October 6, 2013, by Guest blog

Settling in to Chambéry

Post by Bethan Roberts, French and Beginners’ Spanish

English Language Assistant (British Council) in Chambéry, France

Bonjour from Chambéry! I have been here for two and a half weeks now, and start my role as a Language Assistant next week. It has been a busy few weeks, with lots of paperwork and meetings and forms to sign, but now I am enjoying my first chilled weekend in my apartment.

As soon as I arrived, I launched into a search for somewhere to live. It proved to be a lot harder than I had expected, and although I had brought three copies of every bit of paperwork I thought I might need, it turns out I was still missing some necessary documents which made it even more difficult. After lots of phone calls and viewings and anxious waiting, I finally got the apartment I wanted and am now happily settled in! I am living in Barberaz, which is a little way out of Chambéry centre and about a fifteen minute walk to the school I will be teaching at.

Having sorted out a fixed address, I was able to set up a bank account, sort out insurance and a mobile phone, so now I have almost finished all of the ‘life admin’ I needed to do to set myself up here. The upside of running around the streets of Chambéry on my hunt for accommodation is that I now feel I know the city quite well, and it really does feel like home already.

I have also met lots of other assistants who are living and working in and around Chambéry, and we have had the opportunity to see some of the local sights. It is impossible to get anything ‘useful’ done during the two hour lunch break during the week, and over the whole of the weekend, so that has been a good excuse to explore the region and have some fun too! I have been to Annecy and wandered around the beautiful lake and the winding, cobbled streets and canals. I have also been to Aix les Bains, an old Roman spa town and a top destination for rich Victorians who wanted to ‘take the waters’ and gamble at the impressive Casino!

Last week I attended the ‘stage’ for all the assistants in the académie of Grenoble, which included an overnight stay in the pretty mountain village of Autrans. We had lots of workshops and talks about what was expected of us and some advice on how to plan activities to use in lessons. It was a busy few days but there was a very sociable atmosphere and I met lots of new people who will be living and working near to me. I was also taken to the primary school where I will be working. I was introduced to the Headmistress and the teachers, and said a little ‘hello’ to some of the classes. I am due to have a week of observation there next week to allow me to get a feel for the school’s routines and find out what they would like from me, before starting with a proper timetable the week after.

After a fairly stressful start, everything is going well, and it’s all starting to feel a bit more real. I can’t wait to start my job properly next week, and although I feel I have been speaking lots of French, it has been mostly to organise payments and official documents, so I am looking forward to having the time to actively work on improving my French in a broader sense.

Posted in First impressionsMaking connections