An anglophone from the west. A francophone town. Hoo boy.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Did you know I rock?

My first round of midterms is already over. I have a few more exams to go, some projects and a presentation but the results are so far so good. An A+ in chemistry, and an A in botany. Not bad for studying in a second language and holding down a full time job... then again, I'd be pretty disappointed with myself if I wasn't getting straight A's.

Case in point: we were given a third of the questions to the botany exam in advance, and the chemistry exam had such difficult questions as: what is the chemical process that occurs in plants and involves chlorophyll?

First person to answer, gets a prize!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Friday night rumble

Last Friday was opening night for the Montreal Canadiens. We stayed in to watch the match, because we're boring old people it seems. Sadly, the Habs lost to Buffalo in a shootout. The shootout was boring, but the match was pretty intense. This being the 100th anniversary of the team, people are already buzzing about their chances for the cup. I always kid with my students that the Flames will take the cup this year, but everyone knows that won't happen...

After the game, we were crying into our beers and looking for televised entertainment to cheer us up. All of a sudden, there was a loud crashing sound, and the whole building shook. We thought a truck must have rammed into the side of the building. And being downtown, that isn't entirely out of the realm of possibility. So we checked outside -- nothing. We went downstairs to see if the building (it is 100 years old this year after all) had suffered any damages. Nothing. The neighbors were all outside too -- they had felt the same thing. The local consensus was that since there was no truck sticking out of the side of any of the buildings on the street, it must have been an underground explosion. Nothing. No smell of gas (thankfully), no accidents (ditto), nothing. There were calls to 911, the gas company, everywhere. Nobody knew what was going on. It was, incidentally, a great way to meet the neighbors.

It turned out that it was not such a localized phenomenon. People all over town had heard a crash and felt the earth move. And in fact, it was just that! Yep, right here in 3R, we had a mini tremor! It was something wussy like 2.3 on the Richter scale -- just enough to freak people out, not enough to do any damage.

And I thought that by no longer living on the west coast or in Japan, I was safe from earthquakes!

Friday, October 10, 2008

journée pédagogique

Today is a professional development day at my school, which means I get a day off. No students = no monitor. I love my contract. I have so little responsibility.

And finally, I have some time to do something non-productive, like update the blogging hole. It's been a supremely busy month or so. What with starting a new job, starting back at school, and still trying to focus on getting my as into graduate school next fall, I have had very little time to sit back and relax.

First, the job. It doesn't pay as much as JET, but the conditions are better. If there are no students, I don't have to be at school. If I have no classes, I don't have to be at school. If I need to take a day off, I can shuffle my classes around no problems. The students are always happy to see me because I do fun activities with them and zero grammar. If anything, I get annoyed by the lack of responsibility. Much like in Japan, I kind of get ignored most of the time. But then again, I haven't done a lot to get to know teachers and staff outside of school. I've been too busy.

Two nights a week I'm going to three hour lectures at the University. I decided that because my job is the opposite of challenging, I would do a certificate in environmental sciences. Half of my courses I've got credit for, so I only have to do five to get a certificate. This term, I've got two classes. It's interesting and keeps me out of the house. Unfortunately, it does mean I have to study and do exams. Well, it's good for my French. And it forces me to write. And boy, does my writing need help!

I've been doing lots of English writing -- I've put in two big applications for big grant money for next year. I'm hopeful that they'll give me funding, but they're extremely competitive grants. To me, my proposals look worthy of funding, but I guess that's what everyone thinks of their research. I've been working on them in all of my free time so hopefully they pay off. Now that they're done, I should have more breathing room.

It hasn't been all work all the time though. I've been able to go and do some sightseeing in the area. There are a few other language monitors in my area, and we've been able to go to the Western Festival in St. Tite -- a huge rodeo and festival in the area. We've also gone to visit the local national park. I'm slowly getting around to posting pictures on my flickr site.

What else? Francis and I were at a friend's wedding in August. He's a guy we know from Japan (we actually met at a party he threw), so we got to hang out with a bunch of people from the JET program and go out for a karaoke night. The wedding was fun too.

My good friend was in town for a few days, so I got to enjoy hanging out with her. I don't think we stopped talking to whole time -- it was great. But too short. Isn't that always the way?

And now I guess I have to go and be productive with my day off. The apartment is disgusting because neither of us is ever home long enough to clean up, and I want to invite the in-laws over for dinner on the weekend. I should get some studying in too seeing as I have an exam on Tuesday I have to study for. Yay botany!

Have a lovely long weekend!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Things have been busy out here.

I've been at my new job as an English language monitor up in Shawinigan for about a month, I've started classes part time at the university, I'm in the midst of major grant applications (fingers and toes crossed, not to mention the t's!), working with a few private students and joined a choir to round things out. Phew.

In my free time, I enjoy sleeping. And studying biology jargon in French.

More detailed updates to come. No really. I promise.


I did an activity with my students called "Rodeo Role Play". Where I live, there are people who have never heard of the greatest outdoor show on earth, the Calgary Stampede. It gets trumped by the Festival Western in St-Tite. A teeny, tiny town very close to the middle of nowhere. In honour of this shared cultural heritage, namely cowboys, I taught francophone students such useful terms as "howdy", "y'all", "yahoo" and verbs like "mosey" and "vamoose". All of which I'm sure will prove useful if they ever meet John Wayne.

The goal was to get the students to speak, even if they were using silly words. After some tweaking, the activity was successful.

Now to teach them all to talk like pirates!