25 septembre, 2007


It is Day 2 of my full day school week and already my cabeza is about to explode. I'm at that point where you just feel like you're at information overload and are completely overwhelmed by the task at hand. This year is gonna be crazy difficult, me thinks. To begin with, I'm supposed to have already read four ginormo books(but didn't because I didn't know of my acceptance until 3 days before classes started and I really did not know if I was going to get in or not and did not have the money to be wasting.) Ok, maybe they wouldn't be ginormo if I had read them one at a time this summer, but they sure seem like that reading them all at once! For my classes, I have to read Pride&Prejudice, The Grapes of Wrath, The Tragedy of Coriolanus and La Devolution des Pouvoirs a l'Ecosse et au Pays de Galle. Oh, the joy. I have in fact read the Cliffs Notes on P&P to tide me over as well as watched the 2005 movie(we also have a class just on the film.) Yikes. I'm so out of the whole "school thang" that I feel exhausted just at the thought of all the papers, practice exams, student teaching and final exams that lie ahead of me. I already have a student teaching internship next week! Ahhhhhhhh!

I also feel kinda thrown to the wolves because a)such is French university and b)I'm the only freakin anglophone in my group and maybe of everyone. I had unveiled this tidbit to only a couple of students, but in Phonetics class today, the teacher(who is, btw, adorably French with a very British accent) called me out on it.

AFBA: Lea? Is that how you prnounce it?
Me: Actually, it's LEE-AH.
AFBA: Ah, are you a native speaker?
Me: Yes, I'm American.(Frenchies turn around and stare)

Later, AFBA asked about what type of accent people have and the importance of being consistent with whatever accent they have during this school year leading up to the big exam. I raised my hand for American accent and AFBA and I had a chuckle, but the Frenchies, I think, maybe found me pretentious. A lot of them are redoublants meaning they are re-doing the course for a 2nd, 3rd time, so they already know each other from before and then the others seem to have either people they know from studying for their licence in English or they've just made buddies. There are a couple nice girls that have chatted with me a bit and then I'll be en stage with a couple dudes all week next week, so I'm hoping to get out of my little anglo bubble very soon because it's getting old fast. I hope the Frenchies don't feel weird about speaking English in front of me in class because even though I feel nervous in front of them, I'm just one person and there are a lot of them! At the same time, I will be annoyed if some of them try to insist on speaking ONLY English with me because I find that patronizing since I am actually able to speak the language.

Rien a voir, but I can't wait to hear all their different accents...American, English, Scottish Irish is what I've heard so far. It's SO adorable! My friend who's a lectrice at the University said there was one Frenchie with an Aussie accent...that I would LOVE to hear. Most of them I've heard speak very well with not too much of an accent at all, but some do have the cute French accent...ah, I just love it! What I also love is the fact that it looks like I have lined up about 8-9 hours of English lessons that will be starting this week. Bring em on, baby!

For those of you possibly interested in the CAFEP or CAPES or those bored folk(hehe), here is what my schedule normally looks like:

Mon: 14h-17h Theory at IUFM

Tues: 9h-10h Comprehension
12h30-13h30 Devolution
13h30-14h30 Synthese

Wed: 10h30-11h30 FDL
11h30-12h30 Version
14h30-15h30 Pride&Prejudice(BOOK)

Thurs: 10h30-11h30 The Grapes of Wrath
12h30-13h30 Theme
14h30-15h30 Pride&Prejudice(FILM)
16h45-19h The Tragedy of Coriolanus

Fri: 9-12 Theory at IUFM

One week of stage at the beginning of October.
One week of stage at the beginning of April.

So, Mon&Fri are theory of teaching at the IUFM which basically goes over how students learn, what types of teaching there are, and all this super boring theory stuff. These classes are all in French whereas the classes (so far) at the Uni have all been in English. As an anglophone, I got out of Phonetics, Language Lab and Oral Expression as they are clearly not something I would need to do as a native speaker since they are about practicing your speaking which I can normally manage.

In other news, I am expecting to hear from the dreaded Trefecture at any moment now saying that there is still a problem with my Tarte and I ironically just got a message as I was typing this and listened to it and it was not them. Phew! Quite honestly, as much as I hope that everything will go through ok with what I gave them, I don't think it's gonna happen. It would take a miracle. I am giving it two weeks before I will allow myself to stop being so nerved up about it. I'd best be off for now as I have to head off soon for my lovely 18h-19h Devolution lecture that I have at that time until the other Prof gets back from maternity leave. The class is with all the three groups of wannabe English teachers, so here's hoping this bubble breaks soon!

