20 December 2012

Last blog of 2012...

Now, I'm leaving Melle in 9 and a half hours and I need to go to bed in that time, but I thought I better write one last post before les vacances de Noël. I can't believe I've already had my first term here in France. It's quite depressing to think that when I come back in January I'll be almost halfway through my placement.

I'm in a very good mood as I write this, as I've just returned from a crêpe party. The association that runs the residence at which I live owns another 3 or 4 in the area. And so every now and then Olivier (one of the people that works for the association) organises small get-togethers. As he only ever gives 1 or 2 days notice, this was the first one I've been able to go to. So I went with another girl from my block who seems really lovely and is the same age as me. In fact, there was about 10 of us in total, and it felt so good to be able to speak French with a group of people my age. We played a game and cooked and ate pancakes, and it was very enjoyable indeed. So, hopefully this means I now vaguely have French friends my age =)

I need to go and finish packing now (despite all good intentions, it was inevitable that I wouldn't have finished packing the night before departure), but before I go I'd like to thank all of my readers who have been interested enough to keep up with my blog for the past 3 months. I've had almost 1200 views so far which is really flattering. They can't all be my dad! I promise I'll continue to record my life in France when I come back after the holidays, but until then, bonnes vacances, joyeuses fêtes, et bonne année! 

PS. I might decide to write another post before I return in the New Year. Who knows, I might get home and suddenly realise all the things I love about France. Anyhow, ciao for now. Gros bisous.

My little bit of Christmas in my Melle flat. Looking forward
to getting home to a proper tree!

17 December 2012

A Tale of Hairy Armpits

I just did something spontaneous! I went to Zumba! When I was at school today Domie was the only one that could take me home, and she said it was convenient because she was going to a Zumba class in Melle anyway this evening. WHY HAVE I ONLY JUST DISCOVERED THIS?! So she invited me along, and I jumped at the chance. However because this was unplanned, and we weren't going back to mine between school, her house and Zumba, I didn't have any trackies with me. We managed to find suitable bottoms at hers, and she said what I had on top was fine (a vest top under a cardi). I have to make a confession at this point and say that, as it is winter, I don't make a habit of shaving my armpits everyday. So when I realised I'd have to be doing Zumba in a sleeveless top, I panicked. On second thoughts, however, I decided that as I would be amongst furry Frenchies, it wouldn't matter! So yes, I went to Zumba in a vest top with slightly hairy armpits, forgive me Lord.

It was a lot of fun though, and was the last one before Christmas, so people were wearing Santa hats. Then we Zumba'd to Auld Lang Syne, and I felt like I was back in England for a couple of minutes.

And GOD I just want to slap some of the pupils I teach. Teenagers can be such dicks sometimes :@

But, as there remains but four days in this country, I will laisser tomber.

(That was a totally pointless post)

15 December 2012

6 days until I'm home...

This time next week I'll be back in England!! Food, family, friends, I cannot wait. Doing lessons on 'Christmas' this week at school and therefore showing them pictures of an English Christmas Dinner is making the wait even more difficult than before!

However, I've had a very enjoyable week as always. I worked a total of 4 hours, which were all on the same day, so I'm currently enjoying a 5-day weekend which has given me lots of time to do Christmas shopping.

I finally had another night out last night. Mike organised a big assistant Christmas party meet-up in La Rochelle, so I got to meet a few more people, and actually go to the first club since I've been in France. Spending the day there as well as the night allowed us to walk around a bit (although the weather couldn't have been grimmer), eat galettes and crepes, drink vin chaud, and see another Christmas market. Getting under 4 hours sleep and having to get the 9:30 train back to Niort this morning was the only downside, but it was great to get out again and experience La Rochelle by night.
Pretty lights underneath the Grosse Horloge
Christmas market
Festive illuminations on the Hotel de Ville 
Aw, that's cute :)
Les meufs
Mike and I were rather excited about today, as for the past week Melle has been highly advertising its For-One-Day-Only Christmas market. So we went along hoping it to be really buzzing and festive but expecting it to be a let-down (as after all this is Melle). Having now experienced it, all I can say is that it was rather odd. A Christmas market in Melle apparently means the inclusion of random ponies giving a new kind of Melle Smell; health-and-safety defying giant spider chimeneas casually burning ferociously in the middle of the walkway; a mini art exhibition; and a posh version of a school Christmas fayre but in an 11th century church. Aww Melle.

