Sunday, June 29, 2008

Samedi - Jour 27 - Bon Anniversaire Anne Martine!

Today we all had to wake up bright and early, okay, well at like 10:30 in the morning so we could leave at 11:30 for the big family gathering to celebrate a couple of Birthdays. My host family is big to put it mildly. There were at least 50 people there, and I'm pretty sure they were in one way or another related. It was a little overwhelming with so many people and so many conversations going on at once. It made it hard for me to pick up on conversations. And I didn't even drink!

This family event was a blast to watch because they all engage in super fun looking games which I hardly understood. The only one I got was a parody of a popular tv gameshow that is on everyday. It was still really neat to watch, and thankfully not participate in.

Lunch was, I swear, a 5 course meal. Can you imagine making a 5 course meal for 50 people? Neither can I. We had a shrimp cocktail/beet cup-thingy first. The beets at the bottom weren't that good, but the rice and carrots and cucumbers were. So were the shrimp. I think next we had some bread and wine. Then carrots, meat (I have no idea what it was) and beans. I really wanted to go for seconds for that but missed out. The beans were really good. Then the salad, then the cheese course, where I think I ate my weight in cheese. Good stuff! Let's see, then there was the dessert course with some kind of strawberry stuff with whipped cream in a little shot glass. During that course you heard nothing but the scraping of spoons in little glasses with everybody trying to get out the last little bit of strawberries. It was amusing. After that there was more wine - I just drank coca and water because it was Rose wine and I don't like it. Then there was another pastry course with a huge assortment of little eclairs or other delicious tid-bits. Then I wanted a nap.

They played more silly games, and I played darts with some cousins, host daddy and Mami (grandma). I came in third place. Not bad this time, I actually hit a few bulls-eyes.

After that we made home-made little personal pizzas for dinner, even though I was still full from "lunch". It was pretty fun and I loaded mine up with chèvre (goat cheese) and was super stoked to eat it, until I came back and found out somebody totally took it! Lame! I had to make another one which was good, too, but I think I got made fun of for not watching my pizza good enough the first time.
Yes, there is an egg on that pizza. Gross, huh?

We stayed until about 1:30 in the morning, which made it very hard for me to be super social because I was tired.

It was a fun day.

Day 25 /26

On thursday we watched the semi-finals of the euro 2008 and spain won. That's who I'm going to cheer for.

We had McDonalds today. That is my second time, but I'm not a fan anymore because they don't accept Visa.. or at least American Visa. I should write McDonalds an unhappy letter about this. If somebody can spill hot coffee on themselves and sue them, I can surely write an angry letter because they didn't take my money. I owe Simon 6 euros.

Friday there wasn't as much sunshine as usual. So I practiced my French, a bunch. Those verbs are killer, I tell you. I was also a little disappointed in the creativity of the book I'm studying. The example sentances suck.

" She doesn't know how to ride a bike, but she knows how to drive her Ferrari."

Then this girl should not be a Ferrari Owner. That's for sure.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The rain in spain falls mainly on the plain.

I accompanied Mathilde and Simone to the city of Nantes to visit [our] aunt, uncle and cousins. They own a cute little crêperie that faces a cute little park. They made us lunch, and being a crêperie, duh we ate crepes! Well, actually I had an omelet because I'm not a fan of the type of crêpes they specialize in. I tried one earlier with dinner and they tasted like a soggy sponge - or what I believe a soggy sponge would taste like if I put it in my mouth. I've been really, and I mean really* open with eating the food here, but I wasn't about to eat that again. No thanks. The Omelet sounded safe, and was delicious. I did have a regular crêpe with dessert. That was delicious.

My host cousins, Maxime and Victor, are adorable. They didn't even realize I wasn't French until about halfway through lunch because nobody could get a word in edgewise. They chatter like the dickens. I constantly had to remind them to speak slowly since I don't understand it when they talk a million miles an hour. I think they are like 9 or something, I'm not sure. I also can't really tell them apart, so I'm not sure if I sat by Maxime or Victor (I think it was Maxime). Anyways, he drew a picture while we waited for our food. He drew some grass, then a tree, then an oil refinery. Go figure. He also drew what the refinery looks like underground complete with some poor souls bones who somehow got stuck in there. He was extremely detailed in the drawing of the skull, pelvis, etc. His picture made me think, though, that these kids are so young, but still aware of current events - like oil and the skyrocketing prices with that. They also begged me to speak in English, which is always weird in any language to have people want you to "say something" I rattled off with the rain in spain falls mainly on the plains.. but couldn't remember the rest. That was enough though. They ate it up.

After fighting with his brother over the picture I gave him my blackberry to play brickbreaker in an effort to get them to calm down. He loved it and was actually pretty good. Video games are totally an interactive language of their own. We walked to the park across the street and played on the playground for a while. I really want to stay in France and become an au pair or something. While the boys climbed and swung and jumped and did general boy things I listened to the game they were playing. One of the boys was the president, but not Sarkozy, no he was Chirac. That also made me laugh. Even the media here has a strong effect on children, although I don't know how many chidren back home would pick a president to play instead of a superhero or other fictional character.

