Snow and Strikes

I haven’t updated in a while so this one is going to be a long one.When I was in Marseille I tried a few new foods; pomegranates and crepes being the more successful ones. At least I know I still don’t like olives, and I’m definitely not keen on walnuts either. So, when I got back here I fancied making some crepes, using this recipe, the same one we’d used in Marseille. Being lazy and distracted I didn’t get around to it for a week, but when I did, they turned out not too badly.

A lot of us assistants went ice skating one day, when it was freezing and raining on top of old snow. Esther and I tried to get there on the bus from the residence, but it turns out when the bus says it stops somewhere that the stop name has noting to do with the name of the place you’re trying to get to. That’s really handy. So we got lost in a park and had to stop runners to ask the way, who then caught us up again and told us we were still going the wrong way. Very helpful of them, though.

When we did finally get there we found ourselves mostly outclassed by the French teenagers, who’ve clearly got nothing better to do than to ice skate. The ice rink was a little strange, as it had a video projector playing kids’ music. So whipping round the rink to the tune of the ABC song were all the highly skilled too-cool-for-school teens, cutting up beginners and spraying each other with ice. It was a nice afternoon out though.

The big news here was that it snowed last Saturday. Proper snow. Not rubbish wet snow like it had before, but proper big flakes, going-to-go-on-all-day type snow. Except it didn’t, and by the time I went to collect my boyfriend from the train station it had gone away again, leaving only pathetic piles of slush here and there. The kids were really excited about it at school though, and the headlines of all the papers were proclaiming the opening of the local pistes.

I was really happy that the strikes hadn’t affected travel from Paris. The only slight inconvenience being that there are no buses after 7pm in this place, so we walked the 40 minutes home.

At school I spent the week mostly teaching terminales as usual, we did a listening exercise with John Lennon’s “Imagine” which got some of them singing along. I think I’m starting to make some headway with these three classes, although a lot of them still just look at me like I’m some kind of nutter.

I also supervised a test which took a text about “Bend It Like Beckham” for some comprehension exercises. Throughout, the class asked me for answers which I kept saying I couldn’t give them. I’ve also been pretending not to know how to spell things. I was encouraging them to speak English if they wanted to ask me something and one student who kept saying “merde!” changed to saying “shit!” all of the time. I suppose that’s progress.

Yesterday my boyfriend went home. He made it, just. The flight was in the afternoon from Paris, so I’d booked an early train for him when we arranged the visit. Unfortunately, the train drivers were having another “mouvement social” and there were no trains at all to Paris from the local train station. We waited in the 30 minute queue to try and sort out the problem, and were given an exchange for a train from a town about an hour away by car. We were asked if we could drive there. What were we doing in a train station if we could just drive there?

So, we took the ticket, which gave us 1h40 to get to the train station. Thankfully my responsable was very understanding and drove us to the station (in between taking her coat off on the motorway and turning around to talk to us while driving at 100kph). So he made it! She was pretty familiar with the problem herself, as she’s been travelling a lot for her job recently, and has been left stuck numerous times, and was really nice about helping us out. She’s been talking a lot about the strikes recently, and claims that public opinion is now against the strikers, though that doesn’t always help end them. I found a useful guide to French strike vocabulary, which I think I’m going to be needing soon as on Tuesday the civil service and the teachers are joining in. The writer’s attitude seems to be on a par with most of the public’s at the moment. I’m just glad I’m not in Paris.

One of the things I was told before coming out here was that I was lucky to be living in France at such an interesting time. Wasn’t “May you have an interesting life.” supposed to be a curse?


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