Monday, December 28, 2015

The Taste Dispute

There is a Latin quote that I find to be quite interesting: De gustibus non est disputandum, which means "in matters of taste there is no dispute."  I find that this quote really resonates with me because the definition of taste is something that Florian and I have "disputed" many times throughout the course of our relationship.  The funny reality of it all hit me a while back while Florian and I were eating dinner at our favorite restaurant.  "You know, " he said as we were gushing over the food, "one of the things that worried me most about getting married was not being able to eat all the things I love anymore."  "Quoi?! What?!" I said confused.  While most American men probably worry that entering into marriage will put an end to their weekly football games or guys-only Poker nights, my French husband was admitting that his biggest fear was not being able to eat the French foods that he loves!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Three Truths and a Lie

There is a great ice breaker game that I used to play with my students called "three truths and a lie."  Each person makes four statements about themselves, three being true and one being false, and the object of the game is to see if the audience can decipher the lie.  Being an avid reader of blogs and other memoirs in which people seem to gush about their glamorous lives abroad I can't help but feel like I am playing this game.  Every book or blog I read seems to have the same four take-aways:

Learning a new language is rewarding.
Moving abroad is easy.
It is important to chase your dreams.
Living in another country is a constant adventure. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Woes of a French Thanksgiving

This year Thanksgiving was particularly special for me for a number of reasons: it was the first holiday that Florian and I would spend together as a married couple, 2015 was one of the best years of my life and I felt like I had to so much to be thankful for, it was going to be the first time I hosted a Thanksgiving event, and if those reasons weren't enough... it was my first real Thanksgiving celebrated in France.   Now any American who has lived and/or traveled abroad during Thanksgiving weekend knows how difficult it is to wake up on Thursday morning and carry on like it's any other day when all they can think about is their family and friends back home eating turkey, watching football, and preparing for the Black Friday rush.  When I studied abroad in 2009 and taught abroad in 2011 I didn't make any special effort to celebrate Thanksgiving and I regret that deeply, so this year I decided that I was going to organize the perfect Thanksgiving dinner to share with my husband and my new French family.  Little did I know how much work it would be!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Vive la France

People often like to ask the question, "where were you when ...?"

     "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?"
     "Where were you when the first man landed on the moon?"
     "Where were you the morning of September 11?"

When asked where I was on the night of Friday November 13, 2015 I can tell you this: I was not in Paris.  I was safe and sound on vacation in the south of France with my husband.  However, ask me what I was doing and I will tell you this: I was eating in a restaurant, drinking a bottle of champagne, listening to a live band, laughing... doing the exact same things that led to the death of so many innocent people in Paris that night.  The French are known for their joie de vivre or their enjoyment of life, attack that and you are attacking the essence of the French culture.  The same things that ISIS referred to as "obscene" in their message of correspondence are the same things that I admire and love about this country.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Learning to Learn Again

As a former French teacher the concept of relearning has always fascinated me: the ability for the brain to learn something again after having forgotten or neglected it.  For some relearning is a difficult challenge that takes time and dedication, like relearning to walk after a serious accident, and for others it's easy, like riding a bicycle after a hiatus.  For me returning to France after seven months falls somewhere in between these two examples.  Every time I come back I am surprised at how long it takes me to relearn how to live "à la francaise." Sure, there are the little things that any person experiences such jet lag and teaching your body the appropriate times to eat, but then there are the more challenging things like speaking the language and retraining your ear to understand what is being said around you.  I have had a love/hate relationship with the French language since the age of fifteen.  When I started learning the language I never thought it would have that effect on me, but it does.  The language has brought me to tears of frustration and defeat many times, but has also uplifted me and opened me to a whole new world that I never knew existed.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My French Home

When I was getting ready to leave for France I would often get asked the same question, "what are you going to do all day while Florian is at work?"  Even after three weeks in France I smile as I think back on this question: "I'm going to set up our apartment." I would reply.  Now, to the average person the amount of work it takes to set up a small French apartment should be minimal, but then again they've never met my husband.

Although we have been together for four years, and married for four months now, Florian still lives what I like to refer to as "the bachelor life." Now, anyone who has lived with me, worked with me, or even knows me can testify to the fact that I am a bit of a neat freak.  I love to clean and organize and everything has a rightful spot.  So, naturally, I was a bit shocked when I showed up in France and saw the state of our apartment: no trash can, food sitting on the floor, a towel used in place of a bathroom rug, etc.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Once Upon a Time

I often wonder where my "story" really begins.  Some people might argue that this was my destiny, planned out long before I was born.  Others joke and say that my journey began the moment that my parents named me "Claire" even though there isn't a single drop of French blood that runs through my veins.  Sometimes I like to think that it started when I was in the ninth grade and attended my first High School Open House.  I often think back to that night because that was the night that I decided to study French.  Now, I wish I could tell you that I chose the French language for some incredible reason, but the truth is I didn't.  I never grew up dreaming about Paris, I never doodled the Eiffel Tower on my notebooks or wanted to be a fashion designer.  The only reason I chose to study French was because all my friends signed up for Spanish and my family members wanted me to take German.  Therefore, the only logical decision in my mind was to take French.  I think I remember this moment so vividly because that one decision has shaped the course of my life and led me to where I am today.  I am a French speaker, a former French teacher, a Francophile, and soon to be permanent resident of France.  Sometimes when I close my eyes I can hardly believe where I have ended up today.  However, for all practical purposes I will say that the real story starts the first moment I laid eyes on Florian...