First day of French school
Our first day of French school is in the books – (pun intended). It doesn’t really count as it was almost all administrative happenings (taking tests, getting orientated, having a lot of downtime… a bit inefficient actually. They’ve been doing this here for 45 years though, so I guess they know what needs to be done. And as we were allowed to speak English today (and they spoke almost all English), there was LOTS of chattering going on as people got acquainted with each other and talked about everything from the economy to jokes. I suspect that tomorrow the place will be MUCH quieter as we all search for something, anything, we can coherently say in French.
No English after 8:20am tomorrow. AND, they raised the fine for speaking English (or anything non-French) to 2 Euros. Mark got a 4 Euro credit today for being picked (randomly) to read aloud to class (in English – just some school rules).
There were actually 17 countries represented by the 80 students. About 6-7 were repeat students (one woman from Houston is here for the 3rd time in 5-6 years.
We met a woman from Iraq who now lives in Geneva, Switzerland where she works for the International Red Cross doing leadership training. There’s a Mexican man who now lives in Canada, a Canadian who now lives in Beijing, a Russian who now lives in London, an American who has lived in Geneva, SW for 15 years or so, and has never really learned French (French is the main language in the western part of Switzerland). Two South Africans living in Paris, a Houston woman who comes here every summer, has an apartment in Paris, a lakehouse on Lake Tyler (Midland oil money I think), her niece who just graduated from Vanderbilt with an art history major and is moving to London for a year to do a master’s program of some sort with Sotheby’s, some Aussies (Australians), some Kiwis (New Zealand), at least one person each from Japan, Taiwan, Germany and Turkey; a woman from Arizona whose husband is doing a similar language immersion course, but in Italian in Trieste, IT, an American married to a Frenchman (they are the neighbors who knocked on our door last night). There are many more, but those are most of the ones we met today.
Tomorrow we’ll be separated into 8 classes, we think 2 beginner, 2 intermediate and 2 upper intermediate, and 2 advanced. Already this week the advanced people have to do a 25 minute!! exposé – ie stand up and talk to their class for 25 minutes without notes, memorization, etc. We will only have to do 5 minutes or so and not until next week.
So…. Wish us luck with all French, only French! Here’s a few pictures of the school and the view of the school.