The Perfect Touch of French


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Europe » France » Upper Normandy
May 20th 2013
Published: May 20th 2013
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This week has been a barrage of different emotions! It started out with both of us adjusting not only to the time difference, but also to speaking French all the time. If you haven’t ever been in a similar scenario, just think of it this way. You’d be tired if you walked/jogged around all day, right? Your body would be exhausted! Well that’s what the first couple days were like for us mentally. We were always tired and there were a few times when we just had to crawl into a corner and watch senseless reality television. Rachel had super intelligent phrasing for what we were doing, but I’m just gonna say that my brain needed a confidence booster and voilà, there it was in the form of Hell’s Kitchen.



So we got here and temporarily hijacked Augustin’s (9) bedroom. The room was nice and the family is insanely welcoming to us. We spent the first few days exploring the town, learning to find our way and by Thursday we eventually got to where we are the ones taking them to school. They have to be there at 8:30, Augustin’s school is just around the corner from the house (10 min?), whereas Zoé’s school is across town (about 20 minute by foot). Thus far Rachel and I have traded off, mainly because going to Zoé’s school means going down this ridiculously exhausting hill (and therefore coming back up.) We then have to pick them up at 4:30. So we’ve got a good bit of time to just chill and be (or attempt to be) whatever nationality we find suitable to the day. Once we got Kébabs and read in front of a massive, but hidden, church, and another time we went to a café and just chilled.



At one point I actually tried to buy a book from a bookstore and they wouldn’t let me because I wasn’t a member. So I tried to become a member, but then I wasn’t French/haven’t been a resident for two years. I tried convincing her to give me a job so I could in fact be a resident for 2 years and therefore buy books at some point, but the frown on this woman was glacial. In any case, the younger woman next to her was cracking up the entire time, so at least it wasn’t solely a joke for the American.



Then the weekend came. Guillaume is the dad of the family, he’s an architect is has projects all over France. At the moment in Dieppe, Bordeaux, Amiens, Versailles, Paris, so he’s actually gone during the week, staying in their apartment in Paris (chouette!) or in hotels. But he came back and with him, we got the true French family experience. So many things… I taught Augustin the premise of playing baseball. We played catch for a while, which was pretty new for him because they don’t often play any sports with a ball that size. I also showed him how to conjugate a few key verbs in English and have since been grilling him, having him spit out sentences whenever it pleases me.

However, I think the combined excitement of the new Americans, the extra long weekend (no school on Monday!), dad being home, and having a ton of people over on Sunday got to all of them because they were kind of monstrous. It was mainly just a lot of crying, the slightest little thing setting them off. It actually wouldn’t be so bad except we just don’t know what the culturally acceptable thing to do is punishment wise, largely because their parents don’t ever punish them, but also because we’re the outsiders. They also don’t really care about nudity in the slightest, but I believe I took care of that one today! Anyways, we had a bunch of family friends over on Sunday for a feast that seemed like it would never end. They were all really nice and had plenty of questions for us. I think the hardest aspect of it all though was just trying to catch their references. Either it was before our time (they were all in their late 40s) or their pronunciation of the English words gave a huge roadblock that was slow to climb over.

Finally, today was a big day! We started out late, actually going out of town for a treat… KFC! We had to drive in two cars, so I spent the 30 minute drive working with Laure, who is working on her Speech pathologist certification, on my French R. I found it apparently! Just need to apply it. Getting to KFC, it was my second time being warned by a Frenchman about something being spicy. I really need to introduce them to my Tioy, my step-mom… That was fun and different, I had a KFC Tiramisu for dessert, alcohol included. We then went to a furniture store, which was pretty intense. However my male, brute descriptions of this place wouldn’t do it justice, so I think I’ll leave that for Rachel’s fans. Next we went to Rouen. This town was pretty amazing. I saw (and parked under) where Joan of Arc was burned, then walked the town. There was a beautiful cathedral, but really the whole time was just great. The perfect touch of French. We walked around the town for a few hours then came back and had Croque-monsieurs for dinner. Life doesn’t get much better than that!

After dinner, we finally moved into the guesthouse. It’s perfect and more than either of us expected. This family is the nicest family you can get and even with the crying all the time, the kids are really great. Though they will be toughened up by the time I leave (even if that means I’ll have to stay a bit longer!)

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21st May 2013

It sounds like you guys are having a great adventure!!! Enjoy every minute of it. Thsnkd for giving us a great description of your time there.
29th May 2013

Your writing has the perfect blend of Tyler-enthusiasm and French grittiness. I can feel and see nearly every detail, and greatly appreciate your taking the time to share your experiences "on paper". You might enjoy the recent book Bringing Up Bébé... although you're getting a crash course in French parenting, so you probably don't need it! Courage, mes amis!!

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