One month down, nine to go...

This one will be brief as mondays always make me very tired, but I wanted to write something, as today marks the end of one month here. I'm not quite sure how I feel about this, a mixture of accomplishment, distress, sadness, eagerness, and laziness flood me all at once, I guess. Accomplishment because to my great surprise, and pleasure my French has improved. Distress because it hasn't improved a ton and there are only nine more months left to become fluent. Sadness because I like it here, and eagerness because I also miss Santa Fe (surprise, surprise, I know but its true). Laziness because, I am at heart a very lazy person and I have to work very hard to understand school, and nine months is a lot of school, and a lot of work, which the laziness in me (and there is a quite a chunk) wants to shrink from, but I'll do it because I have to, and because it is primarily that which will help my French. Well tomorrow is tuesday the hardest day of the week, and its late here so I'll say good bye, but never you fear another insanely long post is coming your way, I just have to work up the will power to type it up, as I wrote it by hand. Perhaps the laziness in me will be appeased by the oatmeal cookies I'm planning to bake as a means to use up the oats from my crumble.
a bientot,
p.s. I forgot to tell you coffee to go in the starbucks like coffee cups do not exixt in France, i guess coffee is just too important to the French to do on the fly. Unfortunately this means no quick coffee jolts in the afternoons for me, I have to wait until 5:30 when i get home from school and by then its better to just wait until after dinner, and then I'm usually to lazy (oh my laziness never ends).


more boulangerie,
some little cakes: orange chocolate,
and apple
plus some tarts

the boulangerie and the park

Peach Iced Tea, very popular here, very tasty,
my wonderful chocolate dipped cookie,
the street leading to my school,
the Tower,
the main square

a beautiful old house,
an elementary school,
a very lovely residential street,
both sides,
a cool building (the door from the previous batch is from this building)

a cool door, the side street of the main square,
another cool building,
the Tower in all its glory
and another building I liked the looks of
Strawberry Tartlette
Jams and other goodies in the window of the Chocolatier
The Window of the Boulangerie we frequent every Friday
and the outside of the Boulangerie

The church behind a row of shops,

the street leading from
my school to the square, with the edge of the school in the background

a cafe off the square

two views of the main square

Confisserie (my next destination)
The Post Office
The main street
A church

Saint Amand, a bike ride and other things

Today I had no classes in the morning, so I read all morning long after some bread and honey and lots of coffee. It was lovely. Though the weather was rainy and chilly, I was cozy with some tea. Then, after lunch, Thomas and I went to school, but he had two hours of English, so I spent them in Town wondering around, and taking pictures (I know that comes as exciting news to y'all, my lovely readers!). I also had my chance at last to stop in the chocolatier. It was rather large, but very well lit, and very welcoming. The woman behind the counter was very nice, even though I was a bit indicisive when faced with all those yummy choices. Those yummy choices were very similar to that of the other boulangerie actually, but to those bakery standards, such as pain au chocolat, baguettes, fruit tarts, etc. were jars of jam, cakes and a large variety of lollipops. I decided that to incorporate the chocolate I would buy a cookie dipped in bittersweet chocolate, and then I couldn't resist the strawberry tarts any longer. I'd been eyeing the ones at the other boulangerie every Friday, but now, being alone with no one to see me woof down this delightful sugary feast, was the perfect time to indulge. I then made my way over to the park and at my little tart. A soft buttery crust filled with a sugar cream, and topped with whole strawberries, which were frozen. The whole tart was chilled, which I was not expecting, but which gave it a much lighter, more refreshing quality, rather than a heavy overwhelmingly sweet twist. I ate the whole thing, though it was not huge, it was definitely filling. It was simply wonderful, though I have to admit three things kept running through my head while I ate this overtly French dish. 1) Guilt for not buying my fist mini strawberry tartlette from the other boulangerie, 2) Why had I not thought to search out napkins before eating this tart, and 3) thank god nobody I know is here to see me eat this! Other than that I was very happy this afternoon. I now realize, in regards to the first thought, that is was actually a good thing to do, as I can now compare the price and quality of the tartlettes at each shop. I think the boulangerie, where we go on Fridays is more expensive, but I also have a feeling theirs will be better, so it all evens out in the end I suppose. Saint Amand Les Eaux is really a wonderful little town, because while it is full of architectural and historical treasures, chief among those being La Tour de Saint Amande, it is also a very real town, by which I mean there are plenty of people who live and work there walking around, buying their bread, going to the super market, meeting friends at the cafe, etc. and it all feels very lively, not at all a museum. The weather warmed up considerably in the late afternoon, as it often does here, and I must confess I find it a bit bizarre. Not to mention the fact that this brief flash of sweltering summer heat engulfed by humidity makes it very hard to dress appropriately.
The other thing I wanted to write about is my bike ride (yes, I finally took my ride!). I went Sunday afternoon, by myself as everyone else was busy, into Marchiennes. The weather was perfect, as there was a light fog of sorts over everything it wasn't too hot, but the sun was behind it and it was sort of muggy, so it wasn't too cold either, which I had been a worry of mine. Everything closes on Sunday afternoons, even the little bakery that was open that morning to buy bread had closed by 2 o'clock. There are really only about four commercial streets in Marchiennes, and even those are dotted with apartments and houses. There are approximately three bakeries, three pharmacies, one restaurant, four cafe/brasseries, one cafe, a post office, and thats all! I also passed a cute little park hidden by large, perfectly trimmed hedges. There are a fair amount of houses around, and a large section of apartment buildings. Then through the middle of town runs a medium sized river with a bridge over the top just next to the town square, which we cross every morning and afternoon on the bus. On Sunday there about five or six guys fishing in the river with huge fishing lines, which I rather liked. The only problem with my 45 min bike ride was that as soon as I reached town I realized I'd left the camera at home, so no pictures of Marchiennes just yet.
a bientot


