April 27, 2004

Flying Home...
I've finally got my flight booked for going home.
I'm leaving on the 15th of May, and I'll be arriving the same day after a 13.5 hour flight, plus a few hours of lay-over in Toronto.
I tried to get a later date, but they were all booked until the middle of June (and I already had June 30th, I just wanted something earlier, but not too early. So I rebooked, and ended up getting the 15th of May. Am I too demanding?).
Yup, I'll be leaving shortly, after eight months here in Europe. It'll be great to see my family and friends back home.
Back from Switzerland...
I'm back from Switzerland now, in Lille :( I had a great time there. It was great to visit my friend, and to see some mountains, and water, and green grass, and the sun in a blue sky! I actually got a bit of a tan. I fed the Swiss cows up in the mountains, drank water from little Swiss villages, rode the tram in Zurich, chilled out by the Lake of Geneva (Lac Leman), ate a lot of Swiss chocolate, and all in all had a great time.
I'm going to Ieper (Ypres) in Belgium tomorrow, then to Gent (Ghent, Gand) the next day. I really don't want to spend more time in Lille than I have to. And on top of that, it may be a while before I'm so close to Belgium for a while. Ypres should be interesting because there is a Flanders Field museum there (stuff about the Great War from 1914-1918). I'm sure that you've heard the poem 'In Flanders Fields' by McRae. I've heard that Gent is really nice- it's supposed to be as nice as Brugge, but with a lot less tourists (and it's closer to me, meaning that the train ticket is less).
Then I'm off to Stockholm on Friday. I'll be there for a day or two, then I'm going to visit Terry, a friend who was working as an English assistant in Lille, for a few days.

April 23, 2004

Hello from Switzerland!
Well, I made it to Switzerland safely. In otherwords, there were no bombs on the rails. I do not know if you have heard about the terrorist organisation in France that still has 10 bombs that they are going to put on the rails somewhere in France. It is a bit scary if you ask me.
Anyway, I went to Geneva the first day, and met up with my friend Conrad. On Thursday I went to the Chateau de Chillon , Montreux, and Vevey (the headquarters of Nestle). The Lake of Geneva is amazingly beautiful. It reminds me a lot of the Rocky mountains. It has been so long since I have seen green and water (there is hardly any green or water in Lille), that I was almost giddy when I saw the lake, mountains, and green parks, lol.
Today I went to Lausanne, and walked around for a few hours. I went by the home of the Olympic Organisation, and bought a lot of yummy Swiss chocoalte!

April 19, 2004

Back from Amsterdam!
It's been crazy saying goodbye to everyone.
On Friday evening I went down to Arras to say goodbye to the Canadian guides down there that work at Vimy and Beaumont-Hamel. I've gotten to know most of them through the 7 months that I've already been here in France.
I went to Amsterdam on Saturday morning, and got back yesterday evening, where I went to visit my friend Sebastian (who drove down from Germany). We got there so late in the afternoon that all of the youth hostels were full, and we couldn't get a hotel room for one night. So, we spent the evening sleeping in his car. At least it was only one night, and he decided to come down by car and not by train!
The city is quite beautiful, with the tree-lined canals and Flemish houses (although I've seen a lot of that style here in the North of France). True, the city does have a dark side (sex and drugs, etc.), but I found the Dutch people all really friendly. When I got lost, and was looking at a map, some Dutch guy stopped on his own and asked if I needed help, then showed me where I was on the map, and how to get to where I was going. You'd think in a big city like Amsterdam that the local residents would be fed up with tourists, but they weren't.
Anyway, I'm off to Switzerland this Wednesday to visit Conrad, a friend of mine from high school.

April 15, 2004

I'm Done!
Wow! I can't believe it, but I'm now done working. I just finished my six hours of school today, and I'm done working in Lille!
The first school that I worked at this morning was really nice. The kids did up some giant cards, gave me two books, and made a t-shirt that they signed. The profs at that school gave me some nice coffee table books to take back with me.
I'm off to Amsterdam this weekend, to visit a friend of mine that I haven't seen in about two years now. I'll be leaving on Saturday morning, and getting back to Lille on Sunday or Monday. Then it's off to Switzerland for a week.

