C'est si bon!

Bonjour à tous! Je suis Vanessa, étudiante de 20 ans en France pour le moment. Je viens de Pékin, mais j'étudie à la fac à Chicago.

Hello! My name is Vanessa, a 20-year-old student in France for the moment. I come from Beijing, but I go to college in Chicago.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A few glimpses into the the French life

at a resort near Arles
Bonjour à tous!

Today marks the third full day I've spent in the South of France. After several flight delays and changes (plus a rail strike), I finally arrived at Arles near midnight of Thursday. Even though I've only been here three days, I already see and feel and a lot of differences between the two cultures! How do I put this simply - at my host family, my host Papa concludes it as "the French kiss each other all the time, drink coffee and wine all the time, smoke all the time." Cliché, I know, yet incredibly accurate.

downtown Arles
Since Arles is a very small town (one can circumambulate the historic part of town in one hour),  everyone seems to know each other. When I went on a grocery run with my host Maman on Saturday afternoon, we ran into some acquaintances of hers about every two minutes, and we came across my study abroad program director twice. Therefore, People stop to give each other cheek kisses (usually three times, alternating the cheek) every once in a little while. All this is truly endearing and fascinating to me - it seems to bring everyone closer when they kiss each other, casually saying, "ah, good afternoon, it's beautiful out today." It was also a bit surprising to me that everyone expected kisses from me, too, when my host Maman introduced me to them. Nonetheless, the more I do it, the more I adore this custom. It truly makes me feel like I'm starting to belong to the community.

vin rosé 
beer with mint syrup
 In French dining, instead of bread and appetizers, people have this procedure called "l'apéritif," something that could be translated into "the pre-dinner drink." Usually, before a meal (lunch/dinner), everyone sits down at the table, takes a glass of wine, and spend a variable amount of time chatting. In the summertime, rosé is a very common choice for apéritif, as shown in the picture above. My host Papa told me that it's better to hold the glass only with one's fingers instead of the whole hand, so as to not heat up the iced wine too much.

the daily coffee
Besides wine, the French also drink a lot of coffee. And by a lot I mean a lot. Typically, there's coffee at breakfast, after lunch/later in the afternoon, and after dinner. People talk about almost everything over coffee. (Or wine.) My host Papa told me that to some, coffee is really the essence of life. Good coffee, that is. Then again, it's hard to find bad coffee in France, I'm totally serious!

The French also smoke a lot. My host parents smoked when they were young (now they have quit), and when I went out with other French young people, they all smoked. I personally don't think it's a good habit to take up, but well, the culture is there nonetheless.

Above are my major observations and discoveries of the French life. There are so many more things that I want to talk about, but I can't spend all my time seated in front of my laptop! I must take time to explore, so that I will have more things to write about.

Last things: two unbearably cute pictures - one of our neighbor's dog Boulette, and one of my host brother Louis.
Boulette! <3
Louis :)

I wish you all a relaxing Sunday.

Vanessa :]