Miscellaneous Moments, Part III

  • When N came to pick me up, he asked, “Can we faire la bise? It doesn’t shock you, does it?” and I thought it was really sweet that he even bothered to ask in the first place. (Skeevy bartender, that’s how it’s done. Consent at its finest.) Then I taught him the phrase “taking attendance,” but the poor guy keeps forgetting the “attendance” part.
  • Once F and I safely cut through the food line in the canteen, she turned to me and said, “This is why I became a teacher. To cut the line.”
  • Sometimes F and N switch back and forth between French and English, and my poor confused brain keeps wondering, “What’s happening?” Although it was kind of endearing when N said, “I don’t know how to say this in English” and promptly switched to French. Bilingualism is both handy and a struggle.
  • While I was relaxing in my room before dinner at N’s, doing some much-needed writing, someone knocked on my door. That was the last thing I expected, so I tripped over my headphones on the way to the door, realized too late that I still had my glasses on and a really old Hello Kitty clip holding my bangs back, and met the Spanish assistant L (who’ll also be working at Claudel and Méchain), her dad, and a Spanish professor while half-disheveled.
  • The best use of my ten years of French was getting to read three bedtime stories to a 4 and 5 year old.
  • Speaking English in the middle of a restaurant over hot chocolate with S and L was…weird. Not in a bad way, just in a strange way, because it was the first fully English conversation I’d had—no French scattered here and there—in 11 days.
  • October nights in Laon, I learned during the five minute walk from Lycée Daubié to Claudel, are the equivalent of Nice’s wintertime. Let’s just say that climbing the 30 stairs to my studio with legs numb from the cold was an experience.
  • I tried using my Claudel card to get into Méchain and couldn’t for the life of me understand why it wouldn’t work until l’accueil laughed and gently pointed out my mistake. I’ll go hide in a corner now.
  • A teacher said in French, “This is the new English assistant, who doesn’t know any French at all,” but then I laughed and ruined the joke. Whoops.
  • Despite having to wake up before sunrise today to get to Méchain, there was something oddly magical about seeing the lower city shrouded in fog, set ablaze in a wash of golden light by the still-rising sun.
  • Probably one of the most terrifying moments of my life was when the teacher stepped outside her class for a few minutes and left me standing at the front of a room in front of a gaggle of high schoolers. I kept staring at the door, internally screaming, “Come back don’t leave me here alone.” Although, the class ended up being adorably excited when I told them I knew Chinese, asking if I’d speak it and write something on the board, so they’ve restored my faith in humanity after the skeevy bartender incident.
  • I think I’ve officially scared a class of terminales from ever going to college in the US.
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