Certainly everyone does the same thing on Sunday. This was my thought when I woke up this morning, but I couldn’t have been farther from right. My host family went to Mass at 11 this morning and I ventured out by myself to become acquainted with the neighborhood and route to school. It’s fairly easy to get to the school and it only takes about 15 minutes on foot. The bus ride back is about 5 minutes, which will be nice after a long day of classes etc… I think I’m coming down with a cold, which sucks because school starts tomorrow, but as the French like to say, “C’est la vie.” Upon returning from my test run to school, I read and got ready for tomorrow until it was time for lunch. We started lunch at 1PM and ended at 4PM. What a long time sit around while eating, drinking, and talking, but I absolutely loved it. The French have this way of appreciating every aspect of life, whether it’s conversing, dining, or drinking. They do every action with such awareness of the tastes and sounds and smells and feelings. I think it is things like this that some Americans can learn from. Too many meals are rushed and too little conversation is had often times in the United States. Sunday is a day for the family. Everyone gathers for drinks first, then appetizers, then a grand meal. During the entire process, conversation is had about anything and everything under the sun according to each member of the family. There is never a pause and it is safe to say that “awkward silences” do not exist in French culture. There is always something to be said about everything. I love how people do not beat around the bush when discussing things. They speak their minds and if you don’t like it, so be it. Also, no matter the age of the family member, each person has equal say about the topic of discussion. And everyone listens to what the other has to say.
Last night was very interesting as well. I saw first-hand the privacy that the French cherish so much when it comes to letting outsiders into the family. The family’s priest came to dinner because his birthday is today. Only one other guest came and I assume he is a long time friend of the family. I believe we sat down for drinks and appetizers at 6:30PM and did not get up from the table until 10:30PM. Just like lunch today though, you don’t really notice how much time passes because of the constant conversation and food. We must have talked about everything before the guests left. The priest was very funny because he smoked, drank, and cussed. He asked me about the severity of a few four-letter words in the English language and I informed him that I felt weird cussing with a “man of the church.” Apparently though, some of our most vulgar cuss words are everyday phrases here. What a crazy difference between the two languages!