* l’équivalent français of the proverb “every cloud has a silver lining” doesn’t half sum up recent événements.
After deux semaines de vacances, it was (déjà!) time to commencer my last school term here en Alsace. Bien sûr, Red Nose Day was sur les cards for the first semaine back, definitely an unmissable event pour les britanniques. (Luckily, grâce à my lovely little sister, a red nose is awaiting my return to l’Angleterre). Plus tard, the first “cloud” of la semaine occurred: I had inadvertently managed to render my carte bancaire française utterly useless, having accidentally used the PIN for a different card whilst in Geneva. Of course, la France being la France, la banque was fermée on Mondays; parfait. Quand je suis retournée au lycée, my usual class were…not there. A trip to “vie scolaire” (essentiellement, a friendlier equivalent of Christleton’s office staff) and a phone call to the deputy head later and I was free to go home…until I came back une heure plus tard to tutor une élève.
Le lendemain, je suis allée à la banque to resolve the small (read: enormous) problème of “carte bloquée”. À ma plus grande surprise, it wasn’t too difficult to fix and une nouvelle carte would arrive…in 8 days. Not quite as efficace as les banques anglaises, but navigating this dilemma successfully en français had to be the silver lining. The rest of la journée included educating more enfants français on the delights of Red Nose Day, debating the usefulness of the Ubuntu app-less smartphone (heard of it? No, me neither until last week) and the Apple watch with a BTS class and attempting to comprendre some students’ scientific presentations.
The following jour, it was time for my mid-week day off. Il faisait beau, so Chrissy and I took le train to Munster pour faire une randonnée. With the map for le circuit du Narrenstein saved to mon portable (and only used once) we followed les signes verts up into the hills/montagnes(?). Cette randonnée was minus the hunting-season gunshots of la dernière fois (in September) and much warmer (it is certainement verging on no-coat weather). Maintenant il y a plein de cigognes (storks) in Munster: they’re in every arbre, on top of every bâtiment and making lots of noise. That said, je les aime beaucoup. We had un chocolat chaud at a café before returning to Colmar.
Thursday involved seulement une classe (this 12 hours/week contract has only been fulfilled once to date…) and beaucoup de free time. All of mes élèves de terminale were in smart clothes, apparently it is une tradition (in my school, or partout en France? je ne sais pas…) to do this 100 days avant le bac. I also (finalement) got feedback on my Year Abroad Questionnaire, including this:
“Et est-ce que tu as déjà essayé la choucroute?”
The answer to that question, dear marker of my work, is no: pas maintenant, pas dans l’avenir. Cooked cabbage (or indeed, cabbage in any form) n’est pas mon truc.
Friday began with a lesson on les transplantations of animal organs in humans, which most élèves initially thought was “degueulasse!”. Après la pause, I had a lesson on job interviews, which un élève clearly wasn’t worried about:
Q: How do you handle failure?
A: I don’t give a sh*t.
Not quite la réponse I was aiming for; sure that’ll go down well for him dans le futur. I then decided to spend l’après-midi being touristy in Colmar…
On Saturday, je suis allée à Ribeauvillé to go for a walk to les trois châteaux de Ribeauvillé; to my surprise Adrienne and Julie were dans le même bus! Chrissy and I headed straight for les châteaux, seeing les autres up there later. Il y avait beaucoup de soleil…verging on no-coat-needed weather (except when sitting still)! It was a lovely walk et les belvédères were great (malheureusement, they were impossible to replicate in a photograph).
Après making our descent, we decided to manger une glace (myrtille/framboise pour moi) in the sun, with the storks.
Sunday was spent watching several episodes of The Great Australian Bake Off (which has nothing on GBBO) and, bien sûr, skyping home to say Happy Mother’s Day. I also realised pourquoi I had so much difficulty finding une carte: en France, Mother’s Day is à la fin de May.
Le début de cette semaine has been fairly calm: a lesson on stereotypes (during which, une élève declared that “Everyone who lives in the Arctic Circle lives in an igloo” (the current stereotype of discussion) was a “cute” stereotype…), a dernière minute presentation on Gandhi (who I knew next to nothing about until asked by a teacher on Monday if I could tell a class all about him on Tuesday…), more red-nose designing and another debate on organ transplants.
Aujourd’hui came another “cloud”: detected fraudulent use of my (UK) debit card, resulting in a phone call to Barclays (and an exchange with someone who had such a thick accent I was questioning if I even understood English myself!) and my card blocked. Heureusement, the “silver lining” came along in the form of my new, replacement carte bancaire française! Ensuite, I met Chrissy and Simone à la gare; we spent une heure (or so) dans le soleil, avant de chercher quelque chose à manger at the crêperie (where none of us had a crêpe!).
When I returned to mon appartement, the highlight of le jour was waiting: après more than 50 fruitless attempts, I have finally found some work experience pour cet été!! Had my boulangerie of preference not been closed, I would have celebrated with un croissant chocolat-banane. As it was, a slice of tarte aux pommes did the job.