Le premier jour of November was unseasonably warm: it was the sort of weather that occurs rarement during a standard British summer, and you can forget about it ever happening in Britain in November. It was un jour parfait for a walk dans les montagnes. Inga and I took the train to Turckheim and walked to un village called Trois-Épis. There were lots of vues panoramiques and we could even see la Forêt-Noire in the distance. Back in Turckheim, we saw un vieil homme taking his kitten for a walk…!
Deux jours plus tard, school began again. After giving a lesson on le système d’éducation britannique, I was sat in the staffroom when Denis (the head of German) walked in and announced “Tu es toute seule dans l’appartement”. Cue: absolutely baffled expression on mon visage. Résultat: Denis explained that Katharina was leaving*. In the après-midi, I went to la poste to collect a parcel…which turned out to be full of chocolate – Laurence, you can have le prix for the ‘best post received’!
The following day, I had une classe of just three élèves. Normalement, this would’ve been awkward (la langue française really doesn’t have a decent mot for this) but it turned out fine. That afternoon involved a class discussion on 3D printers (au secours!) and helping in a science lesson… Anyone happen to know le mot for a volumetric flask? That evening a few of us went to ‘Les Trois Singes’ pour une verre.
November 5th: pas de fireworks for me cette année. On the plus side, I did receive another package from Laurence (surface mail is très slow – it took six semaines to arrive) containing maple syrup! I spent the evening with some other assistants chez Anna et Inga…where we also met their coloc who is (to quote Inga) “un peu spécial”. His advice on les boîtes de nuit in Colmar was rather entertaining though.
Friday was très entertaining. A role play activity based around holidays turned into une discussion about which drugs are essential pour une bonne vacance. In la prochaine activité they had to describe (and guess) countries: un élève described Japan as a “weird” country that is “obsessed with sex”…merci chers élèves, not quite la description I was aiming for… Après finishing my classes, I went to see le sécretaire about the ongoing cauchemar that is la Sécurité Sociale. That evening, whilst skyping home, I asked mes parents who they thought were famous British people…to which my mum replied “Nelson Mandela!” Oh dear…
On Saturday, je suis allée à Mulhouse to visit the zoo with Ruth, une assistante who works in Mulhouse. C’était une bonne journée: there were polar bears, arctic foxes, wolves, snow leopards and the cutest monkeys ever, to name a few of mes animaux préférés. I also saw a little bit of la centre ville, which feels a lot bigger than Colmar!
Yesterday, après teaching a class about British celebrities, I met a former English teacher of my lycée. When he was an assistant, dans les années soixante, it was -20°C in Colmar for the whole of February! I am now desperately hoping that grâce à global warming, it won’t get that cold this year! In the afternoon, I had something close to a technological nightmare. Four weeks into my job, I have finalement learned how to log on to the school computers. This is all due to le fait that QWERTY becomes AZERTY, and interesting things have to happen with the shift button to get certain symbols. My class found it totalement hilarious that I had aucune idée how to get the ‘@’ symbol. Eventually, one of them helped me, told me how to use the keyboard en anglais and I managed to load la vidéo. At which point, the keyboard stopped functioning. Merveilleux! After plus d’aide from les élèves, the lesson was underway…twenty minutes plus tard than planned!
Today is Armistice Day…and the French go one step further than une minute de silence: they take the whole day off. Which means pas de travail for me aujourd’hui.
*If you’re reading this, j’espère que tout va bien chez toi.