W: Walking: The Wise and Watchful Médiéval Wanderer

There’s no better way to spend a scorching summer day…

than wandering the streets at La Fête Les Médiévales in Brignoles.

This fête offers a mélange of médiévale inspired musiciens…

and street vendeurs selling anything from cornes

to fromage, or cheese…

to herbs and spices…

to quill pens…

and wooden pencils…

to jewelry (that has absolutely nothing to do with the Middle Ages, but is pretty anyway)…

and médiévale inspired dress…

 

to elfe feathers…

to pictures made of bois, or wood…

to beverages such as L’Elixir de la Sorcière, or Witch’s Brew (wine).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and Hydromel (aka Mead), which is available for purchase by the glass or by the bottle…

This fête also offers spectacles on médiévale weaponry…

and présentations on médiévale archery

Games…

and patrons dressed in Medieval inspired costumes can also be seen.

Even the food has a médiévale touch!

This fete isn’t just for adults; even kids can participate!

The best part about this fête is the flood of médiévale musique that consumes you as you turn down every street.

Even 8 months pregnant, I happily wandered down every street to see what each vendeur had to offer!

If you missed the fête this past Août, don’t worry because it’s held annually! ♦


This is part of a blogging challenge: Topics ranging from A-Z. You can follow my challenge by clicking on the links below:

A: Adulthood: The Age of Absolute Ambiguïté 

B: Bilingue: La Vie is Better Being Bilingual

C: Christianisme: Combing the Cliffs of Clarté.

D: Death: Dealing with the Décès of My Dad

E: Éducation: The Endeavor of Easing into French Écoles

F: Food: Fancy or Faulty in France?

G: Going: Going Going Gone!

H: Home: My Heart Has Two Harbors

I: Interests: Intelligent, Insightful, Incredible!

J: Joy: La Jalousie is Overcome by La Joie

K: Khimar: Kind and Kooky Knitted Clothing Traditions

L: Lesson Plans: Leading the “Little Ones” into Language through Laughable Leçons

M: Musique: The Many Musicians Making Love on the Streets of Aix

N: Naughty or Nice?: Not Only Noticing the Différences, But Also the Similarités Between France and the U.S.

O: Obéi: Only Open to Obeying the Rules of the Road in…

P: PACS: Passionate Partners Pledging L’amour

Q: Questions: A Queen’s Quest for Clarté

R: Raisons: Riding on the Pony of Real Reasons (to Take the A-Z Challenge)

S: Study Abroad: Smiles and Sadness Set the Scène

T: Travel: Time to Hit the Trail!

U: Under the Influence: An Ugly Upward Climb Until Reaching the Summit

V: Vulgarité: Venturing out into the Vast and Voluptuous World of Cultural Différences

W: Walking: The Wise and Watchful Médiéval Wanderer

X: Xenial: A Xenodochial but not Xenophobic Host in France

V: Vulgarité: Venturing out into the Vast and Voluptuous World of Cultural Différences

It was 2013, mon chéri was talking to me and mon neveu. It was a conversation innocente about Minecraft – one of the games the two really enjoyed. I don’t remember how this word came into the conversation, (they were probably in the middle of a fight with the Creepers and his personnage was killed) but it did: damn. Mon neveu didn’t flinch or show any sign that he heard this word (thankfully), but it sparked a later conversation between mon chéri and I about what’s considered too vulgaire to say in front of kids and certain adultes (my famille is not one in which swearing is a thing).

Vulgarité has been a touchy sujet since the Puritans arrived in North America. In fact, Américains are taught from a very young age that certain things are just off limits in some situations. What things? Vulgarité. Which situations? All of them except when you’re with your friends who use profanity. This éducation has created an uncomfortable sensation any time we encounter someone who steps out of the norm and uses a vulgaire word when he/she should not. Even today, in my 30s, I get uncomfortable when my French friends throw English swear words around (my réaction is often: “Wow slow down there – save some for when you’ll really need them!”); however, I’ve no problème using the French équivalent. Why is that?

Well, in France, vulgaire words are not seen in the same light as in the US. For exemple, when someone uses a vulgaire word during a conversation among adultes or even older kids (high school age) with a 10 year old in earshot, Américains tend to cringe. This réaction causes the child to either say, “That’s a bad word! I’m telling mommy!” or to be a rebel and répète the word. In France, there is no “cringe” effect. In fact, no one really cares. I’ve also never heard a French child use profanity (and I’ve encountered quite a few kids being a teacher and all).

Let’s get something straight: In général, the French don’t use profanity when directly facing kids (and, bien-sûr, children are taught proper French in schools); but, they will use profanity while talking with other adultes when there are kids within earshot. Another différence culturelle: In France, swear words are generally not used to call people names. They are mostly used as gap fillers or part of an expression (positive ou négative)

For exemple, you’re explaining a story to your père about how someone in your appartement complexe stole one of the tires off of your car. His réaction: “Putain!” If you look up this word as an expression (a word as a word and a word as an expression are not always the same) in WordReference, you will find that it means “Shit!” or “Fuck!” However, they aren’t viewed as bad as those words in English.

However, this norm no longer applies when you’re driving. Driving really brings out the connards

Of course, there are some people who use words like “pute” to describe someone (usually a female), but this is rare and mostly used by a spécifique personality type. For exemple, someone who’s trying pickup/harasse women…Spécialement if he has just been jaded/blocked.

