Salut, tout le monde!
Well, my posts are coming further and further apart. I don’t know if this is a sign that I am too preoccupied with other things, or that my life has become increasingly less interesting.
I can’t believe that it’s already November! In some ways the time here has dragged on, and in others it has completely flown by. Though it doesn’t get snowy or bitterly cold here, there is a new chill in the air which cools down the days and makes the nights a little nippier. The Christmas lights have gone up in town, though they haven’t been turned on yet, and the stores in the mall are decked out for the holidays. Christmas music can already be heard depending on where you go in town. I’ve been interested to find that most of the music that I’ve heard in public places during my stay here has been in English, aside from the kebab shops which tend to play French rap. It’s always strange to go to stores or to the mall and hear English music, or see t-shirts with English writing on them. I have seen several shirts sporting the names of various states from the US. Obviously there are the more touristic states, such as New York and California, but I have also seen shirts advertising some of the less glamorous ones, like Idaho. I even saw a young boy wearing a Kentucky shirt on the tram one day, which was pretty exciting since dad grew up in Kentucky and we are big UK fans. I tried to take a picture of it to send to him, but as I was trying to focus my phone’s camera, I realized that it probably wasn’t very appropriate to be taking a picture of a random child on a crowded tram. I considered doing it secretly, but I suddenly felt very self-conscious and chose to give up on it instead. Additionally, I’ve noticed that fashion items boasting the American flag print are in abundance here. It seems so strange to me to see that in France, but then I think about the American fascination with the British flag on their handbags and apparel, and I realize all over again that everyone is foreign and interesting to someone.
It’s starting to be difficult to truly invest myself in school. I think it’s because I know that the end is near and I am struggling to find that end-of-semester “umpf”. We had our fall break about a week ago, and it was wonderful! I was so happy to have some time off, but I am used to having a break over Thanksgiving, which means that by the time we get back from break we really only have about three weeks left of school. With an earlier break, though, I came back subconsciously expecting the weeks to fly by, but instead I realized that I still had six weeks of classes left until I reached finals. I know it’s silly, but those extra three weeks make a difference! Over the break, I mostly just spent time in town relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere. I did get to experience a French Halloween, though, which was quite interesting! It is not a very big holiday here, but some people still dress up in costumes, and many kids still go trick-or-treating. Instead of going door-to-door, however, the go to the local businesses, where the owners and managers then give them candy. I thought that was an interesting difference. I wonder if this displays a different cultural perspective regarding the home. I got the impression that to go trick-or-treating from home to home would be to impose on privacy and family time. That may just be my interpretation, though.
I’ve been thinking lately about what I will miss when this semester is over and I have to leave, and the answer came to me today. We had no school due to the holiday, and most places were closed. Luckily, however, the zoological park was open, so a few of us went for a nice stroll past many of the exhibits. We really enjoyed wandering through the park, and afterwards we walked down to our favorite kebab restaurant tucked away on a street a few minutes past the tram lines. It was the perfect fall day! As we walked, I looked up at the branches swaying and the old, Parisian-style buildings craning over the narrow streets. The golden autumn light of late afternoon peered through the overcast skies and shown down on the crisp leaves tumbling along the tram tacks. I watched my friends, talking and laughing in the chilly air as we traced those winding tracks down the street, and thought to myself, “This is what I want to remember. These small, simple moments are what make life special.” I wish I could record a moment or a memory like one records films. I want to be able to go back and relive all of the feelings I have had here, experiencing them as vividly as I did the first time. But I will have to be content living in the moment, and then grasping at those memories for as long as possible before they fade away, as all of them tend to do over time.
I hope that you all are doing wonderfully and that all is going well for you. You will hear from me again in a week or two, as soon as I have something new to post!