April 23, 2015, by Rachel Bainbridge
I’m looking forward to seeing what else France has to offer me
I’m happy to say I’m now starting to feel very settled into my new home in France. Although I arrived super excited to explore I would be lying if I didn’t say I was also fairly apprehensive. Being thrown out of your comfort zone and into a completely different country, culture and daily way of life is unnerving to start with. Fortunately, there is one thing that I became accustomed to instantly – the weather here is exactly the same as back home in Manchester. Let’s just say I’m glad I brought my umbrella with me…
I’m doing the British Council Assistantship, teaching English to secondary school students, and I’m based in a small, typically French town called Fougères, which is situated in the north of Brittany. This is my first time teaching so it has taken some getting used to. I’m learning every day and now realise that you can’t always be fully prepared for what a lesson will bring. I also find it very interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes – you get access to the staff room so you hear lots of gossip about the students!
The first week here was hectic. I had been forewarned about the amount of paperwork you have to fill out and this most definitely came true. With the amount of signatures I did to set up my bank I felt like I was signing my life away! However, everyone was really welcoming and friendly, proving that the traditional stereotype of French people as being rude is completely wrong. Even when you are in the gym, people come up to greet you and shake your hand.
My French is improving all the time too. At first, the speed at which it was spoken was something that really threw me off and I’d feel mentally tired at the end of a conversation. Now I can understand someone clearly even if there is background noise and I have less of a headache afterwards!
Finally, one massive plus which I feel I must mention is the amazing group of fellow English speaking assistant friends I’ve made here from all over the world. We all got to know each other at the assistant’s welcome meeting at the start of October, and although most live in the nearest big city of Rennes, the bus from Fougères only takes an hour so we’ve been meeting up regularly at weekends. In fact, I stayed in Paris with a couple of them during the holidays and it was a trip I’ll never forget – not least because we were in the Catacombes on Halloween eve.
Hopefully there will be many more great memories to come and I’m looking forward to seeing what else France has to offer me during next few months.
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