I know it’s been a few weeks since I’ve updated my blog, but I’ve been busy traveling/making plans to travel and trying to act as French as possible. Now that we’ve been here for over a month, we’ve all stopped hanging out as a group of 17 and we’ve all formed cliques. It’s all very Real World, you know, the true story of 17 strangers picked to live in a city. When you combine exhaustion, homesickness, the stress of traveling and 17 different personalities and opinions, you’re bound to have some drama. I have a good group of friends though, there are 7 of us who hang out and travel together and I have a blast with them. But I’m still finding it difficult to be myself around them and it makes me miss my St. Mike’s friends, but for the four months that I’m here, I think it’s okay to maybe be someone else.
A few weeks ago, my friend Ben asked if I wanted to go to Nice for the weekend. In the past, I might have taken time to think about it, worry about getting my homework done or stressed about organizing a trip on such short notice, but I decided to go for it and I had a blast. Nine of us went and we all stayed together in one big room in the hostel along with two Spanish kids and a woman from Russia who hated us. My friend Laura said to me before we left that this trip would either solidify our friendship or tear our group apart. Luckily, we’re all still friends despite all of us having to share one bathroom for three days.
Our Russian Friend:
We spent two of the three days in Nice lounging on the beach and swimming in the Mediterranean. The weather was sunny and hot and all I could think about was how lucky I am to be able to hop on a train and go to the south of France for the weekend in the middle of September. We also took a daytrip to Monaco which was gorgeous but there’s not much to say about it. We watched the changing of the guards, ate expensive pizza then went back to Nice. But at least now I can say I’ve been to Monaco. We booked a trip to Florence for Halloween weekend and then Venice in mid-November. We might also do a weekend in Scotland, so when I go home, I will have been to 5 or 6 six countries- England, France, Monaco, Switzerland, Italy and maybe Scotland. And Canada, but I don’t know if that really counts.
Last weekend we went to Provence and visited Avignon, Arles and Aix-en-Provence. It was a nice trip, Provence is gorgeous, it was 80 degrees out and I got to meet up with a friend from St. Mike’s who is studying in Aix for the semester. Grenoble is surrounded by three mountains and we are definitely spoiled by such a gorgeous view, but a lot of our architecture was built in the 1970s and is ugly. Aix, on the other hand, is a cute, historic town with buildings from the 15th century. It reminded me of Beauty and the Beast, actually.
As a group of loud Americans, we attract a lot of attention, mostly negative. People glare at us on the tram or say rude things to us. We’re all working on trying to fit in better. We now only talk to each other in French when we’re in public and we’ve all developed a French facial expression which consists of pursed lips and a look of displeasure when we’re walking down the street. With my new facial expression and my leather jacket, boots and leopard print scarf (the uniform of choice for most French women right now) I think I’m blending in rather well. Sometimes people on the streets even stop me to ask for directions and I can understand them but I usually don’t know how to reply so I just say “je ne sais pas” and run away. But I’m making progress and sometimes I have good days where you can’t shut me up and I’m using complicated sentence structures and the subjunctive. Those days are rare, but nice when they do occur.