Diana Majerowska

Diana is in France on her year abroad from University of Stirling. She is linked with Breadalbane Academy in Perth and Kinross.

First weeks in Avignon and Halloween!

Salut S3 et Monsieur Reaper!

Sorry for the big break between this post and the last. As you can imagine, it’s been a very busy few weeks for me! The journey here was very long, but it was okay because I had a book and lots of snacks to last me the hours I spent on the plane and train!

Avignon is very beautiful; it’s a charming, historic town, with lots of old buildings and tiny winding streets in the city centre. In fact, the streets are so narrow that the easiest way to get around is by bike, so to answer one of the questions you left, yes, lots of people ride bikes! The city centre of Avignon is entirely enclosed by over 4km of walls, which remain from the 14th century. That divides the town into intramuros and extramuros.

The house I’m staying in is very nice. It’s intramuros, which means it’s inside the walls, close to the city centre. I live with three other people, one of them is a teacher, and one is a university student. The third one works different jobs, so he’s away quite a lot, but he has two cats who decided they like me and basically live in my room. Their names are Kiwi and Sidney, and they’re siblings! Here they are sleeping on my bed.

 

I also started teaching! I work in three different ‘primary’ schools, or écoles primaires, with students aged from 6 to 11 years old. In total, I work with 14 different classes! It’s a lot of names to remember, I don’t know if I’ll ever manage it!

The first week I was just observing- I got to sit in the classrooms during lessons and watch how they’re taught, what the students are like, things like that. The second week is when I started actually teaching, and it was very stressful, but I think it went well. At one point I was left alone with one of the classes while the teacher went to look for a CD. The children were asking me questions about Halloween, because they don’t really celebrate it here in France.

The holiday celebrated instead of Halloween is Toussaints, or All Saints. This is celebrated on the 1st of November by most Catholic countries (like my home country Poland!). It’s not like Halloween at all, because you don’t dress up or go trick or treating; instead, you visit cemeteries and light candles in memory of your loved ones that passed away.

My classes, however, were more excited to hear about Halloween. I told them about where and how it originated, and how we celebrate in Scotland. I’ll give you some Halloween words in French, let’s see if you can work out what they are!

une sorcière

une chauve-souris

un chat noir

un fantôme

une araignée

une citrouille

un déguisement

I also brought some treats for my classes; shortbread, tablet, and some butterscotch sweets. They were all very excited to try some traditional Scottish sweets!

Now to answer some more of your questions; I definitely miss home sometimes, especially when I talk to my family and friends and realise that I can’t just hang out with them like I used to; or, when I’m shopping and I can’t find a certain item that I could get in Scotland! Which brings me to another question…have I tried French food, and is it different? Hahaha, yes to both! Food here in Avignon is mostly fresh, with a lot of farmer’s markets and fresh fruit and veg stalls in the mornings, and there is a LOT of meat and cheese. And I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t have a baguette (and they are also delicious, always freshly baked and soft... I’m getting hungry just typing this!)

With my first holiday in France, I have a lot planned. I booked a holiday in a town near Avignon, called Montpellier. In all the photos I’ve seen online it looks beautiful! I wanted to visit Paris, but I think I’ll leave that (and visiting the Eiffel Tower) for another time. Do you guys have any suggestions of other places I could visit in France? Preferably somewhere close to Avignon, haha!

I’ll leave you with some photos I took a couple days ago, when I went up a hill in Avignon called Rocher des Doms. I went with a friend, and we spent a couple of hours there and watched the sunset, and I could see the whole town! It was absolutely beautiful.

 

Wish you all a very spooky Halloween!

À bientôt! -Diana (and Sidney and Kiwi, who are currently all over my desk as I’m trying to type this)

Goodbye Scotland!

Salut S3 et Monsieur Reaper! It was so nice to meet you all the other week. I hope you all did well on your test (and I’m sure there was no nee...

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