Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Avoir la gueule de bois = To be hungover

So let me tell you a story that begins with me sat at my computer feeling rather exhausted after making it all the way to the university campus and back and ends with me rolling in to my apartment drunk at 5.30am....
Yesterday I went to the university campus to talk to a man about acting in some educational videos which I’ve been encouraged to participate in as one of the teachers at my school is one of the editors. Last time I went to the university campus it was for the first training day and a coach drove me there so I was slightly concerned that I would get lost having to find my own way there – but I made it! And when I came back I turned on my computer to ponder what to do with the rest of my day – watch ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl’ or actually start my uni work for once? Only to see a message on that useful social network site whose name begins with an F (but I couldn’t be sure as I don’t check it 5 times a day!) from Rosie, (the British Council Assistant from last year at the same school as me who I befriended virtually in the summer and rather stalked in order to find out about life in Dijon before coming here. But it’s ok, Rosie, I know you stalk me too, you told me yourself you’ve read my blog!) The message was to say that she was in Dijon and would I like to meet for coffee in an hour or two and come to a house party/gathering tonight. The answer to both these questions was obviously YES!
We went for coffee/hot chocolate in my favourite cafe and had a lively chat about all the teachers at Hippolyte. I can only imagine that it was a bit weird for Rosie to hear all about the teachers and students at the place she worked at for the best part of a year but since then has been to Madrid and gone back to uni so often it must feel like a life time ago (how weird it is to think that the roles will be reversed in twelve months time!)
I can now add another person to my growing list of friends at the University of Bristol (the list stands at 5 people, 4 of which I have met in Dijon). Now as a local I obviously have certain stereotypes about University of Bristol students – namely that they are all really rahh (that is that the girls wear Pearls Pumps and Pashminas or Uggs boots and they dress in Jack Wills and they went to private school and they’re probably quite rich) and they go out to places like (the Lizard) Lounge, PooNaNas and Umbargo or just generally anywhere on the Triangle and don’t mix with the plebs who go to Syndicate or Panache. And while stereotypes wouldn’t exit if they didn’t hole some truth, I can happily confirm that all the Bristol students I know are lovely lovely people who have contributed in a very positive way to my Dijon experience. So I might think twice now next time I’m out in Bristol and some girl is drunk on the floor before tutting ‘eugh, Bristol students’ and I might instead tut ‘eugh, idiot’.
So now we’ve got that out the way – on to the soiree! After coffee I went home for some dinner and to watch some film which was basically just about getting high and although I was very comfy on the sofa I forced myself to go out determined not to miss an opportunity to meet some real French people who live in Dijon. The gathering was being hosted by Rosie’s (French) boyfriend and his flatmates and friends in the flat Rosie lived in last year. I didn’t really know what to expect but everyone was so lovely to me and kept on asking me lots of questions and keeping me involved in the conversations. And several drinks later we were dancing round the room in costume to the classics of Britney, Spice Girls and Michael Jackson. I had a brilliant time and it was great to finally meet Rosie in person and to meet all her lovely French friends and I rolled in at 5.30am feeling very drunk but happy to have met some lovely people and with a promise that there will be another soiree soon I am finally starting to live like a student in Dijon!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

God Bless France and its Bank Holidays!

