April 15, 2014, by Guest blog
Forging new friendships
The end of my assistantship is rapidly approaching, and already I know I’m going to look back at my time in Brittany fondly. My ability to speak French has greatly improved, I’ve learnt countless new things, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve met many wonderful and interesting people, who I am lucky to have been in contact with over the year.
I admit that when I first arrived in France, interacting with others was a struggle – my spoken French has always been weaker than my written French, and I often panicked during the simplest conversations, such as asking a bus driver if I was getting on the right bus. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before these conversations became easier, and even now I surprise myself by how much more naturally I speak to native French speakers than I did in September.
By far the strongest relationships I’ve made here have been with the other assistants, especially the German and Spanish assistants at the lycée. At the beginning of my assistantship, I felt too intimidated to even visit them, despite knowing that they were in the same difficult situation as me. However, I was lucky to have been sent to the same lycée as two very welcoming and incredibly friendly people, and as the year progressed, we began meeting up more and more – now, as my year abroad is coming to an end, I hope that I’ll remain in contact with both of them in the future. After Christmas, I also began seeing more of the other assistants throughout the Côte d’Armor region, and the big reunions that we’ve had have definitely been the highlights of my year abroad.
As for the teachers, I’ve been very grateful for the fact that since I arrived here, most of them have always been helpful and accommodating – even after working at the lycée for just a week or so, other teachers would regularly ask how I am, or ask me questions about life in England, and many still do so. One that has disappointed me, however, is that the English teachers seem less interested in meeting up with me outside of school than teachers of other subjects – on the other hand, the German and Spanish assistants have often been invited around for dinner by their teacher, and I’ve been fortunate to be invited to go with them. Perhaps this is because there are so many English teachers – more than 15, as opposed to 10 Spanish teachers and just 3 German teachers – but whatever the reason, I have at times felt guilty that my fellow assistants so frequently introduced me to their teachers, and I couldn’t do the same because the English teachers have tended to be unusually elusive.
Nonetheless, this year has been an amazing year for forging new relationships, and gaining confidence, both in speaking a foreign language, and interacting with entirely new groups of people. I’ll definitely miss it as I go into my final year at Nottingham.
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