So in retrospect, I started this blog a little too early, especially considering for the past couple weeks I’ve had nothing more to post than “still here”. Oh well, at least this way I can document my thoughts/feelings BEFORE my trip a little better, thus making my transformation from an American caterpillar to a beret-wearing butterfly (those are still cool there, right?) more complete.
As I am currently a townie who frequently walks my dog around my hometown with no better disguise than a $2 pair of neon sunglasses, I have had to repeat the whole “what I’m doing with my life” thing on a pretty regular basis. Usually, I try to sound the least pretentious as possible when telling people I am off to France for the semester. This is typically met by a “Oooh, really?”, which, I’m not going to lie, is somewhat ego-soothing considering I’m usually on my way to Dairy Queen in my pajamas. Inevitably, the person that I am talking to will then tell me about a time THEY went to France, with some words of wisdom for me.
This is a phenomenon I’m sure many people studying abroad have experienced: any person you tell where you are going has been there, wishes they would have gone there, or has recently read a Yahoo! article about going there, and immediately wants to give you advice in a very authoritative manner.
Now, before I sound like a huge douchebag, let me say that this is not something I mind. In fact, I think it’s nice that people care about my experience and want to relate in some way. However, hearing so many things from so many different people often leads me to be more confused than I was when finding out that the guys from LMFAO are uncle and nephew. Here’s some of what I’ve been told by the very well-meaning people of Ohio, as well as a few family members:
- The French are rude and will only speak English to you.
- The French will be happy that you are trying to learn their language and will go out of their way to help you.
- The French hate Americans.
- The people will try to talk to you because you are an American.
- French men smell bad.
- Be careful around French men, they are very charming (although, if you’ve examined my dating history thoroughly, you’d see that smelling good is not a prerequisite.)
- Everyone I know whose gone to France has come back with either fifteen extra pounds or a smoking habit.*
- People like to dress casually when they go out.
- You should get really dressed up when you go out.
Now, to be honest, of all of the advice above, the last two are the most disconcerting, as I would really like to know how many pairs of heels to bring, which I know sounds completely terrible and believe me, I hate myself for thinking it.
Anyways, I forgot to mention the words of advice that I will most likely heed that came from the woman that knows me best, the woman who brought me into this world, my Mom: “Don’t follow your instincts.”
*I don’t mind coming back with either of these things, as long as it’s not both. After all, we all know that smoking is only cool when you’re skinny.**
**Just kidding–please don’t immediately try to lose ten pounds and buy a pack of Marlboro’s.