Et les regles continuent…

#15. Here, Facebook vousvoyer’s you. I’ve never felt so respected by a piece of technology! For those of you who don’t know the in’s and out’s of the innate hierachal system of the French languge, there are two different ways of addressing someone in the “you” form – “tu” and “vous.” Tu is used for your friends, people you know well. Vous is for people who you need to show respect to – professors, parents, etc. Make this distinction and learn it well, it could have some prettttty big potential for a malentendu if you accidentally “tu” when you should’ve “vous”ed. So, faites attention!

#16. Balls are the closest thing you’ll get to a sorority/fraternity formal here in France, but there’s really something to be said for a nice Greek sponsored tab at a local trashy bar while you’re wearing a cocktail dress. While Saturday was fun, I’ve never appreciated being a PiPhi as much as I do now.

#16.5. I should add something here: men in uniforms are a plus. This is something we should really consider instituting back in the US for formal events – ahhem fratstars – beacuse honestly, everyone looks better in a military-esque uniform. Marines with French accents? D’accccccord.

#17. The French are, in general, “be-ers” while Americans are “do-ers.” Let me clarify (as per usual): in our class discussion today, which was the most sophisticated use of FranGlais that I’ve ever heard (and I’m fluent in this mixture, so that’s saying something) that the French can just be. And for any of you who have seen me on a stressful day, all I really want to do “is JUST BE.” Let me drink my coffee, read my book, stare into space IN PEACE! Here, that happens. Sure, you may end up 30 minutes late to an appointment but you could, if you wanted to, eat each individual flake of your perfectly buttered and baked croissant without once glancing at your watch to check the time. Unimaginable, right? And while there’s a fine line between peace and just being plain slow (something else I can’t stand), it’s kind of nice that that’s an option here. Par contre I am a New Yorker and if being here has taught me anything it’s that I cannot tolerate things done slowly when they can be done in 15 minutes or less. Guess being in France has taught me more than just language: I am aware, now, that I would be hard pressed to find somewhere other than NY to spend the rest of my life. To be honest, I’d probably stroke out before the time I hit 40 if I had to pretend that I could mosey through the streets at a glacial pace. (Really people, just a littttttttle faster!)

#18. This place has the potential to make even the Grinch like Christmas. I am that person that is insanely annoyed when radio stations play Christmas music before Thanksgiving is even over, but with my lack of connection to the outside world – this has happened far less frequently than at home. (Damn you 106.7 and your incessant need to spread cheer and good will to man!) Also normally around this time of year, I would be cursing the forced Hallmark happiness that surrounds me as I state to any and all people with ears that I hate Christmas.And it’s true – I do. But with all of these lights and little chalets lining the Cours Mirabeau, it’s hard not to feel my heart growing a few sizes. So while I still remain your lovably green and fuzzy idol of all that is anti-Christmas cheer (sorry, Jesus), it’s getting harder by the day. Someone even called me out and said that I do like Christmas and am lying to myself. I’m currently planning my revenge by taking all of her Christmas presents on the night of the 24th. Watch out, Sage!

#19. AUDREY AUDREY AUDREY AUDREY AUDREY and something else about AUDREY. Now when she reads my blog, she’s mentioned and involved 🙂 But really, she is. I just haven’t had the opportunities to really write about it. Yet.

Now to come back to our sheep (yes, that’s a phrase here)

Now, where did we leave off with these “Rules of the Game”? Ah yes…

…#9: Always compliment a boy on his velo. If you want to make French friends, apparently this is what you’ve got to do! During an ever so unnecessary group meeting on Monday night, we were told a story of a girl who met a boy while she was buying a baguette (so French) and who walked outside, made eye contact and said “Hey, nice bike.” He, of course, reciprocated and they came to talk. She then asked him, after 30-45seconds of social graces, if he wanted to have lunch with her. He did. So he bought his baguette (he’s French) and off they went. The next time, he brought his friend Boris. It was there that Boris met Kelly, and eventually, they got married. Moral of the story: compliment someone’s bike if they’re outside your local patisserie. Authors note: I just learned that Kelly and Boris have divorced. With this new knowledge in mind, make your choice of whether or not to speak to the boy on the bike. His best friend could be a heart breaker.

Rule #10: Be an ice queen. Apparently, French guys like this. For the two boys in our program, they must also play the role of Ice Queen. The validity of this rule is still being tested…

(Are you getting the idea that our director just wants us all to find husbands here?)

Rule #11: Abroad is abroad. We’re here to explore, not study. This mentality so eloquently put by the one and only Christina Houser has dominated my actions thus far in France. But after receiving a rather abrupt letter from the Abroad Office about my grades transferring – something I choose to forget quite often – I guess I need to come back to my moutons and lance into my studies. But not before partaking in Rule 12…

Rule #12: It’s always acceptable to get drunk off champagne with your host family, even if it’s after wine class on a Wednesday, and especially if it’s your host brother’s birthday. And so was my night last night. After having been certified in the degustation of wine – certificate and all! – I came home to find apertifs and a bottle of champagne waiting for me. Merci, David!  It’s always a little awkward being drunk in the presence of a freshley 45 year old “brother” and his 60+ year old mother, but things definitely got interesting when I smiled a little too big when David, describing Amsterdam, said: “il y a des coffee shops partout.” I laughed (nervously), he laughed (knowingly) – but c’mon, everyone knows why college students go to Amsterdam. I downed the rest of my champagne and he promptly refilled me. And so it went for the rest of the bottle.

