Fraser McRoberts

    Fraser McRoberts is in France with the British Council. He is linked with Wallace High School in Stirling.

    The Beginning of an Adventure...

    And so, here I am!  After months, years of hope and expectation I am now sitting in my little studio flat in the French city of Strasbourg.  Capital of the EU, crossroads of Europe - it certainly is a place to behold. 

     I arrived just over two weeks ago - escaping the whirlwind of political passion in Scotland and embarking on the long journey to Strasbourg.  Three hours' drive to Newcastle, a fourteen hour overnight ferry to Amsterdam, and then the nine hour drive through the Netherlands, Germany and France to the city of Strasbourg, located in the Alsace Region of France.  Strasbourg is roughly the same size as Edinburgh, with around half a million inhabitants.  So it's definitely bigger than the tiny village of Crosshouse in Ayrshire that I left behind, but small enough to feel at ease in, which was exactly what I was wanting.  It's well connected, being in the centre of Europe.  Ten minutes on the bus to Germany, an hour on the train to Switzerland, and two and a half hours to Paris.  But don't let me convince you that it isn't worth staying in the city.  Strasbourg has an absolutely stunning cathedral to visit.  Construction started over a thousand years ago, and it certainly provides a refuge from the bustling city on a busy day. 

    The city itself is full of both German and French architecture, having passed between France and Germany numerous times over the centuries, but the culture is unmistakeably French.  Renaults and Citroens whizz past on the roads, and people make the daily pilgramage to their nearest bakery everyday for some nice French bread.  The French culture really is much more relaxed than our have-to-rush-everywhere state of mind in Scotland and the rest of the UK.  Offices and Institutions take pride in closing for an hour at lunch, unlike the UK, where lunch is a sandwich gulped down as quickly as time can possibly allow.

     So, I started working as an assistant at my two schools on Thursday, after an induction event on Wednesday, at which we met all the other assistants who are teaching in the Alsace region of France.  I am working at two schools this year - one lycée and one collège.  For those not familiar with the French Education System, a lycée is a school for students over the age of 16.  Normally 16-18, but the students can be older if they have had to repeat a year somewhere along the line. The collège, on the other hand, is for young people between the ages of eleven and sixteen.  Much like the first four years of secondary school in Scotland.

     So first up was the collège, bright and early at 8am.  Three hours of classes which went smoothly. The pupils had prepared questions for me, which ranged from "What's your name?" to "What did you vote in the independence referendum?". The pupils don't know too much about Scotland, but they certainly know about the recent political situation, which did indeed surprise me!  But I duly answered all my questons, had a quick coffee, then it was down to the lycée for a couple of hours.  Much the same again, but this time I was asked where or not 'Scottish girls were beautiful'.  So, there certainly were questions of all genres, and I look forward to more in this coming week, as I see more pupils and am asked more questions.

     The year abroad certainly has got off to a good start.  I hope it continues this way.  As I sit here just about to prepare a presentation about Scotland, I really am thankful for this year.  A year to learn about another culture, and learn that just because we were born in a different place, does not mean that we are alien to each other. 

     So until the next blog, au revoir!  Tune in the same time next week for chapter two!


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    Project Trust National Union of StudentsBritish Council Scotland