10 Things I Love About You

HEY YOU! HEY HEY YOU!

Guess what?! JE SUIS EN FRANCE ET J’ADORE!
Why do I love France so much? Wow, what a great question! Here’s why:

UN :: Quand en France, on parle le français. Je suis très heureuse de vous dire que mon français est mieux que j’avais attendu avant venir à Nantes. Il y a 6 jours maintenant que je n’ai parlé que le français et en plus, je sais que je m’améliorer chaque jour. Déjà c’est difficile d’écrire en anglais sur Facebook ou quand j’écrit le blog parce-que je pense en français! Et vraiment, je ne peut pas être plus contente. Bien sûr, je ne parle pas couramment (encore!), mais j’essaie et ça suffit. Toujours j‘ai beaucoup des questions pour ma famille d’accueil et les directeurs d’IES à propos de la langue pour m’améliorer, mais ils sont toujours heureux de m’aider. ((Aujourd’hui j’ai appris qu’en français il n’y a pas vraiment un mot pour “hi”, alors c’est très bizarre quand les américains disent “bonjour” plusieurs fois par jour quand ils revoient quelqu’un. En fait, on dit “bonjour” seulement la première fois qu’on voit un copain; les autres fois, on juste commence la conversation! J’avais aucune idée.))
ONE :: When in France, one speaks French. I am so happy to report that my French is better than I expected it would be. It’s been six days now that I’ve spoken nothing but French and I’m improving every day. And I know it’s true because it’s already difficult for me to write in English on Facebook or in the blog because I’m thinking in French! And I couldn’t be happier. Of course, I am not fluent (yet!), but I’m trying. I’m constantly asking my host family and the IES staff tons and tons of questions about the language and culture, but they are always happy to help and so kind. Fun Fact today: the French don’t have a word that translates to “hi”, so it’s very odd for the French when the Americans get here and bid them bonjour! (good day) multiple times throughout the day! In French, one says bonjour only the first time that he or she sees someone that day. Every other time, he or she just starts the conversation! I had no idea.

DEUX :: Elle a des bâtiments comme ça:
TWO :: France has buildings like this:

I don’t know if I’ll ever stop being in awe of them. I sure hope not. Every time I walk outside I have to pause and stare because I think they’re so stunning. Those large windows, red chimneys, steel blue roofs, white stone, and fabulous decorated balconies are just so elegant — so timeless!

Nantes

Nantes

TROIS :: Elle a les macarons (Le pistache pour moi, merci!)
THREE (dedicated to Lindsay Stuhr) :: France has macarons (Pistachio, obvi…): 

I like macarons. This is not news.

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QUATRE :: Elle a bâti les châteaux comme ça:
FOUR :: France built castles like this:

This weekend, the IES students (there are 57 of us!) took a trip to Tours (app. 3.5 hours east of Nantes by car) to see four of les châteaux de la Loire//the castles of the Loire Valley that housed royal families during the Renaissance and Age of Enlightenment. My favorite was Chenonceau. 

Chenonceau

Chenonceau

Blois

Blois

Amboise

Amboise

Chambord

Chambord

CINQ :: Les français ne sont pas vexé par les avertissements comme ça:
FIVE :: The French aren’t bothered by advertisements like this:  

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We forgive everything for the sake of creativity. Are you ready to forgive everything?

SIX :: Les Nantais vivent la vie plus verte qu’aux États-Unis.
SIX :: The Nantais live a life much greener than in the US.

Yes, it’s possible not to take coffee to go. Not to have paper towels or paper napkins or tissues in the house. To bring your own bag to the store. To share bikes. To ride bikes. To take public transportation. To recycle and compost. Not to take 20 minute showers. To always turn off the lights when you leave a room. Yes, it’s possible and yes, it’s pretty awesome.

SEPT :: Tout le monde dit bonjour et au revoir.
SEVEN :: Everyone says hello and goodbye. 

Yes, everyone. At the patisserie. At the boulangerie. At the supermarket. At the shoe store. At the airport. At the train station. On the street.
— Bonjour Madame  — Bonjour Monsieur — Au revoir Madame — Au revoir Monsieur. Merci!
It’s nothing more than that, but man, it sure is delightful. Ah, la politesse! (Don’t worry, Sprinkles, you were WAY ahead of the game with this one…but I know now just how much of a difference that welcome makes!)

HUIT :: La famille, c’est la famille partout.
EIGHT :: Family is family everywhere. 

My host family is so wonderful. Kind, generous, funny, welcoming, helpful, caring,…all of the above. What I’ve loved most about these first few days with them — while in the midst of constantly discovering new things (fake coffee that is good for you AND that I actually enjoy?! What? Guys, it’s a thing: Ricoré) and cultural differences (every dinner has multiple courses, every meal includes dessert) — is finding the similarities between my family and theirs. We all have dinner together. All the boys want to watch sports. And all moms want to make sure you’ve eaten enough and want you to text them when you’ll be home so they know you’re safe. I’m comfortable here. And happy. And I can only see these sentiments getting stronger.

NEUF :: Les français adorent la nourriture.
NINE :: The french love food. 

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I like everything I eat. Especially the bread. And the macarons. And the cheese. And the desserts (EVERY. MEAL.) And the chocolate. And the crepes. And on and on and on…

DIX :: J’ai toujours 4 mois pour la découvrir.
TEN :: I still have 4 months to keep discovering this beautiful beautiful place. 

Maya Angelou says it perfectly when she says, “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can even introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

This is the reason I’m here, to give myself the opportunity to try and understand this giant world a tiny bit better.

I am so happy and so excited. How did I get so lucky to be a part of this incredible adventure?

À bientôt! Bisous. // XO.

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