This is an old story from the first full week of school, but I hadn't had a chance to add it here until now, and I think it's interesting enough

I got lost, on monday, because Thomas had English so I went to the study hall room and read for an hour then went to the room in which I thought we had math, but after a while waiting outside I didn't see anyone I knew, so I went outside, going to go to the other part of the building and see if I wrote the room number down wrong, but on the way out I saw the math teacher so I turned around and saw her go into the room I thought I was supposed to be having math in, but nobody in the room looked familiar, so instead I did go over to the new building, but because I'd delayed so much everyone was in class, with no one anywhere in sight and all the doors were shut, so I went to the French room were I thought I would be next but didn't here voices and the door was closed, so instead of knocking, I went back to the other side of campus and asked the math teacher if that was the right calss, well no, that was a senior class that I had interupted (oops!) but she was very nice and helped me find this other teacher who had the list of classes and was on duty in the office, and he told me that really I had French, where? in the room where I had just been standing outside of 5 minutes before but was too afraid to knock on (its very intimidating, because everyone waits in the hall for the teacher then stands until the teacher is ready then says for us to sit and she/he has closed the door when they came in so it was me in a corridor of closed doors with not a soul in sight and it was scary and I couldn't knock!) so anyway this teacher and I are crossing the campus and there is Thomas hurrying toward me like where were you I was waiting, and waiting and after ten minutes it was like where's Emma, I dunno better go find her! Well anyway then I was saved. Luckily the class I was ten minutes late to was going through to have individual photos taken so I didn't miss anything.



