11 April 2014

quick updates

life right now:
  • class is good. i have have between three and six hours a day of class at the institute, split between different focuses including writing, speaking, reading, and phonetics. my background in french is so weird; i can tell i improved a ton in senegal and i'm so glad i took a couple lessons there, but it means i have a remarkably good grasp on the language yet little sense of formal grammar. i'm realizing, though, that everyone's background in a language is unique; everyone has such different strengths or gaps in knowledge. also, i'm the only native english speaker in my class - most are arabic or asian language natives - which gives me a huge advantage in terms of grammar. i find my mind wandering during class as we go over all the long vocab from the homework, words like "impeccable" or "aptitude," words that are foreign to everyone else but totally obvious to me. at least i can't revert to english and i'm forced to speak french with my classmates!
  • i'm trying desperately to learn the french throaty "r" sound and not roll the letter like i'm speaking spanish. failing at that.
  • though class is sometimes comically easy or frustratingly slow (i do learn things, though!), i'm still getting tons of language practice just by living in it and using it every day. like in senegal.
  • my social group is mostly maddy's classmates from last month and all their new class friends. most are european, though we also hang out with some americans who are study abroad. it's always fun to have a group with whom to go get chinese food during a long lunch or drink expensive coffee concoctions or hang out with after dinner at place plume, the town square crowded with outdoor seating from dozens of resto-bars where everyone just sits and people-watches. 
other moments:
  • dinners with our big blended host family, usually some combination of parents and their five kids and other visiting students. our favorite dinners are when it's just us and the family's kids, ages 11 to 20, who ask us if we watch the walking dead and recommend places to go in the city. our least favorite are with our three rude italian housemates, who luckily are only staying a week.
  • attended a professional football/soccer match on friday, tours fc vs aj auxerre. tours tied. also the stadium concession stand had run out of all food and drinks by the time we made it to the front of the line. but we did have a great time experiencing european football: singing fight songs, flicking off the opponents when they score, flicking off the opponents when we score (any variation on this was a popular hobby of the rabid fans in our section), waving flags so huge that no one behind you can see the game. maddy and i bought tours fc scarves just for kicks. 
  • going every day to the gym, in an old building with wood floors and tall airy ceilings and wrought iron balconies and fancy crown molding. doing yoga when there's no one else in the stretching/abs room. making friends on the next stationary bike over. walking home and having just enough self control not to get a fresh whipped cream-topped waffle at the stand we pass on the way, but still dipping into the chocolat noir noisettes we just bought at the grocery store. 
  • window shopping on rue nationale, a wide main pedestrian boulevard (though the trams do also run through) full of sweet-smelling patisseries and pretty lingerie stores we can't afford.
  • making a bucket list of things to do while in tours (e.g. the town wine museum, château chenonceau, renting bikes to explore the countryside).
  • taking advantaged of a wednesday afternoon off to drive to a little château nearby (advantages of loire valley living!) just for the afternoon.
  • discovering the hole-in-the-wall sri lankan restaurant that sells baked-to-order naan with nutella until 2 a.m.
  • sunday afternoon picnicking by the river or camping out at a café.
  • when fatima, the owner of the tiny fast-food lebanese place that we frequent for our hummus and falafel fix, spoke to maddy in arabic thinking that she's lebanese. we stick to french, but we're nonetheless already friends.
  • researching eurail passes, working on plans for our two-plus weeks of travel after tours, thinking about munich/florence/marseille/barcelona but really not knowing yet. (but TAMAR IS COMING WITH US!)
  • also wanting to plan something good for maddy's birthday/our long easter weekend. looking into the <10 destinations that are direct flights from tours; realizing marrakech is too expensive but dublin isn't. impulse-buying a ryanair plane ticket to ireland that's only two weeks away; jumping up and down on the shag carpet of our tiny cramped bedroom because we can't believe we're actually going to IRELAND and life is great and exciting and we are so so fortunate. and our hard work while we were home is paying off; we've earned the money and we've earned this trip. 
  • planning the ireland trip! surveying friends, googling guides, miraculously booking the last remaining hostel beds in the entire city. stressful, but it's actually happening! still in disbelief.
à bientôt!


p.s. i'm so excited for college too but will my life ever be THIS great again?! i hope so, but in a different way maybe. and that's good too. 

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