Making the Most of What’s Left

“Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we’ve touched.”

We’re coming down to the end.  Quickly.  It makes me think of riding my bike at home.  I’m at that point where I can no longer peddle riding down the hill, nor can I stop.  I’m going quickly, and I can only sit, wait, and enjoy the ride.  It’s sure to be a thrilling last few weeks here, but sad as well.  How can I say goodbye to the town I’ve lived in and enjoyed for 7 months?  The job I’ve worked?  The vacations I’ve taken advantage of?  And most importantly, all the wonderful people I’ve met?  My last post is going to be one big tear fest.  Get ready for that! Until then, I’m planning on having some, in the words of Barney, legend[waitforit]dary few weeks!

We finally got a chance to go to Grenoble, which was a beautiful city a bit bigger than Dijon.  We stayed with Kate’s friend Verity in her cool apartment (It has a living room, a kitchen, and a balcony, which is exciting for us).  Unfortunately, it was pretty foggy and cloudy our whole time there so we didn’t get a good view of the mountains, but we did go up to the top of the Bastille, a big hill that overlooks the city, via cable car.  At the top we looked around and took some pictures before walking down.  The whole hill is also a workout camp with different exercise things scattered along the paths.  This meant, of course, that we had to stop and do some of them including sit-ups and stretching.

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Kate and Doug doing some sit-ups.

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Kate, Alex, Suzie, and Verity doing some stretching

We went to a really good quiche place for lunch and wandered around in the churches/cathedrals, as you do in French cities.  That night we had a nice night out with some of the other Grenoble assistants.  It was a bit strange for the four of us and Suzie, an au pair in a nearby town, because we’re all used to being on our own in fairly small towns, but it was a fun night.  The next morning we had a lie in (see, I’m picking up British vocabulary!) and late breakfast before heading back to Chalon.  Overall, I loved Grenoble.  I thought it was a beautiful city and would love to come back someday to hike and actually see the mountains!

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Aren’t we an adorable Chalon family?

This week we are taking full advantage of our last full week in Chalon/Burgundy together.  Monday night all of us assistants (me, Kate, Alex, Doug, Vanesa, and Fatima) went out for dinner to a pizza place we had been meaning to go to.  It was delicious! On Tuesday, I received a ticket to see Othello in French at the local theater from one of my teachers.  It was called Les Amours Veritable de Désdemone et Othello in French.  It was a modern interpretation, and was interesting.  There was some wailing and singing at certain intervals, which was pretty strange.  It was also a very simple set, which was a bit boring.  The acting was pretty good though, and they had some interested dances and well-choreographed fight scenes.  I even understood most of it.  My biggest complaint was that there was no intermission in the 2.5 hour long show… but it was a good experience.  Yesterday Alex, Doug, and I went to Dijon for the last time.  We went to the coffee place we’d been meaning to go to (yum!) and did some shopping before meeting up with Kalok for another coffee, rubbing the chouette for luck one last time, and visiting a touristy store.  It was a good last day in Dijon!  Tonight we are going out for dinner on the Rue de Strasbourg with Kate and her parents, and tomorrow Alex, Doug, and I set off for Istanbul on what is sure to be a fun, whirlwind vacation!

This week is also my last full week at Lycée Mathias, despite my being in France another 3.5 weeks.  Because of épreuves and the Bac Blanc (kind of like final exams, though not at the end of the year), I will not be seeing the majority of my classes after break, even though I’m working 2 more days.  Because of this, I have been scrambling to say goodbye to my classes.  I’ve been playing American jeopardy with them, which has been a pretty good success (though none of them know the songs “Don’t Stop Believing” or “American Pie”!).  I’ve gotten different reactions to my leaving, from a class that promised to bring wine, bread, and cheese to my last class (gotta love my BTS class haha) to a class where only three students showed up.  I did get a very nice letter from a few students who didn’t show up to that class though, and a few other letters and pictures.  I gave them all my e-mail and blog address too (we’ll see what they think of me after this…).  I do hate saying goodbye to my classes.  As with my 4th graders, and even my 6th graders last year, I bonded with them and am sad to see them go.  I can only hope that I improved their English a bit and taught them a bit of English-speaking culture.  I’ve tried to represent the U.S. in a good way, and hopefully was able to change their preconceptions of Americans!  After all, one of the biggest things I’ve learned from my travels is that the people you meet tend to represent and influence your perspective on and opinion of that country, such as Jeff the Canadian who negatively influenced my opinion of Canada (Don’t worry Canada, I know you’re not all like that!).

I’ve tried to be polite and respectful as an American, and I encourage everyone, no matter their nationality, to remember that they are representing their country abroad.  If people are rude to you as an American, it is probably because they either a) met a rude American who gave them a bad impression, b) know people who met rude Americans, or c) have never met an American and have stereotypes from TV shows and movies.  When you say “yeah, but French people are rude to Americans anyways,” you are subscribing to and perpetuating the same stereotypes.  From my experience in France, I’ve found the majority of French people to be incredibly welcoming and friendly.  There will always be exceptions, but I encourage everyone to keep an open mind!

French word of the day: Les Bulles-bubbles.  It was also what the cable cars in Grenoble were called.

TED Talks: In honor of the end of our time in France and the Terminale love of Steve Jobs (sorry, assistants who are sick of him), I’m putting his commencement speech about doing what you love.  I recommend watching it, even though he may not be a hero lol.  http://www.ted.com/talks/steve_jobs_how_to_live_before_you_die.html

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