Saturday, January 29, 2011

Des Photos

I wanted to squeeze in lots of photos, so I used a classy Microsoft program to make a collage. If you click upon it, it will open up larger in a new window.


Today I met up with Liana and her new housemate Amy to check out the outdoor market and buy a French cell phone. We also visited the cathedral (I checked it out yesterday, too, for plusiers de photos) and crossed the river, but my favorite part of the day was when we stopped to eat lunch. I still haven't eaten at a French restaurant yet, because food is costly here, even just groceries (1 onion, 1 bell pepper, 3 carrots, and 1 cucumber cost me 5.17 euros, or $7.04.)

We ate at a place called Mc Doner, which sounds like a Chinese version of McDonald's. It was a "kebab" place, but when you order a 5 euro kebab special (1 "kebab," frites, 1 drink, and tea or coffee), they give you something that's much more like a gyro, except it's on thick bread and I'm almost positive it was pork. Still, it was quite delicious, and the chef told us we looked like Russians. He was from Georgia (not as in Atlanta), and was very excited to speak to us. He called us "les filles," and wanted to know about Obama and if we were new in France and told us all about how he came to learn French in Angers.

I think I'll go back, but the whole "no take out box" thing in Europe is a pain in the derri√®re, because I could barely eat half my sandwich, and it was really, really tasty. I think I would prefer having it again for dinner than waiting until the kitchen is free at 8 to cook. Ton pis!

Friday, January 28, 2011

FRANCE!

I really want to tell everything I've seen and done since I got here on Wednesday, but that would result in pages and pages worth of reading, and then nobody would ever visit my blog again. Instead, I'm just going to post a bit about my home, some oddities (to me) of France, and maybe some photos, if I can figure out how to shrink them.

Merci pour venir!

Ma Maison
I live in what Mme. Bouhet calls a typical "maison angevine," you enter the front door and there's a living room and dining room on the right side of the house, and a little kitchen at the back. Up the stairs are 2 bedrooms and a large bathroom, and on the third floor are 2-3 bedrooms. She says that the rooms may be bigger or smaller from house to house, but that the layout is pretty much the same. My house was built around 1870.
My room is on the third floor, very spacious, with a skylight and occasional visits from a 3-legged cat. On the 31st, I should have two new American housemates. Once they arrive, there will be 7 people in the house (4 family, 3 students), 2 cats, and one bathroom. Some wonderful person installed a deadbolt on the bathroom door, something that I would like to establish in my American home.



Oh, la France.
*fancy doors have knobs in the center
*teenagers hang out in doorways, kind of like homeless people in Chicago, except they can afford more cigarettes
*in the country, French people really seem to like sheds
*not that people didn't tell me this, but everybody here dresses better than you. everybody. even people who are helplessly dorky in America, like middle schoolers and the elderly. I wore my favorite outfit that my mom's just bought me, and was a total hobo in comparison. It bothered me the first two days, but then I remembered that I'm not a la mode at home, either, so it really doesn't matter.
*French dogs are cuter, too. and they're everywhere. on the train, in the grocery store, just hanging out.
* some places, it costs money to pee
*ATMs are quite literally on every corner
*food is expensive. no, you don't understand, food is EXPENSIVE.
*Not only is there a 2 euro coin, but there is a 2 cent coin. I think this is a prank.
*People only buy about a couple of days' worth of groceries at a time. as such, the grocery store was tiny, the basket was tiny, and the fridge that supports 7 people is tiny.
*there is something in the bathroom that looks like a toilet, but has a spout, drain, and hot/cold water handles like a sink. it's either a bidet, or a cat washer.
*every single store I went into today (10+) played American pop music. Being in France doesn't make Ke$ha sound any better.
*cars are more likely to run over pedestrians, but pedestrians are less likely to die because all the cars are compact.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cheeseburgers, Country, and a 9mm Taurus

Maybe it's because I'm leaving soon and I want to stock up on Americana, or maybe it's just the best stress relief South Eastern North Carolina offers, but yesterday my dad and I went out in style.

We drove to Fayetteville, NC, next door to mega-fort Ft. Bragg, for some indoor target shooting. For an unheated, 35 degree range, it was crowded. We shot off two boxes of ammunition, not a terrible lot (but then again, I wasn't paying), in 15 round magazines that would make my more liberal auntie flutter her hands. I felt much better afterwards, as I had spent the morning trying to keep down breakfast. France doesn't make me nervous, but the gnawing idea that as soon as I leave some terrible tragedy will occur back home does.
Lunch was a monster cheeseburger decked out with fried onions, probably my last for a while. I will do my absolute best to avoid American food in France, unless I cook it myself, or unless I've just had more Croque Monsieurs than I can stand and want some real beef like they grow in God's Country.
I also stocked up on two new albums, Emotionalism by the Avett Brothers, and an EXCELLENT find: the Secret Sisters (self-titled). I should have more than enough folk/country to stave off homesickness. Here's what I'll be slooshying when I feel melancholy on my 8 hour plane ride Tuesday:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5RhOL7MYfg

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wimpy Kid

I know it's still early, but if my visa doesn't arrive at my house in the next week, I'm going to start vomiting on the half-hour. I am so nervous that it won't get here in time, and I'll have to change my plane ticket, change my train ticket, find a way to contact ma famille, be off schedule, get arrested in Paris for tardiness, get nibbled on by rats in the Bastille... everything.

The only thing that's perked me up about Angers is that Herve told me it was 54 degrees there today (Hooray!) and this wonderful tidbit I saw on Liana's page (http://monpetitoiseau1.blogspot.com/2011/01/crazy.html) about Angers having an H&M and Sephora. My sister would be much more excited than I about the Sephora, but I am ALL ABOUT some H&M. Hoo-rah, as the shopping Marines are wont to say.
there! the little red flag! right next to the cathedral and the castle, between home and school, H&M. oh wonderment!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Perceptions

After a surprising revelation that France (and the rest of Europe) is much further north than I thought, I've had to rearrange some mental geography and latitude lines. All those summers spent at the beach when I stood on the shore and looked out towards the horizon, wondering what all the cheerful French and Spanish families were up to on the coast, I was actually facing more towards Casa Blanca. Suddenly, I have to put little fezzes on all the imaginary dads, and swap their ice creams with kebabs. Supposing that kebabs are Moroccan.

I underwent another perception change this break, after reading the wonderful book my cousin gave me "Stuff White People Like." One of the things White People Like is studying abroad (says author Christian Lander), as well as international travel.

excerpt pg 22-23: "During this time they are likely to wear a backpack, stay at a hostel, meet someone from Ireland/Sweden/Italy with whom they have a memorable experience, get drunk, see some old churches, and ride a train. What's amazing is that all white people have pretty much the same experience, but all of them believe theirs to be the first of its kind, so much so that they return to North America with ideas of writing novels and screenplays about it."

I laughed, and then I realized that, sadly, this is true. So then!, I will promise now that I will
a) not have that experience, and
b) not whine on and on about aspects of my trip that are actually sort of banal.

I will also promise to not

c) rely on stereotypes of French people, as amusing as some of them can be about Parisians, but only convey the truth, the whole truth, and teeny embellishments. So far, every French person that I've met stateside has been wonderfully friendly and warm hearted to me. I'd say that the employees at the French consulate in Atlanta were exceptions to this rule, but I know that there is not a government immigration office in the entire world that you will enjoy visiting. Even the Swiss consulate in Tahiti.