Last Wednesday, après a hideous 6.15am alarm, the slowest moving queue for tickets à la gare and a delayed train, we made it to Strasbourg for the induction. Then came navigating the tram system – and forgetting to validate our tickets, oops! – in time to arrive at the CANOPÉ Strasbourg with just enough time to eat some of the free kugelhopf [a sort of Alsatian cake] for breakfast! Le stage d’accueil started with an entire morning filled with admin…merveuilleux! Lunch was at a nearby lycée and involved an unknown-to-this-day meaty substance, followed by an amazing blueberry tart. During the afternoon we were told about the carte vitale, advised to take out additional health insurance (an EHIC card apparently isn’t the thing for a long stay here, pourquoi pas?!). A few of us then wandered into the city centre, before taking the train home.
Thursday brought the first morning of classes at Lycée Blaise Pascal, and four hours’ worth of introducing myself to classes of various ages and abilities. It is assez difficile to talk about yourself, make sure the language isn’t too compliquée and not talk trop vite, all at the same time. Le premier jour was a bit of a blur, but the classes were nice, and despite being asked if I liked women when I had already mentioned the fact I had a boyfriend, it went fairly well!
Friday began with a class containing un étudiant twice my age – un peu bizarre pour moi! I had been given “the nice ones” (to quote Magalie) from a BTS class, and the funniest moment of la première semaine took place then: I asked the students where their favourite place was, to which one replied “My bed, with girls in it”….oh mon dieu, more information than I needed! After that, I had another BTS class with Sylvie, who said they’ll try hard this year “because I’m a girl”! After lunch I had a ‘Cambridge’ class (all these names for classes are somewhat baffling pour moi) – they asked me all sorts of questions about the Scottish referendum and the English education system. The final class avant le weekend was a small class of 9, with M-C (real name Marie-Claude, but the English department have abbreviated it…), who told me all about their trip to Cornwall and the things they found weird in England: marmite (je ne suis pas d’accord!), light switches, milk….the list goes on!
Le weekend was uneventful, besides my trip to the launderette which involved encounters with two strange (and probablement drunk) men and a horrible dog. Once there, instructions were available in French….and Arabic. Très utile for those of us who don’t speak Arabic and are unfamiliar with French washing machine terminology….without the diagrams it would certainly have been une catastrophe.
On Monday morning I had a class toute seule, involving (yet another) presentation about myself, letting the students introduce themselves and finishing with a game of charades. 55 minutes plus tard the bell rang…succès! The rest of the day involved a couple of meetings with teachers, to establish exactly what I’ll be doing, being shown where the bibliothèque was, and cooking tea properly for the first time since mon arrivée en France – fajitas minus the wraps, because which student can justify spending 4 euros on a packet of wraps?
Yesterday, mid-way through trying to print something, the fire alarm went off. Les autres professeurs looked around blankly, then we were told to ‘evacuez’ the building…where we then waited outside, dans la pluie, for what felt like plusieurs années. I had one class in the afternoon (with quite a few students who were plus âgés than me) and having them respond in French to questions asked in English was un peu difficile – especially when in some cases they understood perfectly what I was asking them! In the evening I met up with d’autres assistantes, and we went for tea (tarte flambée sans crème fraîche pour moi) followed by a drink at ‘Les Trois Singes’ [The Three Monkeys].