Le Mariage Francais
Warning: this post may be longer than the novel, Les Miserables.
This four day week was short and sweet and the three day weekend was shorter and even more sweet. I knew it was going to be a good week because I didn’t start school until 10:00 a.m., so being refreshed the first Monday back put me in a fantastic mood the whole day that I carried with me throughout most of the week Having being refreshed from vacation and the late start made it much easier for me to talk my classmates that I don’t usually have conversations with besides the usual,” Salut! Ca va?” I did have a SVT presentation about solar energie that didn’t go so great because it was a lot of new vocab with difficult words to pronounce. No biggie though, I at least learned some new words. Then after SVT I had physics which we did a lab and the whole room smelled like oranges so that alone made the world seem like a good place!
Tuesday was a more eventful and interesting day. My art history class went to a small, local movie theater. There we watched the documentary, Grizzly Man. I’m not sure why we watched it because we just finished our unit on Renaissance art and architecture. Not complaining, just curious. Anyway it’s a very interesting film. The man, Timothy Treadwell, has some views about nature and animals that I don’t completely agree with but I do love his commitment and love for protecting the bears and other wildlife. He wanted to become a bear and he viewed every animal as a friend who loved him back. He thought if he played it right and acted enough like the bears that they wouldn’t hurt him. He was a human who lived with bears without any protection. I’m sure you can guess the ending. Just having had finished a semester of AP Psych I watched the whole documentary with that point of view, thinking about the differences of the bear brain to the human brain and trying to guess why Treadwell was so naive to think that these creatures could love him back even when starving and well, being a bear. The film was also all in English (with French subtitles) so that gave Eliza and I a very easy time. Also that day, I met the new Irish girl who is very nice, a little too loud for my liking, but at least she’s not loud and mean. I didn’t get to chat with her too much before I went to history where I took a vocab quiz in which I earned a passing grade and an encouraging little note from my teacher telling me to continue to keep improving with my french! My desk partner laughed and thought that was cute and funny. One thing that’s not cute or funny is when people hum loudly on the bus, or rap quietly to themselves. It happens more than you would think. Thank goodness I didn’t forget my headphones that day.
After a great first two days of the week, Wednesday was slow and pretty boring. In both of my classes I did nothing besides talk to Saku in my first class and then Eliza in my second class. For each hour and a half class the assignment was to make a presentation with your group and with those kinds of class activities I do nothing which is usually fine unless it’s all morning. I talked a lot with Natalie and Maxent at lunch so that put me back in a more upbeat mood. It’s been really nice that Maxent, my little host brother, has been talking to me a great deal more and even has been teasing me like he does with Faustine. Little things like that I’ve realized are what can make you feel more apart of the family. Also just going grocery shopping that evening with Natalie and Faustine made me feel like a Rouault.
Thursday I didn’t sleep that well because it was raining very hard and I have a slanted window in my room that makes the already heavy raindrops seem heavier and therefore louder. When I went downstairs Natalie greeted me with the usual,” Bonjour, Cassie.” I don’t know why but it wasn’t until then I realized how much I appreciate a greeting with a smile first thing in the morning. I needed a good start to that day because Thursdays are my longest days with school from 8:05 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. I don’t think it stopped raining for more than ten minutes total that day. That day was also the first day that I didn’t like my lunch of bland potatoes with even more bland nuggets. I have to applaude France for making it this long to go without giving me an unsatisfactory meal. But even that was still better than the lunches at my high school. The day ended on a good note because even though I had a two hour history test, I wrote a page in French about medieval peasant life and I’ve been talking to Saku more and getting to become better friends with him which is really cool because he is an awesome guy to know. It’s weird though, making all these close friends you may never see again. Thank goodness for email and social media!
Okay, so, this week Eliza got me into counting my calories. Friday I was bad and ate a massive bowl of my favorite sugary cereal. I did go for a run in the gloomy weather, which I think made my run easier since I didn’t get too hot and I actually ran for the whole 50 minutes! I came back home to a frightening sight; Stephan fixing the dishwasher. It was only frightening because at my house we only use the dishwasher to wash the dishes, besides the big pots and pans of course. Thinking of the mood Natalie or Faustine would be in if they had to wash all the plates, cups and silverware made me nervous. Stephan did get it working like it was new, so bad moods and me offering to do more chores was thankfully avoided. That evening before dinner I went out to Faustine’s friend’s house with her and a few of her friends to eat cake made by his mom (which was really good) and to meet another exchange student from Ireland, Jared. He was super cool and nice. He boards at his lycee during the week but I think he is coming back every weekend for the next few weekends. Oh, I should also mention that I didn’t have school this day.
