cross the river to get to Rezé for my appointment. I decided to leave with just enough time to get there about five minutes early since we’re in France and things don’t start on time…so I’m waiting at the tram stop, I can see the tram going in the other direction isn’t actually going and people are hopping off and talking to the conductor looking not happy but I just assume it’s a directional issue. Turns out there was some sort of electricity problem on the lines from a certain stop to another certain stop. Luckily, a woman walking by told me about it, otherwise those of us waiting on the opposite side of where the conductor was, would not have known that our tram wasn’t coming! So I ended up walking about three stops towards Rezé before I could finally hop on a tram. I was a bit late for my appointment but ovbs it wasn’t an issue. So, you hand in your passport and “convocation” to the receptionist, then you’re told to go to this back room where other non-Frenchies are waiting (hung out with two other assistants from our group while waiting to see the docs). So the first room you get called into is to get an xray of your chest (to make sure you don’t have TB, I think?) and you literally have to get naked from the waist up in order to get this xray…then you go back to the room to continue to wait. The second room you get called into, they weigh you and measure you (I’ve heard of people being told they should lose 10-20 pounds at this appointment!) and the woman there drooled while she was talking to me. I also failed the eye exam but she didn’t seem too bothered about that…The next room is with who I think was the official doctor who signs off on everything. She made me lay down on the patient bed thing to take my blood pressure and then told me I need to eat breakfast because my blood pressure was too low. BUT I passed and have an official OFII stamp in my passport and am apparently healthy enough to stay here! More importantly, I can now hopefully start to receive money from the CAF which would be great because funds are running low right about now.

So last week, I finally spent some time exploring the Jardin des Plantes here in Nantes with my friend Jack, who had just discovered the garden the weekend before when his “uni mates” from Bordeaux (side note: we had such a fun weekend, again, with them!). So we visited the goats and chickens/roosters that live in this garden. They were very friendly and definitely thought we were going to give them food…

A goat Nantais...very flexible

A goat Nantais…very flexible

making friends...

making friends…

Also, some exciting news! This French woman contacted my lycée trying to get in touch with me to get to know me and invite me to vacay with her family and speak English with her grandkids. I met her at a café last week and it turns out both she and her husband do theater in Nantes and they’re really interested in the US and English. So I’m going to their chalet in the Alps during our “winter” vacation in March to spend the week skiing, speaking English with their grandchildren, and being “integrated” into a French family! How cool is that??

Anna and I also saw a play with this woman’s husband a couple days ago titled “Le Lavoir” about these women who work in a washing/laundry place right before the first World War. I would say I understood the story and got a few jokes here and there but it was written in old, colloquial French so the people I interacted with after the show said we deff shouldn’t have expected to understand it.

This past weekend a group of us went to Angers!! We covoitureage-d there and back which was much less eventful than our covoiturage to Rennes. The city is so pretty! It’s smaller than Nantes so there is a short list of touristy things to do but the must-sees are the Chateau d’Angers and the Apocalypse Tapestry. The Chateau was hugeee (much bigger than the one in Nantes) and it just looked a lot older but we had to pay 5 euros to get in. It was gorgeous and well worth it. There are gardens and ramparts and a little vineyard and a giant moat and a great view of the Maine river. The Tapestry was also big and quite impressive. There was also a Jardin des Plantes with goats as well but you couldn’t go in to pet them.

An Angers goat

An Angers goat

Chateau d'Angers

Chateau d’Angers

I loved Angers and it was just small enough that we didn’t use public transportation at all during the day which was nice. We ended the day at David and Vanessa’s where we had homemade pot stickers, avocado bruschetta, kings cake, and wine (of course) followed by a night full of games.

pretty Angers

pretty Angers

dinner!

dinner!

Besides these couple highlights, the past few weeks have been filled with applying for jobs/grad schools (eek) and working.

One last thing of note, we talked about this article from Newsweek written by an American journalist, who lived in London for 10 years, who married a Frenchman and lives in Paris now and she basically exaggerates the socialist tendencies of France and claims the country is failing and everyone is leaving…apparently French politicians were angry and my class was definitely upset by it. I can see why, since it makes France sounds like they just give everything to their citizens for free, however, I’m not even a citizen and I get (should be getting) a good amount of money from them to subsidize my rent and transportation but it’s not as bad as this woman makes it out to be. I feel like it’s easy to get into that kind of mindset about the French, even I was guilty of playing into the stereotype/mindset that France is unbelievably socialist (I still think they are but it’s really not that bad) when I was home. I think my class/teacher was most upset by the fact that this story appeared in Newsweek when some of the concrete facts are “completement faux!” I also just found this article from The Huffington Post by the Editorial Director of the French version of the website, which calls out that journalist and sort of sets things straight. Both are worth the read though I would take the Newsweek one with a grain of salt!

Back in France!

Welp, I’m back in glorious Nantes!! I had an amazing winter break full of relaxing, cruising around Dallas, seeing friends, and eating way too much Tex-Mex!

