William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

Ste-Anne, part 22 (another e-mail to the Outside - program stuff, Ukraine, future plans)

(Vendredi, Juin 1)

Pour le troisième fois, quelque choses de mon courrier électronique à mon amie cela vous peut-être trouvez intéressant :

… It’s lunchtime Friday now, and it’s a good quiet time here (in Bretonne, with all the more advanced folks who are still in class until 12:30pm) to have my door closed and locked so I can reply to you. =) My reply might be a little incoherent. I can’t bring myself to really pay attention to my English composition because it causes too much interference with my French.

… I suspect all the time I spend writing (even in French – actually, especially in French) is impacting on the studying and lab work I’m supposed to be doing. I’m going to see if I can cut back on it a bit. But there are only two weeks left of immersion now, so changing my habits probably isn’t worth the effort if things have worked well enough up until now.

Yes, they do accommodate [for fussy eaters] quite a bit here – although I think if you had to live here for much more than a month, you’d be sick of it. They’ll make alternate entrees for vegetarian-esques and keep them behind the counter, and there’s always a huge salad bar and wrap bar available, so you can make your own concoctions to some extent. And let’s say you wanted plain spaghetti, you could just ask them to give you the spaghetti sans sauce.

I have to let you know that my tendency to take the opportunities I’m presented with is both a late tendency and a tendency borne out of sheer necessity. My first job after university was remote keying… ugh! Now I like to think I sort of have a plan, but it’s pretty flexible and modular, with lots of room for surprises (like this) to fit in. =) The thing is, I don’t actually like trying new things, or having lots of surprises, but I force myself to do try initially, which gets me through until I discover that I like what I’m doing. =)

I think my most distressing experience in this sense was being stuck in Ukraine for 6 months. That does sound uncharitable, and I had lots of great experiences there, and overall I learned a lot and wouldn’t change anything, but for the whole thing put together, it rates a minus; a really good, useful, important, learning-experience minus - but a minus nonetheless. By the beginning of October I was going crazy and there were still three months to go. So what I did (along with reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living and the DFAIT’s “A Profile of the Interculturally Effective Person” a bunch of times) was threw myself into a bunch of English literature that I was supposed to have read in university but didn’t (e.g., Austen) and stuff that I should have read just because (e.g., the Brontë sisters). I suddenly got interested in getting my English Honours (seriously interested instead of just wanting it for the prestige), and so that’s what I did the following winter. Right now if there’s one thing I would change, a thing that I could have changed about Ukraine, is that I would now try a lot harder to communicate in Ukrainian. I never really did, unlike with Polish (and now French). I mean, I could do simple stuff like order a beer or a taxi or a bus ticket, but I wasn’t talking to my host family in Ukrainian (they were dour and sullen, and the two “kids” (adults, really) spoke English, so I didn’t really have to try), and everybody at the university except the cafeteria ladies spoke English as well, so it was never necessary to really learn Ukrainian; we tried, but we lost interest (with alarming speed). The only people in the group that got good with it either 1) had been in Ukraine before 2) had distant relatives in Ukraine to hang out with or 3) ended up marrying a Ukrainian boy. =)

I think I know how you feel about teaching in terms of the ups and downs. When I was in Poland assisting the English teachers in a small town, it was tremendously exciting and invigorating at some times, whereas at other times we almost literally stared at the clock waiting for the bell. The experience gave me an appreciation for the difficulties and rewards of teaching. I have aspirations to get my education degree and teach school for a while – maybe if I work in a place like the UK and get paid in pounds, I can pay off a hypothetical Canadian student loan (whether a gvt. loan or a bank loan) more quickly – save a pound from my paycheque there, it’s two dollars here. (Side note: I met a guy at the bar last night who had to borrow $20,000 just to get through his regular (year-round) immersion program here. Now after his degree, he owes $40,000. Ei-yi-yi.)

But I don’t want to teach for my entire career, I just need a respectable way to finance further studies in self-improvement. =) I can’t with any conscience stop my education now when I still have to learn advanced mathematics, learn to speak a foreign language (or two), and learn to play an instrument (and sing as well). I don’t think I can even begin to be considered educated until I get that stuff done, and I’ve been letting it sit for much too long, thinking it wasn’t necessary. Hah. Right.

… I’m sorry that a lot of the stuff in this e-mail is kind of negative, and it’s weird because right now I’m in excellent spirits. I know I’m going to survive the program, and that’s a huge confidence boost for me. I learn new French every hour (well, except maybe this hour) =) and this is going to be one of the most unique experiences of my life, and it will pave the way for many more like it.
Tags: sainte-anne 2007

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