Goodbye France, but not for long. 

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Hello all,

Another update to my blog so soon after the last post is probably shocking, as I haven’t been very good about posting regular updates on my life here. 

This week is my very last week of working with my students, and I think tomorrow is going to be a hard day. I’ve had a fantastic year and my students have been just wonderful, so I will miss them a lot. I will also miss the teachers that I’ve been working with. They’ve been so kind and helpful throughout this whole process. I couldn’t be any luckier in pretty much every aspect of this experience.

 I know in my last post I takes about how it would be hard to say goodbye to France, but since posting, I’ve received some exciting news! Last Friday, I got an email saying that my application to renew my teaching assistant contract had been renewed! I won’t learn of my city and school placements until late June, but I couldn’t be more thrilled. 

Now if you’d asked me seven months ago (side note: I can’t believe I’ve been living here for seven whole months!!) if I saw myself staying in France for another year, I’d have said no. As much as I love this country, I thought that I would just return home and start work until I could get everything in order to apply to grad schools. This wasn’t in the original plan, but plans change and that’s how life goes. 

It will be strange next year to potentially be somewhere completely different, but I’m excited to see where my next adventure lies. 

As I’m leaving for the summer in just under a month, I’d like to make two lists (Best to make them now before I get wrapped up in packing and goodbyes). The first will be some of the things that I will miss about France and my experience in Orléans and the second, a list of things I’m looking forward to for the coming year. 

Things I will miss:

  • The friends that I’ve made here
  • Crossing the Loire on the way to town
  • My students
  • My favorite tea room in town (Cafe au tour de la terre)
  • My host family, and their adorable cat
  • The walkability of cities here. You just don’t get that in metro Detroit. 
  • Going to my favorite bookshop in town to browse the books and stationary
  • Talking long walks on the walkway in the middle of the river
  • The many food markets that happen here throughout the week
  • Rhubarb yogurt
  • All of the delicious pastries and foods 
  • Speaking French every day (I always lose some of it during the summer when I’m not practicing….)

Things I’m excited about for next year:

  • Exploring new places 
  • Having opportunities to visit with friends
  • Meeting new people
  • Getting to work with more (hopefully) wonderful students
  • Improving my French even more

Thee lists are far from complete, but I think capture the essence of my experience and my hopes for next year. 

That’s all I’ve got for now, but I will leave you with a picture of Figaro the cat who is sitting with me while I write. 

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    First Week of Teaching and Other Updates

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    I realize that I haven’t posted on here in about a week so here’s an updated on what has been happening here lately.

    Last week on Thursday we had a big orientation for all of the teaching assistants in Orléans and some if the surrounding areas.  It was nice because while I was there I could take care of a lot of the paperwork I had to do. in the morning, we were talked to about a lot of administrative stuff, but it was good to learn more about what is expected of teaching assistants here.  We got to eat lunch in the school canteen, and I was surprised at how complete a school lunch in France is compared to school lunches in the United States.  I’ve been told that most students here will eat in the canteen for lunch and not pack a lunch, which s strange to me as I brought a lunch with me nearly every day when I was in high school.  That afternoon when we had finished lunch, the assistants were divided up by the language that we would be teaching and what grade levels we would be working with and had ore meetings.  We talked some about what we thought our first lessons might be and how to interact with the students. This information was kind of helpful to me, as I haven’t done much teaching before, but the nicest part of this afternoon meeting was getting to meet other teaching assistants.

    I also have finally gotten my work schedule, and I have Fridays and Mondays off. This is nice as it extends my weekends in case I want to travel.  It’s really nice as well because there’s a lovely market in the middle of the city on Fridays and I’ve made a point of walking around it each week. The food always smells wonderful and there are many books there to look at as well.

    Because of my long weekend, I had more time again to explore the city.  I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the tram system now, which is really helpful in getting around the city.  I watched several rugby games on tv this past weekend as well.  I’m still struggling to understand the game, but it seems to be a really important sport to many of the people that I’v met so far.  The rugby world cup is happening and that’s why so many games have been on, but it’s strange to me that if I was at home I probably wouldn’t have known this world cup was happening.

