Wednesday, March 31, 2010


To commemorate my three months in France, I'm going to try to blog every day from now on, even if it's something little. Today's blog: Passover!

So I ended up having to go to the service and seder at the temple by myself, because my friend couldn't make it, and I definitely was not looking forward to going but I went anyway. It ended up not being so bad. LUCKILY this girl asked me where I was from and then took me to sit with some other other young people, or else I would have been alone all night.

I expected things to be super strict and formal because the men and women are separated in this temple, but things were surprisingly light-hearted. While the men were downstairs actually standing and sitting when they were supposed to, and reading from their prayer books, the women were just upstairs playing with the babies and gossiping, without even trying to keep their voices down while the service was going on in the same room. Also, a lot of noise was made by the fact that every single kid under the age of seven was literally running from the men's section all the way upstairs to the women's section, climbing over the benches, and running down again, all the while shrieking in French and being dressed impossibly cute in stripes or polka dots. One of the girls that I was sitting with pointed out the men downstairs were singing in Portugese.

Normally I don't appreciate having to be separated from the guys in any situation, but I decided that being forced to sit upstairs has its advantages: i.e. you get almost a bird's eye view of every single young man in the room. Definitely plan on going back soon because of this.

Not everyone stayed for the dinner after the service (unfortunately for me, because I was making a mental map of every guy that I planned on meeting), but there were still more than a hundred people for dinner, mostly older people. However, one of the girls I met definitely took care of me and let me sit with her and introduced me to a few people, which was really nice of her because I had no idea what was going on.

The Seder was entirely in Hebrew, but it still seemed really lighthearted, because the Rabbi was really young and was often speaking in French and people were laughing a lot. However, with ONE HUNDRED people in the room, things were going reeeeally slowly. I wasn't hungry, because I had eaten half a baguette beforehand just in case, but I was tired and kind of uncomfortable because Hebrew and French seem to be the TWO languages in my life that I don't understand precisely in situations were I should be able to. It was about 10:30 PM, we had finished half of the Hagaddah, and they were only just serving Matzah Ball Soup. I asked my new friend what time she thought it would over, and she told me probably in an hour and a hlf or two hours. I decided that I had experienced a nice amount of French Jewish culture, and I had already made some new friends, so I ate my soup and said my goodbyes and left. This was approximately around 11PM. I left the synagogue (which meant that I was locked out). But when I tried to leave the yard, it turned out that I was also locked in.. I tried every exit, but no luck, and oviously all of the doors back inside were definitely locked.

It was really dark out, and starting to rain and it was really windy, and even though I didn't want to be inside, I definitely didn't want to stand outside in the rain for the next two hours until everyone else left. I could see through a window in one of the temple doors that were were some kids playing about 40 feet away, so I knocked really loudly until one of them heard me, took pity on me and got the keys to let me out.

So it was definitely a worthwhile adventure.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


This weekend is the annual swap meet in Bordeaux, and Joana has been REALLY excited (they have others once a week elsewhere, but this one is different because instead of antiques it's literally like a giant garage sale). I didn't find anything yesterday, but we're going to a different part of it today, so we'll see.

I've been feeling guilty lately about not traveling enough on my weekends. But traveling is really tiring/I'm scared to make plans. I've been to Lourdes, Toulouse, Sarlat and Arcachon, but that's it, and I won't even be leaving the country until Spring Break. And after that I might not have the time/energy to travel any more anyway.

I think it would be different if there were more to do here on the weekend, but on Sunday EVERYTHING is closed, AND I don't have a noticeably amount of homework to keep me busy with anyway. From Bordeaux, Ryan Air flies to Edinburgh, Porto, London, Bologna and Brussels. But all of them either 1) don't work when I can go, 2) I already have plans to go nearby those places and I don't need a separate trip, or 3) there are other places I'd prefer to go more.

And I find that EasyJet is a pain too. WHY do I like to complain so much??? The two places I REALLY want to go are Scotland or Ireland, but I DON'T want to go alone, and I don't know if Kayla will even be able to come with me because I'm visiting her when she's in school, errrrrrrrrrggggggggh.

