Monday, November 29, 2010

Rattrapage (Catching Up)

It took me a while, but I cleaned out my inbox completely, got up to speed on my lessons (for now), and breathed a sigh of relief for the resolution of all of my banking problems. I am now contentedly caught up, you might say, except in one regard: the blog. There are several things I need to write about:

1. Emma's visit to France from November 15th to the 21st
2. Teaching
3. French life (including: medical visit, hanging out with the other assistants for Thanksgiving, and more)
4. Normal life? (including: music, language learning, ???)

I wonder if I can cram it all into one post... hop, c'est parti! Here we go!

Emma always seems to have epic adventures when she visits me places! When she visited me in New York in 2007, we saw Spring Awakening on Broadway, had Sugar Sweet Sunshine cupcakes in Central Park and had lots and lots of fun wandering around New York and just being BFFs. This time her visiting me was part of a larger, even more awesome journey around England, France and Spain. Here is just a small sampling of the adventures that went down over the past week!

In the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. Trop classe.

Giddy with excitement, in front of the secret door to Marie Antoinette's chambers in Versailles. That back room is practically a character of its own in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette.

Toasting with macarons from the venerable La Durée (they have a shop inside Versailles, which is only logical).

One of many attempted pictures with the Arch of Triumph. We went walking along the Champs Elysées for some nighttime window shopping, trying on hats in H&M. We also went in Zara... so "French" haha.

Allée du chat qui pêche - Alley of the Fishing Cat

We got cheese fondue with my friend Francisca, the Chilean Spanish assistant at my high school.

Emma was excited to see some HP paraphernalia at a comic/figurine shop in the Marais (I think), but was disappointed to find...

... it was just Draco. My old favorite haha!


The Galeries Lafayette, a huge department store with everything from shoes to McDonald's... wait, McDonald's??! Ugh.

Playing in the leaves at Parc de Georges Brassens in Massy, where I live.

Posing in front of the ridiculously overpriced Moulin Rouge in the Montmartre neighborhood. (We made up for not being able to get in by watching the movie Moulin Rouge that night. :D)


One of several attempts at a picture in front of the Sacré-Cœur basilica. Why do people not know how to get monuments in the background of a photo?? I had to specifically ask this person to get "the whole thing please."

At the top of Sacré-Cœur!! 300+ stairs in a very claustrophobia-inducing spiral staircase. Cause that's a great idea.

I had such a good time with Emma wandering around France, eating crêpes, devouring French treats, discovering new parts of Paris, discussing BFF-type things, and clutching to some good old-fashioned American solidarity (i.e. adopting "stupid France" as our mantra when things went wrong haha). There were some hiccups, but it all worked out amazingly and hopefully Emma had a fantastic time in France! She even learned some French - j'ai roté. I burped.


Teaching. What can I say about it? My students resemble American students probably more than they realize: they're rude sometimes; they often don't care; they're occasionally very insightful; and they are, well, teenagers. I've done lessons on Halloween (vocabulary like "trick or treat" and "jack o'lantern," plus this Halloween post from 1000 Awesome Things) and pronunciation (using the Speech Accent Archive), with a little Thanksgiving thrown in.

Those are really the only lessons I've had the chance to do because, although I've been working since early October, I only see each of my 24 groups (the two halves of 12 different classes) once every two weeks. That makes it really difficult to get in a lot of lessons, and I do feel a bit like I'm spread too thin. Incidentally, speaking of "thin," I've been losing weight here. Everyone on the assistants forum said it happens, but I'm just surprised, because of all the indulgences I allowed myself early on haha.

I feel incredibly lucky to be getting paid enough to use my free time as I like, and I've been marinating a plan to construct a more long-term curriculum for my students in that free time. It's only fair that I put in a good effort and try to be worthwhile to the students... I just think that up to now, I've been taking it for granted and doing things last minute.

However, I'm finding that in a lot of ways, the job of teaching in general is the perfect harmony of all the things I enjoy and somehow do well - I like being organized, I like helping people understand things, I like language, and more superficially, I have good handwriting, I'm good with modern technology, I manage time well (usually haha), I can improvise if necessary, I'm genuinely interested in understanding foreign speakers' perspective of English. I've been considering doing a TOEFL program and/or a Master's in teaching a bit more seriously lately.


Highlights from French life:
  • Medical visit that involved getting chest X-rays in a sketchy blue trailer on the edge of nowhere; talking briefly with a French doctor about the current state of American politics; getting my stomach fat pinched by said doctor who then said, "Attention à ça" (careful about that) haha; finding, nevertheless, that I now weigh 64 kg, which is about 7 kg less than I weighed in January of this year. Mortel! (Sweet!)
  • Thanksgiving dinner with 9 others on the day after Thanksgiving! I made a so-so pumpkin pie with canned pumpkin I got from The Real McCoy in Paris, but as I had to bake it in my weird microwave/oven combination thing, the crust didn't properly bake. I have another can of pumpkin and a recipe for my own pâte brisée, so we'll see if I can do it better next time! The other assistants and their various guests were such good company, and everyone brought such amazing food. We had some very traditional... egg rolls, which I helped our host fry haha, cranberry sauce (also from The Real McCoy), macaroni & cheese, a delectable turkey, duck, yams, mashed potatoes, corn, and some good wine from one assistant's sommelier boyfriend. It really made me feel like I was at home and brought back good memories of my past Thanksgivings in New York and D.C. with friends.
  • I went to see Harry Potter (in English with French subtitles, or as they say here, in "V.O" [version originale] instead of V.F. [version française, with dubbed audio])!!! It was so amazing and I loved the music and the humor and the cohesion of the storyline despite all the cuts I'm sure they made. I have to re-read the book before the next one comes out in July! Maybe this is the time to finally subscribe to the American Library in Paris.
  • Also went to a party with a bunch of Erasmus kids. Erasmus is the Europe-wide study abroad university program. Although I'm not usually a party person, it was fun, and I had a good time trying to improve my French with other non-Francophones haha.
I'll save the rest for another time! My roommate is having herself a birthday get-together at our place on Sunday, with lots and lots of French speakers, so I'm sure I will have lots to report. I am determined not to cop out and try to escape this really good linguistic practice opportunity haha.


  1. I am so envious of you both, but thank you for sharing these glimpses into your life in France. It is sweet to vicariously enjoy vie du vous (???)--haha

    Love, Mom

  2. Hi, Bunnie:

    By "both" I meant you and Emma, but I'm sure you figured it out.

    It would be great for you to get a Master's degree at the Sorbonne if you wanted to stay in France. Financially-speaking, I think you could get a deferral on all your loans if you went back to school in any part of the world for as long as you were in school.

    Your Mom

  3. yes it was such fun!! oh france... yay BFF time!

    ps you should watch the da vinci code cuz most of it is in france :)