We went back to their house and played some more. The five of us "adults" engaged in a game of darts, in which after being in the lead the whole game, came in 4th place. Eff that game. It's not that i'm horrible, although I did miss the board a few times, I just couldn't hit the damned number 3. If you don't get the exact number you have to keep going back to your last score. Stupid American dart board. It was still fun. They were playing some sweet music, it was sunny and warm and fun.

I had a lot of fun.

I also fell asleep in the car on the ride home like a 2 year old. [However, I don't feel bad because Simone fell asleep on the way to Nantes.] We also visited another Aunt, on their dad's side on the way home, which was fun. They were remodeling their house. I couldn't understand a word their grandpa was saying, his french dialect was way to hard to understand so I resorted to nodding, smiling and looking like a complete idiot.

When we got home, Simone invited me to another fête. So we grabbed the essentials - booze and went back to somebody's house by the beach. This party was fun since there were actually some females there, although it is extremely intimidating for me to show up to a party with mostly girls - you know how girls are. I did my best in trying to understand them and they did their best in trying out some English. I think it went well. One girl seemed like she was giving me the stink eye all night, and she smoked like a chimney. It turns out later she was pretty nice (or pretending to be), didn't speak English, liked my earrings, and later on wanted to do tequila shots with me.

It was a fun day.

*really open indicated I haven't douced anything in Mustard yet, and liked it!

Day twenty three

I don't think I really did anything except be lazy, since I conveniently didn't write anything down. Obviously I didn't do anything cool if I've already forgotten. Although, we do so much that I could just be forgetting. If I miraculously remember I'll post it later.
Here is a picture instead of the beach at Sarzeau or some town with a name like that. I didn't upload my new set of pictures until lasts night because my cool computer only has one usb port and the ipod was plugged in. Hey. It's all about priorities. I like these beaches because they sparkle, literally. There is something mixed with the sand, like fools gold or something that makes it all glittery, and you know me, I could stare at something sparkly for hours. No big deal.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Day Double Deuce

My-oh-my I've almost been ici (here) un mois (a month) ! Today was pretty mellow as well. Pendent la semaine (during the week) je suis (I am) by myself parce que (because) mes parents sont (my parents are) at work. Since I had been up all weekend pretty late I couldn't fall asleep very well last night and didn't get to bed until late. I woke up to Simon's blaring alarm across the hall at 11:30. J'ai lu mon livre "Obits," j'ai regardé un film "American Beauty," et je m'ai bronzé (I read my book Obits, I watched American Beauty, and I tanned).

I love being on Holiday - so to speak.

Day vingt-et-un (that's 21)

Jour vingt-et-un fell on dimanche. Je besoin d'utiliser plus de Française, so I'm going to be incorporating plus into my blog. I totally forgot to talk about going to the beach yesterday! That is silly of me since that was the first thing we did that day. Antoine came and picked Simon et moi up at the house and we drove to Sarzeau where his parents have a summer house. The beach was awesome. The weather here has steadily been in the upper 25 degree range (sorry, I'm getting used to the Metric System.. upper 70's Farenheit) so the beach was great. So far the beaches I've seen (here, and Carnac) have been nice and sandy and there is some neat looking sparkly rocks that look like fools gold mixed in with the sand. We picked a nice spot, I was introduced to all of Simon's friends and we layed out. Stupide moi. I forgot a towel. That was cool, until we went swimming. The only time I've been in the Atlantic was in Key West, Florida. I'd have to say this was pretty similar except when I waded out to about chest level it turned freezing cold. It was still a thrill to swim in the ocean since I come from the Pacific Ocean side where the water stays about 42 degrees year round so swimming risks chances of hypothermia. Another difference is that there were jelly fish everywhere. Ick. That kind of made me paranoid, parce que knowing my luck I'd be the first one stung. I didn't really want to be peed on either. (a cure for jelly fish stings) I also didn't bring bikini bottoms because I didn't know we were going to swim, so I swam in my jean shorts, and as everybody knows they take forever and a day to dry. On top of no towel. I definitely felt like the stupide américaine. Simon donnes moi his towel et I felt stupid the rest of the day. I also felt pretty stupid in my bikini since of course I didn't work out all year and every girl in France (at least on this beach), my age was super skinny. Oh, and I forgot to shave my legs on top of that. That wasn't too bad since I noticed all the girls were la même.

I'm definitely glad I was placed with a family that lives by the ocean. Since growing up around water my whole life je pense it would be really strange and more of a culture shock to live somewhere landlocked.