The use of profanity can be a bit difficile for Américains expats and travelers to get used to. The way that profanity is used in France is a vast and voluptuous différence culturelle than that in the USA. If you’re not préparé(e) in avance, you will be in for quite the révélation. Just keep an open mind and understand that profanity is not put on a pedestal apart from everything else, which is one raison why no one really cares. Éventuellement, expats often find themselves using vulgaire words in French when they would not use them in the same sentence translated into English. Sometimes, expats even end up supplementing vulgaire words in French while speaking in English (yes, this has happened to me)! It’s funny to think about, but it’s réalité.

While profanity is still more accepted (and thus not really seen as “bad”) in France, the use of profanity is increasing in the US.

Perhaps this is due to shows like South Park or perhaps we are just swaying further away from our Puritan ancestors…Whatever be the case, vulgarité is on the rise, though US société is still far from being anywhere near France’s. ♦


This is part of a blogging challenge: Topics ranging from A-Z. You can follow my challenge by clicking on the links below:

A: Adulthood: The Age of Absolute Ambiguïté 

B: Bilingue: La Vie is Better Being Bilingual

C: Christianisme: Combing the Cliffs of Clarté.

D: Death: Dealing with the Décès of My Dad

E: Éducation: The Endeavor of Easing into French Écoles

F: Food: Fancy or Faulty in France?

G: Going: Going Going Gone!

H: Home: My Heart Has Two Harbors

I: Interests: Intelligent, Insightful, Incredible!

J: Joy: La Jalousie is Overcome by La Joie

K: Khimar: Kind and Kooky Knitted Clothing Traditions

L: Lesson Plans: Leading the “Little Ones” into Language through Laughable Leçons

M: Musique: The Many Musicians Making Love on the Streets of Aix

N: Naughty or Nice?: Not Only Noticing the Différences, But Also the Similarités Between France and the U.S.

O: Obéi: Only Open to Obeying the Rules of the Road in…

P: PACS: Passionate Partners Pledging L’amour

Q: Questions: A Queen’s Quest for Clarté

R: Raisons: Riding on the Pony of Real Reasons (to Take the A-Z Challenge)

S: Study Abroad: Smiles and Sadness Set the Scène

T: Travel: Time to Hit the Trail!

U: Under the Influence: An Ugly Upward Climb Until Reaching the Summit

V: Vulgarité: Venturing out into the Vast and Voluptuous World of Cultural Différences

W: Walking: The Wise and Watchful Médiéval Wanderer

X: Xenial: A Xenodochial but not Xenophobic Host in France

U: Under the Influence: An Ugly Upward Climb Until Reaching the Summit

We are all subjected to influence – good and bad; positif and négatif.

But, how we handle these influences is what turns us into a “good” personne or a “bad” personne or even a personne somewhere in-between good and bad. After all, la vie is not always black and white.

I will also go as far as to say: Sometimes, the bad influences can shape us into a good personne. However, once the hole has been dug – even if it’s not so deep – it becomes quite the challenge to climb out. After all, there aren’t any ladders, stairs, steps…elevators…in a hole.

Non, it’s up to your own individual strength to get you out. Though, there are some influences positifs that offrent to help you out. Sometimes, this works and their help is much appreciated; other times, it doesn’t work out and you find yourself even further in the hole.

But, what about those influences positifs?

There are several people in ma vie who have, for one raison or other, ignored or disregarded those influences positifs.

They found more confort in the bad influences; therefore, they stayed glued to them. It’s important to show your support and offre positifs, but, sometimes, no matter how much help you offre, there comes a time when you have to stop.

It’s difficile – you feel like you’re letting someone you love down. But, in the end, you’ve done everything humanly possible. Now, it’s up to his/her own strength. Thus, giving new meaning to the term: Rock bottom.

Now, what about those influences négatifs that causes people to reach rock bottom?

I could go on for days about these influences négatifs: drogues, the jihad, gangs, peer pressure, etc… But, instead, I’d rather discuss bullying. Bullying is the epitome of influences négatifs and can even lead to the aforementioned négatifs.

Bullying is the négatif path of the bully, but it can also open up a négatif path for the victim: Victims can turn to drogues, body mutilation, dépression, and even suicide. The réalité can be shocking at first, but it’s really not at all surprenant. However, with influences positifs, these négatifs can be avoided.

Bullying has appeared quite a bit in the media within the last few years, but it’s been around since before our great grandparents were bébés. We all know the idée générale that encompasses bullying – power, exception, learned behavior – and the harmful affects it leaves on its victims. So, why is bullying still a problème? According to Richard Gray for the UK Telegraph, one raison that bullying still existe is that people are afraid to stop it when they see it happening because they don’t “want to risk being attacked violently themselves.” On the one hand, this makes sense. But, on the other hand, there are other ways to intervene on the spot than jumping into a physical attack (think: call the police or the directeur or the personne in charge). It becomes much more difficile when the personne in charge is doing the bullying or being bullied. This is why there are protestations and the choix to change/transfer jobs/schools.

Yousef Erakat for fouseyTUBE created a social expérimentation on bullying:

This vidéo was meant to highlight the amount of people who simply walk away or ignore the bullying that’s happening right beneath their eyes; however, I discovered the good in this world from this expérimentation. I expected no one to help the victim at all, but, to my surprise, there were several people who jumped in. I think this vidéo is a parfait tool to motivate others to jump in, too. If you’re afraid to intervene physiquement, then all it takes is to press record on your phone: You tell the bully to stop bullying and then explique that you are recording his actions to use as evidence.

As the victim of bullying, what can you do to put an end to bullying? This is a tough question to answer. Especially if the bully is yourself – self bullying is so much more common than société lets on.

