Seems like the time for an update about the quiet last few days before the (second?) winter vacation.
I have gone from a potential of 12 hours of teaching this week down to a mere three-one class today, one class Tuesday, and one on Friday. (Mildly inconvenient just because I could basically be using that time to travel, but instead I’ve got the one on Friday, alas.) It’s not because students are leaving early for their break so much as because all of my términal students (those in their last year of “high school” in the sense that they’re about to get the equivalent of a GED) have exams this week. For that reason I’ve had several classes cancelled in the last couple of weeks so that teachers can review with their students, and this week I just flat out don’t have them, plus several of my BTS classes (post-GED level) are also taking exams.
Which leaves me with…an awful lot of free time. Which I shall not refuse. I predict lots of gym time and some errands this week. Oh, and I have a required medical visit Wednesday morning to reassure one and all that I am good to go for the French healthcare system. (Irritating. So very irritating.)
So far things have been going swimmingly. My teaching plan for the week was sorted out last week, I pulled some Valentine’s day activities and vocabulary and games from the internet (and my head) and thus the students are getting to have a more relaxed class before they turn off their brains entirely. That left me with a free weekend, which I spent delightfully.
Last Thursday I went, with the Spanish assistant from my school, to a Language exposition in Paris. Booth after booth represented world languages, study abroad/immersion programs, schools, volunteer and even work opportunities. We arrived too late to get to see everything before closing but left with MASSIVE amounts of brochures and info, and I even got to chat with a guy who works for Aljazeera (AWESOME.) Whilst there I also met a rather eclectic and enthusiastic New Zealander who, apparently, had just opened a language (linguistic, really) museum in Paris in October and was there to promote it. He was so passionate that even were I NOT interested in those subjects I would have been tempted to go.
So Saturday I did, along with a single other friend since everyone else had to cancel, and we had a grand old time. The creator CLEARLY had a life-long passion for the subject and possibly had been waiting his whole life to bring the project to life. The name of the museum is Mundolingua (click for link/directions), and it is STUFFED with creative and informative exhibits. The general theme is sort of…technology meets craft product, with wooden shelves and tables holding up touch screens where you can read and listen to information about languages and linguistics in up to 6 different languages. There are also interactive games about syntax, phonetics, etc, language histories, information about dying languages…I mean this place was just incredible. So much passion was clearly put into the project.
Furthermore, the building itself was just plain cool-it went down two stories into what looked like could be a very nice winery or romantic-era basement, with a very cozy feel. The bottom-most floor had a comfy couch, coffee machine, and tons of word games available to play with friends. (The museum has a giant mat for scrabble which can be played with blocks in 5 languages. Excellent.) The overall price of entry is 7 Euros, 5 for students…worthwhile if you’re interested in the subject matter!
Sunday was supposed to be a more active day and I was SO excited–it was the day of the Chinese New Year parade in the 13th Arrondissement, and it was finally SUNNY and warm”er”, if not actually warm, than it had been in ages. I was in a delightful mood. We got to Place d’Italie and joined the massive crowd, and waited. And waited and waited. AND WAITED. The parade must’ve started opposite from where we are and took absolutely forever to wind around. We were fairly close to the front line of people, with lots of children sitting in front of us, when…suddenly…a group of men goes and stands in the center. People ignored them as the parade wasn’t there yet. But they stayed standing there. The police did nothing and there were no barriers. Suddenly the parade approached, and MASS CHAOS. People assumed those men were the new line point, so everyone jumped up and ran to form a new boundary around a much smaller area. All the children who had been down in front to see with parents were now at the back, and we, being right behind them, were completely out of things as well, because we couldn’t very well trample over the children to go run to get a new spot.
I was pretty furious, both with the jackasses who clearly ignored the pre-formed borders, and the police for not keeping control of the situation and organizing it. So I really just gave up on the event and threw my camera up in the air once in a while to take a few blurred and poorly aimed photos, and chose to let it go.
Luckily we recovered after things had moved on with a fantastic hot meal, and then decided to walk about. We returned to Les Jardins de Plantes in the 5th Arrondissement and just pranced about enjoying the sunshine, even though the gardens were much more barren due to winter. After wrapping up the day with a quiet drink, all dispersed home where I promptly fell asleep way too early.
I smell a lot of that particular delight in my near future. MOST excellent, I say. Bring on the vacay!