Didn't do a whole lot the rest of the day since I was tired.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day 20

Oh my, I've been here 20 days already! It doesn't seem like that at all! I've survived my third day of drinking in a row, hangover free! Gotta love being on Holiday. I have found out that even the French have lightweights and I out drank some of them.

I woke up at 2 pm. Talk about sleeping in.

Sorry, I've been having so much fun that I've been behind in posting!

day 19 - conversions

I somehow mentioned baking brownies in my past and was then obliged to bake some for the family and Simon's birthday dinner. I was super nervous since they don't have ready made mix here and I had to make them from scratch! I don't make anything, let alone from scratch and I had to present them to 10 dinner guests. Luckily none of them had ever had a brownie before and albeit being a tad undercooked I got rave reviews, or they were just being nice. I dunno. Other than that, the dinner was really fun. We had a B-B-Q and all of the Family's friends are really nice and try and engage me in conversation.

It was decided that I need a French Birthday and July 19th has been dubbed this day. That's tight. Two birthdays in one year!

There was a music festival going on in town, but instead of going there with the parents I decided to stay with the kids my age and go to the bar instead, then the local nightclub. The nightclub was probably the highlight of my evening, and not just because I was drunk and less self conscious about my terrible french, but because it was exactly like being back home. All of the music was basically American songs and there was dancing and booze and fun. I miss home.. a little.

I also met my first American-Hater. It took longer than I thought it would, I won't lie. Everybody so far has been super excited to talk to me, like American is some rare thing. Instead this girl just gave me the stink eye all night then left us at the club so we had to walk home. Oh well, she was fat. Way to not stoop to her level, huh?

I hate the God-damned humidity here. The walk home wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't so flipping humid. I don't like feeling sweaty for no reason. Ew. This makes me miss the Pacific Northwest and the non-humid weather. Although whenever I talk to my family it seems to be nasty there.

Day 18 - My alarm is useless

I slept right through it. Not that this is a big deal. Nobody is home during the day since Dominique and Nathalie both leave for work super early in the morning.

I still hate the shower. Still haven't managed to master not spilling tons of water everywhere. And I think the voltage in France is going to make my hairdryer explode. This might cause some problems when I actually really want to do my hair.

There is going to be a party tonight! Woo.

Jour 17 - Somebody with Rap CD's!

Not a whole lot happened today. I try to read the morning paper everyday, not because I can see the stories Dominique contributes, but to actually try and comprehend the language. Today I was in the paper! Woo hoo! We went on a trip to the brick makers and I was in the picture he took. Neat, huh.

After I got home Simon could tell I was bored so we went for a walk in Vannes and had a drink. I had a beer, and actually liked it! (I hate beer, for anybody who doesn't know me)

On the way home, while looking at his cd's, I found some labeled rap! I was so excited. We drove home in gangsta style.

I taught some more this evening. It went well.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Day 16 - Bon Anniversair Simon!

Random picture of the day. I was in the car waiting for Dominique to check on something so I took a picture of the church roof. Neat, huh?

Today is Simon's (my host frère (brother)) Birfday!! He's 21, which means nothing here. I told him if he ever decided to visit Seattle that I'd buy him a beer, and I'd even make it classy, not a PBR or Coors light. He's doing exams this week, though, so he has to study. Boo. I can relate. My birthday always ran the same time as winter quarter finals.

I accompanied Dominique on one of his articles to College Notre Dame, and of course it didn't click that College doesn't equal University, and I didn't realize it until I already opened my big mouth and asked where the college students were. Why all the little kids? Duh. Stupid girl. Dominique introduced me to everybody as the American, as usual, and I got "oh, cool" and a big thumbs up. When we left one guy said "bye bye." Ugh.
[Some poor kid had the job of cleaning the erasers, and people looked at me funny because I was taking a picture of the wall with the F-bomb chalked on it. This is like middle school. no big deal]
Go figure.

I received my first mail today! Woo! A package and a post card. I participate in Postcrossing and it was really hard to describe this process to the family. They didn't quite understand why I'd want random postcards from people I didn't know and kept insisting that Robin (the person who'd sent the post card) was some foreign lover or something. Then they made Robin Hood jokes, so I went upstairs befuddled. My other piece of mail was a visa gift card from the company in charge of this operation. Ironically, the gift card can only be used in the United States. Sweet, I can use it in two and a half months when I get home. The bank got a kick out of that when I tried to get money off of it. Now I have to try and not lose it. Wish me luck!That's the bank. In blue.

At dinner this evening I agreed to cook a meal. Oops. They have this American "better homes" cookbook, you know the one up in the back of the cupboard nobody cooks out of? Nathalie had to dust it off before she showed me. Simon was looking through it and since it's in English they assumed I can cook. Weird correlation, huh? I said I'd try and looked up how to translate "to set fire to" in French.

I bought some post it notes today to begin labeling the house. Nathalie loved it. The kitchen is covered in pink post its. Her favorite was broom which she pronounces "brum" every time. She then decided that she would also label everything in french, for me. I wanted to tell her it's useless in the kitchen since that is the least used room of the house for me, but oh well.

