Thursday, September 29, 2011

Apparently, Sprinting In Red Boots Is The Only Way To Make An Entrance

I began writing this post as I sat on U.S. Airways flight 786 from Charlotte, N.C. to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.  I began my journey today well-prepared, and it has-so far-saved me from a lot of grief!  First of all, even if I am late getting to Angers today, I am still early.  I scheduled my flight five days in advance from the day I'm supposed  to be there, according to the CIDEF brochure.  I did this primarily in case there were problems with my ability to actually get to Angers.  Secondly, I did this because I know myself well enough to know that I will get hopelessly, utterly, without-a-doubt, LOST as much as possible in Angers (just remember "Je me suis perdu" if you have the same problem).
 (This dude's got nothin' on me, people.)

Yep, I am, sans doubte, directionally challenged in a crippling way.  But, as I said, I tried to be well-prepared, so hopefully the extra time I've given myself will do me some good so that I can find my way around before class starts.  Speaking of class, I have to take my placement exams on October 5th, which will place me in the level that I am currently functioning in French, which will be the basis for this semester's schedule.  Let me stress this again--I have to take an exam BEFORE I can even take classes in France.  COMMENT???  Just the fact that this blog page shows up en Français has me worried enough, let alone the fact that I have to take a test before I'm actually allowed to take more tests.  Did I italicize enough words to make this perfectly clear?  Mon Dieu!
But back to my episode of getting from here:
 (Wal-Mart=Amish Bookstore)
To Here:

(Le Centre Ville, Angers, France)

Here is a layout of all that happened, and why I am living proof that on the rare occasion that I don't procrastinate, it seemingly worked in my favor.
(By the way, if you haven't realized by now, I'm a big fan of making lists.
1. A Really.
1a. Big.
1b. Fan.)

1.Up until the night before I left on Sunday, September 25th (I chose this day because I saved a bunch of money flying on airline "off" days), I probably packed my bag at least ten times.
 (With four months worth of school supplies, toiletries, and clothes to pack, the airlines should really be more lenient on their 50-lb. limit.)

2.On the morning I left, I was happy to have my family with me, including my mom, my dad, and my little brother, who is now taller than me and so it makes me feel weird when I refer to him as my "baby brother".  I went through security at Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio, where my oversize bottle of facial moisturizer became a ritual sacrifice in the name of France, and crossed to the other side at 8:30 a.m., awaiting my flight that was supposed to board around 10:00.  I bid farewell to my folks, who spoke to me via cellphone through a plate glass window that rests on top of the security station, and waited anxiously for my flight to begin boarding.  At this point, I had plenty of time to rest, and still had three hours to kill between my arrival in Charlotte and my connecting flight to Paris.

3.Mechanical problems and two delays later, I had to bolt from the airplane in Charlotte, and run through two terminals to get to my connection in Paris, where they had just called my Zone number on my plane ticket.  I was a streak of blue, purple, and red, representing my bookbag, carry-on suitcase, and red boots respectively.
3a. I would like to pause here for a moment to reflect on my sacred red boots.  These are not just any boots.  These are 9 1/2 B-size Red Deertan Heritage Western R-Toe Ariats (Style # 15761 to be even more exact) and when it comes to my style, just give me these boots, a pair of obnoxiously loud and/or cute earrings, and point me in the direction of the fun!

(Such a tiny, tiny picture for such an awesome boot!)

4. Alors...I was assured that my luggage would make my connection, which it did since my flight to Paris was delayed for an additional hour due to inclement weather.  And then, on y va!!!  I arrived unscathed in Paris at 7:20 am France time, 1:20 a.m. EST.  But the ride was still not over.  Following a three-hour wait (and two very awkward conversations with information desk clerks), I boarded le TGV-the train that travels not only to France, but to much of Europe-and rode another two and a half hours to Angers.

4a. Finally, at almost 2:00 p.m. (or 14:00 for all of you used to French/Military time), I spotted a short, white-haired woman, who was holding up a sign with my name on it.  That woman is Marie-Anne, my host "mother" (although it feels weird thinking of her as a "parent" simply because I haven't lived with one for ten years now), who helped me shove my bags into her tiny car and zipped through Angers to my home for the next four months.

5. My room that I will be renting is très petite, but in a good way.  It even has its own sink and shower!  The only adjustment I'm really going to have to make is timing my use of hot water just right, since the water heater only works at certain hours of the day.  But who can feel disappointed with a view like this:
(With windows like this, I am reminded of the scene entitled "Faubourg Saint-Denis", directed by one of my faves, Tom Tykwer, in the movie "Paris, Je T'Aime")
6. My host family offers lunch and dinner, at an additional cost, to be served to me along with their company.  I am very excited to experience this, since it will give me a good look into the world of cuisine for the average French family.  I have already had duck with potatoes (le canard avec les pommes de terre), salmon pâté (pâté du saumon) with fresh green salad and tomatoes from Marie-Anne's own backyard, fresh bread (le pain), Camembert and Goat cheeses (les fromages) for dessert, and, of course, wine (le vin).  Marie-Anne explained to me (in French) that French families try to teach their kids that sitting down at a table and eating together while enjoying the experience of food and its presentation is très important for one's health (santé).

7. Speaking of health, my own santé is currently a bit compromised.  I've caught a cold from my travels, as well as suffering from a nice case of jet-lag, or as the French call it, décolage horaire, which roughly translates into "differences in time".  But not to despair!  Even though I'm trying to drink away my cold with jus d'orange (cold medicine here is around 5 euros for a little box), I have been walking everywhere, finding my way to my Université, supermarkets right down the street from my host family's home, and, almost magnetically, I have zeroed in on my favorite store, Claire's!
 ("We meet again, ma chèrie!! Hunnnh hunnnhhh hunnnhhh!!!")

8. As a conclusion to my discoveries, I will leave you with a photo of something that I can finally cross off my own list of to-do's: eat a REAL French pastry!
 (I even made my own espresso!  Even though espresso is traditionally served in a bowl for breakfast, I made it in one here because I'm still learning how to make it, and put way too much water in it the last time, which made a huge mess with those little mugs!)

Until I overcome ma rhume, mes amis, a bientôt!

1 comment:

  1. Staci! I saw your picture from downtown Angers and now I miss it so much! Don't forget to try the macarons at any of the local bakeries. Yum!