Oh, northern France. The winter is coming, and I am scared… it is already in the low 50’s every day, the weather is mostly rainy, and the nights are unbearable… ok they’re not that bad but seriously. It’s cold.
I can’t believe it’s only been 3 ½ weeks since I arrived! Not only has the weather changed, but my LIFE has changed. (Once again, being a bit dramatic, but seriously. It has.) I am really enjoying my apartment. It is always a pleasure to be able to meet internationals, and I get to live with three! It’s really nice to be able to share our cultures – which includes the food! – and to have new friends to go out or do everyday things with around the city. It’s also been great to spend time with some fellow assistants like the awesome Cydny! She is from Wisconsin and is hilarious. I’m sure you’ll hear more about her in the future. Another great change is how easy it has become to spend time with the boy. I can hop on a train and be in Lille within 30 minutes and we can eat together during his lunch break, which we did today. That is much different than having to shell out money for a plane ticket and spend 12 hours traveling in order to see each other!
Since I’ve been living in Douai, I’ve found not only my coffee shop but also my bar. Once upon a time, some other assistants and I met up at a bar called “Les Gres,” and ever since, I have been in love. It’s a small place with stone walls, two bartenders, lots of young people, and beer towers. It’s perfect. It is also one of the very, very few places in Douai that is open later than 8pm which is definitely a bonus. After going there twice, the bartenders already knew my name, I saw groups of the same people… it’s great. I was hoping there would be a bar like this here and yes – there is! Yay!
I guess I should talk a bit about my job. The observations were fine; like I said, I mostly just had the classes ask me questions about myself (in English), I would respond, and they would write a little biography about me. Adorable! This week, I am supposed to start really being an assistant, but it has been a bit difficult to get my schedule prepared. There are six English teachers and it hasn’t been easy to find time slots for all the teachers, with the classes they want, that work. Hopefully after another week or two everything will be settled, but until then I am just kind of hanging out and trying to go to the classes that have already been scheduled. In my observations, I’ve noticed that French high schools are quite different from those in America. Classes are much more strict, grades are shared in front of the entire class (the teacher says the lowest grade, average grade, and highest grade out loud and proceeds to hand back each student’s assignment where their grade and their feedback is said out loud in front of everyone as well), students must have permission to sit down upon entering the classroom, etc. It’s a completely different environment, but I imagine that if you’re used to it then it’s not so bad.
Next week is vacation for me! French schools have 1 ½ weeks off for “Toussaint” (All Saints Day), and although I don’t have any plans set in stone yet, I am thinking about going to Ameins (recommendation from Dr. Boerm who spent time there teaching English), Paris (to see some old Baylor French friends), or Hannover, Germany (with Michel to see his friend Martin who he studied abroad with in Ireland). We’ll see what happens, but in any case, I’m sure it will be great!