Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I thought it was a good week. Until Wednesday.

My week started off great. We had Cyr's family over for raclette on Sunday. I thought it went pretty well, even though I do get nervous having everyone over. What if there is an awkward silence? I can't fill it because my French isn't that good. I can only ask questions really. But it was fun. Cyr's Mom brought two bottles of the fantastic wine and we sat around and ate melted cheese and hams all afternoon.

Monday morning was spent trying to get rid of the headache I had from the wine and the Chartreuse I drank on Sunday. The afternoon however was fairly interesting as I had a meeting with some division of the French government about my carte de sejour. Cyr went with me to translate. I saw a doctor and got a chest x-ray, they took blood, weighed and measured me and then put us in a room to watch a film about France. I really do wonder if they don't let people in because they have high blood sugar or are too heavy. "Oh, sorry miss, but we already have our quota of women under 5'2" (translate to metric though) so we are not going to issue you a Titre de Sejour. Merci."

Then I was called in to speak with a women who was to determine my level of French and see if I could get the free classes. I did a quick one page test and tried to speak with her. She said my French was not that bad, but that she could give me 150 hours of class if I would like them. I told her "heck yeah" in French and I should be getting a letter that tells me when and where. All I know is it's 12 hours a week and not on Tuesdays. I am really excited about that.

Then we waited some more and saw another woman (girl really, probably 22) who had me sign a contract with France. Apparently I am now legally bound to believe in the equality, fraternity and liberty. Not a problem. Then she pulls out a folder, after much stamping and signing of documents, and hands me my shiny, new laminated Titre de Sejour!! WOW!! I have it! I can work with my real card! Until November 11, 2009 that is, then I have to renew it. They also told us that after we are married for 3 years I can apply for a 10 year card, that's nice to know.

Tuesday I had my classes. I thought they went well actually. I had my two crazy classes first, which I ended early and began doing oral exams with part of the class. I had them sign up last week so they knew it would be a short class that day. I then went to teach at my Big School and the class went pretty well there too. I ended up staying late helping a student with a letter, then packed up to go home. Then came the first problem of the week. I could not find the key to the classroom. I searched everywhere and it was not in the room. I searched pockets and it was no where to be found. I thought maybe the person that was teaching before me picked it up because we both had our things strewn around the front of the class. Alas, no key.

This typically wouldn't be a big deal. If it were not for the fact that the keys are ALL master keys and open every door in the building. I tell the receptionist I will look through my things at home and bring it back if I find it. On Wednesday I looked through my things and there was no key to be found. I decided I better call my supervisor at the school. Before I could do that, my cell phone rang. It was my supervisor from the Other School, I guess I can call it The Small School because it's not a Grand Ecole (Big School). She sounded very upset, I could tell in her voice something was wrong. She finally got around to telling me that one of my students complained about me yesterday. He went to someone (I think the front desk person) and told her I had ended class early and it was not the first time I had done so. Wow, this is the first I have ever heard of this happening. Then she said I should either write to the student and apologize or speak with him and tells me his name. Seriously? I need to apologize to a student for letting them go early? Interesting. I told her that if they felt this was something awful maybe the teacher that is going to take over my classes in March should take them over right now. She said the kids had enough change this year with new English teachers and that I should continue. Oh...please fire me. Please.

I got off the phone with her and called my Big School supervisor to tell him about my inability to locate my key. When I asked him what typically happens he said "Well it's a master key, so all the locks in the building will have to be changed." Fuck me. If they dock my pay I will probably owe them money. What a freaking moron I am. Plus I had to tell everyone that I was leaving and it's hard to find teachers so I'm not exactly on everyone's favorite list. I hope I don't plan on teaching when I return to Lille. I'm leaving quite an impression on everyone, and unfortunately it's not a good one. Maybe they will have all forgotten me by then...

My plan is to talk to the student and tell him that if he has a problem with the way I teach or what I teach that he is free to come to me to talk about things. I thought this was a business school. Is that how they teach them to do good business? "To get along well in the workplace kids make sure to complain about people to their bosses as opposed to working it out with them." I just don't think it's necessary to go over someones head. It' s not like I am intimidating or anything. I find it a bit cowardice to not face your problem head on. I'll talk to the kid, but I won't be bullied. I am half tempted to let them go early again next class just to piss him off, but I won't. I also don't understand why everyone is so afraid of the students here. I remember when I first started and they kept changing the day and time of the class because the students didn't want to have class on a Friday, or they didn't want to have it after 4 during the week. They are students, I thought we told them what their schedule was. I was wrong.

I'm sure something else will go wrong, it's only Wednesday today after all. I have a group of oral exams Thursday, maybe someone will freak out on me.


Leesa said...

Holy Cow, Susan! Sorry about your day yesterday! I think just have the headache was enough!! Well, first... keys are pretty easy to lose, I don't know if it was on a keychain or not... but I have lost single keys pretty easily in my life... But, I know - when it's not your key, it makes you feel like a **! It happens, though... to me, too...
And that student... what a wimp! I think people are afraid of confronting the actual person because they are afraid to face the person--- but, look... now he has to face you anyhow! So, I hope you tell him as you said... it's better to confront the person about the problem themselves... Oh well... I wish you good luck... He will learn a lesson from this in any case as you didn't do anything wrong... Gee..
Take good care and may the rest of your week be a good one!!
HUGS, Leesa

Anonymous said...

Seriously what bozos decided that one key would open ALL the doors. That was just an accident waiting to happen, honestly. If it wasn't you that lost the key it would have been someone else to do it. Stupid, stupid, stupid idea.

Sorry about your bad day. There's always one bad apple who spoils the bunch in terms of students, try not to let it get to you. I hope for your sake you won't have to teach when you come back to Lille either, I know how draining and unsatisfying it can be in some circumstances.

Sally said...

Hi Susan
Just discovered your blog ... have read a few posts and will be back!

Susan in Lille said...

Leesa - thanks for the encouraging words, you brightened my day. :-)

Rochelle - I thought the same thing. They even have different buildings and the keys open ALL the doors in ALL the buildings. Stupid. I think I better learn French over the next three years so I don't have to teach. Are you working? Is your French improving?

Sally - thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Susan- Yeah, I'm working, but not that much thank goodness. I found a gig where there isn't any lesson prep but the pay is really low so it balances out I guess. I usually work three times a week. My French is improving but ever so slowly, that's why I'm trying to post in French every few days on my blog, which takes ages and is full of mistakes but at least it's something I guess..

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