Monday, December 7, 2009

Around Amiens

Here are some pictures I took awhile back of around Amiens. I'm still meaning to post some pics of the school campus and my room... maybe next week?

Thanksgiving Feast!

I've been meaning to post pictures from our Thanksgiving feast for awhile now. I was hoping to be able to get some of the picture off of Facebook to include a photo of all of the American chefs, but sadly, I'll just have to stick with the pics I took on my iPhone.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Music!

With Thanksgiving past, Thursday was the official start of the American Christmas season. Also in Amiens, the Marché de Nöel started last Saturday, and I got a glimpse of the lights and decorations downtown Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Spiritually, yesterday was the First Sunday of Advent.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ice Skating!

A few weeks ago I went ice skating with my German roommate and four other Germans. It was a fun adventure. The last time I was ice skating was when Spiff and Mrs. Spiff were courting, which was a looooooong time ago (one 'o' for every year). I was really rusty, but it was a blast! Below are some pics of me at the skating rink.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Châteaux-ing, II

The second château we visited was much, much older. Sadly, it had been bombed in one of the wars (I think the Great War, but I could be wrong). All that survives is broken wall surrounding the restored church inside. Everything else was abandoned and enver repaired. Pictures below the fold.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Châteaux-ing, I

One of my first weeks here, we went chateaux-ing around Amiens. We meaning myself and my German roommate. It was a lot of fun. And it was really nice that he brought his car to France. Below the fold are some pictures of one of our adventures.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Back on the Air!

Well, a lot has happened since I last updated! But first thing's first: I think we're back on the air!

Yesterday the school changed Internet filters. I guess they decided the one they were using wasn't strong enough since we could still use and Grooveshark. So they changed to a new filter. At first I was really irritated because I couldn't access some of the things I used to be able to do. Then I randomly visited a blog just a few minutes ago, another blogspot blog, and noticed that the toolbar was available! Before, I could read blogspot blogs but not log in to comment or to post on mine. With much excitement I clicked on the "log in" button and, low and behold, I am now able to post on my blog!!!

Quick updates on various aspects of life

Job: I'm nearing the 2 month mark here in France, and I'm still loving it! I've gotten settled into teaching. I never thought I could enjoy something so much as this. It's been so much fun. I have my off days, to be sure, but for the most part I love the kids, my collegues, and the job. The paperwork, on the other hand, is still overwhelming. I'm not sure why it has to be so complicated!

Church: I found a nice church through several 'coincidental' happenings. I'm amazed at God's grace to me in even these small things. I'll write more about my church later, but for now I'll just say that the people are ever so welcoming. Even with the language barrier, they've been trying to include me in Bible studies, prayer meetings, youth days, and everything that happens at the church. One of the elders even suggested the other day that the church incorporate some English songs to make us (3) anglophones more at home. I actually don't like the idea, but I'm touched by the thought.

School: Master's courses are in full swing. Actually this week is midterms. I'm enjoying them a lot but am still having some trouble getting back into the 'rhythm' of academic life. Funny, it's only been a few months! But I'm not really cut out for online courses, so this is a triple challenge for me.

Housing: I'm living in a dormitory style apartment. I have my own private room but share a kitchen, bathroom, and washroom with 2 other Americans and a German. We have a lot of good times, but it can also be stressful sometimes. I'm sure I'll write more about them in the coming months.

Other: We're starting an English version of The Truth Project tomorrow! I'm so very excited. I'm sad to say that not as many people as I had hoped are able to come (there were four English assistants interested, but it's looking like 1 or 2 won't be able to make it). But God is Sovereign, and I'm trusting that He'll provide those He wants to come.

Holiday: Well, the French have so many holidays. Right after getting two weeks off for Halloween (okay, it was actually All Saints, but same thing, right?), we got the following Wednesday off for Armistice Day. Nice. Now we're all looking forward to Christmas holiday starting on 19 December. Exciting stuff, I tell you. I've asked off for Thanksgiving Day and am awaiting a reply from two of my collegues. 