I'm very quickly running out of weeeeeekeennnnnds. I have this upcoming weekend, where I have potential plans to visit a castle with my host family (which I don't want to miss), plus it's less than a week away AND it's Easter, so it will be hard to book anything. The next weekend Kayla is coming (which I AM really excited for and that should be really fun), then I have ONE MORE WEEKEND (where I just found out that I might be able to meet my aunt in Paris, which would be reeeeally fun). But if that doesn't work, I think that most people want to stay here and get work done because it's the weekend before the last week of school, so I probably wouldn't be able to find people to travel elsewhere with anyway.

What have I been DOING for the past many weekends?? Not homework, that's for sure, haha. I seriously don't know where the time has gone.

I've been thinking about it, though, and I think that I would have a hard time studying abroad for an entire school year. My French would improve, obviously, because I would know that suffering through not understanding anything for a whole eight or nine months would be more miserable than suffering for four and a half months (which is actually doable, I've found), so I would HAVE to get better right away. But besides that I think I would miss home/the dollar too much.

I love being here but I'm definitely getting REALLY antsy. In addition to the obvious things, I miss a lack of wind, Yogurtland, American Way, jeeeeewellllry, specific people whom I miss especially, my roommates, sorority, BEING ABLE TO RUN ERRANDS ON SUNDAYS, filtered coffee, student life on campus, Trader Joes and English. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Really antsy.

However, all of this feeling antsy/not having daily homework to do has made me decide that I want to read something substantial (in English) that I haven't read yet while I'm here. Probably Dickens/Elliot/Gaskell -- recommendations pleeeease?

Friday, March 26, 2010

la synagogue

UGH. So, I'm really, SUPER in love with Bright Eyes' I'm Wide Awake It's Morning, AND I'm in desperate need of new music, and I have an Amazon gift card from Christmas, so I was super excited to download another Bright Eyes album, BUT neither Amazon nor Amazon UK will let me use it because I'm not in the United States. Noooooooo. So sad.

But here are some images of life on Rue Naujac and around my city:

Joana & Ynel playing guitar before dinner.

Mmmm. Tofu cooking on the stove! I'm a big fan of tofu now, FYI.

Chat outside my window in the morning! Miiiiiiksuuuuu.

Finally it was nice enough outside for the water to be running!

The Port de Borgoyne, near the river.

St. Michel.

WAY cool wallpaper at St. Michel with my initials!

SUPER COOL and kind of creepy decoration on a house that I pass everyday on my way home. I don't know what the deal is, but the windows are boarded up and the curtains are thin and eerily tattered.

Also, I had an adventure today. One of the girls from the program and I decided to see if we could still sign up for the Seder that the mysteriously-looming-and-always-closed temple claimed to be holding, so I went over today to check it out. The temple itself was closed (until April 12, apparently?), but there just happened to be someone who worked there outside, who directed me to the temple offices, which I definitely WOULD NOT have found on my own since they were so unassuming. After passing through multiple security doors, I eventually made it into the office. I talked for those guys for a long time because of the language barrier, but they were really friendly and excited that I was from Los Angeles, I think. After putting my name on the list, the one in charge asked if I had been inside the temple (NO, duh. It's always CLOSED even though the website claims it's OPEN). So I got a magic guided tour on the spot!

It was really beautiful inside, and I also got a free History lesson! There's a wall inside with the names of people (just like every single French church EVER) who died during World War One. According to my guide, the reason that a lot of them had non-French-sounding names is because in 1492, when Isabel of Castille kicked all the Jews out of Spain ("and something something about Portugal") they ALL showed up to this part of town. Hence the Spanish and Portuagese Jewish names. But of course the French Jews didn't far too better either during World War II, when they were deported, and the Synagogue in Bordeaux was actually used as a prison for them by the Nazis. There's a BIG wooden gold-colored Menorah in the middle of the floor, but the original was apparently made of bronze and was melted down by the Nazis. He also told me something about how the inside of this temple was arranged differently than (many other ones?) because it used some Portugese traditions, but I didn't understand that part.