A blazing tarantula
Stalls inside St-Savinien church

 And I have been thoroughly enjoying my Christmas pasta.

I realise how terribly dull this post is; I'm so tired and uninspired but thought I should update it....

04 December 2012

A big surprise, the French, and marijuana

Alors, qu'est-ce qui s'est passé in the life of Mademoiselle Melle this week, I hear you all ask eagerly. Because of course you all flit between languages mid-sentence. Well you're not the only ones. Despite being oh so far from being able to speak French well, little phrases keep popping into my English speech and it takes me a good few seconds to remember the English equivalent. I'm yet to decide whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Anyway, the answer to the initial question is 'not much to be honest'. But I feel obliged to write another post, so I shall rack my brain to think of something vaguely interesting I can tell you...

Of course, how could I let it slip. Last Tuesday evening, after having returned home from a petite soirée at Anne-Lise's house with some colleagues (which was lovely for her to organise in my honour even if most of the conversation went in one ear and out the other), I had a telephone call. Dun dun duunnnnnn. Gripping story so far, I know. The little screen on my back-to-basics French mobile informed me it was my dear boyfriend wishing to speak to me. After accepting the call and saying the standard 'hello, how are you', the conversation went a little like this.
Rob: In 10 seconds I'm going to ring on your doorbell.
Me: Haha Rob you're hilarious.
Rob: No, seriously, I'm outside your flat in Melle.
OK so I may have romanticised it a little bit, but the gist remains the same. My boyfriend flew across the channel to La Rochelle, took the train to Niort, and the bus to Melle, to come and surprise me. Aww isn't he cute?!

So that's the main news of my week. He was here for 2 nights and it was lovely.

I was quite ecstatic to learn from Mike that Melle turned it's Christmas lights on on Friday. Perhaps it was because I had seen Paris' lights the previous weekend, or the fact that in my head I had turned Melle into a winter wonderland with snow, glitter and Christmas music falling from the sky, but my expectations were in hindsight a bit high. In reality it's quite endearingly undramatic. None of the lights match, and there seems to be no logic as to where they've been placed. So I've made up for it by blasting Smooth Christmas Radio out my laptop 24/7.

Pretty lights in Melle, just a shame this is the only one of its kind...

What else? My suspicion that the French are a rather odd race has been reinforced. I was pleasantly eating my lunch in the cantine last Tuesday, as usual not really knowing what it was but enjoying it nonetheless. I then heard the other teachers discussing what it was. "C'est la joue de quelque chose..." "Joue de raie, je croix".

I suddenly chipped in by demanding "JOUE??!?" ('Joue' means 'cheek'. -- yeah, see, now you get my shock/horror). Not having been taught a wide variety of animals in French other than the standard pig, cow, budgie and guinea-pig, I had to ask what 'raie' was in English. Anne-Lise, an English teacher, didn't know, so we had to ask Domie, the other English teacher. "Oh", she said, "it's the same in English I think, 'ray'".

Ray? I've never heard of 'ray' bef-- Oh, STINGRAY?! I had just eaten Stingray Cheek it seemed. And I thought I was eating chicken. Having eaten rabbit the previous week, which appeared to have its eyeballs still intact, I shouldn't really have been so surprised...

But really, les Français? Is that really necessary? Chicken, beef, pork or lamb are perfectly sufficient for school dinners.

One of my classes last week was vaguely amusing. I decided to make the pupils at the lycée have a debate on the legalization of cannabis, as I figured it would be of interest to them judging by its pertinence amongst that age group in France. Needless to say, all they boys wanted to argue 'for' the drug's legalization, and I pretty much had to play devil's advocate the whole time. After turning my back for a few minutes, I returned to the 'for' table to find a guy casually emptying a load of weed from inside his mobile phone onto the table. 'You're meant to be talking about marijuana, not smoking it', I said in my raised teacher-like voice. And teacher-like it must have been, as he just wiped it into the bin. The fact that I wasn't particularly surprised by this incident perhaps shows that I am well settled into French life.