22 septembre, 2007

Thoughts of the week

I have a lecturer that looks like Gerard Depardieu in Jean de Florette...like maybe he could be his longlost twin brother separated at birth. Ironically, it was also "Talk like a Pirate Day" that I had class with him. Coincidence? Me thinks not.

It's not just me that thinks all this didactique(theory of teaching) shenanigans is hard as F...the Frenchie I was working with in a group project and I both decided thinking through this stuff was giving us a headache...phew, I'm not the only one!

It is really easy to just not listen to your didactique teacher and spend the three hours worrying about your visit to the Trefecture.

France and I have a love/hate thing going on here and, at times, the hate WAY overshadows the love.

It is going to take a miracle for me to get my Tarte de Mesjours and, by miracle, I mean someone really not paying attention to the fact that my visa I handed in is not only NOT a student visa, it is also from 2006...dammit, dammit, dammit! Not looking good, folks. I even entered the Trefecture's number into my phone for when I will receive a call from those bastards saying that what I gave won't work. Watch them send a letter this time. I hate waiting for imminent bad news.

Sometimes I really wish my hair was straight...it would make things so much easier a lot of the time. It takes me an hour to tame my wild mane if I want it to be straight. It'd be so nice to just wake up and go. Sigh, you always want what you can't have.

I'm really gonna have to get myself a cool trousse once I'm working which might be soon as I have a few different possibilites for English lessons. I hope it works out.

It's pretty cool how all the years of French have paid off enough that I can understand most of what goes on in a class about how to teach, how students learn, styles of teaching, etc with references to stuff that's happened in the past 150 years or so in France's history...all this in French! I was lucky to have had some good teachers whose love for the language and culture really struck me.

My cat is trilingual...doesn't she rock? Hehe.

19 septembre, 2007

Don't get me started

I am not even going to get into how annoyed and frustrated I am right now because I feel like that's all I've been talking about on this blog and while you all are so, SO nice and supportive, who wants to listen to me constantly rant and rave? I don't even want to do that myself! For those masochists out there, let's just say I am having a problem with something that rhymes with Tarte de Mesjours. I know it's a toughie, but I think if you really put your mind to it, it'll come to you. Hopefully my next post will be me back here with my problem solved, but for now I best be off do some research and pray to the Prefecture, I mean, Trefecture gods.

17 septembre, 2007

Events of the day


A tiny ruler clearly meant for underlining words whilst you take notes. And I thought I was anal! I do admit the tinyness of it was cute, though.

Some American girl that wasn't me in a room full of Frenchies nearly bust her a$$ on the stairs and almost die. Ok, I might be exaggerating a tad, but it was embarrassing in any case...for that girl, I mean.

Half the students at the Conferences with pencil cases. Pencil cases most likely marketed for ohhhh I'd say about 10 year olds. Though, the kid in me is kinda sad I don't have one.

After school(that sounds like I'm in middle school or something), tons and tons of impatient drivers take the bus lane when they coudn't just remain patient and realize that, yes it's trafficky, but by taking the bus lane, you're really just cheating and getting ahead of people because it turns into one lane soon anyways.

Leah getting on track with classes, paperwork and buying cheaper, used books for class. Talk to me tomorrow, though, after my visit to the dreaded Prefecture. That visit might be a whole new post in itself. Boy, I really hope not! Ps-I need a job and bad!!!

14 septembre, 2007

Step 1 of 3 on the journey to my CDS acquisition

So, I have both good and bad news. But, I will get to that soon. In the meantime, I will share my experience as a student for the first time in a few years.

