What I learned to say in French today…


POST-EDIT: I was informed by a real Francophone  that the following French phrase I will discuss does not actually mean what I thought it did. Clearly my potential future as a translator is questionable. However he did clairify that it was rude and fairly terrible. Anyways the story revolves around what I thought was being said… enjoy!

It’s not very nice. It, like most interactions I have with my teachers started off quite innocently and then it got weird. With the Spandex King, we are working on an animal unit and making up sentences for the animals. Example: bears like honey. Innocent right? We get to a hippopotamus and he wants the kids to say “Hippos have big mouths” which is also very innocent. He then looks at me and goes, “do you know what we would say in French?” and I was like “umm bouche?” [French word for mouth] and he was like “Ha ha  ha ha no no no, we would say ‘gueule'” which made all the children snicker. Because I’m a crazy foreigner I was like um what is the joke I don’t get it? One child then screams out “Ferme ta gueule!” which means more or less, “shut the fudge up” except replace the dge with ck.

"only I didn't say fudge..."

What was the response of the Spandex King? He goes “yes, it is a very bad word if you say it like that. But if you say it about an animal then it is ok.” I’m sorry, a child just dropped an F BOMB in class how do you NOT respond to that? When I was ten we were punished for saying “oh my God” (thanks catholic school!) by having to write the Ten Commandments over and over… dropping an F bomb would have meant  suspension. Sometimes France just amazes me. Anyways, I’m now adding this to my repetoire of French insults of which I’ll never use but now know. I’m now at 2. Yay for language progression? Hmmm debateable.

In other news, IT SNOWED TODAY!!!!!!

our lil baby mtns all covered in snow

snow on the fountain that doesn't work in the center of town

It is supposed to keep snowing for the next few days so hopefully if that happens I will take some betta pics. I snapped these on my way to work this afternoon.

Also on Friday night I hung out with my real French friend! YAY!!! French friends are hard to find, they are elusive like a unicorn. But I think its official, I have my first real French friend! Her name is either Leslie or Eleslie, I don’t know. I know, I look like a terrible person BUT when she gave me her number she said to me, “my name is Eleslie with an E at the begining everyone spells it wrong.” Then I typed it into my phone, showed her and was like “this ok?” and her response was “perfect!” BUT she texted Stephanie the other day and spelled it “Leslie.” I’M CONFUSED. Eitherway, she is still an official French friend because she has since texted me wanting to hang out! Progress. I’m just going to avoid ever saying her name and say things like “hey girl!” It’ll make it easier.

Thats bout it round here… Be back Stateside soon! But first, bring on Spain… Ay Caramba!

Mego

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Liberation


When I was locked in an apartment on Monday, I had to make some phone calls. First I called my responsable to give her a heart attack by telling her that I missed my appointment. Then I had to explain why. I think she said “oo la la! Meaghan!” and made clucking hen/worried mom noises about 20x throughout the conversation. She then immediately called both my schools and told the education director of the region.

When I got to school yesterday, I walked in and all the teachers started to cheer. Then the principal goes “you have been liberated!!!” and gave me a high five. In class with Ron Burgundy he asked me to go outside the door, knock, and re-enter. Nothing too unusual about that except that he had to get his little jab in there and said, “don’t lock yourself out, or should I say in?” and then laughed and said Americans drive him crazy. How are those related? I don’t know.

I should have known I couldn’t escape with just that, at recess the Spandex King asked me to tell my tale of “liberation” to the entire faculty. EMBARASSING and awkard. They keep refering to this as my liberation and using the word “prison.” I feel like that is a little extreme; it isn’t like I was stranded on a desert island full of poisonous snakes and bats with death ray vision or anything… I hung out in my friend’s apartment and blogged and watched a million episodes of the Office which is pretty much what I do all the time. I want to make jokes about finally the French liberating the Americans but I feel like maybe WWII jokes will not be appreciated. I think I’m just a history nerd.

So now all my collegues who I’m pretty sure think I’m a walking disaster already since I never know how to say things in English, realllllly realllllly think I’m a disaster now. They are going to think all Americans are disorganized, clumsy, un-witty, people who get themselves locked in apartments haha. Oh well, at least it’s an impression…

But to recount, I was finally “liberated” at 7:30pm by Mathanee and then took the train to Montélimar and then the bus at 6:30am back to Nyons.  Also a random dog just came in my apartment… that is weird. But it is cute so that is ok. Anyways it wasn’t so bad after all!

