Wednesday, February 27, 2008


For better or worse I am back in France now. Vacation already seems like it was a month ago, and I'm thinking more and more about the next one! It's only six weeks away....

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures to post, because while I was at McDonald's using the wifi earlier today my computer was being temperamental and didn't want to work for me, so now I'm back at the lycée using the computers in the teacher's lounge. I'll post pictures when I can get wireless again (probably next week, sigh).

That's one thing that is a pain about living in the lycée. The professor's corridor doesn't have phone lines (actually I think only the administrative rooms do here) so it's not even possible to get wireless. I'm lucky that I can use the computers in the professor's loungeand that the room is open until 10:30 PM but still, I would love to have wireless to be able to keep in closer touch with everyone back home on Skype or AIM, and of course just for the convenience and being able to use my own computer. That being said, the rent is unbeatable, €70 per month, which enables all of my travel adventures. And the manager at McDonald's is dreamy, which I guess makes him McDreamy? :)

So I started vacation with about three days in Prague. I arrived late in the afternoon on Friday and was met at the airport by my friend from college, Joanna, who I literally hadn't seen for two years. She is now in her second year teaching English there so she was a great tour guide. The important part of this leg of the trip was seeing Joanna, not so much being touristy, but she did show me all the important sites in Prague. I liked Prague as a city. The historical center was a mix of very cute, Eastern European style buildings with very very old curches and gates and bridges and the castle was pretty neat too. You can't go in the castle, just the cathedral and a basilica, but the complex itself was nice and the cathedral was orgeous. It's on top of a hill so you get an amazing view of the entire city. I even had the privelege of seeing their president while I was there! He lives there and his car drove in while we were entering. He was wearing a pink shirt, quite stylish! I also sampled some local cuisine, this fried cheese thing that I think is called smadjeny? Cheese and fried, can't beat that. Restaurants in Prague (and maybe all over the Czech Republic, I don't know) still list how much the food weighs in grams because under communism that's how your food stamps worked.

It seemed like Joanna was constantly telling me that such and such a thing was a certain way because of communism, and it was really interesting to see the impact that it had made on the country. We visited the Museum of Communism, which was really really interesting. I really hate communism but I'm also fascinated by what happened/happens under it. They had a great film there with authentic footage from what happened all under the communist regime, leaders, protests, etc. It focused more on the protests. Joanna also took me to see a sculpture in a park called The Disappearing Man (pictures of which will definitely be posted). It's a series of sculptures of a man, the first one is complete and then gradually there is less and less of actual human form in each sculpture. It symbolizes how communism destroyed the individual and persons. Very moving. One thing I didn't like about Prague is that outside of the center it wasn't as nice, very communist looking (duuuh) and there was tons of grafitti everywhere. Not the artistic kind, the "Joe was here" kind. Everything there was under construction it seemed, because under communism things really fell into disrepair and they are just now starting to repair them. It will probably be really interesting to go back in a few years and see what they've done with the place! So I liked my time in Prague and it was wonderful to see Joanna face to face again, see her life there and meet her friends. Sure, you can stay in touch with emails and phone calls but that face time is still really important.

Still to come: Italy and Greece!

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Just a quickie to say au revoir and bonnes vacances a tous! I'm leaving tomorrow morning for Prague. My vacation schedule is:

Prague 8-11
Rome 11-14
Florence 14-17
Athens 17-24

It's a packed schedule, but I'm super excited to go on my Classics Tour. Yeah, I'm a huge nerd, took Latin and art history in high school (I actually started Latin in middle school). Unfortunately I remember very little Latin now, too bad! Maybe it will magically come back to me if I pray at a temple to Athena/Minerva. Better bring some owls just in case I can sneak in a sacrifice.

I really hope I'm not the only one who found that last sentance funny!

Likelihood is that I won't have time for blogging, so stay tuned to see if I can figure out how to post pictures after the vacation.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wrapping up the drama, looking forward to vacation

Things seem to have calmed down a little bit since last week. I brought up the abuse situation with the directeur and the maitresse and they said they would take care of the problem with M hitting B. However, they were slightly less receptive to the idea that M is himself abused, using such lines as "we know the family, his sister doesn't show any signs, etc." Apparently M gets into a lot of fights anyway. I was concerned that they weren't going to at least make sure that nothing was wrong on M's end when the directeur finally said that I had made a good point, and they would be vigilant. I asked B about it later and she said M had never said anything to her about being hit. I hope he's okay, we'll see.

As far as the monster class goes, the maitre/directeur is back this week from being on leave, and thankfully he took my side in everything and appologized for their lack of respect for me. As I know from other assistants, it could easily have gone the other way and I would have been blamed for not keeping better control of the class. He said that I won't be left alone with them again, which I guess is a good thing, but his solution is now that we will divide the class in half and both teach at the same time in the same room. It didn't go so well that way on Tuesday. I couldn't speak loudly enough for the kids in the back to hear me, I couldn't hear them when they tried to speak, everyone was trying to be quiet and getting nothing accomplished. It was silly. So now I have to think of a different solution to the problem. And even though I "won't be left alone with them again," the directeur has some sort of meeting during part of that class tomorrow, so I'll be left alone with those little brats yet again! At this point my frustration is mostly directed at the CM1, not the CE2. Maybe I can just shove the CM1 off onto him?

Evaluations for the CM2 took place this week. Unfortunately one of my schools didn't do so well, and I'm kind of upset about that. The maitresse was really nice about it though when I said something to her about it, she said that it wasn't a problem with the teaching, just that the kids don't pay attention very well. She said it's the same in all of their other subjects too. So that made me feel better. I haven't finished grading my other CM2 class yet but it's going much better so far.

Man do I need this vacation! I feel like I've been running around a lot lately and not really resting and relaxing. Not that I'll be sitting on my butt during break, but it will be a change of pace and scenery, and I'm going to see so many new and interesting things that I've dreamed about seeing for years. I'm so excited, in 48 hours I'll be in Prague with my friend Joanna! This is her second year teaching English there. We have a lot to catch up on, and I'm sure a lot of commiserating about the little brats - uhhh, I mean, those little angels!