Paris, 20 days old
I love my new life! My rhythm with my host family is great, they like all my baked goods are always so complimentary of everything I do! The parents are so progressive and thoughtful. My au pair agency had a welcome tea where they mentioned that being demanding, distant, and unlikely to praise were French cultural qualities to adjust to, but my host parents are nothing like that.
I have friends! Only three so far, from my french class. I am the only american there which is awesome. I was supposed to be in au pair classes (2x a week, designed to fit into au pair schedules) but instead I'm in a regular 4-day academic intensive class because lol they only have au pair beginning level classes in september when most of us arrive. I tested between beginner 1 and 2, and I decided I might as well start from scratch. As I learned yesterday, this was the best decision I've made so far.
We had a giant cheeseplate yesterday!! On a huge tray to celebrate learning about cheese and the eating words! Fromage! We had to share with the beginner 2 class next door. It was a very awkward socilization. Also, their stern and formidable teacher was nothing like our bubbly mime-happy intro teacher.
Beginner 2 was chock full of americans (girls, since this whole language school is overwhelmingly female. Where do guys study abroad?!) and a few Chinese students. My Austrian friend Lara, who is incredibly sweet to everyone except guys in bars, said to me, "Ha! You're in the wrong class!" to which I responded, "I think not." And I totally meant it. I know it's snobby but I do not care. Most of those girls were au pairs and have been living in Paris since september, but they could not have looked more uncomfortable, standing arm to arm with each other and totally not engaging with anything, even each other. They refused to try the soft fresh cheeses that were the point of the lesson, and just picked at the grapes and the bowl of cubed hard cheese (comté, like a very mild swiss). And they were dressed the way Americans *think* they should dress for Europe, which is the fancy section of Forever21. They kept checking their phones and I'm sure they all had lunch dates with other americans. I am a huge snob for saying this, but totally NOT surprised when we went around the room and they were all from like, Iowa and Colorado and other states I already forget. And I know I should be happy for them getting out there and becoming cultured, whatever that means, but the way they're letting their experience happen kills me. I did not move to Paris to meet other lame Americans.
And before you think I'm reading way too much into one afternoon with these girls -- in Florence, I lived in an apartment with girls exactly like them. It was me, my roommate Bree (who was literally only there to hook up with waiters and bartenders), my fabulous friend Iulia (from Riverdale, but haven't heard from her since she eloped with her Italian boyfriend who was 48 at the time), and five other girls from Michigan and Illinois who behaved exactly like the girls I described above. In fact, the worst one, Mackenzie, a brat the likes of which I have not yet again encountered, left midway through the summer back to the States. If I remember correctly, one of the reasons was because our apartment didn't have a dryer.
As for the cheese plate, me, Lara, and our welsh friend Ned had a fabulous time having second, third, and fourth helpings, moaning about the lack of wine under our breath, and teasing the rest of our class about not having more. Our shy vietnamese girls are so sweet, they don't know any English so they always speak in the french we've learned. Lucrezia (yes her real name) is the other au pair in our class, from Florence (!!) with a marvelous accent, leaves early on fridays so she missed it. I sit next to this fab girl and speak Italian with her on occasion.
Anyway, I'm having a wonderful time, I love my three new au pair friends! Lucrezia always jokes about how strange it is for her to be living in Paris speaking english with friends. Like me, Lara studied italian for years so she has the same troubles with french. And Ned is just hilarious. Life is good, can't wait to see where I am in a month.