I’ve been slacking on pictures, SORRY I just havn’t been taking any really. So I’m borrowing Mika’s because she is good at taking pictures of cool things. I will remember to take some more pictures soon.

Mego

Not the dog that just came in my apartment but if it did I would keep it… this one just hangs out in a cafe all the time and I want to steal it.

random horse down by the river

 

Adventures in lock picking and other awkward moments


So today I was supposed to go to Lyon to have my medical visit so that I will be able to stay in France until May. Well I think the fates do not want me to stay here because this is the 3rd appointment I’m going to miss/have changed. Why? Oh because I am currently locked into my friend’s apartment in Grenoble. How does one lock oneself IN an apartment? Good question. This morning one of her roommates locked all the locks from the outside, leaving no keys on the inside not realizing that I was here still. So, now I am trapped here until someone comes home. I am not looking forward to having that conversation with her roommates. See she works about 2 hours away from here and will be home around 8 pm. Also she might be the first one home. So I’m here all day basically… feeling awkward. That also means I need to reschedule my appointment for another day, missing more work… sighhh what is going on in my life.

This is another one of those “oh shit i just got all my credit cards cancelled” moments. Except maybe this is worse because I fixed that within an hour and this has been going on since 10am. Also,I’m going to have to have a really awkward converstaion in the future with one of her roommates.Depending on what time it is I might not even be able to make it back to Nyons tonight, which is  not good since I have to work early in the AM….

Well you may ask,”Meaghan what did you do to try to fix your situation?” and I will break it down for you: first I tried the set of keys that were on the table. None worked. Second I cried. Third I thought “perhaps I can jump out the window” but then quickly realized that was stupid because I am onthe 4th floor and I don’t want a broken leg. Fourth I decided I would try to pick a lock. Never having picked a lock before this was a challenge that I failed miserably at. I tried watching youtube videos and reading tutorials but I could not manage it even though the internet says its easy. Now you may be asking yourself why did you not call Mathanee? Well I did. 15x. Her phone is off.

I’d also like to point out that a teacher from one of my schools just called me and when I explained what happened she was like “I’m sorry, I don’t understand…you are locked IN an apartment? How does that happen?” and trying to explain this in French is really hard. Le sigh…LIFE.

And now, I awkwardly wait…

Oh Punaise!


French people love American music. It is all over the radio here, playing in cafés, the public transportation… you can’t escape it. My favorite is when it’s all old stuff from the 70s and 80s. Well I have just come home from our weekly market and while I was there browsing through the used book stand I realized the song that was playing in one of the stands nearby was, “Take Me Home Country Roads” by John Denver. The conclusion I’ve drawn is that French people love this song. Remember when i couch surfed in Grenoble and the guy I stayed with insisted on playing it on his guitar repeatedly? Yeah…that happened. I just think it’s kind of a strange song because its so America-centric, I mean you can’t have more pride than “Almost Heaven, West Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains Shenandoah Valley… West Virginia mountain mama…”  I feel like this is just another example of how random people in France are haha.

Well in other news the lice outbreak has continued to BOTH of my schools now. I’m living in constant fear that I will unfortunately contract it. I’m trying to keep the children at more than an arm’s length. However this has been going on for almost two weeks so, I think I’ve got pretty good chances. I’m still mildly concerned that no one told me at either school. If theres some weird infectious disease outbreak at my schools will they tell me then? Probably not, they’ll probably just let me get turned into  a zombie with the rest of them. I have decided that in the event of a zombie outbreak while I’m in France, I’m going into hiding at the high school here. It looks like a prison and is surrounded by olive fields. I think I’d have some pretty good odds there. You can never be too prepared.

(I’d like to embed a video or picture of the lice check scene in Billy Madison, but unfortunately the internet failed me)

So at one of my schools (the one I don’t like) there is a teacher I’ll call Mrs. Anger Management. She is really nice to me, but in a sort of backhanded way. I make posters for her every week and shes says things like “oh this looks nice, but the corners on three pictures aren’t fully glued down so it is kind of sloppy. don’t they teach you how to glue in America?” Or my favorite comment was “oh you don’t look as nice as you did yesterday.” Like did she really need to say that? It’s not like I looked like a hobo, one day I wore a dress and the other day I wore pants… Anyways she FLIPS OUT on the students all the time, I mean like 0-60 in .003 seconds. On Tuesday we were working on the parts of the body with some drawings and she looks at one kid’s paper and was like “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING? NO APPARENTLY YOU DON’T!!!!” grabbed his paper and ripped it in half!!!!!! I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to react to that but I’m pretty sure I was just standing there with my mouth open. Not very professional haha.

