This is my last week of teaching in France, guys. My last week! I really can’t believe how fast seven months has gone by. While I plan to stay in Domfront for a few extra days after my contract ends in order to tie up loose ends, this is the week when I will have to say most of my goodbyes, and I’m just not ready! I didn’t expect to feel so much affection for this small Norman town when I first arrived, but now? I think there will always be a little space in my heart reserved for Domfront, the experiences I’ve had here, and the people I’ve met. I know I promised that my next post would be tips for living in a small town, but all things considered, I think a little tribute to Domfront (and France in general) is in order today.
I’m back with part two of a three-part post on small town French life. Today’s post takes a slightly less cheerful turn as I take an honest look at the most difficult parts about living in the middle of nowhere. But fear not! I will be back soon with a list of recommendations for making the best of TAPIF in a small town … it’s not always easy, but it IS possible to survive and thrive!
- You will sometimes feel like you’re living in a ghost town.
When I came to France, I knew that I would encounter cultural differences; that’s just a fact of expatriate life. However, one thing I was not expecting is just how different the most common noises are. Every language has noises and expressions that you hear frequently; in English, for instance, you are likely to hear things like “hmm,” “um,” “well,” “like,” and “huh” on a daily basis. I never really gave any of them much of a thought before, but I have discovered that these noises are not universal; for example, you will never hear “um” in a French classroom, but you will definitely hear “bahhh” or “euhhh”! I have therefore put together a list of the most common noises that you will hear in France, as well as a guide on how to use them. Heed this information and you will be speaking comme un(e) Français(e) in no time!* Continue reading
Today is Thanksgiving … well, sort of. Canadian Thanksgiving came and went weeks ago, but this was the first year that I didn’t celebrate at all. On October 12, I had just recently arrived in France and was thousands of kilometres away from my family; more importantly, since I didn’t have a single friend in France yet, I had nobody to celebrate with. In the end, Canadian Thanksgiving went almost unacknowledged here in Domfront (except for my attempt at making an apple crisp without brown sugar. Trust me, it’s better with brown sugar). Continue reading
15. You will be a sort of local celebrity, especially if you’ve been placed in a small town.
In a town of only 3770, people generally know who I am right away. This can be a good thing – some people around town, such as the librarian, are chatty and always ask me how it’s going at work – but it can also be a bit weird. My students, especially the younger ones, are always eager to report a “Julia sighting” when they see me in class … “Madame, I saw you yesterday in front of the school/at the library/at the grocery store/at the cinema!” It’s especially awkward when I realize that I saw the student in question there too, but didn’t recognize them from class and didn’t say hi! Continue reading
[Here is Part 2! I’m taking advantage of my temporary wifi connection …]
8. You will need to use your French at work …
You only need intermediate French to become a teaching assistant in France, but I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for me if my French hadn’t already been very good when I got here. Yes, I speak English when I am teaching, but to speak to school administrators, teachers who don’t teach English, and anyone outside of the school, it really helps to have a good grasp of French. Even though I make an effort to stick to English in front of the students, sometimes when you’ve explained an activity five times and the students still don’t get it, it’s better just to explain it in French to avoid utter chaos. Even the English teachers for whom English is their second language prefer to speak to me in French outside of class, which kind of surprised me! Continue reading
Hello world! I have been meaning to update the blog for a while (and already have a couple of blog entries written out), but the lack of wifi in rural France has made it rather difficult. Luckily, the secretary at the collège where I am working and living has kindly allowed me to use his office computer on the weekends, when the school is closed, so I thought I’d give a quick update on my first week in Domfront! Continue reading