PhotoLe George Clooney

oh wowow it's going to be October tomorrow--I've been here for a while. And during this while, I've been getting to know my host family pretty well.

Actually, my host family is just host mom. Her name is Arlette. She is 60, but looks like she's 59!! Kidding. She actually looks like she's 45 I don't know how she does it. She's super energetic and walks around in the apartment in 4 inch heels. She is always trying to get me out of the house. HAHAHA how she has failed. She was born near Toulons, I think, and came to Aix to work for a bank and she stayed. She is divorced and has two daughters and some grandkids too.

She has a boyfriend who comes on the weekends. He is bald now but he used to be a child hair model or something? He gave me his card. His name is Andre and he works in something that involves George Cloony but I can't remember what.

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They talk about George Clooney a lot. Last night, during dinner, Arlette got up to look on the internet at all the girlfriends George Clooney has ever had. Arlette really enjoys going on the internet. She gets very excited everytime a disagreement comes up during dinner so that she can look up THE FACTS on the internet.

One time though, I asked them if they like Francois Holland, and she and Andre disagreed about their politics. This disagreement was not easily resolved by the internet, and they ended up in a very heated argument. It was pretty awkward for me, but they're still together so it's ok...

Arlette also likes to during dinner watch this one show that's like that show that was on Fox for like 3 months where you have to remember the lyrics to a song. It was hosted by Wayne Brady I think? Andre does not like the show very much. He think it is too loud.

Dinner in general is the funnest funniest thing, but I might not be able to make it through all of them. Arlette has a tendency to drop random pieces of plastic and other carcinogens into the food she cooks, and then puts them into the oven. Yesterday there was one of those large plastic hooks under the fish. She was just like lol and then gave the piece of fish to me completely normal like. I've also found a plastic wrapper in the omelette and a milk bottle lid in the quiche. They tasted fine and it kind of just makes me laugh, but anyways I think I might die soon.

 
 
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I flew from Minneapolis to Reykjavik to Paris, and took the TGV from Paris to Aix, or actually, to Marseilles. I woke up when we were stopped in Aix, dazed and jet lagged, and could only watch as our train pulled away from the station. When I was at last met by a nice lady who spoke only only French, it took me a while to realize she was not from the institute but instead my host mom, and I felt 5212562 times as bad and 95486484 as grateful.

Struggling to make conversation with her as every word that came out of my mouth was a mutated English-Spanish-French gibberish, we nevertheless managed to endure the 5 minute ride back to the apartment. I have my own room, with a bed, a desk, lots of bookshelves, cabinets and drawers for my clothes, wifi, and a balcony. I love balconies. Madame also told me I can use her laptop whenever, since I didn’t bring mine.

but AUIGHFGUHhfh…what is wrong with the French keyboard?!?!  Z,Q, and W all seem to be relegated to one side of the keyboard because they’re not so common maybe? But then there is the A thrown in there to the top left corner. Basically, writing my name feels like a tongue twister for my fingers. Finding  punctuation is almost impossible, and I think I might just stop caring and if I have to separate sentences with semicolons so be it;

Is this what they call cultural shock? The keyboard thing, and the food, are basically the only two things I had to adjust to France (the amount of people who smoke are nothing after four years of liberal arts college). But the food…

The first day, for lunch, I ate a four cheese Panini. That is too many cheeses. Thinking back on this experience, I realize I ate basically a 2x4 sized, 12 inches of nothing by melted cheese. Breakfast is also basically junk food. I’ve been trying to find healthier options, even though the first few days it was perfectly normal to me that I was eating cookies and chocolate as a meal. Dinner is always pretty rad though. My host mom has cooked roasted chicken, pan seared fish, and beef stew. Though, like every other host mom I hear about, she thinks Americans have super human appetites. She literally gave me six boiled potatoes with the beef stew dinner. Six potatoes.

And, the weirdest cultural shock might be to the American Institute itself. Four years at a liberal arts college of 2,000 people, where we self replicate day after day our vocabulary of “problematic” and our lifestyles of smoking, drinking coffee, and frowning , it was suddenly strange to encounter students from other colleges who all of a sudden aren’t interested at all in being offended by things.

