First Day of School + The Water Spa (Part One)

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That combination seems ridiculous together, but I will now advocate that they should ALWAYS go together. I should also remark that after speaking only French all day, French words keep coming to my head more easily than English ones. It’s simultaneously frustrating and really exciting!

So my official first day of school isn’t until Thursday, but my teachers offered to let me come and observe early in the week so I can start teaching groups of students straight away on Thursday. I spent the morning observing Carole at the Collège de Ceyzériat (I’ve mentioned the word a few times on here, but collège here is the word for middle school/ junior high. It’s 4 years between the ages of 10-14). I wasn’t nervous at all because she and I are already close and I was only observing. Her students were great! The sixièmes (10-11 year olds) were fascinated by me. I sat on the side of the class and one little girl kept sneaking glances at me and finally sat backwards and stared at me for the second half of class. After I had already explained that I’m from the USA and showed them Massachusetts on a map, she whispered to me, “Vous êtes americaine?” (Are you American?) Carole shushed her and the girl shrugged her shoulders and said “Mais chuis curieuse!” (But I’m curious!) They’re too cute.

The class of quatrièmes (13 year olds) were a little more hesitant. I sat beside a group of 3 girls and they would think of questions to ask me but would confer among themselves on how to say it in English before one of them would work up the courage to ask me. Each time, I’d pretend I didn’t notice they wanted to talk to me until they formulated their new question (their questions involved things like “You come here on a plane?” and “Are you always to be our teacher now?” and “Why do you choose France?”) One of my main goals is to work on pronunciation, but part of me doesn’t want to because I think there’s nothing cuter than French children’s inability to pronounce the [th] and [ɪ] (like “sit”) sounds. Listening to them say “with” is especially precious.

Carole only had three classes today, so we left at noon and went to have lunch at her parents’ house. They live in a tiny village surrounded by grazing sheep and donkeys. We ate a full meal outside and I was a little wary knowing that I had a pool adventure right after (“pool adventure” was literally the extent to which I knew what I had agreed to for the afternoon). It was a feat, but I managed to successfully eat all 5 courses (it’s really difficult when those courses include baguettes & gruyère, tea, and strawberry tartines…) and still fit into the bathing suit Lucile let me borrow (admittedly not too difficult when all the ones she lent me to try on were skimpy bikinis).

So that was my first day of school. I fit in nicely and already had a mailbox in the teachers’ room. The principal shook my hand during la pause de 10 heures (coffee break) and told me we’d have no problems because I speak well in French. I guess that’s good because I certainly don’t want any problems with the principal! Since this is already ridiculously long, I’ll save the Water Spa half of my day for Part Two.

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