Ma Vie (3/31/2010)

I realize that I have not written for a few days, and I sincerely apologize. The adjustment has been a tad bit rough on my body. I’m constantly tired, and I think I’m sick. I can’t seem to kick the exhaustion either. Even though I’m tired, and slightly homesick already, everything is going well. There is so much I need to tell you. So I’ll begin with my family here.

My mère d’accueil (host mom) is an older woman, probably in her 60s. She works as a nurse at the clinic once per week, which happened to be yesterday. The day changes each week. She has two daughters, who are 33 and 32, and they don’t live in the house. Both daughters have two little enfants (children). Monday, before our little luncheon at the university with our host families, I was reading my Bible in the sun on the terrace (which was wonderful, I recommend it), when her older daughter arrived with her 3-year-old son William. He is quite adorable, with little ears that stick out and golden-blond hair. And the best part, he probably speaks better French than I do, which is humbling.

My host mom also has a boyfriend, Serge, who is about her age. I think the best way to describe him is “a stereotypical older French man.” With that image, you’re probably thinking he’s thin, smokes, has a deep chortle/voice, loves to joke, is hard to understand, and wears a hat. We’ll you’d be correct. Well, except I’ve never seen him wear a hat. It’s funny because Sammi (another OU student staying in the same house) and I cannot understand him, even though we try incredibly hard. Sammi thinks it’s because he mumbles (loudly), and I think she’s right. He doesn’t really move his mouth when he talks, yet somehow he has a loud voice. Although we can’t really understand him, he’s very patient and listens closely when we attempt our French. I enjoy being around him. Il m’amuse.

There are quite a few differences between this home and the one in the U.S. First, in France, all of the houses are small. Although it’s small, our chambres (bedrooms) are large. (In another post, I’ll give you a complete tour of the house with pictures.) It also seems like all the appliances in the house are smaller.

They conserve water here, unlike all of us wasteful Americans. To shower, you must turn on the water for 30 seconds and rinse. Then, you turn off the water and soap up your entire body, including your hair. Then, you turn the water back on and rinse. And that’s your shower. Me, I cheat a bit. And by cheating, I mean turning on the water about 4 times. The first thing I will do whenever I get to a hotel is take a complete shower, as in not turning off the water, even though now I’ll feel guilty for using so much water. Showering here has made me realize that water is a luxury that Americans use way too much of. The French are correct when they stereotype us as wasteful. Also, they turn off all lights, all the time. And much of the time we use nature lighting here. Let’s just say that 8:00 p.m. dinners are a tad dark.

To flush the toilet, we have to pull up the button, then when the water flushes the toilet contents away, we push down on the button to stop the water. It’s a little odd.

Also, everyone eats little breakfasts, lunch around 12 and then dinner around 8. I don’t know how people make it that long without eating. I’m starving by dinner. I’m also eating tons of bread, which doesn’t keep me full very long at all, and it makes me thirsty. (There are no water fountains, I keep refilling a water bottle in the sinks I can find.) I think the diet here is also taking a toll of my body. The food is excellent, but it includes a lot of bread and cheese. I never thought it was possible to crave vegetables, but I actually started to today.

Those are the main differences for now. If I think of any more, I’ll let you know. Just so I don’t bog you down with a ton of writing, I’ll split up my stories into days. I’ll be telling you first about my shopping experiences and then about the university and my classes. Stay tuned!

P.S. It’s getting harder and harder to write in English. I’m actually thinking in French and having to translate it into English. C’est bizarre.

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