A six month "stage" or the start of a new life in a new country? My emotions are on a roller coaster at the moment and possibly because of being away from my "home" country for close to 6 years I am currently wishing to be amongst those who speak my tongue and within a short drive of friends and family.
For the boys it is the end of the first 3 weeks of school. They have done fabulously well. I don't think I would have been too happy to be abandoned with a group of people that neither you understood nor could understand you. We have had tears mainly at school drop off from the youngest but the staff have been lovely and are really trying to reduce the pain of their transition. The school only has 2 classes; within each there are 3 different class groups. Our youngest is in CP - the first official year of school. But in reality all French kids have been at school in les maternelles from about 3. CP just formalises the learning and when they officially start to read. He has the Grand Section of maternelles with him in the morning and the CE1 (class above CP) with him all day. In the words of the teacher - she's not left with any time for the fun stuff in class because she is concentrating on the reading, writing and maths between the 3 ages. The eldest is in CM1, the second last year of primary school. He has CE2 and CM2 in the same room with him. His teacher is also the headmaster. He doesn't teach on a Friday so that he can do the paperwork that goes along with the job. There are no TA's and no school secretary. This is a French country village school with only 65 children.
The school has made efforts to accommodate those children who don't have French as their first language. This means that Monday and Tuesday they are in their respective age group classes following the national curriculum. Then on a Thursday and Friday those who don't speak French have special teacher who comes in to teach French language. There is a centre for asylum seekers nearby so there are a number of children who are in the group. The boys are coming out with more words at home, slotting them in the middle of english sentences.
The boys have also joined a football club. Unfortunately the training is at different times. The youngest on a Saturday and the eldest on a Tuesday at a village 15 minutes away. This makes it a logistical juggling ball to get the youngest to basketball in the village closest to the house at the same time the other is meant to start football! A french neighbour across the way has a son who does the football training and he has offered to take our eldest - so hope he remembers!
To sum up - how's it been so far? Well for the boys they are slowly making headway with the language and feeling more sure of what happens at school. My husband has headed back to work in the UK to ensure that we can still pay the bills. And me? Well I lost my best friend and am left feeling a bit liked a beached ship. I speak the language, but not as well as I would like and talking can sometimes be an effort. I end up restricting it to what I need to say. We are in the countryside and I am discovering that the beautiful sunrise over the Pyrenees, the huge numbers of birds of prey and deer loping over the fields is not sufficient. I need more stimulus, more options of courses and activities. And, I never thought I would say this, I miss like minded people - who have given up a birth country to settle in another. But that is why we decided to rent for 6 months whilst house hunting. We have committed to no more than a mobile phone contract and the cost to register the car in France.
Week four looms with 2 challenges - getting the headlights swapped over to LHD ones and a day's training in ski de fond (x-country skiing) for me so that I can accompany the school on their day out in early Feb. Just need to find skis to rent, find out where the course is and understand it! Not much then! Will update how it all went next week.
Welcome to my first foray into the world of blogging. I hope it will be something that develops and improves with my writing style. It is my experiences of foreign cultures, many similar to my own and some completely alien as I live an expat life and throw in the odd journey or two along the way.