END OF JANUARY! Woot! So in the past month...um. Nothing much has happened, really. Everything is normal with my friends and school. I got my departure date too…July 11 (from Ussel to Paris) and July 12 (from Paris to US), which means I have only 5 months left to go, and that’s generally scary. (They’ll probably go by faster than I’d like)
We had an AFS reunion the weekend of the 18th. We went to Super Lioran, in Cantal (look it up!) and we went skiing! So I have some pretty funny pictures to show. But my first experience with ski = horrible. I fell about 5 million times, and they didn’t teach us how to stop when we were on the skis, so everyone SHOT down the mountain, and kept going and kept going and couldn’t stop and almost hit a bunch of little kids and…that pretty much explains everything. Lucas, a guy from Argentina who’s here for 2 months, ran into a little kid, and got yelled at by the kid’s dad. (We were all watching, mortified) And Victoria ended up next the parking lot one time. The worst experience of mine was when we went up on the second “piste” and there are these funny things that resemble poles, and you hold onto the pole to get to the top of the hill, and then let go, and ski down. But I let go too early, when we were climbing up the hill, (and of course I couldn’t stop) so I started sliding backwards down the hill, and I crashed into Victoria, who was coming up the hill with the pole. Victoria and I went to the nearby pub afterward, drank water, and decided that skiing wasn’t our forte. But I’m going with lycee next week…so I’m really hoping for a better experience. haha. It was really great to see everyone though, and all the 2 month-ers and Ione (5 months) left this week, (which makes me sad) so I got to say goodbye (and hello to the 2 month-ers, who I hadn’t met).
And the other day was the presidential inauguration! I got home from school, ran to the TV, and started watching (I made it in time to see Obama’s speech! And when Bush left in his helicopter!) It was fantastic. During the commercial breaks I’d run into the kitchen to tell Helene the updates. Today Antoine (a kind of funny kid who worries incessantly about his haircut, and says “SALUT L’AMERICAIN!” every time he sees me—but he’s nice all the same), came up to me and started talking about Obama. He said he watched the entire thing on TV and he taped a picture of Obama on the back of his agenda that says “Yes We Did.” I think he’s more excited than I am!
There really isn’t much more to say. I feel, now that I’ve made the 6 month mark, that I ought to do some reflecting and listing.
My 5 pet peeves in France:
The handwriting. Almost everyone writes the same…the same kinda loopy writing with the Ms that don’t look like Ms and the Rs that look like Ns and the Xs that look like nothing at all. And then the teachers write on the board in cursive, and I have to ask people what it says because it looks like they’re writing in Arabic or something (which would be funnier if I was actually in a country where the national language is Arabic). I mean, how in the world can that be an M or an R or a Q or whatever?
So, sometimes I’ll get home later on a Wednesday afternoon because I go to eat kabab, or go to the library, or something, and I have no idea if someone else is in the house. That really is a problem if you live in a large house (un château par exemple)…You can’t find anyone! Sometimes people are in random places all over the place and if someone doesn’t come for dinner when called, you have to go search in their room, in the living room, in the room with the TV, Helene and Alain’s bedroom, the little house next to the chateau with the bedrooms of my host sisters, the garage, the grange, the yard, the forest, all of Corrèze, okay you got the idea. I mean, the château is beautiful, and it’s perfect when you have 9 kids (including the exchange student), 7 horses, 3 dogs, and about 15 cats. But when I’m older, I’m going to find a little tiny house in the middle of a huge city, and then I won’t have to search for people.
