Little Study Abroad Things, Part VI

This is going to be the last post of its kind, since I’ll be in France for TAPIF soon, and afterwards, my francophone experience won’t be solely study abroad-related:

  • Every time I see that Brie Larson is going to be Captain Marvel, my first thought is, “Why is she named after cheese?”
  • I absolutely did not start crying when one of my English professors emailed me to see if I was okay after the Nice attack. Nope, definitely not. You’ve got the wrong person.
  • I’ve filled out so many French forms that I now have my passport number memorized. I’d say send help, but it’s turned out to be pretty handy.
  • My mom told me to read the instructions on the back of these fancy Korean instant noodles. I ended up translating them from French because the English was crumpled up and I didn’t feel like straightening out the plastic.
  • Nothing’s more tragic than walking past crêpes and macarons in San Francisco and not having the time to buy and consume them.
  • I pronounced “Valor” like it was a French word. Oops.
  • At the city hall in Sacramento, I was entranced not by the gorgeous architecture or by the rare Pokémon, but by the volume of L’Encyclopédie sitting in the library museum.
  • Seeing ports and hills dotted with clusters of tiny houses always makes me miss southern France.
  • I started giggling at the redundancy of a sign that read “Lycée Français de San Francisco School.”
  • We got these massive macarons in a bakery in Napa Valley, though I almost cried over the sandwiches that resembled the ones I used to eat in Nice for lunch. (The near-tears could’ve also been my inner French major cringing every time someone pronounced “macaron” as “macaroon.”)
  • I told this lady that I majored in French, and her response was, “Interesting. You know, it’s not very useful.” Okay, thanks for sharing an opinion that I couldn’t care less about.
  • At the French Embassy, the guy who worked at the gate promptly switched languages after I told him that I’d majored in French. It was the most heart-warming response I’ve gotten from an adult who inquired after my major in the three months since I’ve graduated.
  • I got really excited because Iszi put my French major to good use in World of Mirth: “Sarena, this has vaguely French things on it. I don’t understand. Explain.”
  • On the other hand, another friend told me, “I saw some French things and then got really disappointed because ‘Man, I wish Sarena were here so I could mispronounce everything and make her angry.’” Oh, and another one promptly launched into, “Honhonhon baguette Tower Eiffel.” Olivia and Shawn, I trusted you. Why would you do this to me.
  • I popped by R-MC for a visit on Labor Day, and one English professor remarked, “You’ll get to use the languages that you love! Well, you don’t love English as much as French,” and another English professor started excitedly telling me about the fact that his American Lit class discusses French ex-pats: “The class was tailor-made for you!” I’m glad this is the legacy I’ve left behind.
  • On a chat I screamed, “NO THIS DOESN’T LET ME USE FRENCH ACCENTS LIKE SKYPE DOES.” And then, later, a friend yelled, “SARENA COME BACK U FRENCH NERD.” Again, I’m glad this is my legacy. (Along with the fact that my friends still mock me for when I accidentally went over page limits back in school. No, I absolutely didn’t once give my ASL professor two pages when she asked for a minimum of two paragraphs.)

Little Study Abroad Things, Part V

I thought I’d be able to make one list for the entire summer, but it turns out I’m too much of a nerd, so:

  • I nearly told a friend she’d spelled a word wrong, but then realized I’d been thinking of the French spelling. My confession resulted in her saying, “omg Sarena. OMG YOU FRENCH NERD.”
  • I used my French notes on fairy tales to help me write angry feminist poetry and a gay fairy tale. I regret nothing.
  • While finally watching The Force Awakens, I heard a language that wasn’t English, and so my brain promptly assumed it was French. It was definitely not French.
  • I laughed so hard I cried when I saw a Tumblr post saying that someone named Gemma Pell must run into so much trouble trying to introduce herself in France.
  • One of the worst things I’ve seen is altered song titles like “Total Eclipse of Descartes,” “Don’t You (Foucault About Me),” “Bataille Will Always Love You,” “Rousseau Vain (You Probably Think This Song is About You),” and “Love Voltaire Us Apart.”
  • Out of sheer boredom, I took one of those weird Facebook quizzes, and it yielded disturbingly accurate results when it said, “Sarena loves French” and “Sarena can’t live without class.”
  • A friend and I went to Barnes & Noble, and I got a little distracted by the French maps and books in the International Travel section.
  • Listening to French music while trying to write poetry in English is a terrible idea. Trust me, don’t do it.
  • For some reason, as I was talking to two friends via Facebook chat, I switched to French and had to consciously return to English. Don’t ask me why. I’m still confused.
  • I got dragged to some Chinese dinner gathering, where some lady told me that her daughter spent 5 weeks in Rennes as part of a high school immersion program. Seconds later, she said to someone else, “French is useless but nice to listen to.” Look, if you’re going to claim that French is useless, at least have the audacity to say it to the French major’s face.
    • Later that night, I dreamed that I was at a fancy dinner and someone asked me, “Why aren’t you learning Spanish or Chinese?” In response, I angrily listed off all the reasons French is useful—in a single breath—and one of my friends, sitting at a neighboring table, laughed his butt off.
  • Things get really confusing when you’re listening to songs in English, but then your brain starts singing along in French.
  • When I got to Canada, I exclaimed to my brother, “There’s French on all the signs!” And then I proceeded to delightedly read all the ubiquitous bilingual signs and brochures. Honestly, if I could see bilingualism every day, I’d be happy as a bee—I basically had a nerd’s field day in Saint John.
  • I saw a license plate that had the letters DST on it, which was slightly traumatic. We don’t talk about those devoirs sur table I suffered through (but passed!) in Nice.
  • Offended that someone had taken the name Sarena on Pokémon Go, I cast about for a different name, and the first thing that popped into my head was ÉmilieduChatelet. But that was too long, and for whatever reason, someone had already taken Chatelet, so now I’m EmduChatelet. I’m pretty sure using a French-inspired username on a Pokémon game has just doubled my nerd.
  • Normal people during the summer: “I went out with friends!” Me: “Today I translated one of my short stories into French.”
  • “Hey look, they could be French nerds, too!” I exclaimed to my friend when she parked behind a car with a license plate that read BISOUS.
  • I stumbled across a bakery in a dream, and I was so excited because there were French desserts and the people who owned it were French, and now I’m sad because I want French bakery food.

Little Study Abroad Things, Part IV

I’m posting part four of my ongoing list so that I can get it up before graduation:

  • When my friends and I were in this cute little tea shop off-campus, I happened to notice French among the decorations and excitedly pointed it out: “Look! It says ‘Parisien!’” One of my friends, utterly unsurprised, responded, ‘Of course you would find the one French thing in here.”
  • I’m so used to writing French essays, I don’t know how to write papers in English anymore. Somebody help. Does bilingualism begin with realizing that it’s easier for you to write in a foreign language?
  • I finally listened to Hamilton for the first time, and the lyrics I most identified with were, “Where have you been? / Uh…France.”
  • During dinner, when I announced I didn’t even know where the Sociology house was, one of my friends argued, “Yes you do! The honors thing was there last year.” I looked at him and said, “I wasn’t here last year.” The ensuing expression on his face was absolutely priceless—he was so horrified that he’d forgotten.
  • I nearly posted an English blog post with the transition “de plus” in it. Whoops.
  • Do you reach nerd status when you dream in French? One of my dreams involved me returning to Nice with a friend I’d studied abroad with, and we both got peach gelato. (The gelato lady, for whatever reason, corrected me when I said “Puis-je avoir…” to “Est-ce que je peux…”) And then I somehow made my way up to Amiens, where I cried because the canals were so pretty. Waking up and discovering that I wasn’t in France was, as you can imagine, a lovely feeling.
  • I got really excited when I wished one of my international friends happy birthday and then we got to catch up a bit! (…during my French tutoring hours. Shhh, it’s not like anyone ever comes to French tutoring, anyways.)
  • As I half-heartedly attempted to prepare for the oral part of my Chinese exam, everything came out in French, and I was like, “…This is not what I wanted.” The proper solution? Stop studying. (It’s fine, I’m pretty sure I got an A in the class anyways.)
  • I might’ve overachieved just a bit on my capstone project—my French professor told me that it “might be a little too in-depth.” Oops?
  • My English professor got really excited about existentialism and naturalism when we discussed Voyage in the Dark because, as he told me, “You’re the only person I can talk about French things to.” I’m glad that my French major is being put to use.
  • Even though I spent 11 straight hours putting together my final paper for French, afterwards, I mourned a bit because I’d finished my last-ever French undergrad assignment. I’m still a bit sad. I’m probably going to be that nerd who writes an essay during the summer.
  • It was an utter tragedy, discovering that the Beauty in the Beast DVD offers neither French dubbing nor subbing. I still feel betrayed.
  • Discovering that I got an A in my 100-level Chinese class but an A+ in my 400-level French capstone is still one of the funniest things that’s happened to me.
  • When my roommates and I were walking back from Martin’s, we saw two cats, and for some reason I declared, “J’adore les chats!” Yeah, I still have no idea why I said that in French, considering that neither roommate understands the language. Multilingual problems…?
  • I was vaguely offended because my summa cum laude cords are gold and ruin the whole blue, white, and red French aesthetic of my French honors cord and French flag stole.
  • Like the nerd I am, I decorated my cap with a French quote from the text I did my capstone on: “Le present s’enrichit du passé et de l’avenir” (the present enriches itself with the past and the future) because it reminded me of my study abroad experience and the time I spent in French class during my last year here.

