Study Abroad

Je Parle Anglais en France.

Depuis mon enfance, j’ai étudié la langue française.

Je parle français grâce à l’héritage Cajun dans ma région et à l’immersion française dans la ville de Cecilia. C’est un honneur et je suis fière de cette compétence. Cette année je suis venue à Strasbourg en France pour étudier le commerce à l’EM Strasbourg. Je serai ici jusqu’en avril. C’est un rêve d’être ici car je suis fière de pouvoir parler français et maintenant que je suis en France, c’est incroyable.

J’étais motivée de faire une publication en français  parce que je n’ai pas l’occasion de parler français avec mes camarades étrangers qui parlent anglais.

Quand je me suis rendue compte que toutes les personnes autour de moi me parlaient anglais, j’étais un peu déçue. Cependant, il y a toujours des occasions pour moi de parler français par exemple dans les banques, la rue, quand je me déplace, quand je fais mes achats et quand je commande au restaurant.

C’est pour cela que je vais essayer de commencer a écrire des publications en français pour pratiquer et j’espère, améliorer ma grammaire. Mon objectif est d’écrire français pendant toute l’année. Je vais essayer de traduire toutes mes publications.

Après le commencement de mon cours de français, j’espère avoir plus de connaissances qui peuvent parler français.

***Mise à jour: Depuis le début de cette publication j’ai commencé mon cours de français. C’est intéressant parce que je note toujours les mêmes choses. Ma capacité d’écrire en français est moins bonne que celle de parler. J’ai eu une conversation avec Diana (ma coloc du Portugal) hier soir et elle était étonne que mes cours a l’école en français ne se focalisaient pas sur la grammaire. Je l’ai explique que mes cours étaient en français mais je n’ai jamais suivi un cours formel de grammaire française jusqu’a l’université. Elle a dit que pour la plupart des cours des langues étrangères, ils enseignent d’abord  la grammaire puis l’expression orale. Pour moi, c’était le contraire.

***Hier soir, Diana et moi sommes montées jusqu’au sommet de la Cathédrale de Notre Dame à Strasbourg! C’était trop beau!

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C’est un peu frustrant d’être venue en France et de parler seulement en anglais. En même temps je sais que c’est à moi de faire l’effort de parler en français.

Au sujet des Cajuns, j’étais un peu étonnée du nombre important de personnes qui les connaissent. J’ai montré la vidéo sur ma page d’accueil et honnêtement ce n’était pas la réaction que j’aurais prévue. Peut-etre c’est parce que j’aime la Louisiane donc pour moi c’est le top, mais mes colocs m’ont dit que c’est du français paysans (@virgil) (vieux français selon @Sarah) et ils se sont moqués du français cajun. C’était pas pour être méchant. Sarah m’a dit qu’elle ne savait pas qu’il y avait une communauté qui parle français aux États-Unis. Après qu’elle a vu la vidéo elle a même dit que c’est incroyable et que cela était le vrai français (@Virgil) (il n’a pas évolué depuis que les Cajuns ont immigré).

Je vais faire mon exposé dans mon cours de culture et civilisation sur les Cajuns dans la Louisiane. Je pense que je vais comparer les cultures et montrer les choses qu’on a gardées, et celles qui ont changées!

J’aime le français et la culture enracinée en Louisiane ainsi que son influence sur ma vie.

**Collaboration: Sarah Damoun**

Study Abroad

Customs

Before heading to Strasbourg I considered myself a pretty adaptable person. I felt more than prepared to dive in to this journey. Now that I’m here I’ve realized I was terribly wrong, but I’m happy about this.

I can remember thinking how I would easily get accustomed to life in France. I imagined I would arrive, have no problem since I spoke the language and “knew” about the customs.

As I’ve mentioned living in a city is new to me. I refer to Lafayette and Baton Rouge as cities, but I’ve never lived in a bustling, walking city. A “city” like in the movies.

Honestly, this has been a little hard for me. I hate not knowing where I’m going, I hate being lost, and I hate that despite these difficulties people just disregard the fact that it seems like you may be having troubles.

I hate the fact that when you’re trying to find your way and look around to ask for help it feel like you’re inconveniencing someone because they have earphones in.

I also hate that I always feel tired before I even leave my house because I know as soon as I step out the door I won’t just be walking right to my car.

