My house-guest, Aline, was fifteen. She had turned fifteen on June 30, 2017. This was her first time away from home on her own without family. I met her at her home in Paris when Steve and I were there during Christmas 2015. We had rented a room in the Marais through Airbnb from her parents, Severine and Hugues. At that time, we met her, her parents, and her grandmother Chantal. We did not meet her brother Charles. I am not sure why. They were all on their way to be with family outside of Paris for the holidays.
After that, Severine and I stayed in touch by email, communicating in French. This spring, she asked if I knew someone English who would let Aline spend a week this summer. She wanted her children to have English as a second language and thought spending a week in an English home would help. Charles was “booked” with a family in London for a week. She needed someone for Aline. I responded with a resounding, “Yes. I would!” Thus, we made plans for Aline to come for a week in July.
In anticipation of Aline’s time with me, I devised a “Plan”. I would prepare lesson plans focused on interesting English conversations – favorite foods, movies, television programs, pet peeves, and such. Topics that would be fun for a teenager to discuss with a “teacher’. We would have a “roving” classrooms – a cafe, the Park, the beach, the living room, or wherever. Fun to discuss. Decide topics on the fly. Play most things by ear.
Aline arrived on Thursday afternoon, a week ago. Grandmother Chantal and brother Charles dropped her off. (Chantal lives in St. Raphael – an hour up the road. Aline and Charles are spending the summer with her.) So, that night, we got to know each other and ordered out for Mambo Pizza.
Right away, I liked her. She had a beautiful smile with a twinkle in her eye. Liked to laugh. So did I. She was easy-going, helpful, friendly, polite, decisive, and intelligent. Plus, she liked to cook. We felt at ease around each other. Her English was so-so. It got better as the week progressed.
Here’s what happened with my “Plan” (something about ‘life happens while you are making other plans’, or something like that….). Aline slept late every day. So, working during mornings was out. Her breakfast was at noon; our lunch was before 2:00 pm; our dinner at 8:00 pm. OK. Recalculating…. Go with the flow. In the mornings, I wrote while she slept. After that, we went somewhere for lunch. Then, we did something after that. SO, after we got home, we both needed alone-time. My “plan” went out the window. No matter. Since “focused” sessions were out, unfocused sessions were in. We gabbed for hours in English. I only spoke French if I needed her to understand what I was saying. Haha. That was always good for a laugh.
Our first entire day together – Friday, we went to the grocery store. She wanted to make chicken and pasta with cream sauce for dinner. Yes! So, we bought groceries for chicken and pasta with cream sauce (yum), Italian salad (tomatoes, mozzarella, and avocado), Italian dressing, rice, prosciutto, potatoes to roast and dice, chocolate, Nutella, and yellow-meat peaches. Haha. We got it all. Then, with the trunk packed full, we drove all over Nice looking for a Paul’s Bakery that sold brioche. Apparently, brioche covered with Nutella (chocolate and nuts) is her favorite breakfast. We found a Paul’s Bakery with brioche (after driving all over Nice) at Boulangerie Paul République Nice, near Place Garibaldi. She was happy. Thus, I was happy. It was so much fun that I forgot that driving in Nice is a pain in the a… I used my Waze app on the iPhone, and she helped. All went well. Once we got home, we had a hour-long language session before we retired for needed alone-time. That night, she cooked pasta and chicken with cream sauce. I made a salad. That worked!
Saturday, we ventured into town to Nice Etoile. She wanted to go to Hollister’s and a couple of other stores in the mall. So, we shopped (gabbing in English the entire time).
Then we walked to the Sea for lunch at one of my favorites – La Voglia. We ate inside. Neither of us liked outside that day. Too hot.
No one-on-one session that day. We were both hot and exhausted once we got home, needing alone-time. That night, we had fresh salmon and salad.
Sunday was an at-home day. I completed my book – “JAYSPEAK ON THE COTE D’AZUR”. Aline did stuff on her computer and on her phone. She is very technologically savvy. Her entire family is technologically savvy. They all stay in touch with each other throughout the day every day. However, on Sunday, we did manage to have a one-on-one session before the day was over. During that time, I made note – her English was definitely better.
Monday, we had lunch at Plage Beau Rivage Restaurant. On the beach.
Great food. Wonderful service. Gorgeous setting. As we were leaving, Aline said that everyone thought she was English. I considered that a compliment. I doubt she did. The French love being French.
Tuesday, Aline went with me to my appointment for new orthotics.
After that, we met Andrea for lunch at Le Volupté Anytime. That was the day that Aline asked me to go to the Apple Store. She wanted Apple EarPods. What? Earpods. The Apple Store???
The only Apple Store in Nice is at Cap 3000 (ugh} out near the airport. Big Ugh. Hugh ugh! Traffic, construction, and complicated directions. I convinced her to call another store that sells Apple products, MCS, to see if they have Apple Earpods. Yes!! We walked for miles (exaggeration) getting there, and miles (exaggeration) getting back to the car, which was parked at Nice Etoile. But, it was worth it! They had Apple EarPods. Only 3 were left after we got there from a shipment of 30 that morning. Apparently, Apple Earpods are a hot item. Aline was ecstatic. So was I – once I could sit down, have some coffee, and eat ice cream (hot day).
Wednesday was another “sort of” at-home day. We walked to the park for a language session and lunch. It was nice. We found a park bench in the shade and worked for a while. Then, we walked over to the Park Café for sandwiches.
It was fun. Picked up a couple of things at Monoprix on our way home – gabbing in English and French the entire time.
It was an amazing week. I consider it a smashing success. I had no idea how it would go, and it went great! Aline speaks better English. She has EarPods. I speak better French. I have new recipes. We are Facebook and Instagram friends. She is happy. I hope her parents are happy. I hope her grandmother is happy. Charles acts happy. I am happy. It’s all good.