I'm done. How strange it is to write those simple words, but I really am finished with my work in France. Last Friday, the 22nd of April was my last day teaching, so I've taken a few days (ok, a week) to contemplate my feelings about all this and come up with some final thoughts.
I think my feelings towards a lot of my classes can be summed up in the manner I was bid farewell during my very last week teaching.
Monday: I had an early morning class with my 4ieme Euro students at Paul Riquet. Half of the class were still coming back from a school trip to Germany, so I only had half the class. I really liked this particular class (Euro students are those that volunteer to take an extra hour of a language course) so they were always eager and fun to work with. I only saw them every other week however, so it was hard to build any kind of close rapport with them.
The other class I saw on Monday was the 3ieme 4 at Paul Riquet. These students barely noticed that it was my last day etc, and I admit that working with them was oftentimes difficult. - so no real surprise at this goodbye.
Tuesday: I saw the 3ieme Euros at Paul Riquet, and chatted with them about their recent trip to Germany. This class gave me a better farewell than the two on monday, since I saw this particular class more often throughout the year. These students were the highest level of students that I worked with, and I really enjoyed class
time with them. Some of the girls even made me cards!
-I'm skimming over a few classes-
Wednesday: I said goodbye to my favorite class of all: the 6ieme 1s at Paul Riquet. I was with this class of 11 and 12 year olds since the start of the year, and they held a special place in my heart for my entire stay. I couldn't have asked for a sweeter, more enthusiastic, and more intelligent group of students. They all really liked the last lesson that I did with them, and at the end of the hour, most of the girls lined up to give me the French bisous and homemade cards. My heart just melted! I'll miss them.
Thursday: I saw the 3ieme Euro at Henri IV for the last time. This class turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me. At the beginning of the year, getting these 14 - 15 yr olds to talk was like pulling teeth. They didn't participate with me, and they seemed woefully behind. By the end, however, they were much more outgoing and comfortable and were genuinely sad to see me go. In truth, I'll be sad to see go as well!
Friday: I said goodbye to my little class of dragueurs (male flirts) in the 4ieme 1 class at Henri IV. This class was one that I saw every Friday, and though they were often too talkative, they were a fun, and sweet class. The girls all expressed genuine farewells, but the boys in the class seemed heartbroken by my departure.
For the most part, I really enjoyed my 7 months working in France. There were days when I was tired of everything, or my classes were uncooperative, but looking back, I will keep so many more good memories than bad from the schools.
The city etc that I lived in, Beziers, was admittedly not the best, but there were some beautiful parks, charming cafes, and friendly people to distract me from the lack of nightlife, and aggressively harassing men on the streets.
I hope to keep in touch with my teachers and perhaps even visit the area again someday.
At the moment I am on vacation (again) in Portugal, so stay tuned for some vacation posts!