Yes, it's that time again in France: time to strike! The train, subway, gas, and electric companies are all on strike right now to demonstrate their opposition to proposed government reforms to retirement laws. What does that mean? Mostly that it is next to impossible to go anywhere. I find it very interesting from a cultural perspective, but I guess I'm truely an American because I think they're being ridiculous. We'll see how it all pans out over the next few days, but it looks like there's a pretty good possibility that this strike could last for a while, since the unions just voted to stike for a third day tomorrow. Apparently the last time the government tried to change the retirement laws, in 1995, the labor unions were on strike for three weeks and the entire country shut down. Three weeks! France is really reliant on public transportation, much more so than America. Imagine what it would be like if the public transportation systems in all the major cities shut down, and you have some idea of what the effect of this is on the country. And I haven't even mentioned the real problem with the grève yet: if there are no trains running to Paris, I won't be able to watch the Michigan-Ohio State game! I had planned on finding a bar in Paris where they might show it, but no. Obviously this is just one big consipiracy against Michigan fans :)
My kids are way too cute! Today one of them made me a paper boat, complete with a sail! It was actually very useful since I was teaching about Thanksgiving. I told the kids that it was the Mayflower. Today was a really good teaching day because none of my classes were too noisey. Usually one class a day is really noisy. It's just because they're kids, and also because they are really enthousiastic about English (doesn't that just make your little heart go pitter-pat?), but it's not so cool when I'm trying to teach something. I actually bribed one of my classes with the promise of stickers if they behaved themselves, which worked really well!
I'm so sad that I'm missing Thanksgiving this year. It's my favorite holiday, I always spend it with my family, and I have such great memories from every single Thanksgiving that I can remember. This year I won't be with my family, they don't even know what cranberries are in France, and I certainly don't have an oven to cook anything in. And none of the other assistants in town seem to care or want to do anything. Sigh. At least I made hand turkeys with my kids today.
French people make different sounds than we do in the US. They say "op" a lot, like when they're getting up from a seated position or lifting something. They also say "tock" all the time, which kind of means "okay, it's done." Just an observation for your enjoyment.
With French these days, I'm at the point where I feel like my listening and comprehension skills have really improved but I am getting increasingly frustrated at my inability to express myself. I just don't have the words to say what I want to say. Now that I'm feeling more confident being here in France and with speaking French in general I really want to start saying more, but I just don't have the vocabulary. So, I end up looking like an idiot for just standing around silently, and I miss out on opportunities to connect with French people. I guess I should try to study some vocab everyday, but how boring is that? And besides, who has the time?
To finish my Paris weekend narration, it was really just a lovely weekend. It was nice to get away and just enjoy myself and not think about other problems for a while. I enjoyed it so much that I was back again last Saturday. It's so convenient from here, just a little over an hour by train. One of the reasons I really wanted to do this program was to travel and see things, so I really need to start making more of an effort to do that. I have Fridays off for that very reason! From now on I will be travelling more. Any suggestions for weekend trips or offers of floors to crash on? :)