Sunday, August 30, 2009

You must be so excited.

People keep telling me that I'm excited. Usually I just agree (it's easier), but I'm really not excited.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I'm going. But I'm not excited. How do I explain this?

Ah, a simile. Going on exchange is like waking up alive tomorrow. I like being alive, but generally, if someone said to you, "You must be so excited to wake up alive tomorrow," you would disagree. People are happy to be alive. Grateful, if they're the religious sort. But it is very hard to muster genuine excitement for something that seems so inevitable.

I hope that made sense.

Until next time, faithful readers,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kudos to a Fellow Blogger

This post is dedicated to [bt], whose emotions (as expressed in her blog) almost always match mine with frightening accuracy. As a writer, she has a contagious joie de vivre, and the blog itself has a certain je ne sais quoi. Here's the link: If you haven't found her blog already, now would be a good time to start following it.

An aside: One post a month, while good for my self control, is not so good for maintaining an accurate record. So I'm going to write when I darn well want to.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Research on the Behavioral Tendencies of the French People

I've finished my R.B.T.F.P. (See title.) Now, for the benefit of you, the reader, I shall ruminate on the reference texts used.

(From most useful to least)
  1. Talk to the Snail: Ten Commandments for Understanding the French by Stephen Clarke ~ It was relevant. It was insightful. It was funny. It was the only book I needed to read. How to deal with the French in addition to How to understand them.
  2. Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France but Not the French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow ~ More scientific. Less practical. But the points were clear and logical without being obvious.
  3. Culture Shock! France: A Guide to Customs and Etiquette by Sally Taylor ~ Advice was similar to #1, but writing was much less accessible. Felt dated.
  4. The French by Theodore Zeldin ~ Very scholarly. More in-depth. (Much to my embarrassment, I haven't gotten around to finishing it.)
  5. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle ~ Memoir. Inspiring--it's possible to get along quite well in France
  6. French by Heart: An American Family's Adventures in La Belle France by Rebecca Ramsey ~ Memoir. Drivel.
  7. The Arrogance of the French: Why They Can't Stand Us--and Why the Feeling is Mutual by Richard Chesnoff ~ As an American, I am embarrassed. Nationalistic propaganda. Good for a laugh if you can manage not to take him seriously.

Interesting tidbit: British books were more helpful than American books. 1 is British, 7 is American. 1' s strategy for dealing with the French is be polite and admit you're wrong. Effective? Yes. 7's strategy includes swearing at the French person whose help you desire (sample words included in the book). Effective? No, but "at least you'll have the last word." Oh my. I love my country, really I do, but sometimes I wonder about the people in it.