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

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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)

Oh! A Chateau!

French Word of the Day: chateau (shat-oh)- castle

Today was our chateau day.  We went to Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau and Chateau Villandry.  The former was nice, but the latter (pictured below) was a mighty fine piece of castle.  I’m not the type of person who could live in a castle (I would lose my keys and never find them again), but I would consider living in this one.  An American woman and her Spanish husband were the last ones to live there in the early 20th century, so I think it probably misses having an American owner.  Really, I’m doing it a favor.

I mean, just look at those gardens!  I didn’t bring my camera because we had school this morning and I don’t normally bring a camera to school, but other people took pictures for me.  Mostly Roanne, so when they finally go up on facebook it’s going to look like Roanne is my only friend.  I promise I have more.

We went to a bakery for pain au chocolat and found a bag of 8 that were a day old for 2 euro.  For the record, that is 1/4 of the normal price.  The French refuse to pay a lot for day old bread.  I must say, their day-old pain au chocolat is equivalent in taste to the pain au chocolat I’ve found in America.  We need to work on that.

I’ve become the pain au chocolat guru.  I’ve dazzled everyone with my ability to tell how good a pain au chocolat will be just by looking at it.  As I’ve been proven correct several times, no one buys it anymore without first asking me if it looks okay.  I feel this is a skill that will get me far in life.

After getting back two “quizzes” (more of let’s-see-if-you-know-this-because-you-aren’t-really-being-graded papers), I see that my French grammar leaves much to be desired.  My teacher informed me that my problem was that I directly translate from English.  Oops.  I’m so glad I’ve already graduated from college and don’t have to stress over my GPA.  Although I must admit, I spend more time on my homework each night for this one class than I ever did while I was in real school.  One French class takes me 3-4 hours a night.  How did I ever get through high school?

I do remember not sleeping.  I’m glad I only have one class.

Pain au chocolat count: 7

Back to School

French Word of the Day: professeur (pra-off-es-or)- teacher

I met the kids.  I had to look on the fridge to figure out how to spell their names (which I promptly forgot), but I can say them: Perrine (girl 13), Bastien (boy 12), and Raphaëlle (girl 7).   I had trouble communicating with them the first night, but we made some progress today.  They actually spoke to me rather than around me.  I also learned the French use the same word for “cookie” when Bastien started chanting it.

Other students live by me this time! I’m not a 45 minute walk from school!  Thank God, because I overslept my alarm this morning.  My body had finally had enough.  It was saying, “8 hours… Screw school and being on time.  You’re in France.”  I made it to school just in time to take an oral French test.

Apparently, the French don’t have a sense of humor about their tests.  If you recall the entry that I made earlier about taking tests online, I found out the results of that test today.  Shelley came over to me and asked, “Did you take the test very quickly?  Because you bombed part of it.”  Oops.  Although to be fair, who puts a listening section about a medical emporium and expects students who don’t speak fluently to understand it?  I remember thinking, “I think I heard the word for doctor!  Ooo!  The word for health!  Wait, there’s a question where I have to detail the goals of the emporium?  They have goals?”

It turned out okay.  I took the oral part and was apparently fabulous, because they put me in the highest intermediate level.  I assume they were dazzled by my explanation of why Les Parapluies de Cherbourg was a depressing musical.

I love my prof!  She’s adorable.  She’s about 55 or so, and she was wearing what appeared to be a normal headscarf.  On closer inspection, I saw the scarf was covered in skulls.  Considering the rest of her fashionable-yet-modest wardrobe, it was a change.  She’s really nice and- more importantly- I can understand her when she speaks.

Even though the people of the Institut Tourraine (our school) don’t normally take tests, Shelley informed us that we have to because we need grades for our time here.  I prefer the Tours way.  We’re in Tours; we should follow their traditions of not testing people.  It’s rude otherwise.

Well folks, I’m out.  Got some French articles to read on the danger of cigarettes.  Obviously, this prof doesn’t smoke.  She thinks it’s “pas cool”.  She, however, is “vraiment cool”.

By the way, everyone’s comments make my day.  You’re all awesome, and I miss you!

Pain au chocolat count: 5