the crazy & calm of northern france

In the past few weekends, I have experienced two very different sides to northern France: the crazy Carnaval de Dunkerque and the calm serenity of the coast at Cap Gris Nez.

When people told me about Carnaval, the main impression that I got was that there was a lot of drinking and disguises going on. Spoiler alert: that proved to be true. Me, my three roommates, and some friends got all disguised up (including but not limited to feather wigs, hula skirts, and giant sunglasses) and hopped on the party train to Dunkerque on Sunday, February 19th. Literally – it was a party train. Nearly every other person inside was already disguised or in the process of becoming disguised. There were men dressed as women, women dressed as men, and others with costumes that left little to the imagination. Upon arrival, the scene did not change. It was like a giant parade from the train station towards the main square; the fact that none of my group had any idea where we were going wasn’t important – we just followed the crowd of crazies.

Viviana, Ines, me, Sarah, Joana, and Lidia… if you can even recognize us.

Continue reading

c’est le nord!

Oh, northern France. The winter is coming, and I am scared… it is already in the low 50’s every day, the weather is mostly rainy, and the nights are unbearable… ok they’re not that bad but seriously. It’s cold.

I can’t believe it’s only been 3 ½ weeks since I arrived! Not only has the weather changed, but my LIFE has changed. (Once again, being a bit dramatic, but seriously. It has.) I am really enjoying my apartment. It is always a pleasure to be able to meet internationals, and I get to live with three! It’s really nice to be able to share our cultures – which includes the food! – and to have new friends to go out or do everyday things with around the city. It’s also been great to spend time with some fellow assistants like the awesome Cydny! She is from Wisconsin and is hilarious. I’m sure you’ll hear more about her in the future. Another great change is how easy it has become to spend time with the boy. I can hop on a train and be in Lille within 30 minutes and we can eat together during his lunch break, which we did today. That is much different than having to shell out money for a plane ticket and spend 12 hours traveling in order to see each other!

Continue reading

preconceptions: french vs. american

I love to play this game. When typing a phrase into google, it’s always interesting to look at what auto-fill can do for you before you finish typing your real search request. In typing “Why do Americans…” the first auto-fill options that come up are “Why do Americans speak English” and “Why do Americans detest the French”.

1) Why do Americans speak English?

This question could have so many meanings. Why do Americans speak English in general? Why do Americans speak English when they visit France? Why do Americans speak English and not French? Well. Continue reading