Today was busy, and full of lots of new and interesting things. I had to start getting up earlier since I have my oral expression class first thing (at 8:45), but I managed to leave the house right at eight, and I made it to l’Institut by about 8:35, so I had a few minutes to try to use the internet on the third floor (with no luck) before class. We talked about the education systems in America and France, and I was able to talk about the SAT and ACT tests, as well as my experience being enrolled in a private school. Apparently, private schools are no different from public schools in France except for the uniform. The programs are the same.
I had to leave class early to go to my interview with Mme. Grée to discuss what classes I’d be taking between Sweet Briar and Paris III. Some are still up in the air, but more or less, my courses look somewhat like this... I’ll be taking a French language course and a mise en scene (directing, play watching and critiquing) course at Sweet Briar, that’s for certain. The Paris III courses are a little more up in the air. We narrowed down my choices to three other courses, and I’ll end up getting whatever two fit around my scheduled Sweet Briar courses. The courses I selected were (in order of how much I’d like to take them) a “theatre games”/actor’s workshop course, a Dramaturgy/mise en scene/lighting/all encompassing “master course,” and a literature course that has Corneille, Molière, and Marivaux as three of the five selected writers/works that are discussed. I think I’ll be pretty happy. Mme. Grée said that I could always change my mind if I wasn’t happy.
Went to my writing class after this. We’d gotten our tests back, and I got a 14/20. In America, this is bad. In France, THIS IS PRETTY DAMN AMAZING (A 15/20 is considered an A+). We’d been given a sheet that had 17 sentences to be corrected on it, and since I’d come in five minutes late, I wasn’t sure what kind of mistakes I was supposed to be looking for, since some of them looked fine. I flipped over the page, and one of the sentences looked really familiar. Then it dawned on me: Fabian has basically taken the WORST sentence each one of us had put in our tests from Friday, and copied it exactly as we wrote it onto this correction worksheet. By the time I’d realized what was going on, Fabian had written exactly how many errors there were in each of the specific sentences, so then I realized that I wasn’t just looking for subjunctive errors, I was looking for any kind of error; spelling, syntax, whatever. We went over all of the sentences in class, then Fabian had three of the students read their letters out loud since he thought they were funny. He didn’t ask me to read mine, which I’m kind of glad for. I thought my letter was funnier than at least one of the letters that was read aloud, but there was so much of Fabian’s red ink on my test, I think I would have had some serious trouble reading it.
I’d brought some leftovers from the lunch Madame made me on Saturday, and one of those chocolate rice krispie things for lunch, so I didn’t want to go to Carrefour. Besides, Sandra and Suzannah always waited for our class to get out, why couldn’t we wait for them? I hung out in the WiFi area with my little group, but some of them petered off to run to Carrefour to get food at different times while I stayed put to mess with the internet. There was a lot of talk about Joan’s new friend that she met at the Guinguette on Friday, and has been hanging out with ever since! He’s French, but he speaks English very well (he studied at Oxford), and has been helping her with her French. Rouge gave me my first bisous of my stay in France, so now I’m prepared to give them all the time! She told me her host brother got mad at her when they were out together and she saw Charlotte, and just waved at her instead of running over to bise her.
After a while, we headed out to Le Musée de Beaux Arts for another little trip. Our guide was arguably the Frenchest French man I’ve seen on this entire trip so far, and he was amazing. His name was Jean-Paul. He had a lot of great information for us, and took us on a quick tour before letting us go walk around as we wished. I didn’t take too many pictures, but I’ll give you some fun tidbits that you may or may not already know about the paintings or painters that Jean-Paul told us! The rest of the photos are on my Flickr account.
The Myth of Pygmalion. This was done by a French painter.
This person that did this painting probably never actually saw Tours. Why? The roofs would never be orange, the landscape is too short, and there shouldn't be mountains in the background!
This is one of Monet's paintings. Monet was criticized during his time because his paintings we're realistic, and that's what was popular. The irony is that his paintings (and all Impressionist paintings) are the most celebrated paintings today.
This is my favorite picture of Jean-Paul! "No one really knows what this painting is." This contemporary painting looks different to everyone (past "it's blue).