There are tons of speeches given by the victims of bullies – we identifions or feel sympathy/empathy for them, yet bullying is still a problème. However, these motivational speakers offrent a bit of hope for victims as well as motivation for bystanders to speak up.

Lizzie Velasquez fell victim to internet bullying, yet she was able to channel this énergie négative into becoming a successful motivational speaker and auteur.

It’s difficile to climb out of the hole that a bully has dug and then thrown you in, but it is possible. The climb is tough, but as Lizzie Velasquez experienced, it’s important to see the “blessing [instead of the] curse.” Rising above the bully makes you much stronger and more successful than the bully. ♦


This is part of a blogging challenge: Topics ranging from A-Z. You can follow my challenge by clicking on the links below:

A: Adulthood: The Age of Absolute Ambiguïté 

B: Bilingue: La Vie is Better Being Bilingual

C: Christianisme: Combing the Cliffs of Clarté.

D: Death: Dealing with the Décès of My Dad

E: Éducation: The Endeavor of Easing into French Écoles

F: Food: Fancy or Faulty in France?

G: Going: Going Going Gone!

H: Home: My Heart Has Two Harbors

I: Interests: Intelligent, Insightful, Incredible!

J: Joy: La Jalousie is Overcome by La Joie

K: Khimar: Kind and Kooky Knitted Clothing Traditions

L: Lesson Plans: Leading the “Little Ones” into Language through Laughable Leçons

M: Musique: The Many Musicians Making Love on the Streets of Aix

N: Naughty or Nice?: Not Only Noticing the Différences, But Also the Similarités Between France and the U.S.

O: Obéi: Only Open to Obeying the Rules of the Road in…

P: PACS: Passionate Partners Pledging L’amour

Q: Questions: A Queen’s Quest for Clarté

R: Raisons: Riding on the Pony of Real Reasons (to Take the A-Z Challenge)

S: Study Abroad: Smiles and Sadness Set the Scène

T: Travel: Time to Hit the Trail!

U: Under the Influence: An Ugly Upward Climb Until Reaching the Summit

V: Vulgarité: Venturing out into the Vast and Voluptuous World of Cultural Différences

W: Walking: The Wise and Watchful Médiéval Wanderer

X: Xenial: A Xenodochial but not Xenophobic Host in France

T: Travel: Time to Hit the Trail!

Hans Christian Andersen is right: “To travel is to live.” I préfère to take Andersen’s quotation as it is:  You aren’t really living unless you’re traveling the world.

Why is this the cas? Well, Batutta couldn’t have answered it better:

When I took a trip to Waikiki Beach in Honolulu on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu in 2008, I witnessed exactly what Battuda expressed: “Traveling [. . .] leaves you speechless“…

…”then turns you into a storyteller.”

You see, I’m from Chicago. The plains. The flatlands. The Midwest. Visiting a city on the Pacific coast…on an island…with mountains was, well, breathtaking.

Diamond Head.

I had stories to go with every photo I took!

I couldn’t agree more (see my series on the chapitres I’ve read).

From Jacksonville Beach to Savannah to Memphis to San Diego to National City (CA) to Anaheim to Hollywood to Las Vegas to Honolulu to New Orleans to Panama City Beach to Knoxville to Tybee Island to Savannah (during St. Patrick’s Day!) to Memphis (to see ma chère amie graduate from Pharmacy School) to Aix-en-Provence (to study abroad) to Nice to Monte-Carlo to Eze to Saint-Tropez to Marseille to Les Gorges du Verdon to Paris to Venice to Rome to Florence to Barcelone to Tours to Briançon and back again…I continue to read this earth and I don’t plan on stopping any time  soon.

5 Raisons How Traveling is Living:

  • It opens up the mind to other cultures.
  • It expands géographique knowledge.
  • It teaches you about yourself.
  • It forces you out of your comfort zone.
  • It enables you to meet and even make friends with a variété of faces.

This is part of a blogging challenge: Topics ranging from A-Z. You can follow my challenge by clicking on the links below:

A: Adulthood: The Age of Absolute Ambiguïté 

B: Bilingue: La Vie is Better Being Bilingual

C: Christianisme: Combing the Cliffs of Clarté.

D: Death: Dealing with the Décès of My Dad

E: Éducation: The Endeavor of Easing into French Écoles

F: Food: Fancy or Faulty in France?

G: Going: Going Going Gone!

H: Home: My Heart Has Two Harbors

I: Interests: Intelligent, Insightful, Incredible!

J: Joy: La Jalousie is Overcome by La Joie

K: Khimar: Kind and Kooky Knitted Clothing Traditions

L: Lesson Plans: Leading the “Little Ones” into Language through Laughable Leçons

M: Musique: The Many Musicians Making Love on the Streets of Aix

N: Naughty or Nice?: Not Only Noticing the Différences, But Also the Similarités Between France and the U.S.

O: Obéi: Only Open to Obeying the Rules of the Road in…

P: PACS: Passionate Partners Pledging L’amour

Q: Questions: A Queen’s Quest for Clarté

R: Raisons: Riding on the Pony of Real Reasons (to Take the A-Z Challenge)

S: Study Abroad: Smiles and Sadness Set the Scène

T: Travel: Time to Hit the Trail!

