Noël en France

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

Christmas in undeniably my favorite time of year. The cold sets in, strings of lights trim every tree, and best of all, we stressed out students get to look forward to two weeks with no alarm but our Christmas morning anticipations waking us up before noon.

Somehow, though, this year, the Christmas spirit seemed to be lacking. I didn’t feel the tug of excitement at the thought of weeks without school, and Christmas morning, I woke up at 10. That being said, I thought that with Christmas rounding the corner and with me being so far from my hometown traditions, Christmas would feel sad. After all, I can say with absolute certainty that Thanksgiving was my worst day in France.

This holiday, however, I didn’t feel that Nostalgia might drown me or that I was missing out on a special occasion. Why? Because although we celebrated differently here in France, we celebrated all the same.

Allow me to walk you through the Holiday Season; France style!

Around mid-November, every city with a reasonable population size puts up their annual “Marché de Noël”, a formation of vendors selling everything from Christmas candle holders to German sausages and freshly fried doughnuts.  In the case of Lille, my home city in France, an entire village sprouts up in Grand Place, complete with a giant Christmas Tree and a Ferris Wheel.

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Next up: The family room transforms from casual living area to Santa’s Playground, with presents lined up by the fireplace and snowflakes covering the wall. When I arrived home from a trip to Strasbourg with STS, my host family had already put up the tree and decked the halls which made my homecoming ten times happier.

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Christmas reaches its peak here in France on the 24th, the night before Christmas. The table is set, full of every typical “French Food” you can imagine, escargots, foie gras, pain surprise, and of course, champagne, and in between each course, presents are torn open with greedy hands.

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The night draws to a close with a special speculoos cake “la Buche de Noël”. After each family member has had their helping, they sit down to watch a movie, unfortunately not Christmas Themed, or perhaps the “12 Coups de Midi” Christmas Special Edition before tucking into bed, stomachs full.

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The following day consists of a late wake-up, lazy morning, then getting ready for the family Christmas Lupper, a meal that lasts nearly four hours, and involves so many courses of appetizers that I was stuffed before the “plat chaud” even arrived at the table. A quick walk helps you digest before you eat yet another Bouche de Noël, a cup of coffee and some macarons.

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Christmas in France is a two-day affair, but each day brings with it a plethora of delicious food, holiday cheer, and family. It’s not quite my typical Christmas Morning celebration, but I see the traditions that my host family has created for themselves, and I can accept that although they are different, they hold just as much meaning as my family’s matching PJs and Christmas Carols.

Not-so Americana

See! I Told You I Speak French!

Two weeks ago, I began writing a blog post that was to be entitled “Dude, I Speak French!” and included many an anecdote about my various encounters with shopkeepers, baristas, and waiters here in France that had me red-faced and sweaty by the time I left the counter. When you begin learning a language, you’re eager to practice with somebody, and if you’re fortunate enough to practice in the country where said language is actually spoken, your heart starts fluttering before the girl at the register in Starbucks even asks for your order.

Just as we all know the excitement to finally practice our foreign language, we all know the nervous pit that eats all of our carefully memorized vocabulary and the following disappointment that arises when the waiter switches back to English or immediately recognizes that you’re American.  In these sorts of situations, I used to turn bright red and repeat my order in English, but as I’ve progressed in my French abilities, I’ve started simply repeating myself in French until the lady or man finally stops responding in English. I still encounter this problem sometimes, normally when I don’t quite hear what people say over the sound of coffee machines, or if there was just one word I didn’t quite get, and it can be frustrating to lose that perfect practice opportunity just because you listen to your music too loud and may have damaged a bit of your eardrum.

Anywho, this blog post was going to be a three page rant about that, but after spending a weekend in Paris with my American parents (which was absolutely amazing by the way!) I’ve decided to spin the second half of this article into something new. Maybe it was my new black boots, or the way I folded my heaping scarf, but I found myself walking into restaurants and being met constantly by French, even after I talked! You might be thinking, it’s Paris Dumbo, of course the French are going to speak French, but when the woman handing out pastries at a tourist trap café automatically speaks in English to the couple in front of you after a single glance but keeps up a conversation with you in French right after, you feel pretty proud of yourself. I even once got to a register where the girl did speak to me in English, but then apologized and told me that she was so used to Anglophones that English had become a reflex.

Now, I’m not cocky enough to believe that I have a perfect French accent, or am now fluent in French, but I can tell you straight up that living around native speakers for months on end really does affect the way you speak, even if you don’t think you’re improving.

I’ve picked up so much of my host family’s speech patterns and colloquial expressions that even if my American accent does poke through, the French know that I can understand them, and that I have more that a few expressions from a phrasebook in my pocket. That sort of ease of expression can’t be taught from a textbook or another Anglophone classmate or teacher; because no matter how hard we try, we’ll never speak perfect French, at least not like the French can.

It’s frustrating when conversations get flipped back to English, and it’s hard when the words seem lost when you need them most (It happened to me today!) but it’s important to recognize that we live in a world where English is a default language, and as Americans, our seemingly inescapable accents often give us away.  I can’t stress enough how stubborn you must be to get over it and give up the comfort of your mother tongue. You can do it though, it just takes time- and possibly a twelve year old host sister who speaks through a slur of abbreviations and trending hashtags on twitter-

My Current Bookshelf (Jess)

My Top 5 Favorite Books

I hate choosing my favorite books because I have SO many. But here are the 5 books I would consider my top 5. I’m not going to give a summary of the books, but the reason why I like them so much. If you want to find out more about them, read them! Or just google them.

  1. Pride & Prejudice Jane Austen. This is easily my favorite book. Once I started to read it, I couldn’t put it down. It’s good, very good. However it’s not for everyone, if you don’t like romance or historical-fiction, you probably won’t like Pride & Prejudice, but if you do then you’ll love this book. It’s an easy story to get involved in and doesn’t require analytical analysis.
  2. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez. I don’t know how to put my love and respect for this book in words. Márquez is the best author that I know of. His control of the words and plot is impressive. You feel like you’re in a dream as you read, you get lost in the story. It’s weird, but in a good way. Definitely the book I would most recommend.
  3. Half the Sky – Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn. THIS BOOK. This book is what awoke me. My goals and aspirations became clear and concrete after reading this book. This was the book of “realizing things” (Hi Kylie Jenner!). It opened my eyes to the injustices around the world and the desperate need for radical change. Before this I was a feminist hater (another story for another time) and after this I was a full fledged feminist. The style of writing and informational narrative is extremely educational. There is also a multi part documentary that is on Netflix. So worth the read and watch.
  4. Ender’s Game Orson Scott Card. What a book. Ender, the main protagonist, was who I wanted to be when I was younger, and still who I want to be today. There was finally a kid that was respected by his peers and adults alike. He is not just good, but untouchably good at everything he does. It was one of those books that just makes you feel good the entire time you read it.
  5. Blood and Earth – Kevin Bales. This isn’t really a “fun” book. It’s an extremely informative, well written account of human trafficking and its effects on humans and the environment. It’s a unique take on why we should get rid of human trafficking as well as engaging. Like Half the Sky it awakened something inside of me and has helped educate me in the ongoing fight against human trafficking, a topic I’m passionate about. Even if you aren’t interested in modern slavery the book acts as an important resource.

Relativity in Non-Astronomical Terms

Time, Space, and Relativity

If you’re wondering if watching Interstellar for the fourth time finally inspired me to become an astrophysicist, unfortunately not even Matthew McConaughey’s quantifiable love can make multi-dimensional physics appealing to a foreign language nerd. As an exchange student, I prefer to think of relativity in the context of travel; far less complex, far more comprehensible to an average human without the genius gene.

If you live in the US, how far is “far.” How long do you need to spend in the car or on a train to feel like you’re truly “traveling”. If you’re from a small-ish town like me, anything within 10 miles is “right around the corner”, while a shopping center 20 miles away is “a bit out of the way.” Something you don’t realize until you’ve spent time in a smaller country like France, is that the United States really is enormous. Flying from one end of the country to the other takes six hours, approximately the same amount of time it takes to fly from Boston to Paris.

Where I live in Massachusetts, it takes 6 hours in a car to reach the Canadian border, and God knows how long to get yourself all the way to Mexico. Those two countries are America’s neighbors, yet it still takes quite a bit of work to cross a border. In Northern France, I can hop in the car and buy my groceries in Belgium or take a one hour car ride, the same amount of time it takes me to drive to and from my rink back home, and wind up in the Chunnel on my way to England. Nevertheless, according to my host Family, Spain is very, very far away; a whopping hour long plane ride! With a flight like that, maybe I could fly a few states down the east coast to North Carolina.

I think that the differences in size of our two countries tend to influence the ways we think about time; and since time is the module through which we organize our lives, it can be interesting to look at the lifestyle differences between us. For example, I have no problem skating at a rink that’s forty five minutes away from my house because for me, that’s pretty close. In France, a forty-five minute car ride is practically a road trip. For that reason, all of my host family’s activities are within a 20 kilometer radius of their house, making it easy for my working host parents to pick us up from school, drive up to sports practice, and still come back in time for dinner. In the US, a forty-five minute car ride my not be far, but it does take quite a hefty chunk of time, meaning that I’m limited as far as the variety of activities I can participate in and the role my parents, aka my chauffeurs, play in my extracurriculars.

Since my mom doesn’t want to drive all the way home then back again to Boxboro, she stays at the rink, watches me skate, and has build a network of friends who are a part of the same community. That community may not exist if not for the inconvenience of distance. Trippy.

Anyway, next time you’re deciding how much time you consider to be reasonable, remember that every country has their scale of measurement and their own theory of relativity.

Why I Refuse the Refundable Ticket

My choice- Surrender or Victory?

I’ve been in France for a nearly three months now, and I feel comfortable enough to say that I have a relatively decent understanding of the effects France’s most recent tragedies have had on the population. For anybody who has been living in a reclusive wooden cabin in the middle of the forest, there have been numerous, devastating terrorist attacks in the last year that have resulted in high casualties and low self esteem when it comes to security in major cities.

France is not the only country to endure major acts of terrorism recently, but the scale of their two most deadly encounters with extremists, Paris (13 November 2015) and Nice (14 July 2016) have been highlighted in the media as some of the worst in the world. These sorts of attacks are heartbreaking and terrifying, but with time, the community has to return to some sort of normalcy and figure out how to go on with their lives.  

Moving on after tragedy is hard enough on its own, but when the time comes for another highly publicized event, all of the emotions of fear and trauma arise again to torment the minds of every citizen within a 20 mile radius. Terrorism inevitable succeeds in its goal to instil terror simply by attacking and causing grief, but the extent to which it can truly succeed in breaking our society depends on how much control we give that fear. It was not until my host family told me to pay extra for a refundable train ticket to Strasbourg for the annual Christmas Market that I realized just how strong the hold of terrorism is here in France. My host family warned me that they might cancel the Christmas Market, just like they had canceled a festival in Lille last weekend and an air show in Marseille last month.

For some reason, hearing them talk about this broke my heart and filled it with fire; I honestly don’t think I have ever felt as bitter and angry as I did at that moment. I hated it. I hated that the French people were giving in. I hated that they were ready to ignore tradition for the sake of security. I don’t have a very extensive French vocabulary, but I managed to make my feelings quite clear in a three word phrase. “Je deteste ça.” I hissed.

My host family then looked at me very surprised and almost looked offended. I went on to tell them that the entire point of terrorist attacks is to make us live in fear and to make us feel unsafe- like every city is a war zone and every crowd surrounded by hostile soldiers. If we adopt that mentality, then they win. We say that we are engaged in a war on terror but if that’s true, then each time we cancel an event or chose not to go to a concert or a soccer match because of safety concerns, we lose a battle.

We keep surrendering.

I couldn’t seem to get this across to my host family- they didn’t understand why I was so upset. After all, this was meant to protect me. But the thing is, I want to make my own choice whether or not I go to that Christmas market. I want to decide whether I think the war against terror is a cause worth risking my life for.

If I wanted to shelter myself completely from danger in the United States, then maybe I wouldn’t go to school or shopping malls because of all of the mass shootings. I would never go to concerts or walk down Newbury Street or go watch the start of the Boston Marathon. But I choose to do all of those things because I chose to have faith in law enforcement and faith that the more I demonstrate my endurance despite the constant reminders of danger, the more I prove to terrorists that terrorism doesn’t work. Why? Because I chose to ignore it. I will respect the ones who have died in this war and I will be more cautious when I attend high profile events, but I refuse to stop living my life.

I choose to adapt to my new reality, not hide from it, and I trust my fellow citizens and government officials to do the same. I will ignore the flood of emails I receive daily from the State Department reminding me to avoid crowds, areas of worship, concerts, demonstrations, and basically every else that I walk past every day. I live in a world terror that I cannot escape, so I chose to live in spite of fear to prove that we will win this war.

I am alive and I am not afraid; I have already won.

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Plot Twist! I miss American schools?

I’m currently writing this blog post whilst sitting in the upstairs lounge of a Starbucks in Lille with a hoard of Americans on my left, and a group of french lycée students on my right. Although I’m drinking my typical winter holiday latte, I’m munching on a pain au chocolat that I picked up at the boulangerie down the street. No moment has encompassed the entirety of my French experience better than this Saturday afternoon snack.

There’s a certain art to finding a balance between indulging in comforts from home and daring to immerse yourself completely into another culture. I need my American staples, especially as the holidays come around, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t exchange the free wifi at Starbucks for reading a french book outside a café tomorrow.

In today’s blog post, I want to talk about one of the French things that has challenged my American instincts the most these last 3 months… School.

If your anything like me, then schools in the United States are not exactly your favorite places. Ironically, the longer I spend in the French school system, the more I miss our governmentally corrupted American schools (this may be the only time I praise our school system, so value this moment)

School Day length: This is one thing that the US has really gotten right. Back home, I’m done with school before 2, giving me plenty of time to delegate between sports, homework, and, yes, because I’m a procrastinator, a few episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

Extra Curriculars: Any american student knows that without a hefty extra curricular resumé, top universities seem completely out of reach. On a normal day, I have at least one sport after school, oftentimes two, all the while trying to participate in clubs, peer tutor, and work/volunteer. *sigh* no wonder I need the extra after school time. The french aren’t too big on the extra curriculars, at least not those offered through the school system. If your looking for sports or clubs, they’ll probably be organized by your town.

Teacher/Student Relationships: I don’t know how I would have survived AP classes without my amazing teachers. Building connections with school staff is encouraged in the US, but in France there’s a level of formality that makes it hard to get to know your teachers. That’s not to say that French teachers are all scary and mean, but it definitely takes student initiative to form a relationship, teachers aren’t going to constantly check in.

Grading System: Everything in France is graded on a 20 point scale, and 10 is truly considered average. A 11.5 will get you a proficient marking, while a 16 will be marked “trés bien!” The French love their dates and specific details, so it’s easy to slip up and loose points if you only know the big picture. Not to mention that your note can easily drop from a 19 to a 15 if your handwriting is two messy, you mess up the “méthodologie” or the specific organization of a dissertation (God forbid you use pencil on a DM in maths!)

Classroom method: The French are no nonsense when in comes to classroom behavior. Teachers will call you out for bad grades, announce your notes in front of the whole class, and gladly tell you to “Taisez-vous!” if the volume gets too loud. Most likely teachers will lecture for the majority of the class pausing momentarily while your write down definitions word for word. Although the language barrier and my pitiful spelling habits make diction a little difficult, there’s a beauty to the crisp organization of my history notebook.

There are things that the french have going for them, and I it wouldn’t be fair to not acknowledge that which the french have figured out that we Americans have not.

Recreation breaks every two classes

Longer lunch times

More class specification: Starting in the second year of highschool, (Première) you can choose between a Literature (L), Economic Sciences (ES), and Science (S) specification which basically means the the majority of your classes will be centered around the theme of your area of specification and will determine which version of the BAC (the big end of highschool test) you’ll take at the end of “Terminale”.

At the end of the day, we are all accustomed to the system we grew up with and it can be hard to accept a different manner of education, especially if you’re a university obsessed Junior like me. But it’s those differences that make an exchange so important, right?Mandy Signature

He Is Not My President

Love Always Wins

“Love always…what does love always do, Bren?”

“Love always wins.”

When my mom first told me she was pregnant I was six. I was so excited to have a younger sibling that I punted my Dolly against the wall. Leading up to the due date I excitedly planned what I would teach my new sibling, how I would dress them, what games we would play together, what life lessons I would pass down. When he was born, I wasn’t even the slightest bit disappointed that it was a boy not a girl. The only time I was disappointed with his gender was when I pass by the baby girl clothes section in Target.

Growing up, we have always butted heads. I’m his least favorite sibling and he has never been on my good list. But he is still my best friend. I’m closest to his age. I can empathize with all of his sadness and jealousy when the older kids go off alone. In the middle of arguments we use sign language to tell each other “I love you” just to make sure we both remember.

That’s why last night, before my mom read to him, I laid with him on the bottom bunk of his bunk bed and cuddled with him. We sat there while I explained to him that despite Trump’s recent election, that we can’t let hate dictate us. He voiced the concerns he has for the safety of his Muslim, Black, and Latino classmates. I had to remind him that despite Donald Trump being the President-elect that Trump can’t spread hate unless we let him. I told him that he has to be an advocate for the rights of others if their voices are being silenced. He has to amplify the voices of others every chance he gets. It’s his duty to be loving, to be a kind and welcoming citizen. I had him promise that he won’t let hate define him.

That’s probably the only time I taught him something good. All of my plans of being a fantastic role model disappeared as soon as he could talk. But I knew that if I had to have him remember one thing, it would be this.

After the disheartening election results I couldn’t decide whether crying or throwing up was better. I did neither. The day after, I watched as people tweeted about a racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. encounter they had. Their attackers felt they had the right to discriminate and be hateful because our president was exactly that. Unfortunately Trump’s presidential campaign embodied hate. And every time a new story of disrespectful and unforgivable words or actions it was dismissed because that was Trump, a disrespectful, outspoken man. Last night I watched videos of people protesting his election. My sister sent me a snapchat of people protesting on her commute home in Boston.

I admire the protestors and the strong individuals who will have to face harassment for the next 4 years. I admire the girl at my school who wouldn’t stand for the pledge of allegiance. I respect all of those who are fighting against him.

Trump is the 45th president, that is fact. But the hate he spews can not define the American people. He is not my president, he does not reflect the identity of America. It is our responsibility to love. And in the end, love always wins. I won’t let my brother forget that. He must grow up loving.

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The Double Standard in Pop Culture

Sports Fans = Boyband Fans

There was a period of my life where one of my bedroom walls was completely covered in cutout One Direction photos. Yes, I was that kid who spent an entire weekend cutting up all my One Direction magazines and hanging my 5 posters on my Honolulu Blue wall. 40 Harry Styles saw my naked ass every night for six months.

My family loves to make fun of me for my juvenile obsession.  Constantly reminding me that my existence is unknown to the *four boys I’ve dedicated hours of my life to. Or mocking the tears shed over Zayn Malik quitting the band in 2015. Oh and let’s not forget that they take every chance to mention that One Direction is on an indefinite “break”.

