I am sitting in the staff lounge at my second middle school, whiling away the two and a hlaf hours before my class. I got an email yesterday telling me not to come in before 10:30, but I didn't get to check my email before I got here at 8, after having caught the bus outside my school at 7:08. Awesome. Not having internet or a telephone is just awesome. The service provider keeps changing the dates on me, too, and so I don't think I will have internet or a phone before the end of the month of October. I am so frustrated about this...
My second school also changed my work schedule on me, which means that now I have three hours on Tuedays (with a two hour lunch break in the middle, during which I won't have time to come home, but will have WAY to much time to spend on campus), nothing on Wednesdays, the same schedule on Thursdays as on Tuesday, and then I will be at the other school (the one next to my apartment) all day Fridays. I still have a three day weekend, but now I have to take two buses to get to work twice a week (four times a week if I want to try to make it home for lunch).
I also just found out that I have to have a medical examination done in order to receive my temporary French residency card. They scheduled my appointment for smack-dab in the middle of my first vacation, during which the other assistants and I were hoping to rent a car together and travel around Southern France. It now looks like that trip might have to wait some. Right now, if I had one of those dumb emoticons on my copmuter, it would be set to "frustrated". That pretty well describes the past few days.
Yesterday was spent in Montpellier, at an orientation for the language assistants. Normally these orientations take place before the 1st of October, when the assistants start teaching. But the organization couldn't get their act together in time to do it before then, so we had it a week later. All of the other assistants and I piled aboard a train and set off of the two hour train ride the night before. We stayed in a nice hotel, which was rather well-priced, too. We were all looking forward to the opportunity to meet the other teaching assistants, and making friends with people both in our city and in the surrounding areas. Unfortuntalely, the orientation consisted mostly of the administrators explaining how to fill out paperwork that most of us have already filled out (having been here at least a week and a half). They spent about a half an hour explaining that we are representing our own countries, but that we are also civil servants of France right now. Okay, fine, but after that they launched into a discussion about how, keeping these thoughts in mind, we need to dress appropriately. We cannot wear belly shirts, short skirts, shorts, et cetera. I understand that the schools have dress codes, but did they really expect any of us to not adhere to them voluntarily without having to be told? I really couldn't believe it. It was so condescending.
The rest of the orientation was spent discussing possible activities, which may have been interesting and useful for those who do not already have teaching experience, but for anyone with any sort of teacher-training, it was incredibly redundant and useless information.
Unfortunately, I am not looking forward to the teaching part of my stay here, but I really do need to give it a shot before I decide. I am not impressed by the French education system, or by the French teachers so far. It seems like French teachers are severe, the curriculum they are required to teach boring and useless, and that the teachers' expectations of their students are unacceptable. The students are treated like awful students, and so they act like awful studnets. Granted, these are just my first impressions, but we'll see how they play out. It's really too bad because I love teaching, and I was really lookg forward to teaching in France. I may still love it, but we'll see.
On a lighter note, I loved the city of Montpellier. It was positively gorgeous, and so clean compared to Perpignan. The other assistants and I really want to go back to Montpellier, so maybe we can try to make that happen for our first vacation instead. As I am on a computer at school, I cannot post pictures right now, but I have some good ones that need to go up, from Montpellier and from Collioure. I am running out of time right now, so perhaps I will tell you about Collioure tomorrow or the next day, when I get a chance to use the internet on my own computer for a longer stretch of time.