Today is Sunday. I'm sitting in the living room enjoying the breeze, its a very nice day today, which is nice, it was quite cold at the beginning of the week. Friday was great. Fridays are generally my favorite day because we eat in town, which is always great, we don't have too many classes, so I'm never as tired, and because I always have this sense of accomplishment by the end of the week, which boosts my spirits/energy. This friday I went to the bakery again, but I had a chicken sandwich, very tasty, and . . . I ordered it for myself. Plus, this week I couldn't resist the chocolate eclairs. I noticed the bakery also has quiche slices, so maybe one week I'll try that. We had quiche for dinner Friday night in fact. It was Isabelle's birthday, so her mother and her mother's husband came to dinner. It was lovely to meet them and the quiche, which was excellent, was followed by little patisseries from the local bakery including several little cakes, one of which was hickory, and some eclairs plus a religieuse, which is like an eclair but round with a little head on top.
I haven't had a chance to take my bike ride/tour of Marchiennes yet, but maybe later today. However, yesterday after my interro, we went to a little restaurant in town and ordered frites and sausage to go. the sausage was very much like a hot dog, only the frites replaced the bun. The frites her, while not the traditional shoe string style, are fried right after you ordered them and retain this wonderful freshness that is quite unavailable when eating a fast food restaurant. While we were waiting for the food, Gilles took me across the street to the brasserie (which is a cafe that serves food as well) to buy a magazine. I chose Grazia, a european magazine, for which I've been seeing ads everywhere. It costs only one euro, comes out weekly, and features fashion, politics, gossip, and a feature on a star every week. This issue features Lilly Allen the up and coming British pop star. It's not the most cultured reading ever but its fun and more importantly its written in colloquial French. Also, this morning I was indeed up early enough, though I slept later this morning (yes!) to go with Gilles to the Bakery to buy bread. He told me that the bakery where he usually goes is closed Sundays, so he goes to one right next to the little brasserie, on the other side of the main square. It was warm and cute, and the women behind the counter were very nice. Alle the pastries looked wonderful, though there were not nearly so many different kinds as the bakery in St. Amand. All in all this weekend is shaping up very nicely!
Last night friends, whom I've met several times, came over for dinner, and we ate mexican. While the burritos were not quite up to Santa Fe standard, as the fixings came for an Old El Paso box, they were definitely passable, and I enjoyed them very much as I have to admit I was already suffering tortilla and chile withdrawals. The sauce on the chicken was actually mildly spicy, which surprised me, and made me very happy! Also, I requested Tortilla chips from Isabelle, who asks me every time she goes to the store if there is anything I want, and to my surprise, as well as hers, I think, she found them! But, the really great part is she also bought gaucamole and salsa, which was very nice of her. She also bought rice cakes and plain yogurt for me, so perhaps I won't be quite as fat as I originally thought. I've been eating so much lately I'm surprised my clothes still fit, but now that all the food is not so new and exciting, I think I'll be able to stop myself from over indulging in innumerous French goodies. Speaking of over indulging. I made my nectarine crumble yesterday, and we ate 15 minutes after it came out of the oven, because the recipe said it was best still hot. It was very good, though a bit too much orange zest. I made it with only nectarines, but the original recipe used rhubarb as well, and I think the flavor would have been more interesting had I done the same, however I didn't have rhubarb, and I didn't want to request too much from Isabelle all at once! Oh I forgot she also found syrup, so next time I make pancakes, they will be fluffy and there will be syrup, so it'll be great! Sarah's English teacher has invited me to dinner some time, as all of her children speak English, as well as her, and she thought it might be nice for me to dine with people to which I could actually speak.
On another note entirely, yesterday was my first Saturday interrogation. It went very well, I think (knock on wood*), the teacher gave me a different question than everybody else, which was very simple, and I could understand the texts easily. The hard part was that we also had to write a piece, not related to the text, which I wasn't expecting, but I wrote it, and while I'm sure it has many grammatical/spelling errors, I think it will suffice. I finished after only 1 hour and 45 minutes or so which was too bad, as it was a three hour test, so I spent the rest of the time sitting with my eyes closed thinking. Other than that it wasn't to bad, and next is English so I won't have to go, yay!
* knock on wood is an expression here too, but here it is touch wood, and there is no rucous noise involved, which I rather liked.
a bientot,


some thoughts . . .

