09 October 2010

Orientation Day

On Wednesday, October 6th, we finally had our orientation day! (While in Estonia, I was informed that it had been pushed back from the 1st to the 6th...) From meeting with my responsable the day before, I knew that it was going to be boring but I still very much looked forward to it. It was exciting to see how many other assistants there were! We were corralled into a lecture hall at a high school and it definitely felt like the first day of a new quarter in college. You know, when everyone's excited to see who'll be there, see if they know anyone and determine if there are any romantic prospects. The room was packed full of English teachers from les États-Unis, le Canada, la Grande-Bretagne, la Nouvelle Zélande, l'Australie... but also anyone teaching any other language (allemand, espangol, italien...) in elementary schools for our académie.  Anyone teaching a language other than English au collège ou dans un lycée was at a separate orientation. 
Getting out for lunch was complicated and characteristically chaos because paperwork was involved
While a lot of the other assistants complained that it was an awfully painful and extremely boring day, I don't think it was as bad as they said. I was more annoyed by the stupid questions that people asked over and over... French being the common language in the room, the whole day was conducted in French. Aside from a few particular details which I couldn't actually hear, I understood the entire day. We were served lunch in a nearby university's cantina and I was really surprised with my options for the entrée... pasta or fries. Really? Pasta or FRIES? I would never consider fries a main course but I do live in the region known for having the best fries in all of France. For something that took all day, I really don't feel any better prepared or really any better off. It could have been done in so many more efficient ways, which is what my friend Mitch and I spent nearly all of lunch discussing. It is what it is...

After lunch, I met with just the other English assistants teaching in elementary schools in Lille. While talking to the girl I was first paired up with, we realized we were both from Seattle. Random! And I also confirmed my thoughts that Americans are far outnumbered by Brits. (For many (if not all of them), an experience abroad is a required element of their studies, so many of them opt for this paid opportunity. Plus, for them the paperwork battle is half as deep; it's a lot easier for EU citizens. Honestly, I've met so many Brits that my head spins more while we're talking in English than when speaking French. Listening to them compare their different accents blows my mind, since all that I really recognize is a British accent -none of the nuances they feel are so evident. Way too many English and American accents in the mix!
Aussi assistant, me, Jim (the Aussi visiting from London), and Mallory (the best thing to come from Salt Lake!)
Once the orientation was over, several of us (current friends and newly acquainted) headed to Café Oz - The Australian Bar. I'd say there were about 20 of us to start, for which there was a long string of tables and benches seemingly waiting for us. We all had a great time and stayed for quite a few hours. Somewhere in the evening, Mallory and I befriended an Aussi living in London who was visiting Lille for two days. Eventually, the three of us went off in search of food and enjoyed a delicious dinner before wandering around a little bit more. Mallory and I stumbled into the apartment at 12h45 after catching the second-to-last tram out of Lille. We'd left that morning at 8:15am... Basically is was a long but enjoyable day! 

les États-Unis - the United States
le Canada - Canada
la Grande-Bretagne - Great Britain
la Nouvelle Zélande - New Zealand
l'Australie - Australia
l'allemand - German language (masculin)
l'espangol - Spanish language (masculin)
l'italien - Italian language (masculin)
au collège ou dans un lycée - at a middle school or in a high school 

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad to see a picture of you with your new friends. Cute picture Kelsey May. I miss you.