Collège Saint-Joseph

Salut à tous!  Since my last update, I have made my final trip to Paris, accompanied by my friends from Dijon. It was an overall amazing weekend and I enjoyed making a trip with the people who have made my experience in France so enjoyable. Apart from last weekend, I’ve been spending a lot of time focused on my ICIP (Independent Cultural Immersion Project). The ICIP is a 10 page reflection required of each Holy Cross student abroad, written completely in their language of immersion. My topic of choice has been my work at Collège Saint-Joseph. Though I briefly touched upon the subject in a previous blogpost, I figured that I would go greater in depth about mon travail (my work) due to the fact that it is one of the most interesting parts of my life in Dijon.

In October, I made it clear to my coordinators that I needed a way to both make a few extra euros and keep myself moderately busy during the week. Within no time, I was given the contact of a local middle school where I had an interview to be a Foreign Language Assistant. After going through the hiring process, I was assigned around 100 students separated into four different classes with whom I would hold English conversation lessons with each week. It wasn’t long until I was spending almost as much time at Collège Saint-Joseph as I was at l’Université de Bourgogne.

At the middle school, I have at least one class from each year: sixième (5th graders), cinquième (6th graders), and quatrième (7th graders). All of whom know an incredible amount of English already, the quatrième a considerable amount more than the sixième of course. In the beginning, I was surprised by the level at which even the 10 year old sixième students were able to understand. Although they are not comfortable enough with the language to hold a conversation, I would say that French 10 year olds know as much English as I did French during my junior year of high school. Having a variation of age groups is also interesting because I am able to see the difference a year makes to a middle schooler’s knowledge and maturity level and how easy or difficult collégiens (middle schoolers) can make teaching a class be, depending on their cooperation.

Each week I teach a different lesson on American culture, which range from the topics of holidays to celebrities, regional differences to eating habits, and I have yet to run out of subjects to talk about. Usually, the classes are less student-teacher oriented but rather are groups of French children asking me to deny or validate their established ideas of American culture. My time at the middle school has really shown me the great amount of knowledge which other countries have of les États-Unis (United States), even if it is sometimes misconstrued. I oftentimes have mes élèves (my students) asking me about random facts such as the meaning behind Groundhog’s day or why Americans in movies always eat pizza with their hands instead of a fork and knife. It would be extremely hard to find an American middle schooler that knows more about a foreign culture than foreign middle schoolers know about American culture without ever visiting the country.

The level of knowledge my middle schoolers have about the English language and American culture really attests to how influential America and other anglophone countries are in the world. It also shows how little Americans know and are taught about the world outside of our borders in comparison, which is a grave problem that definitely needs fixing.

Leçon du jour:  “L’éducation est l’arme la plus puissante qu’on puisse utiliser pour changer le monde.” -Nelson Mendella

“Education is the most powerful weapon that we can use to change the world”

À bientôt!


Photos from Weeks 32 & 33

The middle school that I work at

Quasimoto’s view of Paris

Me and Fabes 

I have visited the Arc FOUR TIMES and still YET to get to the top

le Beverly gang (sans Aislinn)

me in my safe space (Paris)

Ameilie Cafe w Aisling

Des amis

SO thankful for all the friends I have made in Dijon

A Trip to the East

Salut à tous! One thing that j’adore (I love) about France is how committed the French people are to their vacation time. Unlike any other abroad location, the HC students in France can always count on at least three full weeks off during a semester, which is parfait (perfect) for exploring Europe. So, with my first full week of break this semester, I made plans with a few friends to visit three countries that I never dreamed of visiting in my lifetime : Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic.

The first stop on our tour was Budapest, Hungary.  The city was charming and had a culture clearly distinct from all the other countries I had previously visited this year. It was clear that I was no longer in western Europe when I couldn’t even piece together what the language read. One distinct characteristic of Eastern Europe that I grew accustomed to very quickly was the cleanliness. Their value for order was especially apparent early in the morning when I saw shop keepers sweep their sidewalks and throw away the sweepings not into the street, but into their OWN TRASH BINS, something you would never see in a city like Paris, Rome, or even New York. Budapest had some amazing sights to see and the famous thermal baths are definitely a must-do for anyone looking for unique experiences while studying abroad. Overall, my exploration of the city was great, however one situation sticks out in my mind that does not match all the others. While leaving the city Abby, Ava, and I thought it would be cheaper to take public transportation instead of ubering to the bus station. So we bought three tickets for the tram and then transferred into the metro, where the same tickets were ACCEPTED by the machines. Upon leaving the metro we were stopped by security who checked our tickets and told us that we had to pay a “tourist fine” of 6000 forints (20 dollars) for not buying two separate tickets for the tram and the metro, even though this law wasn’t posted ANYWHERE. Because we didn’t happen to have 18,000 forints in CASH, the security had to walk us to an ATM where there was an EXTRA 3000 FORINT CONVERSION CHARGE (10 DOLLARS). I was fuming to say the least. In the end, the Budapest Metro basically robbed Abby, Ava, and I a combined total of 90 DOLLARS and left a horrible taste of the city in our mouths. But I digress…

In Vienna, Austria, our luck improved. After seeing all the beautiful buildings and Habsbourg Palaces we were able to meet up with our international friend from Tours, Zelie! It’s honestly super chouette (cool) having friends who travel the world like Zelie because you never know where or when you will run into one another. Together, we had a typical Viennese afternoon chatting in a fancy café, where I almost accidentally tipped our waiter 50 EUROS (luckily Zelie stopped me before I pressed enter on the card reading machine). That night Abby, Ava, and I were exhausted and were so close to bailing on our plans of going to the 3 euro Viennese opera which was recommended by all of our friends who had already visited. After a few minutes of rationalizing our decision with a, quand à Vienne (when in Vienna), we decided to tough it through and hopefully get to the opera house before the tickets were sold out. After arriving to the ticket booth we were dumbfounded when we saw that the show that was being performed that night was none other than SWAN LAKE. Luckily, we were able to secure three of the last tickets and enjoy the show in the nosebleeds.

The next city on our tour was Prague, in the Czech Republic, where we met up with our friend Nate! It was great catching up with Nate because I hadn’t seen him since Oktoberfest in September and it was refreshing to add a new member to our travel group dynamic. In Prague, we spent four days sight-seeing, eating, and “fika-ing” (sweedish term for having a coffee break and chatting with friends). Although Prague was not my favorite city of the three, I had the best time there just relaxing and enjoying myself in a foreign city with three friends.

Then, after Prague I returned back to France to have my 1 night in Paris with one of my best friends, Caroline, who is currently studying abroad in Paris Rome for the semester. It was a dream come true walking the Seine and visiting the Princess Diana Memorial with her before she jetted off to Dublin.

This trip was truly amazing. It was great seeing three cities that I never thought I would have the desire to visit in my life, and it really opened my eyes to the fact that Europe isn’t just the few west-most countries like France, Spain, and Italy. It also reminded me that I still have so much more to see before the year comes to an end, so hopefully I will be able to cross a few more countries off my list before my time here is up! Wish me luck!

Leçon du jour: Pour changer la mentalité d’un individu, il faut juste changer son environnement -inconnu

“to change the mentality of an individual, you have to change his environment”

A bientôt!