Monday, May 5, 2008

Why 'working vacation' takes on a whole new meaning

Well, it looks like this is really happening, this France trip. (Even though they apparently called my references and bombarded them with questions a full five days after they had already offered me the job, and seriously? Protocol?) I have a train ticket booked from D.C. to North Carolina for a week's worth of training, and a plane ticket from North Carolina to France. And yesterday I received a package in the mail (yes! We get mail on Sundays here in Boston! Or you do if you forget to check it on Saturday...) with my Instructor Manual and my Academic Instructor Manual. Manuals which came with quite insistent instructions that we were to read and highlight and take notes, and that they would be collecting these manuals to make sure that they were read and highlighted and notated, and yes, there will be a quiz later. *Gulp.* And so I took a deep breath, and I read. And I read. And I read. And I underlined and took notes and then hyperventilated a little.

And suddenly my visions of skipping tra la la down the Champs Elysées disappeared, poof, in a cloud of Gauloises. Because this trip? This trip is going to be a hell of a lot of work. Just some of my duties will include daily phone calls to the home office, trip reports, and daily logs; keeping track of students' emergency money, travel home money, and advances; recordkeeping, ledger balancing, recording expenses, and tracking receipts; talking to parents and homestay families; upholding a zero tolerance drug, alcohol, tobacco, and sexual activity policy. (I signed up to be a French teacher and now all of a sudden I'm the sex police. I bet you can't put that on your resume). Then there are quotes, toasts, words of the day, team-building exercises, pep talks, rituals, reflection, round table discussions, LODs, FVCs, and DCSs, and people, I do not even know what most of these things are. Also in addition to my own five-plus weeks' worth of apparel, accessories and accoutrements, I will also be expected to carry, on my person, the following: students' passports, paperwork, medical records, and emergency cash; company-owned digital camera, company-owned laptop; a comprehensive and most likely quite large first-aid kit; instructor manual, academic manual, and daily quote book. (Daily quote book?!!!) And my question is, when can I expect to receive my personal company-provided scherpa?

But I'm sure all my questions will be answered during the weeklong training prior to departure. Just a light orientation session that takes place from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. *Gulp.* On the plus side, they're letting me leave about a week early, which means I have time to visit mi amiga Molly in Madrid, which I am so excited about. I leave for NC on May 29. I leave for Paris on June 7, and for Madrid on June 9. I'll arrive back home sometime around July 18, exhausted, totally spent, but hopefully also really happy. Though after it's all said and done I may never travel again.

But then again...maybe I will.


  1. Is it too late to ditch France and go sing Kumbaya for the summer? LOL!!!
    Between Louise and I having 8 kids, 7 boys, 1 girl....I feel like we sweat our days thru outings and trying to keep all of them organized. Gosh Rachel, I wish you luck!! And wow for becoming the sex police, thats quite the title!!!

  2. Gee, no one asked me for a reference. I had a speech all prepared and everything.

    But you will never get to North Carolina, much less France, if you take the train from D.C. That is one very l-o-o-o-o-ng, sl-o-o-o-w trip.

    Still, it's lunch on me if you can walk the three blocks from Union Station to the office here. No kidding.

  3. Well, they say that it's cheaper, and that time-wise it comes out about the same, once you account for stop-overs and connections. I did the math and it turns out they're right, at least about the time being the same either way. And if I have to spend 6 hours on a train or 6 hours on a plane and in airports, I'll take the train.

    It's an a.m. departure, but thanks for the offer, M. :)

  4. Oh crap, you have to quit that job, Rachel! Seriously, kids are only cool when you can be of them, not in charge of them (they will only want to rage against you). And think of their parents. Parents who can afford to send their kids on these trips are the pits! These parents will try to shake you down the second they meet you. Also, you're going to get pretty tired of nature when you're forced to be in it for however long-- don't ruin nature for yourself for the rest of your life. Instead, you should be in office temp-- it's actually a cool gig because you get shifted to different places all the time and get to learn new systems. Just trust me on this one.

  5. i think a line from simpsons will serve you well, "a-parent-that -releases-all-rights-to-sue-the [french summer camp] says-what." it worked for prin. skinner, and it can work for you. you are still going to have an amazing time. aside from how annoying and smelly they are teenagers sometimes say the funniest things ever. it wont be all bad!

  6. Thanks for the tip, "Anonymous." I was actually a temp last summer and I wanted to shoot myself. What can I say? France is my true love and I'll take it over temping any summer, no matter how tangentially I get to experience it.

  7. I'm very excited for you. Here's what I want to see:
    - Fanny Pack with important papers
    - Money belt for the cash and ledger
    - Safari hat so you don't get sunburned. (On second thought, maybe a visor of some sort)
    - Clipboard, with minute-by-minute schedule. (Let people know if they're even a minute late. They'll appreciate that you care.)
    - Utility belt for camera, phone, handcuffs (they are teenagers), first aid, and Batarangs
    - Brightly colored shirt with the camp name on it, so that people can identify you
    - Laptop satchel, maybe a one-shoulder style backpack
    - Lots of pictures of you wearing all of the above

  8. Thanks for the "advice," Al. (Why you don't have a blog I'll never know). :)

  9. Teenagers are fun to hang out with. It will be a blast!

  10. France is your true love, eh? So they eat fabulous food, provide everyone with free, first-class health care and have sex whenever they want. Who needs that? We have big-screen TV, the Super Bowl and Big Macs. They wouldn't even help us invade Iraq! And they speak a whole different language! Who's your Number One now, love?