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Journals from 2012-AUCP, Aix-en-Provence, France

2012-10-24 Halfway?

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View of the Mediterranean from the roof of the cathedral at Saint-Maries-de-la-Mer in the Camargue Region

Bonjour !

So I think this marks the halfway point of my time in France! It has gone by pretty quickly, and I know the second half will fly by even faster. I have a day and a half before I depart on my week of travelling and only one exam stands in my way, so I am very excited. I love France and speaking French, but it’s a challenge to be doing it all the time, so I am looking forward to the break to recharge my batteries and my enthusiasm a little. This week was midterms week, and what a week it has been. Because midterms themselves aren’t enough, I also had to get sick enough to need a doctor. So after my first exam (French grammar... la pire) I had to visit the doctor and the pharmacie for some antibiotics. Not too big of a deal, except by the time I got home it was already 6pm and I still had two big exams to study for for the next day. Just how big? Pretty much an hour and a half each of straight writing about various aspects of French society, and then various aspects of the European Union. More or less 15 pages of writing. That was tiring. But I went home (only slightly discouraged from the exams) to study for my 4th exam today. Phew, I’m exhausted, and luckily I don’t have an exam tomorrow so I’ve been able to relax and watch some French movies with my host mom.

My host mom, like almost all French people, loves to talk. Every evening after dinner she calls as many friends as she can and talks to them all night long. And in between calls she comes into my room, sits down, and starts talking to me about one thing or another. Doesn’t matter what I’m doing or how studious I look, the French just always want to talk things out and explain everything. Which is refreshing- I feel like you can be more open (in certain subjects) with your feelings than in the US, where to me at least, everyone tries to put up a front that everything is just dandy. There are definitely things that are not talked about in conversation, and the French conversation is considered an art- books and books and books are written on the subject. A few things I know about it are: silence is bad in almost all circumstances except really really, really, really, really strong relationships that have been around for years and years and years- otherwise keep talking and talking even if you have nothing to say; keep personal information to a minimum when you first meet someone- the French find it rude when you share too many intimate details; and the French aren’t afraid to talk over each other- you can’t even call it interrupting because both speakers continue to speak without yielding to the other person. Pretty amusing to watch on the French political debate shows- so similar yet so different from the United States. A bientot (or after vacation) !! Katherine

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