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  • Writer's pictureEmma Nichols

c'est ma vie - weeks 2+3

Updated: Sep 26, 2021

Hello everyone! Thank you for being a part of my travels! Whether you are returning, or new here, I hope that you enjoy hearing about my cultural observations and explorations!

This update will just be a general life update, but I will be posting a few other small posts in the other categories that are available on my blog site as well, so please feel free to check those out for more!

Église Saint-Louis des Chartrons

So, today marks my official 18th day in France! Hooray! Overall - it's incredible.

I am adjusting much better to the time difference and cultural differences, like trying to speak full French when checking out in a store, or just crossing the street when it's clear versus waiting for the light to change. After being here for over two weeks, I feel like it's much different than what I was told I would find when I arrived. Most people who I spoke with before I arrived had told me that I would find so many cultural differences and that I needed to be very careful with things I said and did that might seem normal to me but could be completely different for the French. Now that I have spent some time here, I'm realizing that there is so much physical distance between foreign countries that often we feel a physical divide between our humanity as well. I was prepared for a huge difference in daily life, worried about having to have a full 180 in my life and having a hard time adjusting, when in reality, my host family, my school, and my friends have done nothing short of make me feel absolutely at home here.

I will write about more of the specific differences and discoveries in another post, but it's just a great reminder for me as to why I'm writing this blog, and my ultimate goal - to bridge the gap between different cultures to bring our world closer together. In the end, we're all humans.

Work/School - 10/10

My first week working at school was full of new discoveries and ups and downs, but in the end, I am able to say that I am so lucky for this opportunity and I could not have been offered a better place for me. The school environment is just incredible and all of the students, teachers, and staff have worked so hard to help me understand the system and become a real part of the school environment. At first, I was worried about where I would fit in, being not a student and not really a teacher, but everyone seems to understand that their school system is much different for me and that my position allows for a lot of discovery and communication with everyone. I actually started this week working in the primaire, which is French for elementary school. I thought it would be much harder to work with young children who don't speak very much English yet, but in reality, it was quite the opposite! Young children don't speak very fast, no matter the language, and so when they would speak French, and were learning basic lessons, like addition or the days of the week, following along for me was very easy! It felt as though I was in a review course of all the basic French I learned. Surprisingly, it ended up being a very productive opportunity for me.

I also began my official schedule of aiding in English courses, and it was extremely exciting and fun for me! Depending on the grade of students and difficulty of the class, some students were very excited and interested in the course and especially having me there, while others found it to just be another year of "unapplicable" English (don't worry - I'll work on changing that mindset ;) ). I really enjoyed listening to the students introduce themselves and hearing about their passions for the future, and listening to the differences between my accent and their accents. Both the English teachers that I have worked with so far have been extremely excited and welcoming in their classes, and they've made it a point to listen to my ideas and really want me to participate and engage with the students.

Finally, I was also given two French classes per week to attend! For the French, taking a French class is like taking an English class in America; it's not about the language, it's more about literature and writing (both of which I love). The directors of my school thought it would be beneficial for me and so far, I really enjoy it. Reading in French is a bit difficult since, in literature, there is a lot of vocabulary I haven't learned yet, but it's very good for me to be with peers and learning this language in more ways than just speaking. I really enjoy the welcoming and kind environment at the school and I can't wait to become an even closer part of the community there.

Bordeaux - 10/10

I feel so lucky to be in this beautiful city! There is so much to love about Bordeaux, and I feel like I get the best of both worlds, having a chance to live in both the smaller neighborhoods that surround the city center and very close to the city center as well. In addition, growing up in small towns and also bigger areas has prepared me well for this type of living - I don't feel so alone in busy areas, I'm no stranger to being confident when walking alone, etc. The first week was difficult for me, because not knowing the area led to me feeling very nervous to try and go out alone to explore, and thus I was doing a lot of sitting in my room, waiting for my host family to tell me what was next on the agenda, but now that I can get around on my own or with friends, my independence is at a healthy spot where I can enjoy being around people and not feel dependent on them to tell me where to go or how to use the tram, things like that. I must also applaud Bordeaux for its fantastic public transit systems! There are many options for travel, making it fast and efficient to get around the city and reach different parts, hence lessening the need for a car. It's very different in the States - usually, you have a car by the time you're a few years into college. But here, very few of the younger generations have cars, because owning a car is expensive and the driving here is insanely fast-paced (and I thought California drivers were aggressive!). So, to travel using either the tram system (an above-ground subway), the buses, or the train is very popular and very useful. In general, I feel very comfortable in this city and I have found that it has all the benefits of a bigger city with the kind of people you find in smaller, neighborly towns.

That is all for this grand update! I will be making some other smaller posts regarding food, cultural differences, and more, so keep an eye out for those if you'd like to hear about my ideas and observations. Thank you again for being a part of my journey, and I can't wait to share more with you!



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