However, I am getting accustomed to the walking. I can successfully get home now from the city center and I know how to navigate to where I need to be once I’m on main roads. There are 2 main roads here that bring me to where I would want to be (either city center or home, or the tram stations). “Allée de la Robertsau” or “Avenue de la Forêt-Noire” (my university is on this road).

As for how I’ve been the past few days besides the complaint above, Strasbourg in all has proved to be quite lovely.

Although I complain about city living in these posts, it’s a love hate relationship. In a city, there’s always something to do. Since I’ll be getting my student ID soon I’ll receive lots of discounts for events and entertainment around the area!

Not only the city though, but the location!

It’s my first fall!

The trees are changing colors, there are leaves that blow in the wind; it’s beautiful!

As I had mentioned earlier, I hate thinking about leaving my apartment because it means walking and navigating and thinking, and not knowing how long it’ll be till’ you get where you want because you need to leave room for getting lost in the schedule.

However, this past Sunday my housemates and I headed to the Cathédrale de Strasbourg  and I’m sooooo glad that I went. There was a show going on there called “Le Ballet des Hombres Heureuses” (The Ballet of Happy Men). It was a light show where several projectors illuminated the cathedral at night and it went on for 15 minutes, it was incredible! If you’ve ever been to Disney World and seen the Wishes parade with Cinderella’s castle lit up, it was a little like that but soooooo much better. Here is a youtube video with the exact show I watched.

****Watch this because my pictures came out bad, and this is the coolest thing ever, and I wish you would have been there to see it!

There were old people, young people, couples, and tourists all gathered to watch in the square and when the music began everything went quiet and all you heard was the ooing and ahhhing as the lights were projected on to this magnificent cathedral. I debated staying home because I was watching a movie on Netflix but decided to go because I could do that anytime! Plus, that was the last evening of the show!

I was pretty lucky to have had a chance to see it!

Monday was the beginning of orientation we got introduced to the business school’s staff and a rough run through of what this transition to Europe might be for us.

After Monday’s intro to orientation, they had American students stay a little longer in order to discuss our presentations for the study abroad fair we would all be participating in to promote our universities to European students.

It’s mandatory for them to go one year abroad!

Anyway, the women speaking to us had several of us introduce ourselves and essentially wanted us to brainstorm what we would prepare and the things we would discuss about our school.

Y’all….this woman KEPT coming up to LSU students and we kept giving her answers of things we thought made our school attractive -Football, Mardi Gras, Tailgating, Tigerland, Outdoor Sports, etc.

Well, she came up to me once more, and I said food, and she kept the microphone up to my mouth so I just started blurting out cajun dishes, it was pretty awkward, a kid from Tulane stuck his thumbs up pleased to find a fellow Louisiana local .

At orientation I met a girl from Sweden named Mimie and two girls from Mexico named Karla and Valeria.

We all had lunch together and it was a lovely afternoon.

Yesterday and today have mostly been submitting paperwork and paying fees so we won’t begin classes until next week (the latest I’ve ever started a semester!)

I bought a basket for my bike, and rode it to run some errands. We live right near Parc d’Orangerie which is well known in the area and it has a lovely botanical garden, I can’t wait to spend time here throughout the year!

 

Other than this, we’ve been hanging out with our housemates in the evening, and due to their English education in Europe, they use lots of British English words.

I.E. Rubbish can and Queue.

We discuss our differences a lot, and they constantly point out how much we live up to American standards based off of our preferences, mannerisms, etc.

In Europe a to go box is called a “doggy bag”……I’ll just let you think about that.

We were told asking to take food home was not custom and seen as “cheap”

Furthermore, our Parisian housemate said that it was rude to eat everything in your plate and you had to leave something, so it wasn’t too clean like you’d been starving. I’m not sure how true this is but he was very insistent on this cultural difference. Apparently, this is only custom in Paris. Sarah from Le Mans,France proudly cleaned hers till it was shining!

LOL. Imagine if you did this in Louisiana, I know some mama’s and relatives who would not be too enthused if I didn’t clean my plate! (P.S. Momma, I love most of your cooking 🙂

In addition, I had a paper from Vermillionville with Cajun French words and the Standard French ones that I brought to show my housemates. They thought it was interesting and were amazed at some of the words and how old they were saying that their grandparents used this type of “old French”. They did go on to express how this was uneducated “farmer” French, which honestly stung a little. I look forward to this year and enlightening them as well as what the Cajun Culture is all about! I love something that Mavis says at NUNUs all the time!

“It’s our French”.

