All of the time that I spent crafting emails in French paid off: I heard back from an English teacher at Paul Claudel, and there are a total of ten English teachers at the school. Luckily, all I have to do is work with groups of students or with one of the teachers—they’re not just going to stick me at the front of a classroom and go, “Have fun!” I already sound official, too, because I get a mailbox in the teachers’ room. She even took the time to reassure me that Laon is a calm city, with nice students and no delinquency or terrorism. Plus, she made fun of Fox News, which is always promising. (In case you were wondering how terrible I am with receiving compliments, we’ve been corresponding in French the entire time. Then she told me, “Your French is impeccable!” and my first thought was, “I can’t take this job anymore au revoir.”)
An English teacher at Pierre Méchain got back to me, too—in English, although he said he was impressed by my French—and casually gave me his address, phone numbers, and Skype name. He also sent me the vacation dates to help me plan my travels—apparently, I get 8 weeks of paid vacation!—and even attached a picture of his family. According to him, my schools will try to work out a schedule that gives me a three-day weekend, which will be helpful for traveling. I got a text and Skype request from him, so no worries there about my contacts not being helpful.
More good news: someone will pick me up from the train station in Laon! It’s good to know that I won’t have to wander tiredly through the city, half-blind from jetlag, to find the school. Plus, they’ll even help me set up a bank account. There’s going to be a Spanish assistant at Paul Claudel as well, although unfortunately, there won’t be a German one this year. (Iszi, now you definitely have to come visit me so you can take me to Germany.) Keeping my fingers crossed that this Spanish assistant will be a chill person.
Anyways, I saved the best part for last: it turns out that my housing wishes weren’t so fanciful after all. I get free housing! It’s a studio complete with bedroom, bathroom, and an entryway with a kitchen, so it’s already better than my senior apartment at R-MC. The only thing I’ll really have to buy is groceries, which leaves me with a lot of extra travel money.
(Random aside: I just realized that, in a small-ish very French town, I’m going to be very obviously not-white… I won’t be able to blend in with the international students program like I did in Nice. Let’s just hope that I don’t panic and give a fake name, or get annoyed and give a sarcastic answer. I’m not sure which would be worse.)