My french might progressively be getting worse. I can't get the accent or pronunciation right yet.. still. It's frustrating. On top of conjugating my verbs wrong and placing my adjectives in the wrong order I pronounce it wrong so nobody understands me anyways. Bah.
Dominique asked if I wanted to see a castle and ponies on our drive home from the bank. Uh, hello? YEAH! What two things could possibly be better?? Ponies and castles?? I'm in! Look, I was so stoked the picture is blurry with excitement. I could even do without the castle (which I didn't bother to photograph) ponies are so cool! Awww..

Not as cool as ponies - the next stop was the local quarry. By next year apparently this is going to be filled with a water reserve. Yeah, definitely not as cool as ponies. I took a picture anyways. Now, if it were filled with ponies..

Day 15 - La famille

So, funny story. I thought that after my shower (which I still have not mastered, because well, just look!)That's the shower! A bathtub with a hose! Wtf? I still haven't figured out how to successfully master it without a.) spilling pardon litres of water onto the floor, b.) freeze to death or c.) not get all the shampoo out of my hair. I'll probably have it down around September. I need walls in my shower, call me old fashioned. A shower head wouldn't be bad either. Goodness, I've run off topic! Back to the picture at the top! I'm such an idiot. I'm not sure if I missed the memo and French power outlets are way more powerful than American ones or not, but it did something akin to supercharging my curling iron. That, mixed with leftover hairspray on the barrel was a deadly combination. I'm curling my hair, cute, la la la.. then I smell something icky.. and my hair was smoking! I yanked the curling iron out, which was pretty easy since it singed, no straight up burned, half of that chunk of hair off! It's a good thing my hair is layered so it blended in! The rest of the day I kept smelling burnt hair. Ew. How embarrassing, huh? C'est la vie.

Good thing everybody was downstairs. I opened my window all the way.

I wasn't in the best mood after that, especially since my allergies decided it was a good day to be a bother. I love randomly breaking out in hives as much as the next person (for those who don't know me the dr. diagnosed me as allergic to myself. Go figure.).. I really don't like taking my allergy meds since they make me extremely drowsy, give me a headache and a stomach ache all at once. They really make me the life of the party, so I avoid them. Sometimes, though, they are better than hives, so I lounged most of day. Screw looking cute. Nobody in France does their hair anyways.

When Nathalie came home we traveled to La Baule where her older sister lives. All of her brothers and sisters got together to go through old pictures of one of the cousins for his birthday. The French make a party out of EVERYTHING. It's pretty tight since booze is always involved. Naturally nobody spoke English and forgot after 5 minutes to speak slowly so I could understand, so I just sat quietly at the table, drinking some delicious mango booze (strong!) and doodling on a scrap piece of paper. Nathalie's younger sister and her husband invited me to their house to spend a few days ( I think..) and I didn't understand the rest of what they rambled on about. I did catch that her husband is a pastry chef or something, he owns a crêperie. I also caught that they are moving to north of Paris soon because they like to change pace every once and a while and switch life up. I think that they asked about what it would be like to own a restaurant in Seattle, and I just laughed because they expected me to answer in French. As usual, they busted out the encyclopedia/atlas to see where on Earth Seattle was located, and once more all I had to say were the magic words: Grey's Anatomy. "Ahh, yes, Seattle!" God bless the American Sitcom. Dinner was delicious, quiche then some tasty desserts.

At like 11:30, oh wait I mean 23:30 (stupid 24 hour clock) we finally left, and I had be designated artist for the cover of the book of pictures they were making for the birthday cousin. They saw my doodles. I heard somebody say something about having American writing on the cover, but I'm pretty sure since it's in French that it no longer constitutes being American.. Silly French.

Busy Day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Oh yeah...

Remember how when I first got here their cat, Noisette, couldn't give a damn about me? Well, i've moved up in rank. She now ignores the family. I'm the new BFF in town. Hollah!

day 14 - not dead or kidnapped yet!

Contrary to popular bet I have made it two weeks without being sold into slavery or some other tragic fate.

Bonne fête papa! The whole family had diner together to celebrate Daddy's Day; I called home to wish mon père bonne fête papa, however it was mid-morning and he was out to brunch with mon grand père. Figures. I caught up with all of the gossip from home though avec ma mère. I've got to give a shout out to skype and the cheap minutes although I'm pretty sure my $9.99 microphone picks up more background noise than of me. Still better than phone cards.

This afternoon we went to a big dance "spectacle" where Mathilde performed. All the dances were pretty good and the dancers ranged from very tiny kids to adults. I have some awesome shots with my little camera since I turned the flash off in an effort to not be rude, and we had sweet seats with the bars right in the way. I noticed how the audience acts differently here than back home. I was actually really shocked since the French have been nothing but polite and hospitable. They make a lot of noise while the performance is going on. They let their small children yell and run around wild, which was annoying since we had the first seats on the balcony and all these kids would stand right in the way. The parents just let it happen. It was pretty obnoxious with babies crying and small children in the way. But the dancers were great.There is one of the little brats I was talking about. right in the way.

