So (Mum wants to know) how are things going? What do I do with myself all day? This week, and until the 5th of November, I'm actually on holidays, so the answer will hopefully be "fun day trips within my meagre budget!" but let's pretend you asked about the 40% of the time when I'm not on holiday.
MONDAY: I haven't had to do this yet, but in two weeks' time, I will have to get up at a ridiculous hour, probably 6.15 or something, in order to get to school for an 8 am class. :(
The day will begin with a shower. I'm still struggling to come to terms with ours - no shower curtain or similar, and it's one of those with no support thing for the shower head, so you have to hold it in your hands at all times (or between your knees when washing your hair). Cue a bathroom inevitably flooded with water. Seriously, French people, I know some of you travel. Why has no-one returned with the shocking news that THERE IS A BETTER WAY?
Then comes the commute to work - about a 15- or 20-minute bus-ride, normally not too bad because I get on early in the piece and can usually get a seat. Lately, since the weather has turned mildly cold, the sun-loving Nicoises have panicked and cranked up the heat on everything, including the bus, to stifling levels. The other day (by accident or design, I know not) my bus seat was so hot it was uncomfortable to sit on. And they all sit there in their jackets and scarves! They are actually insane. Do they not sweat? If you prick them, will they bleed? On Saturday we went to the park on a beautiful, sunny afternoon - all of us in summer dresses and skirts. Every French person about was rugged up for an Arctic winter. It half makes me wish for proper cold weather (and, actually, it is pretty cold in the mornings/night at the mo) just so I can blend in a bit more with these people.
Anyway... usually I get to work a bit early and check my emails, although this won't be as imperative now we have the blessed wifi. I also try to print out materials to use in class - you have to drop them off at the photocopy room for an up-to-24-hour-turnaround, so trying to get organised in advance.
Then I will have (haven't yet) Mme G.'s class 8-10. If I remember correctly, this is going to be one of the deals where a small group of up to about 5 students come see me in another room and I do... whatever... with them. Probably more kind of conversation-class type things than teaching as such. Or these are possibly the ones that are fiends for practising 'les documents (in)connues' - part of their Bac exam is giving a short oral presentation on '(un)known documents' - i.e. ads, photos, paintings etc. which they have to describe in English. So quite often, I just have to listen to students giving these presentations and correct what they say, ask questions, etc. I did this with three students last week, pretty simple.
Then 10-11 I have class with Monsieur A. Monsieur A's classes - I have three with him - are entirely different. He and I stand up in front of the whole class and (as far as I can tell from the ones I've attended so far) work through translations with them. This consists of a student volunteering his or her English translation of a French text, Monsieur A going "Gwan, will you accept that?" Me: "Erm, no..." Monsieur A: "She is too polite to say, but that was VERY WRONG! Gwan, what do you propose?" and then I have to suggest a translation. It's not so bad now that he gives me the articles in advance and my 'homework' is to translate them into English (it's like being back at uni!) but the first class with him, I went in cold without ever having seen the article before and it was HARD! I'm not a translator nor do I speak perfect French! It's often quite hard to explain why the students' translations don't work (I mean, sometimes they do, but...) mostly it's just that it sounds "off" to my native ears. Which I suppose is what I'm there for, as a big set of native ears (hold your cruel comments on my ears, please) but I often feel my explanations to be inadequate at this juncture.
Anyway, so 11 am Monday morning rolls around and that's it - finished for the day! I can't really tell you what I will do with my Mondays at the moment, although I have the distinct feeling that 'afternoon nap' will loom large in my timetable. My school is pretty centrally located - just across the street is Old Nice, the heart of the tourist trap, but also a pretty nice collection of narrow alleys in which to wander. Beyond Old Nice is the sea and the big avenues of the Promenade des Anglais and Promenade des Etats-Unis. We are also close to the central library, with which I am already well-acquainted. It has a whole row of English books - I'm pretty sure I'll get through all the likely suspects before too long, but it's keeping me going for the moment at least. If you head in the other direction, you get to Place Massena and the road which runs at right-angles from that is the main shopping drag. So there are lots of time-killing options in walking distance.
Or I can take the bus home. The main feature of my bus route, for tourists, is the Musee Matisse, which is only a few stops from my house. I like to amuse myself by spotting who will get off at that stop. Usually it's pretty easy - clutching maps, looking around anxiously, speaking English, wearing baseball caps - all dead giveaways. I had a bit of a malicious chuckle the other day when I noticed one couple, after having asked the bus driver about 3 times where to get off, walking past the entrance into the park where the museum is. Ah, cruel - and unnecessary, given how much touristing about I do. I just like to snobbishly think of myself as a better breed of tourist, but I'm sure I am equally an object of the locals' scorn, and even that of the semi-locals like me.
My flatmates and I are almost always home by about 5 pm, for a quiet evening of TV-watching and dinner-preparation, before bed at about 10. Indeed, life on the Med is full of glamour and excitement! My flatmate Emily is even teaching us how to knit, a process which currently consists mainly of doing the same row of stitches again and again after I get to the end and find all the mistakes I made. Our favourite show is a French version of Blind Date, which is known chez nous as 'the dirty show' because it features extremely average, usually 40ish, French men and women (the latter in embarrassing short skirts) who are only too happy to go on national TV and proclaim their willingness to do just about anything to snag a partner, in horribly suggestive detail. It's cringe-worthy fun!
So that's my Mondays. Stay tuned for the other exciting installments, and hopefully fun things I've done with my holidays!
Oh and PS - it's my one-month-aversary in Nice today. Time has indeed flown! That means only 6 months to go??? And then ???? Arrrgh!