You might have [lived/studied abroad] in France if:

I’m leaving Poitiers via train for the airport hotel tomorrow in Paris, since my plane leaves early Wednesday morning. Basically, I’m leaving France petit à petit. I’ve said ‘bye to the friends that I could, since most of them are taking their exams this week and next. I took my exams earlier, because I’m actually leaving on the day my exams were scheduled. I passed all of my classes, now I just get to wait months and months for the offical transcripts.

Anways, I’m excited to see family and friends in the U.S., very much, but this is not where I reflect about “the end of an adventure, pathway or journey”, and I won’t be starting a new adventure when I go back to the U.S. After all, I think of myself as an optimistic realist. Or an imaginitive pragmatist. “Life: A Continuation of Hilarious Misadventures and Ironic Happenings, With some Mundane Days Here and There”, would be a much more accurate description of this (well, every) year. Not as catchy, I know.

So, while I wish I could say I’ve just been drowning in my tears at the thought of having to leave, or that I just can’t wait to be out of France (the French–pffft!), back in the U.S. and am jumping up and down (ugh, Americans love fast food!), neither of those would be true. Not to say I haven’t sniffled a little bit. I just have a cold. I mean, we’re still wearing sweaters here and my host mom lit the fire just now. In the middle of the day in MAY. They say it’s never been this cold here in May before. At least I have an excuse to wear my very well-worn leather boots.

Moving on, although these could certainly apply to other countries . . .

You might have [lived/studied abroad] in France if, Part I:

1. while walking in the perpetually rainy Poitiers after 2AM, you are looking for a club/discothèque/aller en boîte, because that is the only thing open after 2AM. Even if none of you want to go sit and listen to the same beat in 1,000 different songs, let alone dance to it.

Of course, Monsieur and I ran into an Irish girl we’d met two times before in town with one of her Irish friends, so she came along with us; because of her, we were not allowed into the first club. She may have celebrated next year’s St. Pat’s Day a little ahead of time, let me just say…

2. whilst looking for said second club, you find a professor’s apartment instead.

And of course it’s the one that several girls at the fac (university) have an unhealthy crush on.

Let me explain: Monsieur pauses at some guy’s ground-floor apartment, whose window shutters just happen to be open because he’d just finished hosting a party by the looks of it, to ask for directions. The guy, who I can’t see very well given the darkness and the misting rain, apologizes to Monsieur, as he doesn’t know how to get there. Just as we were about to start walking on again, Monsieur said  “bonne soirée” (Irish Girl, at this point, is still a good 10 meters behind us), and the light caught the guy’s face: it was my professor from first semester, the one who assigned me a research paper on glazed figurines in the Oriental Mediterranean. Obviously, we recognized one another, and as his eyebrows went up in surprise, I tried to smother a laugh while saying “Bonne soirée”, to which he replied the same. With coincidences like this, I should really try my hand at a casino.

3. you own several striped shirts.

*Does not include the man with his beret and red scarf along with it. Nobody’s done that combo. At least not that I’ve seen.

4. you own scarves for whatever season, have at least 1 pair of brightly-colored pants, and skinny jeans.

5. half of your diet is based off of, or is, North African cuisine.

Kebabs, felafel, couscous, kefta, harissa, merguez . . . YUM. Obviously, these foods are not all exclusive to North Africa. My favorite: merguez!

*Do not try harissa if spices are not your thing. It is a paste that *includes* chilis, it isn’t just chilis.

6. the other half of your diet consists of heavy cream, butter, meat, cheese and, on the other half of the same plate, LOTS of vegetables. Again, YUM.

7. if you know what having crudités for dinner means. What is that? Accompanied usually by a piece of bread, it is typically grated carrots covered in a balsamic or vinegar-based dressing, followed by other forms of raw vegetable dishes (radishes, etc.). I suppose it balances out the heavier dishes that we eat sometimes.

8. you have seen at least 100 foreign films, and out of 50 French films, you only know of about 4 that end optimistically.

*”Optimistically” does not signify that it’s a comedy, nor that it ends in marriage, as do many Hollywood films. A major difference between French movies and American movies tend to be that French ones are much more realistic, espescially in terms of relationships (be it platonic or otherwise), and portayals of “everyday” life, even if many of the elements in a particular film tend towards the fantastic (not “fantastic” as in “great”, btw). So, on that cheery note, :).

9. in place of a practical backpack, you use a messenger bag. Or a snazzy-looking purse/satchel. Usually leather. Yes, guys too.

10. “Non, non non non non. Non . . . fin, oui” is how you change your answer so that you don’t have to admit you’re wrong in an argument and thus, lose. Such an answer is perfectly socially acceptable. Losing an argument is not, however. (“No, no no no no. No . . . umm, yes”).

I’m sure I’ll think of more as time passes and U.S. culture shock hits. If you noticed a distinct lack of segway between this post and all previous posts, you’d be correct. Not everything can, could or should be written; if I did that, each blog entry would be longer than War and Peace. Haven’t read it? My point exactly!


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