After the recital we walked home and watched some television. French TV usually just goes in one ear and out the other since I can't understand much of it yet, but this afternoon we watched a program identical to America's Funniest Home Videos. It's comforting to know that people do stupid shit in any country, and I was even glad it was in French so I didn't have listen to the Bob Saget-like crap jokes. It was interesting because the stupid stuff the French did wasn't quite as stupid as good 'ol Americans. I mean, don't get me wrong, there were loads of stupid things - falling, tripping, crashing, accidental violence, etc. but it was just a notch below us back home. It was still a good chuckle.

Then we ate pizza. I had to consult the dictionary for the menu. The French eat some wacky pizza with things like tuna or eggs on it. Bleck. I ordered red sauce, cheese, whole olives (conveniently with pits, too) and ham. Sounded safe. It was pretty good.

The family exchanged gifts (for papa and belated Mathilde's birthday). When they get excited they tend to talk really really fast so I kind of stared out the window. Mathilde is taking a trip to Australia next year so they had me do my best Australian accent. that was a bust. G'day mate. yeah! Then I read some French words in a book Dominique got about going green at home (they are a very eco-friendly family already) and I'm pretty sure I don't ever want to do that again. I was horrible and they laughed at me (great moral support, huh?) haha. I cannot for some reason nail that French Accent. I'll have to work on that.

One last note, I added some pictures finally to the other posts since I decided to be not lazy tonight and actually put them on the computer. Take a looksie.

Day 12 - i'm tired.

Today I got up early to accompany Nathalie to the French equivalent of the mall. I've already forgotten the name of the place. She went to get her hair done and I walked around and pretended to shop. All of the stores were pretty expensive, on top of the lousy exchange rate. I avoided all of the sales people so I wouldn't have to look stupid and it worked in all but one store where one of the girls caught me and asked if I wanted to try it on. I politely gave her a blank stare then stammered I didn't speak French. So, she asked me in English. Vive la France. When Nathalie was through we did go into a more moderately priced store and I purchased a cute shirt and even cuter scarf ( I told Nathalie it was so I could at least look french).

When we got home we lunched then I went with Dominique on some stories. First we visited a Dog Competition, or so we though. Apparently the dog show/competition was tomorrow, but there were still a few people there so he could get a story and picture. Next we headed to a private primary school function sort of akin to a kids carnival in which a few classes of children gave performances. I'll have to say, even though I didn't understand it they were pretty cute. This was one of those things were the children look absolutely ridiculous and they will hate their parents later in life for photographing this event.These kids are going to hate it when the photo albums get busted out for the girlfriends. Yeah, that's hot chocolate on their heads. And yes, it took me until the encore to figure that out.

The last stop was an ancient (no, really) brick making. There was some sort of festival celebrating the property and the proprietors who are all like 5th generation brick makers (if I understood him right, which I probably didn't). It was still fun to see the kiln where the bricks cooked and an assortment of pottery that has been made over the hundreds of years. I'm pretty sure he made fun of me and the fact that his bricks were as old as my country. Vive la France.
That's the kiln thing. From inside it looked like a pretty mean spider hang out.
We went home for a little while, then picked up Simon their son. After le dîner we went to a inter mural basketball tournament that practically every person in the town my age attended, as well as their parents. (so basically the whole town was there, so it seemed). Back home an event like this would cater maybe bottled water and hot dogs. Not here. We had a concession stand with crepes and white wine with strawberries in it. Everybody was drinking and playing basketball, having a gay 'ol time. After two of these I was ready for bed. I'm pretty sure that wine/strawberry combination was stronger than any mystery drink I've had at UW frat party (and that stuff is deadly, obviously, how else do they get girls?). I was ready for bed at midnight, but they told me the festivities would probably continue until 3 am. The French really know how to party and get down, and stay up late. We went home, thankfully because Simon was tired, too, and not just because I'm a lame American.Yay! Go Green.. or orange.. who cares? Everybody's drunk!

It was a very busy day, to say the least.

Day onze - That's 11 in french..

Thursdays are when all of the supermarket ads come out (Like Wednesdays, at home) so I sat through breakfast and read the 2 different store ads. They are definitely not like home. If I was to read an Albertson's or Safeway ad there would be four or so newspaper sized pages full of little pictures of what is on sale for the week. It's not like that here. The French SuperU and InterMarche (yeah, the only two in this area) are more like magazines and each page has like 4 big pictures of things. I'm probably the only person on the planet who cares about that, probably because i've worked in the Grocery industry for too long, too. Whatever. I thought it was neat.

