Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shopping, Snowing, Studying & Strolling!

It was quite cold in Chambéry for the past few days, with temperatures reaching below 0°C!!

Well, Tuesday afternoon my teaching classes got cancelled so I made my way for the first time to the Chamnord Centre Commercial (aka the mall) to get new winter clothes. To be quite honest, I have not really been enjoying shopping for clothes across here. The main reasons are because I have never shopped for winter clothes before this Chambéry experience (so it's a bit frustrating since I'm not sure what to buy!!), and then I like cute/bright/colourful clothing but here there seems to be a wide variety of clothes in grey, black and brown! Not to mention that I also can't seem to find pants/jeans to fit properly!lol. Anyway, I ended up buying a brown hooded jacket of which the inside reminds me of some kinda fluffy animal lol. This purchase turned out to be a great move! because it snowed on Friday morning! It had snowed some days before that, but mainly at night. That morning I walked through the snow on my way to teach at one of the schools, and it was ok because I was warm enough in my jacket and gloves!

On another note, yesterday I spent about twelve hours working on a university project (Commerce International) with a German student. Yes... twelve hours... but the good thing is that we finished!! I think it's also the first time I've ever finished a project so early, a week in advance of the deadline! *wow*

Today I went strolling! It was soooo nice and sunny yay!!!!, plus it was 9°C which is a great improvement from the past few days! My unplanned stroll took me through Chambéry, Jacob Bellecombette, Cognin, La Motte Servolex and back to Chambéry. It took me a little under 3 hours walking around, stopping to glance at the "Vous êtes ici" signs on the maps at almost every bus stop to monitor my progess :-). There doesn't seem to have much to do on Sundays in France since almost everywhere is closed, so walking was fun. There were a few people walking and cycling today too. I think I'll rent a bike one of these days, as soon as I think I'll be completely comfortable with riding on the "wrong side" (i.e. on the right) of the road.:-)

Thanksgiving dinner!

On Thursday evening I had my first Thanksgiving dinner with some of my language assistant buddies from the USA, England and Germany. Ohhh, it was soooo goood!!!!:-) It was a potluck and we had really delicious food!!! :-) The menu included mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey, pink cabbage salad, and fried rice (courtesy me), with pumpkin pie and milk rice for dessert! Drinks included water, wine, and apple juice. I'm thankful for having met some nice people across here! :-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My students are adorable!

Sorry to say I haven't written much about teaching lately. To be quite honest, things are going really well! My kids are absolutely adorable! For instance, I'm constantly greeted by several students smiling and saying "hellooo" once I set foot on the school compound. At first, I felt a bit hesitant to go to one of my assigned schools, but that's over now! Whew!!

Earlier in this experience, I had felt a little sad because some students in one particular class weren't paying attention. It was totally surprising that the next time I had that class, they were veryyyyy interested in the activity I had prepared (fill the blanks song activity). In fact, a girl who was one of the least interested students last time, was the one to participate the most!!! *smile*

So far I've been playing Jeopardy with my classes, listening to songs (while playing the video on my computer), and having them complete worksheets! Jeopardy has had an overwhelming success!! The students are very competitive - which makes the game exciting!! - and they come up with some interesting team names... lol e.g. The Best Women in the World, The S***, Camembert. Worksheets are good for them to actually write something down and help them remember. While I'm only supposed to use English in the classroom, I kinda break that rule and use French with them sometimes. It's for their benefit though. For instance, if we're talking about a topic and they have ideas but don't know how to express them in English ... this results in the dreaded blank stares lol. So in such a situation, I'll allow them to speak in French, while I translate and write the relevant vocabulary on the board.

The week before, one of the English teachers didn't show up at one of my schools. As a result, I didn't necessarily have to teach. It was so strange/cute/surprising when some of the students in the class came to my classroom and said we could still have class! I mean, wow... they actually wanted class!! They/We had fun though; we played Jeopardy!