After stopping by a tabac on the way home to buy some credit for my phone (which I successfully did completely in French, super win for the day), Sheila, Sandra and I headed back to the school to use the WiFi some more. Rouge and Joan were already there, and were seated at a table with a guy I hadn’t met before. It was Stéphane, Joan’s new friend! We were able to access the WiFi from the table, so we stayed and talked. Stéphane was able to help me out with the whole “evil waiter” situation. Paris is going to be terrible for me, so I’m just going to have to toughen up and deal with it, but he warned me ahead of time. The waiters are going to say a particular phrase (which I’ve managed to already forget) that’s akin to “so you’re annoying” or “you’re making extra work for me” as soon as I mention my gluten problem to them, but that’s because French people are mean when they poke fun, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m not going to be taken seriously. It’s kind of how some girls will “lovingly” call each other “bitches” and “sluts” back home. When I mentioned that I’d read that I’m supposed to apologize, pay for my meal, and leave a restaurant when I think a waiter isn’t taking me seriously, Stéphane agreed with me, but not with the apology part. “Why would you apologize for the waiter treating you poorly?” We figured it was more of the “gluten-girl taking the high road” deal. When Rouge and I told him about the waiter at the crêperie, Stéphane said he was definitely being rude (not just mean) for exclusively dealing with me in English after I ordered and said that I was gluten-intolerant. We did manage to figure out that his reaction was actually my fault. What did I do wrong? Poor word choice! The waiter probably decided to be a brat because I chose to use the word régime to describe how I eat. Régime means diet. It’s not WRONG, but it would have been better for me to say j’ai une allergy du blé/gluten (I have an allergy to wheat/gluten) instead of je suis un régime sans-gluten (I follow a gluten-free diet). What’s the difference? Context. Because I said “diet,” the waiter at the crêperie took it as “Hi, I’m an American bitch who doesn’t want to get fat off of your delicious, carb-loaded crêpes, so I’m going to order a salad and add insult to injury and tell you to hold the bread.” If I’d said “allergy,” the waiter might have interpreted it as “Hi, I really wish I could order a crêpe because they look delicious, and this is torture, but I’m ordering a salad because it’s all I can eat, and please don’t waste your bread on me because I can’t eat it.” Despite all this, I’m still terrified to go to another restaurant, because I’m really weak skinned when it comes to stuff like this, but I think I’ve got a bit more armor. I really need to print out those informational cards... Stéphane’s friend Nicolas that Joan and Rouge knew from the Guinguette stopped by, and he gave me a bise before everyone else. Thank GOD Rouge taught me how to do that at lunch, so I handled myself well. I guess you give bisous to friends of friends since you figure you’ll get to know them. We all ended up leaving then, and I walked with them for a while, but had to split shortly after that since it was time for me to go home. I hope I’ll get to see Stéphane and Nicolas again soon! They’re super nice!
Madame had told me she’d be at a Rotary function when my musée visit was over, and she wouldn’t be home yet, but she thought she’d be home by six. I got to the front door by 6:15, but she didn’t open the door to the building when I rang the bell! Merde! I rang it again, still nothing. Called her cell phone, straight to voicemail. Called the house phone, and Anna came out onto her balcony! “Madame n’est pas la?” “Non, mais je peux pousser le bouton!” Anna let me in after I pushed the door bell again. Poor Madame didn’t end up getting home until about 7:15, and she went straight to cooking dinner. We had cantaloupe for entrée, rice and that unfathomably delicious balsamic cream chicken for plat principal (Madame said she made this because she got home late and it’s super quick), the usual cheese, and a pêche du vine (wine red peach) for dessert. While I was getting ready for bed, I texted my boyfriend and my big sister for a little while. I tried to get the boyfriend to call me, but his calling plan isn’t set up to make international calls... Not good. I know all incoming anything is free with Mobicarte, so if he can call me, I’m set, but if I have to call him, the occasional “goodnightIloveyouBYE” could cost me a lot of money. I turned on my US phone (since I still have the calling plan) to call him for a minute, then I changed my personal greeting on my voicemail to say “don’t leave any voicemails here unless you don’t care if I don’t hear them until December, and if you need to reach me now, here’s my French number.” Once the boyfriend and I can either see if I have regular access to Skype in Paris at my host family’s house, or if he can call me on his cell phone, I should be able to have my Mom cancel the plan.
Time for bed! Nothing too special tomorrow. I’m hoping to have time to fill out a whole bunch of post cards and get started on my thank you notes for at least Anna and Madame, if not for Mme. Geai and Fabian too...