As many similarities as there are to French customs, the Cajun Culture has evolved and become it’s own, and I love how distinct and unique it is! As much as I enjoy tracing back the roots of some of the customs, I love to point out the ones we’ve made better!

*If anyone has any resources, or history, or family stories about their French Ancestry, I’d love to share.

Other than this, I’ve managed to mount the stairs and not be winded, and conquered my measurements to not overflow my coffee cup in the morning.

For the first day of orientation I woke up late and Abi burst into my room exclaiming that I needed to get ready and my first thought was I won’t be able to “day person” without coffee…….priorities…..I was able to do makeup and all, but it was a close one.

Other than this, politics is a pretty common topic in conversation, which in America, is usually avoided. So this has been something hard for me to get accustomed to as I’m not really interested in debates, confrontation, or trying to prove to someone else that they’re wrong and I’m right (well, maybe sometimes)…

Regarding this, I’ve been doing a lot of listening, which is good. I’m a big talker. Going out of my comfort zone and just being in the presence of a political conversation is huge for me, even though I don’t chime in that much. There are lots of strong feelings, and lots of different views…..very different than the American one’s that have always surrounded me. I’m being exposed to several different perceptions on global issues, as well as European ones.

I hope this encourages me to WANT to watch the news more often so I can chime in…..however, baby steps.

Lastly, I just want to express how much this 7 hour time difference stinks!

It’s hard not being able to talk to my family whenever I want, or my boyfriend. I didn’t think this would bother me or be as hard of a transition as it is, but when you’re telling someone goodnight and it’s your morning, or there’s no real convenient time to have a conversation, it’s a little frustrating.

I’m sure in time I’ll become more acclimated to all of the changes that have happened since moving here.

I’m currently washing clothes, and just want to let you guys know…..dryers are not a thing here……I’m about to hang up a whole load of laundry on a little rack in my room, and I am NOT AMUSED.

PRO TIP:

Macaroon- coconut meringue pastry

Macron- President of France

Macaron- French Pastry Awesomeness

How Emmanuel Macron plans to change France

 

**just in case you didn’t know

 

 

 

 

Study Abroad

This Little Piggy Went to the Market

This morning I woke up and got dressed to go to the Saturday market. It was exactly like in the movies. People rode up on their bicycles. There were people with their kids. There were old people and young people. There was a whole block sectioned off and loads of booths with competitive prices selling all a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, jam, meat, and other goods.

I bought 2 onions, 2 green peppers, a whole stalk of celery, a head of garlic, and a bundle of parsley for 3 euros (equivalent to about $3.60).

 

market 1After returning from the market, I went to my appointment to purchase my bike. I have yet to buy my basket, but that will be soon. Everyone’s bike has a basket here.

It isn’t to look cute either.   People have them on the front and back of their bikes, and you’ll often see them with bags of groceries in both baskets along with a backpack.

I had my little GPS in my pocket, and she talked to me on the way home. It rained a little which wasn’t all that pleasant.  There was no torrential downpour, so I managed to get home mostly dry.

bike

My housemates and I then all went to Kehl, Germany to go “real” grocery shopping. Germany really is a lot cheaper than France, and they have huge grocery stores with lots of options. I was soooooo happy to see Tabasco on the shelf.

In addition, it’s very common to make drinks with “sirop”, comparable to grenadine. There are different flavors, and you simply add water. You can purchase this at restaurants and bars. I purchased maracuja (passion fruit) flavor; this is my favorite juice in Honduras.

We also ate at the food court in the mall, it was the most familiar thing to home we’ve done. It was a Chinese buffet; we got fountain drinks. It was quite amusing to find out, after hearing of the stereotype, that it’s true: There are no refills, and no iced drinks in France. Abi went and asked the cashier if we could get more, and she looked at us very strange.

Last night when I got home I cooked some red beans and rice! I got this German sausage from the deli with Cayenne Pfeffer (pepper), and it was delicious!!!

red beans 1red beans 2

I brought some to Francesca and Sarah. They’ll critique it this evening; home-cooking is always good the day after!

This morning (Sunday), Marie Anne came to do Tatiana’s contract and she tried some Tony Chachere’s because I was eating lunch.

She exclaimed that I need to throw it away because it has way too much salt and is super bad for you.

Her reaction was quite entertaining.

Overall, it’s been a very lazy Sunday. Tomorrow Abi and I begin our orientation week at school.