U: Under the Influence: An Ugly Upward Climb Until Reaching the Summit

V: Vulgarité: Venturing out into the Vast and Voluptuous World of Cultural Différences

W: Walking: The Wise and Watchful Médiéval Wanderer

X: Xenial: A Xenodochial but not Xenophobic Host in France

S: Study Abroad: Smiles and Sadness Set the Scène

As my French studies were coming to an end, I had to make a décision: finish my degree without studying abroad or study abroad. I knew I owed it to my future French students to experience French first-hand, so, after months of debating the pros and cons, I made the décision to study abroad in France. It was the best décision I could have ever made in my life (and one of the most expensive décision, too)! There are two major characteristics that sum up my experience: smiles and sadness.

When I stepped onto the KLM flight, I had no idée what I was in for. I was nervous, excited, sad.

It’s true what they say after you return home: no one understands you (and you feel lonely as a result of this) and you are no longer the same person you were before you left home. Somewhere between the pain au chocolat, the hardcore French classes, meeting mon chéri, and traveling with my study abroad friends (SAFF), I became a changed woman. But, how did this happen?

I arrived in Aix in Septembre 2012.

It took me about a month and a half before I truly warmed up to the city.*

Why did it take this long? Well, for starters: I was alone for the first time Ever.

My boyfriend (of 7 years) at the time was hardly responding to my calls and texts. All of my family and friends were in the U.S. Needless to say, I felt like my life as I knew it was slipping through my fingers.

How did I overcome this feeling?

  • I made friends.

Chipotle in Paris. We. Just. Had. To.

  • I traveled with these friends.

Firenze, Italie.

  • I made progress in speaking, understanding, and communicating in a foreign language, so, ordering a baguette, a crêpe, a sandwich became easier.

  • I met mon chéri.

Traveling in Barcelone, Espagne.

  • I embraced the culture.

Making the French version of Christmas cookies.

  • I decided to take risques – in the sense that I would not miss out on experiences just because I was nerveuse, homesick, or whatever…

I tutored French with mon chéri (of course, this was before he became mon chéri). I said, “Oui” to mon chéri‘s (before he became mon chéri, of course) offer to show me les jardins d’Albertas, which was a brisk car ride away from Aix. (I went alone! But, I told my host mom where I was going because you never know…)

I traveled in France to Paris (with my SAFF)…

Climbing up to Sacré Cœur.

and to Lyon (with my two favorite mecs)…

as well as outside of France to Italie:

Venezia

Roma

and Firenze (with SA

FF)…

& Barcelone, Espagne (with mon chéri and 2 SAFF).

We drove to Barcelone.

  • I decided to accept that some things just weren’t meant to last. It was time for a change – time to move on. I was libérée.

When it came time to leave, there were tears. Back in Septembre 2012, I never would have thought that in Décembre, I’d never want to leave Aix. Even today (2015), I find myself reminiscing about the times I shared with my SAFF. I miss it; I miss them.

I miss the feeling of excitement and anxiousness of exploring a city that I didn’t know would become my permanent home.

And, of course the traveling with fresh eyes.

Firenze, Italie.

When you miss something so badly that you want to scream, you also want to talk about it.

Eventually, people back home begin to tire of your stories. They no longer know where their place is in your life (even though you know that you secretly wished they took part with you in your adventures). It becomes very difficile for them, for you! What can you do? You keep in contact with your SAFF so that you can still share stories and talk about the “good ol’ days” without offending anyone. At the same time, you learn who’s really important in your life and you “glue” them to your hip. And, sometime after you’ve returned/moved abroad, they will find a way to come visit you…And you can share your experience with them. ♦

*When you find yourself feeling all alone in a foreign land, don’t worry. Give yourself at least a month to get used to the culture différente and to make friends. It takes time, but by the end of this experience you won’t want to get on that return flight.


This is part of a blogging challenge: Topics ranging from A-Z. You can follow my challenge by clicking on the links below:

A: Adulthood: The Age of Absolute Ambiguïté 

B: Bilingue: La Vie is Better Being Bilingual

C: Christianisme: Combing the Cliffs of Clarté.

D: Death: Dealing with the Décès of My Dad

E: Éducation: The Endeavor of Easing into French Écoles

F: Food: Fancy or Faulty in France?

G: Going: Going Going Gone!

H: Home: My Heart Has Two Harbors

I: Interests: Intelligent, Insightful, Incredible!

J: Joy: La Jalousie is Overcome by La Joie

K: Khimar: Kind and Kooky Knitted Clothing Traditions

L: Lesson Plans: Leading the “Little Ones” into Language through Laughable Leçons

M: Musique: The Many Musicians Making Love on the Streets of Aix

N: Naughty or Nice?: Not Only Noticing the Différences, But Also the Similarités Between France and the U.S.

O: Obéi: Only Open to Obeying the Rules of the Road in…

P: PACS: Passionate Partners Pledging L’amour

Q: Questions: A Queen’s Quest for Clarté

R: Raisons: Riding on the Pony of Real Reasons (to Take the A-Z Challenge)

S: Study Abroad: Smiles and Sadness Set the Scène

T: Travel: Time to Hit the Trail!

U: Under the Influence: An Ugly Upward Climb Until Reaching the Summit

V: Vulgarité: Venturing out into the Vast and Voluptuous World of Cultural Différences

W: Walking: The Wise and Watchful Médiéval Wanderer

X: Xenial: A Xenodochial but not Xenophobic Host in France

R: Raisons: Riding on the Pony of Real Reasons (to Take the A-Z Challenge)

The A-Z Challenge is quite the task to take on. At first, I thought it was a nifty idée but that it wasn’t for me. I knew it would require a more steady weekly post, which I wasn’t yet ready for (I worked too much, was pregnant and, therefore, tired all of the time). When I first decided to dive into this challenge, I was still pregnant, but I was no longer working. I thought, “oh, I have plenty of time to blog on a variety of topics before the baby’s born…” And then after writing 5 posts (A-E), my water broke!

