What Happens in Class, Doesn’t Stay in Class

  • Students keep asking me if I’m married or if I have any children, which makes me feel like a fossilizing dinosaur.
  • I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to explain Halsey, Bastille, Parks and Recreation, and Chipotle.
  • One student asked for my phone number, and that’s the one question I’ve refused to answer so far.
  • Another student asked if I used social networks, and I replied “Yes” before realizing that was probably a terrible idea. At least I haven’t received friend requests from hordes of high schoolers on Facebook…yet.
  • I showed a class pictures of my friends’ cat and said that I sadly don’t have one, and one girl said she’d buy one for me. Go for it.
  • A girl wanted me to say écureuil, so I did and she approved of my pronunciation, which I guess is good. Better than when another class said, “Aww, that’s so cute” when I said my name and age in French.
  • A boy recommended I go to a nearby kebab restaurant because “It is very bon.”
  • When I told A’s class that I was working as an assistant to see if I want to become a teacher, A translated, “She isn’t sure whether she wants to take care of petits monstres for the rest of her life.”
  • When a boy said, “Can I ask a personal question?” and I replied “…Yes?” he asked, “Are you single or married?” After saying that I was single, I immediately thought, “Is this a trick question should I have answered ‘married’ to make sure no high schoolers will ever try to flirt with me?”
  • The one time I’ve ever challenged a teacher was when I said that knew a bit of sign language, and J explained it as “the language that dumb people use,” and I immediately protested, “I’d use ‘mute’ or ‘deaf’ instead of ‘dumb.’” But she said that she didn’t think the students would understand “mute,” and I just… Seriously? “Mute” in English really isn’t that different from “muet” in French. Give those kids some credit.
  • When I asked a class what I could do in Laon, one boy said, “Nothing. Take the train and go to Reims. Don’t come back.”
  • I attempted to say “You’re welcome” and “No problem” to a student as they walked out of the classroom, but it came out as a muffled “You’re problem.” I’ve already done this once at the Writing Center last year. I’ll go put a cone of shame on my head.
  • A fluent class wanted me to speak French, so I said, “Bonjour, je m’appelle Sarena. J’ai 22 ans et je viens de la Virginie,” and the kids said, “Pas mal,” so I’ll accept it—especially because these kids were asking me about gun control, police brutality, and the primary elections.
  • I interpreted “Do you have a gun?” as “Do you have a girl?” but at least the answer was no either way.
  • I misheard “Do you like Marie Le Pen” (the French equivalent of Trump) as “Do you know Mario Lopez,” so I accidentally said yes…but luckily they realized I have no idea who she is, so all is well.
  • This 15- or 16-year-old child told me, “You are beautiful,” and I burst out laughing in front of the whole class because I don’t think he realized that there was a pretty significant age gap going on.
  • One girl at Claudel is apparently such an overachiever (she’s going to the US for two weeks to do a project comparing the French and American elections as viewed through the media) that the teachers don’t know what to do with her because she answers every question during class.
  • When a student asked, “Are you going to live in France later on in your life?” I told him, “Yes, depending on the elections,” and F gave me a thumbs-up while the rest of the class laughed.
  • I broke this kid’s heart when I told him I’ve never seen Lord of the Rings or The Walking Dead, but he adorably perked right back up when I said I like The Legend of Zelda and David Tennant.

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