Friday, September 6, 2013


Yesterday was my first officially official first day of French high school (Lycée).  My day started at 7:30 in the morning when I left the house to walk to school and ended when I returned at 6pm.  French school is intense.  

My first class was biology, and luckily even though I understood nothing of what was being said I was able to do the homework because I did the same thing last year and a lot of French words were resembling the English ones (score!) It was a great start, yet my hopes that the whole day would be that simple were pretty much dashed right away.  The next class I had was Spanish... in Spanish... where everyone only spoke Spanish.  I have a bit of a background learning French so I can somewhat get by with that language, yet I had no hope of understanding at all what was going on in my Spanish class.  The teacher asked me a question to which I couldn't reply and instead sat staring looking dumbfounded at her, so she then changed her question to French and she talked so fast that I still didn't understand, until finally out of pity one of the other kids in the class explained my first language was English and I was from Canada and I had no whisper of a clue what was going on.  You could see the lightbulb go on in her head as she understood and her look of confused frustration changed to one of pity as she then proceeded to tell me I didn't have to participate.  After class the other kids told me they'd been taking Spanish for 5 or 6 years... which explained a lot.  The rest of my classes were a lot the same, I understood tiny bits here and there or recognized work we were doing but aside from that I spent most of the day feeling lost, tired, and determined that I needed to be fluent in French as fast as humanly possible if I was going to survive. I was so glad that I'd made some really nice friends who were understanding and volunteered to help show me around and get me adjusted.

Rika and I before we walked to school (Thursday was the official first orientation for about two hours and Marie Jose walked both of us there to get us settled.)
French school is definitely a lot different from high school in Canada. It's harder, more serious, and a lot longer.  Classes are one hour long but there are a lot of them, and you stay with the same group of kids the entire day throughout the entire year (except for options). Nothing happens in the same room and no teacher has a home room to leave their things.  Everyone is always moving and changing places.  When an administrator walks into the room the entire class must stand, and when you first enter the class you have to stand behind your desk and wait until the teacher tells you that you can sit.  They have a study hall but you can't just relax and listen to music while you work, you sit by yourself at a desk and do homework for an hour while one or two teachers walk around surveying everyone (this happens with more than one class in the hall at a time.)  I also noticed that teachers seem to be more strict and more demanding of respect and attention, not that teachers don't want respect at school in Canada but the classroom vibes at home are altogether more relaxed I think.  Then again, like I said I don't really understand what's going on so I could be reading things completely wrong! For the most part the teachers were quite nice, and all the students were incredibly friendly and love asking questions (classic "Do you like Justin Bieber" question for the Canadian) so I'm happy that in that respect it's been easy to settle in.  I do have one teacher who likes to make me suffer though, he teaches history and seems to be very passionate about his class.  He speaks the fastest out of all the teachers and his is the first class where I understand not a thing (even worse than Spanish).  Today he made me read French out in front of the entire class, insisting that he was going to be mean to me in order for me to learn better.  I butchered it of course and took 10 times longer reading than the other kids, but they were really sympathetic and that made it not too bad!  Now I am exhausted, but overall things have turned out quite well.  I know once I begin to be better at speaking and understanding French, things will fall in to place! All there is left to do now is run my homework through Google translate and pray that something starts to make sense :)

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