    On Sunday, I went to mass at the Cathedral St. Croix with some of the other assistants and then we went to the Musée des Beaux-Arts.  It was interesting to go to a catholic mass in France, especially because I had never been to a mass before and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was really cool to go to church in a cathedral that is so big and so old. To think that people had been worshiping there for centuries was a bit mind blowing.  The Musée des Beaux-Arts was a pretty good sized museum. Orléans isn’t a huge city, but I thought the museum would be small for some reason. We spent several hours there and still didn’t get to see quite everything.

    My first week of teaching began on Tuesday.  For this week I mostly observed classes and answered the students’ questions about myself and the United States.  It was quite interesting to see the differences in levels between students in a given class and even from one class to the next.  All of the student that I’ve met so far were really nice and friendly. I am also really happy with the teachers that I get to work with, who have all been very kind and helpful.  Next week I will start working with small groups of students outside of the classroom, and I’m quite anxious to begin my “real” teaching experience.

    Out and About Around the City

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    Since I don’t start working with classes until probably next week, I’ve had a lot of time to explore Orléans.  On Saturday evening, I went back to the Festival de Loire to see the fireworks.  I had dinner there as well, and the food was very good!  Tons of people came out to see the fireworks, so the festival was crazy busy.

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    On Sunday, I had thought about returning to the festival, but because of the crazy crowds, I decided against it. The festival had a parade of boats, so I watched that from the bridge.  It was really cool to see all of the boats that had been going up and down the river during the festival in once place.

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    After watching the boats, I decided to venture back to the cathedral that I’d seen on Friday, since only part of it had been open then.  On my way there, I stumbled upon a garden behind the city hall.  It wasn’t very big, but it was a nice place to wander around for a little while. When I finally made my way back to the cathedral and was please to see that the whole things was open today.  The inside was breathtaking. Medieval crests hung from the ceiling.  The stained glass windows depicted scenes from the life of Joan of Arc.  The cathedral’s architecture reminded me a bit of that of Notre Dame.

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    Yesterday morning, I got to tour the school that I will be working at this year.  I can’t believe how big it is! I got to meet some of the teachers and they all seem really nice.  After seeing the school, I came home for a bit, then decided to take a walk to the Jardin des Plantes. This garden was cool because it was on my side of the bridge and wasn’t really that far from my house. There were all different kinds of plants there, but the main attraction was the many types of roses. I hope to go back to the garden soon, as there were many benches and it looked like a good spot to come to sit and read.

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    After seeing the garden, I decided to take a walk on the dock on the south side of the bridge. The cool thing about the dock is that there are parts that are elevated, but there are other spots where you can walk right next to the river.  It was cool to see the river and the town from a different perspective than usual.

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    Le Festival de Loire and Exploring the Town

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    These last few days have been kind of lazy, but overall good.  On Thursday I spent most of the day relaxing and then did a bit of exploring. Yesterday I went into town with the professor I will be working with to take care of some of the administrative things that I needed to do and then explored a bit more.

    Orléans is a beautiful city cut in half by the Lorie River.  I live on the south side of the Loire.  The North side is where most of the activity is; there are many stores, a movie theater, a grand medieval cathedral, as well as restaurants and bars.  A market is held in the city center each Friday with food, some prepared and some not, as well as books, cds, records and movies.  The buildings in town are incredible!  Many of them date back to medieval times.  There is also a statue of Joan of Arc in the town square, as she was from Orléans.

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    Some pictures of the Loire taken from le Pont Georges V

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    This week the Festival de Loire is happening on the docks along the river.  The festival only happens every other year, so being here to see it is quite cool.  There are old boats floating up and down the river.  Food stands of all kinds line the dock and the streets: beer tents, seafood, crepes, waffles, and fries galore!  There are demonstrations about fishing and and historical information about boats in the Loire area.  I even saw some stands with activities for children.  Many different bands have been playing, and as one walks up and down the docks, the type of music changes quickly.  Some of the music is traditional and some a bit more contemporary.

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    Boats on the Loire and some of the stands that are part of the festival

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    The town has been quite busy because of the festival. My host parents told me that people from all over come to see the festival each time it occurs. Tonight there will be fireworks at the festival, and I’m really excited to see them! I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my first weekend in Orléans than seeing the town so full of life!
    ime it occurs. Tonight there will be fireworks at the festival, and I’m really excited to see them! I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my first weekend in Orléans than seeing the town so full of life!