So I Found Out I Don’t Know How to Teach

The title of this post is probably not going to come as a surprise to many of you, since a) I have never studied Education in my life, and b) I hadn’t in the past ever said I for sure wanted to become a teacher (or a TA). I went to school for French, and International Relations. If I could be a diplomat, I would do it in a heartbeat. Teaching is still a possibility, but right now, I’m feeling unsure about teaching English as a second language. I truly hope this post doesn’t become too complain-y for you, but please just bear with me for a few minutes! P.S. The existence of my blog is kept a secret from my colleagues.

I only work three times a week. However, on Tuesdays, I have to go to a village 30 km away and teach six separate English courses. I guess they really wanted me there? That’s really neat, but, maybe they’re all expecting too much from me. It just might be too much to ask because I’m exhausted commuting there, and I’m pretty much burnt out after the first couple of classes. I think they should perhaps focus on “la qualité” rather than “la quantité”. It didn’t help that my first day there was a day in which I felt ill all day (that feeling when you just know you’re coming down with a cold), and my first experience was an extremely rowdy, uninterested, and “agité” group of students. These particular students were yelling English obscenities while the English teacher either didn’t hear or didn’t know enough English to know it was a horrible word. They also laughed when the box of chalk dropped on the floor, leaving me to pick it up.

I definitely do not think that every single middle school English language student of mine is awful. I think there are some who are well-behaved, sweet, and seem to really want to learn English or improve their current skills. Those are the diamonds in the rough to me and I’m already thankful for them. So why do I think I can’t teach, you ask? Well, it’s because:

  • I’m still trying to understand their school days, with week A’s one week, and week B’s the next. I still don’t understand when and for how long they have breaks, either. Of course, I’m trying to learn all of these different teachers’ classrooms and even where they are located. I have about 10 to memorize, so I’d better get started.
  • I’m already being given complicated lesson plan “themes” and have to come up with material fairly quickly. You actually don’t realize how hard writing out worksheets, games and activities (in your native language) for themes like how to order at a restaurant is until you try to do it yourself. They also have to be interesting enough for middle schoolers.
  • This brings me to my next point, which is that I feel incredibly incompetent in every language I speak and write (English and French). I talk to students mostly in English, but they always want me to repeat and also will look at me blankly the whole class. I’ve even been told by Europeans that my English is easy for them to understand in comparison to other Americans. But, when I talk to my students in French, they still don’t really get what I’m saying, probably because I’m explaining English language stuff like spellling. It just feels frustrating.
  • When I live in France, I get this idea in my head that I am just not French. This gives me a feeling that I’m an outsider (filling out visa forms and “special” laws for Americans at the banks only reinforces this) and that I’ll be viewed as one wherever I go, but ESPECIALLY when I speak American English. The students also seem to believe a lot of the awful stereotypes about Americans, where as I have worked very hard to get past the ones I might have about French people from living in Paris for almost 9 mos.
  • I’ve simply not had enough practice to be thrown in to lessons on my own and expect for something to come out of it.

This post may have been brought to you by feelings of homesickness (brought on by a particularly awful cold), but I assure you besides this, I do truly enjoy the French life. I’m hoping it gets easier with time!

Dublin and London for Christmas

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This gallery contains 42 photos.

Hello everyone! Long time, no talking from me. I’m sorry about that. I’m back! And I’m going to talk about my experiences on my winter break so far. On the evening of the 23rd (late evening, thanks to Ryan Air … Continue reading

I just planned a trip a day in advance…to the Eternal City!

Yes. I did. My friend Haley here learned she actually could ask her dad for money sometimes, and I groggingly (I mean to say in a groggy way, guys) answered her call as I was watching Gossip Girl in bed (the usual after six hours of class) and we decided to go to Rome. We planned this in less than 2 hours. A little ridiculous you might say. Oh and by the way, my ticket’s like 400 USD, round-trip, but YOLO even though that’s carpe diem for stupid people, says Jack Black.

But really, I am in Paris, France right now and I will be eating an American breakfast tomorrow here (Botomless cups ‘o joe? Perfect) and then flying to Rome, and well, eating some more there. I had a successful week at school, and don’t have much homework so what could be more perfect? I also got the green light from my mother who’s seemingly more thrilled than I am about my spontaneous jaunt to Rome that’s costing way too much money, to use my credit card, and I couldn’t be happier. AND this hotel has a bathtub. I feel like going to Lush tomorrow and buying bath bombs to kick off our second trip together (that hopefully will go more smoothly).

