Journals from American University Center of Provence, France
Aix, Nov. 28th2010
We still don’t have snow yet, but the freezing wind sends the cold deep into my bones. My nose was running the whole day so I did not leave the house this weekend. I was stuck at home anyway because of doing homework. My brain cannot work anymore so I take a break from French to write about the wonderful “Sankssgeeveen” we had on Friday.
Thanksgiving dinner was organized on Friday so the students from Marseille can come with us, plus we can stay home and digest the turkey on Saturday. Nevertheless, we started making corn bread on Thursday. It was so much fun measuring, mixing, and making a big mess in the main kitchen that we cannot normally use. We learned to turn on the stove by using matches so we can stir the butter until it melted all the way instead of using the microwave on the other side of the kitchen. We were making a traditional meal, so why not do it in a traditional way?
It was too bad that each student can only invite two people to the party while I have one host mom and two language partners. I went out for dinner with my language partner Romain on Thursday instead. I took him to a Vietnamese restaurant and gave my speech about Pho. The server gave us some free drinks because I speak Vietnamese with an American accent. He said I had the right to have that accent because he thinks I was born and raised in America. He also said that he liked me better than those Vietnamese students who have only been to another country for only two or three years but forgot how to speak Vietnamese correctly. I did not stand up for my identity but thanked him for the great service. Anyway, I hope I will not come back to Linfield speaking English with a French accent.
My host mom and my language partner Marine come with me for the meal. They had fun telling each other about how shy I was, that I ran away from the party at the beginning of the year, and that I finally went dancing in a night club until four in the morning last week. I can imagine my roommate in freshman year rolling her eyes and dropping her jaw down to her knee when she reads this:
Yes, Mai Doan, who would rather stay in the room folding her laundry and listening to French in Action CDs than go to the Cat Cab with her at 9:00 p.m. because it is too dark outside, went to the night club her very first time, and danced with French guys until 4:00 a.m.
In fact, my mom in Vietnam said that going to a night club was not a good idea. However, I am sure my host mom in McMinnville would be proud to know that I finally got out of my little box and opened myself to the world around me. Thanks to my host mom in France, who does not mind pushing me to go have fun outside of the house, and a language partner, who takes classes in a university which has 84% of male students, I have some unforgettable memories dancing with French guys. I have to admit that they are quite delightful.
Back to the Thanksgiving dinner, I was so happy to eat the turkey with gravy on top. Apparently, we did not make enough corn bread so I only had one bite which was smaller than my thumb. I could not believe that some of them did not know about the corn pudding. “It is the best thing in the world,” I said. But after the first bite, I was about to cry because it did not taste the same as my American grandma’s one. That is the first time I realized how much I miss American food. An American student from Marseille at my table asked if I was the French language partner of the girl next to her. I guess she did not expect to have a Vietnamese girl in the group of AUCP students in Aix. But I took it as a compliment about my French speaking skills. My language partner Marine assured me that I have made a lot of progress in speaking with her. It is true that we used to not understand each other all on the first dates. The pumpkin pie fills my stomach and my soul. Happy! Happy! Happy!
There are only three more weeks until the end of the semester. There are still many things I would like to do, so many people I would love to learn more about, but the final exams are coming and we have to face up with an “inhumain” amount of homework. It is true that we chose to come here for studying, not flying all over Europe like those in the other programs in Aix which are not as demanding as ours. Knowing that they do not have French friends and that they could barely speak any French outside the classroom make us feel better about all the hard time we have been going though. It is wonderful if you have a host mom who gives you lunch every day, takes care of you when you are sick, or brings you home at midnight so you do not have to take a taxi. But being the only student in a family is not always easy for all of us, especially if you have a strict French mom with a bunch of regulations behind the door.
Then we learn to appreciate every little things life gave us, like the fact that we can have about ten French people to say Hi and to talk to (French people do not often say Hi to people on the street if they do not know them, although French guys can randomly kiss other people on the head when they are drunk), about ten French kids to give hugs at the same time, about ten text messages a day, and about ten cookies in a package (I’m trying to signify random things that I collected from the Linfield group if you are trying to understanding what I am talking about. We are here together as one, so I refuse to indicate each name for each experience). Anyway, I know this program is making us stronger and wiser. It has changed my life and helped me learn to love life. Thanks, Linfield, for giving us this chance.
P/s: Please excuse me if I have bad English in this article. I wrote three papers in French today so my brain does not work so well in English. Happy belated Thanksgiving!