I also think I am going through a sugar withdrawal. I haven't had a single sweet thing since I've been here except for one Mars bar with Mathilde the other day. It's pretty weird and I've been craving sweets all day. I'm pretty sure my parents are going to mail me some candies. Gotta love the parents.

The biggest fun of the day? THE FRENCH LOVE COUNTRY WESTERN LINE DANCING. No kidding! Dominique did an article for it and I tagged along because I didn't believe him. There was a whole club for line dancing - the hats, boots and Brad Paisley blaring on the boom box! I would of thought I was back in Kentucky in a barn on some hick farm except they were all yabbering in French. I was stunned, I wish I would have remembered my camera.

The other thing I found noteworthy is how impressed the French are with anybody who speaks English. An English couple walked by and stopped to watch this special dancing when one of the dancers ran in and pulled me out because I could speak English and therefore communicate with them. The poor couple took this pleasantly, seeing as one of the overzealous girls introduced her to the whole board of the club and made them come in and watch from inside. They pretty much held this poor couple hostage. I got a good giggle.

Oh, I forgot. I also had a pretty good English lesson yesterday! When we watched the football match I taught them all of the words for everything soccer related in English. I also began the task of teaching past, present, and future tenses of verbs...

Days 9 & 10 - Humidity and I are not friends.

I hate the humidity, still. I have a feeling this will be a mutual relationship for the duration of my stay.

I didn't do a damn thing all day - both days!

It was fabulous.

It's still humid as Hell.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Day 8 - I made it a week!

Hur-ray! I've survived my first week in France.

I've been absolutely lazy alllll day! And it's fantastic. The weather is awesome, and I think it's almost 80 degrees, but who knows because I suck at the Metric system. I slept in, then relaxed on the patio all day in the sun, I have a half assed tan to prove it. I'll have to fix this proper tomorrow and actually not roll my pants up, but instead wear shorts.

We watched the football match (soccer) this evening, France vs. Bulgaria. I'm getting into this sports thing, and i'm even starting to learn the players. The French take football and their team very seriously. I might have to sleep in the garage with Noisette if I disagree.

Day 7 - Dimanche.. the day of rest?

They all called me Paris 'ilton (they don't pronounce h's) because of my stunner shades.

the plan today was to hit the beach (not to be confused with bitch, which is what it sounds like with their accents). It wasn't very sunny and kind of windy, but I agreed. I ended waking up before everybody since they didn't get to bed until 5 am.

I finished my book.

They all drink Coke ("coca") for hangovers. Strange.

We had Chinois food for lunch. Spring rolls and lettuce. It was bon.

A pretty tight carousel. The closest I've come to a pony in France so far.

The beach = awesome. it's just like California! least when it's warm. We also had "the worlds best ice cream" (according to Lise) and it was actually very good. I even sort of ordered it by myself. My french still sucks.
Ok, so of course when I decide to take a picture it clouds up. It was really nice and sunny. Promise.

Made dinner and hit the hay early.

Day 6 - Christophe Mae

I promised Lise that by time September 3 rolled around I would know every Christophe Mae song there is. That was probably a bad bet. I'm already regretting it.

Today the girls showed me l'autobus and the route that is best from Saint Ave to Vannes. I'm such a big girl. We went shopping in Vannes and I used my first French ATM. I'm scared to see how much my bank charged me for that ATM fee.

Tonight was a B-B-Q to celebrate some friends birthday and as a pre-funk some girls came over to Mathilde and Lise's house for champagne. It was also time for them to ask every question they could think of for English words from what sounds our animals made (they got the biggest kick out of the sound a frog makes) and the words Dildo and Hooker (thanks SATC).

I was nervous for the BBQ since it would be a group of people my age who don't speak English and expect me to understand them talking a million miles an hour in French. A dictionary was definitely placed on the table the whole night. I was assured though, that my american accend was "cute" and they kept making me repeat after them. It could have been worse I suppose. Caro gave me a vocab lesson in French (she was level 1 "tipsy" <- another favorite English word, after Dildo) and pointed to everything in sight and made me say the word in french. I passed. I did slip up and call her hair the plural for horse (gimme a break, it's like a one letter difference). She was also very interested in what the Americans thought of the French, like stereotypes. Um.. rude? drunks? smelly and unshaven? She concurred. At least of Parisians. I was falling asleep at around 1 am and was walked home. I was told later the bbq lasted until like 4 am. These kids are nuts. they also sing really strange songs about pastors daughters masturbating.. I didn't quite understand.

Silly French.

Day 5 - What do I miss the most, so far?

I'm getting in the hang of eating breakfast everyday. It's strange to come from the habit of skipping this important meal for being too busy or sleeping in too late to the point where breakfast inevitably becomes lunch. The French are very serious about their breakfasts to the point where I skipped it yesterday and Nathalie asked if I was sick. It's not such a bad meal, though. Today I had my special K and a crêpe. Très bien!