I had arranged to head to the Pref(what the cool kids call it) around 14h with roomie as she was nice enough to offer and I was distressed enough to eagerly accept. I had my first day of classes this morning from 9-12 actually 9-12:30, well, because it's France. That was a long morning, let me tell you. I ended up with the teacher that is apparently less preferred by the students, to put it nicely. Her teaching style involves randomly calling on people in the class and she is CONSTANTLY asking questions. I managed to avoid this phenomenon by taking notes like a crazy woman almost the entire class(my hand is not used to all that writing and it hurrrrts!) She didn't call names from the roster, but by asking a question and then saying what do you think, toi? You had to be paying attention at every single moment and I was writing my hand off and trying to formulate answers to her constant questions and I swear I had a huge headache by the end of class. I was so glad to be out of there! She said our contrat as students meant we were obligated to interact. This statement makes me nervous. I am beyond shy in front of groups of people and just add in the fact that it's in French and I'm the only American who would prefer to remain anonymous for now, well, I nearly had a crise cardiaque.

I luckily should only be exposed to this stress once a week, 18 more times(I counted!), so I'll be keeping that in mind each class whilst thinking don't call on me, don't call on me, don't call on me! I do get to work with the other teacher who I don't have as my group teacher, so I'm happy about that. I also learned of all the books I have to buy(barf), the conference that I will have to attend several times and the modules that I could sign up for if I wanted. I won't give my full opinion just yet on the methods of forming teachers here in France until I spend more time as a student and can fully judge, but let's just say that today only confirmed what I thought before and I think those of you who have either been a teacher or are knowledgeable about the system here will have an idea what I'm thinking.

So, after class was done, I rushed home to check email and have some lunch before leaving to meet roomie to go to the Pref. Well, I got a call from roomie. She won't be able to get out of work at 14h as planned, so I decided I should prob just head to the Pref myself anyway, grab a number and wait for her. I get to the Pref around 14h15 knowing that it closes at 16h, but I thought it should be fine, it's not Monday afterall when everyone goes. Boy, was I wrong! The girl in front of me at the ticket machine made the discovery for me that the machine was not working. Upon talking to the pleasant(lie) woman at the accueil , we learned that the service to the foreigners was closed. There were too many people. What the BLEEP?(Sorry, the Pref brings out the swearer in me and that was OF COURSE in my head that I said that.) So, the girl in front of me left and I headed to the guichet area not yet decided as to what to do. Not that many people, actually, and who was working at the main window, but the nice lady! Oh mannnn. It was destiny as she was the only one who told me it would be fine to change CDS and I felt, in the moment, that she was my only chance.

I went outside to call roomie who had not yet arrived and told her the sitch and, despite the fact that destiny was sitting only a guichet away, I hesitated. I explained that sometimes people take more than one ticket and will give you theirs when they leave. (Moral sidenote: I normally would never take someone's better number to be ahead of someone else if I already had one as I find this unfair, but since the machine was giving no more numbers and there weren't enough people that I would ever prevent someone from making it to the window, I thought this would be ok.) I also told her that they might re-open the machine to the public and it could be worth waiting to see. So, roomie said she would be there in 5. I took a seat far away from the mean lady who was working the second window and had been at the Pref yesterday to witness tearfest 2007 and waited for the ticketed people to be done.

Roomie meandered in 15 mins later in true roomie style and we waited...and we waited. Slowly, but surely the ticketed people were clearing out. There was a girl across from us who was waiting sans ticket as well and 3 people who had tickets that the number had already passed. Well, one of those people went up to mean lady when the next number was called saying he had been waiting since 12 and stepped out and his number must have been called. (Moral sidenote2: if that were me, I would have never left...gotta know the ways of the Pref!) Mean lady refused to let him stay. This prompted his friend to check out the ticket situation. THANK GOODNESS for that! When I noticed friend came back with two tickets and I saw that the numbers were way later than what we were on now, I practically sprinted to the ticket machine. Ca y est, c'est bon! I got myself a ticket and there were only 2 people in front of me. But, it was 15h30 by that point, the question remained, would we actually make it in? There were of course people there to drop off documents, ask questions and the worst of them all, the CDS picker-uppers that were eating up all the time. With 15 minutes to go, I was one number away. [Insert horrendously unpleasant beeping sound here] 596 was called...it's my turn!

