13.10.2007 16 °C
Rachel and I got up at 7am this morning so she could an early train back to Montpon and get all her errands done before everything shuts for the weekend. We had that definite feeling one used to get before going back to school at the end of the long summer holidays. I think it was partly because she was going home (we've become something of a married couple in the week shes been here, with our own little routines and sides of the bed!), and also because the training finished yesterday and teaching starts 8.30am Monday. My cold is a lot better now, and I am very much looking forward to seeing Joe on Wednesday and my parents the week after, so I am feeling pretty good. But I have a feeling I am going to be petrified on Monday morning getting a bus to a school I don't really know and standing in front of French children all day with their education in my hands! Am very concerned that I could have 240 names to learn!
The weather is quite nice here, the mornings have suddenly got much colder, and everything feels sort of wintery and crisp, but the sun is still out and yesterday afternoon was really hot and even the evening warmer than when I went out just before leaving Exeter two and a half weeks ago. Perigueux is really growing on me; I'm starting to appreciate all the little fountains etc, and all the winding streets of the old town are really very cool. And the people are genuinely all very friendly; I love that when you walk into a shop or anywhere really everyone will say 'bonjour' and that even the young teenagers will greet each other with the 'bisous'. Its a bit confusing for us to know when we should/should not kiss....but in a similiar way to the no Sunday opening etc, I think its a custom which I could really learn to love.
The last couple of days of the stage were pretty useful. JP gave us a CD with all the songs on and a sample curriculum for the year, and, perhaps most usefully, we got to watch one of our fellow assistants, Louise, give a lesson to a real class of children. It was a daunting task for her with thirty 9 year olds and twenty assistants sat in front of her expecting a lot, but she did brilliantly and the children were very responsive and had already remembered a lot from the year they had spent learning English. I'm trying to remember all the little things that went wrong (for example when she said "a bit louder" and mover her hands upwards they all stood up!), so I can try and avoid them. This afternoon I'm going to sit down and crack on with the lesson planning.
After yesterday's day of training we had aperitifs with some of the headteachers from the various schools, JP and the 'Inspecteur d'academie', M. Coignard. This was really nice, and we got to try the local aperitif, I can't remember its name, but its a mixture of dry white wine and creme de cassis, yummy! We got given a little booklet thing with some interesting facts and figures, such as that there are 460 primary schools in the Dordogne and 2687 in the whole of the Bordeaux academy. I also got a picture of (almost) all of us, which I'm very proud of.
Yesterday evening I went to the Star Inn, the local English pub, with Rachel, Catherine and Molly. Its a proper English pub (as opposed to the French cafe-bars), and the owners are really lovely and welcoming. As we walked in they said "Oh hello, you must be the new assistants!". Is it so obvious?! It was realy weird to go up to the bar and ask for stuff in English, I can't believe how quickly I've become accustomed to using French. Some people understand me fine, others don't quite the first time, but NO-ONE talks back in English. We also met some other anglophones in the pub who offered us various advice, and we joined in with the pub quiz (Rachel and I came joint second with only a little bit of cheating...). They have fish and chips one night a week, so I'd definately like to take our new American friends to that, but I don't wanna hang out there speaking English too much!
Had my frist trip to the lauderette this morning (could no longer makedo with handwashing!), was slightly confusing and VERY EXPENSIVE but all my clothes came home washed and in onepiece so I guess that was successful.
Rugby is really popular in this part of France, and tonight is France-England semi-final of the World Cup which I think I might go and watch in the big screen in the centre. I don't understand the game butI'm suddenly feeling very patriotic and think it'll be a brilliant atmosphere. The town went mad last time they won!