Thursday, November 18, 2010

Qu'est-ce que vous avez compris?

What have you understood? This is a question I have been asking both myself and my students a lot lately. I've FINALLY gotten into a solid routine at my schools, one which mostly consists of my making very elaborate powerpoint presentations (in English, of course) for my students, and then having to meticulously rehash every detail again in French. But everyone is learning (myself included), so that's a good thing. For example, I can now speak quite competently about American Thanksgiving traditions in French, and my students can speak somewhat competently about them in English. So we are making progress.

Also, I worked with the choir at one of my schools for the first time last week. That was interesting. The teacher is SUPER nice and I really like working with her, but her only qualification for teaching this choir seems to be that she herself enjoys singing. The kids don't read music, they don't know any scales or solfege, and they don't have any concept of key or tune or harmony. So I'm hoping I will be able to impart a little bit of Judy Hubbard wisdom on them in the next few weeks. Tomorrow we are definitely learning do-re-mi. I doubt I will be able to recreate any kind of Sister Act II miracle, but I think I can give them an experience that is a bit richer than what they are getting now.

Despite my successes at work, this has been a long and difficult week in many ways. First of all, I'm not sleeping well. I think it is because my sleep schedule is really turned around due to all of the days off I've had recently, during which I've slept pretty late, so now I find it extremely difficult to get myself in bed (let alone asleep) at a reasonable hour. Then once my head hits the pillow, my brain won't turn off, and with only 4-5 hours before I am supposed to be at work, I'm afraid to take any kind of sleep aid. So of course then I come home from work and cannot restrain myself from taking a nap, and the cycle starts all over again. I'm a bit cranky about all of this. Last night, however, I managed to get in bed by 11:30, only to be awakened by a ridiculous racket in the street around 3am. Granted, I live on a street with several bars, so I am used to hearing the drunks out and about once in a while. But last night woke me from a dead sleep because it was LOUD. I heard lots of shouting and glass breaking, some really loud booming noises, and, eventually, police sirens. A little too scared to open my shutters and check out the situation, I just put on my headphones and went back to sleep. Today however, my roommate informed me that it got pretty ugly out there last night. Apparently a group of skinheads (yeah, the white supremacist group with shaved heads and lots of ink) were drinking in an Irish pub about half a block down from my house, and eventually stumbled out into the street, where they then decided it would be a good idea to harass the Arab guys in the Kebab shop next door. And by harass, I mean break their windows, beat them up, and either fire gunshots or explode small flashbombs (I wasn't too clear on my roommate's French, but it was one of the two, or maybe both). And I'm really hurt for those guys, because not only are hate crimes HORRIBLE, but also those guys are some of the nicest guys in the neighborhood! My friends and I frequently stop by the kebab shop on our way back from the bars, and the guys (all young, probably in their 20's) couldn't be friendlier to us. They ask us about America, and how we are settling in in France, and they often don't charge us full price for our food. They've even called off drunk French guys in the shop who hit on us. Seriously, great guys. My heart hurts for them, and for the ignorance that caused this terrible event.

But I do have some good news to share as well, on several fronts. First of all, making my BS and ACV shampoo and conditioner with boiled water seems to have done the trick. No more glue roots! Hooray! Secondly, after my lovely medical appointment with the French immigration offices yesterday, my visa has been validated and I am officially a legit resident of France! You will also be happy to know that I do not have tuberculosis. And I got to keep my chest x-ray, haha, which is an interesting souvenir of my European travel I guess.

Third, and most improtantly, I'M COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!

I could not be happier about this. I love France and am relishing my experiences here, but I'm really excited to get to spend some time with friends and family, rather than being posted up in my huge old house here, all alone (all my roomies and almost all of my friends are going home for Christmas). I'll be home December 16-26, so let's hang out!

Alright, I've got a private lesson to give in a few minutes, but I'll leave you with a list of the first things I am going to do when I get home, purely for your entertainment.

1. Eat Chipotle.
2. Eat more Chipotle.
3. Find some dry ice so I can bring more Chipotle back to France with me (I kinda miss Chipotle, ok?).
4. Cuddle my dogs (and friends, and family!)
5. Buy some American cigarettes.
6. Karaoke night at the Metro (Megan, Popkin, Jessie, I'm looking at you!!)
7. Drive a car.
8. Get lost intentionally just so I can ask for directions in English.
9. Buy bras and underwear (SOOOOO expensive in France!)
10. Drink Mountain Dew and eat Cajun trail mix.

That is all :-).

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