Alors, my official last day as an assistante d'anglais is over. I had a little gathering with the English teachers this morning, and we said our goodbyes and exchanged presents. I had bought a few little things for the teachers as a thankyou, but I didn't expect anything in return! They bought me two novels and two MASSIVE books of French poetry, and a magnet map of 1920's Paris, which will be fun to examine in detail! They also wrote a lovely wee card, saying lots of nice things, and they told me I was the best assistant they'd had in years, and they wished I could stay for next year. So cute!
Then I had my last two classes. Denis, one of the English teachers, said he had to come with me to the first one because he had to tell the students off for misbehaving. It was terrifying. Denis is the nicest, friendliest guy in the world, and as soon as he walked into the classroom he let rip, fully yelling at the students, saying really harsh things that no Northern Irish teacher would ever get away with. I was scared, and it wasn't even directed at me! I'd heard about this strange French phenomenon of shouting at, ridiculing, even insulting students if they've misbehaved, but I'd never seen it. And I'm telling you, it was scary. Then, when he was finished, he turned to me and smiled and was like, "Thanks again Kristina, see you!" And left! Wow.
My second class was with my favourite students; six carrieres girls, who are soooo cute, and hilarious. We did a little exercise where they invented a character and wrote their life story, which they all did really well, and then we played Who Am I (the game during which another class didn't know Joan of Arc was French). Which they loved. Then at the end, their teacher Florence and the other half of the class came to say goodbye, and Florence took my address because she wants to write to me. Aw!
After that, I went to say goodbye to the Proviseure (I was particular about doing this from the start, because apparently last year's assistant left without saying goodbye to anyone, and they were super offended, understandably.) I gave her a little box of sweets, and she acted like it was the nicest thing she'd ever gotten (so sweet!), and told me I was always welcome to come and visit them.
And now I'm sitting in my wee bare studio, writing this post and wondering where seven months has gone. I can't believe I'm going home tomorrow, never to return to the little town of La Chatre (Well, at least for the forseeable future). Once again I'm feeling happy/sad. I'm going to miss the friends I've made, and the students, and the peace and quiet of small town French life. But I am SO EXCITED about getting home and back to normality.
It's been a bit of a suspended reality, being here. Because nobody has seen La Chatre (except Caroline), I feel like it's something special, just for me, unable to be shared with anyone. A whole seven months of my life, completely separate from everything else I know and have done. It's the strangest, most surreal feeling to know that, even when I leave, life will continue here just as it always has, and although I only spent a short time here, I think I've made an impression (however faint) on the lives of the people I've met. The teachers say I've restored their faith in the assistantship, and the students have learned where Belfast is, and what someone from there sounds like. The people I've met have certainly made an impression on me. They have shown me how kind, hospitable and generous of spirit the French can be, and completely subverted all the rumours I'd heard about the "cold, unfriendly French" I'd always heard or been told about.
I'm really grateful for all the opportunities and experiences I've had here, and I just can't believe how incredibly lucky I have been in my placement here. I'm still in a state of disbelief that it's come to an end and I'm going home.
I just checked on the school's blog, and one of my students left a message about my blog post, saying thank you for how much he's learned with me, and that even though he's better at German, he thinks that if he'd had more classes with me he would be even better at English. He also said that he wants me to come back and be their teacher again, and I'm not allowed to forget them or he'll come and tell me off. And now I'm crying. *le sigh*