Okay, I'll try to update in the next few days with pictures, stories, etc.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Two Stories

I still don't have access to Blogspot in my room, so I'm having to do only text updates infrequently until they get that worked out. Hopefully that will be next week. Realistically, it might happen before January. That is, unless I invite the network administrator out for a drink before asking him. Or discover that we're related somehow. Or I marry his daughter. Or my supervisor happens to be his sister. Or he knows and likes another American. Or... well, you get the idea.

One day I'm hoping to upload pictures of the campus. Not sure how I'm going to do this since flashdrives are interdits (forbidden) on the school's computers. We'll see what I can figure out.

Classes have now been going for two weeks. My students range from being being stupid in any language to being straight up anglophones (native English speakers). Seriously. Here are two of my fun stories from the last two weeks:
  • Making my first student cry. Okay, it wasn't really fun, but it was interesting. She wouldn't say anything to me. I asked her some simple question (I think it was, "what are you studying", but I can't remember for sure), and she just gapped at me. I said, "try". She stared at me. I said, "it's okay if it isn't right, just try". She stared at me. I said, "essayes" (try). She stared at me. I said, "parles quelque chose" (say something). She stared at me. I pulled up a chair and sat down in front of her, determined to get something out of her. I did. She covered her face and sobbed. I moved on to the next student. I won't be having her in class again. That's good for both of us.
  • Being taught English by one of my students. I was supposed to oversee a sort of special study hall for three students from different classes. I had done this earlier and found that I like the arrangement since the students don't typically know each other. My first student enters and says (in perfect British-English), "Where are you from?". "The United States" I say. "Ah! I'm so glad to have an English speaker! The teachers here... well they all speak with a bad accent..." I'm dumbfounded. This is more English than I have ever heard from a student. "Where are you from?" I ask. "Nigeria" he says. "Great", I think, "why did they send me an anglophone?" Then my next two students come in. Both girls were native French-speakers and fairly weak in English. So I had to try to teach an English class and be interesting for two people who hardly speak English and one who speaks it as his mother tongue. He was excited to speak English with someone who actually spoke English. He wouldn't slow down for the others, and he just looked at me strangely when I spoke slowly and put breaks between my words. I'm sure he thought I was a bit retarded. I ended up making the class about differences between British-English and American-English. I learned a lot. The girls, I'm afraid, didn't. They mostly just stared off into space while he asked me questions about gangs, hamburgers, and life in America.
I have more, and they'll be coming soon (I hope). Until then, Bon Courage!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Arrival in France

I know it has been quite some time since I used this blog. I guess the last time I really used it was last summer when I was in Brussels. But I'm hoping to get it going on a more regular basis now that I'm in beautiful Amiens, France for the school year!

Where is Amiens, France, you might ask? I had no idea either before getting my letter saying I was assigned here. It's in the north of France, Picardy to be precise. A little north of Normandy. It happens to also be the capitol city of this lovely region.

I arrived in France on September 23 for several days' visit in Paris. I stayed at a lovely guesthouse recommended by some friends who only live a couple of blocks away. I had some great talks with both Mme. and M. B. She's American living in France and married to a Frenchman, so she gave me lots of tips (and an extremely valuable book) on French culture, etc.

Then I headed to Amiens on Saturday. I met up with one of my new collegues at the train station. I was immediately taken and dropped at another collegue's house. This one is married to an Australian who had been home from a world tour with his business for only 2 days. That evening I got to enjoy my first French party (a welcome home/birthday party). Super crazy. But fun. And educational.

And great for my French. In French culture, as in any I suppose, there are so many faux pas one can accidentally commit. What's to be done? I had the luck of being chosen to help serve the champagne. Why? Not sure. This is a delicate task in France. It must be served according to age rank and gender. I had no idea. Nor did I have the foggiest idea who to serve first. Fortunately, my host helped me out. Which was good. The 'oldest woman' in the room looked about 10 years younger than at least two of the others. *sigh* I survived. And they all got their champagne. And no one cursed me in French. They all smiled and enjoyed their glasses of champagne.