Highlights:
-Celebrating Christmas in Dallas with some of the fam from Milwaukee and lighting the fireplace for the first time in this house!

Fire and wonky decorations!

Fire and wonky decorations!

-French night with the besties which included crepes and Muscadet!

Crepes are not as easy as they look...

Crepes are not as easy as they look…

Besties :)

Besties 🙂

-PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES

-Mavs game with Steph and Monica

MFFL!

MFFL!

-The obligatory party at my place

...

-Lawry’s with Steph’s fam!

YUM

YUM

-A fabulous (if not expensive and cooooollldddd) trip to DC to see Katie, Monica, and Danielle

DC...friends meeting friends!

DC…friends meeting friends!

-Mavs game in DC (we won that one even if it was a boring game)

DIRK

DIRK

-being reunited with my faves from Lehigh!

NYE 2014

NYE 2014

-Getting introduced to Kesha’s new song Timber…it is seriously the best song to get you pumped up to do pretty much anything.

It was AMAZING to be able to go home and see my friends from home and friends from Lehigh and to have the opportunity to share some of my life in France with them. And then of course to come back to Nantes and slip right back into la vie francaise.

The first week back was pretty uneventful at school but Emily came to visit!! Unfortunately, I was somewhat sick all week so it wasn’t too exciting. But we spent a lot of time walking around beautiful Nantes, including a creepy museum and the cathedrale. Highlights of her trip include my bathroom flooding (the French equivalent of Draino is called Destop), exploring the Chateau at night, and le Grand Elephant being closed for the “annual closing”.

Lehigh in France!

Lehigh in France!

church

The Chateau at night

The Chateau at night

Typical French cathedrale...but in Nantes!

Typical French cathedrale…but in Nantes!

Les Filles

Les Filles

Things of note for this week:

In the Geography/History class that I help out with, they were discussing a possible exam question titled “The USA, a dynamic population?” with documents showing the changes in population by county. So the teacher was talking about how people in the US move a lot…for jobs, school, or just something different, while French people stay very close to home…he bets that most of the students in that room will spend their whole lives in Nantes. So he of course asked me if that was true/used me as an example. As he said, I’ll always be Texan and a Dallasite but I went to school in PA and came to France etc. But I’ve never thought about how freely we move within the US. As I’m starting to apply for jobs for next year, I literally have no restrictions as to where I end up…I WILL GO ANYWHERE as long as I get paid (if you know anyone looking for a Theatre Director, hit me up!) and my friends at school were in exactly the same position last year and now I have friends all over the country! But I thought that was an interesting cultural difference.

TODAY, I had the weirdest day ever at school. It started with my first class in which I tried to do a lesson on the Golden Globes because it’s current and the students always want to talk about American “series” so I thought this would be a good way to give them a chance to talk about TV. Welp, I guess this group isn’t that into American shows because they really only mentioned that they watch the NBA, Dexter, and Desperate Housewives. Also, they didn’t know Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, so that made about half the lesson not that funny…So that was a difficult start to the day. Then in my class after lunch, three students were assigned to prepare an article to present to me for a grade but the two that were in class just didn’t do it. So we moved on with class and each day two students have to present on a story from CNN Student News (a daily 5 minute video meant for students about world news) videos, but the student who was supposed to go today didn’t know which date his topic was on and we couldn’t find it by just clicking on the list of videos so now that was done. Then, the three students that were missing came into class 15 minutes late because they were finishing their lunch. So the teacher was rightly annoyed that they took so long at lunch etc. And instead of being apologetic or at least quiet, they argued about how they couldn’t help being 15 minutes late even though the rest of class could get there on time and they were basically mocking the teacher. And let me tell ya, people yelling in French is kinda intense!

Anyways, one of the late students was one that I was supposed to interview so after I finished that, the teacher let me go since it was the same lesson about the US population as the day before. He checked in with me though to make sure I understood where he was coming from…the school culture here is definitely not easy for the teachers. This is only one example of students not having prepared the work they were supposed to or not following through on an assignment. I feel like it doesn’t happen too often in the US, at least from my experience, because grades were important and if you didn’t do an assignment you got a zero…that doesn’t seem to be an option here, or at least it’s not used, so the students can get away with not doing their work.

My last class of the day was with the TSTMG group and they’re always a challenge because their level of English isn’t very high and most of them aren’t really interested in learning English. One girl literally refused to speak in English…every question she had, she didn’t even try to say part of it in English! I did a New Years Resolution listening/worksheet activity which was really successful in my classes last week. The first time they listened, only like three of them actually tried to fill out the worksheet. Then they realized I would be calling on them for the answers so they started trying to fill in the blanks. I’ve learned though that having very structured activities like this one is better for this group rather than trying to have a loose discussion based class since they have trouble using their English in a conversation.

I have my OFII (immigration people) doctor’s appointment tomorrow and so after that I should be a truly legal resident in France and can start receiving my “entitlements” and maybe stop doing any work outside of class?? Bahahah kidding, despite all of the craziness, I’m so happy to be here!