Life Update #11: Fall Semester teaching DONE!

Greetings!

A lot has happened since my last Life Update back in August (can’t believe how time flies!). I’m sure that it’s not much of a surprise, since living overseas can, of course, come with plenty of experiences. But considering that this is my second year in the same city, with the same job, I’d assumed that it would go smoother– while I can say that it has gone smoother in certain cases, other cases have been a complete-180 that I hadn’t expected to have happened at all.

I guess the main aspect would have to be my housing situation: originally, I returned to the same flat that I’d be living in the past year, with the intent of staying for another year. Despite being plagued by roommate issues last year, I chose to stay anyway, as it would be easier with rent and keeping my belongings in one place (after all, I accumulated so much over the past year, and it would be hard to uproot it all to a new apartment). Plus, the roommates whom I got along with (and whom I’m good friends with) would be staying on, so at least I knew whom I would be rooming with.

However, although I knew that my roommates from last year would be back, I didn’t know who would be taking the two vacant rooms in our colocation, as the Spanish students (who lived there from February to July) had already left. While I’d been fine rooming with the Spanish students, I had no idea whom to expect for the upcoming school year– the agency that was in charge of the flat didn’t notify me who would come next, let alone when.

It was a surprise, then, to discover that the two new roommates would be French students in their first year of university. Things were fine for the first two weeks, but then I quickly realized that it wasn’t going to work out in the long-term. I won’t get into the details in this post, but essentially, we were just different people with very different lives, and I knew that if I were to live with them for the entire year, I would be very miserable. I’d also stopped receiving CAF, and without it, the rent was quite high for the place I was living in– by late September, I started taking steps to find a new place and move out.

Similarly, the roommates whom I got along with planned to move out, too. They did not get along with the French roommates at all, and they desired a different place for their own needs. We originally thought about finding a place together, and we even visited a few apartments together– but, due to some complications, it didn’t end up working out. I’m not too sad about it, as we found good flats in the end: they’ve since moved into a colocation, and I’ve moved into a studio (which I’ve always wanted from the start).

Finding my own place wasn’t too hard– I spent perhaps two weeks visiting three or four flats before making my decision. The place I ended up choosing is just a stop away from my previous flat, which isn’t too far (and made moving my belongings not too difficult), and I’m enjoying it so far. While not perfect, it’s my own space and I get to do whatever I want here (i.e. no more sharing!). I have pretty much what I need, including a laundry machine (a rarity in studios) and the rent is less than what I paid in my old flat. Plus, I’m going directly through the landlord, so no more agencies. It’s only been three weeks living here so far, but I already feel much more at ease at home.

Even though I wrote that it wasn’t too hard to find a new flat, it’s not to say that there wasn’t stress involved with it– after all, I had to sign the lease, give notice that I was leaving my former flat, and change my address for the bank, Préfecture, and CAF for mail to be received at my new place…all the while balance the increasing workload from teaching.

…speaking of teaching, I would have to say that my second year as a lectrice has gone a lot smoother compared with last year. I took what I did last year– mistakes and all– and basically revamped my curriculum– in other words, I started completely from scratch, pushing myself (and my students) to teach/learn English. Since my students are studying the sciences (chemistry, biology, etc.), English isn’t their primary course, and it was a matter of making lessons that pertained more to their disciplines to be easier to understand.

I admit, it was a lot more work than what was expected of me (i.e. research science-related topics, grading in-class essays, doing oral presentations), but I was learning a lot in the process, about science (which I hadn’t touched since my college years) and how to engage my students in the topics I was teaching. What I’ve also noticed was that my class sizes were significantly-reduced this year, as opposed to the 30-plus pupils per class last year, which made classroom management a lot less stressful. While there still were some hiccups throughout this semester, I generally feel like I’m doing a better job this time around.

Between housing and teaching, I’ve also been able to make time for leisure activities. I’ve spent a few Friday and weekend nights hanging out with friends, getting dinner and/or drinks in town. While many of my friends from last year have left, I’ve been able to make new friends, which has been good– truth be told, I’d been anxious about it before returning to France, so I’m glad that I have met people to socialize with.

Likewise, I’ve also been able to carve out time for travel. I opted for an extended, four-day weekend in Grenoble in late September, when I got to enjoy the region in the warm, Indian summer heat. I spent my October vacances in Lyon and Paris, which was nothing new, but a much-needed break from work: I had a lot of fun, as I got to meet lots of people, and I do hope to see some of them again.

Just as the end of fall semester goes, it’ll be the same as last year’s: I’m off teaching until late January, which gives me almost two-and-a-half months of break. Of course, I plan to enjoy it as much as possible, and I already have plans during that time off. By the time you read this post, I’ll already be traveling, which is to take me until early December. I’m also returning home to Los Angeles for Christmas, which is a first since living abroad– it’ll be nice to be back with family and see my friends, and I also hope to travel some more while on the other side of the world!

There’s much more to come this year, and I’m hoping that it’ll be a smoother time than last year. No way to guarantee it, but I’ll just have to wait and see. Thanks for reading, and until later!

 

— Rebecca

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4 thoughts on “Life Update #11: Fall Semester teaching DONE!

  1. Can’t blame you for moving out when first-years moved in! When you’re working, it’s nice to have your own space. I agree with you about the need to craft your curriculum around your students’ interests – my second semester classes went down a lot better, as I had a better grasp of their needs. I think it’s just a case of being open to trying new things and recognising that mistakes will be made along the way, and so long as you learn from them, they’re no bad thing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d like to think that not all first-years are bad (nor irresponsible), but from the month or so living with a few, I can’t quite imagine them otherwise. Definitely agree that pushing myself to make lessons more centered around the sciences (for my students at the science campus) is more engaging to them and to myself. I learned a lot, just as much as they learned English (I hope)!

      Liked by 1 person

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