The little bit of racism in France. Maybe it’s just because we’re in the middle of the countryside, and that’s where you tend to find people with…firmer beliefs about their religion and their race….and maybe it’s just because I’m not in Los Angeles, and France isn’t a country made entirely of immigrants…but it exists here. Alain is a really nice guy, and he’s a great host dad, but sometimes he’ll say some remark about how Aude dated “that Turk” or how people will say “le noir” (the black) instead of “that guy.” And a lot of people think that everyone who looks slightly Asian is Chinese. I mean, I guess I come from a city, and a school, where you find about everyone from everywhere, and so it’s no surprise when I’m easy to condemn little things that people say about things like that. Not to mention a friend of Alain, René, who said something along the lines of “Je ne sais pas ce que ce noir va faire, mais on verra.” (I don’t know what this black will do, but we’ll see). The problem is that he was talking about the president of the US. (first impression of René = ruined)
The fighting over food. Okay, I’m exaggerating. haha, but I come from a little family (really little in comparison), where we eat as much as we want. There’s enough orange juice/nutella/clementines for everyone, and always a lot to spare. But here, it’s “who’s going to get the last piece” or “who ate the last of the cocoa puffs?” or “I have to eat this even if I’m not hungry so Arthur won’t get it.” It’s a bit ridiculous—but I guess Allie, Chris, and I did a little bit of the same thing when we were little. But Helene has to hide the nutella because if she doesn’t, the next time she goes into the cupboard, it’ll be gone. She brings it out for breakfast one day, to eat with bread or toast, and by lunchtime, the whole bottle is gone. We don’t buy too much nutella, either.
French singers who sing in English. It’s really not worth it. They’re humiliating themselves without even knowing it.
And since I mentioned my pet peeves, I should mention the things that don’t annoy me one bit. The things that I liked about France, that I still like:
The diet. The food is great! And the cafeteria food is so not even in the same league as American cafeteria food. And I love the fromage, and the fresh bread all the time. I’m going to eat like a French person when I get home. (Mama, Papa, watch out! hehe)
So you know how it’s kind of…a lot colder here than in LA? (Now, about a good 0 Celsius on average…so…about 32 Fahrenheit?) I kind of like that. There are about 3 stages of my liking-of-the-weather. At first, it was YAY SNOW I LOVE SNOW WHOA SNOW, and then after a couple months, eehhhh, I want the sun again, when is it going to get sunny again please, and now it’s kind of a familiarity and loving relationship with the cold. I really like wearing a coat all the time (coats are fashionable!), and I like drinking hot tea when I get home from school, and I like the rain and the wind that howls. Home is more of a getaway when you can’t venture outside if you don’t want frostbite. And I like it when I walk to the bus when school ends and the snow gets caught in my hair and the bus driver plays Tracy Chapman and Jason Mraz. When I get back to LA, I’m going to appreciate the sun like no other, and just sit in the sun…ahh…but for now, this cold is peaceful.
All the new things learned. That’s a funny thing to say, really, but it’s true. I’ve learned a lot, already. I’m fluent in French. (I can say that, now, I think). I’ve learned how to be independent, and how to survive away from home (I’m ready for college! hehe). I’ve learned how to act in weird situations (everything can be normal after a little bit of time), and how to meet new friends (who speak another language no less!). And to be a little more spontaneous, (I only have 5 more months here! THAT’S IT! I’d better take advantage!) And I’ve also learned little things, silly things: how to make the perfect crepe, how to describe the structure of an atom, how to bake turkey, how to pass time on trains, how to figure out words, how to practice piano without a piano, how the French economy works, how to dress the warmest possible without looking like a dork. These things will come in handy one day.
I’ve already mentioned how much I love my family and my friends and manifestations in my last post. So I won’t say (again) how much I love my friends and family here. You know that already.
I don’t even want to think about how I only have 5 months left. That’s not a lot of time. That’s not a lot of time at all, if I really think about it. I have February (vacation for 2 weeks) March, April (2 weeks of vacation) May, June, (school off around the 18th), and an EENSY bit of July. I talked a bit with Clement (a guy in France who went to New Zealand with AFS last year), who said that when it was time to leave for France again, he didn’t want to go. His parents talked to him about getting his permit, and he didn’t want to hear it. And when he got home, he had a huge coup de blues…It’ll be strange to go home. I’m anticipating it (I’ve made a list of things I HAVE to do when I get there), but dreading it aussi.