kathryne goes to france


bittersweet
27 June 2007, 11:59 pm
Filed under: europe, exchange student, france, french culture, study abroad, travel

I miss watching French people walk around with baguettes sticking out of their bags.

At the same time, there’s something strangely comforting about looking down at the ground beneath me and spying richly red Oklahoma dirt.

Advertisements


accents, idiosyncracies, misconceptions
21 May 2007, 9:35 am
Filed under: American culture, europe, exchange student, france, study abroad

According to the Californians, I don’t have an Oklahoman accent at all. I could easily pass for a Californian.

According to my French phonetics teacher, I have a “très fort accent americain” (a very strong American accent).

According to my Dutch friend Sitske, I say the word “humongous” a lot. To the point that when she thinks of a word to represent me, the word is humungous. It’s kind of funny, because I don’t think “humungous” is a very fitting representation.

Who knew?

Sidenote: I finally talked to the two Dutch girls who’ve been in my classes. It turned out that they’re not Dutch, though, they’re Swedish. They thought I was Canadian instead of American. I don’t know why I thought they were Dutch or why they thought I was Canadian… but hey, at least we all guessed countries pretty close to our own, right? It’s going to be weird to go home—where everyone’s from Oklahoma or Texas, where everyone has the same accent, where there’s no guessing where so-and-so’s from. Hm.



pictures!
20 May 2007, 5:40 am
Filed under: bordeaux, europe, exchange student, france, photos



I uploaded new pictures today. A lot of them are of flowers because everything’s in bloom here in Bordeaux.

There are also several pictures from our one-day excursion to Arcachon, a beach/town nearby.



stink
19 May 2007, 7:31 am
Filed under: bordeaux, europe, exchange student, france, french culture

In all fairness, I should say that the stereotype that the French are smelly is largely untrue. There are, however, several with B.O. issues, and the problem is that when you find one who stinks, he really stinks. Tram rides next to a stinky one are the worst, because there’s nowhere for your nose to go when the trams are crowded, and you’re stuck, in a confined space, next to Stinky. I think France should consider broadcasting public service announcements on the necessity of deodorant.

Seriously, it’s only getting hotter outside. J’ai peur.



Why French women don’t get fat
18 May 2007, 9:46 am
Filed under: europe, exchange student, france, french culture, study abroad

Why French Women Don’t Get Fat
a) They smoke like a chimney
b) They are mutants*

Don’t bother reading the book; that’s the truth.

*Due to the significant, positive correlation between buttery pastries and slender women.  French women are, indisputably, mutants.  Very lucky, thin mutants.



familiarity, please.
13 May 2007, 9:50 am
Filed under: college, europe, exchange student, france, french culture, study abroad

Sometimes I get tired of grocery stores that never open on Sundays, of dragging laundry across town and back, of sharing a bathroom with a pack of barbarians, of putting forth effort to use the Internet.  Sometimes I get tired of eating only foods that don’t need to be refrigerated (or risking it with foods that do), of cooking without an oven or microwave, of involuntarily becoming a vegetarian.  Sometimes I get tired of feeling confused more often than not, of taking classes that are entirely in French, of trying to conjugate verbs properly when I’m speaking.

Sometimes I crave familiarity.

Sometimes I just want to know what people are saying.  Sometimes I just want to drive directly where I want to go and sometimes I just want to bike to class.  Sometimes I want to go grocery shopping at a store that has everything I need, and sometimes I want to go at 1 a.m.  Sometimes I just want to eat a sandwich made just for me at Subway.  Sometimes I want to meet Liz at Moe’s and laugh over a burrito with jalapeños and free Diet Coke refills.  Sometimes I want to wake up at 315, with Tessa’s birds chirping in the other room and Grace listening to NPR in the kitchen.  Sometimes I just want to be with my friends and my family.  Sometimes I just want to speak English.

Yet I don’t want to go home quite yet.  I don’t feel like my time here is done and I don’t want to leave until I’m satisfied.  Who knows when I’ll be able to cross the ocean again?  I’ve learned that I have to take anything familiar that I can get.  While I was on vacation in Italy and Spain, hearing French was comforting for the first time.  I had no idea what the Italians and Spaniards were saying, and it was nice to overhear a French mom say, “No, that’s too expensive,” or “don’t worry, we’re going to eat after this.”  They’re such ordinary statements, and I know everyone else was saying the same things, but at least I understood them.

I crave familiarity at the same time that I crave new experiences.  I get so bored at home, in Oklahoma or even in Bordeaux, when I’m not doing anything different.  Figuring out new things can be exhausting, but they’re usually a bit of a thrill, too.  I guess that even though new experiences are difficult, I love the challenge.  That must be it.

But sometimes I just want to go home.



multilingual
6 May 2007, 11:50 am
Filed under: bordeaux, europe, exchange student, france, french culture, study abroad

The other day on the tram, a little French boy asked Mandi, in English, “What languages can you speak?”

His mother speaks French, English, Spanish, and a little German.

My mother speaks English.

He speaks French and broken but understandable English.

My brothers speak English.

I think it’s so interesting that even little Europeans expect everyone to speak more than one language.  Kids in the United States don’t ask questions like that.  It’s generally presumed, and rightly so, that we speak English and not much else.  The question doesn’t cross their minds because we don’t think about language much in the U.S.  Why would we, if all we hear everywhere we go is English?