Hello there, my fellow Expats and bloggers, friends and strangers alike, I haven’t written in two weeks because, well, like any writer knows, sometimes you just need a break. For me, this welcome respite came in the form of les vacances de février, one of the many numerous French school holidays scattered throughout the year.
Hiatus n. the pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process.
That’s exactly what I did. From February 22 to March 1 I spent my days lounging around my apartment, occasionally venturing outside to buy bread and cheese and to participate in a lovely atelier pommes, that’s to say a cooking workshop revolving around apples with my locavore group “Les Tombés de la Charette” (our website is now operational, www.alimentonlocal.fr, if you want to see what we’re up to). I watched more tv than I probably had previously during my entire lifetime (NCIS, “The Voice,” etc.) and I worked not one iota on my school work. Not to say that I wasn’t studious. I get antsy if I don’t have some “project” to work on, one I usually abandon within a few weeks, but I have been faithfully studying Italian on Duolingo and Memrise almost every day for the past two weeks. Io mangio la fragola. Grazie.
The weeklong holiday (those high school age and younger had two weeks off school, most of whom jetted off to the Alps for a colonies de vacances holiday camp to go skiing) was dark and overcast, the doldrums of the winter months in full swing here in Northern France. And to make matters worse, very few students were around, most having gone home to their families, traveled to warmer milieu or worked as camp counselors. I gave five hours of English lessons myself, but I mostly wallowed in my pajamas and woke up around noon every day. I have tried several more adventurous recipes recently: tortilla española, bricks à la tunisienne, spicy chili, tarte aux poireaux avec une pâte brisée faite maison, crumble aux pommes, velouté à la courge muscadée…
My most productive part of the break was the massive amounts of emails that I sent off to friends and the numerous “Skype dates” I initiated during this time. I even talked with an American in Oregon, at 10 pm her time and 7 am my own! (I promptly went back to sleep afterwards). It’s been such a pleasure to read all the responses to my emails (friends, you know who you are, and I am so lucky to have you in my life!) And thank goodness for Skype and for the weekly “conference calls” my family does, which has allowed me to feel very close while being very far away. I think I can say that I am successfully keeping up with my New Year’s pledge to email once a month and to maintain a good steady communication with my loved ones.
Since Monday, I’ve been back at school, with renewed vigor and focus (*cough cough*). I’ve slowly stopped going to all those “extra classes” (you see my problem with resolutions and “projects”? I can never successfully audit anything for a full term) and concentrated on my job search and the classes I’m actually getting graded on. I finally received my bulletin scolaire, that’s to say, my report card for the first semester. To my delight, I ended up with a 15/20 moyenne (average). Despite what you might think, approximately half of my classes were taught and evaluated in French, and I am proud to say that I did very well in them. For my classes uniquely in French, I received 14, 15, 16, 16 and 17! My English to French translation class was my only shortcoming, but averaged with my much stronger French to English grade, I barely scraped past the passing grade of a 10! What this all translates into is that I won’t have to “retake” any of my first semester exams in the summer, I’ve “validated” everything (grades in France are very different from what you can expect in the US, if you want more details, I invite you to browse through my previous posts commenting on the first semester).
And another “New Year’s resolution” to cross off my list: I got hired at a(nother) local tutoring company as an English teacher, the #1 centre de soutien scolaire in France if I do say so myself. Between my various “employers” I should be able to generate much more income than what I was previously, enough to help me literally scrape by in these upcoming months. With a part-time job for now, an exciting job opportunity in Italy for the summer, and a potential job for next year, all that awaits me is to discover what direction my career(s) will take me in. Sometime in April I’ll find out whether or not I’ll be a language assistant next school year, and the results to the June CAPES (allowing me to be a stagiaire, or student teacher) will be posted in July.
All that’s left of my 2013 goals is to get back into running! I’ve run once this week and look forward to a slightly longer run tomorrow. The sun is starting to shine more reliably, although it’s expected to plunge back into the 30’s and 40’s over the next few days. Vivement le printemps…