Over the last couple of months, I have come to realize just how wonderful the city that I am in is. Sure, there have been things that have surprised me, but I feel like I am becoming a more well-rounded individual. I’d love to share with you all of my experiences, but since that would mean making this post extremely long, here are a few of the most important good, and necessary experiences that I have had recently:
I LOVE the pastries that I have been able to eat almost every day here. My favorite is definitely Pain au Chocolat, which is basically a Croissant with chocolate in the middle. I have to limit myself in the number that I eat because I don't want to end up weighing 900lbs by the time I get home. I have found that bread and pastries play an important role in the French way of life. Bread is served at every meal, and the pastries are viewed as an art (delicious, delicious art).
I had midterms two weeks ago, and gained new cultural information upon receiving my grades. Here, in France, it is impossible to get 100% on any given assignment or test. The professors have told us that the highest grade that we can ever expect to receive is a 17 out of 20. So, as you can imagine, when I got my first tests back, I was rather surprised by my grades simply because I am so used to being able to achieve the highest score of 20 out of 20. It still takes me by surprise, and I just have to keep reminding myself that, to them, the grades I'm receiving are good.
I set up a French bank account to use while I am here and was surprised at how challenging it was for me to communicate exactly what I wanted and understand what I was being told in a process that, in the US, would have been a breeze. My account still hasn't been completed, leading to many frustrations for me because I would like to be able to use the money within my account, but I am learning quite a lot about how business is done here from my repeated visits to the bank.
I am continually being surprised at how friendly and kind the French people are. Take my host family's friends, for example. When my host parents were out of town for a few days, one of their friends called me every day to make sure everything was going ok until they got home. Also, when I met my host parents’ friends, by chance, walking down the street they always stop and talk to me, no matter how much of a hurry they are in. I've noticed that this is a common occurrence among the French because I observe it every day. I have found the stereotype of rude French people to be completely untrue; if you take the time to try and communicate with them the best that you can, they are kind, friendly, and helpful. However, I do acknowledge that there are bad apples in every country.
I am having the time of my life here and I can't believe that I'll only be here for a little over two more months! I absolutely LOVE Angers, the wonderful people that I come into contact with every day, and the friendships that I have made. Every time I think about the fact that I'll be leaving soon I can't help but wish that I could stay here forever. That's not to say that I don't miss my friends and family back home, I do, I am just really enjoying this opportunity that I have been given.