The other thing that will take getting used to is the shower. When my parents asked me what I missed most about home, this was close to topping the list. It came in close second under English. It is small and basically just a bathtub. I haven't quite figured out yet how to gracefully bathe myself without getting water all over the bathroom floor.

I came in handy today when my host père, Dominique accidentally booked a flight on Travelocity for his son to the wrong airport. How was he supposed to know that there are two portlands? His english isn't the best so I helped him sort out the problem. I'm ever so helpful. I could have probably warned him to begin with. C'est la vie.

With the time difference, the only time I get to talk to my friends is when they are drunk on their computers at 3 am. Or, at work early in the morning. Boo.

Pandora doesn't like the French. This makes me very sad. No more "Songs to eat tacos by" radio. ::le sob::

My host parents are going to Oslo for the week to visit an old exchange student they had. House to myself! I now know how to work all of the appliances in the house from the mechanical window shades to the espresso maker and everything in between.

Mathilde's friend/roommate drives a ford fiesta. I'm not sure whether to laugh or decline rides and choose to walk everywhere for fear of blowing up. They call it the "Ferrari"

Friday, June 6, 2008

Day 4 - Mustard

I brought my own mustard to France. On suspicions that were later confirmed at the supermarché, the French do not have plain mustard. I wish I would have brought the Costco size. While eating lunch I put some mustard on my food and Dominique asked to try it. Nathalie just watched looking rather amused. He put a pin point drop on his plate, eyed it, then put the slightest amount on his tongue. He hated it. They make fun of me even more now and ask if I want to put it on everything, including the cheese course. Ugh.

Today was the official tour of Vannes, on foot. We walked around the whole interior of the city that was built in the middle ages. Pictures are on Facebook.

Dominique also asked if I like Greenday (GweeenDay). I told him not really, but I had the album on my ipod (eepod). He loved all my music, especially the rap. France is tight.

Day 3 - Getting used to French Life...

The French are very busy, among other things. This morning Dominique (my host père) gave me un petit tour of the city of Vannes, the place I see out my window. It was nice. The town is cute, and everything is set around the town center that was built in the middle ages. The French are also very serious about their petite-déjeuner (lunch). Everyday, Nathalie (my host mère) comes home from work and we eat lunch. I'm just getting used to eating a breakfast, which they insist on. And again, lunch is a three course affair. It's nuts.

They have the cutest cat, Noisette. It couldn't give a damn about me, but at meals it sits on the bench with me and rests it's head on the table top. It doesn't beg for food or anything. It just sits there. Chillin'.Meow, meow. Le minou, Noisette.

For dîner, we had couscous. Now, in French class in high school this was a rice looking dish that we had to bring a can of soup to accompany it with. Not in real France. Here it's a soupy mixture of some spicy sausage, sheep and chicken. That goes on top of the rice looking stuff. I didn't try the spicy sausage, my famille warned me not to, but the sheep was good. Baahhh.

I think I mentioned how sarcastic my famille is, like me, but boy do I get made fun of a lot. A friend of Dominique's came over and did nothing but make fun of me the whole time (and americans en general). I just smile and act like I don't understand. He stayed though until past 10 o'clock (22 o'clock, here) and I was really tired and just wanted to go to bed. But now, café after café.. The French are very social.

We also went to the supermarché. I forgot about that. It's not like our grocery stores at all. It reminds me more so of a little costco. There is more than food, but nothing is in bulk of course. The French go shopping everyday and make enough food at meals for the one time, maybe a few leftovers for lunch the next day. It was a trip. Oh, and the checkers get to sit in chairs. I'm going to pass this on when I get home and back to work.

Something I'm not that fond of is how interested the French are in American Politics. I hate politics as it is, but they all ask me about Obama (then they chant Obama! Obama! Obama!) and Hillary and who i'm voting for, blah blah. Definitely not my favorite topic to talk about, but it's all over the TV. Oddly enough, I read in the newspaper this morning (yes, I can read the french newspaper) and a poll asking if they would elect a black president only turned up with a positive 26%. Hm...

French TV is a kick. There isn't much on other than dubbed American shows (Dr. House = House, Grey's Anatony, Bones, NCIS, etc.) but they have Nouvelle Star! It's the french version of American Idol (duh) and it's hilarious. So is watching my French Family watch it. I don't understand much since they talk to fast on TV, but they all sing American songs.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Day 2 - Il faut battre le fer pendant qu'il est chaud.

"Strike while the iron is hot"

Sleeping for 12 hours helped, a little. On top of the total jet lag, I had over slept. We stumbled down to breakfast - croissants et cafe - Then waited for instructions that turned out to not be instructions but a sort of guide/how-to. She basically told us that there is no instructions and to do whatever your family wants. That's an orientation? Alright. We then packed up our stuff and headed our separate ways to the train stations to meet our families. My first train ride = scary. It doesn't help I've never ridden one in the states, let alone France. I didn't understand a damn word it said over the intercom! The only way I knew my stop was were it was is because they had the arrival time on the ticket. Even that was precarious since the train had to stop for "security" ( that's the only word I got out of the announcement). While trying to manhandle my luggage off the train* the handle on the big one broke. That's going to be a charm on the way home.