Then he took me to the kitchen, were he introduced me to this guy who looked like Santa Clause and who was making ground beef with his bare hands. His name sounded like the word "dove", and he was REALLY friendly. I was told he speaks eight langauges, and he told me in English that even though the first night seder was apparently closed, I could still show up and get in, and that I should, because he was Israeli and he only goes to the first night, and the first night is better anyway. So that's probably what my friend and I will do. Considering that I was really scared of just walking up to the temple and trying to get into something that I don't have any vocabulary for, and that it was technically too late to register for according to the website anyway, it ended up being a really fun and productive mini excursion. Success! Here's a picture of the inside of the temple that I didn't take:

So that's that. Also, I didn't say this before, but for those of you who don't know, I will officially be home MAY TWELFTH. So circle your calendars :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


So, I definitely have my two-and-half hour in class essay writing thing tomorrow in Louis XV (except that I don't know if it's a dissertation or a commentaire compose, so I guess I'll find out when I get there. Eeeeeeee).

But the more exciting information is that this past Saturday, I was at the largest sand dune in Europe! It's called the Dune du Pilat (or Pyla), located in Arcachon (less than an hour train ride away from Bordeaux). It was a perfect day trip.

This dune is LARGE. It is 107m high (above sea level), 500m wide, and 3km long. The weather was PERFECT, I don't know how to describe how perfect it was.

Our group at the top. Because the dune is solid sand, it definitely took some energy to get up to the top. Eventually, we decided to move farther down, though we didn't even go all the way to the bottom. When we decided to leave, that meant that we had to climb back up to the top, and then back down to the bottom where we had started from, and surprisingly the climb down was pretty painful too, but worth it, obviously.

The dune is really amazing because it's completely surrounded by forest on side....

And by water on the other!

There was lots of jumping going on.

Us in the town of Arachon afterward.

The town itself was really nice -- it was a lot like walking around Balboa Island. And I got really good gelato for really cheap, and an amazing cafe au lait for no money either, so I would say the trip was a success. On on the train there, one of my friends happened to run into a Swedish friend, who was in turn with her German friends, so now I know some Germans and a Swede, YAY. It was a really good day, and I would HIGHLY recommend this to anyone who will be in this part of the world.

Speaking of meeting foreigners, I've come to believe that all non-English speaking people are actually born with the English language stored in their brains in case of an emergency. LITERALLY. Our new friends didn't have a first language in common, so they had to speak English out of necessity to each other, and their English was AMAZING. Even though they spoke it with accents, it was incredible that they were able to speak it so colloquially. And this weekend I got together with a new Chinese friend, and even though we decided to only speak French to each other, she definitely switched over to English when she couldn't think of the right word in French. And this happens ALL the time. The other day when I was at the grocery store, the cashier said something to me, but I didn't understand, so I mumbled "Pardon?" without saying any other words. But that was all he needed to start speaking English! Everything just rolled right off of his tongue, even that my total was "One Euro and sixty five cents", which gets extra points because the numbers are formed differently in French. I find stuff like this to be both incredible and ridiculous.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


So, I think it's safe to say that my Study Abroad experience has definitely caused mood swings that didn't previously plague me. I'm not unhappy at all -- it's just that I guess it goes without saying that being in a foreign country for months at a time is bound to make anyone feel something new. I don't think people would be able to tell except from the fact that every other blog entry that I've written definitely has a negative tone. Sometimes I think about toning it down, but then I remember that this blog is supposed to document my experiences here -- and a big part of Studying Abroad is what I'm feeling about my experience, right? I just hope that I don't sound ungrateful, because I definitely feel extremely fortunate and grateful to be here.

That being said, I think it will be better to divide my blog entries into specific Good & Bad parts, because otherwise I tend to ramble. AGAIN: No matter how annoyed at something I am here, I AM grateful. Okay.

The Bad first.

