Happy one-week-being-in-France anniversary to me!
Just after two nights with our host families, the entire IES crew ventured to Tours for a weekend of bonding and visiting chateaus. My favorite was Chambourd, which is the biggest. Amboise is the one where Leonardo da Vinci is buried, and I had no idea he was buried in France! I think my favorite part, though, besides taking awesome pictures of the chateaus, was just going and chilling in the historic district at this pub. I finally just got to sit down and enjoy learning about the other students in the program without the stress of schedules and rushing from place to place. And, I also had my first nutella crepe, which was amazing.
So, after an amazingly fun and exhausting weekend in Tours, we started the real orientation. And, with real orientation, that means a schedule, and throughout this week, I’ve learned a lot about the culture.
One: public transportation is a way of life. I take the bus to the IES center everyday, and it’s about a 20-30 minute commute each morning. We also have the option of the tram, but I don’t exactly know where it is located near our house. Kameron and I took the tram home the other night (because the regular bus schedule stops at 8pm), but we accidently took the long way home. And by that I mean we got a little lost, but we found our way quickly – no worries.
Two: Never, ever ask for leftovers at restaurants. Apparently, people just don’t do it. I don’t know why this is so, but the waiter was a little confused the other day when some people wanted to take home some leftover pizza. And later they were told it’s just a no-no.
Three: The bread always goes on the table, usually to the left of the plate. Not on the plate. Ever. Unless there is a special bread plate in restaurants. Even when you just have bread to eat, like toast in the morning, no plate.
Four: Arms go above the table. Apparently, it’s sketchy to keep them under the table. It’s weird because it’s the opposite in America. I also have started to eat with my fork in my left hand and a knife in my right. The utensils are rarely put down. And the French, well at least my family and some others I have heard of, eat SO fast!
Five: No one walks around barefoot in the house. Is that just a South Carolina thing?? Everyone always wears shoes/slippers/socks. But I don’t think they do it consciously.
Also, one thing I really, really miss right now is the salad dressing at home. The salad dressing here is pretty standard: the most bitter vinaigrette I have ever tasted. It’s definitely an acquired taste. I can eat it now, but I was shocked the first day I tried it! SO unexpected!
And lastly, evidently I am the only American here who has a southern accent, and therefore I am constantly (light-heartedly) made fun of by the other American students who think that it is “très mignon.” I was told that twice today. So, you can imagine how that’s been going for the past week. And I don’t think I have THAT strong of an accent. Just everyone else besides Wofford students is from the north/west like Pennsylvania or Alaska. So, they don’t pick at each other because it sounds familiar. But they sound strange to me! Either way, I’m the oddball. Thanks, other Wofford kids, for not having a southern accent comme moi.