Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Loving life in Caen

PROJECT: Tutoring & Immersion
WRITTEN BY: Jennifer Khouw Ft Benjamin Blackshaw

I’m staying just outside Caen, a major town in the Normandy region of France, about 2 hours by train from Paris.

Frénouville, the small country town where my host family lives, doesn't have much in it at all; a school and pre-school, a bakery and a small news agency.

Normandy itself is heaven for people who love food and those who love history. Cities such as Caen and Bayeux have many museums and historical artefacts linked to William the Conqueror and the coast to the North is, of course, the historical site of the D-Day Landings.

Despite all the preparation beforehand, nothing could prepare me for the 'lost' feeling that occurs when you end up on the other side of the world, tasked with speaking another language. Pretty quickly however I became used to being immersed in French and conversations have become easier!

My host mother runs a "mix-mash" service as a babysitter, after school time carer and canteen, it's quite difficult to explain but essentially, instead of an after-school care service in the town, mums send their children to a group of 3 or 4 other mothers (called "nou-nou" in French) who supervise these children at lunch times (French children can go home for lunch time) and after school whilst the parents are working.

The ages of the kids are anywhere from new-borns to 11 years of age. For the past two months I've been playing soccer with them, teaching them Aussie Rules (update: it's been nearly 7 weeks and they've just got the 'hand-ball' down pat) and answering many questions about Australia (one boy couldn't believe that we don't keep Kangaroos as pets). Slang is one facet of any foreign language that you don't learn in high school and therefore spending time with these kids has greatly improved my comprehension of less-formal French!

Other than this, English lessons take place nearly every night for the host mother and I'm either reading French books or watching TV, trying to immerse myself in the language as much as possible.

There's only 1 week left which is awfully sad, but this week I'm heading North with my host family to Rouen. It's been amazing so far and whilst I'm not looking forward to next week when I have to leave, I know that the memories from this experience will stay with me forever

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