Here’s What Happened…

In The Spirit of December on December 11, 2010 at 8:36 PM

Ok, I am sorry that I haven’t posted in a couple weeks. I am not really sure where the time has gone, but sadly it has. If I am honest, I was actually avoiding writing on my blog for a little while. I was feeling rather down for quite a while and I was a little worried I would write one of those blog posts that I would regret and decided that it was better to just not blog at all. It’s been strange actually for the past couple weeks. I feel like in some respects I have experienced the entire spectrum of human emotion in the last two weeks. After Thanksgiving, my sentiments of attachment to my host family really grew and all of us have grown so much closer over the past two weeks. I think part of it has to do with that the Meuniers have in many respects become like my family during my time here. During those times at school when I didn’t want to be there and considered skipping class, it was because I wanted to come home and see them and eat with them and laugh at the dinner table talking about Harry Potter or the tendencies of the French in comparison with Americans.

My classes have honestly been dreadful for the past two weeks as well. I have learned almost nothing although I have received my best grades during that period of time so I don’t really know what’s going on. Allow me to clarify as well that when I say that the classes have been dreadful I don’t mean that I have been doing dreadfully, but simply that the material has been awful. Honestly, I haven’t learned a thing from the book we are using and yesterday I finally asked my professor if she liked the book and she said that she hated it and it was only because she is forced by the administration that she is using the book that we do. Also because I am not being challenged I have been so tempted to respond to questions that she asks in English blatantly just to see how she would respond. Considering constructions such as “There is” (Il y a) and anything using the verb “to do” (faire) have been thrown in la poubelle (trash) I don’t think she would respond well to me saying anything in English. Although the other day I had a brilliant moment in class. Earlier in the semester my professor informed me that she doesn’t drink wine. I was shocked considering typically all French people drink wine and so to encounter someone who doesn’t drink wine and is French is truly a rarity. However, the other day after informing us that she loves eating blood sausage, snails, frog legs, and horse, I was a little disgusted. So I asked, “Do you cook all of these things your self?” She responded sarcastically, “No, I buy them from the grocery store!” What do you think? I am French of course I cook it myself. What kind of French woman doesn’t cook?” To which I retorted, “What kind of French woman doesn’t drink wine?” At which her usual quick wit was completely stumped and she couldn’t help but laugh and say, “Well I guess there’s nothing I can say to that now is there.” I felt a little proud of myself.

The last couple weeks have also been occupied by finishing up Christmas shopping. The Christmas spirit is definitely alive and well here in Tours and it is quite visible in the city with everything covered in lights and the opening of the Christmas market. I have found some really great gifts although today I realized I might not actually have enough room in my suitcase and the bag that I brought with me for everything that I have bought. Also, I am in high anticipation for Christmas because unconsciously I have been thinking about it for the last 5 months. Knowing that I would be coming home just before Christmas I have been trying to find Christmas presents for people since my arrival here in Europe so I can’t really wait to come home and give the presents to people that I have been holding onto some for almost 5 months.

Honestly part of the problem with not blogging is that you forget what actually has happened in the last few days. However, if it were really important, I suppose I would have remembered it. When looking back at the last 11 days or so however, much of the time has been spent simply trying to keep my head above water and not becoming depressed. I’ve honestly had a couple small breakdowns upon hearing news of things and thinking about coming home and coming back to my life in the States. The funny thing about it is that I truly feel like I have emigrated and that I know belong in the EU. Of course I don’t know everything there is to know, but in trying to think about my life back in the States it all seems so very far away and long ago. It’s definitely going to be strange coming back to the States and only speaking English again. I definitely know what Aubrie was talking about when she said that she came back to the States and she couldn’t speak French or English. As it is people ask me what the word is for certain things in English and I can never remember what the name is because I have been so occupied with learning French, German, and Spanish. I have become so adapted to answering and asking questions in French that it will be weird for a while not having to say anything in those languages that I have forced myself to focus on so hard for the last 5 months. It’s kind of like when I finished my music major. I didn’t really know what to do afterwards because it had been such a large part of my focus and my life until that time. The nice thing is that as a result of those experiences my music is always with me and it enables me to enjoy things that much more. I hope that my experience here in Europe will have the same effect on me when I return and put my life back together in the States.

I was honestly getting a little worried about my German the other day because I have been conjugating sentences in French for so long now I wasn’t sure if I would still remember my German but I have watched a couple movie previews in German and a couple interviews have had things in German and I have actually understood pretty easily which was really encouraging. It will just be a little different when I go back to Germany and actually have to speak again. Retraining my mind, yet again as well. Dur!

Honestly though I am really looking forward to it and to coming home. It’s weird to think that in just nine short days I will be back in the good ole U S of A. My whole mind is sort of pre-occupied with the notion of “What’s it going to be like when I get back?” In many respects for me coming to Europe symbolized a new period in my life and my future, going back to the States almost feels like going backwards. I’ve developed so many different habits and ideas and my understanding of life is so different. It’s just going to be so weird not living an international lifestyle after having done it for so long. In many respects the tension that I was consistently feeling from having to be in a different country other than my own and speaking in a different language has left and I have adjusted to simply being bilingual when I need to. For example whenever I hang out with Ana, Hector, and Nicolas in the cafeteria or for lunch, we go between three languages simultaneously without thinking twice about it. It’s just part of our experience and what we do. You don’t think about it, you just laugh when you can’t remember a word in one language and so you say it in the other that you know everyone will understand. It’s really great actually.

The following few days will be interesting. I have two exams one on Tuesday that is written and then an oral on Wednesday afternoon with the professor that really made me hate the French for a while and love being an American, so we will see how that goes. This weekend is also the last weekend and so we are going out and saying goodbye to everyone tonight considering it’s the last Saturday night it’s kind of necessary. I turned in a paper on Thursday as well on a novel called La Place, don’t think any translation is necessary there, and it might have been one of the worst papers I have ever written, but honestly I felt that way about my homework assignments that I just got back and the grades were really good, so we’ll see what happens. I’ll try and be more consistent in my blogging in the next few days leading up to my departure the Monday following the coming one. I will be back in Germany for a few days with Philipp and Barbara and that will be excellent so Germany will be a nice little vacation just before coming home. I guess that’s all for now. Ciao!

  1. Another great Newman (Blessed John Henry, to be specific) wrote this prayer:

    “God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.”

    I’ve missed your blog posts, but I want you to enjoy your time in Europe more than keeping me updated. 🙂 Enjoy your last week and then some!!

  2. I was going to write something until I read Julie’s response. I think that about sums it up, Ben. I’ll be praying for your exams this week.

  3. Don’t feel too bad about not posting. I haven’t either. Actually I’ve pretty much avoided getting on the Internet for at least the past week. But I like the post anyway; you’ll be back in the States soon! Yay!

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