I think the greatest thing I have learned thus far in my abroad experience is mastering the skill of patience. That means truly encapsulating every sense of the word. It is more than just toleration, but more of having an understanding of what is going on and how to deal with it. I am tested with patience every day, whether it is not comprehending what someone is saying to me in French, waiting for longer than 10 minutes for a friend at the metro, or having plans completely fall through. It is through patience that I am learning to live as the French do: “C’est la vie.”
Today I met up with a friend I haven’t seen in over three years. I met him during a high school swim meet when he was an exchange student there for a year at another school in Washington. I heard his accent when we were talking during the meet, and of course, being crazy as I am, got his number and we met up another time in the year before he came to my high school for the annual international festival. Anyways, he lives in the Netherlands and organizes a group that travels around and does fun activities with international students in Maastricht, and they were planning a trip to Disneyland and Paris for the weekend. Since he said he could get me and some friends tickets, we eagerly pounced at the delightful words “CHEAP” and just HAD to go!
When I met up with his group this afternoon, I was reading through their program itinerary for the weekend which also told them how to “Interact with the French.” I couldn’t help but laugh at the brief paragraph describing everything I have been studying/admiring/questioning for the past 2 months, summed up into a sentence saying: “The French are stereotyped as being rude. However, this is just a misunderstanding of their pride as a culture.” WRONG. Yes, the French are rude. Yes they are proud. But as I have said before, they are rude because it’s almost as if there is a lack of trust that these people have for strangers. And I cannot say I blame them. It’s something that’s deeply engrained in their society that people are not meant to be overly friendly to strangers, nor go out of their way to help you. But that doesn’t mean you cannot still ask. I ask people things all the time. I smile at strangers. I feel no shame. On Halloween, I had crazy weird face makeup on, and because the French will not be caught dead looking at a stranger, no one looked at me, nor did I feel judged. It was a great feeling.
Speaking of great feelings, I visited Chocolate Heaven this Friday, and I have to say, I’m not sure real earth feels the same after. I witnessed a chocolate mousse bar, a musical about chocolate, chocolate dresses, mountains of fountains of chocolate, and not to mention a hand-washing station and waxing/massage station featuring non other than, yes, you guessed it, chocolate. Pictures posted.
Since we had a long weekend starting Thursday for the holiday, the city was flooded with tourists. I kind of understand why the real Parisiens hide inside their apartments on the weekends and/or fly off to unnamed destinations.
I also had a really great school week since I hung out with my two (almost) French friends and spoke a lot of French! I don’t have any true Parisien friends yet… and I doubt I will make any before I leave. I’ve accepted it, and happy I have made other friends who do live here, but no one that was born and raised in the city. One day, I’m sure.
Now for this week… I’m going to be spending all Tuesday night holding my eyelids open as I watch the election results. Here in France, everyone is “Obama,” however, they know little to nothing about Romney. In my biased opinion, I love to tell them why I am for one side, but they still love to hear it. Politics are always an open topic, more comfortably discussed than one’s own job. It’s strange. But hey, if they’re all for Obama, then I’m happy to talk about that. It’s going to be weird having voted for my first election and being out of the country but luckily there’s a bar that is open all night with TVs to watch it and my friend’s mom’s apartment with a bed for me.
Then this weekend I’m off to Roma for a little parmegianno, fettucini, and of course, pizza pasta gelato!
Ciao ciao bisous bisous. Love to all.