Also, as a side note- I need to blog more and I’m sorry, you guys 😦 I will update you on my life with stories and pictures from ROME, ITALY! I can’t believe this worked out. We are warrior queens. Arrivederci, prego, grazie (literally don’t know what I’m saying)! Can’t wait for the pizza : )

My day off- a cappucino and relaxation

Bonjour! Today is my day off from school. I have two a week. Sounds lazy, but my three days of class a week are eeeexhausting to say the least. I take all of my courses in French, and I have three hours of class (one class) on Monday, and six hours of two classes on Tuesday and Thursday! No amount of caffeine can honestly prepare me for sitting in classes for three hours a pop. And I mean no amount! My classes are more challenging than ever now as I have to translate in my head from French (from native speakers) into English, my native language. History is hard enough to follow as it is, and when dates like 1939 are spewed from the professor I really have to pay attention because she doesn’t write dates on the board and long/long-ish numbers like that are notoriously hard to follow in French! I’m getting better though, and it’s only my 2nd month here.

I woke up around 10:45 a.m. this morning because last night I was dinking around on my laptop (since I bought that elusive internet) and hanging out with a friend- also I didn’t set an alarm. I love to sleep. I could talk about it for days. Naturally though, I got a little bit too much sleep, and I was feeling a little groggy this morning. And bored, since I don’t really have homework for tomorrow’s classes. Except for non-homework, but obligatory things, like preparing for my French visa medical exam, researching, and studying (ugh). I was itching for a good cup of coffee, so I did a little bit of research on google, and came across David Lebovitz’s article “La Caféothèque de Paris”. This is a cute, not-so-little, but just SO home-y, café that is actually more close to where I live in Paris than I thought. I decided to give it a try after slowly getting ready.

It was delicious! I got the cappucino for four euros, which was so full-flavored (I’m no coffee expert, sorry) and decorated with a leaf of milk. Like, I don’t know how to describe it without you tasting it, but it had a very rich flavor that was a bit enigmatic but pleasurable to drink all the same. The cup came with a little shot glass of water and a little spoon on a tray, with a packet of chocolate covered somethings. What’s great about this café is that there are a few different rooms, lots of seating, and a homey, American coffee shop atmosphere. If you so desire, you may buy your own coffee from their carefully-selected beans. They truly know how to brew a good cup. I know I’m coming back soon and will be trying the “café du jour” when I do.

P.S. I spent an obscene amount of money on an umbrella that I’ve been coveting from BHV for days, one with little, white polka dots on a black background, surrounded by frills of the opposite color but same pattern. It’s loud, and a bit big, but oh-so-feminine French.

Until then, I’ll be consulting David Lebovitz’s blog and soaking up the “sweet life” in Paris. XOXO

That Time I went to Bruges (Brugge)

From Tuesday, October 30th until Thursday, November 1st, I spent time in Bruges, Belgium with my new, and awesome, friend Haley. She goes to school with me, but she isn’t from my university at home. We truly are the perfect travel companions- we laugh that we both are complainers and that’s how it works so well. Plus, we travel at pretty much the same pace. It’s easy. Or we thought it would be, but we were actually wrong, because this trip wasn’t actually what we thought it would have been, not that it was necessarily a bad experience.

The trip started with a lovely metro ride on line four to the beautiful Gare du Nord stop. This is where we were going to get on our train to Brussels. Easy enough, right? Besides not having any room in the train for my duffel bag and purse and how sketchy this station was, yes. We eventually found where to get on our train, but we weren’t able to tackle the issue of accidentally having the wrong date for the trip back, in Paris. They told us we’d have to wait until Brussels to change our train ticket dates, and we only had 18 minutes there until we had to leave for Bruges to deal with that. The train trip went smoothly, and in Brussels, we hurried to find the right counter. This is where we had to take a number and wait until all of the other people were finished explaining their problems. Eventually, we did get our tickets changed and we did get to the train on time to go to Bruges.