Now that I'm somewhat settled in here, and I know what to expect from day to day (knock on wood) I've been thinking about what I want out of this experience, and what I want to accomplish during the next nine months or so. Firstly, I don't want to experience culture shock. While it's a perfectly very normal thing to go through, it's basically a big drag and totally wastes about a week or two of your time, and your family's time for that matter, so thats a big N-O on my side. What culture shock is for those of you who haven't been bombarded with pamphlets on the various stages of an exchange program, which I'm guessing is most of you, is a rejection of the culture and experience in general. It usually occurs after you've settled in a little and aren't constantly being thrown for a loop, or figuring out something new, because after that is over you have time to reflect, get home sick, and start to miss everything you know and love, which turns into bitter feelings for this new thing. So that time is approaching for me, and I don't want to fall into culture shock, even on a minute degree, though that may be inevitable, we'll see. I think the best way I can avoid culture shock, is by spending lots of time with my family, talking, learning, bonding, etc. rather than sitting alone in my room thinking about home, or what have you. I have been spending the evenings watching the French news and talking with my host parents, Gilles and Isabelle, so that's a good start. The next thing I want to do is get to know Marchiennes. It seems like a charming town from what I've seen, which is not much, just the main square, where the school bus picks us up, and the road out of town. My host family, the kids especially, don't seem very interested in the town, or in spending time there, which I can understand, coming from a small town my self (though Santa Fe is a booming metropolis compared to Marchiennes, pop. 4700) its just boring. However, I'm hoping if I ask them they will show me around, and then maybe I can spend some afternoons, or weekends in town exploring rather than out on the couch reading alone. I like to read on the couch in the living room because it makes me feel like I'm assimilating with the family rather than reading in my room, but almost no one else is out there, so its still me alone. Don't get me wrong, reading on the couch is a great way to relax, and just sort of be, but I would love to experience Marchiennes the town, and that whole other part of French life, which so far has evaded me. Everything I have read about France says that the people always have a very nice relationship with the local store owners, such as the baker, butcher, etc. and I would very much like to have that too. I know that Gilles goes out and buys bread and sometimes pastries every morning on the weekend and sometimes during the week as well, and as I can't seem to sleep past 7:30 (must be the time change) I think I'll ask to tag along next time. Other than my longing to walk around town, I don't have any other complaints, or unfulfilled desires. The next thing I would like to do however, is make an apple pie. Pie, especially apple, is very American, I intend to do a lattice top and everything, so hopefully it will be an exciting prospect for my family, I'm thinking maybe this or next weekend. I made Pancakes last weekend. My mom has these amazing, ever so fluffy, delectable pancakes, which she makes using a tweaked version of the Joy of Cooking recipe. I thought they'd be simple, and they were, but I didn't beat the egg whites enough and due to measurement conversion issues, the batter was too runny, which meant that I had to add a bunch of flour after adding the half-beaten egg whites, which made the batter dense. All in all they weren't fluffy, not even a little bit, so they were edible, even good, but they weren't the fantastic pancakes with this craxy 'wow' factor, that I'd wanted. However, on the upside I've asked if some other weekend in the future I can try again, because I figure now that I've tried once, know what measurements to use, and how much to beat the eggs, I'll be able to pull off the fluffiest pancakes you could imagine. Well maybe not quite, but its worth a try. Also I figure my tarts and pie (note the singular) have always come out well, so I'll probably have better luck with an apple pie than with pancakes, which I'd never made without the wise advice of my pancake-expert mother. That's all I have for today so over and out,
a bientot,
p.s. Oh I forgot Peanut butter does not exist in France! I repeat does not exist here!



TGIF! though this I believe is the last TGIF for me for quite some time because as of next week I will have a monstrous exam every Saturday. Today it was warmer here which was nice, as I am almost always a little chilled. This being Friday we ate lunch in town today, though not at the Friterie, but at the little bakery I'd heard about earlier. I had a ham and cheese sandwich with butter instead of mayonnaise, as is the French tradition, on a baguette. It was very good! However, I didn't try one of the numerous tantalizing pastries that lined the display case. Maybe next week I'll try an eclair, of the chocolate variety, though they had coffee too. They also had raspberry, strawberry, lemon, and mixed fruit tarts in individual and full size. Opera cake, lemon cake, and a sort of chocolate cake with berries on top. Then there were the chaussons aux pommes, the palmiers, brioches, and the eclairs. Also, there were many pastries that I think were profiteroles, with all manner of fillings. mmmmhhh!!!
On a different food note, last night I tried Roquefort cheese. While not super exotic, its very French, and very smelly. It reminded me of blue cheese, which I don't really like. Though I didn't love the cheese, I didn't hate it either; I think I just sort of appreciated it for everyhting its worth.
a bientot,

