Classes and cooking and camaraderie, oh my.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been in Caen for four weeks when it feels like I’ve been doing so much! I’m taking 19 hours of classes per week, cooking a lot, still getting lost from time to time, and even traveling a bit.

My classes are going pretty well. Although 19 hours is definitely a lot, and definitely feels like a lot, at least I’m getting basically the same amount of credit at Baylor for the semester. Unfortunately my schedule changed, so now I’m in class from Monday through Friday. I was looking forward to having that Monday off throughout the semester, but at least I finish at 1pm on Friday and don’t start until 2pm on Monday. All of my professors are great, and the classes aren’t boring either. The most difficult one is Structures of the French Language, which is basically a fancy way of saying “Really Freaking Hard French Grammar.” I’m also taking written expression, oral expression, French sociology/media, language and literature, civilization, and global simulation. Global simulation is probably the most interesting class that I’m in; each student in the class creates a character that they develop throughout the semester. My character is 35-year-old Madeleine Genet who is currently married to a German guy and they have a 5-year-old boy. Each week we have to develop more about our character, such as their goals, profession, likes/dislikes, hobbies, etc. It’s a great class to have on Friday mornings especially with how often French students like to go out on Thursday nights.

I decided to be brave and wear my amazing heels out for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I will NEVER do that again! There’s a reason that high heels are called “talons” in French… they are painful! I recently invested in a pair of great boots that have much shorter and sturdier heels that I’ve found are possible to wear out for hours at a time. Last week, there was an Erasmus student party on Thursday so Jed and I decided to invite all of our hall mates over for an “apero” before heading to the party. Jed stuck sticky-notes on everyone’s doors, and although I honestly didn’t expect anyone to come, each and every person on our hall showed up. All of them are French (minus one Spaniard) and it was really awesome to meet them and hang out, speaking French and enjoying a few drinks. I’ve decided that the way that French people party is just plain impressive. There are no open container laws here, and it’s still bizarre to me to see someone walking in the street drinking out of a bottle of wine (it wasn’t me, mom & dad!). It also floors me how many songs that French people know and always sing when out at the bar. Jed and I finally learned the words to one of them, and thoroughly enjoyed singing it loudly in the street last week with our French friends on the way back to our building. Another thing I enjoyed doing last week was salsa dancing! Some of the other Baylor students discovered that there are free salsa dancing lessons every Wednesday night at a bar close to downtown (beach themed, with sand and all). I went with Jed, Noelle (from Baylor, and Ed (from Texas A&M) last week and although the lesson was taught to everyone in French, I think I got it right for the most part. The four of us have been joking a lot lately that we’re stuck in a language limbo – not fluent in French, but our English seems to be getting worse. For instance, we’ll forget English words when trying to explain something but know the French word. I was talking about the weather and climate in French the other day with them, but couldn’t remember how to pronounce the word “climate” in English. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, I know, but it’s true. I promise. At least I can definitely tell that my French has substantially improved since I’ve arrived in Caen.

Speaking of salsa, last week, Jed, Noelle, and I decided that it was about time to have a really good meal. We went with making fish tacos, salsa, and guacamole. They were absolutely delicious so we decided to make it a weekly thing before our salsa dancing adventures. Yesterday we made potato leek soup and it was fantastic as well. I must say that our college budgets sure do go a far way when we cook food ourselves! We can even buy cheap and yummy vegetables at the local market every Sunday morning. This place is HUGE! Near the port and one of the churches in Caen, hundreds of vendors selling anything from food to clothes to books set up their tents for four hours and the Caenians (does that work?) head out to get the best deal possible. I woke up a little late last week when I went for the first time, but next time I’m making sure to get there at 10am so I can actually see everything.

Overall, school is going great, friends are going great, and food are going great. What else does one need? A trip to Paris perhaps? Stay tuned!

pictures: (1) Flo & Jonathan (2) Jonathan & Jed (3) Ruben from Panama, me, Ed from Texas A&M, and Flo (4) me & Ed

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