Oh also, before I start, my sweet lizard friend has migrated to the kitchen. Unfortunately, our colocation was short-lived. I will miss him dearly.
Anyway, here we go. On Monday I headed down to our orientation "stage," where all 58 foreign language assistants finally had the chance to meet! Out of the 58 of us, here's the breakdown:
31 English Assts (17 Brits, 11 Americans, 2 Australians, and 1 Canadian)
12 Spanish (who I believe are all from Spain)
11 German (this has an interesting breakdown, there's at least one Lithuanian and a couple Austrians, but I'm not sure how many there are of each)
4 Chinese (... from China.)
It was pretty awesome to have met everyone, even though the day dragged on a bit; dealing with paperwork and such is rough when you have to listen to rapid French over a PA system that works about 50% of the time. Ah well, c'est la vie.
The next day was the first day at my high school, the fantastic Lycee Bellepierre, where I will be spending all of my time as a teaching assistant. I'm actually incredibly lucky to have only one school; most assistants, especially the non-English assistants, are spread out between 2-3 schools throughout the week, which is fine, except that I feel like you might get to know people a little bit less in-depth. We shall see.
The first day was eye-opening. Among other things, I learned that the word in French for paperclip is "trombone" (not sure how I didn't learn this during the 4 months that I was forced to hand in hordes of paperwork in metropolitan France, but eh), that you can ALWAYS find someone who wants to talk about America (met one of the teachers who spent 10 minutes educating me on the vivacity of Atlanta's gay community, I never knew!) and, most importantly: throughout the world, all high schoolers are the same. They joke, they play, even the most mature ones have so much to learn. They're inherently curious. Even the ones who pretend not to care still looked up and stared when the crazy American walked into the classroom.
I had such an awesome day. The students asked questions, and I asked them questions in return. They're already messing with me. One guy said that I should totally do the "Diagonal des Fous" (which translates loosely to "Diagonal for the Crazies") a hike where you head diagonally across the island as fast as you possibly can. It's supposed to take about 5 days. The record holder did it in 21 hours, or something like that. He told me that everyone does it, and that I should totally give it a shot, as the girl behind him shook her head at me, wide-eyed. Touche, little Reunionnais boy. Maybe I will try it, just for you.
It was so much fun hearing them practice their English; it was much stronger than I thought it would be, and it's gonna be awesome to work on it with them. Then, I got what was pretty much the best compliment in the universe; one of the kids asked if I spoke French and the teacher answered for me, she said, "Yes, and the other teachers told me she speaks French so well that they can't even hear an accent." WINNER. I'm not sure that I believe it (my landlady told me today that my French was 'comprehensible' ... not quite as high of praise, to say the least) but it was sweet nonetheless.
Speaking of my landlady, I love my house. Especially my two little babies, these guys: