A Case of Leth[AR(T)]gy and Con(SHOE)merism: Maybe I’m just plane excited.

Lethargic or léthargique. Either way, I’m still punny.

That pair of shoes I mentioned last week is (are?) great! They get me past the construction work on old buildings, home from the bars (what?), and give me a half-centimeter of height for bisousing friends and friends-of-friends in bars, and strangers (in my host family’s home, not in bars); they match everything. These shoes have passed the Poitiers-puddles-potholes test. I even show up to art history classes with dry socks now.

The boots on the left.

Speaking of which, I have four out of the five-to-ten required single-spaced pages written about “glazed earthenware statuettes and their recipients in the near -Eastern and Middle Eastern lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea during the Iron age”. The page requirement won’t be a problem. I have to take all the notes at the library because, of course, the books I need are so valuable that they can’t be taken out of the library. The computers are electronic card catalogs; there’s no internet or word processing functions, so all my notes are handwritten. Well, I do live in a medieval city, so at least the old-fashioned theme is consistent.

*Warning: cultural differences ahead.*

France-U.S. difference #1: a guy can go out to bars with three girls who are not his girlfriend(s) and it’s totally normal. Pretty sure it doesn’t work that way in the U.S. Or that it was that way in the middle ages here. (Correct me if I’m wrong).

#2: unisex bathrooms at the university. Some floors have men’s and women’s, some don’t.

#3: mistaking profs for students. Stop wearing scarves, coordinated outfits and smoking cigarettes.

#4: mistaking students for profs. Why the blazers, no jeans (I mean they wear pants, yes), glasses and loafers?

#5: les grèves.

#6. the food. is in general delicious.

Other than noticing the above, my brain refuses to put sentences together properly in French anymore or even study, so it’s a good thing vacation starts tomorrow for me! On Friday, train to Paris followed by a plane to Italy. I have yet to get the security pat-down, thankfully. They just wave me through every time. For once the Fountain of Youth is on my side. Anyhow, a week’s worth of clothes + camera (I do still have photo homework) in a tiny rolling backpack? Challenge accepted. (NB: Computer will be left behind).

The scariest part will be switching from French to Italian. I haven’t had an Italian class since last spring because of scheduling conflicts, and French people saying “ciao” instead of “au revoir” because it’s fashionable doesn’t count. I did buy a *really* good Italian language guidebook when I got here, though. If I forget a word in Italian, all I have to do is look it up in the index, which is . . . in French. That was when the culture shock hit. No English-Italian dictionary?!! So, I apologize in advance to my Italian friends if I say something embarassing. Especially to your parents.  ; )  Grazie per tutto! (There. I can say three words).

Finally, with Toussaints (All Saints’ Day) around the corner, which is also what they call my upcoming week of vacation, this means it is prime time for la grève!  The SNCF (Syndicat National des Chemins de Fer) is on strike tomorrow morning. In other words, the company that runs the trains in France, but my host dad says not to worry, things look normal for Friday. Like it’s the weather forecast. I love it.

Stay tuned!



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