It’s been quite a week. I won’t go into all the details here, but I sometimes feel like I have the Midas touch in reverse: instead of everything I touch turning to gold, it ties itself up in a knot and becomes as complicated as possible. I do realize it could be so much worse, so I try to count my blessings! In order to keep some measure of sanity in the midst of the frustration, I love to find little things that I find peculiar or just rather funny that I’ve had to become accustomed to while living here this first month. I’m hoping to write several of these kind of posts during my time here especially as I’m working on a project to develop more culturally centered lessons for my students back home.
(1) Capitalized Last Names
Probably due to my previous relatively short stays and not having to deal too much with paperwork, I’d never noticed this before. In France, they always capitalize last names. For example, instead of a name being just Laura Smith, in France it would be Laura SMITH or SMITH Laura. In my own culture, putting something in all caps often signifies yelling, so I immediately think of someone saying the first name in a normal voice and then shouting the last name. So, my keys to all the doors I need to get into at school have my name on them, and yes, I nearly laugh every time I look at them because I still read my name in my head with a shouting voice. I’ll just not mention how I have to keep from laughing every time I read names of professors on doors in the hallway. 😀
(2) Doorknobs (or the lack thereof)
I do realize that every apartment and house is different. The doors at school are not like this, but at the apartment where I reside, the doorknob to my room seems straight out of the 1950s. I like it though it is rather loose and having a key sticking out of the door on the other side is a little bothersome. I’m not quite sure why it’s that way, but I’m not too worried about getting locked in. At least, I try not to think about it too much. During my jet lagged nights when I couldn’t sleep, I would sometimes contemplate how I’d escape if someone sinister locked me in my room. Climbing out the window seemed to be my only option which would not be a fun option either due to being on the sixth floor. I digress though. The other funny thing in the apartment is that to open the closets in the hallway or the pantry in the kitchen, there aren’t any doorknobs. One just turns the key sticking out of the keyhole to open the door. The door to the apartment is similar. There is no doorknob on the door, only a keyhole. You keep turning the key to unlock the door and then use the key as the doorknob. Strange, I know! I had an office door somewhat like that once though it did still have a doorknob.
(3) Happy Juice
There are several things I love about France and food in France. However, there is one kind of juice in particular that just makes me so happy in addition to coffee (Yes, I just included coffee as a juice because it is ‘life juju’. Questions, class? No? Good! We’ll continue): strawberry juice!!!! I found a jar of it at the store last week and didn’t buy it because I really just needed to get orange juice and not splurge too much on other stuff. However, after a hard week last week, I decided to grab a jar when I went by the store today to stock up on food for the week. I had a skip in my step on the way home, I was so happy! I love, love, LOVE this delicious goodness in a jar!
(4) Cooking Struggles
I’m in France, the land known for its culinary tastes and habits. However, I have few French culinary skills. I’m not saying this won’t change as I’ve been toying with the idea of looking up cooking classes here. I’ll have to see if I can find a reasonable price for one maybe once I get life a little more stabilized. The trouble has been that the recipes that I’m used to making at home don’t always work as well here. For one, not all of the ingredients are the same as one can find in a store at home. I have found a few things to make and have been sticking to those for the moment. Rice is a big part of my diet right now. 😉 I’m in France though, so I would like to benefit from ingredients that I can’t find very easily in the States like crême fraîche. I’ve been ruminating about ways that I could find new recipes to try. I still haven’t tried lighting the oven yet, but I’m determined to try to start using it soon. I came to the conclusion that I should just get a French cookbook and use that as my starting point. Hopefully, it will also provide me with some courage to try lighting the oven too….
On Saturday afternoon, I needed a break from working on planning lessons and decided that a stroll around town would be just the thing I needed to clear my head. I didn’t quite count on how many people would be out and about on a Saturday, but I walked through a few small streets and poked my head into a couple of bookstores. In one of them, I found a few small books with short, easy, and cheap recipes using ingredients I see quite frequently in the store. I bought this one and am hoping maybe on Thursday or Friday to try one of the recipes in the book as a reward for getting through the first week of my full load of classes.
(5) English Words in French Advertisements
I do apologize for the reflection in this particular photo. This is one of the advertisements at some of the tram stops. This is just one of several advertisements I’ve seen that use English as part of its motto. I have no idea how good this candy actually is, but it promises in a mixture of languages to keep you on the happy side of life. Maybe I should grab a bag and report on whether it does indeed help me “Prendre la vie côté HAPPY”. 😉
More commentary on little things from everyday life in France to come…