What Food is This?

French Word of the Day: doggy bag (dough-gee bahg)- doggy bag

There is a French word, but no one uses it.  The French won’t tell you this, but they secretly like throwing English words into their everyday jargon.  Sure, they have a government institution entirely devoted to “frenchifying” imported words from other languages, but who listens to the government?

Side note: the government sometimes rejects the French-Canadian version of words like “courriel” for email (the true French word is “mél”) because they can.  Of course, in real life everyone calls it “email”.  I’ve heard “courriel” used, but never “mél” which shows how effective their language people are.

Back to food.  Doggy bags aren’t as widely used here as they are in the States.  It most likely has to do with the fact that you get 1/3 of the amount of food at restaurants.

My current foyer has been an experience.  It doesn’t have a kitchen, so we’re expected to eat dinner and breakfast at the foyer and scavenge for food on our own in the afternoon.

There isn’t a lot of variation in the meals.  For example, Monday: meat, pasta covered in cheese, spinach covered in cheese, yogurt, creme brulee, and cheese.  (It always baffles me that after having everything covered in cheese, people still need more cheese.)

Problem: I’m extremely lactose-intolerant.  (Yeah, yeah, you’re all thinking, “What are you doing in France, crazy?!”  They have bread too, fyi.  And chocolate.  I have all the major food groups covered.)

This is the actual French Food Pyramid:

Of course, some people think it looks more like this:

(Can you tell I’ve been having fun with paint?  New drawings EVERY post!!!!!!!!!!!  Note: this will probably not happen.)

Both are true.  The French need the butter because they walk everywhere.  They are walk-a-philes.  (Is there a real word for that?  Someone look it up; I’m lazy.)  I think they burn 5 billion more calories per day than the average American.  This is a low guess.

Théo and I went on a date last night (we can do that now that we’re in the same country).  It was just going to be a movie, but I made it dinner and a movie to ensure that I was able to eat.  (I hold little hope for my foyer dinners.)

I found the only place in France that gives American-sized portions: Japanese restaurants.

They gave us wine and soy chips to start off, followed by soup, followed by salad… I was done after that.  Except then they gave me 16 pieces of sushi.  And candy afterward.  It’s a great testament to the candy that I was able to eat it at all.  The sushi was not so lucky.  I think I left two pieces (and that was after Théo ate three or four).

I’m looking at it now, and it doesn’t seem like that much food.  I promise it was.  Maybe being in France for four weeks has warped my ideal food portions?

The film was Wallstreet in English with French subtitles so that we would both understand what was going on.  I mean, I’m taking a business class, but I don’t think I could figure out how to translate stock market lingo in French. It’s not that intense of a business class.  For example, today we got advice for destressing after returning to work after a long vacation (also known in France as the entire months of July and August).  I’m not sure if learning stock market lingo is in our future.  Or if the French are off holiday long enough to have developed stock market lingo.

Tonight, Arnaud, Théo and I return to Hetfeelds, our old haunt.  (Are the kids still using that word?  Maybe I should have gotten a BA in Modern Literature.)  Because our program group (the one from the US) is a bit clingy, everyone from that will be joining us as well.

Pain au chocolat count: 16

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Foyer

French Word of the Day: foyer (foy-yay)- a dorm-living place for students and young adults with internships usually between 18-25 years of age

I’ve made it to Paris and foyer number one!

I move into foyer number two (and get my own room, bathroom, and kitchette) in one week!

For now, I’m in one next to Notre Dame.  We arrived on Saturday, and the director said, “I can’t show you around.  Here’s a key.  I’ll show you tomorrow.  Or you can ask one of the girls.”

There were no girls to be found.  I entered my room, and saw that my roommate was gone.  I found a sink and bidet in the room and showers in the hall, but I could not find a toilet.  As someone who frequently uses one, I thought this was an important omission.

I did finally meet my roommate, Cris.  Like last time, she’s a Spanish girl from Madrid.  And, like last time, she’s awesome. She’s not great at French or English, so we’ve been mixing French, Spanish, and English.

She asked me what kind of music I liked, and I told her anything but country.  She didn’t know what that was, so I youtubed Kenny Chesney’s “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.”  Cris decided that she also disliked country.

