So, yesterday, October 1st, was technically my official first day of work. However, work really at all I did not. So, pretty much, in France, everything takes forever to start rolling. My contract officially started yesterday, but I didn’t actually teach or even observe.
I had asked my contact when I needed to be at the school (the high school that is) on Thursday. He told me 12:45pm. So, I had the whole morning to prepare my introduction (because honestly, I’m not sure what to expect regarding that) and to just hang out before I headed to work. I got kind of dressed up: black skinny jeans, a nice blouse, a blazer, a scarf, makeup all done, hair pulled back nicely, and some high heeled booties. I was a tad over dressed. It’s interesting to know that French teachers are super chill, way more than in the United States. A couple of them were wearing casual slacks with tennis shoes. Alright, I can dig it.
Anyways, so I show up at 12:45, and I literally sit there while the teachers decide what my schedule is going to be. I didn’t have to do anything, and I didn’t really have to say much. After they figured it out, they told me “Okay, we will send you a copy of your schedule by email once we’ve confirmed it.” I asked if I needed to stick around, and they told me no. I was free to go. Alright, I’ll take it.
At this point though, I had not heard a single word from the middle school I’m suppose to be working with. I had sent an email but had not heard anything. So, in order to figure it out and get some answers, I walked there and just showed up. After some awkwardness of having to be buzzed in and then escorted to the secretary by a teacher who had no idea why I was there really, I found the secretary, told her who I was, and she was like “Oh yes, we were expecting you sometime this week!” My thoughts were, wow really because I have yet to receive anything from anyone. French bureaucracy, people, French bureaucracy.
Once I had introduced myself though, she was very kind and had all of my paperwork as well as a potential schedule all ready for me. So, I signed some paperwork, and then one of the English teachers (who’s name is Guillaume Poisson, which is William Fish. I just thought that was pretty fun. I giggled a little bit on the inside. That’s, like, the best French name ever.) took me on a tour of the school, introduced me to some of the other English teachers, told me what my schedule would look like, what my students will probably be like, and then he invited me to dinner with some of the teachers from the middle school that evening. I saw this as a great opportunity for growth and to get to know my co-workers.
Even though just showing up at the middle school was very awkward, I accomplished something. After I had gotten out of there, I felt empowered. Here I was, living in France, not really knowing what I’m suppose to be doing but doing it anyways. I felt independent, strong, and like I’m actually starting to find some of my footing. Plus, the secretary and all of the teachers there were very kind, repeated and slowed themselves down when they needed to, and gave me all of the information that I need to start work on Monday (yes, I officially start Monday!)
In addition to all of that, I did indeed have dinner with all of the teachers at a crêperie here in the city. They were all very kind, but it was kind of overwhelming. Most of the time, I just sat there and tried to listen in on conversation. However, my French is still not the best, so hearing multiple conversations going on in French around me was exhausting. Also, I had forgotten how long the French eat for when they are all together. I was there for 3 hours! I’m pretty sure if I had stayed any longer I would’ve past out from fatigue. I didn’t want to leave though because I didn’t want to be rude. Also, I kept telling myself “Lindsey, this is where the growth happens! It’s painful now, but think about how baller your French will be after these 8 months because of situations like this!” Plus, the crêperie was bien sûr delicious. There is nothing like a true French crêpe.
So, I went to bed after all of that feeling exhausted but quite accomplished.
Also, side note, I finally got my French bank card! Now I just have to figure out the cheapest way to transfer my money from my American bank to my French bank. I also got a library card, and it’s free for people who live in Laval! Yes, I’m excited about that, nerdom at it’s highest.
Well, until next time…..à plus mes amis!
P. S. All of the teachers and the secretary at the middle school kept calling me la petite assistante d’anglais. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I’m rather young or I’m small or both? not sure. Anyways, so, I guess I’m the little English assistant. I wonder how old they think I am?