This evening we plan to go to the church to see the light show. It was explained that they do something similar to in Disney World when they project the lights on Cinderella’s castle.

Fun Fact: Sarah and Francesca have both studied in England, according to them the peace sign in England is like flipping the bird.

The Reason: In the Middle Ages when sword fights were a common practice, knights would throw up “peace signs” or 2 fingers to taunt their opponents to show they hadn’t cut any of their fingers off. There is also another origin often referred to,

In a survey of gestures in Europe in the 1970s, Desmond Morris and his team found that this gesture was almost exclusively found in the British Isles. It is also used in Australia and New Zealand. Folktales of its origins abound, the most popular being that when the English bested the French in The Hundred Years War with their fancy high-tech longbows, the V hand shape of the archers lining up their arrows became a battle gesture. There is no evidence to support this story, and quite a lot of evidence to contradict it, although that doesn’t stop the story being told (Lauren Gawne).

arc-en-ciel

Study Abroad

American Convenience

So today was much more calm than yesterday. However, I “went to sleep” planning to not set an alarm and wake up whenever I wanted.

I “went to sleep” close to 4am, woke up around 8 and decided I needed a little more time. I ended up getting out of bed shortly after.

The jet lag has been REAL. I usually never get jet lag, but I’ll feel okay in the day then mid-afternoon start feeling super exhausted and then be full of energy in the evenings! I’m hoping this evening will be an earlier one than yesterday.

Today I woke up, and made coffee…..it was pathetic! I called my dad yesterday asking how it was possible to do this without a coffee pot. He told me a story of how my grandpa used to use a sock and I started to get really worried of what these next 8 months were going to be like if I was going to be making “sock coffee”. He then suggested to just buy filters and place it over the cup. Well, obviously they filter coffee but not fast enough so I over flowed my filter in my cup. Hot water and coffee grounds were making a mess all over the counter, mind you my “kitchen” is in my room, so any time I cook or handle food, I need to clean up really well, and that would have been horrible to have coffee and coffee grounds everywhere.

Long story short, that was the hardest I ever worked for a cup of coffee.

HOWEVER, it turned out great and wasn’t a bad coffee!

Then I boiled some eggs on my little plug in burner and life was good. I was feeling put together and got inspired to do a little more cleaning. Y’all….this apartment was soooooo dirty, I usually cringe when I see my mom wiping down walls, because who does that? But this place needs to be sterilized, and that it was. I wiped down the walls…twice. Once for the layer of grime and then again to actually clean. It’s amazing how much happier and satisfied you feel once a place is clean. So now things are looking up, not that I was having a bad day, but after the coffee mishap, I was feeling in control again.

Abi and I decided to get dressed and try to open our bank accounts and phone service…that didn’t happen. We’re going back tomorrow with a group from our school.

The times we have  had to interact with people here, everyone becomes terrified because they’re not sure what language to use/speak, and we don’t know the customs here for businesses and services so an exchange usually begins with an awkward stare-off and then slow mumbling in “Franglais”. It’s very frustrating coming somewhere when you’re trying to learn the language and people automatically begin speaking to you in English, when honestly (this is not meant to be offensive) it would be much easier to understand in French, because most English is very broken or with a thick accent.

Anyway, we then decided to venture out to centre-ville, the heart of the city, to explore. We went with our Italian housemate, Francesca!

Being that I’m not from a walking city this is a huge change for me, and Francesca’s version of a short walk away was not the same as mine….we’re going to have to get used to this.

Abi and I still haven’t gotten a great meal schedule down so our meal times are very random. We set out around 2pm looking for food and unfortunately for us, finding a place to eat between the times of around 2-6 in France is nearly impossible except for sandwich shops, which we were needing something a little heartier than that. I can’t go from eating rice and gravy, and chicken à la king, to one sandwich a day, not happening.

Sadly, we had to settle for a sandwich because after trying a few places, no kitchens were open.

Americans are lucky that we can stop to eat pretty much anytime of the day at our convenience.

*Point for America.

Also, options….

Y’all I’m pretty sure I mentioned this in my last post, but I never realized how much of a luxury having options is. There may be 5 versions of 1 item available at the store as opposed to you’re 50 different options of volumizing shampoo back home.

However, not to worry, I can confirm that they do have dry shampoo here, and it’s Batiste (fun fact that’s a brand form the UK, I never knew). That’s all a girl really needs anyway so I was VERY thankful for this discovery.