No teaching complaints here!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nightclub Experience

Last week Thursday, I went to a French nightclub for the first time. My university (well the IMUS - Institut de Management de l'Université de Savoie) had a Soirée Kitch - Tous à pois at Opéra Discothèque, a club here in Chambéry. Basically, it was supposed to be a kinda 80s party and guests were supposed to wear polka dots (à pois) if they wanted a free cocktail! Well it was only 5€ (instead of 10) for tickets bought in advance, and I was curious... so I went (of course, with two English assistants!). Since I only have polka dot pyjama pants lol, I decided to pass on the polka dots.

We arrived at the club a little after 11. First, we had to pay 2€ each to leave our coats. Ok...ready to actually get inside the club... the lady at the coat place, said we had to leave our bags too! I mean, seriously now, my handbag?? With my passport, etc? Sigh! So I had to decide on the spot what I wanted to carry inside... reassured by my friends that my stuff/passport would be safe, I chose to hold my purse, camera and cell phone. All this time, the worker was being a real garce telling another worker "Oh, pourquoi c'est toujours moi?" (Why is it always me?) ... clearly I just ignored her...

Finally, we got to walk around inside the club. After 11pm ... the place was pretty empty - like 30 people if so many lol - and about 80% of the early-birds were guys. The dj was cranking up the techno music! After sitting around for a while, seeing more people come in bit by bit, I finally heard the best song for the night (in my opinion) - Sean Paul's Temperature!!! Yay!!!! Music that would actually be played in a typical trini club!!! lol. The only similar song I heard was Kat De Luna and Elephant Man - Whine up ... that's it!!! The next best song I heard was Discobitch - C'est beau la bougeoisie ... notice something? Veryyy different from Sean Paul, etc... it was pretty much techno whole night!!! and some 70/80s stuff (e.g. We will rock you).

More "culture shock"... There was a glass booth so people could smoke in the club without really smoking in the club (if that makes sense). Drinks were ridiculously expensive ... e.g. 6€ for a glass of Malibu and pine (a TT$15 drink for $TT60!!!). It's not worth it!! Oh and if our French translations were right, it seemed as though people can purchase expensive bottles of alcohol (e.g. 350€ a bottle), and leave it with the club for when next they go back to Opéra. Also, a few times I wondered to myself "why are people dancing so far apart?". Lol, don't lemme start with the dancing! Well to be honest, you can't really look to "wine down the place" haha to techno! It was fun though, just different! And of course, I joined in!! (Hope no Caribbean people saw me embarrassing/enjoying myself, just kidding!). And I didn't come across any sick men either... this is odd... girls just dancing by themselves in peace lol and guys just dancing by themselves... *confused*

Apparently the closest club where they play Caribbean music, etc. is in Grenoble, which is an hour away by train. After that night at Opéra, I was really tired the next day... not so much when I was teaching because the students have so much energy, but during uni... yea, I felt a lil nod coming on after lunch! Overall it was a fun night out, but I don't think I'll be going back in a hurry lol

Monday, November 3, 2008

In Search of Sunshine

Last week, the weather forecast for Chambéry included rain and more rain, and degrees ranging from -1 to about 12°C . Clearly I had to start a sunshine search! Destinations: Marseille and Montpellier!

Two assistants and I got a pretty good deal to Marseille (20€70 one way, not bad at all!!). So we took the bus from Chambéry to Valence (2 hours), then after a quick 15 minute lunch, we were on our way to Marseille on the TGV (1 hour). On our arrival at the station, we located our free accommodation provider lol: a young French guy with a drawing of a couch (too funny lol), with the word couch written underneath. The three of us assistants, the guy and his friend took the métro to his apartment. Very nice place, really artsy too!

In was rainy in Marseille, but the place is so lovely that I still enjoyed it!! (plus it would have been worse in Chambéry so I was grateful! lol). Anyway, to avoid writing a novel! I'm going to see how much of the vacation I can fit in point form:

