Hi, remember me? Yes I am still alive. As I keep saying to my parents, no news is generally good news (as long I’m not doing anything outrageous like larking about Russia). It means I’m busy living life without too much time to twiddle my thumbs and write about it on the internet.
I do however hate the fact that I am so behind on this blog; it’s even worse where my once-daily travel diary is concerned. I refuse on principle to give it up – it’s more a question of self-discipline than anything – but the fact that I have been a solid three weeks behind for the past two months is not exactly an enjoyable one. I have thus come to accept that once I finish the current volume it is going to have to move to a weekly highlights type arrangement for the sake of my sanity.
Back to the blog though, and the situation is not quite so dire. Although I have been AWOL for two whole months, a lot of that has been purely due to my new big girl job and its demands on my time, which won’t take too long to recount. This post will therefore be more of a recap of my everyday life, while the next will chronicle the more interesting things I’ve been up to (and, of course, have more photos!)
After nearly a month of being homeless and having literally nothing to do except hide from the sun inside and unsuccessfully trawl the internet for a flat, I at last got lucky and moved in to a new place at the beginning of September. I’m pleased to report it has worked out better than I could have expected! While the location wasn’t what I was hoping for initially, it has actually worked out perfectly with a quick bus to work, direct metro/bus to town in about 15 minutes and most of my friends around the same area as well. I’m five minutes from a rather swanky precinct called Gratte Ciel, home of the first skyscrapers in France, with a leafy shopping avenue leading to a main square bordered by the town hall and a contemporary theatre, all decked out in art deco architecture, of which I am A Fan.
No photos of the flat at this stage as it is not at its most presentable, and dealing with this is well down the list of priorities at the moment. Beggars can’t be choosers. However, I shall give a rundown of who inhabits these hallowed halls:
Gus – thirty something – has a somewhat boring sounding computer support job but plenty of … interesting…interests, most notably the collection of 100+ boardgames, and obscure liquor collection, a degustation of which has become a rite of passage for any unwitting first-time guest;
Mathilde – 23, from Normandy, is working on a Masters in biology/brain science-y stuff at a university next door to the one I work at. This has resulted in a few bleary eyed dates sardined on the bus when we both have class at 8am.
Léna – 21, from Lorraine, actually exactly where I lived the first time I came to France with a host family. She’s studying International Business type stuff at Lyon 3, where I was a student back in the day.
Us three girls all moved in at the same time, and it has been really cool to establish the new flat together. Most of our flatmate bonding has naturally occurred over food – tartiflette, raclette, fondue bourguignon – and the aforementioned board game and alcohol collections, but we have already had a couple of cute flat outings as well. We have a list of food and adventures to accomplish and have not made great progress so far, due to everyone being all over the place, but this weekend we checked off three things which was rather remarkable. To be continued in future episodes of the blog no doubt.
Work is the number one reason I have been so busy of late, but it is definitely good busy – as I have mentioned before, I am really relishing the fact of finally having a ‘real’ job with real responsibilities and challenges for my brain. I am working at an engineering school as a ‘lecteur’, which is a post no-one has ever heard of, unless they’ve worked in the French education system. It’s basically a foreigner who teaches their language at tertiary level, on a limited two year posting.
I’m based in the university’s language resource centre, and my role includes:
- individual lessons for students with learning difficulties who can’t integrate into regular classes – in my case, two profoundly deaf and two severely dyslexic students
- likewise, a small group of semi-professional sports students who can’t attend normal classes due to their training schedules
- one small group of international students whose level of English is too low (having spent the previous year studying only French instead)
- one large class of first year students who have been admitted via non-traditional routes and get extra help to bring them into line with their peers
- conversation workshops and TOEIC exam preparation sessions
- 20-minute tutorials for cv correction, job interview practise, etc
This is the role at its base, and is meant to be about 12 hours a week of actual teaching time. I’m currently doing 15. On top of that, I have taken on two extra classes as overtime work – these are ‘real’ classes where I’m the ‘real’ teacher for the whole year, which is rather daunting, but going ok so far! In total, I am currently teaching 19 hours a week, so by the time you imagine the preparation necessary for this it explains why I have dropped off the radar. Next semester should be a breeze in comparison as we are supposedly going to even out my hours for the year…I’ll keep you posted as to how that actually goes down.
I am really enjoying the work though, and I especially enjoy going TO work to hang out with my très cool colleagues. I share an office with three other lecteurs: David (American), Gonzalo (Spanish) and Susann (German). Fortunately, we all get along like a house on fire (which we show by being affectionately horrible to each other), and have voluntarily spent time together outside of work on more than one occasion. Yay for friends! The rest of the English department is great too, and we definitely have a lot of support.
As if I weren’t busy enough with all this work business, I have also found myself involved with several extracurricular activities on the side. Activity number one is…..dance class! I mentioned many moons ago in a blog post that one of my former teachers from NZ comes to Lyon a couple of times a year to give workshops to a local dance school. To cut a long story short, said dance school found themselves in need of a replacement teacher, and rather conveniently for them I was willing and able to step up. It’s been several years since I last danced myself, so although I need to work on the fitness side of things it really is like riding a bike and I’m very happy to be getting ~back to my roots~. I teach a lovely group of ladies one night a week. As a tradeoff, I’ve taken up salsa with the same school. I’ve always wanted to do Latin and ballroom dancing, and seriously looked into classes when I arrived last year (but got scared off by the commitment). This year though I really am happy just to have a very normal, routine life, like any other Lyonnaise. Salsa fitted my timetable best, and also seemed like a good, basic place to start. As a beginner class, it is a little frustrating as the pace is rather slow as we spend a lot of time drilling the basics. Thanks to Irish dancing, grasping the rhythm and memorising steps is – well – easy for me, compared to the average joes in the class. However, I fully admit that on the flipside, also thanks to Irish dancing, it’s a lot harder for me to loosen up my body and get my latin groove on. So that’s definitely the main challenge for me. Overall though I am enjoying it, dance progress aside it’s nice to be involved in something like that every week; everyone is lovely and it’s great to learn a new skill.
In another throwback to my old habits I have also joined the staff choir at work, which is actually really fun – even if there is only one other person under the age of 40. Once again this is another mental challenge that I’ve missed, so I’m really happy to be back into it. It’s pretty relaxed, but we’re learning some quite challenging pieces – Singin in the Rain, La Tendresse by Bourvil, and a third piece TBD, all in SATB. We already have three performances on the agenda for next year, so do have somewhat of a formal goal to work towards, but once again I’m enjoying from the perspective of it being a regular activity to go along to.
Lastly, I have also taken the proactive step of joining the uni gym, though I am yet to set foot in the place…they don’t make it easy, with very short windows when it’s actually open, and demanding yet another medical certificate. At some point I will force myself to make the doctor’s appointment and get on my way. Even with the two months I have spent not going so far, and the inconvenience of ever accessing it, at €145 for the year it’s a helluva good deal compared to the public going rate of €40 a month (which, let’s be realistic, I wouldn’t be going to any more frequently). Making this public knowledge in the help that peer pressure/nagging will force me to actually get round to it…
Et voilà, all the juicy goss on la vie quotidienne de Catherine. Next blog post is already in the works, but as we all know how I like to indulge in detail, no promises on when it will be available for consumption. This side of Christmas, that’s a promise for sure. Place your bets now…