Friday, November 23, 2012

Reflections on My First Year of Teaching in France: City Girl Clashes with an Agricultural School's Idiosyncrasies

I live in Sablé-sur-Sarthe, a small French city of 15,000 souls that is surrounded by fields of corn and livestock.

I also happen to work as an English and Spanish teacher in a local high school. One particular aspect of said school is that the students follow vocational classes that train them for future careers as farmers. 

This explains how perfectly normal it's considered to find, one morning, corn stalks propped against the teacher's lounge's walls.  Yes, the teacher's lounge, the place where we molders of the nation's future minds chillax and take coffee breaks, is the ideal spot to have corn stalks. (Apparently, the only person who batted an eye at this oddity was city-raised Yours Truly.)

Another aspect of said school is the fact that there are horses everywhere. Lots and LOTS of horses. I often joke with my students saying that I have horses for neighbors.

That's not a joke. It's the truth.

Where my neigh-bors live. (Get it? NEIGH-bors? HAHAHAHAHAHA--okay, I'll stop with the bad puns.)
Yes, where I teach, the students are taught how to ride and care for horses, and my fellow teachers are diligent, if at times forgetful, people.

Ergo, it should have been no surprise this morning when I went into the computer room to hook my USB stick into the computer's extra slot that I discovered that one of my colleagues had left their own USB stick attached to said computer. 

"People forget USB sticks all the time," I thought to myself.

I slid the stick into the vacant slot, clicked on a random key on the keyboard to activate the computer from sleep mode, and waited for the background to appear on the screen.

This morning, a few minutes past 8 a.m., I didn't greet some random generic background image. 

My colleague had forgotten to close the last file that he had been working on. Said particular file happened to explain, with great detail and full color images, the parts of a stallion's genitalia.  

Yesssssssssssssssssss, that's right. Just let that sink in for a moment.

All I wanted to do was to print out a copy of a quiz, and I was confronted by images of a horse's penis and testicles. Not a bad start to the day.

Have you ever heard the crude hyperbolic expression "to be hung like a horse," which stipulates a man was fortunate to be well-endowed in the penile department? 

I never want to hear that expression again. 

And I certainly don't want to hear anything regarding horse testicles, either. 

Barb the French Bean


  1. I've looked up many a disturbing thing in my day on the Internet... mostly out of morbid curiosity... but never horse junk. Never. I'm okay not knowing about that.

    At least he wasn't looking at Mr. Hands. If you're not familiar... do yourself a favor and never look that up. Ever.

  2. That sounds like a rather bad start to one's day for sure. I know how much you like your horsey neighbours but I get the feeling that may have changed recently. Other than all the horse penis that school sounds pretty fun though.

  3. This could be a new form of terrorism... people leaving USB drives everywhere they go, to haunt and traumatise the curious and unwary!

  4. rofl! Well, I'm sure you were pretty awake after that! Better than a jolt of caffeine! :p

    (as a biologist it doesn't shock me one bit)

  5. I hope it doesn't give you nightmares. I've seen Zebra mate and it made my butt cheeks clench.

  6. It could have been worse.... no wait... it couldn't have been really. That is quite bad.


Apparently, leaving comments on this blog is a hit-or-miss game of Russian roulette: you are either lucky and can comment away, or you are required to log in when the settings are CLEARLY set to allow trouble-free commenting (sorry 'bout that, folks). If anything, the Facebook page is always a viable option. :) -Barb