But as my brother taunts me when I swoon over Harry’s magazine cover (#blessed), I remember that time he chased Patrice Bergeron, 1st line forward for the Boston Bruins, down Commonwealth Ave.. He couldn’t stop smiling as he looked over the paparazzi like pictures we took of Bergeron walking.

It’s easy to scorn teenage girls at a concert for screaming so loud and singing at the tops of their lungs, but for every teenage girl at a concert there is an adult male at a football game screaming just as loud. When was the last time a violent riot broke out over a boyband? How about a violent riot for a sports team? I don’t think there has been a violent riot over a teenage heartthrob; however in 2011 a large scale riot broke out in the streets of Vancouver, BC after the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in the 7th game of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Why is there a double standard? It isn’t fair to shame boybands fans if we aren’t going to ridicule sports fans. Either way, neither should be ridiculed. If something like a concert or sports game can invoke so much positive and passionate emotion in someone it’s completely worthwhile .

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*Rip Zayn

Throwback to that time I flew to Peru just to recreate this photo with my friend……okay so maybe sports fans don’t take their dedication that far.

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I’m just kidding, this photo was an after thought.

Setting New Goals

Something I Gotta Do.

If you’re a frequent reader of my blog posts (which you probably are because you’re probably related to me or Jess) you’ll know that I’m currently studying abroad in France. Well, since arriving here, I’ve gained quite a bit of weight, and I’m really not comfortable with the way my body is looking and feeling right now. For the last year or so, I’ve put on more than 10 pounds, and it’s time for me to stop ignoring it.

Some of the reasons for this are personal, but my biggest spikes weight wise have come from being far from home and immersed in unhealthy food that I haven’t been able to resist. Believe it or not, I really love working out and eating healthy foods, more than I like cupcakes and potato chips, but I’m awful at controlling cravings, saying no when someone offers me food, and I eat/bake when I’m stressed or upset. Obviously, the combination of these things does nothing to help my physique.

So, tomorrow, October 23rd, 2016, is going to be the start of a new period of clean living- healthier eating habits, habitual exercise, water consumption, and relaxation. My two week long school vacation recently began, so I’ll have plenty of time to go for runs, head to the gym, get my work done for Nano and my school back at home, SLEEP, and I’ll get to be in charge of what I eat with full control over the kitchen.

I plan to use these two weeks as a sort of detox so that I can return to school in November with a clean slate. This means vegetables and fruits for snacks, cream-sauce-less protein, lots of water, a smaller intake of simple carbs (baguettes/pasta) and a ban on junk food/fast food. Although I recognize that this will be pretty difficult with my host family’s eating habits, I’m sure I can find ways to eat cleaner versions of their meals or cook my own. Fortunately, I have a gym membership and I’m already an avid Pinterest user, so I can get in my daily exercise and find plenty of healthy recipes online.

I’m ordering a veggie pasta maker online (because zucchini pasta is AMAZING) and I plan to stockpile on supplies this coming week to try my hand at cooking something that doesn’t contain sugar.

Basically, I’m deciding to use this blog as a source of accountability. I’ve never had much luck making myself stick to anything, but there’s something about having something written and posted where you know anyone can see it that makes you feel like you really have to follow through. Even if nobody sees this, at least I know that if I fail and cheat, I’ll have to delete this post or have it forever haunt me as yet another thing I said I’d do but didn’t.

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Autumn Antics

[I am but a Yellow Leaf on a Tree]

On October 13th, only 3 months remained of my semester abroad. Today, I have even less time, and I’m determined to make the most of these last few months and experience as much as I can before I’m shipped back home to Junior Year Stress-ville.
So, a quick recap of the last few weeks since I’ve been pretty absent blogging wise:

Je suis allée aux Bruxelles! walkin-in-bruxelles

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Où je me suis assis sur la chaise de Hagrid à l’Éxpo de Harry Potter et j’ai mangé vol-au-vent (aka French Chicken Pot Pie).

