On less than 8 hours a week

You’ll notice I haven’t posted for a few weeks and this isn’t for any particular reason.

I’m writing this now because it’s my 8 hour week which means I have no classes today or Wednesday and it’s pretty sparse to say the least. These are the hardest weeks to get through. I hear the fridge a lot.

This is not to say I always have this much free time. Take last Friday during my 16 hour week when I left the house at 8am and got back at past 9pm. All my classes are spaced out in hour intervals over the full school day and I had tutoring after school which I had to cycle back from in the dark up knee crushing hills.

I’m surprised I made it back alive since I had drank one glass of red wine, forced upon me by the Dad of one of the kids I tutor  whilst we watched Romanian village winter traditions on YouTube, which involve dressing up as horses, singing and dancing.

my mood at the moment

I left the flat at 11am this morning to pick up the three Spaniards who were visiting, except the bus passed and didn’t stop where I had told them to get off. I messaged them asking where they were and the guy replied hours later saying he had “ended up in Bonifacio” instead. “Thanks for your help” he said. Yesterday I bought chicken and a bottle of red wine so that I could cook for them tonight. I also cleaned the bathroom, bedroom and living room and managed to turn the fold out sofa into a bed. Fuck them!

I was going to spend this hour or so improving my French grammar but when I logged into my university’s online learning portal I got distracted by the ‘student experience’ sheets. These are specially selected propaganda pieces written by students about their year abroad.  They’re selected for their particular narrative structure which goes something like this: I was excited for my year abroad, when I got there it was tougher than I expected but I took action to improve things and my year abroad finished great.  There exist no exceptions these reviews suggest.

Of course, nearly everyone else’s review which isn’t included is an exception. Anyway here’s the truth, two months and a week into my year abroad: the most meaningful conversations I have in French are with the landlady about her daughter’s progress at school and there is little action I can take to change things. I love it all the same.


I live in a town without a public swimming pool but where nearly everyone has their own, a town which in December is a third of its size in July. Opportunities are scarce. In September when I first arrived, an assistant in Ajaccio suggested I join a choir, which at the time sat in the sunlight on the beach just seemed kind of surreal. Yet a month later I had joined a musical production of ‘Les Miserables’ and was taking singing lessons in French from a 17 year old.

It’s what I had to do. It’s the only thing I could do.  It’s probably not enough to come back fluent but c’est la vie. In two weeks, I’ll be in Paris and that is presently my raison d’être, especially now it’s colder.

Nearly there

Another surreal happening:

  1. An American assistant in Ile Rousse was on Corsican TV a couple of weeks ago talking about why they voted Trump.

3 thoughts on “On less than 8 hours a week

  1. Hope things pick up for you – if you’re struggling to find opportunities to speak French to people, then I’d say the next best bet is to immerse yourself in the language in other ways – French YouTube channels (“La langue française expliquée par un américain” and “Comme une française” are pretty entertaining and I always learn something new!), films or Netflix (or equivalent) with subtitles/dubbing, newspapers/magazines… Alternatively, if your school has one make the most of the school canteen – I didn’t go often, and in hindsight this would’ve been a good way to improve my French and socialise with actual French people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey thanks for your comment. Think the post was a little negative on rereading, i’m actually really enjoying being here. I just wanted to convey the reality of my situation.I guess. Thanks for them YouTube channels, will check them out!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sometimes it just takes a bit of perspective – there are always highs and lows (my second stint abroad has definitely been less rose-tinted than the first) and there’s no shame in admitting the downsides – there aren’t many people prepared to do that. Hope you find them of use/interest!

        Liked by 1 person

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