Also side note, they have Sephora and McDonald’s almost next to each other, I would say walking distance, but I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone, the phrase “walking distance” has been nothing but false hope lately.

When I’m feeling homesick I know where to go.

All in all there are pros and cons.

Pros:

  • I’m in Freaking Europe
  • I’m living the city life
  • The food is bomb

Cons

  • This involves a lot more walking than what I was prepared for
  • Opening Hours here are SOOOOO INCONVENIENT
  • I need more options at the store, the selection is struggling.

City-life is very new to me,though Strasbourg is nothing compared to say, Paris or New York. However it’s still a big change. I accidentally ALWAYS walk in the bike lane, actually wait for the crossing sign to turn green (apparently that’s not necessary according to some people @Abi), and don’t know how I’ll ever get used to walking ALL DAY.

I was worried before of gaining weight on this trip but that won’t be a problem. Between the 4 flights upstairs and having to walk all the time, I should be beach-body ready come Spring!

This evening, Francesca invited us downstairs to her room for Authentic Italian Spaghetti with a ragu (I thought that was just a brand but apparently that’s the word for meat sauce) her mom made for her to bring here.

It was delicious and we had so much fun visiting with her. She expressed how much she liked American culture, and that “America is a dream”. It was very neat to talk about the American high school experience that according to Francesca young Italians envy such as prom, graduation ceremony, riding the school bus, high school athletics, and basically everything we think is completely traditional to find in a high school. It was pretty amazing. She explained how Europeans grow up and perfect their English by watching American TV shows and dreaming about all of the things they see about life here in America.

I look forward to these discussions as I meet more students and begin classes. Furthermore, I can’t wait ’til I can walk a mile in my docs, because so far those boots haven’t proved they’re made for walking (cheesy joke). Seriously though, I’ve been wearing them every day to break them in but tomorrow I may opt for some tennis shoes just to see if I can get in a couple more miles of exploring before I tire out.

A couple candles, pictures on the wall, cup of tea, and blog post later, I’m starting to feel more at home here.

Next thing I’m looking forward to is Saturday Market!

the riversunflowers-2.jpg

Visit Louisiana

My Goal

People always say you can do anything. We set goals often times but never follow through. I’ve always heard that one of the hardest parts of pursuing a goal is to start, and boy is that true. I’ve procrastinated, edited, and avoided launching {Almost} Cajun for some time. My goal was to use this website as a platform to reach out to anyone interested in the Cajun Heritage and Culture as well as share my personal experiences growing up here in South Louisiana. I will be leaving to travel abroad in 11 days (see countdown for updated days left), and I gave myself the deadline of being prepared to launch prior to my departure so I could just post away about my experiences once school starts.

I’ve doubted my qualification for hosting such a site since I’m only {Almost} Cajun, but I feel like I have a few things to say about my adopted culture. It’s a welcoming community and has come to be known and defined as many things. There are several meanings to the term, however mine is more of a personal definition, and one I’m quite proud to be able to categorize myself as.

I was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and grew up in Cecilia, Louisiana. I have been been impacted by MY Cajun culture from the very start. Once I began attending school I was enrolled in French Immersion. In our region there are several French Immersion Schools motivated by a desire to enrich students learning and preserve our Cajun French Roots. On the home page there is a video where several locals discuss their cajun roots and touch topics such as Cajun, Creole, and School back in the day. Now, there is a movement to preserve this culture but in the past we were trying to rid ourselves of ties to anything French. However, we’ve embraced our identity, where we came from, and are proud of our culture and traditions.

There are several reasons I love the Cajun Culture and the traditions I grew up with and I hope to provide you with several examples throughout my posts however something most cajuns refers to is our Joie de Vie (Joy of Life), the Southern Lifestyle, and growing up in a country environment. Everything is much more slow paced, mom and pop style, visit with your neighbor, and talk to people in the grocery store way of life. I love this about Louisiana in general. There’s much to love about places that offer diversity of culture, but ours is so rich and ingrained in everything we do you can’t seem to escape it. No matter where I am, I can be sure to find a friendly face, a nice conversation, good food, and someone who bleeds purple and gold (GEAUX TIGERS) just as much as I do, here in Louisiana.

I love the festivals, the music, the food, the community, and the pride of being who we are, so much I decided to double major in French…..but that’s a topic for another post.

Whether you’re cajun, {Almost} Cajun, or interested in a Cajun (marrying a Cajun would be the best decision you’d ever make).

There’s a place for everyone.