Even though it's nice lady, I am nervous beyond belief. I give her a big smile and a friendly bonjour and say I am there to renew as a student. I first hand over my passport and student card to avoid an automatic "no" once she sees my CDS is an assistant one and patiently wait. She asks for the CDS. Moment of truth, is this going to work? I hand it to her and she says nothing! Phew, in the clear. I then hand over my justificatif de domicile and my justificatif de ressources. She takes one look at the JD and asks if I have a quittance de loyer. Yes, of course, Madame. It's looking good. She gets to the JR and this is where the bad comes into play. What I have provided is not enough. I get ready to argue my point and somehow, magically, she just says ben, je vais vous donner le recepisse quand-meme. HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH! What I came for, baby! However, the bad is that I a)will have to come back with a complementary justificatif de ressources and b)she also takes a second look at my CDS and sees that I was an assistant. I don't know what to say. No, I'm a student. Yes, I'm an assistant. So, I settle on: Yes, I WAS an assistant, but I am now a student. Unfortunately, she decides to note this on my dossier saying that it will be a voir because she doesn't know if I am technically allowed and she also notes that I will need a complementary document for the JD.

And now for the good news...I GOT MY RECEPISSE!!!!!! Which, btw, it was kinda dumb on her part if she wasn't sure if I was allowed to have it, but not like I care! Step 2 will be providing an adequate JD which should be doable. Step 3 would be going to the Pref, convocation in hand, to obtain my CDS...fingers crossed! My major worry is that between either Step 1 and Step 2 or Step 2 and Step 3, someone will look at my dossier and say that it is pas possible. Like one of those two Prefecture B*****s, for instance. I am just going to focus on the fact that I have to get my proof of income and that I have three months extra time than I did yesterday. It's gonna be baby steps, folks, but I definitely feel a lot better moving onto Step 2 as Step 1 proved to be such an enormous hurdle. Any advice from those that have had to provide proof of income to the Prefecture as to what to give them? Besides a coup de boule? Haha, just kidding!

13 septembre, 2007

Prefecture B*****s

Just so you know-I am not at all a huge swearer except when very, VERY mad and/or frustrated, so forgive any vulgarity that might come out on this post, but a lady needs to vent. On second thought, I'll go back after I'm done writing and sensor, so you won't have to avert your eyes.

OMG, I am BLEEPING fuming mad. I KNEW that this was all going along too BLEEPING well. I had been pleasantly surprised when the lady at the Prefecture a few weeks ago was a)nice b)helpful and c) didn't say that changing from an assistant to a student CDS would be a problem. That *&#$@ was wrong. I went today and waited for an hour eventhough I had a BLEEPING RDV because the computer system was "broken", so they had "lost" all of the names of the people with RDVs. I had been excited, however, because the same lady who told me changing CDS would be fine was there at the guichet. BLEEPING awesome. She must have been new because she got overwhelmed or something at one point and only the two guichets where you have to have a number were left. One was the lady I will soon discuss and the other was a woman I recognized and confirmed from watching her as a BLEEPING *&#$@. So, since my nice lady had hit the road, I waited for my number to come up(since I know France and its' ways, I had taken a number as well just in case something happened with the RDV.)

As my number approached, a new lady that looked stern, but nice enough came up to the window where my nice lady had previously been. So, those of us with RDVs lined up and I was third in line for that window, but my number for the other guichets was coming...closer and closer. Then, there was only one person in front of me at the RDV window and I was one number away at the guichets. I had to make the quick decision: if my number came up before the person in front of me finished, should I go? I decided that lady looked nice(WRONG) at the number window and that since it wasn't technically a first time CDS, but rather a renewal of sorts, I'm maybe supposed to go to the other guichet anyways.

So, I head to this lady I've never seen before at the number window and tell her I'm there to change my CDS from an Assistant to a Student and hand my CDS over to her. Oh no, Madame, you need to go back to the US and get a visa. What was that, f***face?(No, I didn't really say that, but I would have liked to!) I tried to remain calm, I was going to fight it out with this *&#$@ if she made me. I explained my situation...I had a visa to come as an assistant, my CDS lasts til the end of September, I signed up at the IUFM/Fac, etc etc. She basically said that it doesn't matter because it's the loi that you have to first have a visa blah, blah, nonsense, blah, blah. I protested that I had been here recently and her colleague that was there today told me it would be fine. She said non, it is not. I said, well how the F am I supposed to do this when my classes start TOMORROW? She said, go back to the states or go to the French Consulate in Belgium or Spain(???) The anger and frustration had been building and building and that's when I could take no more, so despite my resistance, the waterworks came on full force. That *&#$@ didn't even blink an eye. I said again that I was told by her COLLEAGUE that everything was fine, comment ca se fait? Oh, she made an erreur, my colleague. I repeated again that my courses start TO-MOR-ROW. She said nothing.

