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Archive for December, 2009

So it’s the last day of 2009, the last day of the “noughties” decade, a lot of stuff has gone on in the last decade both worldwide and personally. This past year I think I’ve grown up a hell of a lot and I know where my priorities lie in everything. Will tomorrow bring a new year, a new decade, a new chance? Or will it just be another day? I’m banking on the latter.

Yes of course It’s normal to make resolutions to aid a new start in a new decade (the likelihood of me, personally, keeping them fully are low to zero), but that in itself makes it just another 1st January, simply in a new year. Looking at what I’ve got planned for the next year shows me that it’s just pretty much more of the same, only this time I know how to deal with it all which in a way makes me glad that it’s not a new chance because I don’t want to have to go through the process of learning to deal with the way I’m having to live. Personally, that begs the question ‘why are people so set in trying to change everything each time there’s a new year?’ Changes take time to get used to and for the most part people try to change, fail and get stuck back in their previous ways, and whilst there’s nothing wrong with that, why not just cut out the trying to change part and live an easier life without trying to change yourself. Changes happen naturally, well good changes, anyway – I guess they’re more like adaptations – so my words of wisdom for this last day of 2009 are to quit the whole needing or wanting to change fandango and just go with the flow. There’s no right day to make any resolutions, why not make a resolution each morning that you feel the need to change just for that day? Surely that’s a better idea than piling on a load of hasty decisions that, 9 times out of ten, you don’t really mean and trying to stick to them for a whole 365 days, is it not?

Either way, that’s the way I intend to play it. No resolutions. No expectations. Simply going with the flow and learning more about myself along the way, rather than trying to change.

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Right now I’ve been alive for two decades. The first decade I barely remember, but this decade, just wow. As I just said to a friend of mine “shit went down this decade!” I’ve just been shown the most poignant article I’ve ever seen, it very much puts your life into prospective and makes you realise just how trivial your life is sometimes. I actually cried when I looked at this article because it overwhelmed me. Looking at the pictures and remembering the events actually makes me wonder how humanity still exists in this broken world. This is a serious pause for thought at the end of such an eventful 10 years, so much war, disaster, death, bloodshed, tears and trauma packed into such a short amount of time. I wonder what the next decade has in store for us?

Here is the article

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/12/the_decade_in_news_photographs.html

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Sometimes I hate myself and wish that I kept myself, my thoughts and my opinions to myself. Meh.

Anyway, I saw this earlier and really liked it. Too true.

“You have to take the good with the bad, smile with the sad, love what you’ve got and remember what you had. Always forgive, but never forget, learn from your mistakes, but never regret. People change, things go wrong, but just remember LIFE GOES ON!”

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There’s no real point to this blog, there are a few things that I just wanted to ramble about I guess… although that’s what a blog is for, right?!

Rambling #1 is about verbs. Two first person singular conjugations of French verbs in particular; je veux and je vais (I want and I go). I’m not sure what it is about these two verbs, not sure at all what makes me want to use them as if they’re the same word. For all you non-francophones out there  when speaking in the future tense it’s common to use the verb to go for example, je vais parler rather than, the more formal, je parlerai. Simple enough yes? So why do I always find myself saying je veux instead of je vais – je veux parler, it makes sense but it is not what I want to say and I find myself doing it all the time with no explanation, surely it’s not just because they begin with the same letters, that would be incredibly “maternelle” of me!

Rambling #2 is that I found a news article the other day, in my local paper from back home. My mum finds it incredibly weird that I know what’s happening in Bolton before she does and I’m not there anymore, but I just like reading the news. But yeah, back on track, the article is all about celebrities talking to their former 16 year old selves and I thought about what  I would say to the 16 year old me. After a good think I decided that there isn’t much I would tell myself in order to change what has happened in my life. Maybe I’d warn myself about people who have broken my heart and maybe to study more in school especially in French; being a geek when your 16 might not be cool at all but it certainly pays off in the future. I think the main thing I will tell myself is not to worry, nothing really matters all that much in the grand scheme of things. I’ve put myself through hell worrying about “what if…” and none of it is ever really relevant. “What if..”‘s are pointless, completely pointless – next time I’m going to say to myself “so what?”

My rambling #3 is that my God did I feel old at school today. Obviously I am older than most people in the school grounds… being that it’s a primary school, but I just felt older and more responsible than I am for some odd reason today. I’m not sure if it is my recent, more sensible, less erratic frame of mind?Maybe it’s the fact that, due to being the sole teacher of English in one of my schools today, the kids are treating me as an actual teacher? Perhaps the reason is just simply I am getting old? I caught myself in the (rather handy) corridor mirror earlier and I just thought Christ I look like I’ve aged a few years over night. Maybe it’s my dangly earrings (I don’t often wear them afertall), maybe it’s the simplicity of my clothing (no statement items today), or maybe the recent stress of everyday life has just, like I said,  aged me overnight! I guess only time will tell… and by then I really will be older, even if it is just by days!

