Les Petites Américaines
We are rounding week 3, people. THREE! TROIS! Or as our international friends would say: “TRES”, “DREI” “TREI”, or “THRAY” (I realize that this is not a number, but the Irish students should be included because they have the coolest accent). I have just finished my second wonderful week in Tours and needless to say, it was fantastic. Not only do I now feel comfortable with Tours, know my way around the city, and have settled into my “home away from home” with my host mother, but my 6 fellow Holy Cross/ American friends and I have now made other friends! And no, ironically, not a single one of them is French…but that is great because the institute of Tourraine is a place for students from all over the world to come together and learn all about the French culture, the language, and meet students with backgrounds all around the globe! The world has now become our oyster! (I never truly understood that expression, and still don’t, but I think it may apply here.)
So what did we do this week? Hmm, what didn’t we do this week? Monday and Tuesday we went to school like normal children, broke for lunch with our typical baguette of choice, and then at night we congregated at la ganguette for a lovely rock music fest (that for some reason included a belly dancer?) and wound up dancing with a bunch of other French folk of all ages to Grease’s “Summer Nights”, Latin-American salsa, and “Kung Fu Fighting”…hence it was a wonderful night for all of us. Wednesday, however, we skipped school! MUAHAHA (Ok, so the fifteenth of August was a holiday and we didn’t have school, but just go with me). Thanks to Holy Cross, the Institute of Tourraine, and our cute little French Professor who, on holidays and weekends, has a secret identity and becomes Tour Guide/ Chaperone/ Story Teller for all the school excursions, we were able to see some wonderful sights! We caught the bus at 9am and drove to a beautiful village, called Loches, where we discovered the Abbey, toured the old prison, and learned the history of Joan of Arc. Normally, I am opposed to tours, mainly because there are too many people who walk too slow, it’s always 100 degrees when anyone tends to go, and because I have the attention span of a gold fish, I get bored of the tour guide within seconds. However, taking a tour with our French professor is definitely a sight to see in itself. Upon entering the abbey, she made us sit down on the ancient floor right in the center of all the other tourists, and literally just started telling us the life story of Joan of Arc. Her facial expressions, alarming French accent (inside voices apparently aren’t a thing), and grandiose gestures are just too good to pass up. I think the best part is mainly that she keeps track of everyone by segregating us by our country of origin. Upon walking from room to room, all you can hear is “Allons mes petites Américaines”, “Venez mes petites Italiens” or “ou sont mes petites Japonais?” She definitely does not know a single one of us by our first name but, hey, it’s entertainment.
After Loches, we made our way to le Chateau de Chenonceau, a beautiful castle that was only created to please royal women such as Catherine de Medicis and Diane de Poitiers, and then finally, to LES CAVES! Where do you think these people get their wonderful wine from? We toured the caves, (which are kept at about 18 degrees Celsius) saw how the wine was bottled and stored, and even got to sample some wine ourselves. When in France! Because the French are really particular about their wine, we had yet another completely different wine lesson on Thursday, where yes, carnivores; I sampled the plate of cold cuts. If I have not already mentioned this, I am a vegetarian (or at least I was.) But, if it makes a difference, the meat here is so fresh that one could never even compare it to Oscar Meyer’s sliced “ham” or a can of “spaghettio surprise”. Therefore, I tasted some of the ham for the soul purpose of having the ultimate wine tasting experience. Just to add to the list of things I have never eaten…raw muscles and snails! My host mother invited some of her friends over for dinner and she served us these French delicacies accompanied with a delightful piece of baguette with butter, and of course, more wine (I promise, all this wine tasting is not intentional). We then finished the excursion week with our day trip on Saturday to Mont Saint Michel, and a casual beach day at Saint Malo (we also picked up a Spanish boy along the way who has now increased our group of seven to “table for 8”). So, exhausted from week numero 2, I decided to lay low today and had a picnic lunch next to la Loire with Francesca, the Italian “host sister.” Did I mention the heat wave they are having here? Apparently it’s not just Americans who get crazy obsessed with extreme weather conditions. I think it’s now time for me to watch Anastasia in French…what can I say? Old habits just never die. Merci mes petites! A bientôt.
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