school. Part II

This is continued from where I left off last night...
The cafeteria where we eat lunch most day, I say most days because the high school has off campus privileges and everything in Saint Amands Les Eaux is within walking distance from the school so sometimes we (my host brother, his friends, and I) go eat in town, though that so far has been limited to Fridays, as they always buy Frites and/or sandwiches from the weekly farmer's market on Fridays. Anyway the cafeteria is kind of 'in-out' style, by which I mean there is a constant flow of students in too eat and then out again once they're finished through the little cafeteria with limited seating throughout the entirety of the lunch period. All the kids who eat lunch at the cantina, some go home for lunch, but we live too far away for that, stand outside in the courtyard of the main building and wait for the teacher at the front to call their class, then they go and get their little lunch card and wait in line. Once in line they return the card to another teacher, who waits at the start of the line, which curves around a narrow tiled hallway into the kitchen and then out into the hall where we eat. The food itself is not great but compared to the majority of school lunch food out there could be a lot worse! The food is set on a display cart of sorts where we grab what we want, basically as much as we want. First bread, in slices, and silverware then dessert, then an appetizer, then the main course and a napkin, plus a glass of water if you like. Normally the main course is some sort of over-salted meat and a potato dish, today however it was rice that accompanied the meat. Then you dump your plate (real plates, as I was surprised to find) and silverware in the dishwashing part of the kitchen and exit once again into the courtyard. Everyone here prefers to eat in town, but that's too expensive for everyday, and no one brings a lunch to school, I guess that's just not a thing here.
Saint Amands Les Eaux is a charming little town with a nice park and lots of narrow ancient streets filled with funny little shops and a cafe or two, plus a bakery which I'm told is very good but haven't had a chance to try yet. The "Les Eaux" part of the name actually does mean water, as the town is in fact a supplier of bottled water, which my host family, adn thus I, drink.
The bus ride to and from school is on a grey hound bus, so its obviously very comfortable, and the views are wonderful, because we drive through three (I think three, though I can't actually tell!) little towns and some country side. I very much enjoy watching the everyday early morning routine of the French from the window of the bus.
All in all I am enjoying school and life here, though its still hard considering I have only Thomas and Sarah as friends, nice as they are I still feel I'm imposing a bit, and their friends, who are all very nice as well, but when they speak to one and other I can't understand them, so I'm never part of the conversation. It would just be nice to have someone to talk to in between classes.
I have so many free periods, I don't know what to do with them. I usually read, but I'm afraid to finish my book, as it's the only English book I have and I don't want to struggle through a French book with my dictionary, etc. in the study hall room on top of all my struggling with French homework.
well that's I'll I have on school life so far,
a bientot,


