Sunday, September 14, 2008

Arrival in Paris

We arrived in France this morning, exhausted but excited. Our contact from the Fulbright Commission, Amelle, met us at the airport and we all went together to the FIAP in the 14th arrondissement, which is essentially a hostel, and we are staying here until Thursday for our initial orientation into the program.

A few of us got together and had our first real meal of the trip at a little brasserie/cafĂ©, where we successfully ordered and paid for some delicious French food. We then came back and got settled into our rooms at the FIAP. I’m staying with Carolyn, who I got to know during training in Ohio. Like me, she is eager to speak as much French as possible to improve fluency, so I think we’ll be good influences on each another. Once we all go our separate ways to teach, she’ll be going the farthest—she’s teaching in Guadeloupe! I’m really looking forward to hearing about her adventures.

I still haven’t heard about my official school placement, but I found out I’ll likely be living in Saint Denis (to the north of Paris) with German and Polish first-year teachers. I’m probably going to be placed in a high school somewhere near Saint Denis, but I’m not yet sure which one. At this point, it looks like I'll be working in English language and French literature courses. Nothing's official yet, though. The French education system divides the country into regions called “academies” and I am affiliated with the academie of Creteil while I am here, which is to the south of Paris. I'm surprised to find that I'm not living/teaching closer to the actual city of Creteil, but ironically Saint Denis seems to be a pretty similar area, though farther away. When I go to education classes (at what's called an IUFM), I will be going to Creteil.

Tomorrow, we'll get to hear talks from some people in the field of education here, and apparently I'll get to meet someone from my IUFM--so who knows, maybe I'll get some more information about where I'm living/teaching. We're also going to visit the Louvre in the afternoon. Then we'll have our first real evening in Paris, as most of us are going to sleep early tonight. We've been awake for well over 24 hours now.

On that note, I'm going to head upstairs and get some sleep. I'll post an update on our Paris orientation as soon as possible!

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