All posts filed under: Marseille

2nd mars

I headed out of my apartment to do some errands. On the list: buy envelopes, check out the bookstore, swing by the school to drop off a paper. Halfway through errand #1, I reached in my pocket to check the time on my phone. School closes at 17h, so I couldn’t drag my feet. My pocket was empty. I had no idea what time it was. I must have left the phone charging on the living room table. I quickly reformulated my plan. Okay, I thought, I’ll just skip the bookstore and head immediately to school by way of home. That’s better anyway, since my apartment is closer to the metro. Maybe I can still hit the bookstore on my way back. So I climbed the winding, hilly street back up to my apartment, desperately scanning the buildings for any establishment that might have a clock in their window. I distractedly fumbled for my keys, my muscle memory carrying me past the line of identical shabby stoops straight to my door. I drew the keys out of my …

The Great Marseille Apartment Hunt of 2016

The wily explorer arrived to the Marseillais jungle with an accommodation booked for one week, and one goal: to finally capture a rare wild apartment. Having hunted before in this country (albeit a different region), she felt thoroughly prepared. She conjured memories of her last wild apartment hunt in the mountainous region of Chambéry;  a lot of time spent in mortal terror, exhausted from travel, terrified at the prospect of making calls in a foreign language, ultimately unsure how she finally managed to finally trap one. “I know it’ll be difficult,” she thought. “But at least this time I know what I’m up against.” Oh, how the explorer was mistaken. She arranged her hunting tools first: a French phone number, a grammatically corrected introduction, an empty notebook, an internet connection. Then, she took a deep breath and lunged into the hunt. She traversed Leboncoin, crossing occasionally into Appartager and dipping toes into PAP and local agencies. She left voice messages, text messages, email messages but still the wild apartment eluded her. She filled four pages …

election night in france

Okay, so remember how I was going to write every day in November? Turns out I got way sidelined by the shock of election results and a resulting desire to completely detox from the internet and social media, including my team of Cheer Peppers. But I’m back now, fired up and ready to go….more or less. I hosted an election party at my apartment on Tuesday night. Several assistants don’t work Wednesdays as they are often half days for schools, so the whole gang came out to eat classic American dishes (chili con carne and pb&j) and try to comprehend the American electoral system. By the time polls began to close around 3AM, only a handful of American assistants were left. We bunkered down in blankets in front of my handy laminated U.S. map, streaming MSNBC. First we were nervous. Then the panic began to set in as state after state turned red. By 7AM there were still a handful of states too close to call, no one had officially been declared the winner, and everyone …

Thanks / No Thanks

Well, all of a sudden I’ve been in France for a full month! Boy has it flown by or what?! Little by little I’ve been settling into Marseille, into my new job, into different expectations and realities, with help from so many people (and in despite of some others…) Thanks to my mom who dropped me off at the airport. No thanks to my 25kg suitcase (plus 2 other bags). Thanks to the AirFrance employee who let the extra 2 kilos slide with no fee. No thanks to the diva in front of me in the ridiculously congested customs line at Charles de Gaulle airport who yelled at me for apparently cutting her in line when I was merely trying to take the outside lane on a turn, rather than bottleneck all 3048302 of us through the inside curve. Thanks to whatever caused a ten minute delay of my TGV that allowed me to make it on with a few minutes to spare! No thanks to metros without escalators, train platforms with large gaps, cobblestones and sidewalks full of dog …

the vicious TAPIF cycle

Recently I found a notebook that I bought in Chambéry and used throughout my year as an assistant. Tucked among the pages, I found a cootie catcher/fortune teller, made in Turin and filled with ridiculous jokes and general absurdity. It contained fortunes such as: One of the richest men in Christendom will take a shine to you and marry you. You will return to Chambery and NEVER LEAVE. You will become the conductor of the little train. Like Hannah, you will be trapped in the vicious TAPIF cycle and shall be an assistant for the rest of your days. Turns out, those things are powerful. 22 months later, and I’ve just received a second French long-stay visa in the mail. Yes, just like Hannah, I found myself drawn back into the TAPIF cycle and am doomed to return to France again! Here’s what I know so far: I’ll be teaching in three (3) primary schools in the 9th and 10th arrondissements of Marseille. None of these three schools have ever had an English assistant before, nor …