hello, summer?

Summer in the North isn’t really the summer that I knew growing up near Dallas, Texas. 55° versus 100°. Rain versus sunshine. Windbreakers versus tank tops.

But when I have a view like this on my evening walks, can I really complain?

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This week has been better: the sun finally came out for my birthday, which was on the 22nd. M and I went for a drink in Lille where some of my friends surprised me and joined us. Since then, I haven’t had to put my winter coat back on – yet – so, maybe summer is finally here!

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My birthday gift: my very own violin, with help from my parents, grandma, and M. Thanks, guys!

Schoolwise, I finished classes in early June. I had half a week off and then had to go check on some 10th graders who were doing their mini summer internships. This past week, I picked up my “birthday present” of 90 national tests to grade in a week’s time. France, unlike the United States, has a national education board. Therefore, all seniors take the same subject tests at the end of their senior year to receive their diploma.

The tests I’m grading are for the students doing a specialty in technology. They took a two hour test made up of two texts, comprehension questions, and a 150 word written expression exercise.

If any of you are wondering what sort of level French high schoolers are supposed to have in English, here’s the test subject for technology students.

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My 90 tests are anonymous, so I have no idea whose tests I’m grading. They’re definitely not students from my school, just in case I might recognise their handwriting. So far, I’ve had tests between 4/20 and 18.5/20. Some students just chose to not answer half of the comprehension questions; others didn’t even write anything for the written expression. But, once in a while, there are tests that are extremely well done. So it’s not TOO bad. I’ve made it through all 90 tests for the comprehension questions, and have done about 20 tests for the expression. So I should have no problem finishing on time!

I finish work for the year on July 7th. Between now and then, I have: my tests to finish grading, half a day of internship presentations by the 10th graders, the school’s end of the year soirée, and three days in Calais to grade make-up exams and act as a jury member of the final grade deliberations for any strange test cases.

After that, my friend Shane will be here to visit for a week! The week after that, M and I are heading down to the Alps for the Celticimes Irish Music Festival! Yippee!

Here’s hoping the weather doesn’t change anytime soon.

she’s back? #shesback.

Ohmygoshyouguys. I’m going back to France on Tuesday! How, you ask?

When I bought my ticket to come back in May, I basically decided to buy a round trip ticket from Paris to New York and chose a random date in August for my return flight. And it’s Tuesday!

I still haven’t heard if I’ve been renewed for the assistant position. Technically, I could hear anytime up to mid-September (it’s ridiculous). If I was renewed, I would come back to the US to get my visa and be back in France by October 1st, but my hopes aren’t high.  So, this time my visit is meant for pleasure and a bit of job hunting. I’ll stay with the boy, relax outside in the garden with my tiny French coffee, ride my bike in the Hazebrouck countryside, and stroll down the (one) shopping street in town.

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TAPIF 101.

I’ve been reflecting on my TAPIF experience lately while I am waiting to hear back if I’ve been renewed or not. For all of you newcomers, here are some tips that I wish I would’ve had before I headed over to France.

  1. Finances depend on the city you’re placed in. I lived in a city of 40,000 people about 20 minutes outside of Lille. My apartment was provided by the high school I worked for and cost me 96 euro/month, all inclusive. I paid 26 euro/month for my cell phone plan (with internet). Once I took care of my monthly payments, that left me with around 600 euro/month to play with, meaning I was able to travel on holidays, go out with friends, and eat out when I wanted to. Remember, you’re working as a teaching assistant so you’re living a teaching assistant’s lifestyle. Ask your referent to help you find a place. If you’re working for a high school, ask if they have an assistant apartment! Look at the average price of apartments in the city where you’ll be working and subtract it from your paycheck – can you make it work? I hope so!

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Bastille Day à l’américaine

I didn’t see fireworks on July 4th, but I did head to the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff to celebrate Bastille Day, France’s national holiday, on July 14th.

Since none of my friends here are quite as nerdy nor French-obsessed as I am, I easily convinced my brother Grant and his friends Matt and James to go with. You might remember Grant and Matt from when they visited me in France for Christmas. The turnout was huge when we got there!

Lines were long and treats were expensive, but it was nice to walk around and see the traditional French courtyard game pétanque being played, a giant chess set being used by all ages, and a group of men being judged on the quality of their mustaches. The best part was having my ears perk up at the slightest sound of French being spoken. It happened more often that I thought it would! I even spoke with a member of l’Alliance Française in his native language as I hopefully filled out my entry to their sweet raffle.

Pétanque: Players stand inside a circle and throw their metal ball towards a small wooden ball on the other side of the court, trying to get it to land as close as possible to (and without hitting) it.

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le grand retour!

I have recently become terribly irresponsible about my blog. I don’t know if the French have influenced me with their laissez-faire ways, if I’ve become too busy in the past month absorbing the culture shock from my home country, or if I forgot that I had a blog in the first place. In any case, it needs to change because way too many awesome things have happened in the past few months that I haven’t told anyone about – like my trip to England with 50 French high school students or my 2 week adventure exploring New York and California with 3 Frenchies (because we all know if it’s not on the internet, it didn’t happen).

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Bossypants

I recently finished reading Tina Fey’s amazing, witty, entertaining book called “Bossypants.” To be more clear, I finished it the day after I bought it. There were many quotes and passages that made me smile, more that made me laugh, and a few that made me… well, let’s say “guffaw.” Let’s look at an example.

In this part of the book, Tina Fey is writing about her experience playing Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live – a few years after having left the show, she was asked to return to the set because of her uncanny resemblance to the US politician.

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coming to terms…

Well, I guess it’s about time I write about graduating from college.

I’m not in denial or anything.

No really, I’m not!

Okay, maybe a little bit. After spending 4 years living in Waco, it grows on you as much as a tiny town with 1 mall and 5 decent bars and… well, that’s about it… can. The thing is, it also has an awesome university. I had a great time at Baylor. I changed a lot. And besides all that sappy sentimental stuff, the only real pressure I had during those 4 years was to graduate.

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