All posts filed under: France

23 mars – when you gotta go…

Many little family shops or neighborhood bars have quirky bathrooms. You know the ones I mean. Some are covered in cheeky murals, others have funky toilet paper holders, and they all extend or reveal a bit about the character of the establishment. France is notorious for particularly grim public restrooms. They usually consist of a toilet with no seat jammed into a closet so small your knees are practically grazing the wall. And they often leave a lot to be desired in terms of cleanliness. But hey, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. Desperate times and all that… Which is how I found my self face to face with this toilet. I have to wonder about the sign… What event (or events) lead to its posting ? Why is it in English ? Is that really what the proprietor intended to say ?? Whatever the answers to these questions, it really made me laugh. And the toilet was fairly clean to boot! All in all a worthwhile foray into the sketchy world of French public bathrooms! ❂   …

22 mars – crash course

They say that the best way to learn something is to teach it, and I have really come to know the true meaning of this expression in the past few months. Though I am an English as a Foreign Language teacher, I am not necessarily an expert on all things English grammar. I am a native speaker, so beyond comma and semicolon usage, I was never explicitly taught many of the rules. In my primary job as an English interventionist in several elementary schools, we don’t spend much time on grammar. The students learn how to use vocabulary in context (I am 10. I have two sisters. Can you swim?) but that’s about as complex as it gets. Recently, however, I’ve begun privately tutoring two new students- an 8th grader and a senior in high school. At first, tutoring really intimidated me. One-on-one lessons are a completely different beast from lessons with a class of 30 second graders who take 10 minutes just to write their name on a paper. Some days the hour ticks by …

20 mars – travel bug

Today, I have the travel bug. To be fair, I have it quite a lot of days. So often in fact, that I’ve twice picked up and moved to France. But the travel bug requires not only day dreams and travel guides and beautiful photographs. It also needs a touch of forethought, a bit of planning, and a whole lot of researching and comparing. Today was the day that I finally got down to business. I planned and arranged to visit my friend in London in May. I arranged to rent a car to drive through the beautiful provençal countryside when another friend visits in April. I booked a one night stay in Paris with the same friend. My spring break has also started to take shape with some potential travel options coming into focus– think southern Spain and/or Portugal! I also settled on a date and bought a ticket back home to the United States on May 22, and have already arranged for my personal Uber driver (my mom!) to pick me up at the airport! The …

18 mars – questions for france

Why don’t pencils have erasers attached? Is the obsession with writing only in pen the secret work of the White-out lobby? Why do grown adults use scooters as a legitimate form of transportation? Why do children ride on tiny bikes with no pedals? What is with the general lack of technology skills? Why is there a national obsession with slippers? Why are the titles on book spines printed in the opposite direction? What do kids do if they are thirsty at school since there’s no such thing as water fountains? What is going on with the seatless courtyard school toilets? Is there any rhyme or reason to the annual resetting of the train schedules? What are marshmallows and cough drops doing in the candy aisle? Has no one ever suggested standardizing the sizes of your mattresses? And what is with all the square pillows? What is the point of having a door handle in the center of the door? Why are keys so enormous? Do regular rounded paperclips exist in France?  Why is nail polish so outrageously expensive? Why …

13 mars – priorities

One of the best things about teaching in France are the school holidays. For each 6 weeks of school, we have a 2 week vacation– not too shabby! While I like to take advantage of these breaks to relax, I’d be remiss if I lived in Europe without traveling around as much as I can. After all, who knows how long I’ll even be here! This week I’ve been corresponding with a friend who I haven’t seen in 2 years. She recently graduated and moved to London and I plan to take advantage of being (relatively) close to England to finally visit her! As we coordinate dates, I look at my empty calendar for the month of May. My teaching contract ends April 30. My visa ends May 15. So far, my plan is to  pack up, go to London, and then head back to the United States. I tell her, “I’ll either come the week ending with May 20, or the week after May 20. I haven’t really decided. I haven’t booked tickets from Marseille to London yet. …