I decided to go and visit my friend I met through CouchSurfing. It would be perfect. It's not too far away so the train ticket doesn't cost much and I get free accommodation and I get to see my friend again after almost 4 months. And after feeling sad for an entire week I really wanted to see my friend. I'm looking forward to it a lot.
If I haven't mentioned enough already I hate Fridays. I have half my entire week's classes on a Friday. I've gotten sick twice since I've been here and both times occured on a Friday. I am just mentally and physically exhausted by Friday lunchtimes. And then come Friday afternoon when the whole school becomes empty I'm left alone and feeling very sad and lonely and bored...
This afternoon, though, I had a "Sliding Doors" moment. I was walking to my last class of the day at 4:30pm. I can choose 2 ways of getting there. One is entirely outdoors and one goes through a passageway. They are both the same distance but I usually choose the second one when it's cold and it's been rather cold today (around 2° all day).
If I had chosen the other way it would have ended badly... For one thing, I would have walked all the way to the other side of the school for nothing because the teacher I work with would not have been there. I doubt he would have called me but even if he did I didn't have my phone on me.
I walked the second way and bumped into him. He told me the kids were having a class inside a big truck that drives around to various schools teaching kids about science. It was parked out the back somewhere and we had to walk through the gymnasium to get there. It was the FIRST time I had been inside the school gymnasium and it was much bigger than I thought (I had seen it from the outside already of course). There was a huge rock climbing wall!
Anyway, so we both went into the truck and checked out the little experiments inside (the kind you find in hands-on museums). I LOVE stuff like that! It was so cool. To think that was considered as 'teaching' when all I was doing was playing. So. Much. Fun. There were various experiments and the one I looked at was about skiing. I felt very sad on the inside that I still haven't experienced yet here in France. I'm kinda annoyed actually given I paid a fortune for travel insurance that covers me for skiing/winter sports too.
Anyway after the kids and the other teacher went home I got talking to the science teacher. She was about the same age as me and we got along well immediately. She said she had to get to the library before they closed so I went with her. By some strange coincidence someone had handed in a letter of mine that I dropped earlier today there and the librarian gave it to me. I would never have known about it otherwise as I almost never go to the school library (which the French call a CDI - Centre de documentation et d'information).
Since she lives in another town and would be staying overnight and since I have nothing to do during my horrible hated Friday nights we mutually decided to do something together. I was so happy and over the moon! OMG human contact. What a novelty ;)
We had dinner at a kebab restaurant in town that I'd been to before with my CouchSurfing friends (story no. 1). We talked about all sorts of stuff. About ourselves, our lives, about the truck.... She said she was really disappointed that the principal (at my school) didn't help much, nor did the town. It's quite hard for a school to get the truck as only half that apply that get it and it never goes to the same school twice. So not many people knew about it. I hope tomorrow when it's open to the public people go and check it out. Such a shame. It's the kind of thing you expect to pay money for but it's totally free and nobody knows about it :(
Anyway, it was so nice to have a conversation like that with her. I love meeting new people and talking with them 1:1 and finding more about them. It was like the kind of conversation I'd have with someone on a first date where you try to find as much information about them as possible...
I asked her about her boyfriend. I love hearing "how we met" stories. She's been with him for 4.5 years and tells me she thinks he's "The One". She was gushing about all the great things about him and I saw her eyes sparkle talking about him and how they got together. I love hearing these stories as it gives me hope...
After that she dropped me back at the school/internat and I invited her in for a cup of tea. I also showed her the rest of the place and we played table tennis. It was so much fun. I have not played that in about 4 years. I kind of wish I had a friend that would come and visit me (from Australia) so I could show them my school, the internat, my town, my new life... since noone has come I felt kinda excited to show it to her.
She reminded me of a young Jodie Foster. She said I was welcome to visit her in her town any time and we could hang out over a weekend.
She told me that she had spent a year in the US when she was 18, and then a year in Canada during her university years.
I know it may sound like a generalisation but I came to this conclusion a long time ago. Those French people who have been nicest to me are those who are open to new cultures, people and languages and who love travelling. Usually those who have lived abroad too. It's not just a French thing either. I find that people who enjoy travelling and learning foreign languages are just so much more OPEN to all the possibilities out there. Other people are just closed and have this, "my world/country/city/language/ culture/people are the best, why do I need to know about the other ones?"
The staff didn't allow her to stay in the internat on a Friday night so she had to go to a hotel. I asked her what it was like (expecting that it'd be nice) but the way she explained it... it was pretty hilarious. She was saying that she got the impression that the couple who ran it had never left this small town. They seemed like characters in a film or a book. And also the way she described the hotel too - the wallpaper, the smells.. oh it was all too funny. But the way she described the owners is exactly what I feel about a lot of people in this town, even some of the teachers.
It's really why I am dying to go and live in a bigger town. It doesn't have to be huge, but just bigger. I find that the people are far more open and welcoming. Well at least that's what I've experienced after visiting all the towns that I have...
So back to the "Sliding Doors" thing. If I had walked the other way, I would not have met the teacher, I would not have known where he was, I would not have known where my students where, I would not have known about the truck (I heard about it on Monday and Tuesday but thought it had already left), I would not have met this nice girl, I would not have gotten back my letter, I would not have had someone to have dinner with, and have great conversation and play table tennis with, etc etc...
I'm so glad I decided to walk that particular path!
I was feeling rather sad all day long but now I feel much happier. It always makes my day when I have 1:1 interaction with someone. It's one reason I realise I could never become a teacher. I can't stand big classes. Even 12 people is too big for me. I much prefer small groups of 4 or less. Also I can't stand teaching people who just don't want to learn. Because, when I was student I loved learning and I loved getting good grades. But there are those students who are the opposite and don't give a stuff and I hate being the one who has to force them to learn. I mean, I'm not their parent and I don't feel like doing the job of a parent either but I'll leave this topic for another post...
Anyway I feel much much better now. I always feel so much happier after having a conversation with someone, like yesterday morning when I spoke with a newish staff member (not a teacher). It's taken a while for us to get to that stage where we can talk freely with each other. She's close to my age, well maybe slightly younger (I assume) and is also single and I find that singles are usually more welcoming to making new friends so we have that in common too...
I'm trying very very very hard to forget my ex but still have my sad moments.. every little thing triggers a memory of him (songs, clothes, smells, food, places, objects). I'm sure it'll get easier in time. For now I can look forward to a great weekend ahead! Fingers crossed for nice weather.
Now all I need is for it to snow soon and I'll be back to my old, happy self :D
Bon weekend, everyone!