Marisa, outbound to France

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It's the little things that make me never want to leave. I've been here a little over 3 and a half months and I can't believe it. Time is going by so fast now; the weeks feel like they only last a couple days. The school days still feel long but I think I'm used to it enough that it doesn't feel that bad. But back to the little things! Here's a little list of little things with a little description of why I love them haha!

-how you always eat together

I can't say I haven't eaten alone here because I have but only because of conflicting schedules with friends, but for the most part every meal you eat, you eat with someone else. Which I love. Sometimes we'll wait an hour or so for my host parent to come back from work just so we can eat together and it's the cutest thing. Plus, it's always a homemade dinner. I didn't realize how often I went out to eat until I came here! But I'd choose French food over American fast food any day. (but of course I have my cravings;)

-how you have to give kisses when greeting people

At first I thought this was the strangest thing. When I got off the airport and got kissed by people I'd never met I didn't know what to do but now I love it! Wherever you go you get acknowledged and respected. From a 3 year old to a 93 year old, everyone gets greeted with a kiss on the cheek (or two, or three, or four depending on where you live). Plus, it's less awkward then a hug but kinder than just a handshake. It's a happy medium between the two.

-the fact that there is always a baguette at every meal

This I thought would just be a false stereotype. Before I came I had the picture in my head of a man with a baguette in his arm riding the bike. 100% accurate. Lunch and dinner for sure and you usually have tartines for breakfast which is just a baguette cut into small pieces and toasted.

-the french never beat around the bush

This took me a while to get used to but now I like the brutal honesty of their culture. It's not mean, it's just real. If they're sad, they tell you. If they're mad, they show it. The French people as a whole are more open with their emotions in that sense which I love compared to the American "I'm fine."

-SOAP

Honestly, no soap compares to French soap. I smell like a baby queen who bathed in rose petals. It's the best soap in the world and no one can argue with it. (I sound so French but it's true). 

-the food

This one should be a no brainer because everyone knows France is known for it's amazing food. They have the best deserts, pastries, and breads in the world. Cheese on the other hand gets left out of this because they don't pasteurize it (even though pasteurization was invented by a French man) so I only like a few of the mild cheeses here. But they have the best yogurt here so it makes up for it. 

-french 'filler words' and noises

"Bah," "ouais," "euh," just to name a few, are the trick to sounding fluid and like a real francophone. Every exchange student knows that to learn your host language you just gotta fake it till you make it. Now that it's been three months I can speak in French (not fluently but getting there) I use filler words and sounds, that I can't really describe in words, for confidence. Without them there'd be a discouraging silence and I wouldn't have the confidence to speak in french. So I'm verrrry grateful French has so many of them.

-french facial expressions and hand gestures

Rule number 1: If you speak French, you have to look French. Obviously your mouth is gonna change because you're making different sounds with it than your native language but you also gain like 20 new hand gestures and ways to move your head and eyebrows. It's hard to describe but it's a really cool feeling when you realize you sound and act like a french person without having to try.

-long lunches

Another given. I don't know how I'll ever get used to the short lunches in America again. I love the 2 hour lunches it's the perfect break and there's no rush and you can just socialize, relax, and enjoy your company and food.

That's all I can think of for now. Real quickly though I must tell you about my weekend.
Thursday, I made a Thanksgiving dinner for 6 with help from my host mom who made the turkey. Everyone loved it and were so shocked at the sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and gravy which cracked me up because stuffing makes more since then duck intestine but oh well! Friday, I participated in a 5k walk for raising money for sick children. I don't know the details of the cure we were walking for but I do know that my whole entire village came out and we all ate french onion soup together at the end. It honestly felt like I was a villager in Beauty in the Beast it was so cute! Our village may only be 1,800 people but there is such a big sense of community! Saturday, my host family and I went to a super nice restaurant that even had one Michelin star. Best. Meal. Of. My. Life. It was my first gastronomy experience and it was amazing. The food was super tiny but there was sooo many courses that by the end I felt like I had eaten my body weight in gourmet food haha! It was my host g randma's 80th birthday so that's how we celebrated! Gotta love Mammi Lou Lou! Sunday, I went to church and was delighted to hear ... you guessed it, Christmas hymns! Christmas is finally upon us! EEEP! And on that note guess who will be seeing the Christmas lights in Paris in one week from now. This girl! I'm elated that I get to go and super grateful to my host parents who are taking me! My host sister lives in Paris and we will be celebrating her birthday when we're there! I'm pumped!