IAU is exposing me now not only to one but two new cultures. Another challenge this semester is to learn to become interesting to and interest in a totally new demographic which I have no problems communicating with in terms of language, but in terms of life experience and interests and outlooks. Maybe a bit difficult because I’m now spending everyday thinking about a job when I graduate in December and some stuff with La Colmena as well. Oh well. Here’s to learning to live in the moment, even when the future is not so far away;


 
 
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Cliquez ici poWow thanks Jess for actually letting me be a blogger. I missed the deadlines for basically every single pre-departure document and I thought I had already depleted her entire reserve of goodwill.

To be fair, other than the excuse of spotty internet access, I am a second semester Senior and really I can't be bothered to be responsible for literally anything, even if it’s for something so amazing it’s almost like a gift wow—a semester in Aix-en-Provence. As in, this semester will be perfect and wonderful in the following ways:

            -France 

            -the weatherrrr no more trying to make Yaktrax™ fashionable sexy for the modern woman

            -eating

            -30km to nearest beach. Literally crying. Bike trip?

            -A host family who will give me the love and security and affection missing from dysfunctional biological family

            -“Meeting new people”

            -Mountains!!!

            -Both having the closure of leaving Macalester with my class, and a half year of being protected from having to think about THE REAL WORLD while getting to take classes I'm so freaking psyched for like Photography and Global Environmental Politics 




Photothx bros ヽ(*^ー^)人(・_・)ノ

Sounds too good to be true!! And it happened like this:


For my major, International Studies, I am required to study abroad. Mislead by some information I received from THE INTERNET (how), I thought I could get my visa in China while also spending Chinese new year with my gammaw, but that turned out to be too good to be true. So, after another round of paper work, my amazing super cool adventure where I stuff my face with cheese everyday (officially, Operation Facecheese) was rescheduled to Fall 2013.


Getting a visa was not much easier this time around. Again I had over-idealized how the timing would work out, and planned on going to my visa appointment the Monday after I arrive in Chicago, then staying with some friends until I get my passport back. A week or two tops.




Instead, my CampusFrance mailbox stayed despairingly empty for days after I started my overstay at the AEPi frat house.

But!! Finally!! It happened! It’s happening!

And….I should be excited. I should be happy. Everyone asks me when I leave for France. I tell them, but I don’t want to talk about it.

The problem with getting to go to the beach and eat delicious food and hanging out with new fun beautiful people—the problem with being protected from THE REAL WORLD for just a little while longer while having the closure of having left college is that it feels like I don’t deserve it.

Photocheese &mountain how perfect(◡‿◡✿)
I’ve been spending my summer working on a project that explores alternative forms of operation and education. This is not to say I’m a martyr and//or doing good for the world. I’m mostly doing very little, doing not enough, not doing anything at all. This is only that I feel in a visceral, physically uncomfortable way how much there is to fight and fight for in the world. And//or, more practically, there is all the anxiety I am socially obligated to feel--a job, loans, not disappointing my parents, figuring out my life. Bringing honour to my family. Classes on subjects that I want to explore seem like nothing less than a luxury. The prospect of lying on a beach fills me mostly with a lot guilt. I am still excited for eating cheese.

Sometimes it feels like if I didn’t have to do this, I wouldn’t, like I would give up this whole opportunity because it seems too good to be true. In a bad way.(/?)

But this exactly that: an opportunity. It is not just an opportunity to have loads of fun, it is also an opportunity to learn or really for anything at all. It is also an opportunity in the way that not everyone will have this opportunity. I guess mostly I am just so incredibly lucky I get to do this program. And if I’m the one that has it, the most responsible thing I can do is to enjoy it. To bike to the beach. To climb the mountains. TO EAT THE CHEESE. 

So here is my blog. Hopefully it will be at least a new perspective and absolute and probably an uncomfortable amount of honesty, from a cynical, irresponsible, 2nd semester senior who is afraid to enjoy herself, while I try to find some balance between all the things I want to do and all the things I need myself to do. Also anything else that comes up.

btw I really want to do that packing list thing everyone is doing but I haven’t packed yet T_T How big of a winter coat are you bringing? My sense of dressing for the weather is permanently destroyed. ur modifier.ur modifier.