Archive for July, 2013

France Trip #3

Mostly this is a long venting/reflection and not anything close to a semi-professional-ish blog entry using the good, precise English skills I know I possess, but I suppose that’s normal. It’ll at least make me feel better.

So, after I’ve lived in this country twice for a total of about a year (4.5 months + 7.5 months) I’m back again for grad school credit. For some reason the school doesn’t care about my previous trips and they require I go to a francophone country for a month before I graduate.

I didn’t really care about this requirement, because I thought it just meant I could see Emilie and the kids again, maybe visit Maria in Lyon and Hanna Holler/Egea in Etrelles. Then maybe Seth could meet up with me and we could go to the Lavender fields near Avignon, since summer is when the lavender is all in bloom and I’ve never been in France in the summer. And since purple and green are my two favorite colors and lavender is one of my favorite flowers, I really would like to see giant fields of it.

But what the school doesn’t tell you when you apply and when you’re accepted is that you also have to get credit for your trip. And conveniently, the best and easiest way to get credit is to do a program through the university and its sister city campus.

I know I shouldn’t complain, because this is a great opportunity and I’m in a foreign country. But I have a stomach bug and life isn’t rainbows and sunshine.

Seth always tells me I’m an independent person. I never really thought about it before now, but he’s probably right. I studied abroad for a semester in a full immersion program, meaning I was in classes with regular Frenchies. I met other Americans/anglophones, but I didn’t know that was going to happen. I got to pick the destination, also. Rather, I got to pick up to three schools I wanted to go to and they put me in one. Rennes, with its beautiful greenness and surviving Celtic culture was my first choice. I got accepted there, and of course I thrived there. A year and a half later, I was teaching English in three elementary schools. I went by myself. I met other English speakers, but I met more people that don’t speak English, including the elementary school teachers. I made my own path there: some sort of cross between the host family life, the crazy backpacking life, and the multicultural life.

So, I suppose being told where and when I was going to go already limited me. Being told there was no internet made it a less attractive prospect. When they raised the rent of a dorm room above what I pay for my house, it didn’t seem any better.

I am glad at least I have friends with me. Without that I may go crazy.

Anyway, the program is this: 9 students from the University of Louisville and l’Université de Montpellier exchange places and work internship-y jobs for the month of July. There is so much university hand-holding going on it’s horrible.

I came over a week early so I could see Emilie and Alban and Anouk and Jean. They’re going to be on vacation when the program finishes, so staying a week late wouldn’t work. Unfortunately, Emilie had some out-of-town work thing going on that week, so I didn’t go to Tulle until Friday (after arriving on Monday in Paris.) The original plan in Paris was to stay with a French girl from school, but she’s still in the US. My 4 nights in Paris turned out not as well as planned, but that’s a story for another day.

I was so glad to see Emilie and the kids. I saw Alban for three minutes the whole weekend, unless you count watching him in his concert. But both of the kids smiled so huge when they saw me. Anouk wouldn’t stop hugging me and trying to climb me like a monkey climbs a tree. Jean can say my name now! Emilie also almost ran to hug me. It felt like I’d only been gone for a few weeks. It felt like home, oddly. Or maybe not so oddly. I found a niche there, and that’s something to be grateful for. Those two nights in Bar were the first in the country I didn’t have nightmares, and also the last for awhile.

I arrived safely in Montpellier, but I couldn’t tell anyone because I had no internet and no credit on my prepaid phone. They didn’t tell us what our job was until the first day of work, so that was interesting. Luckily, I work at the zoo, so at least theres a possibility of my job being entertaining. My friend Kelly works with me. We’re supposed to work at a kiosk in the middle of the zoo and greet people, but today was the first day they actually had a kiosk. Except I was too busy recovering from all my puking to go to work. Kelly said they think I’m just being French and lazy but really I’m disgusting and walking to the kitchen and back just now made me want to throw up.

And I have to quarantine myself, so even though I can hear everyone in the kitchen and mostly hear what they’re saying, I can’t go out and talk to them. So I’m lonely, and I really want my kitty, my boyfriend, and my mom, not necessarily in that order. I bought a 5 day internet pass to at least pass some time while I have enough energy to be concious but not enough to leave my dorm room.

At least Montpellier is pretty. I’ll post pictures later, hopefully in a more positive post! I’ve been feeling negative about the situation even before the sickness but maybe a bit of 5 day internet will cheer me up!