Oui, c’est moi.

If you’ve never seen this blog before, you can catch a quick recap here. Otherwise, welcome back!

I have now been back in Lyon, France little over a month. It has taken just about that long to sort out all the formalities of moving back – French administration outdoes itself yet again. I have barely had the chance to get my hands dirty at my new job, the actual reason I’m here, and now it’s school holidays. No complaints from me! Now I have a bit of breathing space I thought I’d do my best to CONCISELY (therein lies the challenge) recap what I’ve been up to since I left home six weeks ago:

Canada

On the way to France I spent ten days in Eastern Canada because, why not? This included:

  • three days in Toronto with my friend Grace, who nipped over from exchange in Halifax. Lowlights = heatwave and extreme insect bites. Highlights = Niagara Falls, tandem riding on Toronto Island
  • two days in Ottawa – mercifully cooler, so much history/culture to soak up and so compact to get around. 10/10 would recommend.
  • one day in Quebec city – great walking tour and museum to learn about Quebec’s history. Looks like an old European city which is what draws the tourists – though less of a drawcard for me.
  • three days in Montréal, reuniting with my exchange friend Sophie. Spent most of the weekend chilling with her and her lovely flatmates which was the perfect end to a hectic week. Rodin exhibition at the MMBA was great but overcrowded

France

My new flat!

My new flat is perfect and I was very lucky to find it after two increasingly despairing weeks of searching. I live with two sisters, Sarah and Julie (who is out of town during the week for work and back on weekends), and their parents own the place. I am slowly being integrated into the extended family thanks to big Sunday lunches and afternoons spent debating everything from the weather to the Syrian refugee crisis.


My schools

I am teaching in two schools; 9 hours a week in a lycée (15-18 y/os), and 3 hours in a collège (11-15). I have finally met all the students I am actually going to be teaching and got started with the work I will be doing – this is primarily working with final year students, and taking them in pairs or small groups mainly getting them to talk about what they are doing in class. They all have the oral component of their final year exams coming up in February and lack speaking practise. I have already noticed quite a discrepancy between students in the same class. All up there are 1500 students and they all learn English. There are 10 English teachers; I’m working with five at the moment then will change in January.

The collège has a mere 600 students and four English teachers. At the moment they are trying to cycle me round as many classes as possible and I have been doing a quick NZ101 presentation with the students. Afterwards though I will be primarily working with 14-15 y/o students, more in the classroom with the teacher by the sounds of things.

The lycée is a 10-15 min bus ride from my flat, and the collège 15 mins on foot so it really is perfect location! It’s also around 15-20 mins to the centre of town depending how well I time the bus/metro connection (generally slower heading back than heading in).

My birthday weekend – Paris

My birthday conveniently fell on a Saturday this year so I made the most of it with a day trip to Paris after chancing a €56, first class return fare on the train. To really make the most of it, however, this meant getting up at 5am for a 7am train, giving me a full day there before heading back at 7pm. The main reason for going was not to see the city itself but to reunite with my Canadian friend Sarah who is now working there as an au pair. It was the perfect day! Breakfast by the Canal St Martin, strolling round Haussmann’s boulevards (the subject of my 10,000 word research paper last year), a late lunch and more strolling along the Seine. Trop parfait mais trop court!

My birthday weekend – tramping

As if Saturday’s 5am start wasn’t enough, I was up again at 6:30 on Sunday for a more intrepid adventure – tramping in the Jura mountains. A hardy group of 14 of us all persevered to the end point – the Col du Grand Colombier, at an altitude of 1500m. After 25km and 8 hours of walking all up we were thankfully compensated with beautiful autumnal views of Mont Blanc.

Rugby World Cup

The following weekend came perhaps the most important moment in my expat career – les Blacks vs les Bleus. After failing to assemble a small army of Kiwis I settled for a motley crew of Americans, Irish and Ethiopian. I was the only one sporting black and suffice to say was heavily outnumbered in a bar full of several hundred French supporters. Safe to saying being the only one to attempt the increasingly drawn-out (and so high?? can we get a key change here) national anthem was not one of my most comfortable moments, but it certainly paid off by the end of the night! To their credit the French were gracious losers, the most hostile reaction being one person pretending to light my flag on fire as we piled into the metro. I told them they’re all welcome chez nous next week – and the week after (fingers crossed). I have also created one new diehard All Blacks fan in particular (you know who you are), so I’d call the night a success.

Next on the agenda is Chamonix this weekend, a trip I wanted to do two years ago. Fingers crossed the weather holds. The following week I have my first Kiwi visitor which is tres exciting! After that it’s back into the grind of school until the Christmas holidays. Will write again when I have a few interesting things to report. As always, comments welcome!

A bientôt,

Catherine

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