Category Archives: France

Marseille

There are tons of things I should not be complaining about.  I live in France, I’m contractually obligated to only 12 hours of work per week, I can leave my landlord to scrub the bathtub if I damn well please— life is pretty easy.  But some of the things that give me pause in this first year of life as a “Big Girl” spiral toward the same point: a lot of the things we are taught to believe about the way the world works are off.

Quite off, if we’re talking about Marseille.

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As the third biggest city in metropolitan France, there’s a lot to cover.  The glorious sunshine (300 days of the year, Hallelujah!), the sea, the history, the views… But when I told a lady sitting next to me on a cross-Atlantic flight that this is where I would call home for the next 8 months, she looked me straight on and said, stone-faced, “Honey, are you sure? You know it’s like *whispering* the Middle East?!”

Right.  I’m not saying there are no problems.  This city has issues of unemployment, child poverty, drug abuse, violence.  The kids I teach are going through some of these problems.  I don’t pretend to understand what it’s like to live with that reality every day; I have the choice to commute to their neighborhood for work, whereas they were quite literally born into their circumstances.  This is where I find myself getting the most angry at people who make comments like the lady on the plane.

These kids are brilliant.  They are bright-eyed, excited, good learners, kind.  It gives France a bad name, a prejudiced, bigoted name that can only whisper of the diversity that exists in this city to dismiss it, or parts of it (the famous “Quartiers Nords”) as part of the chaff to be swept from the table in favor of homogeneity of culture.

Maybe you believe that as an outsider I cannot understand.  Maybe you’re right.  But I am here to assert that A) not everyone is like that whispering woman in the window seat, and B) these kids deserve so much more than outright dismissal, just like this city.

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Rant over.  If you’re ready to hear more about this city of surprises, read on.

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Word of the Week!

écoeurant: adjective

no direct English translation, but close to “nauseating,” as in anything that makes one want to vomit, especially something that is so sweet or rich or delicious it makes one want to hurl after consuming too much.

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Word of the Week!

ignifuger: transitive verb

to make flame-retardant

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Word of the Week!

bachoter: intransitive verb

to prepare hastily and intensely for a test with the only goal being a passing grade, not learning or new knowledge, to cram

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3 weeks left!

As of today, I have three weeks left before I fly back to the US.  My tentative plan is to travel after finals end and spend at least a few days exploring the south of France, as I still don’t feel like I know the place very well, aside from Menton.  During that time I hope to catch up on all of the posts I intended to write or wrote but never published, including all of my travels, some pictures, general commentary about life in Menton, and a tidbits from here and there that caught my fancy.  If you have suggestions or questions, please let me know and I will do my best to respond to them.

I also have been working on a few informal  blogging projects this semester, the final results of which I will post when I get back to the States.

Right now I’m not sure if I’m going to keep this blog going after May 29th, since I’ll be back in the States and I started blogging because.. well, take a look at my goals page.  I do have a propensity toward seeking out interesting things in ordinary places and who knows if I’ll be inspired to explore my own country and blog about that.  What’s your take?

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Word of the Week !

imberbe: adjective

beardless


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Word of the Week!

hâbleur: noun, masculine

someone who boasts and exaggerates, braggart, hotshot


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