Happy Halloween everybody! I’ve just returned from my Paris—Brussels—Amsterdam—Rotterdam trip, so I am finally able to blog once again. I’ll be writing and publishing blog posts about my travels these next two weeks; I am excited to share my adventures with y’all! It was an amazing trip but I’ll be honest, I’m happy to be home in Clamecy once again.
My first month in France has been remarkable, to say the least. Filled with traveling, teaching, and exploring, I feel like I’ve done more things in the last month then I did all summer in Fort Worth. Personally, I love reading weekly/monthly recap blog posts, so I decided I’m going to write some of my own. Here is my recap for the month of October!
In the Classroom
Before applying for the program, I feel like I read I lot of TAPIF blogs that rarely, if ever, talked about what they were doing in the classroom and with their students. Given that teaching is what I am here for, what I do in the classroom deserves to be spotlighted! After the Vacances de Toussaints, I’ll start doing more intensive work with the students, but here is what I’ve done so far:
For EJ’s classes, I spent time observing and giving my “About Me” presentation to various classes. I gave the students a paper to fill out so they could follow along to what I was saying/what was on the screen. For a part of the presentation, I explained some of my favorite things (i.e. movie, song, book, food, etc.) and I made the students fill out a piece of paper with their favorite things so I could learn more about them as well. An added bonus to doing this activity: I got tons of suggestions for music to listen to/books to read/movies and TV series to watch, so it was a win-win activity.
(In case anybody was wondering, French teenagers aren’t that different from American teenagers: they like reading Harry Potter, watching movies like Fast and Furious, binging on Game of Thrones, and like eating cake and pizza.)
Also with her classes, I’ve given a presentation about “Food in the U.S.A”, helped students record videos for a “Message to Trump” activity they were doing, had conversations about “Guns in the U.S.A”, and worked one-on-one with students correcting lexicon and pronunciation.
For L’s classes, I’ve been working with small groups of 5-6 students, which I will rotate through over the course of the next seven months. For this first rotation, I’ve been giving a short introduction before jumping into an activity called “Spirit Animal”. For this activity, I have the students fold a piece of paper into a triangle, write their name on one side and on the other side, they must draw a picture of their spirit animal (the phrase has been difficult for some of the students to understand, so often I must say, “draw an animal with a personality who matches yours”). I’ve been asking each group about what they want to learn about from me this year so I can tailor lessons to their interests. If there was any time left after doing these two things, we would play games like “Never Have I Ever” or have a question and answer time.
For the other English teacher’s class (let’s call her DL), the students had to ask me questions to fill out a paper that DL had prepared for them. They had a lot of freedom about what they could ask me and I got questions ranging from “Can you understand me when I speak [in English]?” to “How do you like Trump?” to “Do you have a boyfriend?” (I thought it was kind of funny and I didn’t mind answering but the second time a student asked in the next class, DL told them to stop asking about my personal life).
What a month of traveling it has been!! I’ve been to Paris and Auxerre twice, Dijon, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam! I’ve loved exploring France and traveling outside the country so far, and I am excited to see where my future travels take me.
What I’m Reading
I’ve started reading the Harry Potter series for the second time, but this time in French! Anyone who knows me knows that I love to read and I am normally a quick reader, but reading in French (even for fun) is a whole different ballgame. I feel like it takes me a million years just to read a single chapter! To keep myself accountable and push myself to read at least a little every day, I’ve made it my official reading goal to finish the series before the end of my contract in April. We’ll see how much farther I’ve gotten by my next November recap!
What I’m Listening To
*For this section, I’ll cover both podcasts and music as I spend a lot of time listening to both.
Regarding podcasts, I’ve been keeping up with the same ones I’ve been listening to for the past six months: Bucci Radio (fitness and entrepreneurial podcasts), Bethel Church (sermons) and Transfert (French stories). Given how much free time I have, I’ve been breezing through them at lightning speed and I am on the lookout for a few more good channels (in English or French) to listen to. If anyone has any suggestions, please leave a comment down below!
Music wise, I’ve been trying to listen to French music as much as possible. We have a radio in our apartment that is nearly always turned on to the local radio station, but unfortunately, they play about as much English music as they do French. I’ve gotten decent to singing (more like murmuring) along the words to the of the (seemingly) five different, Top 40 French songs they play on that station. Thankfully, some assistants made a “Playlist d’assistants de langue en France 2017-18” with a ton of music on it on Spotify, so I’ve been listing to that too.
What I’m Watching
I haven’t had tons of time to just relax and watch TV shows or movies, but I did start watching Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix. Granted I’ve only watched one episode, but it’s pretty good so far and I am excited to continue watching.
After waiting in anticipation for nearly a year, the second season of Stranger Things has been released and I am beyond pumped to watch that as well! In the spirit of Halloween, I’m planning on starting the series today 🙂
Given that this is my first time in France, I have a lot of “Frenchy Firsts” (i.e. traditional French things I do/try for the first time in France) from this month. Here are a few of the highlights!
- First time going to the local marché—honestly, going to the marché (and having coffee with L and T afterward) is one of my favorite parts of the week. Clamecy comes alive on Saturday mornings (albeit only for a few hours) and I have a lot of fun exploring what products are available each week.
- First time kayaking in France—I know I already wrote about this experience, but it was magical and I’m still not over it.
- First French soccer game—One of the teacher’s that T works with at the college offered to take her and I to the Auxerre vs Quevilly-Rouen football game. Again, I’m not really a football person, but wow, it was so fun! To say it was a dramatic game is an understatement—the players for Quevilly-Rouen were theatrically falling and grasping their leg/foot/shoulder/head at least once every 5 minutes and there were many-a yellow cards received by various players. The excitement continued until the very last second, as Auxerre won with a penalty kick right at the end!
- First time trying escargot—I was unsure how to feel about trying escargot given the mixed reviews I had received from so many students about them, but I actually enjoyed it! The texture is a little peculiar but honestly, I’d eat just about anything doused in that much garlic butter and parsley.
Thanks for reading my monthly recap! Check back later this week and next for my vacation recaps.
Until next time,