An American in Theo !

Since October 2016, an American teaching assistant has been here in Théophile-Gautier, and last month we had an interview with her and learnt more about her perceptions of France and her life here.

To begin with, can you introduce yourself ? 

I’m Noa Rosen, I’m 23 years old, and I’m from Chicago, Illinois, USA. I got my bachelor’s degree in International Relations and French at Tufts University in Boston.

For a year, you have been our english assistant. Can you explain how you ended up here in Tarbes and what were your motivations ?

Having spent my third year of university in Paris, I wanted to return to France and explore living in a different region. My primary academic interests include European politics and foreign language, so I was eager to try my hand at teaching English in France. Somewhat at random I selected the Académie de Toulouse, and then was placed in Tarbes ! I also work at Collège Massey.

 How is life like in America, especially in Chicago ? What are the big differences between France and USA ?

On a more superficial level, everything truly is bigger in America : the cars, the buildings, the streets, the portion sizes, etc. Our cities are newer, and full of skyscrapers. In France, the roads are old, winding, and often made of cobblestone. There are centuries upon centuries of art and history in museums. We have no castles in America, and everything is much more spread out. On a more profound level, there is definitely a difference in how we value our time outside of work. In America, work and personal lives blend together and people eat lunch in front of their laptops. In France, everyone deserves to eat a good meal and enjoy free time for recreation and family. The United States also tends to be a lot more efficient when it comes to bureaucracy (don’t even get me started on how long it took me to open a bank account…!).

What do you like the most about French culture and France? And what you don’t like about it ?

France’s customs can feel rigid, and this was hard for me to adjust to. I also think that I will never figure out how to know when and when not to « faire la bise ». However, what’s cool is that everyone is entitled to eating good food and being able to truly be present while they are not working. While the rigidity of how things are done can be frustrating, I think the level of respect people have here for each other is remarkable. I also think that the French do pastries better than any other country on the planet. I’m kind of obsessed with food and I love how the French love to share their food with me !

Have you been missing anything since you arrived ?

My family, and peanut butter. And Saturday Night Live !

There is an English club every week with you, can you introduce what are you doing in this club ?

My vision for English Club is for students to get so excited by the discussion material that they forget they’re here to speak English. Every week I choose a different topic (often inspired by what the students have told me they’re interested in !) and bring in videos, pictures, articles, and discussion questions. We debate, play games, draw, and share what we know with each other. Previous topics have included the pros and cons of social media, surviving a zombie apocalypse and other dire situations, musical theater, stereotypes, inequality in the US, and fantasy worlds. I hope that everyone will feel welcome in English Club – the idea is not that everyone speaks perfectly, but that you feel comfortable and motivated to speak. It’s much more like a gathering of friends than a class.

What are you planning to do when you are back to America ? What do you want to do in the future ?

When I return to the states, I’ll be taking a publishing class at Columbia University in New York. I want to bring the world closer together through stories – whether it’s discovering the stories as a journalist or figuring out how to share the most important and relevant ones.

We enjoyed having Noa as a teaching assistant and wish her a great future back in the USA ! And stay tuned for English Club next year.

Propos recueillis par Marie Izdag