I love Thursday’s the best because, even though I have one class on Friday, Thursday feels like the beginning of the weekend. Right now it’s Wednesday night and I’m planning on staying up as late as I feel like and not setting an alarm for tomorrow. It’s going to be lovely :) Tomorrow I might go for a run, read a newspaper, watch a movie, eat a chocolate-filled croissant, people-watch, shop, think, be. What I’m not doing is having another Thursday like the last…
It was a fine morning, afternoon, evening really. I did some work and working out and had dinner at a creperie with some friends. It wasn’t until Thursday night that things got a little crazy… it started at Donatien’s apartment. Donatien is a French engineering student who I met last week at conversation club (I can’t remember if I explained conversation club before or not… it’s run by my abroad program and it’s for French students trying to learn English and American students trying to learn French). So anyways, I went to Donatien’s place with some other girls around 10pm on Thursday night. It was a small get-together – less than 10 of us – and we sat around just listening to music and chatting. It was nice actually… both to meet new people and to speak French with real French people :) At about 11:30 we left Donation’s and caught a tram downtown where we walked across the bridge to a club called Quai Ouest (pronounced: Kay West). This is like the mother-of-all dance clubs in
On Monday night I watched a debate with Nicolas Sarkozy,the leading French presidential candidate. Actually, it really wasn’t a debate – it was more of him answering questions that the audience (of only 100) posed him. He had no idea of what the questions would be beforehand and he had no notes in front of him. He spoke freely and confidently – not once did he seem flustered, even when the audience challenged him and, at times, even interrupted him. I was shocked at the audacity of those posing questions… they held nothing back and weren’t afraid to call Sarkozy out when he didn’t answer what they had asked. When I asked my host-mom about this, she told me it was a function of the French way – liberty, equality, and fraternity. I don’t know about these French, but I’d never dare talk to someone like that, let alone a politician who might be the president in a few months!! The French never cease to amaze me. Most of the topics of the “debate” were predictable – unemployment, homosexual marriage, social security, discrimination, the economy, relations with the
Monday was also my host-brother, Jean’s 16th birthday. Birthdays here (or at least this one!) aren’t nearly as exciting as at home. There was an apple crisp, with candles, and a rendition of “joyeux anniversaire” but no hoopla and no gifts. I gave Jean 2 cds I had burned for him… he gave me a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek. I think he likes me :)
Other things of late…
-The shower drama continues. I still feel the need to ask every time: “Can I please take my shower now, madame?” I just can’t bring myself to go into her room without permission! She says the tub will be fixed by February 13th… but I have my doubts.
-The cash I got at the airport has now run out. Tomorrow I will make my first trip to the atm. I have sworn off all shopping, despite the continuing “soldes” (did I mention that I bought another pair of shoes last week!?)
-My host family has taken to teasing me about being on a diet. I think this evolved somehow from me refusing to take second helpings of food one too many times. But I always eat everything, and often do take seconds, so I have no idea how they could think I’m on a diet!! But then again, I’m not sure the French know what dieting is… and since they think that all Americans are obese, I look all the more skinny to them.
-Today I bought a pen (yes, that’s ONE pen) for 2.90 euros. I then went to the pharmacy and bought a box of advil for 1.85 euros. There is something ridiculously wrong about that.
-My friend, Ruth, and I have taken to café hopping. We’re in the process of trying out all the cafés that are in the surrounding blocks of our abroad center in order to find the very best one :)
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my goals for this semester and what I want to get out of this experience. There’s so much pressure in studying abroad, both from others and from myself – the expectation to have fun, to speak, to learn, to travel, to grow, to change, to discover, to mature, to explore, to have “the best semester ever”. Sometimes the stress of these pressures is debilitating. And so, I’ve decided that, for me, I’m going to let this semester be what it is, whatever it is.
I’m going to let it be challenging at times and lazy at others.
I’m going to let it be new friends as much as lonesome and homesick.
I’m going to let it be up and down, high and low, good and bad.
I’m going to let it be everything I imagined and nothing I expected.
I’m just going to let it be.