The only thing I can say about this BLEEPING *&#$@ is that she did go and talk to her *&#$@ of a colleague to confirm she was right and didn't press the button for the next person or wash her hands of me right away like they normally would. She did "listen", I guess. And she did "help" by saying I could go to Belgium or Spain. Gee, thanks. Lemme just spend more money to probably get turned down by some Belges or some Espagnols. Grrreat. Plus, even though she did seem to hear what I was saying and did actually respond, I know she didn't really care. I was just another pile of paperwork to her, not even a real human being. The fact that tears were streaming down my face and I was trying to still rationally explain everything? Well, I was proud of me for even being able to speak, but she could have cared less. And, I'm sorry, but if I had been on her side of that ridiculous glass wall, I would have felt bad for the person. I would have a least had the decency to mutter even a tiny, little desolee. Her? She might as well have been a some sort of French robot programmed to memorize and spit out information.

I am at a loss as to what to do. I am, however, not surprised as I knew things the whole time I've been here had gone too well with no major worries in terms of admin stuff. That's not normal here. I am beyond overwhelmed with the situation at hand and frustrated to a point of anger at France and its' ways and sadness at the thought of this all falling through. Any sympathy, empathy or words of advice are greatly appreciated. For now, I am off to look into this whole Belgium/Spain theory. Do any of you think that would actually be possible? Also, I'm planning on going back tomorrow and happening upon someone who either does/does not know the rules depending on what those rules even really are. ARG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Frustratedly/angrily/sadly/bleepingly yours,

12 septembre, 2007

Will I stay or will I go?

Ahem, so where was I? Ah, yes, of course:
Suite aux propositions qui m'ont ete faites par la commission d'admission, j'ai...
...l'honneur de vous informer que vous etes admis(e) a l'IUFM de Bretagne sur le site de RENNES.

Yayyyyy...I'm in, baby!!! And this means I'm gonna have to work my tail off to pass the exam at the end of this year in order to be able to go on and student teach next year. But, I am getting ahead of myself comme d'hab and for now I'm just thrilled!!!

PS-To all you Cheatin Charlies who already knew the answer and who shall remain nameless...let's just say Sam of you need to Jenuinely learn how to not Kareena to have the answer beforehand.
PPS-Don't think I don't know how you knew, you sneaky little people, you! :)

11 septembre, 2007

Oui ou non?

Somewhere deep down, I think I knew the answer was coming today. I could not fall asleep last night and my stomach was all tied up in knots. I woke up this morning at 9:30 and stayed up-that is not normal for me, I like my sleep. I was so nervous, I couldn't eat a thing, so I instead chose to organize random things in my room, on the computer, in the apart. When it finally reached 12 pm after what seemed like an eternity, I decided this was the time to go brave the boite aux lettres. I gathered up the garbage and recycling bags that I had compiled as one of my self-given tasks and I headed down the steps. Everything around me I took as a sign, like say one of the headless ducks that the neighborhood kitty no doubt slaughtered was no longer there, clearing my path to the mailboxes=good sign?(slash eww) The recycling bin was full=bad sign? I'm absurd.

Anyway, I head into where the mailboxes are and walk all the way to the end to find mine and peer inside as I always do to see if we've gotten mail that day or not. We had gotten mail today and what was glaring back at me right on top of the pile? You guessed it-a letter from the IUFM. This is where fear(and desire to vomit) instantly struck me. It was a letter. The lady definitely told me they would be sending me all the papiers. I took the mail anyways with the letter right on top, but could not bring myself to open it until I got inside. I did, however, try to peer through and catch some of the words or at least the format. There was no way to tell except for what the lady had told me I would be getting if accepted. Plus, I knew they send a letter either way because I specifically asked out of fear of waiting and not hearing anything only to find out I hadn't gotten in and they didn't think to tell me. So, I carried on and once inside, I threw down the pile of mail minus the letter and tore it open. It could still be either one, so I quickly scanned to find any sign of a positive or negative response. What was it going to be? So, I came upon this: Suite aux propositions qui m'ont ete faites par la commission d'admission, j'ai...


10 septembre, 2007

No news is good news?

