kathryne goes to france


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?



cankles
24 April 2007, 4:37 pm
Filed under: exchange student, france, study abroad, travel

Something about walking about various locations in Europe for two weeks in uncomfortable shoes has made my ankles swell to unsettling proportions.  The two joints formerly known as my ankles are approaching cankle status, and that’s just not okay.  I’d hate to think that my ankles will forever be different sizes: pre-Europe ankles and post-Europe cankles.  Aye.  We’ll see if Advil and rest will solve the problem.

In other feet-related news, my trusty Old Navy flip flops broke for good yesterday.  I hobbled across our poorly paved campus wearing only one shoe.  Did you know that flip flops cost no less than 9 euros around here?  Ridiculous.  I refuse to spend 12 U.S. dollars on one pair of flip flops when I could buy four pairs of flip flops at Old Navy for the same price.  Ankles, I don’t want any more complaints.



American-watching
22 April 2007, 11:55 am
Filed under: American culture, europe, exchange student, france, paris, travel

I love figuring out who’s American and watching them try to get around in France. See a group wearing North Face jackets, sweatshirts, and baseball caps? Definitely American. See an overweight guy? He’s more likely to be American than French, that’s for sure. Hear someone butchering the French language, saying mare-see and bone-jour instead of merci and bonjour? Probably American, and probably from the South, but you have to appreciate their effort.

My favorite Americans today:
The lady wearing a windbreaker with the American flag printed on it who was trying to use the subway system and the husband who congratulated her on the other side with a “You’re gettin’ it, baby!”

The family on the subway. The little boy munched on a chocolate pastry while the parents looked at the subway map and tried to decide where to get off. “Should we get off here? No, wait, there? Or there? Oh hell, we’re in France. Nothing makes sense here.”

The teenagers running through Musée d’Orsay. They’re surrounded by statues by Rodin and they’re running toward the gift shop. All I heard one of them say was, “Dude that sucks!”

The classic middle-aged American woman who laughed and pointed to a statue of a man wearing a helmet. “Let’s get out of here, I’m bored. Who is that, anyway?!” she shrieked. I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and say, “Ma’am, his name is Symbolism. You two should get to know each other.”