And I even got an invitation to another party fort the end of November, to the home of one of the French couples! My American friend's book said this is practically unheard of, so I felt like I accomplished something. At least I hadn't offended them.

Then off to school on Monday. The week was spent filling out paperwork, moving in, meeting millions of people (okay, more like dozens, but they all blend together after about 4 for me). There are still people people who I don't know and don't remember meeting who come up to meet and just start talking to me as if we have been friends since the cradle. I haven't an idea in the world who they are, but they seem adament then they know me. Okay. Whatever. That's French culture! Roll with it. Yesterday I had one of my collegues introduce me to the Italian professor (I had a message to relay to him but didn't know who he was) only to have him inform her, very passionately, that of course he already knew me and no introduction was needed. And a slight wink in my direction as if sharing a joke with me: "silly woman, doesn't know that we're best friends". I smiled back. This is what we do in France.

I'll have to share more another time. I'm having problems with my computer (again, it seems to happen when I come to Europe). I gave it to the Computer Department to work on here at the school, and she told me that the mother board is broken. *sigh* So now they've lent me one for an indefinite period. But I can't access facebook, youtube, or blogger in my room. I have to go to the school's library for them. Posting may be slow until we work something out for that.

Until next time!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Martyr's Day!

It's that time again. I won't go into the reasons I detest the modern celebration of Saint Valentine's Day (if you're interested, you can read them here ), but I will say that, every year I think more about the historical Valentine, I become more convinced that the modern practices of the day should be totally scrapped.

I'm not a female, but maybe one of you can chime in and tell me how romantic it is if your man buys flowers, chocolates, etc. for you on the one day that they are told by the entire culture and shouted at for weeks by store, TV, and radio advertisements how they need to. Let's face it, the majority of American males, even those who passionately love their female companions, are not getting them flowers on this day because of their undying love; they're doing it because they've been guilted into it and feel like their wives have an expectation for it. They're doing it because they are told to.

It doesn't seem to me that romantic attention on this day means much: everyone else is doing it, and you're made to feel bad if you don't participate (however it is that culture tells you to particpate). Buying someone a card, flowers, or chocolate on Valentine's Day to show your affection is rather like showing your love to your significant other by wearing the same clothes you would have anyway or doing some "special job" for her/him that you would have done anyway. It even seems comparable to trying to show your wife you life her by doing your taxes. It seems to me that this day's observances are, in reality, anti-romantic.

All of this is easy for me to say. I don't have a significant other. I am, along with millions of others on this day, celebrating Single's Awareness Day (or S.A.D for short). Perhaps my feelings about the holiday are simply my resentment toward being single bubbling up in me. Funny how I don't feel that resentful though.

But I don't think I'm going to celebrate modern Valentine's Day even if/when I get married either. Of course I'll have to talk that one over with my wife, but it seems much more appropriate to have a spontaneous day of romance at another time (a week later when everything is 75% off!) instead of following the dictates of the combined efforts of Hollywood and Wall-Street marketers, very few of whom have probably even had dinner with their own families in a very long time. Believe me, when I need advice on romance, I won't be going to Wal-Mart or Hershy's executives for for it. Instead, I'd like my family to observe this day as what it was originally intended to be: a celebration of Christ's martyrs, those whose blood has been the seed of the Church. Ultimately, that's a reflection of the most romantic action that has ever taken place in the entire history of the human race: Christ's self-giving sacrifice for his beloved Bride.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Since December

I shall have to update on last semester at another time. Right now, I'm just going to let you all know where I am and what I'm doing right now.

Not much, really.

