Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Currently in Paris with my parents and my brother. I love seeing them again, but I keep getting sad when I think about them leaving. :( Unfortunately my brother is really not able to put up with any kind of culture whatsoever, so he's being a pain. But he's cute, so we keep him around. And at least he gets in free to all of these museums that he's not enjoying.

Hope everyone is enjoying their vacation so far!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I feel like I'm wasting my time here. One of my main reasons for coming here to France, for doing this program, was to have the opportunity to travel, and that just hasn't happened. I've been to Soissons, the town where I live, I spent a weekend in Amiens, a day in Laon, half a day in Chauny, a couple of hours in Saint Quentin, and I've been to Paris a lot. That's it. I'm happy I've been to those places, but I really want to travel. I already wasted Toussaint (although there were reasons for that). My family is coming for winter vacation (only a week left now!!!) and while I'm so excited to see them, I think we're just staying in Paris. I've been there already. Then my plan is to go to Lyon for New Year's, maybe to Dijon after that. I had thought about going to see my friend Joanna in Prague but plane tickets are expensive. I need to go places! Not other places in France, I want to go to other countries. And I'm running out of time. After this break I only have two more, and I have huge list of places I want to see. I guess I just have to prioritize now. Part of the problem is that I have so little free time during the week that by the time it's vacation and I want to go somewhere it's super expensive and I haven't made any plans. Bravo to me.

I've started breaking up my list of places to go into weekend vs need longer to be there. So here's my list of places needing more time, not in any order:

London (could be a couple of weekend trips)
Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice (although canals may be too dirty))
Greece (Athens, Peloponnesus sites, an island or two) (also possible to do in summer with parents and Dad's coworkers (half of them are Greek))
Vienna, Salzburg, and Budapest
Scandinavia (cruise in the summer?)
Spain (although this could be dumped because there are other places I would rather go)

Anyone interested?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

In Which Soleil Finds Her People, Successfully Doesn't Burn Her Room Down, and Fails at Teaching English

I have been super busy for the past few weeks. Why, you may ask? I found the Jews. Or perhaps I should say that they found me. I was connected with a lovely fa,ily, the Bs, by a friend of mine from home whose father does business with Mr B. My friend exchanged our coordonées (contact information) and they invited me for Shabbat two weekends ago. I had a really great time, they are just lovely people and have seven really nice and cute kids. They made me feel really welcome and like one of the family. They are also quite a bit more pratiquant (observant) than me, so that was interesting. Observant as in their rabbi is Lubuvitcher - you know, the guys with the beards, hats, and black coats, Mrs B wears a sheitl and only skirts, the boys have tzitzit on always, women can't lead services or read from the Torah, you get the picture. Then on Sunday afternoon, you will never believe what happened. Picture this: I'm playing in the living room with the youngest girls when a guy comes to the door. He talks with Mr B and Mrs B, and then he and Mr B come into the living area and I hear Mr B say in French "this is the American, she's 23, etc." Uh-oh. So they call me over and Mr B says "this is our friend from Israel. He knows people and can introduce you to some people." He's a matchmaker!!!!! I felt like I had walked onto the set of Fiddler on the Roof. What century do I live in again? Anyway, I sort of stuttered and flubbed my way through telling him where I live, what I'm doing in France, that kind of stuff, and then awkwardly left the room as fast as I could. So that was quite interesting. I know that the Bs meant only the best by this, and I'm flattered that they think well enough of me to find me a husband, but this is not so much my style of finding Mr Right. I doubt that the matchmaker will come up with anyone anyway - I'm 23 and past my expiration date.

Anyway, so last weekend I was back in the same community but with a different family (see how welcoming this community is? very nice) but I also went to a Hanukkah party sponsored by the congregation Kehilat Gesher, which is a Francopohone-Anglophone synogogue in Paris and more in the wing of Judaism that I'm used to. I had a great time, met lots of people, including another assistant (or former assistant) who was really nice, and stuffed myself. Good times.

Yesterday I completely raté-d my lesson with one of my CM2 classes. We're learning I like/I don't like and also the forms with you and s/he. So I picked a song, Let's Call the Whole Thing Off, and made up a worksheet to practice s/he likes, because they always forget the s at the end. The kids were clueless. I understand that they didn't know how to find the answers in the song (they had to find out who was singing and then figure out you/I into s/he), okay, fine, I didn't realize that that part was so complicated for them. But I am completely horrified that they didn't understand the questions in English, and that they didn't want to answer in English. These kids have no idea what "who" means. Oh my gosh, who has been teaching them for the pzst two or three years????? They should have learned that in their first year of English! I don't know how I'm going to get them ready to take the regional English exam at the end of the year if I have to spend this much time reviewing things that they should know by now, plus the fact that it takes them so long to learn anything. I think the problem must be me. Maybe I just don't teach in a way that will make them remember, or maybe I'm not forcing them to use English enough. I know I speak too much French in class, and I'm really trying to change that, but what can I do when they give me blank looks when I tell them to raise their hands if they want to anser the question? Maybe I should just switch to only speaking English. It would be really rough, but they might learn more that way. I say might, because with these kids there is no guarantee. I don't know, I just felt like such a failure yesterday, especially because I thought it was such a great idea for a lesson. If anyone has any games or lessons for drilling into their heads 'she likes" with an s, please tell me, because I'm almost out of ideas!

On the flip side, one of the joys of teaching is that I can see every class that there's another kid who is more enthousiastic about English and tries a little harder. It's really gratifying. Kids are great.