school. Part I

the first real day of classes was pretty simple, and easy, as the first two periods were spanish, which I'm not taking, considering everyone else in my segment (we have segments here so that instead of picking individual subjects, you pick a section, literature, math, science, or economics, and then everyone who picked that section, or sometimes there are enough students to split up into two, are put in a segment. You then have all your classes with that same segment of 12-14 students), is in Spanish IV and I haven't taken Spanish since third grade, when for 30 minutes twice a week before school we made calendars in Spanish and learned the colors. Also, luckily enough for me, English and Spanish are almost always the first class/classes of the day, which means, I almost always have the morning off! On the down side, the meaning of free period here is vastly different from the free periods of Santa Fe Prep. Instead of going to the over heated, well lit, cushy library, with which we have been well spoiled, to talk with friends or do homework together, everyone goes to the building at the back of the old part of the high school, designated for free periods. This building reminds me greatly of detention, as it is a long hall with small windows along the top of one wall four rows of desks with little chairs for working. At the front of the hall there is a small platform with a desk for the teacher charged with watching us all, any real form of conversation is forbidden here, though there is a constant swirling of whispers, which is tolerated, Also at the front of the hall is a large clock, which dolls away the time. The entire hall save for a cheerful mural that reads 'hello, friends' at the back is painted a drab light blue, and this includes the cement floors. WHile the whole things is designed I'm sure to be a productive study hall, I can't help picturing nuns with rulers!
The rest of the campus is generally more up-beat. Everyone here thinks the buildings are awful eye sores, but while I find the interior of the classrooms a bit drab the exterior architecture is actually quite interesting. Its very French, by which I mean the entire thing is brick, with white-washed windows surrounded by large white brick trim. At the top is a row of arched turrets, just beneath a black slate roof, and there is a large arched door to enter the middle school, in which a small rectangular section opens. It's really kind of iconic and stereotypical, which I have to admit, I love. However the buildings where we have most of our classes are not quite so attractive, while they have windows, they always feel a bit close and dark to me.
Well buildings aside, the classes themselves are very nice. I really like all of my teachers and for the most part I can understand them. Economy and French are by far the hardest subjects. Economy, which I have never taken before, but which I now have everyday save wednesday, which is just a half day, is hard because the terms are not to be found in my beloved French/English dictionary as they are terms for... you guessed it: economics! Luckily for me however, most of the words are practically the same in English, so I can understand the concept of the lesson. When it gets hard is when we learn a concept centered around a word I cannot translate. I usually have no problem taking notes between what the teacher writes on the board and what I can copy from Thomas's notes, when I can't spell a word or I miss a pronoun in a sentence. However, when the teacher dictates notes, or we simply have to listen and pick out the important stuff for ourselves, then I have a really hard time keeping up. Thank go Thomas has every class with me!
French is even harder than Economy because I have a hard time understanding the teacher when she lectures us, and its hard for me to write anything remotely interesting or dynamic with my limited knowledge of French adjectives and phrases. The good thing, though, is that as I mentioned earlier she is also my homeroom teacher so she is very helpful and has told me that I can come seek help any time I need it, which I am assuming will be often.
Math is pretty easy for me which is nice, because, while the word problems (yes, there were word problems, dictated to us, no less!) were a bit confusing on the first day, the math itself is fairly simple, so I shouldn't have to great a problem with that class, though undoubtedly it will get harder. History/Geography hasn't really picked up yet either, but so far it has been simple enough for me to understand everything that's going on without a problem. Biology, which we only have twice a week, seems to be a kin to what we did last year at Prep, inasmuch as they seem to have taken the Bio I course Prep offers and split it into two years, this being the second year. I believe we are just starting a unit on genetics, and I should have no problem in doing well in that class.
I know my "easier" classes out number my "harder" classes, but the hard classes are hard enough to make up the difference, and they're all hard as they're all in French! The other problem is I'm very afraid of having to take a test in which I have to explain a concept or something in French, as I'm not sure I'd really be able to adequately describe anything in French.
This is a really long post and its late so I'll split it into two parts
to be continued . . .


A few things I've noticed . . .