Ok, so I didn't really expect to get a letter today from school, but I was secretly hoping I would to be done with the world's longest wait. Now, I'm hoping for tomorrow, thinking Wednesday latest as school would start on Friday and I would want to get things straightened out before then. We will see. Anyhoo, in the meantime, I will post a few pics from the wedding in Richmond to tide you over, dear readers.

That's right, her bridal shower gift was, in fact, an old school Nintendo NES and she LOVED it as you can see from maybe the best reaction face ever.

K and I made this based on this super cool PJ shirt the bride used to wear with a big poodle on it in her college days. It is a matching PJ shirt for her groom! Hehe. We had to go for a gag gift as well, we couldn't help ourselves.

The boys being silly and random on a visit to our beautiful, beautiful college. It's been so long!

The bride finally gets a chance to sit down and relax with some cake and wine. I told her to look sophisticated, job well done.

No Chicken Dance, no Bunny Hop, no Hokey Pokey, but you gotta have the Electric Slide(boogie woogie woogie!)

The bride gettin down. Too bad she could only move her top half because the dress was so tight. Good thing she knows how to rock the robot. You'd better believe the shopping cart, lawn mower, shower and sprinkler came out with a vengeance. Fun times! Her dress was beautious, btw, which you don't get the whole effect of in this pic, unfortunately.

07 septembre, 2007

The longest wait of life

Last night, I set my alarm for 10 AM as I went to bed at 11 PM, figuring that would be enough time to make up all the sleep lost over the past week. Yeah, I didn't really listen to that alarm and instead chose to get up when I felt ready which instead of 10 AM, was 11:30 AM and I totally could have slept more. Anyway, despite a bit of fatigue and a good amount of nerves, I felt ok about the interview because I figured they couldn't really say my English sucks. Well little did I know, the whole interview would be in French! Apparently whenever they have someone apply with a foreign diploma, they have to make sure their French is ok as it is required in classes as well as part of the concours and French writing methods are very different from American ones. However, I learned that this year, there were three anglos in the program and they all passed, so that made me feel better...although they might have been doing a slightly different version of what I'll be doing where the test score required is lower.

I could not have had a nicer lady to talk to and she made me totally comfortable so I just blabbered on about my cursus and why France pleases me(hehe, that sounds dirty when literally translated, but you know what I mean!) At the end, she said she couldn't give me an official answer, but she couldn't see why I wouldn't be accepted and that she wouldn't bother to continue the interview because she already knew my French would be fine. She also told me I'll get something in the mail either way next week and said that if there's a souci with my paperwork, to not hesitate to contact her. Nice and helpful person going out of her way? She must be anglo. Kidding...well, sort of anyway. So, I do feel good about all this, but I'm not yet going to get my hopes up because you just never knew. Plus, her saying she thinks it'll be fine is good and all, but I'll wait to jump for joy until I get those papiers in my hot little mains. Long live French waiting!

04 septembre, 2007

Oh, France and its ways

I found out earlier today that I didn't get into school. But wait, I didn't NOT get into school either. Actually, they are having me come in on Friday to test my French and English skillz as they want to make sure I am competent in both languages...gotta say I'm not so sure about English!!(I've been using awkward sentence structures and saying things like "you dream" and "he's a profiter".) If anything, this just makes things MORE annoying because I was looking forward to being done with all this waiting business and know for sure what is going to go on with my life. I mean, not like I'm not happy that they're not ruling me out all together, but who knows what else they'll want after the interview. Plus, school is supposed to START on Friday which just means more complications for me figuring things out for class and in terms of my CDS since I will have to wait longer if I were to ever get in. Am I surprised, you ask? Not at all(you can save that face for the Wet Bandits, Macauley!) If it wasn't going to be a no, I knew there had to be something else. So, that is my news for now and I will update again on Friday to most likely say they will next be requiring a unicycle performance for admission.

On an unrelated note, I am having a great time in the states and my friend's wedding was so much fun, it was great to see all my Uni friends, she looked beautiful and her (now) husband is so sweet. I'll go into more detail and post some pics if I can remember. Today will be my only full day at home and I will be going out to dinner(yummy Chinese) with the fam and meeting up with a friend later then I'm off again tomorrow! Ciao for now, keep those doigts croisé-d for me!!