Being here has given me no extra appreciation for the French language. In high school, when my friends and I took our first year of French, we were always throwing out random French words along with our English because knowing foreign words was so cool! But I honestly haven't had that feeling since then. Here, I'm happy when I remember words that I've just learned enough to use them again (!) but besides that I don't really like speaking or listening to French (blasphemy, I know). It's hard to try at something when you're not interested in it in the first place. I feel like there's something wrong with me, because I'm pretty sure that one isn't supposed to UN-like a language that they Study Abroad to learn. It's gotten to the point where, originally, I assumed that when I returned to UCI, I would take at least one more French class to be able to continue speaking it, except that now the idea of having to read/write/translate French when I get back sounds reallly unappealing. :(

Also, school SUCKS. Except for my Cicero class, where I AM learning stuff (AND WHERE WE STARTED WATCHING ROME IN FRENCH LAST CLASS!!!), my other classes are completely pointless for me. And they definitely aren't helping my French. I don't regret that I didn't enroll in the classes specifically meant for foreign students to learn French, because all of my friends in them seem to hate those too. So at least I know I'm not missing much. But when I combine the facts that 1) I can't sit still for 2 or 2.5 hours worth of French lecture at a time, 2) It's especially hard to pay attention for that long to something that I can't understand ANYWAY, and 3) for most of my classes, it's pretty much been established that since my homework is different because I'm a foreigner, I don't actually need to KNOW what's being taught in lecture.

Now combine those three things and it becomes very apparent why I hate school. And I admit that part of this probably my fault, because I'm sure that listening to French for so many hours a week can obviously help my comprehension skills eventually, so school could potentially have some value. But I really don't think it's human nature to be be able to take something like that --with SO MUCH working against it-- seriously. So at least I'm not beating myself up about it, it just sucks.

I miss learning things. I definitely have learned some interesting facts: I can now tell you who Saints Anne & Jerome are, about the different sections that make up an Ancient Roman legal document, as well as what days you wouldn't be able to get married on according to the French Catholic Church of the 18th Century. Oh, and that the three groups who weren't big fans of the Jesuits were the Jansenists, the Oratorians, and the philosophers. The only problem is that I can't put anything in context. Like, AT ALL, which is really bizarre. Also, the thing that I love about my upper-Div classes at UCI is that we don't just learn facts, there are obviously points of view and theories that we discuss. I don't know if it's that my classes here are too low-level, or that I'm just missing the message, but not having things like that to discuss is BORING.

I have an in-class test on Wednesday for my hardest class (Louis XV) that is supposed to last for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. I know that I could technically use all of that time to write, but it worries me that the kids who ALREADY KNOW THE LANGUAGE are going to need that time too.....I honestly don't think that there's a point in going, except that neither the professor nor the UC Center will take much pity on my final grade if I don't even show up to this one. UGH. Two and a half hours of feeling clueless is going to be MISERABLE.

I don't think I could have handled being here for the full school year just because an additional semester in class would have killed me.

Okay, now the Good!

French friends are being accumulated! One night last week, some of us met up with one of my friends from UCI, who brought his (French) water polo friend with him. And earlier this week, this new French friend invited us for dinner at his apartment, so three of us went and it was really fun. He cooked for us, we spoke only French, and we played games. It was really good.

And today while I was waiting for someone in the cafeteria, a (French) friend of a friend who I had met once before came up to me and we started talking for a while too, and it felt really good to be speaking French with an actual French person. YAY.

ALso, it's suddenly BEAUTIFUL outside in Bordeaux. This is me on my first day NOT WEARING A COAT TO SCHOOL:

See? Even with my ranting, I AM in a good mood once in a while!

Monday, March 15, 2010

les repas francais

I've definitely fallen behind on posting, but I'm trying to stop doing that.

This weekend was an EXPLOSION of eating. Ugggh. On Tuesday, Jackie and Valerie and I decided to have a pastry lunch, so we tried a new place ten minutes away from campus, which was definitely worth the walk in the cold.

Best lunch ever: Cherry Grumble and a Cafe Au Lait

Valerie's Himalaya (I think) and some macaroons.

Jackie's AMAZING chocolate fondant.

