July 29, 2003

Waiting for Uni...
Well, I got an email from EduFrance today. I have to wait until August 25th until they get the registration forms, because everyone is on holidays until then. However, the lady did send an email to the director's personal email address, so we'll see what happens.
There are three main universities in Lille, although there are several others as well. Lille 1 is mainly sciences and engineering; Lille 2 is mainly for law, political science, and medicine; and Lille 3 Charles-de-Gaulle is mainly languages, literature, and social sciences. I would most likely be put into Lille 3, because it does the most work with foreign students, and has a program for French language and culture for foreign students.

July 28, 2003

Bank Draft!...
Well, I went to the bank today, to get a bank draft, so that I can pay the deposit on my place in Lille. So, now I'm going to mail it out with the two ID photos, then I've got myself a place to stay in Lille starting October 1, 2003!
I ordered a copy of my long birth certificate over the weekend, now I have to wait for it to arrive, then get it translated. I'm going to check with the consulate on how "official" the translation has to be; I mean I can translate "date of birth", and "place of birth" into French.

July 26, 2003

Birth Certificate...
Well, when I was born, the government gave me a birth certificate. But apparently, that certificate is not good enough. To get my "Carte de Séjour" in France, I need an officially translated (read expensive) copy of my long birth certificate, which has the names and birth places of my parents. So, I now have to shell out $35 to get another copy of my birth certificate, then a lot more money to get it translated (as if they can't figure out that Vancouver, Canada is a place, and that March 31, 1983 is my birth date...)
Anyway, once I get to France, I need to apply for a "Carte de Séjour", on top of the long stay visa. This card in my passport will let me legally live in France for more than 3 months, and re-enter France if I decide to go out of the country. But, to get the card I need a visa (which I'll hopefully have), proof of residence in France, my birth certificate (as I mentioned above), my nomination paper, the contract that I signed with the school, and a medical exam (which has to be done with a French doctor, even though I had to get an exam with a Canadian doctor to even apply to the programme - read even more money).
On top of all this, I also have to apply for civil insurance, enrol in the social security program (it also works as medical insurance), enrol in a pension scheme (I don't I'll see any of the money when I retire, but I don't have a choice), get a bank account, etc. All of these require more paperwork, and documents that I've had to show to get my other cards.
You've got to love bureaucracy!

July 25, 2003

Moving to Lille (Part II)...
So, I've got a room reserved for me in Lille for next fall. Now I just have to send a deposit and two ID photos. But for the deposit, I have to send an international cheque (something to check into) in Euros. Things are starting to look better!
Here's the site of the MAJT (Maison d'Accueil du Jeune Travailleur), but it's all in French.

July 23, 2003

Moving to Lille...
Well, I think that I might have found a place to live in Lille. I had heard about the organisation from someone who did the same programme last year, but in Paris. It's basically a Federation for Young Workers (and no, it's not a Communist organisation). They have apartment buildings for young people (between the ages of 18 and 25).
The one that I've found in Lille provides breakfast, internet access, a weight room (hey, you never know, I might decide to buff up), kitchens (as well as a cafeteria if you're too lazy to cook for yourself), a good location, and a lot more all at a reasonable price. It's sort of a cross between a dormitory, youth hostel, and an apartment complex. One cool thing about it though, is that it'll be people around my age, whom I probably wouldn't meet if I lived with a French host family.
I emailed the place a week or so ago, and just heard back today. They do have room for me, but they're almost full (students can stay here too, so a lot of people going to the universities in Lille will be booking rooms too).

July 20, 2003

The Principal...
I just got an email from the principal at one of the schools that I'll be working at! I sent emails to both of the schools about a week ago, but since all schools are on vacation, I didn't expect to hear anything back until the end of August.
He said that they're very happy to have an assistant, especially since they haven't had one in a few years. The school was built in 1992 (a lot newer than the other school where I'll be working), and has about 800 students from ages 11 to 16 (grades 6 through 9).
The main city that I'll be working in has about 20,000 residents, and the other village is just beside the main one, but is much smaller.

July 19, 2003

Courriel, not E-mail...
The Académie Française has decided that the word «courriel» will be used in France instead of the commonly used E-mail, mail, and mél. Following this lead, the French Cultural Ministry has decided to use only courriel in official documents, and has banned the use of the other three words. An interesting note is that they have been using courriel in Québec for the past few years.
Check out the full story from CNN, or the communiqué from the French Cultural Ministry (in French) for more information.
In case you were wondering, the word for blog in French is "un blogue".

July 18, 2003

Well, now that I know that I'm going to be in Lille, I've decided that I should probably start checking out things that I can do while I'm there, after I'm done working my 12 hours a week. So, I thought that it might be cool to take some classes at a French university (there are at least three in Lille, and one is just for the sciences), or maybe even just a French language or culture/history/civilization class.
So, I did some checking around, and found EduFrance, a company that specializes in helping foreign students with arranging university stuff in France.
So, I filled out the application form last night, and I had to wire the payment into a RoyalBank account in Vancouver. So, I go to my bank, and they say that it's going to cost $30 to wire money between my bank, and another bank in Canada. Crazy. So, I just went to the nearest RoyalBank branch, and deposited the money. Stupid bank fees.
Anyway, we'll see what happens. I think that it would be cool to take some courses at a French uni!