Rule #13: No feet on the seat! Another encounter with the French but this time I was lucky enough to be a bystander while my friend Jamie got verbally smacked for having her shoes on the seat on a public bus on our way back from Prague. The couple in front of her, having only just sat down, turned around and expressed their inner rage at her infuriating actions! “Do you do that at your house?” She took her feet down. I’m not even surprised anymore – or I shouldn’t be – this kind of thing seems to happen pretty souvent.

Rule #14: Balls exist. At least, this weekend they do. I’ll let you know how this goes…Marie Claire’s last student passed out in our bathroom (naked!). I hope to fare better than her. The way I see it, if I can make it through Mardi Gras clothed, I can do this. And yes, parents, I make it through Mardi Gras clothed – albeit, in neon.

Rules of the Game, Part II

Rule #4:The Carpenters were so right, Rainy days and Mondays always get me down. Especially when they team up and happen on the same day. And especially when your bus comes 20 minutes late and your standing in the rain waiting.

Rule #4.5: The bus is always freakin’ late. jwgjwekgjakgkwjgw;gae!

Rule #5: All hands on deck at the table. When the time comes for lunch, dinner or even the midday snack, it’s considered a bit strange here to keep your hands in your lap while you eat. This is contrary to every rule my wonderful Grandma ever taught me and, in fact, I’m pretty sure she’d be mortified to see everyone at the table (myself included!) eating their meals with their elbows à coté de their plates.

Rule #6: There’s no need to apologize for calling someone and interrupting their dinner. Again, something contrary to a Vitali family rule and something that, I’m pretty sure, goes hand in hand with the mentality that whoever is receiving your phone call is lucky you’re taking the time to call them at all thus, you’re having that conversation regardless. In my experience there are certain times you know just not to call someone at home – in my opinion it’s not before 10am and not during the hours of potential dinner, I’d say 6-9pm. Here, no one cares. My host mom (who is the sweetest woman and is doing this not because it’s rude but just simply acceptable) took at least 3 phone calls from her multiple family members during our Sunday night dinner. I could hear the loud and irritated “SIGH” of Sweet Lou in my head from the days (not long ago) when I used to field any type of phone call at the table. I knew it was just a normal thing to talk to the phone when I ended up having to put my fork in Marie Claire’s rabbit so she could use her free hand to cut a piece of meat and chew mid-conversation. She found this useful and we continued as such for the rest of her phone calls.

Rule #7: Boys will be boys. On Saturday night I spent some time with my American girlfriends and some French boys who we met thanks to the AUCP Language Partner program which, the more I’m seeing, is just potentially a glorified Match.com for people who want to be bilingual and get a real head start on French Kissing 101. Anyway, after getting on the ever-so-intellectual subject of how to translate “Aw skeet, skeet mother fucker” into French (this explanation was one for the books, really) the boys confided in us that when they started learning English they took it upon themselves to look up “only the dirty words.” Oh the motivation! So while they don’t know how to ask where the bathroom is, their sexual vocabulary is truly impressive and they were more than ecstatic to learn a new phrase. Part of me wants to be there when they unleash it on some unexpecting American. The other part of me wants to be far away so I don’t accidentally get killed when the said-unsuspecting American reacts to being told to “bend over to the front and touch your toes.”

Rule #8: This weekend when I take on Paris, “we’re from Holland!” Just for precautions. I have my “Cultural Manifesto” that essentially solves all problems of worldly intolerance, famine and drought but I’m thinking of reserving it’s posting for sometime later this week. I don’t wanna go all Ghandi on you so early in the week. It is, afterall, only Monday. And raining.

Rules of The Game, Part I

I figured I’d codify (wow, Student Conduct Board Member much?) the “rules” that I’ve learned since in France. I’m sure that this segment of the Semester Ablog Blog will be repeated a few more times this semester as I’m finding there are quite a lot of new social rules here in France.

Rule #1: Do not feed the animals. This requires some clarification: by “animals” I mean specifically French females. This has to be a rule because walk down any street in France and you’ll feel the urge to buy every female age 15-35 either a huge cone of ice cream, a pie of (Boot) pizza or a very large sandwich. Look into any cafe at any time of day and you’ll see crowds of females but no plates in front of them – maybe a cafe or a drink of some sort, definitely cigarette in hand but where is your food, women of France?!

Rule #2: French music doesn’t really exist. Again, clarification: everywhere I go, I hear American music. In fact, the first song I heard when I arrived into Paris was “Come Together” by the Beatles followed by something by Katy Perry. I wondered, for a moment, if I had landed in France or in Heaven. (Turned out to be France.) Even my host mother’s ring tone is a Beatles’ song! My sole source of musical immersion is with the show N’Oubliez Pas Les Paroles. Otherwise, it’s pretty hard to find French beatz. Even the night clubs and bars play everything from John Mellencamp to Akon – I think I even heard some Weezy the other night…

Rule #2.5: My personal rule for Pop Music, if I haven’t heard it out of an F&M’s/Boot speaker – it doesn’t exist. Thus for those of you still in the states, educate me musically.

Rule #3: There’s no such thing as too many bisous. This rule applies mainly to French men. In my texting experience – albeit limited, thus far – every single text ends in “kisses” or “big kisses.” Really, men of France? I have never felt more College Frat Boy in my life than when I first reacted to this French habit of texting affection. All I wanted to do was put down the phone and run for les collines. Too many virtu-kisses!!

I’m sure I’ll learn more rules (after breaking them, I’m sure) when I’m in Munich this weekend. For the French this little 3 week period of partying is called La Fete de la Biere. For us, more commonly known as OKTOBERFEST!!!!! I’m planning on surviving. If you don’t hear from me by Tuesday, start checking the beer gardens. Now, in typical French-fashion: Gros-bisous tout le monde!