I’ve come to accept that you essentially do nothing as a language assistant. Twelve hours a week is the minimum number of hours a week I work at the on-campus coffee shop when I’m at uni and that’s on top of my studies and all my swimming and theatre stuff. It was also the number of hours I fitted in working at my local supermarket on top on studying for my A levels and partying too much for a minor (but then, hey, I come from Bristol!) But twelve hours a week when you have nothing else to do is really nothing!
My timetable dictates that I have the odd few hours during the week and then a full day Friday which means I do nothing all week and then I come home stressed and tired on a Friday like the rest of the working world. Sure, there is prep to do but as a walking-talking resource my prep mainly involves finding an article and then writing a few questions to prise a few English sentences out of French teenagers – easy. I also privately tutor a boy once a week which takes more prep as the lesson is 2 hours and not 1 hour as my classes at school are. I have to admit that one of the reasons I have it so easy is because I am at a lycee (sort of like Sixth Form) so my main role is to just get the kids talking and practicing their English – which is already of a fairly good level. I’m sure if I was at a college (years 7-10) or an ecole maternelle (primary school) I would have to be much more creative about my lessons and spend more time planning as things like games and songs would be more important.
So what do I do when I’m not doing the world’s easiest job you ask? I enjoy myself! I’m starting to feel a bit guilty about enjoying myself so much when my French flatmates work so hard. One of my flatmates is a first year medic and spends all her time revising for the concours which is basically a load of exams and interviews to see if you can cut it as a medic – sort of like an Oxbridge entrance interview on crack. In France it’s not all that hard to get in to uni as long as you pass the bac (sort of like A levels) but then your first year sucks as you have to prove that you can make the cut. I’m told once first year is over and you’ve (hopefully) passed the concours its all plain sailing on your route to become a doctor – how can this be? Doesn’t it just get harder?!?! So when I’m sleeping my housemate is already up and revising. My other housemate is a sixth year medic and so is already basically a doctor so he gets up early and comes back late and works super hard at a hospital (but when he’s not at work we hang out and watch movies which is nice.)
In contrast to my flatmates I spend my days shopping, going for coffee or meals out with friends, going to the cinema and being a tourist and I spend my evenings in bars.
Now on to the title of this entry – only 2 weeks ago did we have a week off for Toussaint (All Saints’) and then this Thursday we had more time off because it was Remembrance Day (that’s a public holiday in France) and then Friday was a pont (lit: bridge, but what is means is that coz the Bank Holiday fell on a Thursday we get Friday off.) I don’t have classes on Tues and Weds anyway so this week I just had class on Monday! Awesome! So what did I do with another week off?
On Tuesday I went clothes shopping. On Wednesday I had tutoring and then met up with a friend to make a vague start on our Year Abroad Project then went to a bar in the evening. On Thursday I went to the cinema to see Les Petits Mouchoirs – if you speak French I can highly recommend this film! I welled up at the end but my friend Kirsty was full on blubbing! It was a very sad film but also hilarious in different parts – it was fab! On Thursday me and another friend went up the Dijon Tower and despite the bad weather had a fine view of the city and then we went for hot chocolate to warm our souls up! Then it was one of the other assistants birthday so we went out to yet another bar. Another assistant friend had a friend from uni who is doing a work placement in Paris over for the weekend but as he’s not allowed guests his friend stayed at mine for 2 nights. After coming back at 2am-ish me and Ed stayed up talking until gone 4am and then had to get up at 9am as I had a train to catch! So despite being very very tired I met Kirsty, Will, Lindsay and Julie (and later 2 assistants from Auxerre) at the station to go to Besancon – a nearby city. We climbed up a massive hill to go to an old fort thing which has been turned in to a zoo – I felt like a proper kid getting excited by all the ‘ammimals’ but it was lots of fun and I had a lovely steak at the overpriced restaurant! We then wondered around the town which was very pretty and reminded us in parts of Dijon but we also counted our lucky stars that we were placed in Dijon and not Besancon! We then returned for yet another night out. This was meant to be a ‘wild’ night out but what actually happed was we enjoyed the cheap cocktails then quite a few people bailed understandably due to tiredness and then us ‘hardcore’ lot went to a night club but didn’t get in coz one of the guys was wearing a (very nice) polo shirt and not a shirt shirt (wtf, its Dijon not London! Why the strict dress code?) Anyway we were so knackered we were delighted by the thought of bed, we came back and slept like babies! And that brings you up to speed! All in all a very fun weekend!
Being a language assistant for your year abroad would be the equivalent to a year off to travel and party in France why being paid to do it if it wasn’t for the fact that I also have uni work to do while I’m here. And while I have more than enough time to do it I have next to no motivation to do it coz the alternatives to staying in and writing an essay are just too appealing! I really will start one day – honest – some of it’s in soon! Ahh!