My family was there to greet me when I clamored off, luggage and all. They even had a little sign with my name on it, although didn't need it since I was pretty recognizable with a lot of luggage and looking completely bewildered. They are very nice, Dominique and Nathalie, parents who's kids are my age and don't live at home. Their daughter Mathilde is also very nice and super cool and has already made plans for us to hang out this weekend.

It turns out I don't know a damn thing in French aside from saying I'm dumb don't talk to me. Dominique is a journalist for a couple of local newspapers, so he knows EVERYBODY in town. This is not beneficial since everybody already seems to know about me and wants to talk to the American girl.. in french. They all talk extremely fast and with really thick accents so It's really hard to understand them, then, when I give them a blank stare and cock my head sideways and say "repetez s'il vous plait" they look at me like I'm a puppy that chewed on their favorite shoes. Others are nice, though. People more my age would like to get together and practice their english.

That's one thing I've noticed about the French, besides from them being overly friendly. they all like to show me their fancy english skills which amount to one or two words from an American song. It's a great town, though. Like I said, everybody is very friendly. Always saying hello, good day, blah blah or waving. Maybe i'll fit in after awhile. probably not.

I'm still exhausted.

*while most french men were complete skeezes, all hope was not lost. Everytime I had to drag my huge bag up stairs in Le Metro, a very nice French man either helped me carry it up or insisted on taking it up for me. C'est la vie :)

Day 1 - A bon vin, point d'enseigne

I MADE IT! (In one piece, that is.)

I didn't die on the flight, I mean. I very well could have, or worst yet, missed my connection. That was more realistic. My parents dropped me off at the airport bright and early for my 11 a.m. flight which went alright. I had woken up with an awful stomach ache, probably due to nerves. In any case, I threw up a bunch on the way, but managed to choke down some tea and a banana in the airport starbucks which helped. Of course, I sat in the middle seat between a fat guy and guy that looked like I did - about to be sick. I ended up being able to take a short nap.. choke down the airplane's excuse of lunch and read - a lot. Finally in the last 10 minutes before landing in New Jersey, Mr. Grump on my right notices I'm reading about France and tells me about all of his travels. He's older. He had very pretty blue and green eyes with weird brown speckles in them. He also had a very short layover of about 45 minutes before his connecting flight to upstate new york, his home. That didn't matter much because a plane much larger than ours was in our place at the terminal so we got to sit on the Tarmac for 40 minutes. This meant the grump and I had to sprint to our connection flights to just barely make it. Thankfully he'd been in this hell hole airport before so I followed him. I made it barely. My seat on this flight was in the very last row of the plane in the corner. Great. It was extra loud and I'm pretty sure more bumpy. The guy on the aisle seat was a total loner and only talked to me to ask how The Other Boyeln Girl was since he spied on my tv screen. I lied and told him it was great and he should watch it. He did. On that flight I got dinner and breakfast. That's sad. I landed in Paris at 9:45 am. Late. I found Heather (my travel companion) and we embarked to the streets to find our shuttle.

The drivers in France are fearless. And crazy. I have never feared for my life more with this driver than any driver I've ever been with! I'm lucky to be alive. If the plane ride didn't kill me, our shuttle driver surely would. We made it to the hostel, however.

We met our tour guide and stowed away our bags until the room was available. Instead of a nap, our tour guide informed us that we were going to tour the city. No. I had in theory been up for over 24 hours (and with the flight and drive from hell, it felt like it). I braved my first Metro. Piece of cake. Especially with a guide. We walked to the Eiffel Tower, and luckily it was pouring which made the walk up a thousand flights of stairs a dream. When we got to the top, calves burning, I took a few feeble pictures and tried to find a bench to nap on while our gracious guide chattered on about the sights.

Next was a boat tour on the Siene River. Couldn't get any more tourist. Especially in my uggs and WWU sweatshirt and capri jeans. Five minutes after the boat took off both Heather and I fell asleep. We missed the whole tour. I felt bad because we were basically the only ones on the damn thing and it was the tour guides first tour. She probably hated us. Finally, afterwards we trudged back to the FIAP.

It didn't help that we couldn't get into the baggage storage room, or our keys didn't work to get into our room so it took an extra hour before we could nap. I was about ready to just sleep in the hallway. It also didn't help that France is apparently very humid on top of all of this. It wasn't nice and sunny, either. It looked like Seattle but felt like Florida (where Heather is from, so she had no problem with it). I think I just got extra sweaty.We finally got relief and both slept for over 12 hours.