I think the weirdest thing about France, thus far, is how late the sun sets.
Forget the language barrier (though that’s pretty rough), forget the overwhelming presence of carbohydrates (how many croissants can one girl eat?), forget the strangeness of the bathrooms (I’ll take a picture of this sometime).
Right now, it’s 8:45 at night and it looks like 6 PM. The sun shows no sign of setting anytime soon, even though I know it’s supposed to go down around 9:30. It’s made sleeping a little bit complicated, because I don’t realize how late at night it is because the sun is up for so long. But it’s also one of the more interesting elements of Europe, I’ve found. Young people don’t go out until much later than at home – in fact, it’s pretty common to not go out until midnight or so. It’s interesting, but it’s also a challenge considering classes begin at 9 in the morning and I like my sleep!
Honestly, I haven’t been going out that much. It’s just one of the things I’ve noticed, and felt like saving for posterity. So, family and other adults who are looking at this, don’t worry. I haven’t become a raging drunk.
I went to Bordeaux this weekend with Chloe, Hanna, Jillian, and Matthew, and it was really interesting! The city is absolutely beautiful and the weather was perfect for sightseeing. When we got there we found this absolutely enormous flea market with a bunch of interesting and old stuff. We even saw a gas mask from World War I, which I was overwhelmingly tempted to buy because I’m such a history dork. Later, we had this great Italian lunch at this little restaurant, and it was absolutely delicious. I’ve been trying really hard to not be so picky with food, and I’m glad I wasn’t.
Bordeaux is so historical and old, and I learned a lot about the city when we went to the local museum. It was entirely in French, bien sur, but that’s the whole purpose of coming here, right?
I’m a little less homesick than I was before, but that’s mostly because I’ve holed myself up in my room for the past several days and generally hidden. I didn’t realize it would be so hard for me to force myself out of my shell and actually experience Europe – rather, I thought I’d assimilate immediately and flawlessly. I should have drawn on my past experiences and realized that’s entirely not in my personality. Group dynamics, to be blunt, freak me out, especially when they’re in another language. I’m also feeling rather insecure about my French skills, and I keep making absolutely idiotic mistakes in class because I’m so nervous. Today, I wrote “je te revaudras” instead of “je te revaudrai”, which, for those of you who are familiar with french, is an absolutely elementary and idiotic mistake. My professor clearly thinks I’m an idiot, and I keep reinforcing that opinion by stammering and clamming up whenever she speaks to me. I like the class, though. I just hope the mistakes and anxiety stop soon.
To be honest, though, I’m not sure whether or not I want to stay for the second session. Pau is beautiful and France is amazing, but I feel like I’m thinking myself into this horrible, unfortunate place where I’m developing an American-centric way of perceiving the world. I’m excited to see more of Europe, though, and instead of taking classes I might just try and backpack around western Europe or something. I’d like to see Ireland, Italy, Germany, Poland, Spain, and the rest of France, but I don’t know if I’ve got enough courage to do something like that on my own.
Anyway. I hope all is well at home. I miss everyone, so, so much. Skype is a wonderful thing, though, and please let me know if you’d like to have a nice long skype session!