Monday, May 3, 2010

First Day of School

My phone alarm went off at 6.30 the next morning and I got up, feeling quite rested, but thinking it was very dark. I made my breakfast and lunch and had a shower and got dressed and thought that it was really still very dark and as it was summertime. It shouldn’t be quite that dark, without a sign of dawn anywhere. I looked at my watch and discovered to my horror and amusement that it was just 5.30. My phone was still on Dubai time, so I had carefully clambered out at 4.30. I didn’t to back to sleep, I did some Preparation on the computer for the day instead.

We had a good laugh about that and I set off just after 7.30 to try and get to school. I was absolutely terrified. The car felt bigger than the Kia and I had already tried to get in on the wrong side. Try was the operative word! I saw an awful lot of Chantilly that first morning and lots of it was on the narrowest roads that you have ever seen. At one intersection I realised I was on the wrong side of the road, so had to back up and move into the correct place, but then I couldn’t se the traffic lights as they are level with the front of the car and there are none on the other side of the road. Two ladies were having a good laugh on the kerb and there was a police car across the road. I turned and went down to another crossroad and got stuck in the middle, eventually going round when the traffic had to stop. In the end , I climbed out of the car and said to a man on the side of the road in a plaintive voice,

“Monsieur, Je suis perdue!” He had no English, but I understood à gauche, à droite, à gauche, à droite, even if I didn’t quite get to do that the first time. However I managed to follow the instructions with only one wrong turn and to arrive in one shaken piece and park in the wrong place. The day was going to be easy after this.

The staff were very pleased to see me. There were quite a few children stuck in different parts of the world as well such a Luxor, Portugal somewhere, Corsica and various other places. They staggered back in on different days of that week and the next.

It was quite a fascinating day language wise. The children are all fairly competent in English, but prattle along in French at different times during the day. I needed to tell them to stop and speak English, but I didn’t want to. I was keen to listen. They are good and help me when needed. Their English is not bad, but their sentence construction is rather poor and their tenses get lost somewhere out there. Several parents came to say hallo, all in French, but I coped and understood most of them. I am desperate to go home much more fluent than I am now. The mix of nationalities is amazing. Most of them have parents of two nationalities and many were born in different countries around the world. The little ones are sometimes hard to understand, but seem to understand my French if I have to talk to them.

School starts at 8.30 and finishes at 4.00pm. in all these hours I only manage to have 12 hours face to face teaching! There is supervision of kindergarten lunch, which is in the dinner room and is lunch they bring from home. Some have food which needs to be heated and it is an interesting time.

I have many, many hours off during the week and the school closes at 12.00pm on Wednesdays.

Hometime!!! Off I went and promptly got lost again. It doesn’t really make sense, but I think I have so much to think about such as staying on the correct side of the road, dodging other cars and almost falling in the ditch because some people want the whole road. I eventually arrived and gray was a bit staggered at the site of me. Think I must have looked pretty ghastly as the coffee appeared rather quickly.

I cooked dinner and listened to where Gray had been walking. He had had a one sided conversation with an old woman in the forest, but they managed to understand each other, somehow. I needed a glass of wine! Horror of horrors, no corkscrew! I tried to lever it out with some scissors and then to push it in. Last time I shall try that one! It went in quite easily with a whoosh and the ceiling, the walls, the floor and me were completely covered in red wine!!! Another laugh! We are doing well on the laugh scene. We got it all off the nice patterned white wall paper, even up the sloping roof which is hard to reach. The wine wasn’t even a particularly nice one.

We talked about where I had to go the next day and I worried all night because there was one stretch I couldn’t remember at all. I dreamed about it of course and thought I would never get used to the car or the driving on these roads. We bought a yellow road sign to put in the back of the car that was a diamond shape and it says” G’day” and has pictures of a kangaroo and a Harbour Bridge and the words, Sydney, Australia. It isn’t my choice of words, but I think this helps as people have been pretty good, staying back and not getting too close.

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