October 13, 2013, by Guest blog
Life in Bordeaux…I’ve never felt more popular in my life
What a busy three weeks it has been; finally I am able to sit down with a cup of tea and say a little ‘bonjour’ from Bordeaux. I hope that everyone is doing well.
It’s amazing here. I’d love to say that all the clichés and stereotypes about French people are wrong, but I can’t… most of them are dead on! And I would know… living with a French family in a small town surrounded by forest, has left me no option but to eat, sleep and breathe like a vrai français.
On my very first afternoon in France (after dropping off my bags at the house and meeting the family) I was taken on a short bike ride around the town to buy bread for the evening meal. If ever I was going to feel like my favourite Disney princess, this was the moment; all I was missing was a blue pinny, an enthusiastic inventor dad and a French admirer called Gaston.
I cannot believe how much bread I have eaten since I have arrived. That and cheese, oh and pâté – as well as the various traditional gateaux and tartes that have been thrown my way. I have already been invited to lunch with various different people and each time the food has been delicious; by the end of the year I should be an expert on French cuisine. Eating is a huge part of the culture of here – not just the food itself but the act of sitting down with family and friends and enjoying each others’ company at meal times.
Conversing at the dinner table in England is easy for me – but it’s slightly more difficult here, in fact everything is slightly more difficult here… because it’s all in FRENCH! During my first week, I was tired all the time; day to day life needed all my concentration. Luckily, it’s better now. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t wake up one day perfectly bilingual but every day my language is improving and it takes a little less effort to have a conversation – in truth, I think I’m coping quite well.
Saying that, my first week working in the schools definitely threw a few challenges my way – young children don’t articulate as well as adults and quite frankly… I think they just make up some of the words they use!! Luckily children are the same wherever you go and I have been showered with compliments and gifts all week – I can’t go anywhere in the town without someone shouting ‘HELLO’ or ‘GOODBYE’ in an adorable French accent, waving frantically at me. One girl drew me some pictures and another made me a ‘scoobydoo’ bracelet – I’ve never felt more popular in my life.
I haven’t started teaching properly yet but I’m looking forward to teaching the children some English nursery rhymes and stories as they seem very excited and keen to learn the English language!
It is different here to back home in England and it is difficult to adjust. I still get nervous when I see people I know as I don’t fully understand the custom of the French kisses yet and it’s true that sometimes you do long for English things. I miss my family, my home and my mum’s cooking! But that’s normal and luckily I have supportive community behind me as well as a generous and caring host family who do their utmost to make me feel at home.
I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for me…
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