France day 9 (general update!)
I slept in late, not knowing quite what to do with myself it being a Saturday, and having said I’d wait until 3pm to go shopping, as Paz had gone to fetch her suitcase and didn’t know whether or not she would get back. So we had said if she wasn’t back by 3pm I would go without her. I spent some time organising my room, having a shower etc. then Julia came to ask if I wanted to go to the supermarket with her. As I needed various things (and some company!) I said yes, so off we went. By the time we came back it was nearly 3pm, and Paz didn’t arrive, so we decided to go into Paris without her. I bought myself a French mobile phone (so that I can run both my English one and my French one at the same time and it’s cheaper for everyone!) and then Julia and I wandered around a bit, just taking in the Parisien atmosphere. My French mobile number (cheaper for me if you phone this one, and I’ll text from it) is 0033 (or 0 if you’re in France) 6 71 39 85 53. We decided to go back to the uni to eat etc before going out again. It was the ‘Nuit Blanche’ in Paris that night – where there were loads of exhibitions and special events late into the night, and all the museums were open until 4 or 5am! We didn’t stay that long, though.
We met Julia’s friend Nicola, who is from Berlin, but studies with Julia in Frankfurt, and is also an assistant here in Paris, but at a different school from us, in the north. She was very nice, and speaks very good English so between French, English and german we all managed very well! We saw some interesting things – we walked all the way down the Champs Elysees and saw a clever fountain/light/music show in the jardin de tuilleries – they projected some pictures onto a sort of wall of water, and had the water dancing to the music! We also saw giant scrabble in a little square nearby, except all the scrabble tiles were made of ice! Bizarre…We ended up in Les Halles, where there was a crazy techno band playing and we got very cold walking around, so we tried to find a café to have a hot drink. However, they had all run out! I had to content myself with a Crepe Nutella, and then we went home to sleep – about 1am.
Having been to the supermarket on Saturday, I had various cleaning products, so when I got up I cleaned the walls and the mirror in my room. The colour of the cloth afterwards was unbelievable – I had to throw it away! But I felt better in my room afterwards. After I’d done some more organising and pottering about, I went to invite Julia for tea, and she came up to have tea and cake and watch a DVD. By the time we finished chatting it was time to get ready for the ‘soiree couscous’ in our building, so we did that.
The soiree, which was originally going to be upstairs on the third floor, was moved to the foyer downstairs, as there were too many people! We went down, ate some delicious couscous, vegetables and meat (mutton, I believe), and there were a few guys playing instruments – Indian drums, and a sort of bagpipes. However, soon afterwards a group of security guards turned up, and as it turned out they hadn’t been informed of the gathering, and they weren’t very happy about it! There was no real trouble, and we all stood around chatting while they tried to sort it out, and in the end it was dispersed peacefully, but they did make everyone go back to their individual rooms for about an hour! Eventually they all disappeared apart from one who stayed in the little office in the foyer, to check that it didn’t start up again. I suppose it was the noise disturbance they were most worried about, but one girl seemed to take it as an affront to our liberty, and called a student meeting on Thursday!
I tried to go to bed early, as I knew I had to get up early today (Monday) but there were people talking in the corridor, and although I told them I couldn’t sleep and they said they would quieten down, they didn’t get the message until I went out to the toilets and banged my door a couple of times! However, by that time it was gone 1am, and I didn’t get much sleep before I had to get up at 7.15am…
Training day at the IUFM in Versailles – I travelled with 5 other assistants who live in the residences here, one of whom had already been to the IUFM to find out the way, so luckily for us he led and all we had to do was sleepily follow him! When we got there we were met by Agnes Zalczer, who is in charge of international relations, and we had coffee, orange juice and little cake-type things (called chouquettes). When we had done all the customary introductions, another woman talked to us and explained how the teacher training system works in france, and therefore the sorts of students we can expect to encounter while we are teaching. It was rather complicated, and rather a lot of information to take in, in French, so early in the morning! But nonetheless very useful, and they gave us each a satchel with the IUFM logos on the front, and lots of useful documents inside (a calendar, a paris guidebook, booklets on the different types of students and what they have to do, a booklet with translations of teaching terminology, and most importantly of all IUFM headed notepaper and a pen!)
We then had a very nice lunch, where we all got to chat to each other and ask any questions we wanted to the staff. After that, we all went in various separate directions – some to their respective 6th-form colleges to fill in paperwork, others of us back to the residence to drop off our stuff. Then I went with Luis (a Spanish assistant) and Dina (an English assistant from Canada) to open a bank account – as it turns out there’s a bank at the train station here at Nanterre-university, and the woman was really lovely! She explained everything very clearly and it was all very easy. I also have the ‘assurance logement’ (room insurance) that I need to give the residence reception, as you can buy that at the bank at the same time as opening an account. Marvellous and all very simple! Now all I have to do is go to the lycee in Antony to sign all my paperwork – which I shall probably do on Friday, since tomorrow there is a general strike in Paris and the transport will probably be sketchy at best.