When we FINALLY got to Bruges (it’s not that far from Paris), it was definitely dinner time, so we ate a little something in the city square and had some beers that were actually stronger than I would’ve thought. After spending about 20 euro each (UGH!), we headed back home. First off- it was beyond freezing and we were exhausted, and secondly, it was crazy how difficult it was to flag a taxi down when we had seen many taxis circling the square minutes ago during dinner. Where did they all go? No one knows. We finally got a taxi, and we gave the taxi driver the name of the cheap apartment we had booked for two nights on a website called airbnb.com. The driver didn’t even know where it was! This was not a good sign to us, as we were sure that the place was close to Bruges (from what we had read on the site and the information for that offer).

40 euros later, we got to Blankenberge, which is NOT close to Bruges and requires a 45 minute bus ride, or a 10 minute train trip. This was not advertised in the apartment offer, and by the time we spent about 40 euros on this taxi, we were not happy. Also- the town of Blankenberge and the looks of the apartment were, right off the bat, sketchy. After getting into the apartment building pretty easily, we went up the winding and narrow staircase and made it to our apartment, where we struggled to just get the door open with the code! We finally did, and of course we weren’t too pleased with the living situation. No surprise there! What’s worse, is that the guy Amoos or whatever his flemish name was, left the window WIDE open and it was absolutely freezing. It wasn’t even a screen window, it was just a huge “hole in the wall” that didn’t even shut all the way (cold air was still frustratingly getting in), leaving me thinking how safe the place actually is: Who opened the window? Why was it left open in the winter time? After getting extremely bundled up and putting our sheets on our bed (We had to bring our own sheets and pillowcases, what?), we went to bed and didn’t sleep very well because we were absolutely freezing, and freaked out.

In the morning, we had a good day of exploring Bruges by boat and by foot, by seeing the many museums and shops, and by eating some chocolate and fries. Typical Belgian things. This day was Halloween (a not-very celebrated holiday in Europe) and we had heard about a bar/restaurant so we decided to go there to try some funky Belgian beers. We did and we met some Canadian guys living in Saudia Arabia? who were way to excited about our being there. They bought us drinks, so we had ended up having three strong beers that night. They started talking about how we should stay at their apartment and how we should also go to Amsterdam the next day with them. It was getting weird, and it was getting awfully close to the time we had to get out of Bruges and find our stupid train again to get back to stupid, creepy Blankenberge. By some sort of a miracle, we made it to the train station and we made it onto the train back to Blankenberge. We met some Americans on the way to the train station who were rushing as well, to get to their train to Brussels. Without them, I’m pretty sure we would not have made it, and we would’ve had to find a way to get back.

The next day, we were leaving to go back to Paris. I must say I was awfully relieved. I love Bruges, but I think that our experience in the apartment we had chosen to stay at without much thought, ruined the vacation. We were on Toussaints break at the time, so we were looking to get out of Paris and relax a bit. This apartment was not that for us. The second night, the shutters in the front of the apartment were making so much noise, we were hearing people on the streets, the apartment was getting too hot, and things got in general, SCARY. Whether they actually were or not is a different story. But for us, they were. It turns out, the town is just deserted, cold, and windy. It literally felt haunted, and we did not feel safe. We barely got more than 4 hours of sleep. The next day we both felt horrible and were ready to leave. We then wished we would have taken the early train out because we were so done.

Lessons learned: Never stay in an apartment on a trip of two nights without looking more into it, I can survive all sorts of bad situations, there’s strength in numbers, bad living situations ruin your trip, especially a trip in which you  had wanted to relax and lay low a bit.

And now to write that bad review to the owner, who had misinformed us…

Landlord and Tenant: Explaining Bodily Autonomy to Conservatives

This is a lovely way of describing this

Confessions of a Latte Liberal

I am the landlord and tenant of my own body.

Respect that I both own and inhabit my own body.  I am the landlord.  I can grant access to the building.  I can change the wallpaper, drill holes in the wall.  I maintain the well-being of the building.
Simultaneously, I am the tenant of my own body.  I inhabit the physical space, but I am not always mentally present.  Sometimes, landlord and tenant disagree.  The landlord occasionally wants to let guests in, but the apartment is my own space.  As the tenant, I control access to my own space.  Somedays, I want guests, and I open up my home to friends.  Other times, I wish to be left alone, or do not wish certain people to enter.  That is my prerogative.  As landlord, I can physically grant them access, but as tenant, I have the final say in who gets…

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Freezing October day at Versailles Château/Les Jardins

Yesterday, I went to Versailles with three others from my university. It was the perfect little group. But not so much the perfect day- high of 40, but it felt like 20 with the wind and the chill! I was freeeezing in the gardens, but I got over it because the fountain show (that we had to pay for) was going to be starting. Now, would I pay 6,50 euros to freeze in the gardens of Versaille again? Probably not to be honest. This would’ve been beautiful on a good day.