On Friday we went to this quasi-chain called the Ed Wood Cafe for a friend's birthday. The best way to describe it is a stereotype of an "American" restaurant. It's sort of decorated like a diner, except everything is hot pink, and there were life-sized statues of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis, with big video screens playing Scooby Doo and other cartoons in the background. But it was better than it sounds, considering that we're currently in FRANCE. Anyway, Valerie and I shared the most AMAZING milkshake ever:

(Mint Chocolate Chip)

Then on Sunday, a bunch of us met up at the Jardin Publique to have a picnic in the cold. It was really fun, and I'm glad we actually did it after talking about having a picnic for two months. Except that the wires definitely got crossed, so we ended up with six people and four baguettes, in addition to our sandwiches. But too many baguettes are never a bad thing, I guess.

This is a bad picture, but I also ate half of a (really amazing) Cannele.

There's always something going on at Quinconces, in Centre Ville (downtown), and for the next whole MONTH it's a fair, so of course we went over there next. It was pretty much like your average American fair with the same type of rides and games, except the normal fair food was a little bit more French (I guess). There weren't any funnel cakes.

But there were oversized waffles covered in whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles!

And they DEFINITELY had oversized Beignets (Mascottes?) covered in sugar and Nutella! I know from experience.

Yeah, so....I pretty much wasn't hungry at ALL today, for obvious reasons.

In semi-unrelated news, my host mom is turning into my parents. The other day she was serving me vegetable soup, and she definitely said, but in French, "I won't give you any carrots because I know you hate them" (which is what my dad says to me OFTEN because I could eat carrots day and night).

In addition, I had a bizarre but apparently authentic food lesson at dinner the other night. I'm excited because this is authentic knowledge that I can bring back to the States with me. Except that I don't know if I actually will. In addition to our other food, there was a bowl of small radishes, each one smaller than the size of a Quarter. I was just eating them by popping the radishes into my mouth, like how normal people eat radishes. Joanna and Ynel were surprised, though, because they asked me if that was how I always ate them, and then Ynel proceeded to give me a lesson on the real way to do so, while Joanna looked on and added her own advice. Apparently, in France, you cut the radish in half. Then you take a chunk of butter and stick it on one half of the radish. Then you put some salt on that, and then you put the other half of the radish on top. So you have a mini radish & butter sandwich! I definitely did NOT expect that. But I need to stop being surprised at the amount of butter that we eat on a daily basis: "Amelia, some butter for your soup?" "Amelia, are you sure you don't want butter on your rice?" and etc.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Things are going well! I officially bought my ticket to ROME for the end of April. I am so excited that I can't even tell you. It's going to be the most AMAZING trip. The day after classes finish (officialllly, which means that this trip will be in celebration of NEVER having to sit through a 2-and-a-half hour discussion section on Free-Masonry in France again), four of my friends and I are taking an early train to Paris, where we'll be spending the day (!) and staying in a hostel because we have an early flight the next morning. Then the next morning we're going to Rome, where we'll be for four days(!). They're continuing on to Venice/Florence/Bologna for about a day each, but I really want to see my cousin, so after Rome I'll be flying directly to LONDON! Ah! Paris/Rome/London for Spring Break 2010 = the best birthday present from my parents ever, with some of my favorite people ever. I'm so excited.

Then, I'm pretty sure the plan is to come back here and soak in Bordeaux for ten more days or so/take small trips with my friends who are still here, and then possibly end up in London if a couch becomes available for a few days. And then fly home sometime before the end of May! It feels really good to have a plan finally. If my professors wait until after I've booked tickets to inform me that I do in fact need to be on campus when it isn't convenient for me, I'm just going to tell them that it isn't possible anymore because they didn't clarify that when I asked the first time. I'm willing to cross that bridge when I come to it, and it feels so good to just not worry about it anymore :)

It's gotten cold in Bordeaux again! But it's also sunnier, which is weird. This past weekend there was an interesting carnival, and a parade that apparently crossed the river and made it to downtown near where I live, which is a long way for a parade. I was impressed. Some highlights:


Also, I think I'm officially done searching for stripes. I've tried on SO MANY shirts/dresses that I'm just not in love with, plus I'm already very happy with the two pairs I did buy here. Trying on clothes here is more tiring than it is back in the States, because here in France, we come into the stores wearing many, many more layers than we wear in the States. It's exhausting. So, I've decided to channel all of my energy that used to be spent drooling over stripes into drooling over tights. So I really need this cold weather to go away really soooooon.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Colin Firth

Okay, so I obviously decided to cancel my day trip to Paris, because I wouldn't be typing this right now if I was currently on the TGV headed in that direction. We decided to save our money for when there wasn't a good chance that it would rain (or snow?) today.

