Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Day in the Life of Vicki- An American turned French Teenager

A great day in the French school system always starts with a healthy breakfast consisting of chocolate special K with a very full glass of milk on the side.
That is how I start out almost every school day, except for the occasional nutella slabbed brioche.  Since my school day is very long, I need to eat a good breakfast to keep me going until either noon or one when I eat lunch.
In fact, every school day for me is different, but all Mondays are the same, all Tuesdays etc.  So here is my schedule for every week, I start school every day at 8 am.

8h- Latin
11h-History and Geography
14h-History and Geography
16h-18h- French

11h-Math Spé
14h-SES (Sciences Economics and Sociology)
15h-History and Geography
16h-18h-Arts Plastiques (Art class)

8h-History and Geography


9h-Math Spé
11h-13h-TPE (a group project that we present in March)
14h-15:30- SVT (Sciences of Life and Earth)
16h-18h- Phys Ed

Yes, my school days are very long, except for Wednesdays, but I will get to that .  Now that it is Daylight Savings time, it gets dark around five thirty so I get to walk home in the dark!  It is not a big deal though because I am almost always with Adélie or one of my other friends.  Also, I take karate on Mondays, so I go straight to my friend Mélanie's house with Natacha after school.

My loft
The fall I fear every morning from my loft
I am sure that you are all curious as to what the food is like at school.  Everyone eats at the "cantine". Youhave a lunch card and you zing it once you get in line. There is something different every day, but you get an unlimited supply of bread, then a yogurt or fruit and cheese and sometimes a tart or pie.  Then a small salad or cold veggie.  The main course is not always the best, but I would much rather eat that than the freezer stuff they serve at my high school in the USA.  It consists of some kind of meat or fish and veggies.

Another curiosity is études, it essentially translates to study hall.  But you are not assigned to a classroom, you can do what you want because it is a free hour.  There are rooms for études, simple classrooms where you can work or listen to music or play cards.  Most of the time, I have études at the same time as my class so we go into the études classrooms and work together on homework or just talk.
The family room/tv room

Now the most interesting of days that you will find in France, Wednesdays.  I have class until noon and then Adélie and I go home to eat lunch.  It has become a tradition on Wednesdays to eat Ramen, there are so many different flavors and watch the Simpson until 13:45.  We have saxophone lessons at the Scart-à-B from 14-15:15, so we have to eat before we leave. After the sax lessons, Anne picks us up and we go grocery shopping.  This takes between an hour and two hours, there is a lot to buy!  My favorite part of the grocery shopping is picking the chocolate.  They have a full aisle of it!  Chocolate is very important to the French, and there are so many different kinds and flavors that it takes me fifteen minutes just to look at them all.

The dining room and open space!
Yogurt is also a very important part of teh every day life of the French.  I am talking not just fruity yogurt, but chocolate, caramel and pistachio yogurt!  We eat it as a dessert after dinner very often!  My favorite yogurt is Caramel au beurre salé. Yum!

Benoit's car
Another thing that is a huge part of my every day life here is milk.  We could drink two liters a day if we wanted to.  We drink a lot of milk at breakfast and again at goutez when we get home fromp school.  To add onto it, the milk is amazing!  My favorite use of milk is by far using it to dip brioche into!

Anne's car
As for the normal French dinner, there isn't exactly an average main course.  We eat something different every night, so it could be sausages with potatoes and onions or a HUGE pumpkin filled with bread and cheese.  We actually had taht the other night, I have pictures, no lie.  the pumpkin was so big that we invited people over to help eat it, but even with eleven of us, we barely made a dent in the monster.

The HUGE pumpkin
After the course, we usually take cheese, it consists of multiple types.  My favorite is the driest possible goat cheese and Reblochon.  After the cheese, which we clearly eat with amazing French bread, we take dessert which could be a couple of different things.  It could either be a piece of fruit or grapes, a pie or cake that Anne made, or yogurt.  It really depends on what kind of mood you are in and sometimes you take a little bit of everything because you just can't decide!

My room
As I said before, I continue to play the saxophone here and I take part in an town orchestra called the "Harmonie".  The band has "répétitions" on Friday nights from eight thirty to ten thirty and sectionals on Saturday afternoons.  I mentioned in a previous post that the Harmonie is open to everyone from all ages, from 10 to 70.  The band is really fun and everybody is extremely nice and friendly.  I also have to mention that our band conductor is the strict opposite of Mr. Lordan, her name is Delphine and she is always telling jokes, SMILING (what a concept!!) and laughing with us.  There are always little concerts or festivals that we play at, and of course November 11th, which of course is a huge day in France.  The Harmonie played at three different ceremonies for three different towns that day, each where a very similar speech was given.

Now onto my house here in Bonneville!  The house really is a normal house, I have a bedroom there is a living room and a kitchen and all that.  I am not really quite sure what else to say by way of the house.  The garden is huge and they grow at least ten different kinds of veggies, including that HUGE pumpkin that we ate and enormous zuchini also. 
The front of the house
Have I also mentioned that we have a cat here? They got him a couple of days before they got me, so we are adapting together and sharing the same experience, ok not really but anyways... He is very energetic and il fait beaucoup de betises.  It is weird not having to worry about taking the pup out or feeding her or anything.  I get to feed the cat instead!!

