Souci nº2: I will be bored.
FAUX. Ou bien, pas nécessairement. “Only boring people get bored” et papati et papata… It’s true, Nontron doesn’t have a shopping mall (unless you count the hypermarché Super U), nor does it have a swingin’ club scene (you’ll have to trek out to Trélissac for that), but it does have an organic grocery store, a library, a movie theater, a couple of restaurants, boulangeries, cafés, and a gymnasium. At the Maison des Sports, I have attended an aerobics class, a volleyball match, and have played badminton a number of times, often going head-to-head against my students. The crowd who shows up here couldn’t be friendlier – I noticed some healthy competition among quelques badistes en herbe, but mostly there was lots of encouragement and the tamest trash-talking ever. An example: upon missing the birdie, a sporty gentilhomme exclaims to me, “Faut pas louper le volant-là, hein ? Ouf pardon, clairement c’est du style américain !” How very droll…
Accept any and all invitations to be wined and dined by your colleagues (and treat them to the same). Apéro, hors d’œuvres, entrée, plat, salade, fromages, dessert, café…you’d be amazed by how quickly the night passes! Embrace the tradition of long dinners and conversations that begin with comments on local government, give nod to the wine selection, evolve into a Franco-American geopolitical slugfest (only figuratively), pause briefly to predict the weather, and terminate with a couple of good restaurant recommendations. Yes, seek out these kinds of evenings.
But not at the expense of your kiddos! Create quality lessons for your students that excite them and make them laugh. Despite the fact that many students in Nontron have never traveled even so far as Paris, nor flown in an airplane, I found them to be enthusiastic about studying English – most of the time. Some lessons resonated with them, while some flopped, but I really enjoyed the challenge of preparing a new activity each week and tailoring it to the learning styles of each of my classes. It took more effort to get ready for class than I thought it would, but a TAPIF work-week is still only twelve hours, so take the time!
Speaking of l’horaire de travail, spend part of your free time completely unplanned, because you probably will never have the luxury of working a twelve-hours-a-week in France ever again (with five weeks of paid vacation!). Get into a routine, buy your baguette and make small talk with your boulanger, walk home, steep your tea, butter your bread, spread your confitures – now is the time to enjoy the quiet and the simple. From nearly any spot in Nontron, it is a ten minute walk into nature; take paths and make paths, maybe even all the way to the Grand Etang de Saint-Estèphe. And when it’s winter, read a book or twenty, watch a movie at Cinéma Louis Delluc, or hang out with the old men who congregate at the Café des Sports on Place Alfred Agard – you’ll be a regular before you even finish your first allongé.
Nontron is small, but it’s got at least one of most things. Dog salons, on the other hand, it’s got like four dog salons! Does a town really need more than one, if that? Only in Nontron…
Souci nº3 soon.