I didn’t actually have class today!  Shelley told the school we’d be missing.  My old schedule had five classes, one on each day of the week.  Monday-Friday.  None of them overlapped days.  Today, Shelley gave me a new schedule and said, “I didn’t notice that two of your classes were at the same time, so here’s a new schedule.”

Maybe she didn’t realize they were at the same time but different days?  Anyway, my new schedule is better because I don’t have class on Fridays!!!!!!!  Yay sleep!!!!

I took Jenna to Arnaud’s.  I don’t think I warned her about how American he is, but she figured it out.  American rap music greeted us at the door.  Arnaud made us crepes and put hot dogs and ketchup in them (they were quite good… just not what you’d expect) 😉  He also put on ESPN and we (or rather THEY) watched a football game.  We also had Coke.  (The drink, not the drug.)  It was rather like being in the US.

I missed Paris.  I’m glad to be back.  🙂

Pain au chocolat count: 14

Sleeeeeeeep

French Word of the Daydormir (door-meer)- to sleep

It’s about 9:40 pm (or 21h41 if you want to write it French-style) on a Saturday (and by that I mean Friday… see?  tired!), and I plan on going to sleep in roughly 5 minutes.  Meghan knows how to parrrrr-tay!!!!!

Tomorrow we return to Paris and have a ridiculously full day.  I’m moving for what will be the third time since my arrival in France.  Only one more to go after that…  I’m writing today because I have no idea how the internet in the place I’m staying will be.  Hopefully good.  If not, never fear!!!  I shall find a way!!!

I bought my Tours family flowers and a card.  They enjoyed it, and told me that they hope the next girl who comes is as nice as me.  🙂  (I hope so, too… she’ll be there for 6 months.)  They might come see me in Paris, and Larence (my host mom) gave me her email address so that I can send her news.

It was our last day at the Institut de Touraine.  We found out that it was our teacher’s very last day as well!  She retired today after 30 years of teaching there.  We felt uber-lucky to have had her and her awesome self as a teacher.

Did I mention that the Institut is actually a huge mansion?  It looks like this:

One can only learn French in a pretty building.  It’s a well-known fact.  Our room is on the very right on the first floor.  The window is cut off a bit, but you can see the balcony.

Jenna, Qingfan, and I went to a cafe after lunch to celebrate our final day in Tours.  We found a place with nutella creme-brulee, which tastes just as amazing as it sounds.  No pain au chocolat, but it’s okay.  They have plenty in Paris!!!!

Carla to answer your question, I haven’t read any books yet.  It takes me the same amount of time to read one French article as it does for me to read the entire Harry Potter series in English.  I assume Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in French will take the entirety of my year here.

Only joking.  I hope.

Pain au chocolat count: 12

To Drink or Not To Drink

French Word of the Day: manifestation (man-ih-fest-ah-si-on)- demonstration (usually involved with a strike)

The French have decided to strike again.  It’s what they do.  Everyone was worried that it was going to last for days and we weren’t going to be able to get back to Paris, but it only lasted one day.

I wasn’t worried.  The French hold their weekends as something sacred.  Striking would be work.

I’m not sure how effective a one day strike is.  I personally think it’s pointless.  If anyone who’s French out there wants to defend it, be my guest.  I think we would all enjoy an explanation.

Our teacher recounted a story from one of her former Swiss students who was engaged to marry a Frenchman.  That year, the French decided to have an uber-long postal strike.  It was before the time of the internet, and she was unable to communicate with her family or get the proper papers for the marriage.  In what I consider to be a move of sheer stupidity, her fiance supported the strike.  The teacher ended the story with, “I’m not entirely sure if they ever actually got married.”

I’m guessing not.

The British at the school were angry (I was going to write “pissed,” but then I realized that has a different meaning in England and didn’t want everyone thinking the Brits come to school inebriated.  Although now that I think about it, some of them might.) because their flights were canceled.  The French might want to watch out if they want people to continue coming to their country.  If I own an airline company, I’d be very reluctant to have very many flights out of France.

