Archive for April, 2011

A Quick Story: When you have a cold in France
April 18, 2011

I have a cold. It’s not a big deal, really. My nose is a bit runny and I think I have a low fever, but that’s it. I’m fine. Sure, it sucks that I don’t feel great since I have a bunch of work to do and I’m going to Paris this weekend, but at home this would barely register on the illness scale. I’d just drink some orange juice, toss back some nyquil and go to bed early. Problem solved. Not so for the French.

When I came home from class today my host mom noticed that I didn’t have much color in my face. “Do you want some orange juice?” she asked as I made my way towards my room. “Nah, I’m good. Thank you though,” was my half-hearted reply as I worked on breathing through my nose without making too much noise.

Then before dinner, she and my host dad commented on how congested I sounded. “Do you need any cold medicine? We are like a pharmacy here,” my host mom said. “No thanks, not right now,” I replied, not wanting to use their meds since I’m planning on going to the pharmacy tomorrow anyways.

Then I sneezed at dinner. Heaven forbid. My host mom said, “Ok, you’re taking something,” and ran to the cabinet. She withdrew a basket of boxes full of medicines that treat who-knows-what and began sifting through them.

“Ok…no, not this…this makes your gums bleed…no that’s not right…” she murmured to herself as I strained to hear if I was understanding everything correctly. Finally she chose two boxes which contained packets of powder.

“Take each of these twice a day for at least the next two days. If you feel like you need anything else, let me know. You can research this on the internet if it makes you feel any better, but I didn’t need a recipe (what she calls a prescription) to buy it so there’s nothing too bad in it,” she instructed like a good French mother, all the while saying “Oh, poor thing, are you sure you don’t want to go to the doctor?” as I sniffled and wheezed while reading the boxes.

All of this just for a cold. At least I know I am well taken care of!

The things I think about during class
April 17, 2011

This past week in my French Resistance class we finished Le Silence de la Mer, a book chronicling the reaction of an older man and his niece when a German soldier takes up residence in their house. After we had finished our discussion of the book, we watched the movie. It was great, I liked it better than the book (but don’t tell my teacher). While I should have been focusing on the story line of these two people silently fighting the Nazi Occupation of France, I was distracted by the style of the niece.

Her clothing was classic ’40s: clean silhouettes, straight lines, conservative fabrics and styles, and sensible shoes. Below are some items I found that give a modern twist to the conservative French styles of the early 1940s.

Dresses:

Skirts:

Sweaters:

Accessories:

And, of course, every ’40s girl needs a bike to travel around town on.

All that’s needed to complete the look is some red lipstick and soft curls. Oh, the things I’m learning in France!

Examples of why I am an idiot sometimes: part 1
April 5, 2011

I’ve never claimed to speak perfect French. In fact, this blog has seen a bit of ranting about how difficult a time I have had in some French classes. I’m honest with myself and sometimes I really do suck. But I’ve accepted it. The rest of the world, unfortunately, has not.

Story time. Today during lunch I went to the cafeteria with my fellow Americans to buy a sandwich and engage in some stimulating English conversation. When I order my ham sandwich (sandwich du jambon) and diet coke (coca light, which is NOT the same by the way) and the man behind the counter tells me how much it will cost me, I have no idea what he says. My blank stare must have indicated as much because he repeated himself. Then he did it again. Then I asked him to repeat himself. Then I called one of my friends over to help me understand. Then he finally said it in English and I realized that I did not have exact change. I gave him a bill for 10 euros and hung my head in shame.

Another example of my idiocy came tonight at dinner. My host family, as I have said before, loves to talk about American culture, etc etc. Tonight we were talking about the health care system in America as compared to France. We had a nice little rapport going until my host dad turned to me and asked, “What do homeless people do when they are sick?” I had absolutely no idea. Drew a complete blank. Then there’s my host sister (who I love!) who can tell me exactly the foundations of America’s health care system, while I know virtually nothing about France’s. I felt so ignorant and more than a little embarrassed. But then we had cake so I felt better.

I’ll tell you something though, feeling like an idiot in France is about ten times more enjoyable than feeling like an idiot anywhere else.

I love my host family
April 3, 2011

I love my host family. I mentioned in passing the other day that hamburgers are my favorite dinner, so what did we have for dinner tonight? Hamburgers, of course. Except these were not American hamburgers, they were very much French.

My host dad made his own hamburger patties and cooked them on the stove along with Canadian bacon. These two items were stacked onto traditional American hamburger buns along with fresh lettuce, onions and Swiss (as in from the actual country, not the kind with the holes) cheese. Then the whole burger was smothered in a homemade ketchup sauce. Served with more bread and cheese and, of course, red wine. Delicious and just so ridiculous.

My host mom took a picture of me eating my French hamburger, so I’ll be sure to post that once I have it.

Over dinner we had some pretty interesting conversations, although I listened more than talked. I understood most of the conversation tonight, though! Baby steps, that’s all I ask for. Anyways, we talked about pop culture stuff, like movies and actors. They love Inglorious Basterds and Into the Wild. They also filled me in on some truly terrible-sounding French reality TV, including a show called Love is in the Fields, which is a dating show that takes place on a farm. Ah, the French.

Besides French hamburger eating, I did some adventuring this weekend. Saturday I met up with two of my fellow Bobcats, Laura and Andrew, and we just kind of wandered around. We bought bread and cheese from the market in town and Laura provided us with some 3 euro wine and we had a picnic. Our first stop were the gardens at the Palais des Papes, but we quickly discovered that without a corkscrew our picnic would not continue. After going back into the center of town and purchasing a corkscrew, we made our way to the island on the Rhone to continue our afternoon of adventure. The photos below are taken from Laura’s facebook album (hope you don’t mind!).

Using a key to push the cork into the wine bottle was a terrible idea. Note Andrew's look of disappointment.

Jumping for French joy!

French adventurers

So not only did we not have a corkscrew, but we were also missing cups. Enter our empty yogurt containers. Yogurt wine!

This is a highly creepy shot that Laura took of an adorable French baby and his equally adorable French father. Both were wearing scarves.

Below is a song by a band I just caught wind of thanks to Matchbook Magazine. They are an American jazz group that sings in French. I’ll take it.