When I signed up for BCA, I knew I wanted to live in a host family rather than a student residence. Why, after two years of independent living, would I want to give up my freedom to eat, go, do what I want where I want? Because when you think about how you will spend the next ten months of your life in a foreign country, you like to think that there might be some place where you will belong. Some people you might actually grow close to. Some table around which you might share your lives. At least that’s what I signed up for.
And in some cases, the ideal actually happens, but unfortunately, I didn’t land in that situation. First of all, there was the vegetarianism: from the age of sixteen, I gave up eating meat for ecological and ethical reasons. It wasn’t that difficult, and it was something I could do to minimize my impact on the land so that everyone can have a “fair share.” Others can take three-minute showers; I can’t. Others can’t give up meat; I can. I could go on and on about my particular vegetarian philosophy (and how it has evolved over this year in Alsace, sausage capital of the WORLD), but suffice it to say that it was a factor in my housing selection and landed me in a peculiar host family situation in which I live in an apartment with a “family,” but I cook for myself and almost never eat with them. The story is that the mother is a divorcée with an intense professional life and a partner who lives in the country. The 11-year-old daughter lives here, but when she visits her father, the mother spends those weekends at the country house. During the week, she might return late, have to make a day-trip to
All this to start the story of my weekend in
While Marine was taking the exam in English, I worked on my own end-of-semester projects in French. Specifically, I was working on an analysis of three interviews I conducted about “linguistic behavior,” what/when/why each person spoke French/Alsatian/German. It was (I know you don’t believe me) very interesting, I had plenty of things to comment on, and the French came easily. In the end, the paper consists of 9 pages of good analysis in hard-core academic French: the requirement was 6. I’m quite proud of this paper, and it only further confirmed that sociolinguistics is the field for me! (To my Manchester French professor: Yes, I will send it to you once the writing has been reviewed by a native French speaker, and then we’ll see what you think of it—I still know my impression counts very little.)
To celebrate, we went out to eat Friday night at an American-style buffet family restaurant (including buffet wine?!). AND the booths were in an old train car! Can you see my full, full stomach in this picture?
Saturday morning, after sleeping late(r) (always subjective when you’re with kids), we went to see the house they’ve bought in Corenc, a
And the weekend only got better: after we saw the house, we drove to a town up the valley and had lunch in a road-side cafe next to the para-gliders’ landing field. We took the funicular (a little rail car) up the mountain to the take-off point, since it affords a great view of the valley. Laurence, Marine and I basked in the sun while Christian (who is a real bird) para-glided down; then we took the funicular back down and headed back to the hotel. That night we dined in a South American restaurant then retired, sun-exhausted, to bed around midnight.
Sunday morning was more than the perfect way to end the weekend: You see, the dad also pilots planes. He took this up when Marine was born: Laurence could have killed him, Marine couldn’t be happier. We almost didn’t make it into the air, because the plane we rented hadn’t been topped off with gas by the person before us, so we had to start it, take it to the fueling station, and start it again, but apparently it doesn’t re-start so well when already hot. Luckily, after a few tries, we were ready to go. I’ve uploaded the take-off video and a few pictures: we flew up the valley, over the mountains a bit, and then over
We drove back that afternoon, stopping at the grandparents to pick up Julie and have dinner. The grandparents proved just as welcoming, just as endearing. It was a great time, and I always knew I had a place around the table. I found my host family.
I know this is getting long, but I can’t leave without remarking the difference between finals week and “hell week” (the week before, when all the projects are due) at
Then my beloved Quebecoises came to visit me and see
Emilie et moi
Nancy at the Cave de l'Hopital civile: Where everyone knows your name!