So, now, I’m stuck finishing the challenge with a newborn, which is not easy. But, I’m still sticking with the challenge.

My 3 Main Raisons for Taking the Challenge:

  • I was looking into writing on more of a variety of topics – this challenge has enabled me to accomplish this goal.
  • I’m obsessed with alliterations – this challenge forced me to be creative in coming up with titles that matched each letter of the alphabet as well as the theme for the post.
  • I was pregnant, off of work and ready to fill up my days with something more productive than complaining about the Août heat wave in Aix.

If you have a lot of time on your hands and are looking to expand the topics you write about, I totally recommend completing the A-Z challenge. So far, I’m pretty satisfied with the challenge, though it’s taking me longer than I thought to finish it…The point is that I finish the challenge! ♦


This is part of a blogging challenge: Topics ranging from A-Z. You can follow my challenge by clicking on the links below:

A: Adulthood: The Age of Absolute Ambiguïté 

B: Bilingue: La Vie is Better Being Bilingual

C: Christianisme: Combing the Cliffs of Clarté.

D: Death: Dealing with the Décès of My Dad

E: Éducation: The Endeavor of Easing into French Écoles

F: Food: Fancy or Faulty in France?

G: Going: Going Going Gone!

H: Home: My Heart Has Two Harbors

I: Interests: Intelligent, Insightful, Incredible!

J: Joy: La Jalousie is Overcome by La Joie

K: Khimar: Kind and Kooky Knitted Clothing Traditions

L: Lesson Plans: Leading the “Little Ones” into Language through Laughable Leçons

M: Musique: The Many Musicians Making Love on the Streets of Aix

N: Naughty or Nice?: Not Only Noticing the Différences, But Also the Similarités Between France and the U.S.

O: Obéi: Only Open to Obeying the Rules of the Road in…

P: PACS: Passionate Partners Pledging L’amour

Q: Questions: A Queen’s Quest for Clarté

R: Raisons: Riding on the Pony of Real Reasons (to Take the A-Z Challenge)

S: Study Abroad: Smiles and Sadness Set the Scène

T: Travel: Time to Hit the Trail!

U: Under the Influence: An Ugly Upward Climb Until Reaching the Summit

V: Vulgarité: Venturing out into the Vast and Voluptuous World of Cultural Différences

W: Walking: The Wise and Watchful Médiéval Wanderer

X: Xenial: A Xenodochial but not Xenophobic Host in France

Q: Questions: A Queen’s Quest for Clarté

Just like every man is a King in one way or other, every woman is a Queen in her own right.

Upon hearing the word Queen, images of a ruler, a royal palace, beaux jardins, élégante dresses and jewelry…well, images of anything political, nice, propre, and expensive come to mind.

According to the Oxford-English Dictionary (OED), a queen is “the female ruler of an independent state, especially one who inherits the position by right of birth;” however, there’s another definition that the OED boasts: A queen is “a man’s wife or girlfriend.” But, can a queen also be a femme, or woman, indépendante? Yes! A femme is in charge of her own household (in all senses of the word) thus she’s a queen.

But, being Kings and Queens does not give us the ‘all-knowing wizard’ title. We are human, after all. So, naturellement, we pose questions. But, what sorts of questions will be the focus of this post? Questions of la vie.

We are living in the 21st century. We, as humans, have experienced a lot…From that first flicker of light to électricité to chemical warfare. One would think that we would have learned something about how to live together peacefully…Especially since we are Kings and Queens of not only the things we have, but also of us (our bodies). Living in paix (peace) would enable us to take care of our bodies (and, not to mention, the things we own).

After the latest terrorist attacks on Paris (See: Peace for Paris) and then on San Bernadino, California, I began to wonder: Have we learned nothing from our past?

On the one hand, I suppose that some would answer, “Oui.” The terroristes who destroyed the Twin Towers in New York City were not originals when they formed their plan. Think of the Kamikaze pilots during WWII. One could go so far as to say that the more recent suicide attacks have been learned from the suicide attacks of the past. In addition to using suicide as a form of warfare, people in the 21st century have pulled the “religion” excuse to attack others. Using ‘religion‘ as a raison for war is not original, either: Think of the Crusades. Letting différences get in the way of friendships is also a thing of the past that, unfortunately, didn’t stay there.

On the other hand, some I would answer, “Non,” we have learned nothing from the past. What is to be learned from the actions of the Kamikaze pilots? Certainement, we’ve learned that it is NOT a great weapon of war. What happened to their familles after the deaths of these pilots? Did Japon win the war as a result of this type of warfare?

Again, the same questions arise when discussing the Crusades. Does Israël still belong to Europe like it did after the First Crusade? Were the Musulmans contents with the Catholic church afterwords? Did they not retaliate and then push out the Européans? If anything, we should have learned that religion should not be used as an excuse for war. Who gave humans the right to judge each other anyway? Normalement, the judging should be left to God.

I am on a quest for clarté, or clarity, to this question: Why have we learned nothing about how to live together in paix, or peace? How can we learn to live together peacefully? I don’t know if I’ll ever find clarté, but I continue to hold some hope, though it’s very hard to hold onto this hope when terrorisme continue


This is part of a blogging challenge: Topics ranging from A-Z. You can follow my challenge by clicking on the links below:

A: Adulthood: The Age of Absolute Ambiguïté 

B: Bilingue: La Vie is Better Being Bilingual

C: Christianisme: Combing the Cliffs of Clarté.

