Bonjour et bienvenue!
This first post will be somewhat brief, as it is already late here and this is week is quite busy. I do plan, however, to post a couple more times this week and start adding photos, so there will be quite a bit to share with you!
For the time being, I wanted to give an update on the stagiaires' (quick note here, stagiaire is a French word that really means something like "intern," but has become the traditional way to refer to our students) first day at the school as well as their first experiences with their host families. After an 8 hour flight and a few hours in the bus from Paris, our stagiaires were extremely tired as they got off the bus to meet their host families, who, as usual, awaited them with huge smiles. We have several returning families as well as some new ones, and they have been very anxious to meet the students, so they were quite pleased to see us. This year, we were lucky to come in on a Saturday, giving the students all day Sunday to readjust to the new time, the families, the food, etc., and today we (the profs) got to hear all about it.
The first day with a host family is always a challenging one--your students will surely have some stories to share with you--but it seems as though everyone is settling in well. Many had remarks about the food--first that there is a lot of it, and second that they love it (or at least most of it)! Many families had friends and extended family over for dinner, especially since it was also Father's Day here, so the stagiaires got their first taste of the importance of the French dinner table! Of course, many students remarked about the difficulty to communicate right away as well, which is normal. In a few days, they'll likely have adjusted and begun communicating more with the family, though it is a long and sometimes frustrating learning process. I have the impression, though, that this is a very positive group of students and that they'll persevere, and they'll be all the better for it!
Today was our first day at the school, which began with an entrance exam that will be repeated at the end of the summer for comparison. After this, we made some announcements, went to lunch, then went on a small tour of Saumur. We walked by the post office, a couple ATMs, and the small supermarket to orient the students to the more practical side, and we stopped by a few other points of interest as well, such as the Mairie (the city hall), the bridge that crosses the Loire, and of course--the château!
After returning to their host families, the students came back with their families for a quick meeting introducing the program and discussing possible tricky scenarios with the host families (e.g. how would you explain how to use the washing machine only in French?) before sending them off for the night. Tomorrow, we have the onsite orientation for the students, and Wednesday, our first normal class day! The stagiaires will never have a dull moment--that's for sure!
That's about all I have for you for now, but here's an idea of what will be coming up in the future:
- A description of Saumur and the region
- A description of a typical class day
- Updates whenever there is an excursion, holiday, or other important events
- and many many photos--I will be posting all my photos to a picture website which will be made available to you via this blog. Your students will of course have many of their own photos to share with you as well when they return!
I'm very much looking forward to the adventures to come and sharing them with you. Feedback is always appreciated--it's always possible you will be very curious about a certain aspect of life over here and I won't have thought to post about it, so feel free to contact me either here or at firstname.lastname@example.org.