Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I spent last week teaching English at a camp an hour outside of Paris.

Remember how grade school French teachers always seemed so mean? I get it now. Trying to discipline a group of French eight year olds using only English is hard. It was exhausting and frustrating right up until the last day when I realized that in between hitting each other with rulers and staring at me blankly they'd actually learned a lot of English. And when they were on their best behaviour because their parents were picking them up, I realized I'd actually kind of miss them.

Then after all the kids were gone, it was time to drive back to Paris. I remember when I used to work at camp all those summers during high school, we would talk about how strange it was to go back to the real world in September. I figured we were mostly just freaked out by all of the secular music and tank tops, but even after a week at this camp it felt odd to drive through the gates and back onto real streets with cars and shops and grown-ups.

When I was a kid and we would go on long car trips, I knew we were almost home when I could see the mall clock tower from the backseat. It would come into view just as we pulled off the highway, and it meant we were almost there. Saturday afternoon, driving through the outskirts of the city (which look perfectly North American: warehouses, IKEA, car dealerships) suddenly all of the big buildings got out of the way and I could see the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur. Same feeling.

Almost home.

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