D: Death: Dealing with the Décès of My Dad

E: Éducation: The Endeavor of Easing into French Écoles

F: Food: Fancy or Faulty in France?

G: Going: Going Going Gone!

H: Home: My Heart Has Two Harbors

I: Interests: Intelligent, Insightful, Incredible!

J: Joy: La Jalousie is Overcome by La Joie

K: Khimar: Kind and Kooky Knitted Clothing Traditions

L: Lesson Plans: Leading the “Little Ones” into Language through Laughable Leçons

M: Musique: The Many Musicians Making Love on the Streets of Aix

N: Naughty or Nice?: Not Only Noticing the Différences, But Also the Similarités Between France and the U.S.

O: Obéi: Only Open to Obeying the Rules of the Road in…

P: PACS: Passionate Partners Pledging L’amour

Q: Questions: A Queen’s Quest for Clarté

R: Raisons: Riding on the Pony of Real Reasons (to Take the A-Z Challenge)

S: Study Abroad: Smiles and Sadness Set the Scène

T: Travel: Time to Hit the Trail!

U: Under the Influence: An Ugly Upward Climb Until Reaching the Summit

V: Vulgarité: Venturing out into the Vast and Voluptuous World of Cultural Différences

W: Walking: The Wise and Watchful Médiéval Wanderer

X: Xenial: A Xenodochial but not Xenophobic Host in France

P: PACS: Passionate Partners Pledging L’amour

Mon chéri and I at our Baby Shower (Juin 2015).

The sun was a radiating orange  when mon chéri and I took the 25 minute walk to the Notaire. I was in shorts and a dressy top; he was in jeans and a tee-shirt. What can I say? We were meant for each other. 😉

On June 15, 2015, my boyfriend and I entered into a PACS (Pacte Civil de Solidarité) contrat. I’ve mentioned our pact herehere, and here. But, I’ve yet to discuss the confusion that comes with entering into a civil union – confusion brought on by a mariage-focused société.

For exemple, mon chéri is no longer my “boyfriend” – by signing a contrat, in front of a notaire, vowing to love one another and to live together for the rest of our lives, we’ve taken our relationship to another level. By asking, “how’s your boyfriend?” You demote our relationship. I cringe every time I hear this question – hell, every time I hear someone use “boyfriend” to refer to mon chéri. But, I don’t blame you for using it because you don’t know what to use in its place.

What can you use? I struggle with this one. Before the school year started, I was calling mon chéri, “my partner”. The problème with this is that it invokes “same-sex” relationships. So, people are surprised when I follow a “my partner” sentence with, “he…” In France, no one understood why I used this term. At the lycée, students asked, “ok, so, that means he’s your boyfriend?”

…Um…no.

My neighbor calls him, “ton mari,” your husband. At first, I personally didn’t accept this title because I was under the impression that he hadn’t earned it yet (aka we aren’t married). I accepted that it was her title to use because, let’s face it, we really are husband and wife with or without the church saying so. So, while we’ve already pledged our love in front of a notaire, we haven’t yet done so in front of a priest. But, after months of “how’s your husband?,” I realize that he doesn’t need to spend tons of money on a ring nor declare his love for me in front of a priest to be called my husband. We declared our love in front of God the day we fell in love. I don’t think I’d call him my husband while in the U.S. (as it would confuse a lot of people), but it certainly makes things easier in France to use the term – especially since PACS is exactly like mariage in that it’s an option on governmental papers (so, “my PACS husband” works out very well). I have opted for the term ‘my fiancé‘ when explaining my relationship with my students; however, I’m not sure if this would be an acceptable term to use in the U.S. Since there’s no ‘ring’ obligation. And, sadly, a lot of Américains agree.

Thankfully, in France, we have all of these options (with the exception of adoption as a couple*) through our PACS. It amazes me that so many Américains don’t want civil partnerships to have the same rights as married couples. I don’t understand the “validité” of this argument in a société that is supposed to have a separation between religion and state. After all, not every couple has the same religious beliefs and not everyone is ready to spend the money on an extravagant church wedding. Sometimes, a civil union is just more logical and practical.

So, we’ve gone the PACS route. And, sadly, I still haven’t found a good term to use. So, if you have any ideas…please comment!

*A PACS couple has the right to adopt, but not as a couple, instead one personne from the union would complete the adoption. ♦


This is part of a blogging challenge: Topics ranging from A-Z. You can follow my challenge by clicking on the links below:

A: Adulthood: The Age of Absolute Ambiguïté 

B: Bilingue: La Vie is Better Being Bilingual

C: Christianisme: Combing the Cliffs of Clarté

D: Death: Dealing with the Décès of My Dad

E: Éducation: The Endeavor of Easing into French Écoles

F: Food: Fancy or Faulty in France?

G: Going: Going Going Gone!

H: Home: My Heart Has Two Harbors

I: Interests: Intelligent, Insightful, Incredible!

J: Joy: La Jalousie is Overcome by La Joie

K: Khimar: Kind and Kooky Knitted Clothing Traditions

L: Lesson Plans: Leading the “Little Ones” into Language through Laughable Leçons

M: Musique: The Many Musicians Making Love on the Streets of Aix

N: Naughty or Nice?: Not Only Noticing the Différences, But Also the Similarités Between France and the U.S.