Last night after a beautiful nap, everyone met to drink by the Loire River.  It was a gorgeous night.  Jenna and I decided to go buy alcohol at a local supermarket.  We didn’t have cups or a wine opener, but we managed to find wine in plastic water bottles with twist tops.  (We’re so kla$$y.)  We thought, “It’s probably not the best wine, but it will serve its purpose.”

As we were standing in the wine aisle with our plastic bottles, Patrick, the guy who was the head of our wine tasting walked into the aisle.  Patrick goes around the Loire Valley tasting wines.  He estimated that he tries roughly 100 different types a day.  (He doesn’t have 100 glasses of wine a day.  He spits them out after tasting them, otherwise he’d be dead.)

Needless to say, he was not the person you wanted to catch you attempting to buy wine in plastic bottles.

He saw the bottles, shook his head, and said, “Non, non, non!!!” in what I imagine would be the exact same tone he would use if we were attempting to rob the store.  We explained that we had no cups and he was a bit more sympathetic, but gasped in shock when we asked him if he was buying wine too.  He pointed to his backpack and said, “I brought my own.”  He then showed us his shopping basket full of meat and bread.

Patrick was smarter than us.  You apparently can’t buy alcohol in France after 8 (it was 9), even if it’s sitting on the shelf looking oh-so-very beautiful.

Fortunately, you don’t need alcohol to sit by the river, so we were fine.

Oh, p.s. My parents are coming to visit this semester!  Uber excited!  I squealed when I got the message at a cafe.  For some reason, the French people at the table next to me were far less excited by this news than I was.

Pain au chocolat count: 12

Bonbon? Pas bon? D’accord…

French Word of the Day: bonbon (bawn-bawn)- candy (bon is also the word for good… so it’s like saying good good)

I’m not rereading the post I wrote yesterday because I’m afraid of the mistakes/ awkward wording in it.  Sleep deprivation is not conducive to writing well.

Perrine (Bastien’s older sister) told me his favorite candy, so I’ve got my petit cadeau figured out.  I went to the candy shop today, and the owner was outside taking a smoke break.  He looked at me when I approached the door and said, “It’s closed.”  It was 3:50 in the afternoon.

Gotta love the French work ethic.

(In case anyone was wondering, the title means “Candy?  Not good?  Okay…”)  I guess I’ll buy the candy tomorrow.

I only have 4 days left in Tours before returning to the City of Lights.  I’m going to miss my teacher.  She actually teaches me things!  And she has a sense of humor.  Today she doodled all over the chalkboard, drawing hearts, stars, and sheep.  If that last one seems random, it was because we had to read an article about sheep for class.  The article was a lot less interesting than her doodles, but that’s to be expected.  Sheep aren’t interesting.  Unless you doodle with speech bubbles that read “I’m cute, aren’t I?” in French.

One of the British guys was playing Phantom of the Opera in the common room accompanied by some singing girl.  Although it was clear he had ulterior motives (he was complimenting her singing way too much… she wasn’t that good), Jenna and I joined in singing as loudly as we possibly could.  You can’t play Phantom in the common room and not expect people to belt the lyrics.

I was happy to find that Jenna knew all the words.  She has my seal of approval.

She showed me a miniseries that’s playing on the French version of HBO.  It’s about a brothel from the early 20th century called Maison Close.  It looks like the French version of True Blood, and we’re trying to stalk down someone with the channel (Arnaud and Théo both don’t get it… apparently you have to pay for it) so we can befriend them and use them for their television.  If any country could start a show about a brothel and make it a national event, it would be France.

Pain au chocolat count: 10.5

Cadeau, Cadeau, Cadeau

French Word of the Day: cadeau (cad-oh)- a gift

This word has come up a lot today.  We talked in class for 2 hours this afternoon about gifts (my brain shut down for the last half hour because we’d already had 3 hours of French earlier in the morning).  I also need to buy a gift for my host family before I leave on Saturday.  I was thinking of flowers.  Also, it’s the boy of the family (Bastien’s) birthday on Thursday, so I want to get him a little bag of candy or something…

Thankfully those are the last ones I have to think about until Christmas.  If anyone has any other ideas, please share.  Bastien is going to be 12.