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J’ai voyagé à Canterbury, l’Angleterre

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Où on a erré les rues,

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Et j’ai appris quelques choses…

  1. I’m pretty used to French.

I constantly found myself saying “Pardon” as I bumped into people meandering the streets and accidentally asked my server at a restaurant if I could “avoir un peu plus d’eau, s’il vous plaît”. Not to mention that awkward moment at Yankee Candle when I couldn’t figure out the english equivalent to “C’est pas grâve” when the lady told me that they no longer carry my favorite holiday scent.  (Just in case your wondering… It’s called Home for the Holidays and it is basically a wax version of Christmas)

2. It’s better than okay to strut away and go your own way (I’m so sorry that rhymed)

For some reason, my host family was bound and determined to eat Burger King for lunch. Now, there’s nothing wrong with Burger King but A. it’s fast food, and B. I didn’t come all the way to England to eat something I could have any time in the US. I tried to subtly (or not so subtly) make it clear that I wanted something new and suggest other options for lunch, but my family had their hearts set on Burger King. After a bit of frustrated mumbling in English and a few dramatic sighs, I realized that this was my chance to experience Canterbury, and while my host family could come back anytime, I will probably never return to this town in autumn with a wallet full of pounds to spend. I told my host mom that I would meet her in an hour and I marched off to a little restaurant that can best be described as a fitness blogger’s Pinterest board where I ate this: 

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You are currently looking at chia seed pancakes with caramelized bananas and toasted coconut popcorn, and yes, it was as delicious as it was aesthetically pleasing. I sat alone at a high top table at this tiny little restaurant, “ The Skinny Breakfast”, journaling in my notebook, listening to coffee-house-acoustic music, and sipping water from a mason jar as I waited for my pancakes. I didn’t feel lonely nor did I feel bad about ditching my family at Burger King; I felt amazing.

Moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to go off and explore on your own. Don’t get pulled into doing something that you don’t want to do or you’ll be regretting where you didn’t go for the rest of the day. 

3. God, I miss Fall in New England

Fall is by far my favorite season, with its cozy warm sweaters, beanies, colorful leaves, and seasonal beverages such as the ever famous pumpkin spice latte and my personal favorite, hot apple cider. Fall is the season of  Winter Holiday anticipation, Thanksgiving, and cross country, my favorite time of year to run through the woods as the leaves turn. Even though the leaves do change in France, there aren’t many trees which means no walks through the woods and no matter how hard I look, I can’t seem to find apple cider. Not gonna lie, all I wanted to do was ship myself back home to make Hug-Me-Hot Chocolates for me and my dad while we watch the Bruins game in our Jerseys and smell the roast chicken alive with herbs and the sweet scent of cinnamon as my mom pulls the roasted apples and bird out of the oven on a Saturday evening.

Sunset watching from the fare-way of the golf course behind my house, running across the dam at the State Park after school, Walking home from the bus stop in the afternoon crushing colorful leaves with my riding boots… I probably spent hours during class day dreaming about what I would be doing back home, and not gonna lie, I got a little teary eyed.

Because despite everything that I love about France, nothing makes me as warm and fuzzy-feeling than when I think about home. I treasure every chance I have to go to Lille and drink a latte and even started baking all my favorite sweets that remind me of Fall time in France. Banana bread, chai tea, apple cinnamon swirl coffee cake, cheesecake blondies, and candles make my house here in France smell like home. Nevertheless, I’m still heartbroken when I realize that I’m going to miss the entire fall season. No Thanksgiving, No Halloween, No birthday Bruins game.

I’ll get over it… It’s just the October Blues. I’ll focus on school and writing and I’ll dress myself in oversized sweaters and knee socks so my soul doesn’t fall through my toes, and I’ll keep falling in love with France with each Autumn Day.

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