These are just some observations/differences, readily apparent to me, between France and America:
  • Les Bisoux: Everyone knows the French do the double kiss, one on each cheek, here called les bisoux, but it is still rather surprising when you're an american, I find. If you are a girl then you use les bisx all the time, for everyone, hello and goodbye. However, if you are a guy, you use les bsx only with girls and family, everyone else is handshake material. If you meet someone for the first time you use les bsx; they are not a display of affection, just a greeting. They are used all the time here, always! I found this especially interesting when compared with the american counter part. When we meet someone for the first time we either, shake their hand if it's formal, hug them, if we have heard a lot about them, or if they are family we've just never met, etc., or we just nod and smile and give them the once over. We don't shake people's hands after we've met them; we simply don't. I have come to the conclusion that either a. the French have no personal boundaries, or b. the French are much nicer, more civilized people, who prefer to greet others with a kiss on the cheek, rather than eye them up and down from afar. Personally, I prefer option b!
  • Tests: this one is very simple...I have discovered the word for tests here is interrogations. This rather frightened and intimidated me on my first day of school, as that's when I found out every Saturday we go to school and take an 'interrogation' in a specified subject, which changes weekly!
  • Breakfast: I love breakfast! I mean everywhere, not just here, I simply love this meal. Probably I love it because it affords the breakfaster so many options: sweet or savory, almost any kind of meat, toast or bread, or some sort of other goodie like a muffin or pastry. Hot or Cold, quick or slow, doesn't matter. Anyway, here in France breakfast is just that much better, because not only does one have the option of real French pastries from the local boulangerie, although this option is usually saved for the weekend, but there is also the option of a large hunk of baguette, also from the boulangerie, smothered in butter and nutella/jam or just butter, dipped into your bowl of coffee/hot chocolate, whichever you prefer. It is simply divine, and it's an everyday thing! Another major difference during breakfast is that they don't eat toast, I don't even think my host family owns a toaster!
  • Yogurt: Here for dessert the most common thing to eat is, you guessed it, yogurt. Now I don't mean just Yoplait in a variety of flavors, though there's that too, but basically all manner of puddings and custards, including but not limited to, chocolate mousse, creme brulee, caramel, etc., all in individual yogurt containers. Now I'm not sure if this is because the French simply don't have a separate word for pudding other than yaourt, which means yogurt, or it really is just that much cooler here, but at any rate it does make one feel healthier to say they ate yogurt instead of ice cream!
  • Colorful Clothing: Or should I say lack thereof? Here no one, not even the crazy teenagers, where bright colors. Occasionally you will see a little girl, no older than 7, dressed in hot pink and purple, or electric blue, but that is really the only exception. The color palate here is Black, Grey, White, Brown, Tan, and occasionally red. That's it! Weird after going to an american high school, full of blue and red pants, and neon green sweat shirts, with orange and purple sneakers or hot pink flats with yellow tights! And to make the transition even clearer, I went into an H&M store in New York, where everything was color coded, so that the shelfs near the front contained only green and yellow, then a section of Blue and Purple, etc., and every design was in at least three different colors. Here I went into an H&M, and the store contained Tan, Champagne, Black, and Navy blue! Bizarre, no?
  • Punctuation: My final observation for now is the French punctuation. Instead of quotation marks they use <>. Instead of decimal points they say 2,25 and replace the use of comas as marking the thousands place like 1,000 the French write 1.000. So Confused!
Well, that concludes my culture shock section of the week, by the way yesterday was officially one week in France, and I'm sorry I didn't have it in me to write about the first day of classes yesterday. Maybe I'll have the will tonight. Later today we're going to Lille, the urban center of northern France, for La Braderie, a big street festival with lots of Moules Frites, or Mussels and French Fries.
a Bientot,


My impressions on the first day of school . . .

Today was the first day of school at Lycee Notre Dame Des Anges Saint Amand Les Eaux (In other words the catholic high school in the town of Saint Amand). Today was just a half day in the afternoon; it started at 1:30, and was comprised solely of what would be compatible to the american homeroom. I'm in the 'ES' section, which means that my classes are central to economics. There are 22 students in that section with me, Thomas being one of them, thank goodness, and only 4 of them are boys, strange, no? From what I saw today, which was not much, it didn't seem very different from school in the US. The schedule is the main difference so far. All the classes it seems are just randomly put into slots during the week, and some are double classes; there must be some rhyme and reason to the system, the only problem is I haven't the slightest idea what that reason is! Well, that's the least of my worries, as long as I have it written down. My real problem is that I have to take French and Economics tomorrow, my first real day of classes! Yikes! I'm not at all looking forward to that, but what can I do. I also have math, which normally wouldn't worry me, as numbers are the same in all western languages, except that another exchange student wrote that he had to take a test in math before school started and it had word problems, which were terribly confusing. Please: No Word Problems! Other than my insecurities about tomorrow, I liked the school very much. I liked the teacher, who by the way also teaches French, yay! I think if I can keep my mind focused, and ask lots of questions, I may actually be able to go to school in French. The reason I say 'keep my mind focused' is that I find when one does not understand what's going on in the conversation it becomes increasingly easy, and almost hard not, to daydream. thus my new moto: FOCUS. I find after a week here, if I concentrate on every word, I can some times distinguish meaning in a sentence, which can lead to meaning in the conversation going on around me, but its hard.
more tomorrow . . . a bientot,