Last week before the rest of the people in the program arrived in Paris, Jenna, Roanne and I went to the Lourve.  At one point, Roanne pointed out a girl and said, “That looks like Kim Kardashian!  Just like her!”  To which I replied, “She does have a large butt.”

Yesterday we found out that it really was her and her large behind.  We’re keeping up with the Kardashians in France.

Next week is fashion week in Paris, so I suspect we’ll see more.  Jenna and Roanne both want to attempt to get into a show.  I will join them to fulfill my celebrity stalking quota.  (They don’t have National Enquirer here.  Sad day.)

The letters “e” and “u” have always sounded the same to me in French, but today I finally figured out the difference!  I think my mind is saying, “Okay, I took the summer off.  I willing to learn a bit before I shut down again.”  For those of you who don’t know, it’s “uh” and “ooo”, but they sound exactly the same when pronounced by a French person- like most French words.

I’m getting better at comprehending French.  Théo told me that I had improved a lot in the last week.  (This has been confirmed by Arnaud.)  🙂

This weekend many of the museums were free.  Jenna, Qingfan, and I went to several of museums and also two free concerts.  Afterwards, we found a street with antique shops.  We walked in expecting to see normal stuff from the early 20th century or maybe even the twenties.

Wrong.  Unless we were thinking of the 1720’s.  The French have a different concept of time.  Everything was from before the 19th century.  There was even a statue from one of the Egyptian dynasties circa 1000 BC sitting on the table for just anyone to buy.  No big deal.  Doesn’t everyone have 3000-year-old relics in their living rooms?

We felt like we were in another museum.

I didn’t buy anything there, but I now have a very lovely copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in French, just as Roald Dahl always intended it to be.  The British are so fond of the French.

Forming English sentences after thinking in French all day is proving to be difficult, so I’m going to stop for now.  If anything is confusing, I apologize.  My English will regress throughout the year, I’m sure.

Pain au chocolat count: 8.5

A Little Bit of Wine with Your Cheese?

French Word of the Day: pompette (pomp-et)- drunk/ tipsy (for a girl)

I learned that word today at the wine tasting.  There was also cheese which I’m told was mostly really good.  Patrick, our wine connoisseur, gave me extra wine because he felt bad that I couldn’t eat the cheese.  We had 5 glasses of wine in total.

For all of you who are worried that I’m wasted, fear not!  I learned the word “pompette” when Patrick used it to described Roanne.  She got the glasses of wine I wouldn’t finish in addition to the glasses Jenna and Courtney (another girl from the group) wouldn’t finish.  (It’s called a wine tasting, not a wine binging.  No judgments for not finishing all five, please.)  In total, I believe she had close to fourteen glasses of wine in two hours.

I’m impressed she was still standing properly.

She wasn’t too tipsy; she just got a bit friendlier.  At one point she turned to me and said, “You’re funny!  You’re really funny.  You don’t look like it, but you are.”  I’ve decided to take this as a compliment.  It’s probably a bad thing if people look at you and say, “Well, she must be funny…”

Shelley told us we would have trouble being funny in French and probably shouldn’t attempt it.  Of course, I haven’t headed this advice when it comes to the journals our French teacher makes us write.  I can’t just write, “I went on a tour of a castle today.  It was fun!  There were windows and stairs!  I also saw a garden.”  No.  Mine say things like, “We went on a tour today and blocked the sidewalk.  A lady with her dog yelled at us, but it was hard to take her seriously as she was wearing a florescent green tracksuit.”  My teacher thought it was interesting.  I mean, the woman wears a scarf with skulls on it.  Normal won’t fly with her.  I also told her I’m a writer.  I can’t write awful journals; that would be against my nature.  Besides, I have Thèo and Arnaud to teach me how to say “florescent green” (vert fluo).  I’m wasting resources if I don’t use them.

Thursday is the night à la mode for going out.  Of course, my numerous clubbing outfits (all two of them) are in Paris, so I’m going for the student-who-just-came-from-class look.  French girls dress less sluttily than Americans; I’ll be fine.

I won’t be staying out too late because I have some kind of test tomorrow.  I’m not really worried about it, but I would prefer not to sleeping during it.

Pain au chocolat count: 7 (sad)