We got back from the mountains last Sunday afternoon. I ran into my apartment to put my suitcase down, and as I turned to the kitchen I was met with a terrible surprise.
[if you really don’t like bugs, skip this part]
Ants. Everywhere. Crawling along the counter and up the cupboards, inside my cupboards. Trails of ants. Just thinking about it makes my skin crawl. It could have been worse — basically throngs of any other nasty insect would have been worse. But ants were bad enough. I spend the next 30 – 40 minutes killing every last one of them and spraying ant repellant near every possible ant entrance. (When they built on the apartment it wasn’t exactly sealed completely – there’s literally a crevice between the kitchen cabinets and another wall and you can peer down into the foundation. The ants were all in there). Thankfully I haven’t seen any more coming from there since then.
[ok you can read again]
So welcome home to me!
Last Monday was my first day of French class at the International College in Cannes, since it was closed for the holidays when I arrived in December. As an au pair, you are required to study French at least 6 hours/week in order to “perfect” your comprehension of the French language. I took the bus to the campus, which is a large fenced-in complex. Along one bright blue wall there’s a little doorbell that you ring and they unlock this tiny door that you have to step through to enter the campus. Super strangely secure for a college, imo.
So I got there and was really confused about where to go. I wandered around pretty aimlessly for a bit, but a sweet girl saw me and came over — speaking ENGLISH. Turns out she’s an au pair, and brought me over to a table with a bunch of other girls, some from America, the others I’m not entirely sure. They were soon all divided into their respective classes, and I was brought into an office to take my “test.” They made it sound super intimidating, and I was expecting some kind of really difficult multiple choice test in a little empty room, but it wasn’t bad at all. There was a man at a desk and we started by having a conversation about me and what I was doing here. Then he asked me to read a few sentences, change some verb tenses, negate some things, and write some stuff down. But he was kind and helpful, and very complimentary. No big deal. So he brought me over to the class he thought suited my level – B2. If you’re like I was three days ago you’ll have no idea what that means.
My teacher’s name is Marie and there are 7 others in my class – a German girl, a girl from Austria, two Russian girls, a guy from Japan, and a man and a girl from Brazil (the last two arrived this week). The classroom looks like a normal classroom on one side, but the other half of the room is really unique. There’s a table with candy bowl, teapot, tea, and cups, and a little blue loveseat and cute colorful blanket and pillows. Plus a Christmas tree that will probably go sometime. Marie is super sweet and invited us to help ourselves to candy or tea whenever, and showed us her bookshelves where she keeps books we can borrow.
If you’ve ever taken a language class, vocabulary comes like this: “un cheval is a horse, un chien is a dog, faire means to do/to make,” etc. Now imagine you’re the teacher and every single one of your students has a different native language, and the only shared language is the one you are trying to teach. Vocab no longer comes from translating a word from one language to another, but explaining new (French) words by using already-known (French) words. Confusing at first, but knowing I know enough French to learn new complex words in French is really empowering. Fede asked if my teacher always speaks in French. Yes because it’s the only language we can all understand.
Last week we did a lot of discussing and writing, and learned a whole bunch of new vocab. This week we each chose a book from the shelves in the classroom, read a little bit by ourselves, and then explained what the book was about to the whole class. Yesterday we learned how to write an introduction to an argumentative essay (in French, obvi.). If you’re actually curious about the B2 level thing and why we’re learning all this boring stuff I invite you to visit: http://www.ciep.fr/en/delf-dalf and http://www.ciep.fr/en/delf-tout-public/detailed-information-the-examinations. If you don’t care, ignore that link.
Seriously love my class and these newly-discovered things we call “days off.” I’ve had the time to just sit in a café with a croissant and a cappuccino and it’s been wonderful. Never have I ever looked so forward to Mondays. ❤️☺️