Little Study Abroad Things, Part III

Here’s part three of my ongoing list, which I lied about–it stretches from J-term break to spring break. We’ll see if I can make part four go until the end of the semester. (Wow, I really need to find something else to write about… I have some poetry sitting around, and next week there’ll be a post about the French Film Festival, so hopefully that’ll be enough variety.) Anyways, without further ado:

  • I’ve never missed Nice more when I was stuck inside my house for all of two days and found myself s l o w l y but surely going insane. I could go anywhere I wanted in the city by foot, bike, bus, or tram, but you can’t do that at all in the suburbs. Basically, wherever I end up after college, it has to be somewhere urban.
  • One day, I was fully prepared to watch a show in French with English subtitles. And then, about a minute and a half into the episode, I realized that the subtitles were missing—but I was understanding everything perfectly. Languages are so weird.
  • I don’t have a problem at all when a song with the lyrics “I will find my, I will find my, I will find my way back” is clearly referring to a person but I immediately associate it with a place.
  • Dear French professor: I hope you appreciate how much self-restraint it took for me to not read all the textbooks during break.
  • I was helping my mom clean the kitchen for Chinese New Year’s, and when she handed me an empty jar, I smiled. Once upon a time, it’d held delicious citrus honey from Menton.
  • Walking through National Harbor made me nostalgic, because just being in a city reminded me of Nice.
  • While I was writing a blog post for English, sleep-deprived and exhausted, I accidentally wrote a word the French way and didn’t quite care enough to correct it.
  • The rest of my friends were yelling at terrible life choices on a cooking show, but I started critiquing the mispronunciations of “haricots verts,” “crème anglaise,” and “frisée.”
  • Watching Mulan and Tangled baffled me because I knew the most popular songs in French. Also, I suggested watching Beauty and the Beast in French and was sadly turned down.
  • As I was telling one of my roommates about the deliciousness of frozen grapes, she asked, “Are you saying crepe or grape?” I indignantly replied, “Grape! I would say crêpe.”
  • Facebook oh-so-graciously reminded me that I’d spent the best spring break of my life in Rome. I started to suffer from the study abroad blues. Thanks.
  • My French professor got to witness me struggle with languages: “I’m halfway through my extrait—extract—excerpt!”
  • When I was working on my capstone project, I got really excited when I realized I had the ability to skim French in books. It made researching much easier.
  • While studying, I was listening to 8tracks, and I got so, so confused when a French song started playing. “This is not English, but…I can understand it?”
  • I’d like to thank my English professor for not only tolerating, but also encouraging, my inner French nerd.
  • In the rough draft of my six-page French essay, there were seven paragraphs with no corrections whatsoever, and that lack of red pen (save for the occasional check mark) remains one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen.
  • …I’m so much of a nerd that I had a dream about editing my French essay. But hey, at least I came up with something that was so useful, I ended up using it in my essay (in real life, not the dream).

Little Study Abroad Things, Part II

Although this list only spans winter break and J-term, it ended up being a lot longer than I expected, so I’m posting it now. I’ll make another list for spring semester.

