This year I’m lucky to be having an adventure with my family that few other 11 year old girls get the chance to have. About now, back in Minnesota, all my friends are fast asleep because it is 2:30 a.m. there, but my family and I are up and making breakfast because it’s 9:30 a.m. here. Can you guess where I am??? That’s right: France. My family is living in Marseille for the year because of my father’s sabbatical. I am now going to tell you the crazy story of being a semi-French-speaking American going to middle school in France .
Friday was my first day of school, and let’s just say it was very, very, interesting……
Middle school here is known as collége (elementary school is called première, high school is called lycée). When we went to register, we went into the principal’s office, and he explained the rules of the school for me. But unlike registering in the U.S. this conversation was entirely in French! (Basic rules: come on time, be in the gates of the school by 8 am, do all your homework, respect your teachers, don’t wear short shorts. Embarrassingly I was wearing short athletic shorts at the time.)
On the first day my family and I walked to school from home (like we’ll do every day), about a mile down a busy street, with really fast traffic, and then through skinny back roads. On Fridays my first class is intro to German. The first day we learned the ABCs. During science, we sit at high tables with two students per table. My tablemate is a nice girl who I made friends with right away (btw she does not speak English).
The biggest surprise was the bathrooms. Here is a brief explanation: you walk into a stall, lock the door, and pee or poop into a hole in a plastic platform on the ground, then push a button to flush. NO SEAT!!!! My first thought when I saw it was that I would not be able to aim. I held my pee for the entire day.