A day in the life of a poor ESL teacher

8.00am I woke up in my freezing flat to sound of people pounding down the stairs. Yup my thin wall is adjacent to the staircase of an old Parisian building in the 11th arrondissement. I got up to make a cup of tea and saw that my flatmate’s cat had left its usual piss puddle in the middle of the floor so I proceeded to clean that up.

8.30am All dressed and ready to go after a quick tea and 2 sad little knacki sausages for breakfast. I headed to my metro “Charonne”. I headed on to line 9 in the direction of “Pont de Sevres”. I got on to the metro forcing my way in between all the other poor souls heading to work and crushed by the invasive piles of Spring tourists heading to Trocadero to see the “magnificent” Eiffel Tower.

9.15am I arrive at Franklin Roosevelt to pick up my day sheet and get the teacher’s manuel from the staffroom.

9.30am My first lesson was with a shy lady who I had never met before because this isn’t my usual school. The lesson did not get off to good start. She told me that she felt ill today and was not in a particularly good mood. I thought to myself me neither but let’s just get on with it. The topic of conversation today: The Environment. Absolute torture – an hour and half of

Student: “What does it mean “living things?”

Me: “Urghhh.. things that are living… to live… alive.. you.. me.. animals..”

Student: “What does it mean “heat”?

Me: “Urghhh.. Hot: the adjective, heat: the noun. You know the opposite of cold”

11.00am The bell rings, and I breathe a sign of relief.. First torture over, time to head to my next lesson. I sign the sheet and leave the Champs Elysées heading back on to line 9. BOOM.. I’ve gone on the wrong direction of course, I jump off and walk up the stairs and over to the opposite platform feeling like a complete idiot.

11.35am I arrive at my school in Porte de Saint Cloud. Pick up my day sheet. Ok I have 2 more lessons.

12.30pm My student arrives, I’m wondering why the hell do I always end up teaching at lunchtimes don’t these people eat. The topic: “Making new business contacts”. This student a little more happy to share than the last and we spend a pleasant hour and half speaking her job as an accountant at Canalplus.

2pm Finally.. lunchtime. Awkward time. I need to print off the exercises for my private student after my day at xxxx. One of the other teachers has already arrived at the school even though his shift begins at 5pm – I wonder to myself if I am really that hopeless and its not the job but me or he is just overly enthusiastic- who knows.

2.45pm My final student arrives – it is a 14 year old boy. I wonder to myself why I always end up being lumped with teaching the kids when I never signed up for this. We spend an hour and half practising the present perfect. It was almost mechanical.

3.30pm I’m done for the day, at least for my day job. Off I head on the metro again, this time I’m going to Guy Moquet in the north of Paris. I arrive at Moromesnil to change for the line 13 – my most despised line on the Paris metro system. I attempted to push onto the metro but it was impossible. I waited for 5 minutes and was finally allowed on. I got on and ended up squished against a man holding a pizza box and I thought to myself that pizza must be damn good if he is willing to go into paris just to buy one.

4.05pm I finally arrive at Guy Moquet and get up my student’s apartment. She looks stunning today but extremely bored as usual. A 20 year old business student from La Reunion that needs to pass the BULAT test to get to 3rd year in her course. We have a light banter about last week as it was the school holidays and then went straight on to the past paper. I realise that I didn’t actually print off the answers so I ended up doing the test with her. The 2hrs was surprisingly pleasant and I was pleased as I would finally have some cash.

7pm She pays me and I leave her flat thinking my god I haven’t had money since last week, I’m definitely going to treat myself to a kebab, a can of coke and a packet of marlboro lights. And that’s what I did.

All this to say that life in Paris truly is what the French say “Metro, Boulot, Dodo”



A little warning

Sin Tat Plaza Hong Kong

Hong Kong is known for being a paradise for electronics. On a recent trip to visit my sister, I spent about 4 weeks in Hong Kong and decided it was time to upgrade my mobile phone. At the time I was using a moto g with a very side 8gb memory and I had had enough of having to delete apps every few days to make room for new apps or photos.

Since I am a huge klutz and also I somehow seem to attract trouble, I manage to lose or have a phone stolen around every 6 months. I had been wanting to buy an iphone for a while but could not justify spending more than my rent on a phone!

It was then that my sister suggested that I check out the Sin Tat Plaza in Mongkok which is basically 2 floors of mobile phone dealers and fixers. It can be somewhat overwhelming as each shop space is tiny and there are just rows and rows of displays with mobile phones.

I had been looking at a few models and had passed around the shopping centre a few times when I finally decided on an iphone 5 – not too old and at an affordable price. We walked around the centre a few times looking at prices and finally we decided on a store. The salesman was very friendly and came over to us straight away asking if he could help. My sister asked if the phones were new and he said yes. We walked around again to compare prices and finally decided to go back to this shop.

The same salesman came over to us and asked us which one I wanted and what colour; I finally decided on a iphone 5 white 32gb. He went to fetch a new one, and opened it with the film wrap etc as if everything was new. He then insert my UK sim card and passed the phone to my sister because at this point in time we were more concerned if the phone was unlocked than if it was actually new!

My sister rang her own phone and it worked. Everything looked like it was in order and we left the shop. When we got back home, I looked more closely at my “new iphone” and realised that there was a scratch on the back aluminium cover and with more inspection, there was also a small scratch on the front. I began to wonder if the phone was new at all, how could it be possible that a new iphone could have a scratch.

Then, I saw that the phone had not much battery and had “not been charged before” so I plugged it in, only to get a warning message that the plug was not a certified plug! Finally, I began to do a little research online and one of the websites noted to check the IMEI numbers on the back of my phone and on the box! They do not match! However, on the receipt, he had taken note of the IMEI number on the box and not the phone. There was nothing I could do.

Well, I am since back in the UK and I can say that the phone works fine and I don’t have any problems luckily except for 2 minor scratches which are covered up by the phone cases I bought but the battery sucks! I am not sure if that is an Apple thing or because the phone is secondhand.

But be warned! When buying phones or electronics in general check the IMEI numbers match and make a thorough check of the item. I was tricked because the seller took the time to repackage the phone so perfectly, but I guess at the price I paid it is still a bargain…