I had a quick meeting with the professor who teaches the Methodologie class (the one that I was miserable in and that I wanted to drop earlier) yesterday. She graded two of my most recent assignments in front of me. My explication of some lines from Cyrano got a few "tres tres biens!", and I got a 17/20 on that one, which is kind of AMAZING. And I got a 15/20 on my attempt at putting the first part of my dissertation outline into paragraph form, and she told me that she could tell that the vocab book she told me to buy was helping, and that I was getting better. SO YAY.

A bunch of us (the girls, because we all have a mutual love of Colin Firth) are going to see the cheap show of A Single Man today, and then probably eat Thai food. Fridays without class are so important.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


When we asked her about how we would be given the final exam (since we're Americans), my Art History lecture professor officially confirmed what she probably didn't mean to yesterday, i.e. that our success in her class depends 0% on listening to her talk for two hours every Tuesday morning at 8:30 AM. That was probably a mistake on her part.

We talked about the vingtieme today in Louis XV (it's technically a proper noun, but they don't like to capitalize those things here). It's this tax that happened in France right after the War of the Austrian Succession. Maaaayyybe, if France hadn't cared so much about having the Bourbons on the thrones of France AND Spain at the same time/AUSTRIA (or...whatever the War of Austrian Succession was actually about)/helping us out when we needed it during our little revolution, then they wouldn't have run into so much trouble from angry French people in 1789. Even I could have foreseen that mess coming. But it's too late for that now.

ALSO, I got my first "test" back in Louis XV! I am very pleased with my grade. Considering that I 1) only answered 2 out of the 3 questions, 2) Chose not to answer them in the correct format for time's sake, 3) lied about certain facts in French history, 4) definitely used my French articles and genders incorrectly and 5) wrote really illegibly so that he wouldn't be able to tell I had used my French articles and genders incorrectly, I still got a 4 out of 20! Réussite!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Today, I was walking on Rue Saint Catherine and listening to Bright Eyes (which I found in my iTunes and OHMYGOD do I love I'm Wide Awake It's Morning) after school. I found another visibility-reduced ticket to West Side Story for when my cousin Kayla comes in April, AND I found some more striped at H&M (which I didn't buy this time. But I did try them on). Anyway, it was already a successful day because of all of these things, and then I realized that I could stop wearing my scarf, and life would STILL BE OKAY. Today is a landmark. It's supposed to rain tomorrow, but I got to not-be-covered-up for 15 minutes while being outside, so this is a very big deal for me.

The weather is supposed to be nice this weekend, so two of my friends and I are going to Paris for the day! We're going (at least, I'm going, I can't speak for the other two) AND returning on Friday in order to 1) See the sights without having to deal with the mess that is hotels/hostels, and 2) to spite all of our friends who say that a one-day trip to Paris will be miserable.

I was in Paris before I got to Bordeaux, obviously, but this will be good because I was only in the city city for half a day then, and I was alone, so this trip will be a new Paris experience. I'll be bringing as much food with me as I can. No more 10 dollar cappuccinos for me (although, that seriously was an emergency and my only option at the time).

Also, yesterday, one of my friends took us to look at a pet shop near her house, because there was supposed to be piglet (!!!) there, and we wanted to see. The pig wasn't there anymore, but there WERE squirrels that did backflips in order to impresses us. So that was awesome.

Monday, March 1, 2010

deux mois!!


Now that I've actually been told that I have loyal readers, my goal is to blog more often. And I'm going to try to blog less about my own personal, not-France-related feelings, and more about what's actually going on IN FRANCE, since that's supposed to be the point of this blog.

On Saturday, my friends and I took a day trip to Sarlat, which is in the Dordogne department and is absolutely beautiful! It was about 3 hours away by train.

(It still looks really old fashioned, and they film a lot of movies here because of that).

(Super quaint!)

