Important announcement: I now have weefee, the elusive French equivalent of wifi, in my place of residence. This means that I’m writing this from my room, in my PJ’s, while drinking some coffee made with my new french press and listening to my favorite tunes and eating cheese. Doesn’t that sound nice?
Last Sunday, I woke up dreading the day a little bit. I’m sure I make it sound pretty fun, but being an assistant can sometimes be a hard spot — I know a few assistants who are struggling to find their place in their town/school, who miss home, who got placed in inconvenient situations from the start. Some people even go home! Or want to. It is definitely one of the most stressful transitions I’ve ever been through, and last weekend I was feeling understandably unsettled by all the big changes, and tired after my first half-week of school.
I ended up spending the day at the house that a few assistant friends live in, right outside the center of Val. Here are some of the activities we did that day:
— Joshua baked us a cake. It was originally cookies, but as we had no recipe, no conceptualization of French grams and centiliters, no measuring tools, and some linguistically ambiguous ingredients (maybe it was baking powder…but was it baking soda?)…the cookies became a cake. It was actually delicious, especially the uncooked goo in the center.
— We danced around the kitchen. Josh and I are now collaborating on a spotify playlist. It will be a masterpiece.
— We made a “Sunday Fun Day” jar, which is full of ideas of things to do when we’re bored in Val. The plan is to pick a thing when we need something to do, and spend the day doing it. “Make a music video,” “international dinner party,” “decorate mugs for each other,” and “go to the Black Diamond” (the only discothèque in Val, purportedly sketchy) are some of our ideas…there are probably at least 20 in all.
— We played the Hat Game/Time’s Up, a game I first learned at Whitman. It’s basically a more difficult form of charades which is played in rounds and one of the rounds involves only making noises to represent things on the cards…needless to say it was 2 hours of nonstop laughter.
— We watched one of my new favorite programmes, the Great British Bake-Off. What it lacks in ruthless drama (à la American cooking competitions), it makes up for in proper English wit and charm. It also has a host named Mary Berry. Many thanks to my lovely friend Ellen for sharing this little gem of her culture with us. We are now hooked.
— We ordered pizza. At 9:30 PM. We had no way of knowing it would take an hour and a half and that the delivery man would accidentally go to another town instead of Val and thus our pizza would not actually arrive until 11 PM…the plus side? France makes 7-cheese pizza, which puts 4-cheese U.S. pizza to shame. We ended up ordering a 5-cheese and an “Al Capone.”
Needless to say, I went home feeling thoroughly cheered up. This week I also went to some group dinners, had lots of coffee and chats, spent the day in Lille yesterday meeting other assistants who work in high schools, and planned dinner with a new French friend who I met while doing an English conversation night! I also anticipate making friends with some of the teachers at my school. I love teachers, and these teachers are no exception — everyone is so nice, and many people have volunteered to show me around, lend me household supplies, etc.
I think in times of transition, it helps to be able to laugh a lot. And that is what this new community is providing: endless laughs. But also, serious connection over interesting discussions. It’s been bringing out a lot of sides of me, and I am so thankful to have met so many multi-faceted people in my new home, completely by chance. It helps me remember that this year is about many things, but especially having FUN! As is life.
Here’re some fun photos from a night out in Val:
Can’t wait for the next 6 months of adventures. 🙂
Next up: a little about my school aka work life!