Wednesday, September 28, 2011

L'Aventure à Velo!

Here it is! The next installment of Will doing silly things by himself in France!
Dixie Bands!
Bad English!
Bike Crashes!
It's All Here!
Get it while you're still interested!

And hopefully my teachers will strike again so I can continue my intellectual endeavors.

Best from the south,


Monday, September 26, 2011

La Grève Aventure And Teaser

My blogging name is henceforth (and sincefrometh) Sir Inconsistent.
But what did you expect? I'm, like, in High School again! (Not that I've done any homework since I've gotten here...But that's not my fault. It's the fact that it's been strike after strike. No opportunity to get homework!)

Anyway, I thought I'd embed the video from a while ago, because that's prettier.

If you've already seen it, then here is a teaser for my next video, set and ready to be set and ready maybe tomorrow if I get my stuff together. (But tomorrow is a national strike, so I'll likely spend the day shooting more videos, not editing the ones I've already taken...)

I've got lots more content in the works, just sit tight, be patient, and don't worry. I'll find other people to hang out with eventually.

In other news, apparently I've been here for over a month. Now, I'm used to adapting quickly (I was never homesick at summer camps, etc.) and I'm also used to forgetting quickly (wait, we already went to this provencal village?), but it's still so strange to me that I've been here for that long. I instantly felt at home--not to say there aren't daily oddities and confusion--and that has made it almost difficult to step out of an already daily rutine. So my goal of the next month, is to create my own opportunities to do cool stuff. Because cool stuff is what cool people do in cool places. Well, it's actually 85 degrees here. More on that later.

Whole lotta love from the south,


Monday, September 12, 2011

La Rentrée:

La Rentrée is:

  • Not a dinner course
  • Not the regurgitation of a dinner course
  • Nothing sexual
  • Not something you wouldn't talk about with your gramma
  • Practically nothing scholastic in any way.

It is, in fact...the first day of school here in France. And it's a big deal. I can't tell you how many news programs spent over half an hour every night talking about it, for a week before and a week after. It's mounting cost for students, parents, and teachers alike, who's looking forward to it, what the government is doing about education, etc.. Also, great montages of piles of notebooks, pens and highlighters and people walking in and out of stores. Great stuff. Real artsy cinematography.

So the hype got me pretty worked up. (Which for me is the equivalent of raising an eyebrow, maybe two if I'd had a good breakfast). I mean gosh, I know the news stations are grappling for something to throw on the screen, because it's quite obvious there isn't a whole lot going on of note in the world--no natural disasters, wars, or political scandals of course--but how could the first day of school require such an extensive media drumroll? Was the french school system really going to be as strange a thing as my expectations? Were my classmates going to be so tricked out in back-to-school attire and accessories, that my American-style notebooks and thrice-used binder would immediately attract attention to me, an overall inconspicuous person?

Well I have to say, La Rentrée was greatly over exaggerated. Because it wasn't La Rentrée to be concerned about. It was the impending demonstration of the French spirit of free speech and public manifestations.   
Let me explain:

My first day of class went like this:
I was dropped off at school at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. The flock of eager students, eager at least not to be late, were crowded around two pages posted on the lobby wall. These pages, complete in size 10 font, listed the name, class, and room number for all the students in my grade. Thankfully, after the only girl I had previously met confirmed my suspicion that no, I was not on the list, and no, we did not know the room number, we went together to the French equivalent of an assistant principal, and got our information.

My principal teacher was very nice, very helpful, very welcoming, and absolutely just as confused as I was about most of the things going on in the school. She passed out papers with a random smattering of boxes, names, and numbers, which was explained to be our schedules. And with the pent-up energy of twenty-three just recently vacationing teenagers (and I say twenty-three because I was too confused to say anything), the great argument of the l'emploi du temps, which has yet to be resolved, began.
And boy did it remind me of home.

So you thought OV was crazy? So you thought OV had problems? So you thought OV had some boring teachers? So you thought only at OV could you find food that defies all laws of physics and morality?