(There's an outdoor market every Saturday with LOTS and LOTS of foie gras, which is the specialty here).
(Us, minus the photographer, on the train. We've become very used to trains).

Sarlat was really pretty, but we hadn't done much research before we went, and we decided that it wasn't worth the time to go to Lascaux when we were there because our day wasn't going to long enough. Plus the lady at the Tourism office told us that the only way to get there was by expensive taxi, and you can't even go into the real caves, so that kind of cemented it for us. Next time.

There were things to see, but nothing exceptional except for how pretty it was. There was a tour on our map which we could follow, but we got lazy and just walked around the market instead, which was fine. If I'm not going to a town to see a specific thing, I'm usually perfectly happy just walking around.

We eventually got lunch at a restaurant that offered a formule for 10 euros. This included fois gras & some other cut of duck, an actual piece of duck with potatoes sardalaise (i.e. from Sarlat, like how bordelaise means from Bordeaux), and a piece of cake with "noix" in it's name for dessert. Considering that I'm not a huge duck fan, it was all really good. We couldn't all finish every dish because it was so heavy, and every time the waiter came over to clear our plates he shook his head at our non-clean plates and told us that that wasn't how it was usually done in Sarlat. Apparently this formule for only 10 euros was an AMAZING deal according to my host mom, which made me happy because I'm still not used to spending that much for a meal, even though that seems to be normal in sit-down places. But for all I know, it was really bad quality foie gras. I like it, though.

My host mom usually texts me to tell me things, because texting is so much cheaper than calling, but during the day she called me to insist that we arrive back in Bordeaux earlier than we had planned because a big storm was coming. We ended up taking an earlier train anyway, because we were all really tired and we had run out of things to do in Sarlat. After going back to my friend's house to pick up my things (we had all had a dinner party and slept over the night before because her host parents were away), and getting lost after taking the bus for the first time, I finally ended up back at home around 8:30 PM. I went to bed really early, but the wind and rain was SO loud that night that it woke me up a few hours later, and went on for hours. Today I found out that they had shut the buses and trams down due to the wind a few hours after I took the bus, so it was good that I got home when I did. The wind was so bad though that elsewhere people were killed by falling trees, and many cities closer to the water have had flood-related deaths. So my host mom wasn't unnecessarly worried.

I'm in my fifth of twelve weeks of school. Weird, right? Everyone I've talked to has pretty much agreed, however, that it doesn't feel like real school. The "study" part in "study abroad" is kind of misleading (for those of us where classes aren't taught in English, anyway, I can't speak for the rest of you). Unless you're exceptionally gifted at French, I feel like we only catch a fraction of what's being taught, anyway, and for the most part we aren't expected to do the real work (or take the same real tests) that the French students have to take, which is good. So, school here is more like something that I go to for a few hours everyday because I have to, but not something that I feel connected to or that I really care about (because I feel like the life experience that I'm getting from school here is learning what it's like to turn in work that's supposed to be formatted in a way that I've never heard of before, and being terrified of my professors, more than it is about learning the content). I don't mean this in a negative way -- it's just surprising how little of my brain revolves around school for once.

But there are some fun little things that I happen to be learning about. In my Cicero class, we talk a lot about different types of Roman discourses, and about the structure that these discourses always have (something I've learned: they REALLY like talking about structured writing here). Today we talked about some of the hills of Rome (in French terms, which is weird).

I HATE my Louis XV class, because the lecture is boring and two hours long (and to make it worse, they made me leave when I tried to sneak in with hot chocolate today!), and the discussion section is terrifying (AND TWO AND A HALF HOURS LONG). But I think we're talking about this guy named John Law (or, John Lass) and how he started France's national bank, and how he also had control of their company in the Mississippi area, and then they both collapsed at once, so people were mad at him. I think this stuff is interesting, so that's kind of cool for a change.

So yeah! 2 months! My clothes still fit after all of this time, which is kind of a miracle. Also, as I type this, my host mom is definitely in the living room, singing jazz music while playing her guitar with some guy who's playing the saxophone. ALSO, you should know that TWICE in the course of writing this blog, my fingers automatically typed the French spelling of words instead of the English ones, which I think is probably a good sign!