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!