Archive for May, 2011

Getting ahead of myself
May 30, 2011

I’m ignoring the fact that I’m leaving France in a matter of days (only if someone makes me) and, hey, I’m even ignoring the many tests and oral presentations awaiting my dedicated attention in the next few days. Instead, I have begun preparing my summer reading list. How I am going to complete this while working two jobs, I have no idea. It’s a good thing many of my real-life friends aren’t going to be in town this summer, leaving me plenty of time to hang with my fictional friends. Now, without further ado:

Hannah’s Reading List: Summer 2011 (in no particular order)

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Deliverance by James Dickey

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (we’ll see how long that lasts…)

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (how I have not read this yet is a mystery)

A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter

Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis

Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (and not just because of Pretty Little Liars!)

The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac (I thought I had grown out of my beatnik phase a few years back, but I guess not.)

Update:

People are Unappealing: Even Me by Sara Barron

Bossypants by Tina Fey (thanks Sprinks!)

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Also, I realize that my list is sorely lacking female authors, so if anyone has any suggestions by some ladies, I would be grateful.

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Reasons I love France #1405 and #1406
May 29, 2011

Peonies and Macaroons fresh from the Sunday market.

 

 

First truly uncomfortable host family moment
May 11, 2011

When my classes are done for the day my evening goes like this: grab lappy, sit in the living room and check my blogs/facebook/twitter, socialize with my host family, and wait for dinner. Once dinner is over, I generally linger for a bit before returning to my room where I watch Gossip Girl do my homework. But tonight things went terribly wrong.

My host brother returned home from another day of golfing. He and my host dad started talking about something and this is when the French gets faster and slang-ier so I tend to tune it out and focus on whatever is on my computer screen. After a few minutes of zoning out I realized that the conversation around me was getting heated. I tuned back in only to realize that I was currently sitting in the middle of a full-on family meeting.

You see, my host brother didn’t go to college after he graduated. Instead he went abroad to live with some family and try to get a job (at least this is what I think happened from the various French phrases that were thrown my way upon his return). When that situation didn’t work out, he came back here. Now, instead of working or going to school, he just hangs out all day. A few days ago he purchased some golf clubs, so now he golfs all day with his buddies. Back to the family meeting.

Basically my host dad was just lecturing at my host brother that he needs to do something with his life besides playing golf all day with my host brother responding that he doesn’t know what he wants to do, so why not have fun while he’s figuring it out? But see, by the time I had figured out that this was what was going on around me, it was too late to move. The discussion was serious and I was literally sitting in the middle of it, what was I supposed to do, just get up and go? Unfortunately the opportunity to make a graceful exit did not arise, so I did what I do best in France: looked like I had no idea what was going on.

Luckily, dinner was served not long after that and the conversation became friendly again. But that’s the last time I zone out when someone comes home with a golf bag in tow.

A Letter to My Biological Clock
May 2, 2011

Dear Biological Clock,

I hear you.

You think you’re being all sneaky but you’re not. I’m onto you. At first I thought it was just because I am in France, so of course babies are cuter here. They speak better French than I do and it’s so adorable when they say “maman” and “coucou.” But it doesn’t stop there. I am being magnetically drawn to anything pint-sized, be it baby or puppy or even the tiny boxes of crackers at Carrefour. I don’t enjoy it.

Whenever I see a baby in a stroller or inexplicably strapped to its mother’s back (because apparently baby-as-backpack is the thing to do over here) I can feel my ovaries skip a beat. I am hypnotized. But no more! Stop it! I’m only 21! It is too soon for these sorts of shenanigans.

Listen, I’m just asking that you work with me here. Give me some time. I need to figure out my life and, you know, be a real person who doesn’t use their dad’s credit card instead of their own. But, tell you what, get back to me in five to ten years and we can reevaluate, ok? Glad we could have this chat.

Respectfully,

Hannah

How is it May already?
May 1, 2011

Hi friends. Sorry it’s been awhile but it’s been a crazy few weeks over here. Today marks my halfway point for my European adventure. It doesn’t seem like I’ve been here that long, but at the same time it feels like I should be much closer to the end. I’m not particularly excited about leaving France, but I am excited to get back home. I miss my friends and my room and my mom. And my dog, can’t forget about my dog.

Best dog ever.

This week is Week 6 of classes already and I know the rest of my time here is going to fly by, especially because of all of the things that are being packed into my remaining time. I have:

  • 3 more excursions with my program
  • my dad coming to visit
  • Rome with my dad and sister
  • Turkey to visit my cousin (still in planning stages)

With nearly all of my weekends taken up with those adventures my time left in Avignon is certainly going to go quickly. That’s what’s coming up, but let’s take a look at what has happened so far, shall we?

I went to Paris for four days over Easter weekend with some of my fellow Bobcats. It was a really great time and we were able to cram a lot of touristy visits into so short a time in the city. It was an amazing experience to just be running around Paris with 5 other American girls doing whatever we wanted. I absolutely loved my time there and I can’t wait to go back.

Me, the Eiffel Tower, and some child. Not mine.

Things I learned in Paris:

  • Personal space is nonexistent on metros or at any tourist destination
  • Speaking French earns you brownie points
  • I need lots of sleep and a good meal between arriving somewhere and beginning to sight-see
  • Free public restrooms are a privilege, not a right
  • Rosé champagne is delicious, but it will stain your white hotel towels pink
  • Not even the Eiffel Tower can change my fear of heights
  • I love Paris

Overall, a successful trip. If you want to see pictures, you can check out my Facebook album here.

So, back in Avignon school has become a real thing. I have had tests and papers and homework and it’s really getting in the way of my French adventure. But school is why I’m here in the first place, so I’ve been trying to dedicate some time to my studies. I’ll admit, I haven’t been trying too hard, but I’m working on it.

When I returned from Paris I got a surprise host brother. He’s the son of my host parents and was living abroad when I arrived here in Avignon, but now he’s back. He’s a year younger than me and very funny. It’s a bit awkward though because I live in his room, so I don’t actually know where he sleeps/where all of his things are. I’m sure my family explained it to me at some point, but I just smile and nod and pretend like I understand what’s happening most of the time instead of asking for clarification.

In honor of Fest Season in Athens, our study abroad group had our own Fest this past Thursday. We called it Island Fest since it was on the island where we have our weekly picnics. Island Fest was very successful and we just beat the rain that hit Avignon Thursday night. It was a lot of fun to hang out with everyone outside of class and just have a good time. Plus, I attempted to learn “Wagon Wheel” on guitar, so it was a productive Fest as well.

And just a little mental image to leave you with, I sang karaoke at a bar this weekend. “Take it Easy” by The Eagles, in case you were wondering.

And if you just can’t get enough updates on France, follow me on Twitter and on Tumblr. Because apparently I just can’t get enough social media.