First Grade was Fun. France is also Fun.

I woke up this morning at 7:10 am sharp. Two minutes after the sun rose because I’m a champ like that. (Or because I have no blinds and it is difficult to sleep with the sun hitting your face like a baton) But today the level of excitement that hit me like a wrecking ball this morning was reminiscent of how I felt in the first grade, when I walked past the big-girl basketball court at my school, holding my mom’s hand, thinking in my head, “I’M SO OLD I’M LIKE SIX YEARS OLD AND GOING TO SCHOOL.” Today was the first time in a long time that I’ve considered it my first day of school, but it was super exciting!!! And so I had to take a snapchat about it.

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And because I am still not sure how to ask people “can I take creepy photos of you because I keep a blog that I will put your face on?” here is a not so great photo of some people I met today as we sat in the jardin outside the American Center University of Provence and chatted about ourselves, while eating my first croissant in France and a cuppa herbal tea.

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The morning was filled with exciting things involving us sitting in a room and introducing ourselves en français with our lovely detailed names, universities, and interesting things about ourselves. Recently, my only interesting fact has been that I walked across Spain, so much so that I can’t think of anything else (that or the fact that saying “I’m a black belt in Taekwondo” or “I have quadruple citizenship” is too complicated to explain or answer questions about at nine in the morning). Then Lilli Engle went on to tell us about the amazing things we’ll be doing here, which I’m excited about, one of which was the story of a girl Samantha who fell in love with her language partner here, decided to stay, and just got married last week! (Don’t worry Mom, and Dad, I’m not eloping. I’m already here.) So, speaking of language partners, mine took us out to eat crepes today! Real French ones! And who knew French crepes are actually primarily savory?! I had one with eggs and a salad on top with some chevre cheese and tomato sauce. T’was delicieux.

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Unfortunately, AUCP is also known for its slightly crazy habits, such as instituting a four hour chunk for a standardized French exam (FES) and a cultural integration test (IDI), which killed me. I forgot how long it’s been since I last took the SATs and how much longer it has been since I was in the mindset of “let me just pick some letters and call them the right answer even though none of these options sound right whatsoever.”

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The test was not awful in terms of content (except listening to French oral examination tapes is really painful and after a while you think you’re hearing Swahili), but just sitting in the same chair in the same position with the same people in the same chaud room is very difficult and concentrating makes you feel like a bug in A Bug’s Life with your eyes popping out and your brain squashed on the sidewalk. So a girl I met here and I decided to go get our photos taken. Because we’re models like that. Just kidding, we were told to go to the photomaton to get mugshot photos taken for ID cards while we’re in France. (I won’t bother posting them because you’ll be like who is that man?!) We were also told to empty our wallets at night and only leave a twenty euro bill, a card, and our bus card in our wallet, because you don’t want to be carrying your heart in your wallet if pickpockets come about. But they won’t be coming around this mountain. Because I’m gonna be so vigilant it will hurt to touch my purse. Or my backpack. Or my person. Or anything in my possession really. Such a this quiche that we bought from the boulangerie to reward ourselves for finding the photomaton and for completing a day of simultaneous paradise and hellhole.

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And there we were! Walking home, just traversing along Traverse Malakoff, on my way home to a nice evening with my family. It’s so nice to be able to finish a long day and go home to shower, and sit on the couch with Lulu and Lily, and feel the warmth of dinner cooking int he oven wafting towards the dinner table.

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My host mom goes to work before 7 in the morning and comes back at 6 at night and yet she manages to cook the best dinners, with fish, tomatos, and rice for dinner, with cheese, bread, and homemade yogurt (did you hear that?! She makes her own yogurt too!) afterwards.

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And somehow, while waiting for dinner to cook, she also manages to get really soft skin with her daughter with face masks that turn their faces green. And I love it. And I love them. And I have no better vocabulary to describe how I’m feeling right now because je suis très fatiguée but also it’s basically like the first grade again and I have all the excuses in the world to expressm yeslf in the simplest, happiest way possible.

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