Well, classes are... going. haha. They're very french- i.e. vague and often don't make much sense. I mean for one of my classes there is no syllabus or reading list and our only assignment is to write a paper about a cultural observance? hmm. History of Paris (my class at EDUCO) is the only one that we actually have work in since it's supposed to be more american style. My final course load is Anthropology on wednesdays (5-8 BLEH), History of women and institutions on thursday (2-5), History of Jews in 16-18 century europe thursdays (5:30-8:30 BLEEEEH.... class for 3 hours at this time of night is a HORRIBLE idea), and History of Paris friday (9-12). So overall not bad, and as you can see, no class mon and tues! This is when I get some of my english tutoring done.
I'm tutoring my 17 year old host sister (doing conversation stuff), a 15 year old neighbor (again, mostly conversation and reading some articles together), and then 4 delightful 10 year old neighbor kids (including my 10 year old host sis, marion). It's been really good. I try to talk slowly and clearly, without much accent. I did have to explain to both my conversation partners what the word "y'all" means....because I really can't delete it from my vocabulary. I inevitably use it at at least some point in the conversation. My explanation was that it's the same as the plural "vous" in french, which really does make a whole lot of sense. I also explained that they are never allowed to write this word in any of their papers or use it in class, but they can recognize it and know what it means.
With the younger kids, the lesson is a bit more trying. For one thing, I'm starting out doing the lesson in french while we build some vocabulary. They're still not up to par with the alphabet, so we're starting small. It's really tricky to do a lesson all in french and then switch to english for some parts! I end up saying some english words with a silly french accent, which is not what I'm trying to teach the kids at all! haha. I've tried to make the lessons a little more fun than just school work, but it's hard because the kids come to me on friday afternoons directly after school.... not exactly the easiest time to get kids to concentrate! And it seems that when I give them a game, they get too riled up!! I've got to find a balance. We've learned animals, fruits, and vegetables so far. I have them tell me a vocab word in french and then I ask for the english equivalent of it. After we've figured out what it is in english I have them write it out, spelling the word out loud with the english alphabet. I think it's a pretty good system. If anyone has any ideas, I would be very grateful for some help! The game I had them play was a type of pictionary. They would draw an animal (written in English) out of a bowl and they had to remember what it was, then draw it for their friends, if the other students could guess what it was, the drawer got a point for being able to explain the animal. They got very competitive though and kinda were bouncing off the walls. It's a lot to handle (but camp counselor kim knows what to do!) I've been perfecting my new french "teacher voice"... I've got the english one down thanks to many years out at camp with some crazy kiddos, but french was a bit harder to catch on to. I've gotten pretty good at saying "eh, théo! quest-ce que tu fait là!!" (oy! theo! what do you think you're doing over there! <-- oy was the closest noise I could think of to "eh"... although I guess "hey" works too). Another of my favorites is just giving the good ol' teacher evil eye. That one's universal :)
So, we are approaching the holiday season with the first of them all-- Halloween! It was a little bit depressing here, because you saw NO signs at all that it was halloween. No costumes, no decorations, no pumpkins. It made me a little sad. I just wanted to walk past a store front and see a ghost and some cobwebs in the window. My host mom explained to me a few weeks ago that they tried to do halloween here, but it just didn't really catch on. It's apparently only really for the younger kids, and even then it's not that big. It is harder here because there really aren't any houses that you can just walk up to and ring the doorbell. All the apartment buildings have a keypad (sometimes several different ones at different points) to even get in. Also, I don't know how receptive this crowd would be to little hoodlums ringing their doorbells asking for goodies. None the less, my friends and I went out last night, and found a small halloween scene. We weren't really dressed up (some were a bit)... I didn't bring much to france with me (I'm missing some of my favorite tshirts!) so there was definitely no room in the suitcase for a halloween costume! We just ended up going to a bar... they had raspberry beer that was really good! It tasted like a raspberry soda! (p.s. I can legally drink here... it's a really weird feeling even though I'm about to be able to legally drink in the US in only a few months.) It was a good night though!
Some french observations:
when I'm watching TV with my family, they CONSTANTLY are using the expression "n'importe quoi!" which I can't really translate precisely but I guess it means "anything goes"... literally it means "it doesn't matter what". but they use it in a context where it's like "oh they just show anything on tv these days" but they express all that with just that short little phrase. It can be when some guy's head gets blown off in one of their cop shows, or when they're making fun of Sarcozy on one of their political satires, or when there's some weird nudity in a french commercial. It's all just "n'importe quoi," always said with a bit of a chuckle and a shake of the head. Very interesting to me.
Also, metro observation: it has been literally making my day when someone makes eye contact with me and smiles on the metro! It's the little things that make your day a little bit brighter.
Phrase of the day: The higher the percentage chance of rain, the lower the percentage chance that I'll get out of my bed. That has been my motto today :) on the rainy sunday. Although I hear if that was y'all's motto back in texas, y'all would have been in bed for the last 2 months, eh? Hope y'all aren't drowning! Missing you all a lot.
(again sorry for the long gaps between posts... I'll try harder, I really will. Next update: ENGLAND! I'm headed there next weekend from the 6th-11th. Pictures and stories to come!)
oh, and P.S. "quoi de neuf," the title is the french equivalent of "what's new?"