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2008-09-11 First Week

So. I'm in France. The keyboard is very different here so please excuse any errors. Also, the computer is also amusingly enough telling me that all these words are spelled wrong. I arrived here late Saturday night after being picked up by my host dad Eric and little sister Anne Camille, who is fifteen. Short anecdote about the airport adeventures that went surprisingly quickly: While using the women's room in Frankfurt, I was washing my hands and an old Italian man burst through the door, screamed >, and abruptly ducked back out again. Startled, I froze in my handwashing for a second. And then I giggled. By the way, before this incident, while trying to find the bathroom, which is apparently unmarked, I went into the men's room. A German man stared at me. My French family, Eric, Anne-Camille, and my maman Mande are ridiculously nice. Their house is huge and beautiful and in the country, surrounded by farms and dirt roads lined by trees (there are palm trees here - YAY!!!). They have a dog named Vodka who is my new best friend, because she is the only creature here with whom I don't need to use words. The kitchen, my favorite place in the house because of all the fine cuisine that is made here, has a large chimney and dried herbs hanging from the walls, and plants and wooden furniture. The floors of the house are all cool, Mediterranean style tile. Eric showed me a couple nights ago after dinner, (usually around eight or later) the cachette du chocolat - their chocolate stash. He told me to help myself anytime. Last night I added some Seattle's Best chocolates to it that I had with me, courtesy of Melly. They were all very excited about this, especially Eric. Sunday night, Eric's nephew, who is my age, came over for dinner. We made crepes. Mm. He is from New Caledonia, where they speak French, but is going to school across the street from the AUCP. As he was leaving, he proceeded to give me les bises - a kiss on each cheek. Very unexpected and slightly awkward, but I am getting used to it. A couple nights ago we watched Desperate Housewives together after dinner. Eric said that each Tuesday night, this is the main event. They love it. They eagerly inquired as to whether or not I watch it back home. I don't, but I do like watching it dubbed over in French here. Also, last night sur la tl, there was a special on the news about fat people in New York celebrating fat pride. Oh Lord. Peuples Francais: voici les Etats-Unis. School is wonderful, but so exhausting. We don't start actual classes until next Monday, but this week consists of long days of orientation at the AUCP, meeting our professors, our language partners, the psychology behind trying to assimilate to the French way of life. The other American students - there are twenty-six of us- are all extremely nice, and it is refreshing to speak French with them during the day as a break from constantly attempting to speak with the French. I am very proud of Emily, Hannah, and myself. Even though we are buddies from Linfield, and it would be so much easier to slip back into our native tongue, we are speaking French together, outside of class, with the exception of a few phrases here and there when we get frustrated. Everything here is French. This might sound like an incredibly stupid statement of the obvious, but it is still amazing to me that I am speaking French all the time, from waking to sleeping, to everyone, with absolutely no break. Tiring, but I feel so alive here. Stressed out quite often about very little, simple things, but alive. Remember a few blogs ago when I said that this trip would be a series of adventures and misadventures? This is true for every single day. My first time trying to take the bus into the city for school, I nearly had a heart atttack. Living in the country, though beautiful, is sometimes complicated when it comes to transportation. I got on the bus, along with one other passenger, an old French man who was absolutely adorable. We proceeded to barrel explosviely down the narrow; winding, tiny streets at rapid speeds, often nearly smashing into a smaller car or a passing French man in loafers riding a bicycle. Oh God, I thought repeatedly, I am going to die. Then, as we got closer to the city, the old man stood up and started waving his arms and yelling something at me. He knew I was American, so he tried to speak English, but this was even harder to understand. All the other passengers watched us and knew I was a foreigner. My cheeks turned red. Apparently, my stop was coming up, and I had no idea what to do. The sweet old man practically pushed me off the bus, still yelling at me as the bus rolled away. I realized that I hadn't paid the 1 euro 10. Eric later told me that I was going to go to jail. So, even the smallest things here are scary adventures. I am celebrating the success of them all, including riding the bus both ways correctly for the first time yesterday. Victoire!! Time to go. Emily and Hannah and I are meeting on the Cours Mirabeau to do a little shopping. This shall be an adventure, too. I will probably get yelled at or stared at again by another old French man. A bientot! I will upload photos next time, hopefully.

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