France Blog #2: Oct 4, 2017

 As I walked back from the post office today, feeling like an adult for having successfully accomplished a mundane task, I reflected on what I should recount in this next installation of my France Blog.

In a word: beauty.

It’s almost eerie sometimes how clear it is to me that I am meant to be here.

In my bedroom in St. Louis, I stuck glow-in-the-dark stars to the ceiling, each one serving as a reminder of a good memory. Then, as I settled in for the night in my bedroom in France—the housing itself was one big symphony of provision—I saw above me glow-in-the-dark stars. The ebenezers, the reminders, of the goodness I’ve seen, followed me across the ocean.

More beauty: living in a warm house and getting to eat yummy dinners with a family who makes me laugh. Playing board games in French. Meeting new people. Walking to the bakery for a loaf of bread. Quiet.

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On this past Saturday, I got to go on a little adventure to Blois, a nearby town with a big, beautiful castle. The best part was having my two friends, Stephany and Alexis, serve as tour guides. We explored the castle and the town, ate sandwiches on picnic benches, and rested in the sunshine as bright, beautiful roses called “Snow Queen” and “Joseph’s Coat” bobbed in the breeze.

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My days have been pretty lazy so far, but I pepper in some exploration and rest, too. I make sure to chat often in French, to try new things, to push myself socially. I like to go to the coffee shop downtown. I give myself little chores or missions every day that force me to go to new places or do something that might intimidate me.

Yesterday, however, was my first day of school. My first day of work!

The purpose of my first week is to get used to the schools (I work at two) and the kids. First, I helped out in a drama class, having to be extroverted and energetic strictly in English in front of a group of shy kids. It was so rewarding to watch the energy and personality of these kids slowly bloom before me. At first they avoided eye contact and began with small, half-hearted actions as we played acting games together, and by the end they were laughing, sprinting, and cheering each other on. All that made any initial awkwardness totally worth it.

The rest of the day, I was interviewed by three different English classes. It’s important to note here that all my students believe I can’t speak French (well, except one girl who kept catching my reactions when students spoke in French). So all the kids had to ask me questions in English! I was already so proud of them and how they built their sentences, worked hard on their pronunciation, and interacted with a stranger in a foreign language.

Some highlights of their questions:

–May I ask a personal question? What’s your favorite color?

–What is your favorite vegetable?

–Are you married?

–Can I have your phone number?

–What do you think of Donald Trump?

Fun cultural note regarding the last one, thanks to la laïcité, a strict separation of church and state in school, I am not allowed to share my political, philosophical, or religious opinions in the classroom. So when I was asked about the American president, I had to shrug and say that Americans don’t like to talk about politics. And, well, that’s not entirely incorrect on my part 😉

Profound thing I learned this week: don’t let one bad experience prevent you from something beneficial. In short, if I take the bus once and awkwardly can’t get off the bus and look stupid in front of everyone, I won’t know if my experience will be consistently crappy and awkward unless I go on the bus again. (I did. It was fine.)

Well, I am off to prepare some audio activities for some English classes and probably end tonight with a board game (that I will probably lose to my 7-year-old housemate).

French word of the week: etre dans la lune: to have your head in the clouds

Moi, je suis toujours dans la lune.

Please pray for:

Courage, wisdom, energy, and kindness.

Please participate!

If you have any questions for me, any requests, want a postcard, or want to keep in touch, I’m available at all these places:

Instagram: @catbake

Twitter: @catbakewell

Email: catherinebakewell@gmail.com

Facebook: /catherine.bakewell.5

Love,

Catherine

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(Tried to take a sneaky selfie as I walked back from the coffee shop c;)

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