O: Obéi: Only Open to Obeying the Rules of the Road in…

P: PACS: Passionate Partners Pledging L’amour

Q: Questions: A Queen’s Quest for Clarté

R: Raisons: Riding on the Pony of Real Reasons (to Take the A-Z Challenge)

S: Study Abroad: Smiles and Sadness Set the Scène

T: Travel: Time to Hit the Trail!

U: Under the Influence: An Ugly Upward Climb Until Reaching the Summit

V: Vulgarité: Venturing out into the Vast and Voluptuous World of Cultural Différences

W: Walking: The Wise and Watchful Médiéval Wanderer

X: Xenial: A Xenodochial but not Xenophobic Host in France

O: Obéi: Only Open to Obeying the Rules of the Road in…

Ahh, the good ol’ rules of the road…

We’ve all had to take that test in order to get a driver’s license in the U.S.

But, what’s this test like in France? Upon first arriving in France to study in 2012, I began to wonder if there even was a test…

Cars parked on the sidewalk (Marseille).

Getting a driving permis in France is not too much différent than in the U.S.: Les Français also have to take a test; however, in France, driving school is not a part of Lycée (or high school) as it often is in the U.S.

When I visited Chicago in June 2015, I began to wonder: Which country obeys the “rules of the road” the best? I still don’t have an answer. It’s scary driving in France; it’s scary driving in the U.S. But, once you’re confortable with driving in either country, you forget how scary it actually is.

First of all, no one in Chicago obeys the speed limit. When I lived there for the first 27 years of my life, I didn’t think twice about this fact (and, I admit, I participated). In France, very few drivers go 20+ over on the autoroute (aka the tollway/highway/freeway). In Chicago, most drivers are at least going 75mph on I88 from Sugar Grove/Aurora to/from the city (the limit being 55mph). Perhaps, this is due to the very low speed limit; perhaps this is due to everyone being in a hurry… whatever the case, people do it on a regular basis. In France, the autoroute is usually set at 110kmph (70mph) if the weather is bad and 130kmph (80mph) if the weather is fine. So, there really is no reason to speed.

However, in France, the motorcyclists don’t pay any attention to the rules of the road. Sometimes I wonder if they even had to pass a test! But, it’s true, they do. I’ve seen the auto-école of motorcyclists out practicing. However, motorcyclists can be seen driving in between lanes, on sidewalks, on the shoulder… if it’s possible it’ll save them time rather than sitting in traffic then you bet they’re driving on it! It’s dangereux! Not only do you, as a driver, have to watch out for a motorcyclist to creep up on you and cut you off as you enter a rond point, you, as a pedestrian, need to watch out for them, too! I can no longer count the number of close calls that have happened as I’ve walked by Super U (for some reason, they think that the large side-walk is a roadway… um, no, it is NOT!). Hell, even the bicyclists are more conscious drivers than the motorcyclists. And, to be honnête, I’d rather be hit by a bicyclist than a motorcyclist.

In the U.S., we tend to take care of our cars; in France, they don’t give a shit.

They park up on the curb, they bang up their cars as they squeeze into a small spot on the street, they park in pedestrian walkways (this is why France has installed poles everywhere… sometimes, it helps, but not with the motorcyclists!)…

The driver of this car did not consider pedestrians with strollers as it blocks the pedestrian exit/entrance (Aix-en-Provence).

The goal is to find a free spot wherever or a paid spot close to the centre-ville. They even park in the wrong sense!

In the U.S., you risque getting towed or a ticket or both if you park like this.

In France, the police don’t care (at least it seems like they don’t care – Aix would make a ton of money if they towed every car that parked the wrong way, on the curb, or in a spot that’s not a parking spot).

There are similarités and différences between French drivers and Américain drivers; however, one thing remains the same: the motorcyclists own the road in France…

I88 (Illinois, U.S.A.).

…while the big véhicules own the road in the U.S. ♦


This is part of a blogging challenge: Topics ranging from A-Z. You can follow my challenge by clicking on the links below:

A: Adulthood: The Age of Absolute Ambiguïté 

B: Bilingue: La Vie is Better Being Bilingual

C: Christianisme: Combing the Cliffs of Clarté

D: Death: Dealing with the Décès of My Dad

E: Éducation: The Endeavor of Easing into French Écoles

F: Food: Fancy or Faulty in France?

G: Going: Going Going Gone!

H: Home: My Heart Has Two Harbors

I: Interests: Intelligent, Insightful, Incredible!

J: Joy: La Jalousie is Overcome by La Joie

K: Khimar: Kind and Kooky Knitted Clothing Traditions

L: Lesson Plans: Leading the “Little Ones” into Language through Laughable Leçons

M: Musique: The Many Musicians Making Love on the Streets of Aix

N: Naughty or Nice?: Not Only Noticing the Différences, But Also the Similarités Between France and the U.S.

O: Obéi: Only Open to Obeying the Rules of the Road in…

P: PACS: Passionate Partners Pledging L’amour

Q: Questions: A Queen’s Quest for Clarté

R: Raisons: Riding on the Pony of Real Reasons (to Take the A-Z Challenge)

S: Study Abroad: Smiles and Sadness Set the Scène

T: Travel: Time to Hit the Trail!

U: Under the Influence: An Ugly Upward Climb Until Reaching the Summit

V: Vulgarité: Venturing out into the Vast and Voluptuous World of Cultural Différences

W: Walking: The Wise and Watchful Médiéval Wanderer

X: Xenial: A Xenodochial but not Xenophobic Host in France

N: Naughty or Nice?: Not Only Noticing the Différences, But Also the Similarités Between France and the U.S.