I graduated from College of the Ozarks with a major in International Business and minors in French and Philosophy & Religion. I did actually make Summa Cum Laude, but there were a few moments of stress and doubt. CofO doesn't have a ceremony in December, so mid-term graduates walk with the May graduates. Right now, I plan to head back up to Branson for graduation in May.

Because of my awkward graduation date and my exceptionally heavy class load last semester (22 hrs.), I did not have a job or any other plans lined out for January. I made it through Christmas with little problems and headed back up to Branson for a weekend to turn in applications and look for an apartment. This is what I really wanted to do: get a job, live in Branson, hang out with my friends, audit a few classes at CofO, and wait around until September when I plan to move to France to teach English.

What really happened is that no jobs to my liking have come open in Branson. I headed south to visit my grandmother in Texas. My grandfather passed away two summers ago, and she's been living on her farm alone ever since (with abundant visits from family close enough to do so). I asked her if she would be interested in me moving down to live with her for a few months before I move to France, and she said she'd love to have me if I could do it. I decided to shop around for jobs in Texas and see what came up. I currently have 2-4 leads and have not exhausted the opportunities yet. Though it's not quite what I had in mind after graduating, I'm excited for this opportunity for many reasons.

My grandmother is a very loving, generous, and caring woman. She's also very wise but at the same time "up-to-date" with the real world. Her mind is sharp and she's in great physical condition too (especially considering her age). She just makes life so very comfortable to be around. This makes it sound like I'm letting her wait on me hand and foot, but that really isn't true either. She's more than happy to make me dinner or wash my clothes, but in reality we do a lot of things together, and I do a lot of things for her. That's not because she needs me to but because she's the type of person that makes just being around her relaxing and comfortable. It feels like a holiday even though I'm doing a fair amount of work. For example, getting up and helping her get breakfast ready at 7:00 isn't really as hard as mornings have always been for me (my former roommates and siblings can all acount to the fact that I am NOT a morning person), though I would still rather wait for breakfast until 10:00.... ;)

Last semester, I also got interested in pursuing a Master's Degree in Psychology or Counseling. Right now I'm leaning to Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling/Therapy. I had planned to do this online via Capella University, but the program is significantly more expensive than I originally thought ($40,700) versus much more reasonably priced Christian universities (Liberty University online or Southwest Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth which both cost less than half of Capella's tuition). I wanted to avoid Christian institutions because I want to be able to work in secular counseling situations, but right now I'm starting to think that maybe I should go for it. I have a fairly pushy recruiting agent at Capella who won't like me to withdraw. I'm already accepted and he's been badgering me to start in Februrary, but I've finally told him that I won't start until March at the earliest. Now I'm reconsidering again, but I'll have to decide by the end of February. Hopefully I'll have a job by then.

C.S. Lewis has also been a nice companion since Christmas. Some friends of mine gave me an giftcard, so I used it buy some of his books. So far I'm enjoying them immensely. I've always liked Lewis; he has a brilliant way of outlining Truth in a way that makes it graspable. Certainly he isn't right on everything, but who is? I've been mostly reading his fiction works: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength (The Cosmic/Space Trilogy), and a collection of short and unfinished stories entitled The Dark Tower and Other Stories. Some are strange, but most are excellent. I'll review the Cosmic Trilogy later. Now I'm out of his fiction (I left Till We Have Face at home) so I'm reading The Four Love again (so far my favorite Lewis book) and random essays from God in the Dock and Christian Reflections.

So here I am in Texas, looking for a job, doing research on Master's, enjoying Mr. Lewis's well-written literature, and thinking about what I want to do with my life. Pray for direction for me, if you think about it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


The semester is over, and the new one is well on its way. I'm not taking classes right now so it makes little difference to me. Graduating from college has proven to be one of the most complex changes in awhile, but I'll write another post on that sometime. This is really just a note to say how sorry I am that I've procrastinated and failed to write anything for soooo long. I'm pathetic. I have no excuses right now, since I'm not taking classes and I'm unemployed. More on that later too. Anyway, hopefully this is the start of more habitual posting.