Being in a new country is a funny experience. You almost feel like an alien on a new planet, trying to fit into a world much different from your own. They eat differently here, drive differently, talk differently, interact differently, and overall just live differently. So, I thought I might share some funny stories as the new alien next door.
Everyone kisses each other as a greeting in France. Women kiss women. Girls kiss boys. Men kiss men. Men kiss women. It’s basically a kissing festival. I met a lot of people on my first couple days here, and kept introducing myself and sticking a hand out for a handshake, while they leaned in to kiss my face. It was awkward. But I am starting to get more comfortable with all this kissing.
The food here is awesome. The French love their pastries and sweets, so those are available in abundance. They have lots of restaurants all over the place, little produce stores, and a couple big supermarches (super markets).
My first morning here, I had no food for breakfast and no idea how to shop on my own. One of my teammates, Sanja, was kind enough to drive me to a supermarche so I could quickly purchase some breakfast items and eat before training. I grabbed a large container of yogurt, some muesli, and fruit. After I got back to my room, I sat down to enjoy some breakfast, and quickly realized that what I thought was yogurt was actually cheese with the consistency of yogurt. I had nothing else, so I ate a bowl of runny cheese and cereal for breakfast. Yum. After our first training session, I went back to the supermarche to get more food, and I think I found the actual yogurt this time.
Another day after practice, a couple of the girls and I went to the tennis club by our gym to eat some lunch. We all of us just ordered the special of the day, which was le steak, les frites, et la salade verte (steak, french fries, and a green salad). We got our food shortly along with baguette, which they have religiously at every meal. All of us were a bit surprised with our meals, because what we thought would be steak was actually a hamburger patty. When I cut into my “steak”, it still looked pretty pink, but I was starving so I dove in anyway. My first bite was of cold, raw, hamburger meat. I told my teammates that my hamburger did not appear to be cooked at all, and they said that the French like to eat their meat pretty much raw. So I ate a raw hamburger patty for lunch, and prayed that I wouldn’t get salmonella.
The French also enjoy their french fries with a mix of ketchup and mayonnaise, which is not my cup of tea. I think I will continue to keep my condiments separate.
SURVIVING THE STREETS
I have never driven a stick shift car before. Unless you count the evening of my 21st birthday, when my boyfriend, Brandon, taught me how to drive his stick shift jeep. My memory seems to have been slightly impaired, because I don’t remember any of it…
Anyway, they don’t have automatic cars in Europe; everyone drives manually. Most of the girls on the team are given smart cars that are semi-automatic, which isn’t very difficult to drive once you get the hang of it. My first day here, my teammate Sanja drove me around, and I tried my best to memorize my way around. The second day, I was handed a set of keys to my own smart car, and I was on my own.
They drive on the right side of the road in France, like in America. But they don’t follow traffic rules like they do in America. Basically it’s everyone for themselves once you are on the road. I got some practice of this when I was training in LA earlier this summer, so I just had to turn my asshole driving skills back on. I didn’t kill anyone, so I’d say my first time on the road went well.
I have no internet connection in my apartment. Apparently the box is broken. I was devastated the first night, because I had absolutely no way of contacting my family and friends back home. I was told it would be repaired the next day, but still, there was no internet. I was then told it would be repaired in three days, and still, there was no internet. I was told it would be repaired by today, and guess what? No internet. The latest proclaimed fix-date is Tuesday, but I’m not falling for it any more! My teammate, Alex, has been letting me hang out in her apartment and use her internet connection. And I have just accepted that they get things done at a different speed here than in America.
LEARNING THE LANGUAGE
The club makes it mandatory for all the non-French speaking players to take French lessons. I want to be able to speak fluently, so I am eager to learn. Two other teammates and I have had two lessons so far, and learned a lot of useful things, including some cuss words. One of the funnier moments was when we were learning how to correctly pronounce the word “beaucoup”, which means “a lot”. The correct way to say it sounds like “bo-coo”. But if you slightly alter the ending and say something like “bo-cue”, you are actually saying “beau cul”, which means “nice ass”. Naturally, we have been having a blast saying “nice ass” all the time in public under the innocent attempt to pronounce “beaucoup”.
C’est la fin! That is the end of my funny stories.