Oh non!

First of all:
All of the teachers were very unhappy with the administration. (remind you of anything?)
All of the students were very unhappy with the fact that they were at school
All the administration had absolutely no information that was helpful (a few years ago, sounds familiar?)
The only people who were prepared were the students (that part was a shock.)

So the schedule for me looks like this:

Yeah. I don't get it either.
You know how the 4 block scheduling got really boring?
Boy do I miss it.
The school day is technically 8-6. In addition, there is a week 1, and a week 2. But I still don't comprehend which classes change each week. There is also a group 1, and group 2, so sometimes I randomly don't have class because I'm in group 2. Also, there are optional classes. And finally, I'm actually not on any of the class lists (even though the school signed off on my Rotary documents in May), so I suppose I could sort of pick and choose which classes to attend. but it's strange how vacant my schedule is of actually interesting content. Lots of language (that's good) but absolutely no courses that specialize in anything. It's like 8th grade all over again. You feel old and you want to be able to choose classes, but everything is rather bland, and decided for you.

Most days I start at 8:00. Most days I finish between 4:00-6:00 PM. However, in between I generally have 2-5 hours off. It's absurd.

I have a theory that this type of scheduling is the main cause of teen smoking in France. They have nothing to do for an hour, except sit outside the school, talk with their friend, listen to shitty American pop songs, and smoke in excess of four cigarettes per hour. It's incredible. Oh, and because of this, the very beautiful school is transformed into a trash heap of sorts.

Anyway, this absurd schedule was also one of the main causes of the strike that happened on Friday. (Long weekend!) Teachers had had enough, and were obligated to band together against the Directrice (principal) whom apparently everyone dislikes.

And La grève (strike) isn't over. There are still teachers missing (which is why I got to school at 9 today and didn't have class until 2:30), and there is still a lot of tension between the staff departments. I can update you when I know whats happening. As for now, tomorrow is uncertain. Either the schedule will completely change, or there will be another strike, and no courses. 

On a humorous note to end this ridiculous rant of a blog, I have a video blog about what I did instead of hanging around school on Friday during La grève. Enjoy:

Other than that, we shall see, we shall see. 

Another video blog perhaps by the weekend. 

à tout à l’heure!


ps. Sorry if there are typos. I don't proofread. It's not my thing. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Okay so here goes:
We visited: the annual Festival of Figs! Really, it's just that. Everything fig.
Like these fig sausages.
Scary. I know.
There was delicious fig ice cream too. I would have a picture of that, but I ate it too quickly, and with both hands.
The was also an extremely off-key little girl singing on a stage in front of many admirers. Oh, and a dixie band. But both were playing at the same time, so no one could win.
There was also delicious fig champagne. Goodness it was good.
And I love street food, so I could've stayed all three days...

We visited: an ancient medieval chateaux on top of a mountain above the city of Hyères. Very pretty. Very old. Very ruined. Very tiring climb in the heat. Nice view of the presqu'ile, the sea, the airport, and the greenhouses of the surrounding flower-growing region.

We visited: a beautiful pronvencal village where the president spends the holiday. There was a multitude of little winding streets and curvy stairways. Everything had vines and flowering plants growing on it. And tourists. They sprout from the autoroute, and wind up the very frightening mountain roads to the village of Bormes- Les Mimosas. No, not samosas. Though I miss those greatly.
The town is extremely tourist oriented, but still very pretty. We stayed for 30 minutes. Walked around the pretty streets, bought fig ice cream and that was that. Classy ice cream shop though. Very chic.

Not a whole lot else. My host family apparently isn't interested in museums.
Also, unless you are interested in visiting every single shop that sells wooden trinkets and terracotta pottery, the streets pass pretty quickly.

Oh and by the way, my new room is the old room of my host sister (now in Albany for a year).
So its pink. So perfect with the petite bête and the canopy.

Love from france.
Updates about this ridiculousness called La Rentrée.

Will Pearl