Now on to the fun part! I woke up bright and early Saturday morning and got ready for the wedding of one of Stephen’s cousins. At around 10:15 a.m. we arrived at this moderately sized, very charming and beautiful church, we went inside to take our seats and everything was beautifully decorated. Everything seemed normal except that people showed up seconds before and after the bride had walked down the aisle. After the ceremony, we drove to the place where the reception was held. It was a big room filled with tables, food and champagne. We stood around talking and saying hello to family members until around 1:00 when everyone went out into the rain and stood on bleachers to take one big picture. Even though it was raining, it was fun and I like the idea of a big group wedding photo! After that we took our seats at the table which sat sixteen people. I sat with Faustine and Maxent and all the other teenagers at the wedding. It took me a while to open up and start talking to all these strangers but eventually it happened and they asked me question and we would talk and laugh and the whole meal was so fun! The meal we had was definitely something I had never experienced before. It lasted from 1:30 to 5:30. In that time we had an appetizer of foie gras and a little bit of salad and other meat, then the main course of fish with sauce and veggies, then a little cup of delicious ice cream, then a dish with a short potato tower thing and pork with sauce, then a plate of cheeses and lettuce (least favorite of all the courses but still not awful), then we finally had the most delicious plate of a few different kinds of little, french desserts and I can not put into words how delicious that was. All of the courses were fairly small and well spaced out so it was doable to enjoyably everything. All of the food was immensely delicious. I was most definitely not counting my calories that day. I was going to enjoy as much of this amazing french food as I could. And I’m glad I did! Weddings are no time to be on a limiting diet.
It wasn’t just us eating nonstop though. In between each course there would be short and personalized entertainment on the stage like a funny show, or skit, or song done by a family member. For instance someone went around with the microphone and everyone told a “tack-tack” joke (knock-knock joke) but the twist was that the word had to become a song. I also found out from Faustine’s Twitter feed that the princess was born! There were also a lot of french wedding traditions done which was cool to experience. I realize how lucky I am because I’m sure most exchange kids don’t get to go to a true french wedding. It is something everyone should experience. There is a lot of everyone standing on chairs, drinking good wine and champagne, and dancing (on your chair in some cases) to songs that are very common songs to play at weddings. There were also cute new couples games played on the stage as well as battle of the sexes games. It was all very entertaining! By the end of “lunch” I was exhausted and was wishing that there was a nap room somewhere. But sleeping was for the non french because it seamed like all the other 240-ish guests were still at full energy with the singing and dancing. That’s another thing about any french party, there is a lot of singing!
All the tables had to be reset so for a little over an hour Faustine, her cousin and I went outside and walked with umbrellas in the rain. A lot of people when to family members houses that lived close by though. When we got back I played a very confusing card game with Faustine and her grandmother. I apparently won, but I’m not really sure how. Maxent did help me out so I have to give him some thanks for that.
Dinner was buffet style of delightfully arranged meats and fruits with bowls of bread and chips around it. So I sat down at my seat eager to tear race to the buffet. Little did I know that we would watch hilarious home videos of the bride and groom and also hilarious music videos made by the grooms family. So it wasn’t until around ten when we got to dig into the buffet, and then it was another hour and a half until we had another dessert and a shot of espresso. After that the eating was finally over. The tables were moved to thus create a dancefloor! The DJ wasn’t bad! My only complaint would be that we would play three to many slow songs in a row. There were a lot of french songs that had dance moves to it so Lucy, Faustine’s cousin, taught me the dance moves because no one else in my family was dancing, but after that espresso I couldn’t bear to stay still. I was a little embarrassed and timid at first to dance but then I realized that no one cares! The french dance and sing however they want and everyone just goes with it! It’s awesome! I was having so much fun dancing that I didn’t realize how fast time was moving! I was wide awake and wanting to stay when Stephan came up to me and said it was 2:30 and that we were leaving! We were again some of the first to leave even though it was so late!
The next day we went back to the large room where the reception was held. Most everyone from the wedding was there, but in casual clothes and we ate lunch, which was just leftovers from dinner, then had a fruit salad for dessert. There was more entertainment on stage. This one guy would play tunes of his french horn and someone would guess what song or theme song it was. While the chairs and tables were being put up and while the floors were being cleaned, I played more card games with Maxent, Faustine and Lucy. We were there from 1:30 to 5:45. By the time we got home I was exhausted. I asked around and I’ve been assured by multiple people that this was a very normal wedding in France. In fact some people told be that weddings can go to 4:00 or even 6:00 a.m. and that we in fact left early!
I feel so lucky that I got the chance to attend an event that has so many definite culture differences! The newlyweds asked me what I thought of it and I assured them that even though it was different, it was fantastic and I thanked them for letting me come along with my host family. I wonder if I will experience any more new culture differences or experiences in my last two months!