All posts tagged: first impressions

Marseille: city of contradictions

Another six weeks of school, another two week vacation. And this time we wanted to get the heck out of the snow and mountains, so we booked a TGV to MARSEILLE! Marseille has a certain reputation in France… the kind of reputation that made our friends’ eyes widen and say,  “Attention, hein?! Be careful!” when we announced our trip. So then when there were reports of a shooting there the day before our planned departure, we had to make a serious game plan, which essentially boiled down to “DON’T BE AN IDIOT” (sidebar: the shooting was non-fatal and most likely a result of the visit to the city of Prime Minister Manuel Valls. My favorite part of the story is that Valls was in Marseille to congratulate the city for their recently reduced crime rates.) And anyway, when has the threat of a little street violence ever been good reason to cancel a trip?! If that were the case, no one would ever go….to most major cities in the US……

Observations, Thoughts & Impressions

I have now spent about 3 weeks at Ecole Concorde, observing, assisting, teaching, etc. Here are a few of my initial reactions to French schools (or at least my somewhat unique elementary school). The kids learn cursive right off the bat — even at the stage they specifically pointed out, “Yes, in France we use connected handwriting” as in, the entire country. This was actually something I noticed before, that the French collectively have a very particular way of writing that struck me as being “different.” Now, I have observed the naissance of this phenomenon!! The CP students (first grade equivalent) have handwriting lessons, and already have begun writing in cursive. Incredible. In the US, I never experienced an emphasis on handwriting, and certainly not cursive. I was required to write in cursive I think in the 2nd or 3rd grade, but that was more or less the extent — and mind you that was some 13 years ago as well! The kids seem to be very well-behaved overall, but the teachers take absolutely NO …

Week 1 Round Up!

I haven’t had a lot of time to blog this week, but I want to be as thorough as possible…I’ll do my best to cover everything I can in this round-up of week 1!! Wednesday: Arrival, see previous posts Thursday: This was our first day of orientation!!! We met in the BU Center and listened to a bunch of boring powerpoint presentations about safety and school policies etc…then we were given sandwiches and tickets to the Bateaux Mouche boats that cruise down the Seine. I can see how this tour might be worthwhile if you’re really gung-ho about it, but for a group of 39 college students who just met each other and were seated in the middle of the boat far away from all the windows…it was a little bit of a bust. The most exciting part was the tour guide who gave every instruction and introduction in 5 languages. It was really cool to see some of the many many bridges crossing the Seine, and of course to see sites like the Notre …

Leg 4: Meeting new people!!!!

Unlike many people I’ve spoken to, getting into the apartment of my famille d’accueil (host family) was actually super simple. When I got to the gate, there was a delivery man who knew the code, so before I could even get the paper out, he had it open for me. Then I arrived at the building and started to call up when two neighbors came out. They offered to let me in, but I wanted to call up so the family would be expecting me. The whole past three hours were about delaying the inevitable…why stop now, right? I was buzzed up and got into the elevator to go to the 12ième étage!!

Leg 3: CDG to Ave Félix Faure

At about 7:30 local time, we arrived at Aeroport Charles de Gaulle!!!! After a long roundabout journey from the terminal through a Beautiful but strangely deserted airport, through border police to baggage claim, I was on a taxi to my next location by 8:45. I stopped first to send mom an email and mentally prepare myself for leaving the beautiful bilingualism of the airport… I actually had in my inbox an email from my lovely hosts with detailed instructions of how to get to the apartment via métro and really considered doing that to save $ (or € I guess) but…it required like 2 ligne transfers and while my bags aren’t super heavy, they’re heavy enough that I decided against it….plus I figure I’ll get to drive through Paris along the way! Like that scene in The Parent Trap where the American Lindsay Lohan drives through London for the first time…maybe the cab driver will let me stand up through the sun roof too!!!