July 15, 2003

I'm going to collège in Lille...
So, it looks like I'm going to Lille for this upcoming school year. It's not such a bad thing, seeing as it's half way between Paris and Brussels, and it will the the Culture Capital of Europe (shared with Genoa, Italy) in 2004. That means that every weekend there will be concerts on the sidewalks, and squares throughout the city. You can also check out the a Lille Tourism page on the web.
I won't be working in schools in Lille, instead I plan to live in Lille, and commute to the two schools. The schools are about 15km North-West of Lille. The schools that I'm working in are both collèges (see entry from Friday July 4th; a collège is like a middle school). One of the schools has a webpage with some photos of the school, let me know what you think...
I think that I'd rather live in Lille than in the two towns anyway. I've emailed the two schools about accomadation, and I'll see what they suggest. It's nice to know where I'll actually be going, finally!

July 14, 2003

Bastille Day!
Today, July 14th, is Bastille Day in France, the national holiday (like Canada Day or Independance Day).
The whole country parties, and there are fireworks in the evening throught the country. It celebrates the fall of the Bastille, which was a prison of political prisoners in Paris in the 1700's. The French Revolution started with the demise of the Bastille.
Here's a link from the French embassy in the US about Bastille Day.

July 11, 2003

The waiting game...
So, now I wait some more. I'm waiting to see if I hear something from Strasbourg or Grenoble. The thing is that the schools are on vacation starting on July 15th, so if I want any info from the schools that I'll be going to, I have to email on Monday, or Tuesday morning at the latest.
I've found a possible place to stay in Lille, but I have to contact them and find out if they'll have room available. However, that would mean taking a train from Lille to the cities where the schools are.

July 09, 2003

I just got a letter from the Academy of Lille today, giving me the names of two collèges that I would be working in next year. The two schools are in different towns, but are fairly close to each other. Both of the towns are about 15km from Lille (which has like 3 or 4 universities). It wouldn't be too bad, because I could take the train between Lille and the cities with the schools, but it would be a bit of a hassle. So, I think that I'm going to wait and see if I hear anything from the Academies of Strasbourg or Grenoble.
If I get a better offer from them (i.e. closer to town/university), then I'll go for that town.
If I do go to the Academy of Lille, I'll include links to the school etc.

July 07, 2003

A quote (or four)...
If you really want to learn about a country, work there.
-Charles Kuralt, A Life on the Road

It is fatal to know too much at the outset: boredom comes as quickly to the traveler who knows his route as to the novelist who is overcertain of his plot.
-Paul Theroux, To The Ends of the Earth

The "danger" of vagabonding resides in having your eyes opened - in discovering the world as it really is.
-Ed Buryn, Vagabonding in Euopre and North Africa

Listen: we are here on earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different!
-Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake

July 04, 2003

The French School System...
The system is slightly different from the one in Canada. Firstly, there's «école maternelle», which is like our preschool and kindergarten. Then, there's «école primaire», which is like our elementary school, and is for kids from 7 to 11 years old, or grades 1 through 5. Next comes «collège». No, they're not all geniuses over there, that's just what it's called. Collège is like middle school or junior high, and is for 12 to 15 year olds (grades 6 through 9). The «lycée» is the next step, and it's broken up into three sections, «seconde», «première», and «terminale». Each is one year long, and the three combined include grades 10, 11, and 12. The last year (terminale) is when the students prepare for their BAC (baccalauréat), which they can take in the sciences, arts, or literature. It's sort of like the SAT's in the US, because you need to do well on them to get into a good university. Another interesting thing is that in France, they start at grade 11 when they start elementary school, and they count down to grade 1 the year before they prepare for the baccalauréat exam.
You can check out this site which compares the French, Québec, and American school systems.
As of yet, I don't know which type of school I'll be placed in.

July 03, 2003

No news yet...
I sent an email the the cultural attaché of the French embassy in Ottawa yesterday. She replied today and said that I will be sent an administrative order later this summer that will allow me to obtain my visa for France next year. However, she doesn't know where in France I'll be working, because it's the individual académies (regional school districts) that appoint the students. So, it looks like I could be waiting for a fair amount longer before I find out where I'm going.
I'm hoping to start planning my flight at least. I'll probably fly into Paris, but I'm going to talk to the people at TravelCuts and see what they suggest.
I've also emailed a lady who works at EduFrance in Vancouver. She said that I'll probably only be able to take some sort of night course (in French language or civilization probably), because I'll be working most of the day. But, I need to let her know where I'm going ASAP so that she can start arranging things with the universities. Seeing as I don't know where I'm going, or even if I'm going to a city with a university yet, it's kind of hard to plan anything.

July 01, 2003

Where shall I go...
I've just finished writing an email to the French embassy in Ottawa, asking when they are planning on letting me know where in France I'll be working. My top three choices were Lille, Strasbourg, and Grenoble. I'm hoping to find out soon, so that I can book a plane ticket. I don't even know how long I'll be over there for. If I work in an elementary school, I'll be there for 10 months, but if I work in a high school, I'll be there for 8 months. I'm hoping to do some travelling for a while after I'm done working.