I’ve been in denial.
For the last couple of weeks, I have avoided acknowledging that the end of my semester in France was so close. Right now, I’m leaving this wonderful country of wine, cheese, and crêpes in 4 days, and I still have not packed. I have not emptied out my suitcases. I have not organized the clothes in my closet, and I have not figured out what I’m bringing home and what I’m throwing away.
I have, however, gone to Rome, gone to the market (several times), gone on picnics, gone to the deepest spring in the world, and sprinted through town with some of my friends while attempting to make it to a movie on time. I think the memories that I’ve made in the last couple of weeks more than balance out the packing I have not been doing.
As I was writing final papers, preparing business plan presentations, and studying for finals last week, I started thinking about all the things I’ve learned and all the things that still baffle me.
Things I’ve learned:
- eating is a very important experience- don’t try to rush through it
- there is a proper time of year to drink each type of wine, but most people don’t follow it- rosé is always acceptable
- French time is ten-fifteen minutes later than American standards
- breakfast is not served after 10:45
- the price at markets is negotiable, but don’t insult the seller by offering a pittance
- Mars bars are delicious
- French and Italian drivers are ridiculous (and I thought Memphis drivers were bad!)
- flip-flops are not acceptable unless you’re at the beach
- the French know way more about our pop-culture than we know about theirs
- French mattresses are weird
- the French don’t have an appreciation for mexican food (but that’s ok)
- “American” food in France is different from American food back home
- trains will not wait for you (learned that vicariously, don’t worry)
- carbs, there is no such thing as too many carbs (false. I still don’t like eating an entire baguette for lunch. Dear host mom, I don’t need 3 sandwiches for lunch even if you think I do.)
- you have to have a sense of humor; no, seriously, don’t take anything to seriously
- friends are worth holding on to
- traveling with friends is infinitely more enjoyable than traveling alone
- don’t talk to strangers/gypsies
- the concept of personal space is most definitely an American thing
- public transportation is a lot less sketchy in Europe than in Memphis
- it’s a lot easier to procrastinate when you have an abundance of parks right outside your door
Things that still baffle me:
- why my host sister stares at me while I eat
- why my host sister refuses to knock on my bedroom door (instead, she just asks Danielle to tell me that dinner is ready)
- why I don’t have to take the liquids out of my bag at airport security,
- why people don’t pick up their dog’s poop
- why dogs are either extremely well-behaved (dogs that you see around town) or horribly behaved (my host family’s dog)
- how i’m going to fit all of my stuff in my suitcases
- how i’m going to fit my suitcases in my host family’s car (it’s adorably minuscule)
- where this semester went (how is it already May 16th?)
I still cannot believe that I will be back in the U.S. in 4 days.
In 4 days, I will be able to call my (U.S.) friends on a cell phone.
In 4 days, I will be able to sleep in my own bed.
In 4 days, I will be able to listen to the news in English. Side note: when I first got here, I could not understand a single word that they said on the news- it all went by too quickly. Now, I can understand most everything on the TV.
In 4 days, I will be able to watch the original versions of TV shows instead of hearing French dubbed over.
In 4 days, I get to have my Mom’s cooking. Well, maybe more like 5 days unless she wants to feed me at midnight.
In 4 days, I’ll be able to go outside the house in shorts.
In 4 days, I’ll get to see the end of springtime in the South.
In 4 days, I get to see my puppy!
In 4 days, I get to see my parents!
But first, I have to take 3 more exams and pack.