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It’s very nearly the end of the year, 6 more teaching days to go (17 teaching hours to be even more precise), and then that’s it until the New Year! This past week I’ve found myself feeling more and more exhausted and (more) stressed (than usual). Take today for example, I wasn’t even teaching but right now it is only 19h44 and I am very much ready to sleep until my flight home.

Of course, I’d love not to a) sleep for the remaining 10 days and b) be a grumpy-arse to everyone/thing for the foreseeable future so I decided to cure myself – and who better to help answer all my questions than the trusty google and, more specifically about.com. I found a great article dedicated to end of year stress suffered by teachers and am going to take heed of the advice, particularly the following;

“Do not try to accomplish too many tasks in one day.” I’m going to do all I can but not anything more. I’m always trying to do everything all at once and it gets me down so from now on I will accomplish what I can, when I can.

“Relax, through stretching and exercise.” Rather than sitting in my room, watching French television trying to train my brain to understand as much French as I can, I’m going to try to get out. I walk a lot and get my exercise in doing that, I enjoy it and occasionally I take myself on little walks to La Cité and relax with my book, I’m going to make that more frequent.

“Give yourself positive messages.” I’m my own worst enemy, I know it, but there’s nothing I can do to stop the bully inside of me pushing me too harshly to get things done. I think it’s time that I expel this bully and give myself some TLC. Why do I need to put myself down to make myself do things? I’d do them without the put-down, I guess I just feel that it’s the most effective way – I’m going to stop though, and rather than push myself I’m going to guide myself!

I think that one thing us assistants need to remember is that, whilst we definitely do not share the same responsibilities as real teachers, we are exposed to some of the same stress factors; too much work (especially for those of us that are still tied to our university through essays throughout our year abroad), unclear expectations (each school uses us differently and it’s hard to remember or even just know how you’re needed within the classroom) and of course the stress of the excitable 6 – 11 year olds that dictate and disrupt our attempts to teach them.

The 2 week Christmas holiday will be a holiday unlike no other for me. I will be as lazy as I can manage whilst trying to fit in festivity and catching up with my loved ones. They will definitely be battery recharging days for me.

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Over the past few weeks I have been watching the street decorations appear slowly. First the overhead lights on each of the streets around the square, then the sapin branch archways dotted along the streets, the construction of the patinoire (ice rink) in place carnot, the luge (toboggan slide) for the little children on the square near the train station and the fair on place gambetta. Yesterday was the opening ceremony, I’ve recently discovered that there was a traditional march and would have loved to have seen it but wasn’t informed about it so didn’t get to, which is a little sad. I did my own little march today though. Christmas fair on Square Gambetta

This morning, after I lay in bed for a while sleeping off the previous night’s Dutch Sinterklaas soirée, I got ready, cleaned my apartment and then headed out for a wander around Christmassy Carcassonne. As I entered the square I could smell, hear and see Christmas (and many children!). The queue for the patinoire was long and there were many many faces wooshing around the rink, I even spotted some of my students. I weaved in and out of all the people and huts selling various things and I headed towards Pont Vieux – Cité bound. I leisurely strolled up the hill to the beautiful castle, found a bench and alternated between reading my book and watching the world go by, it was a really nice relaxing afternoon! I strolled back down after about an hour and a half, weaved back in and out of the huts and people. Now I’m home, I’m relaxed and I’m about to eat a samosa I bought from one of the huts. It’s 2 weeks today until I return for Christmas, and whilst I absolutely cannot wait to be home I know I will miss this little town for the 2 weeks that I’m not occupying it.

The view from my book-reading bench.

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For my year abroad it was possible to study at a French university, find a job in France or do an assistantship – being an English assistant in a French school. Of course, I chose the latter and the reason behind my decision was that it would give me an insight into whether I would like to be a teacher in that scary place, the future!

After completing just under 3 months of teaching in 3 French primary schools I can see that to be a teacher you have to have so much patience, the kids will push you to the limit whether they like you or not. For example, I had an inspection, a few weeks ago, from my responsable. Everything was going smoothly to start off with, then the notorious CM2 class queried who the lady at the back of the class was, she explained her role and the naughtiest of children piped up “She’s a good teacher, we like learning English with her”. O how sweet, I thought! Then, for the rest of the lesson, he was the biggest pain in the neck, ever! So he likes me and my classes but that is definitely not enough to make him behave! It is very much a rewarding job though, which makes the decision a little more difficult.

However, a few weeks ago I bought a French book to be reading in my spare time; Jamais Sans Mes Soeurs. As I got into the book I realised that it was in fact an English/American book that had been translated into French and that, in a way, opened a door for me. My favourite part of my French course has always been the translation side, I actually enjoy it. And before now I’d never really thought much about a translation job – simply because teaching appears to be the simple answer to everything. Now I’ve thought about it, I realise how much I would enjoy translating a book from English to French. Maybe that’s a line I’ll follow when it comes to that dreaded ‘thinking-about-the-future’ part of 4th year.

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