So that I don’t look like quite as much of a weirdo tomorrow morning in the computer room, I’m writing this out this evening and posting it tomorrow. Also, despite being in France, I have nothing to do. Hopefully things will pick up when there are more assistants and when my job starts.
Recap of the past few days: I left for the airport in San Antonio at around 10:45 Saturday morning, and we got there only to find that my flight to Dallas had been canceled due to weather. So they put me on a later one, we went out for lunch, and when we got back, that one was canceled. They quickly put me on a Continental flight to Houston, and not five seconds after that, Houston called a ground stop. So they routed me from San Antonio to Chicago, to London, and then to Paris. I had an hour layover in Chicago and as soon as my flight to Chicago left the gate, we knew we’d be an hour late. I was pretty much resigned to spending the night in Chicago and maybe calling Grace and Charles, but once I got there I found out my flight to London was delayed anyway. That flight was kinda crappy. I wasn’t on the aisle so I didn’t get up at all, and no one was very friendly, except that a flight attendant did put my violin in the business class closet for me since the overhead bins were some wacko size. High point of the ride was watching American Dreamz and watching the plane go in tiny circles on the map for a little while over Oxford while we waited for our turn to land. It took forever to get through Heathrow because of the British Airways screening process. I was in line with a couple Americans going to Qatar and one going to Dubai. Anyway I got to my gate pretty much just in time for boarding even though it had been a 2 hr 45 min layover. Stuff was weird with my bag and my seats because the change of flights hadn’t gone as smoothly as it seemed in San Antonio, but I did get both (seats and bag).
I arrived in Paris, got my bag, found an ATM and a phone card, and caved and took a cab to the Paris East station. I was supposed to meet another assistant in CDG at 9:30, but with the flight change, I didn’t get there till 1 so I just forgot about it. I guess she waited for me, though, because while I was sitting on the cement near a sign at the train station, she walked past, rolling two suitcases behind her, one with the agreed-upon orange ribbon. The train ride to my town was 2 hours and I can’t believe either of us stayed awake. I said goodbye to her and got off the train (she was going all the way to Nancy) and my contact person at some point walked up to me and asked if I was looking for an English teacher. She has been incredibly helpful, lending me a duvet for the year, sheets for the first night, taking me to Auchan, etc. I will have to buy her something.
After showering and sleeping for 13 hours, I got up to go to the lycée. Somehow I found the right place even though I’d seen it for the first time the night before. I got some confusing papers from the office that I have to fill out. I met lots of very friendly English teachers, including two stagiares who are also new here. They took me to the cell phone store yesterday where I found out lots of useful things including that I have to have my bank account before I can get a phone (not a big surprise really). I left with lots of packets of useful information. Right now, since there’s no internet to be found in this town except at the high school and at a little mediateque open on Saturdays that’s kind of a hike, I’m planning on buying a phone with e-mail capability. Also I will get a plan that lets me make calls to the US. I am so excited about this potential piece of technology. I will no longer be reachable only by people throwing rocks at my window or hoping to run into me at the lycée during my short walks between the teachers lounge and the computer room.
The school itself is pretty cool. It’s a Napoleanic (sp?) building so it has a chapel which my contact assured me was pretty rare and not in much use except as a conference room. The internat is actually a five/ten minute walk from the school and I’m in a wing with just commuting teachers and other foreign language assistants. The médiatheque I mentioned is actually in an adorable little castle that my contact drove me by on the way back from Auchan last night. I think I’m going there Saturday.
Another high school English assistant (this one is supposed to actually be English) is supposed to arrive Friday. The girl I’ve contacted who’s working at an elementary school here arrives Thursday. Of course without a phone it’ll be a little hard for her to contact me, but I have some faith in the smallness of this town. Speaking in French is going okay, although I make a lot of mistakes that people humor or ignore, or sometimes they pretend to know what I mean, like when I say “non” and I mean “oui.” Durr. My contact says my French is good so that’s good. At least I’m not a disgrace to Amercans abroad. Last night there was a fire drill and I felt really silly that I wasn’t doing anything at all exciting at 10:30 pm. I was even in my pjs, but you probably couldn’t really tell. Kids were running outside wrapped in blankets but it was really not cold. It’s maybe 60 degrees here.
Okay, so the point of this post was to show you the beginning of my morning walk and my room. It was pretty out today, so I took some pictures when no one was looking. I didn’t want to stand out as the one American in town, walking around with my camera pointed at seemingly boring things. So all you really get to see are enclosed spaces.
Alors, ici, c’est ma petite chambre:
From the window. I’ve implemented slight changes since I took this picture, but they’re not really important. For example, the pillowcase is now blue. Yeah, real exciting.
Sort of from the door. Behind me, before the door, is a tiny entranceway off of which is my sink room. Why is there an entire small room for the sink? Beats me. The showers are next door to my room and the wc is just across from it. Sound carries. I can hear someone coughing at night. And yet I can’t hear my alarm clock.
Here is the little kitchen for the wing. I have yet to use anything besides the fridge since I eat lunch at school with the English teachers, who sort of talk over my head about things I don’t understand or know about. Whether it’s the language or the newness of the place that makes it incomprehensible I’m not sure. They’re all very nice and welcoming though. Everyone asks how long my trip took and when I arrived and where I’m living and how I’m doing. And from looking in my dictionary just now, I can tell that they’ve all also been asking how much the time difference is and I have not been answering that question.
Here you can see the extensive appliances for the kitchen. If I had more to do I would maybe not document my life in such excruciating detail, but that’s not the case.
So here is the first part of my morning walk out of the internat toward the lycée, and it’s one of my favorite things about this place.
Here is what you see right when you walk out the door and face the street.
Here is what you see if you instead look straight ahead. I’m not sure what this building is. But I’m picking up 3 wireless signals (all with passwords, sigh) and I think at least one of them must be coming from here.
And here is what you see if you look to the right.
Then I go completely to the left and out the back over the river.
Left and right as you cross the bridge:
And the little tree-enshrouded walkway to the back gate:
And here, from completely the opposite site of the building and a different street, is a picture of the internat:
Well, this is a ridiculously long post, so I’ll stop. I have things to do this week, but not much. Tomorrow I have an appointment at the bank to open an account, and Thursday I’m going out with the teachers to the bar that has music on Thursday nights. If the other American assistant can communicate with me (I’m not sure how, rocks at the window, telecasting maybe) then maybe we’ll hang out Friday. Then Saturday I’m supposed to go get a phone or go to the mediatheque with one of the stagiaires, I’m not really sure. And I eat lunch every day in the cantine. The rest of the time, I dunno, I’ll probably finish reading Middlesex really fast. Then I’ll have to figure out where to get more books in English. I don’t really know what my mailing address is, but I’ve been given a mailbox key, so I should really ask, and when I find out, I’ll post it somewhere, though probably not here.
This new iTunes blows chunks, by the way. Is it possible to download Mac programs on a PC and then transfer them to my computer, by the way? Also, does iTunes have a web-based store or is it all through the iTunes program? Am trying to figure out if it’s possible to get Project Runway, you see. V. important concern. One last question: does anyone know what is the European/French equivalent of hydrocortisone?
Okay, really stopping now.