Bonjour, tout le monde! Je vous promets que je ne vous ai oublié pas!
I'm sitting here, in the countryside Upper Normandy, France, and finally figured out how to work the wifi and updates are to follow. It's been 2 weeks since I arrived in France after a tiring journey from Rochester to New York to Dublin to Paris to Rouen, and last night marked my first full week with my host family during this séjour à la campagne. The two weeks here are sort of an acclimation period to practice our French, because obviously classes will begin and I suppose one wouldn't want to be thrust into them immediately without prior preparation!
I carry this mini notebook with me everywhere, recording all the new vocabulary and nuances. I have a diary to write what was done each day, and also a journal in French for my class with the American program director. He instructed us to observe cultural differences and then reflect on why it might surprise or shock us. There are quirks here and there and then obvious differences in history and architecture, but nothing seems too radical to me. I've already done so much these past weeks and my host family is the best! They're genial, laid back, accommodating and engaging--the perfect combination for a successful home stay.
Now that the wifi works I was able to post dozens of photos on Facebook, but that doesn't do any good unless you know the story behind them :).
I'm going to obnoxiously post days I found interest in successive posts-- here we go!
Two Fridays ago, we made it to France! 12 of us plus our University director stayed in a hotel for two days of orientation. Rouen (French pronounciation roo-uh) is the capital of the Upper Normandy region in the Seine-Maritime department (departments in France are like counties in the U.S.). Normandy has a marvelous Anglo-Frano history, filled with fortresses and castles and religious architecture of Normand, Roman and Gothic design. In Rouen itself, there are several churches and a cathedral, as well as the site where Joan of Arc was burned. We explored the city, went out to the patisseries and bars, and just marveled that we were in France and didn't even have to start classes like everyone else at home (haha, sorry!).
Le Gros Horloge on one of the main streets in Rouen, La Rue Jeanne D'Arc
Oh, Normandy cider! How I do appreciate you sweet and sparkling. It's a regional specialty that's fermented a bit more strongly than we have in the States.. ;)
Cathedral Notre Dame in Rouen. It always amazes me what cultures have built and dedicated for their higher belief.
Savoring my first macaroon in Rouen :D and hopefully many more to come!
Of course I had to take food porn market pics.
Le pain et la baguette! The cuilnary masterpiece and foundation of French dining!
I've eaten more cheese in the last two weeks than I have in my life. Milk's not as popular here, the French necessitate their calcium intake obscene amounts of living, aged cheeses (over 100 varieties) and yogurt--which is enjoyed as a dessert, rather than breakfast or dessert as we would in the U.S.
Last, last Sunday: Early that afternoon, our country stay families picked us up from the hotel. I have been living a solid hour outside of Rouen, in a petit village called Cuy St Fiacre (Cwee Sahn Fee-ah-cruh) with my host family that consists of a mother and her two sons.
The view out the bathroom window on the first night.
Haha, another thing is that in France, normally la toilette is in a completely separate room than the shower/tub/sink. Thankfully the upstairs toilet has a sink, because it's awfully inconvenient not having one.. Yup, just different ideas of sanitation.
Throughout last week we visited beautiful beaches on the North coast and participated in bike-platform-rail-riding (vélo-rail) and general site-seeing.