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What I have learned in France

4 Feb

So I have been in France for two weeks now. This enlightening cultural experience has taught me several important things. Including the French term for studded boots, and if you know me, you understand how crucial this is for my vocabulary. For the record it’s “les bottes à clous.” But otherwise I have learned the following:

Don’t eat gyros in your room. This should be self explanatory. If you eat Greek food in your room, your room will smell like Greek food. I learned this the hard way.

Unfortunately 14 year old French boys will always dress better than American men. It’s called accessorizing, guys. And wearing pants that fit properly.

Apparently to parallel park properly, you must hit the car behind you, but only after hitting the car in front of you.

Always walk back the way you came. Unless you are Jim Richtman, then you might be okay.

And I also learned how to open a bottle of wine with a shoe and a knife, so I’m practically a French citizen… Or a desperate American. Whatever.

Marie gave me homework- Paris: Week 2

29 Jan

My ten year old friend, Marie, has given me homework. I think she is tired of me not understanding her references, so she has loaned me several French children’s books. I have been instructed to read a different one each night and report back to her. And I’ll do it. Let’s face it; she probably has a better grasp on my French abilities than the professors who decided to put me in Intermediate French III. Although, I was told that my French was perfect by a cute waiter at a café, so… He obviously lied. But, in his defense, I am very good at ordering food. I’ve had a lot of practice with my three trips to McDonald’s.

Getting lost in Paris is not as glamorous as it sounds…

24 Jan

Before I begin, Mom, don’t read this. I wasn’t walking through Paris by myself, I swear.

Around mid-January through mid-February, “les soldes” occur throughout Paris. Les soldes are bi-annual sales where most things in the store are roughly 50% to 75% off. Which is awesome. I bought a shirt at Zara for seven euros. SEVEN EUROS. It’s a dream come true. Until I decided to leave my friends and go home to have dinner with my host family.

Now, aux États-Unis roads are pretty much laid out in a grid, at least in city environments. I understand grids, they make sense to me and most other humans. Paris hates grids. Like, seriously detests them. The roads here go all over the place and are never parallel or perpendicular. Therefore, if you don’t go back the way you came, you aren’t getting to the same place (unless you have a map, I suppose) But with my American mind, I thought that if I walk parallel to the street I was on before, I would be able to turn right and make it back to that street. WRONG. I was so lost. My sense of direction is pretty good, so I knew I was heading in the right direction, but I could not get to the street I needed to be on. It was just dead end after dead end. Needless to say, I was late for dinner. But I know enough French to ask where the nearest metro stop was, and I eventually made it home without any major issues, other than being cold and confused. But hey, at least the metro makes sense.

By the way, apparently Philadelphia cream cheese is all the rage in France right now. My host family served cheesecake and they were very excited that they got to use Philadelphia cream cheese. Which is adorable.

Paris: Day 2

22 Jan

Oh how the tables have turned. Yesterday I was completely incompetent in French and today, well, I’m still incompetent, but somewhat less incompetent than my peers. As hard as it may be to believe, I actually had a successful interaction with a French person today. I had to buy a cell phone and I was able to tell the salesperson what phone I wanted and what plan I wanted. Apparently most people in my program haven’t taken French, so after witnessing this interaction, all of my new friends were convinced that I was a fluent French speaker. Therefore, it was my job to speak for them, which I did. But I couldn’t have been too terrible, because my salesperson told her co-worker that I could be the intermediary between her and her English speaking customers. Also, on my way home, a French person stopped me on the street to ask me a question! I have no idea what she said because she was speaking way too fast, but I must have looked French. My confidence was restored…

Until I came home and played a game called “devine tête” with my ten year old best friend… (for all you non-french speakers reading my blog- read: all of you) this is like the American game “headbandz,” look it up. It was during this game that my new best friend reminded me that I am not, nor will I ever be, as good at French as her. But come on, saucisse and saucisson are the same thing if you ask me. And google translate agrees. Oh well, c’est la vie.

Paris: Day 1

21 Jan

So it turns out I was right. I don’t know French. And although I appreciate the supportive comments from my friends and family saying I will “be fine” because I have been “studying French for years,” you were all wrong. Every single one of you. I am basically a toddler over here. I understand what the adults are telling me, but I cannot respond because it turns out I know about four words and they are all colors. I am a French toddler, but much larger and probably less chic.

On another note, I made my first French friend. She’s ten. We did the gangnam style dance and listened to Ke$ha, so we are basically besties. I have figured out a way to get around the language barrier. Unfortunately, that is only for bonding and not communicating. So I’m still lost.

But I can see the Eiffel Tower from my window and I didn’t get ripped off by my cab driver this morning, so I can’t complain too much.

I’m going to Paris

12 Dec

Bonjour! I am traveling to Paris for five months beginning in January and this is where I am going to document my adventures. I’m going to be honest though, I probably won’t shut up about how much I love “steak frites.” I apologize in advance. But I will include street photography, cool french phrases to say, and how many times I get lost on the subway. So look forward to that. Oh, and I may be going to Paris Fashion Week. Just saying.