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my life in the “bordel”



how do you make a gif

It’s funny.  I’m lookin’ mighty French in my boatneck striped shirt, but I’ve also never felt quite so foreign.  As if the disheveled hair weren’t a dead giveaway: this was a rough week.  In fact, this was probably my first (and hopefully my last) “I don’t think I can do this” week.  The most useful vocabulary I learned this week, “Ils font le bazar” (or worse, “Ils font le bordel”).

I’ve probably used the phrase “learning curve” more in the past three weeks than at any other point in my life, first regarding my ability to communicate in French, and now regarding my ability to teach.  It always starts of the same: I think I can do it, I’ve had good results in the past, things are going well at first, but then… suddenly… I hit a wall.  I’ve scaled that wall with respect to my French (more or less), but you know, I was hoping to spend a day or two at base camp before my next big climb (sorry about the mixed metaphor… this is the sorry state I am in right now).

Really, I’m trying not to be dramatic about this.  This week, my good students were good as ever; my preschoolers were cute as ever; but my bad students were worse than ever.  I figured out pretty early on that I would have to earn their respect, and I knew that it would take me a while to get the hang of teaching some of these kids.  Heck, I was even forewarned by my conseillère pédagogique and every other education official I encountered.  I still wasn’t prepared for this week.

I don’t know who came up with the storyline for this week, but I’m pretty sure it was lifted straight out of some movie about a new teacher at a rough-and-tumble school: will she sink or will she swim?!  This week I’ve been sassed, kicked… I’ve even had pieces of paper thrown at my head.  “S’ils te cassent les pieds, dis-moi,” the teachers always tell me.  I just never thought I’d have to take the phrase “casser les pieds” so literally.

In a few weeks, this will all probably be hilarious to me, but the fact remains that today, a group of 10-year-olds made me cry (secretly after class, of course).  So, while I wait for this to become funny, I’ve just got to remind myself that life is getting better.  Is there anything better than apple picking in the fall?  No.  And that is exactly what I did this Wednesday, following which, I made an apple crumble pie without incident.  If places and pies (and friends and roommates) like this exist, everything else is sure to start looking up.

…And if not, I can at least thank the gods of French bureaucracy for the exorbitant amount of vacation time I get (including this coming week).



The BEST holidays

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