Greetings from France! So far so good! I've been out of the country for three whole days now and I'm loving it. Rather than write in my journal I though I'd post on my blog, because I can more easily include photos.
So the journey began May 5, 2012. Thankfully I have a great friend who came and helped me pack, clean and move and furthermore drove me and Shannon down to St. George to catch the shuttle. We took off from Vegas, had our first stop in L.A. and then spent 10 hours in the air on our way to London. Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to step foot outside of the airport there (but someday). We boarded out next plane and flew into Charles de Gaulle International Airport in PARIS, FRANCE! After a long second class journey (as if I know what it's like to fly first class), we boarded our shuttle that would take us to our family homes.
Remember how I've been more or less studying French since the eight grade? Well, at first I thought I had been learning another language as I didn't understand one single sip of anything anyone was saying. Good thing I've discovered that not everyone speaks like a flight attendant over a speaker. Whew! After shaking off the shell shock, I've been able to communicate rather proficiently. Or at least with enough proficiency.
There are five students and one professor in our group, and we're having a great time! We are working on coming up with reputations/duties for each person. For example, Elise, our professor, has the reputation of imitating statues and having to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes. So far my duty is to choose when we eat and give suggestions as to what sounds good. The food here is marvelous, as will be apparent when I return approximately 30 pounds heavier.
Yesterday was just an errand day. We had our oral exam and filled out some paper work at the school. Then we went shopping for the others who wanted a french cell phone and straightening irons for their hair. Shannon and I mostly just stood in the street looking cold and touristy in our sandals and short sleeves. Apparently the French don't put their boots, coats and scarves away until it's really summer. Upon figuring out the metro and returning home we had a delicious dinner with our host-mom Anne-Charlotte. We had a very traditional meal including a main course, salad, cheese and bread, followed by dessert. Aside from being full of dinner we left the table having had a very full conversation.
After explaining to Anne-Charlotte that we didn't drink tea or coffee we began discussing Mormonism. After that I have so much more respect for missionaries. Gosh! It was so difficult to explain in a different language. The entire time I was praying for the spirit to guide me in what to say and how to say it. She was very interested and asked several questions. Fortunately Shannon was able to back me up on the words I didn't know and the principles that are hard to grip. To sum that up, as she put it, "Vous etes tres exotique!" (You are very exotic!, referring to Mormons).
I slept like a rock last night! Life as a Parisienne just wore me plumb out, all one day of it. The first thing this morning we had a rendez-vous at Nortre Dame. As our first real touristy attraction we were naturally very excited to visit. After touring the inside of the cathedral, we paid to go to the top where we could see a beautiful view of the city. We also got a picture next to the "Great Bell" that Quasidmodo rings in the hit novel and Disney movie "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." It's surreal seeing these monuments that actually exist but have become romanticized and glorified though they are just another part of the lives of locals.
After Notre Dame as we began searching for boulangerie (bakery) to have lunch at, we came across a memorial to war veterans as well as a bridge we found quite intriguing. As we got closer we realized it wasn't garbage shoved between all of the spaces but rather it was full of padlocks. We were curious and approached to inquire. It seemed as though couples had come and written their names on the locks and then locked them to the bridge as a symbol of locking their love. It's the little things like this that are making me fall in love with the cliche that is Paris.
We then proceeded to take a boat ride on the Seine to become a little more acquainted with the city. We took a stop at Tuileries, which are the gardens outside of La Louvre, where the police officers ride horses. We then summed our day up by riding the metro back to our apartment and had ravioli and zucchini for dinner, I told her we were blessed because I couldn't think of the word spoiled. She looked at me like I was nuts and proceeded to ask if we had met the Pope... or something along those lines... I guess they don't use that expression here.
Anyhow, that's about it for our first real day of French culture! Stay tuned because there are bound to be more reports.
Oh, and there is one more thing.
And maybe there is only one person who will truly appreciate this:
Tu me manque. Ne m'oublies pas!