Tuesday Afternoon/Evening
  • Marseille arrival by train
  • Métro to the Old Port (Vieux Port)
  • Beginning of aimless walking around Marseille done by us assistants
  • Stop by the Tourism Office to get maps
  • Walk around the Vieux Port
  • Walk along la Canebière (historic high street)
  • "Ooh, what's going on there (on side street)?" A market - so I took a picture
  • Angry market vendor started asking me if I took a picture
  • Fearing for my safety, I resorted to "I don't understand! I don't speak French. What?" Lol
  • Quickly left the market and headed back to the main street
  • More walking (we did a lot of that!!!)
  • Heard sounds of water ... where is that coming from?
  • "Holy Moly!" We stumle upon the Palais Longchamps!
  • Of course we just had to visit :-)
  • Alright, time for food!!!
  • Where to eat? Remember, fish-eating vegetarian here!
  • Ended up at a Tunisian restaurant
  • Three orders of couscous (1 chicken and 2 veggie)
  • Hmm, not my thing...
  • "I don't think I can eat anymore" (me)
  • "What? You have to eat all. It's impolite if you don't!"
  • "Are you serious?"
  • "Yeah! It's written outside on the menu in two languages you understand!"
  • "No, seriously? I'm paying my money I don't know why I have to eat all."
  • Remembering aggressive vendor earlier, I decided to not take any chances
  • Shared and tried my best to finish the couscous! Success!
  • "Why didn't you eat all?" (me)
  • "Well, it's ok for a man." Hmm, ok then.
  • Only to find out later that I got punked!!!! Very funny :P
  • Lol, guess who won't be eating couscous anytime soon!!
  • Time for some wine to wash down that couscous lol
  • More walking until we were back at the Vieux Port
  • Happy Hour! Buy one drink and get one free!
  • Time for ice cream lol. Expensive, considering the one scoop we got lol, but delicious!
  • Métro back to the apartment!


  • Breakfast pastries followed by Métro
  • Football stadium!! Followed by visit of the Musée Boutique of Olympique de Marseille
  • This was when the day of walking really began!!!
  • Walk along a really long boulevard
  • Finally, the sea in the distance! but first a quick visit to Parc Borély
  • The sea!!!!! Sand!! lol
  • Rain! Time for shelter at a nearby café
  • Hot chocolate and pain au chocolat - 2€50
  • Ok, back to walking along the coast!! Walking, walking, walking lol!!
  • Arrival at the apartment - 4:30pm ... huh??!! We left the apartment at 10:30 this morning! Wow, that was a lot of exercise!
  • About 30 minutes later - time to leave the apartment again
  • Métro. Beginning of the search for the Cathédrale, Notre-Dame de la Garde
  • Jewish Synagogue
  • Steps to Notre Dame
  • Time for an uphill climb!! (let's not forget the morning walkathon lol)
  • Finally!! Look how pretty!! Wow @ design, roof paintings, etc.
  • Lovely views of Marseille from up there!
  • Time to go. Going downhill was much easier.
  • Random walk in a dark park ... creepy!
  • Time for food!!! I get to pick this time :-)
  • We're in Marseille!! Must have fish!!
  • Checked out some menus,, then chose Café Simon!
  • The food was great!!!!!!!!! I had lemon butter sesame salmon which came with rice, stir-fried veggies, a veggie pie thingy, and of course bread! (It's France after all!)
  • Happy Hour again at Exit Café ("egg zeet" lol)
  • Football match between Marseille and Nantes!! Played in Nantes, so the bar had a nice crowd of Marseille football enthusiasts!
  • "Allez!" "Oh putain!!" "C'est pas possible!!" "Allez... allez!!!"
  • Lol, fun match which ended in a 1-1 draw
  • Eventually it was time to head back to the apartment. The Métro stops at 11:30pm.


  • Breakfast in Marseille, followed by random walk around the area
  • Chocolat chaud in a café
  • On the way back to the apartment - hey, look our couchsurfer guy!
  • Goodbyes and thanks!
  • Reached the apartment, got our luggage, then off to the train station!
  • Hurried and bought my train ticket!
  • Time for the assistants to say goodbye for now:
  • Different destinations: Montpellier, Toulouse, Morocco!
  • I just had to visit Montpellier again :-) since my last visit 2 years ago
  • Randomly assigned seating on the train
  • Good-looking guy on my left, good-looking guy on my right ... hmmm, there's something about Marseille! I like!! lol
  • Sunshine!!!!! Yay, Montpellier!!!!
  • Bit cold, but sunshine nevertheless :-)
  • 3 hours of touring Montpellier! Strangely enough, it felt like home, aww!
  • Train to Valence, then another to Chambéry!
  • What a great vacation!!!!! :-)