I hope that you all enjoyed this post and if you have any questions or requests do not hesitate to comment, I am most likely over 3,000 miles away so I cannot bite :)

Thanks for reading and tune in next time!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vacances de Toussain

Les Vacances de Toussain lasted from the 23rd October until the 4th of November.
This was the first vacation of many during my stay here in France, and I think that this vacation will have been the most relaxed of them all.  For a slight preview for the upcoming vacations...
Chateau de Saumur

Vacances de Noël- December 18 until January 3rd
Joelle is going to take Adélie and I hiking in the Pyrenées and then down to Barcelona. After that we are going to gather at Anne's sister's house with her side of the family for Christmas and another friend's house for New Year's day.  There will be about fourteen people at Anne's sister's house for Christmas and for New Year's a smaller gathering, about eleven.

Vacances de Février- February 26th until March 7th
We are going to go skiing for essentially the whole two weeks.  For the first week I am going to take lessons and then I am actually going to ski.  We are going to have 27 people maximum at the house at once and an average of about twenty for the two weeks.

As I said before, this latest vacation was busy, but not as busy as the  upcoming vacations.  We left Bonneville early Saturday morning and drove to Angers in the region Pays de la Loire, on the other side of France to visit Adélie's godmother.  It took us about 9 hours in total to get to Angers, but along the way we stopped for a nice break at the Chateau of Chambord.
Chateau de Chambord
 We stayed at Adélie's godmother's house until Thursday where we headed out to Paris. On the way to Paris we stopped at a few other chateaus and ate lunch in a cute town where the chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau was.

Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau
Adélie and I stayed in Lucile's (the sister of 19 years old) apartment in Paris.  Our first stop in Paris was the Louvre, and as soon as I stepped into the courtyard with the glass pyramids, I instinctively snapped into tourist mode.  I took out my camera and took pictures of everything, the sisters were walking at their normal speed, but I was always a few meters behind them because I took so many photos. 
The pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre.

Mona Lisa, she sends her regards!
Once we got into the Louvre after eating a satisfying baguette sandwich for lunch, I took out my camera and did not put it away for the next three hours.  Lucile is a student at the Louvre school, so she knew exactly what she was talking about and showed me each corner of the Louvre and some of the really magnificent pieces of work and history that are there.
Vénus de Milo
We went from one hall to another over three hours and still barely covered a quarter of the pieces of art that the Louvre houses.  The best part of my trip to the Louvre was definitely seeing the Mona Lisa, with bright red ropes around her holding the hoards of people back on one side of the room and a huge painting with very few people standing around it on the other side.

The crowd in front of the Mona Lisa.
The crowd in front of her neighbor.
That night, Joëlle, Adélie and I went to the île de la cité and visited Notre Dame.  The cathedral was so pretty at night time, and even though we couldn't go inside we got to appreciate the outside.  Afterward we took walk to the Quartier de restaurants and tried to pick a restaurant to eat at.  The small street was packed with other restaurant seekers, and we had restaurants lining both sides of the street.  There were so many choices that we had to round the corner twice, there were Greek, Italien, Mexican and even an American Western restaurant.
We finally decided to eat at a creperie and I have to say that it was a very good choice!

We took the Paris vélib back to Lucile's apartment, the bikes in big cities with stations everywhere.  Biking in Paris at 10 o'clock at night, it was an experience that I am always going to remember.  Good thing that we were in one of the quieter parts of Paris with less traffic or else I would have been ten times more scared than I was.

My beautiful and deliscious crêpe.
The next day Adélie and I got to sleep in a bit because the sisters had a rendez-vous at the Grand Palais.  Anne picked us up and we went to eat at an Asian restaurant before going to the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle, where I met a small portion of the family.
In front of the evolution case in the museum
 There was a dinosaur exhibit along with the rest of the museum, so we spent the afternoon there.  The exhibit was fantastic, with activities and interesting facts for all ages, but it was so packed that we did not stay long enough to read every plaque and see every fossil and case.  What was really amazing though, was that everything, I mean everything in the exhibit was also written in English.  I got to enjoy the exhibit along with the rest without having to pull my dictionary out every other word.
We then visited most of the rest of the museum before being called by Adélie's ten year old cousin Trevor to go down to the café for a snack.

That night we went to see a saxophone quartet and they were hilarious!  The music was great and the script was even better.  There, I met another portion of the large family.  There were twenty two of us!  We then went to a large restaurant to celebate four birthdays that fell during the month.  But do not worry because that was only one part of the family and I will meet the rest of them during Christmas and ski season!

At the top of the Chateau d'Angers

The house that Angers is most known for.

The chateau that Sleeping Beauty was supposedly based on.

Chateau de Villandry
That is all for now, we had a 6 hour drive home from Paris on Sunday.  To make the drive better, Adélie and I watched The Incredibles (in French of course) on Anne's laptop.  I am still on vacation, in fact I don't start school again until Thursday, but now it is time to start the homework...

Oh, I also have another book to read for French class, it is called "Le Jeu de l'Amour et du Hasard" by Marivaux, so wish me luck!

Don't forget to tune in soon, because the next post is titled "A day in the Life of Vicki Miller, an American turned French Teenager".

Ciao! À Bientôt!