I just do not understand. Speaking French is a heart-racing, blood pumping, and adventure-creating experience here in Paris. I love everything about it. My heart races and I feel so thrilled! I have made friends with French speakers; I can understand what they are saying and now I can even somewhat respond (sloppily). My professor and I only speak in French to each other, while my classmates and I hold fully functioning conversations in “frenglish” (French-English). However, I feel so frustrated in my class. I get my work and exams passed back to me with the professor saying, “c’est une bonne note” (which means, “this is a good grade”) but when I see it I am not content. The grading system is very different here. What is usually a B in the U.S. is practically failing here. It is just so frustrating it breaks my heart! In real life situations that I have encountered here I have been able to communicate with real French speakers and that makes me feel so proud of myself and accomplished. It is obvious to see that I have progressed so much in my language acquisition. However, when I go to class and get my work back I see red markings everywhere from all sorts of little mistakes that I have made. I was not forced to take this language, I chose it, I fell in love with it, but when I see so many mistakes on things that I felt so good about, I feel like I have fallen in love with something that will never love me back. The thing about uncontrollably falling in love is that I cannot give up on it even if I wanted to. I am just going to have to work harder.
If that is the only thing that upsets me while I am here, then I think I am going to be OK. Ha-ha! Other than that downer, life is still beautiful here. You are all probably getting bored with my enchantment of Paris, or jealous . I just cannot help it. This past weekend was lovely. I hung out by the “Paris plage,” which literally translates to “Paris beach” and that is exactly what it is. Every year Paris creates a fake beach by the Seine River. There is sand, lawn chairs, umbrellas, booths that sell ice cream, drinks and other boardwalk/ beach-like things and everyone is lounging around in their swimsuits tanning, playing with the sand or in the sprinkler. It has been very hot here this past week, so it has been packed with people. Still, it is nice to feel your toes in the sand and the sun on your skin and then be able to walk into a city you love.
Also, there was another group excursion this past weekend! We went to Reims to see their Notre-Dame cathedral. It was absolutely breathtaking. Then we went to Epernay to tour the Caves Mercier and learn about the champagne distilling process. It was very interesting, plus we got free champagne! The vineyards seem like they go on forever. Most of Reims was destroyed during the First World War, so the tour guide kept apologizing for the city not being as historical looking than the rest of France. However, Reims captures my favorite time in history. They rebuilt the city in the 1920s, so I felt like a flapper walking down the street to a speakeasy. I wanted to roll down my stockings and do the Charleston! During the Epernay tour, I was so happy because I was able to understand everything the tour guide was saying in French! Also, she said she loved my hair. The bus ride back to Paris was a few hours, and very scenic.
This past weekend was also Le Tour De France! These cyclists are not your usual hipsters riding on their fix gears you see going through Temple campus. These are the professionals! The race was amazing. Everyone was there! They are a blur going past your eyes through the Champs Elysees. On the way back from the race the metro had a beautiful string ensemble playing in the midst of everyone rushing to catch his or her train. I have seen banjo players and guitarist belching in the New York subway system, but I have never seen anything this classy. It was such a reminder of how pleasant this city is.
To finish off this blog I would like to let the world know that my taste buds have died and gone to heaven. I finally tried the infamous Macaroon. They are everywhere here and everybody raves about them. I had a “framboise” flavored Macaroon (which means “berries”), and once you go Macaroon you never go back…aroon. Seriously though, everyone MUST try this delicious baked good. It will change your life. This weekend I will be visiting the castles of Amboise and Chenonceau. Get ready for a princess themed blog next time! Au revoir! (Le Tour De France photo provided by Cara Anderson. Merci!)