Whenever I ask my French high school pupils what they do in their free time, the answer always seems to be one of the following: a) sleep, b) see my friends/boyfriend/girlfriend or c) play video games. It's rare for them to have left the city or even to have gone anywhere in particular within the city. That would, of course, cost money.
Money isn't all that easy to come by when you're young, is it? While Christmas and birthdays can leave you temporarily better off, it's always tempting to blow it all as soon as you've got it rather than putting it aside for a rainy day.
At weekends and during holidays back when I still lived in Scotland, I loved nothing more than being out and about with my friends and family, but I took full advantage of the swimming, dance and language clubs that were on offer at my school and university. In France, unlike in Scotland, most school pupils also have Wednesday afternoons free. Some of them use that time to go to the cinema or do some shopping in the city centre, but luckily they too have plenty of alternatives so that entertainment doesn't always have to cost them money.
A couple of weeks ago, I started a weekly English club at my school. I wanted to give pupils the chance to practise and improve their conversational language skills, which can be difficult in the classroom. Both my fellow assistant and I were a little worried that fifteen-to-eighteen-year-old pupils wouldn't ever opt for more English over the traditional Wednesday afternoon sports clubs and training sessions, but we were all pleasantly surprised when pupils did start turning up. What's more, an hour of English, a cup of tea and chocolate biscuit later and they seemed very well entertained indeed!
Over the coming months, the Indian assistant and I are hoping to work on a multilingual drama project, a blog and, potentially, even a Scottish Country meets Bollywood dance event to bring our different cultures alive for our pupils.
Call me boring, but I honestly do believe that the best things in life are free. The way I see it, no video game, film or song could ever replace conversations, jokes and quality time shared with family and friends. They're simply irreplaceable. Yes, we all need a change of scenery and a break from our usual routine from time to time, but in such a commercialised and materialistic world, maybe we could all benefit from taking a step back and re-evaluating our priorities in life. Entertainment can be simple, and it doesn't always come with a price tag!
Do you need money to have a good time?