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!

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