Saturday, July 23, 2005


The streets are cobbled, stony and narrow. Cars will most likely come within inches every day of your ankles.

You get used to dealing with people, your tolerance goes up and you handle lots of situations because you have to--until another girl in your program moves into your house with your family and drives you nuts to the point where you are hiding on your family's computer, checking livejournal, so you don't have to see her.

But for the most part, you're still tolerant.

You find yourself up, willingly, before 8, making coffee and going to the market to buy cheese, wine, homemade honey, melons and baguettes. You carry all this home in a large bag, because that's the way it's done here.

You do it that way too, because you found out the hard way when you stocked up on Nutella, cookies and Orangina: The Monoprix supermarket doesn't give you bags for your groceries.

When told you're going to a "Beach Party" with your French family and their friends, that actually means you're going to a private party on the Mediterranean where you'll drink wine and champagne with your French parents (aged 32 and 26) and their beautiful friends, before you all have a dance party and jump in the water fully clothed.

Getting up the next morning and sharing a hangover with your family might be awkward.

The bars are open until 2, and unlike half the girls in the group, you're not seeking a French man at them.

You get used to walking through tourist traps and roll your eyes when the next big group of American students, German couples or Asian retirees, stops in front of you to take pictures of whatever buildling is in front of them.

Even the arena has blended in as "just" part of the scenery.

In fact, didn't you know, you're an American student here...not an American tourist.

When you run out books, you raid your hosts' bookcases and start the DaVinci Code in French.

When only one week remains, you meet some of the nicest people in your group who you've never hung out with before.

And when only one week remains, you realize you don't have time anymore, to do all the things you've said you'd do.But the south of France has got her grip on you: Why rush? Life's too short to hurry. Put your feet up, have a petit cafe, have a verre de vin, order yourself what you like, and spend the evening tucked into the warm comfort of the lavender-infused air with your friends in deep convesation across golden-colored tablecloths. As they say, que sera sera.

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