  • Somehow, both of the final research papers I wrote for my non-French classes still managed to include French. Yeah, I don’t know how I pulled that off.
  • Someone in the seafood department at Kroger gave me a sample of smoked salmon on a Ritz cracker. I started somewhat forlornly at the salmon, thinking about how I used to get 5 euro sandwiches at a tiny sandwich shop, at least once a week after class. My favorite sandwich was smoked salmon with hard-boiled egg.
  • I happily hugged a baguette all the way through Kroger and then all the way to the car because it also reminded me of France.
  • After only writing academic papers and pro/con or opinion essays in French, writing a personal statement was a struggle.
  • Having to phonetically spell out English in my J-term class has led me to appreciate the simplicity and logic of French phonetics. Likewise, apparently I can no longer spell in English. This is fine. (You can easily sound out spellings in French, but that fails miserably for English.)
  • Sometimes French song lyrics get stuck in my head, and I have no idea what my brain is doing because I’ll be simultaneously thinking in English.
  • After going through all the photos I took in France, I made myself sad because the trip down memory lane made me feel like I’d lived an entire lifetime in a year.
  • Seeing it snow for the first time since 2014 at college was surreal. The last time I saw snow was in Germany and Austria, and even then, it was leftover gray street/sidewalk snow.
  • I dreamed that I went back to France and forgot the number of the bus that I always took back to my dorm. When I woke up, I realized with a sudden jolt of panic that I actually couldn’t remember the bus number. It wasn’t until the early afternoon that, with a huge sense of relief, I finally remembered it—22 Croix de Berra. It’s moments like these that are the worst about studying abroad, when memories and details inevitably begin slipping from your memory.
  • Somehow, I managed to drop my wallet three times in a row within the span of two minutes, and there may or may not have been some internal screaming involved when I broke my Venice keychain.
  • I hadn’t noticed it at all, but my friends made fun of me for saying a word with a French accent.
  • My J-term class had an exam that involved finding words borrowed from French. It was my time to shine as a French major.
  • I accidentally tweeted about the snow day in French. Whoops. (I regret nothing.)
  • I walked to Starbucks with my friend, and a pastry immediately grabbed my attention—it looked like the delicious pain au chocolat that I favored for breakfast in Nice. I didn’t have my glasses on, so I walked up to the display case, only to find the pastry labeled “chocolate croissant.” It made me hate Starbucks even more.
  • For some reason, when I’m mentally exhausted, I start thinking in French. I know it seems illogical, but maybe my brain is just so used to the idea of mental exhaustion being linked to French exams (English finals have nothing on French ones), that it decides to think in a different language?
  • After experiencing the deliciousness of French salads, the sight of iceberg lettuce fills me with sadness.
  • I probably transcended French nerd status by writing a poem and deliberately using some French words in it.

Little Study Abroad Things, Part I

I know that’s a really vague title, but I don’t have a better way to explain it, so… This list documents everything study abroad-related that’s happened since the beginning of the semester up through the end of finals, and I’ll probably start a new one for J-term and the spring.

  • At Home Depot, I probably got more excited about the fact that I could self-checkout in French than the plant that I was buying.
  • Apparently I can no longer listen to the song “Take Me to Church” by Hozier. It was on a playlist I was listening to, and I immediately had to skip to the next song, because it reminded me of study abroad and Rome and was thus too painfully nostalgic.
  • It’s kind of sad when you smile at and want to hug a bottle of soap because it reads “Provence Collection.” (Provence is the region of France where Nice is located.)
  • I’ve found myself staring down at subs from the Commons, hoping that the bread will somehow turn into baguettes. Similarly, I’ve eyed the ice cream at Estes, wondering if it’ll magically morph into gelato. So far, both endeavors have been fruitless.
  • Several of my friends and I went to Richmond, embarking on a desperate journey for bubble tea. As we drove along narrow streets, I found myself gazing out the window, missing urban life and having this sudden urge to get out of the car and just explore the city.
  • Sometimes I realize that I can still keep in touch with the friends I made while studying abroad via the Internet—and however sporadic the contact is, it never fails to make me smile.
  • While Mediterranean weather is gorgeous year-round, there’s a distinct visual lack of seasons. After a year without autumn, the changing leaves are so much more beautiful now. Also, I get to hear leaves and pinecones crunch beneath my feet when I step on them.
  • I really appreciate the fact that it’s so easy to form and maintain close relationships with professors, given that our campus is so tiny.
  • I’m so used to writing papers in French, English papers are now a struggle. For example, I kept wanting to use French transitions…and then I had to look up “bouleverser” in a French-English dictionary to figure out what the English equivalent was. Do bilinguals deal with this on a daily basis? How do my French professors function?
  • One of my roommates and I were trying to figure out what constituted an “extra heavy” load of laundry, so we opened the washing machine to read the inside of the lid. Or, she read the lid. I only ended up confusing myself because the information had been printed in both English and French, and I couldn’t figure out which one I was supposed to be reading.
  • When we had to meditate during my religion class, it devolved into me thinking in French and mentally reconstructing the layout of Nice in my head, thanks to the ocean sounds coming from the computer.
  • I was working on a French essay, and I was so in the mindset of thinking in French that I accidentally replied to a Facebook chat in French.
  • When my roommate mentioned that the video game she was playing was set in Revolutionary France, I promptly lost interest in my homework.
  • At the cost of sounding like a nerd, being able to do research in two different languages is quite nifty.
  • My sense of time is so screwed up. I keep thinking of France as spanning an entire year, so I think that anything that happened in 2014, before I went to France, happened two years ago.
  • I experienced a mini-enlightenment when I realized that I could read the news in both French and English.
  • Why do people keep asking me if I miss France? Leave me alone. Just looking at a map of France makes me nostalgic. (Basically, the answer is yes. I miss it every day.)
  • It’s a strange sensation, when your French final is the exam that you’re the least worried about. Writing an essay in French in three hours? Okay. That’s doable.