Are français/e naughty or nice? Well, that dépend on your définition

In the U.S., this stéréotype existe: All Français/e are naughty. That is to say that they are mean, rude, vulgaire, lazy, and sexuel. But, is this stéréotype really true? I like to think that, for the most part, it’s…tralse (aka true/false). It’s a culture différente, so, the ‘cultural rules’ are not exactly the same as those of the U.S. For exemplevulgarité (to an extent) is normal in France. Today, I saw a sign on a teacher’s mailbox at the high school where I work that used this word: Fucking. This is unheard of in the U.S. In fact, I’m 100% sure that if a teacher had this sign at the high school where I worked, that teacher would be suspended…at best. But, this sign wasn’t seen as vulgaire nor did it pose an issue with students being disrespectful. Another exemple: les français/e use this word all of the time: merde. It pretty much translates to shit or damn depending on the situation, but it doesn’t have the same harshness as its English counterparts (at least it seems this way).

One thing that I’ve had to make clear for French high school students: You can’t go running around Chicago in the middle of the day saying, “Fuck,” without people looking at you like you’re ignorant or have less value than them. If you’re over 21, you might be able to get away with it if you’ve been drinking at night. But, aside from that…vulgaire words are left for close-knit situations. For exemple, it’s completely normal during a situation when you’re at home with friends. This is différent in France. I even heard teachers use the word merde in front of my elementary students last year! You, the Américain(e) expat, get used to it. The fact that the French choose not to hide their vulgarité doesn’t make them “naughty”. Jennie, in her post, Swearing in French and Degrees of Vulgaritycouldn’t have explained it better than myself: “swearing in French is much less obscene than in English – which is perhaps more detrimental to French students learning English than vice versa.” It is for this very raison that I educate French students on this cultural concept.

Because Américains view the French in this “naughty” way, does that mean that Américains fit into the “nice” catégorie? I’m sure we like to think so; however, what do the French think? “Américains are friendly and ‘all smiles’ on the outside, but what are they really thinking?” This leads into the stéréotype that Américains are ‘nice’ upfront, but talk shit behind your back. For exemple, you just got a terrible haircut. An Américain is likely to complement the style even though he/she secretly thinks it’s hideous. A Français is likely to tell you the truth. It is this honesty that gives French the “rude” stereotype. If the French are being honnête, then should they really be considered “naughty”? Also, the French don’t necessarily walk around smiling at strangers all the time. First of all, why do we (Américains) do this? We don’t know strangers and we don’t owe them anything. Do we really smile all the time because we genuinely wish good on everyone we encounter? Or, do we do it because it has become a facet of our culture? I’m not afraid to admit that, more often than not, I don’t even realize I’m smiling. In this cas, I’m not genuinely being “nice”. So, does that mean Américains are “naughty”? Honnêtement, it’s not black and white. There will always be things that Américains do that les Français find blasphemous and vice versa.

The différences have been laid out (google is flooded with articles and blogs about them)…but, are there any similarités between France (les Français) and the U.S. (les Américains)? In a culture that is accepting more and more influence Américain, I think it’s safe to say that similarités existe – even if they, just like the différences, are stéréotypes. For exemple, the young Français enjoy fast-food as much as young Américains. Sure, les Français also enjoy eating a nice family dîner; however, the ‘lunch’ trend among the young Français is fast-food (FYI: fast-food has taken over the dining market in France!). In addition to fast-food, the Français enjoy fashion as much as Américains (FYI: the stéréotypé Américain style ‘sweatsuit’ is gaining more and more of a following as an everyday clothing option in France). Other similarités inclut (but are not limited to): the rise in appreciation of architecture moderne, the use of iPhones and other Apple devices, the founding idée of égalité (think: révolutionnaire war), the liste continues…

In général, we tend to focus on the différences between countries (again: see google); however, the similarités are just as important and, thus, shouldn’t be ignored. Similarités are essential for expats: Similarités open up the door to more cross-cultural friendships as you find that you have more in common with each other. ♦


This is part of a blogging challenge: Topics ranging from A-Z. You can follow my challenge by clicking on the links below:

A: Adulthood: The Age of Absolute Ambiguïté 

B: Bilingue: La Vie is Better Being Bilingual

C: Christianisme: Combing the Cliffs of Clarté

D: Death: Dealing with the Décès of My Dad

E: Éducation: The Endeavor of Easing into French Écoles

F: Food: Fancy or Faulty in France?

G: Going: Going Going Gone!

H: Home: My Heart Has Two Harbors

I: Interests: Intelligent, Insightful, Incredible!

J: Joy: La Jalousie is Overcome by La Joie

K: Khimar: Kind and Kooky Knitted Clothing Traditions

L: Lesson Plans: Leading the “Little Ones” into Language through Laughable Leçons

M: Musique: The Many Musicians Making Love on the Streets of Aix

N: Naughty or Nice?: Not Only Noticing the Différences, But Also the Similarités Between France and the U.S.

O: Obéi: Only Open to Obeying the Rules of the Road in…

P: PACS: Passionate Partners Pledging L’amour

Q: Questions: A Queen’s Quest for Clarté

R: Raisons: Riding on the Pony of Real Reasons (to Take the A-Z Challenge)

S: Study Abroad: Smiles and Sadness Set the Scène

T: Travel: Time to Hit the Trail!

U: Under the Influence: An Ugly Upward Climb Until Reaching the Summit

V: Vulgarité: Venturing out into the Vast and Voluptuous World of Cultural Différences

W: Walking: The Wise and Watchful Médiéval Wanderer

X: Xenial: A Xenodochial but not Xenophobic Host in France