Tag: French

‘Last Day’ and Thoughts from Lyon

Day Five in Lyon:

Today was our last day in the wonderful city of Lyon. The trip as a whole has been absolutely incredible and the memories of it will be held in my heart very dearly for a long time. The experience of being completely immersed in a different culture is challenging but worthwhile and it is something I would recommend to anyone who is given the chance. The trip has given me more confidence to pursue languages in the future. I love studying French but before the trip I felt so deeply embarrassed to admit that I would like to study it further at university because ‘I’m not good enough’. I still don’t know if I am or not, but now I know that one day I will be. I am determined. The group has become so close during the week that it will be strange to go our separate ways when we get back to England. We have also made friends who are students here and we will hopefully stay in contact with them in the future.

View of the school from the accomodation winow

This morning we went to the primary school on campus and joined in with an English lesson. They were doing a listening exercise like the one I had seen earlier in the week, except this one was about the school day. These students were about ten years old and they were fascinated by the differences between French and English schools. The audio was a series of statements about school life and after each one the teacher asked us whether it was accurately describing English schools. We confirmed that yes it is true that the typical lunch involves sandwiches, crisps and fruit but no not every school has prayer time. At the end of the lesson we were treated to a little song from the pupils which went: “Hello, hello, my name is…”. At the end of the lesson my little friend from Wednesday came running up to me and gave me a big hug. We walked out together and C asked her jokingly whether she would like me to stay and be her English teacher and I was amazed to hear her reply of: “Oui oui oui!” accompanied with: “You stay here!“. It was very heart warming.

Me and the little girl

But sadly it was time to go and we were soon packed up and in cars travelling to the airport. It was a lovely hot day and we were all very sad to be going. We had been saying to French teacher C all day how much we had enjoyed the trip and how we didn’t want to leave. However they may have a point when they say ‘be careful what you wish for’ because our first problem occurred at the very beginning when the check in desk couldn’t find our luggage booking and therefore didn’t want to take our communal cases which were holding all of our belongings. Whilst we were waiting for this to be resolved we had a very make-shift picnic composing of: cake, oranges, chocolate mousse with no spoons and apple juice. We were all absolutely exhausted now that the adrenaline of the week’s adventures had left our systems and I found myself cat napping with my head resting on a packet of baby wipes. Eventually C and J returned without our bags and we were able to go through security. Staff member CH had placed a large soft cheese in her hand luggage which she had rescued from going in the bin after being uneaten during our picnic. It was at the security scanners that I learnt my fact of the day: a large brie cheese is actually classed as a liquid. So, alas, fate got its way and the cheese went in the bin.

Once we were all in the departures lounge we settled down, though it wasn’t long until we learnt that our flight had been delayed. At frist we were not sure as to how long for, though there were rumours that our 12:30pm flight would be departing sometime after five in the evening. We decided to live up to our previously discussed British stereotype and get some sandwiches for lunch and wait and see. It was after I had eaten a very nice mozzarella baguette that I fell asleep on an airport bench and when I woke up I was told that the flight had been cancelled. Everyone was now slightly bemused as we had to go and collect our luggage (which we had to fight hard to be taken in the first place) from the arrivals carousel. Then C and J joined a large queue of passengers at the information desk to try and find out what would happen next. This was a long wait so CH entertained us with an incredibly difficult crossword from the back of a newspaper and R took us out to sit in the sunshine on the tarmac outside. On finding out that our flight was cancelled a member of airport staff said: “It must be destiny”. I thought this was a slightly odd thing to say. Eventually we got the news that we would have to stay in a hotel in Lyon over night and then fly to Munich, Germany, tomorrow afternoon. From there we could fly to Birmingham. The brief trip to Germany would almost double our flight time as it was an hour in the wrong direction, but it was the only way of getting back.

Welcome airport sign

Myself, J and P looking sleepy on an airport bench

The hotel we stayed in was very nice and the food was lovely. We joked about how we had probably been given a favour by the airline! The hotel even had wifi, something which we had all had to live without for the last five days. I discovered a good French immersion exercise:

  1. Lock your key card in your room.
  2. Go down to reception and explain this in French to the receptionist and ask for another key to a room which you think you remember as being yours.
  3. Go to the room and open the door.
  4. Find surprised staff member J in there.
  5. Go to reception and explain in French that you got the wrong room number and yes, there was someone in there.
  6. Go to the correct room and try to deal with the weight of the responsibility that having two keys brings.

All key chaos aside, keys seemed to be a running theme in this trip, we had a very nice time. We had time to socialise together because there was nothing timetabled, so a few of us stayed up until late in the dinning room talking. We are also all excited because in our rooms rectangular pillows await. Tomorrow will bring three countries in one day… well lets hope so anyway!

The Language Nerd is Unleashed

Day two in Lyon:
After a night sleeping on slightly bizarre cylindrical french pillows we were very excited to encounter our first French breakfast. Breakfast appears to be a big deal here, with tables littered with platters and jugs of hot drinks. As an ad-hoc breakfaster myself I was initially wary, but I can never refuse a hot chocolate. A few people in our group were fascinated by the concept of brioche: “So it is like a cake without fruit or chocolate or anything?” They asked before grabbing another slice.

After eating far too much we headed over to the CDI. It stands for: ‘Centre d’Information et Documentation’ and is the equivalent of a learning resource centre with computers, books and desks to work at. It was here that I attempted to write the blog I published yesterday using the french AZERTY keyboard. This wasn’t overly successful so I ended up, despite initial deep reluctance, buying some roaming data from my phone company. The things I do for this blog…

books in the CDI

One of my favourite parts of the day was when a few of us helped out in an english class. The pupils were preparing their speaking exam texts (something I have just finished for my own oral exam in a few weeks time). The language nerd in me was thrilled with the task and I was soon on with editing an essay about Rihanna with a pupil. I know myself that there is nothing more frustrating than someone correcting your work without any reason as to why you were wrong in the first place; I therefore made it my personal mission to explain every correction I made to her in French… No matter how hard I found it to translate. This however did make me realise how complicated English is as a language, and how little attention I give it on a day-to-day basis. The past tense for example: I ate, I have eaten, I did eat. How do you justify one as correct but not the others? I found myself desperately rummaging in my language knowledge for anything but “It just is” as a way of reasoning. It was fascinating- and after all the mental language analysis explaining in French was the easy part!

After that we went into some classrooms and spoke to some students. They were all very friendly and we got to see the “Iris”. The Iris is the equivalent of the Humanware Braillenote which is a Braille computer that is very popular with VI people in the UK. The Iris also has a LED display so a teacher/parent can read in characters what is displayed in Braille on the refreshable display. It was very interesting and the pupils clearly found it vital to their learning.

After lunch we had a talk about traditional Lyonnaise food and then we went out to an Art Deco 30’s style apartment. It was set out exactly how it would have been in that era and it was fascinating to see all the furniture. The flats were used like council flats, with rent at a subsidised rate. They were very popular with massive waiting lists. I especially loved the giant communal balcony looking onto the busy main road.

the  view from the 30's apartment

The final adventure of the day was a family meal. I was very nervous about this because I was worried about my French not being up to scratch and also being faced with a lot of unfamiliar food. Myself, K and staff member R went to a lovely lady’s house a couple of stops down the line on the metro. She made us a wonderful chicory salad followed by creamy oven baked potatoes. I really surprised myself with my French and found that it was getting easier as the night went on. By the end I was barely thinking before replying to something in French- a big improvement on my usual ‘I have to get it right’ attitude.

R, K and Me at the dinner party

Bonne soirée!