The Château was free, however, since I’m a longterm resident of France (Paris), so 6,50 euro for the entire day is not bad in my opinion. About the same as what I pay for a movie ticket here (yay for having a longterm Metro pass). I’m glad I went! We brought along a couple of fresh baguettes, and some delicious garlic boursion cheese (not French ha). I brought along sparkling wine I picked up from my wine-tasting in Nitray, which consequently spilled all over poor Jake. But I hadn’t gotten to open it on my birthday so we did a little illegal picnicking in the garden. Which, was worth it and absolutely delicious! I even went through security with a huge bottle of wine…I think France doesn’t care about wine in public even though it’s technically illegal (no one knows that, but it is). 

I will be visiting again soon with my family when they come. Bruges on Tuesday with my friend Haley! 

Yes, This was a Week Ago

le 21, octobre 2012:

[D’abord- No photos! I’ve been taking pics of dimensions 3000X4000 and they’re not uploading…SORRY! I know now though and won’t disappoint ever again. I’m also working on a day in which I blog every week.]

Cou cou! Typing with wet nails…a la ‘Jamaican me Crazy’ by essie. This past weekend was my (big 2-0) birthday! It was a very iiiiinteresting weekend that started out with a glass of white and shots from the servers aka friends at one of the cafés I receive meal tickets to. Needless to say I was having a good time soon after! Ha. Awkward. Anyways…I then went dancing at some point in the future at a club and remember that the American music being played was really fun to dance to. : ) After that, we went on a walk that lasted until around 3 a.m. and saw some places where Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre hung out/lived. Pretty cool. I remember that part a little more!

Saturday was a hungover day not gonna lie. Hard alcohol + wine wears you out like no other!! I Skyped my love after you know, getting presentable, which was very nice (always is).

Sunday, my birthday, I was finally feeling a bit more lively so I decided to accompany my English friend Lucy and her Spanish friend Nerea- both absolute sweethearts and a joy to be around- on a walk throughout the city (well, a bit of the city). We walked to the Pantheon and saw some of the area around that as well. Very cool! It was a Sunday so there was a bit of a market going on and we were surprised to see so many people dining and profiting from the beautiful day. In this area, there are all types of cuisine- Afghanistan, Spanish, Mexican, Lebanese, etc. But what delighted me were the “frites” I saw in the cones perfectly adorned with the little fork on the top, and the American Diner named Delma’s! So absolutely charming. I was starving as usual so I wanted to find something quick to eat. I got a take-out bowl of bolognese noodles and a water bottle for 5,50 euros (STUDENT PRICE!) at a place that I forgot the name of (sorry!). It was delicious! It wasn’t very fast, so I wouldn’t really call it “fast food” (ha) but it was worth the wait and the cost, of course, too.

After a quick lunch, we headed down from the Pantheon and to the Luxembourg Gardens (Jardins du Luxembourg). I LOVE this garden. It’s absolutely gorgeous! It was a nice day so we walked through, stopping for necessary pictures of the beauty that was all around us. After that we did an obligatory tour of my uni, and saw some cool things on the way home which you can see in the pictures 🙂 I thought I good a good, random assortment of things photographed and I hope you all enjoy the pictures! P.S. Free hugs in Paris? Don’t they know Parisians “faire les bisous” and hug for reasons that include sadness, sympathy, etc.? ha weird sight in front of Notre-Dame Sunday!

I took pictures of what I ate that day besides the pasta. These include Amorino Gelato on St.-Louis-Sur-L’Ile, and a meal on the same island at a lovely (and good value) café called Cafe Med. Go there if you’re ever on Ile St. Louis. You will not regret it! Big portions and a delicious meal for a good price, too.

All in all, it was a good weekend and I profited from the nice weather that’s been happening in Paris, somewhat bizzarely. I am now 2 decades old too! Less than a year till my 21st! Hope you all enjoy,

XX Meg