April 13, 2004

Chtimi (a.k.a. Chti'mi, Chti, and Patois)...
The North of France (Lille area) wasn't always part of France. In fact, it used to be part of the Spanish Netherlands.
They have a peculiar accent up here, even when they aren't speaking in full-on Chtimi. It took me a while to get used to the accent, and I think that I've picked some of it up. Unfortunately for me, people in the rest of France laugh and mock the accent up here in the North.
The new parking meters, the ones where you can select the language, now give you the choice of French, English, Dutch, and Ch'ti.
A few examples of Chtimi to get you started:
Kmint qu'i va? = Comment ça va? = How are you?
Cha va = Ca va = It's going well
J'em lonme... = Je m'appelle... = I'm called...
Mi, ej su = Moi, je suis = Me, I am
J'ene sai pon = Je ne sais pas = I don't know
San vos kmander = S'il vous plait = Please

April 10, 2004

Back from England...
I got back from England last night. I was glad to have spent some time there, but I didn't really get to see much. I spent a lot of time chasing around 61 French kids, and translating, since only two (including me) of the five accompanying teachers understood/spoke English.
I'll write more about loosing 30 kids in Madame Tussauds Wax Museum later, after I'm not so frustrated.
I didn't actually see much of London, since the "tour" (if you can call it that), was done in a bus. I didn't even see Buckingham Palace :(

April 06, 2004

Going to England...
I'm going to England! Yay! And the school is paying for it! Double Yay!
The only thing is that I have to baby sit kids while I'm over there. But that shouldn't be as bad as it sounds, because we're put into homestays (so that we can improve our English!), so I don't have to chase them through the halls of a hotel. Not only that, but most of the students who are going are in the European classes, meaning that they are more interested in English, because they've chosen to take an extra 2 hours of English a week at school.
In any case, we're leaving early tomorrow morning, and taking the ferry crossing from Calais to Dover (Douvres in French). We'll then stop at Hastings for a picnic lunch, and in Brighton to take a look at the Royal Pavilion. The next day (Thursday), we're going to Winchester, to take a look at some sites, and do some shopping. The final day, we're going to London to hit up the main tourist sites. We'll then go to Mme Toussaud's Wax Gallery (I'm not overly thrilled, but most of the pupils are), then we're going to take a tour of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre before heading back to Lille on Friday evening.
Yay, I'm going to England!

April 05, 2004

Fete des Fallas...
On Saturday night, they had a big "Fete des Fallas" in Lille, as part of the Lille 2004 project. As I understand it, the Fallas part comes from a tradition in some part of Spain where they burn big bonfires, etc. So, each quartier of Lille had a big structure made of paper mache and wood, which was lit on fire at some point in the evening. The bonfires weren't as big as I had expected, but I guess it was something. They also had a few fireworks that they lit off, but as usual, the fireworks were lit behind a building, so that no one in the crowd was actually able to see them (except for the reflection in the windows).

April 02, 2004

Psychological Reeducation...
Have I mentioned that there is a room in one of my schools (that was built in the 1970's with a sign on it that says "Psycho Réeducation"?
I think that it's used for storage now, but what was it used for before it was used for storage?

April 01, 2004

Happy Birthday to Me!
Hey, I just thought that I'd say Happy Birthday to me, since it was my birthday yesterday.
I had a relatively calm day. I got woken up at 5h30 by some guy dragging his bike down my hall, at 7 by the garbage truck, at 7h30 by the sun, and then finally at 8 by my neighbour playing his loud music. I had a nice breakfast, then talked to the accountant at the foyer where I live to get some money things worked out (which they did!).
A friend took me out for lunch and ice cream, then I went shopping and spent too much money on new clothes.
My parents called, but I missed it because I think that I was trying on a new pair of trousers when my mobile vibrated. But they left a message and sang me Happy Birthday :)
I went to bed relatively early, because I had to get up early for school today, and I've got six hours of teaching to endure (I'm 1/3 of the way done right now!).
The teacher who was supposed to give me a ride at 7h35 called me at 7h30 to say that he is sick, so I got to school 1.5 hours late.
Behn ouais, c'est ma vie en France...