Yes, I’m still alive over here in the land of the French! Fall has turned the Alps and the trees into a beautiful display of color. As the leaves continue falling, I seem to be finding myself busier and busier with my schedule at school and with just the daily tasks of running errands and washing clothes. It is a blessing to have such a beautiful setting for these daily activities though!
The past few weeks have been so full of new experiences. I’ve met new people, tried different foods, learned lots of new vocab, and learned some more lessons through experiences which just seem to happen to a foreigner here. I can’t say all my administrative woes are over yet. I’m still waiting on some all important letters to arrive, but I’m told that this delay is pretty normal. So, I continue to wait and seem to stay pretty busy in the meantime.
The end of October was nice. I got a week off, and as a result, I slept quite a bit. I’m glad I did because I think I needed it even more than I realized. I also did get caught up on grading and lesson planning, and even had some quiet afternoons spent reading Dickens with soft music playing in the background. I was also able to change my routine a little and get out of town to spend a day in Lyon during the break. That’s actually where this picture was taken. Have I mentioned my love for parks recently? 🙂 The French definitely have a talent for designing parks, I will say. There’s a big park in Lyon called the “Parc de la Tête d’Or”. [Don’t ask me why the name of the park is basically the “Park of the Golden Head”…I have no idea!] A member at the church where I attend mentioned it as a place I should see but added that he wasn’t so sure that I as an American would be interested in it since he jokingly mentioned that we seem to rush around to see only the major sites. I laughed and asked him if he was being slightly stereotypical there. I definitely enjoyed my peaceful stroll there after a long day spent exploring the old city of Lyon. Maybe I did fit the stereotype somewhat, but I think the French laid back view on life has rubbed off on me in several ways. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a walk in the park spent gazing up at the changing colors of the trees?
I did find out that in Lyon there are stairs….everywhere. Everywhere. Stairs! I think I was still dreaming of stairs after I arrived home. Of course, I figured out after laboring up to the top of the hill where the famous Basilique de Fourvière is that there was, in fact, a cable car I could have taken to get to the top. If you imagine that part in “The Sword in the Stone” when the wolf reaches the top of the hill only to see Arthur and Merlin walking along at the bottom of the hill he’d just climbed, his reaction was pretty much the look on my face. I think I missed taking the cable car because I saw a sign pointing the way to the cathedral and thought it was a “shortcut”. I should probably pay more attention to the map next time.
Then, there were the stairs at the Gallo-Roman amphitheaters, then the stairs to get in and out of the metro, the stairs up to the boulangerie to buy a sandwich, the stairs on the train home…goodness, I was tired. Though my leaving the stairs of Lyon behind was not all I would face to get home. Apparently, having trains stopped on the tracks for two hours is not completely unheard of around here. There was an accident on the tracks further south, so our train was stopped for quite a while and then moved very slowly until it finally reached Grenoble again. Unfortunately, I had brought nothing with me to read as I didn’t want to lug around my big volume of Dickens (especially considering the stairs, glad I didn’t). So, I studied the map of Lyon quite extensively, discovered that my little block of a French phone which does little more than make calls and sort of text did actually have the snake game on it (don’t think I’ve played that since I was a high school kid playing it on my mom’s first cell phone), and then found a sermon on my iPod to listen to as well to pass the time. I did eventually come through my door about three hours after my expected arrival time. This was followed by my finding something to eat and then falling asleep pretty soon after. I was happy though! It was overall a beautiful day and nothing delights me more than getting to explore a different city.
In the week or so that’s followed, I’ve been just a little panicked that I only have just a few short weeks to get through the rest of what I want to cover this semester in the classes I’m teaching. I’ve been doing quite a bit of planning and trying to find activities that will help the students practice the grammar topics we’re going over and am also trying to help prepare them for their upcoming exams. It feels strange to be essentially on my own when it comes to teaching these classes. I could be teaching them lines from Star Wars while having them do yoga for all my department really knows. 😉
I promise I’m teaching them more than that! Some days though, goodness…I shake my head and wonder why I’m here teaching English when I love teaching French so much. Then, the next day I have a light bulb of how to teach a lesson and can’t imagine ever going back to teaching French. Teaching is like that though, full of ups and downs.
For now, I think I’m going to sit down and actually work on making progress grading those eighty-something exams and work on writing out my comments on some speeches and presentations since I have tomorrow off. I’m so glad to have a Wednesday off! It’ll be nice to have a break from my often crazy long Wednesday. Though indeed it’s been a headache getting the students’ make-up activities together amongst a chorus of groans and exclamations of “C’est injuste!” but in fact, they need to do these activities to be ready for an upcoming exam. So, sorry, no Star Wars and yoga apparently. Actually, I don’t even like yoga….yogurt….now, that’s another story entirely. Especially French yogurt and fromage blanc…cheese….on second thought, maybe I need a snack before I dive into grading.