Saturday, 29 September 2012

My first day, and other such clichéd titles

So I've been here for about a day now, and have just finished my first day's classes (well, observation). And it's certainly been busy.

After getting unpacked last night, my classes started at 8am today. That meant a 6am start (which, of course, felt like 5am), so it was a good thing that there was still some of the oh-my-word-I'm-in-France adrenaline in my system. The classes themselves were really informative, on subjects ranging from "consumer society" to "forming your own rock band"; one of my favourites, though, was the premières*, with whom I got to jump around the room asking what they knew about England. They were actually very impressive, with many of them knowing the differences between Great Britain and the United Kingdom, and came up with some interesting ideas. (If the class of 2D1 are anything to go by, perceptions of Britain centre primarily around the Queen, baked beans, Big Ben, Wayne Rooney, and rain.)

Of course, I'm only working twelve hours a week, so I wasn't in lessons all day. Instead, I took the opportunity to get some admin done. After my mentor teacher had taken me to get my assurance habitation (a sort of very basic home contents insurance), I took the opportunity to get thoroughly lost in explore the centre of Reims. After an hour of going round in circles, I'd finally started to get my bearings, and had somehow managed to get hold of both a phone and an appointment to open a bank account. Don't ask me how.

A pizza with my parents (and a look round the massive bookshop) rounded the day off nicely. I think I might grow to like it here.

La question d'aujourd'hui se penche sur mon déjeuner, acheté dans une boulangerie-patisserie au centre-ville - a ham and cheese baguette, a moelleux au chocolat, and some water ...

* In a lycée, there are three main year groups. Les secondes (2ndes) are roughly equivalent to Year 11, les premières (1ères) to Year 12, and les terminales (T) are Year 13. Once I've got my head around it all, I'll do a post specifically about the French school system. If you're reading this and are a language assistant, would you like to help me out? Please do leave a message in the comments.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Sixteen Hours. (And Mika.)

My room looks like a tip; there's a suitcase downstairs that should be full by now, but isn't; and I'm procrastinating by writing a blog post. This can only mean one thing: I'm leaving tomorrow.

So I'm obviously not physically ready to leave yet, but am I mentally ready? To be honest, I don't know, and I guess I can't know until I arrive. My main concern at the moment is getting through all the admin: sécurité sociale registration, completion of the procès verbal d'installation, opening a compte courant ... the first few days will be busy, if nothing else. So to keep my spirits up, I've been listening to Mika. Obviously.

Now, Mika's best known for Grace Kelly, but he has released other material since. Most interestingly, his latest album has more than a little bit of French in it. He released Elle me dit, one of the songs on the French version of the album, about a year ago, and left quite a few people wondering exactly how it would fit on an English CD. With that in mind, he's just released a new version, helpfully retitled Emily. As such, today's open question is:

Anyway, I'll try to update this blog within a couple of days. Hopefully it'll include some pictures of where I'm living, as well as prose which is a little more, erm, "focused". Thanks for reading, and again, à bientôt!

P.S. A big thank you to my old school's Modern Languages department, who retweeted me earlier today! If you're reading this because of them, then welcome along ...

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Forty-Eight Hours.

Hello! Nice to meet you!

Thanks for stumbling by my blog. My name's Edward, and as my 'about' section says, I'm a third-year student, studying Modern and Medieval Languages (MML) at the University of Cambridge. As part of my course, I'm taking a Year Abroad, which I've chosen to spend working as an English language assistant in a French school. Specifically, I'll be in a lycée, teaching mostly 16- to 18-year-olds.

And yes, I am aware that my blog title is ... weird. On the bright side, that means it was easy to get the domain name, since Reims and Repeat is not exactly an address in demand. As for what it means ... well, I thought I'd do a drawing.

Anyway, enough of that ... I leave for France in two days. Forty-eight hours. (525,600 minutes.) My friends who are already abroad tell me that you do get used to it, but still it's slightly scary to think that I'll be living on my own in a different country. I'm fully anticipating cultural shock, but apart from that there's the question of actually understanding: I haven't even left yet, and the sheer amount of technical terminology included in the bureaucracy is somewhat unnerving. On the bright side, I've landed on my feet somewhat with the accommodation: I'll be staying in the lycée itself, which means that I really have no excuse for failing to make it to lessons.

Teaching teenagers will doubtless be fun too. I'm hoping that, since foreign languages are obligatory up to age 18 in French schools, that people will feel that there's a reason for studying them; if not, I may find myself in trouble. Unlike my sister, who thrives on finger-painting and seems to have 'the gift' when it comes to looking after four-year-olds, I much prefer older students. That said, there will of course be a fair bit of 'classroom management' to take care of. Going back into my old school for a few days really helped me to think about language learning as a process, and what people find easy and difficult; hopefully this will give me a boost when it comes to engaging students.

I'll try to post again tomorrow, since I'll probably need a break from the madness of packing. Before I go, though, I'd like to introduce you to what will hopefully be a regular feature: my open question. (I take no credit for the idea!) Basically, I'll have a question to ask my (hopefully many) loyal readers, and answers on a postcard (or, perhaps more productively, in the comments) would be very much appreciated. Today's question is:

À bientôt!