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.