I feel like this could happen any day now…

In exciting, non-school related news… I AM GOING TO BARCELONA!!!!!!! I can’t wait!!! I’m going the Feb 11-14, then America 15-22 and Greensboro the 17-19 where I will see ERIC CHURCH in concert YESSS, cannot WAIT

No need to complicate he's a simple man...

OH can’t believe I forgot to mention this story… well for this whole medical exam thing we have to get X-rays done to check and see if we have TB (although considering I’ve been here for almost 5 months I think it’d be a little late if I did have it…). As you know, pregnant women can’t have X-rays done. Well at the office the woman looks at me and goes, “are you pregnant [in French]” and I respond, in French, “no I am not” and she looks me up and down and says “are you sure? you know pregnant… a baby inside you” and I was like “yes I understand and no there is no baby inside me” and then she says in English, “baby yes pregnant yes.” Apparently to this woman I looked pregnant, which I don’t get because I’m actually the thinnest I’ve been in a year. Maybe she just thinks American girls are slutty… who knows but I was wearing a turtleneck and sweater soooo that would be the opposite of that… anyways it is a mystery. Also she didn’t ask my two friends if they were pregnant, just me. Awesome.

My xray is in the center... No TB here bitches!

Mego

C’est la vie…WEIRD


So technically at this moment, I’m an illegal alien in France. Shh don’t tell the government. Well actually could you? I’d love to get my visa finalized so I can legally stay here until May. It would be nice. So basically to stay here, it is required that all non-EU citizens go for a medical visit. I was supposed to have my appointment today but the doctor felt like quitting on Friday last week. Did they tell us this? No. I showed up today and the guy was like “oh sorry none of you have appointments because the doctor quit. We’ll call you sometime in the next few weeks bye!” Um thanks? Somehow I fandangled to get an appointment in Lyon on Monday. I got skillz, werk it!

While I am thankful I will no longer be an alien as of Monday afternoon, this was just a little hard to deal with. However the guy who is in charge entertained me with a bunch of wack-o stories this morning like… how he wants to run away to Peru (?) and live in the Andes mountains so he never has to see people; how he wants to build a road from Marseille to Tahiti that no one can use except him; how in 4 years he lived in all the different borroughs of New York City; and a very long speech on the benefits of electric blankets in winter (aren’t those things illegal for starting fires on people while they were sleeping or something?). He also asked myself and Mika if we enjoyed French men and their kissing skills… I just pretended I didn’t know what he was saying. I figured that was the best escape route out of that question. Discussing the different kissing styles of French and American men was not what I wanted to be talking about this morning, or ever.

But now all of that is (hopefully!) sorted, I can breathe easy. But not for long because there are so many other things in France that stress me out. Now, you all are going to think I am crazy when I finally put these things on on paper, because you will be like “what?! that is the easiest thing ever!” But I will say, daily life in another country is HARD like woahhh.

For example: the Post. I HATE THE POST. With a passion. I avoid going at all costs. I don’t know what it is about the post office in France but it is pretty much the scariest place on Earth. The people are just intimidating and there is always a huge line and they make you feel like an idiot. Once in Rennes, I went to one 6x in one day hoping it would be open. I think they just closed whenever they saw me coming. It ultimately resulted in me having a screaming/crying/banging on the door fit repeating “WHY AREN’T YOU OPEN I NEED TO MAIL THINGS” which did not solve anything. Then my host-mom told me she had just been there and mailed things. See? They are awful.

Next example: finding a seat on a train. On a TER (regional train) this isn’t so hard, but I really don’t like wandering around trying to find an empty two-seater while everyone stares at me and my gros sacs (because I can’t seem to travel without them…). I feel judged, and I probably am haha. I would judge me if I saw me wandering around with gros sacs. It makes me nervous. But the worst is the TGV. They give you assigned seats and somehow I always mess it up. I always get in the wrong car and then sit down and then someone is like “oh you are in my seat. Oh you are a foreigner? You don’t know anything clearly because this is car 6 and you are supposed to be in car 8. Get out!” How do I end up 2 cars away from where I’m supposed to be? I don’t know. I really do try to get on the right one but I think I get confused and there are always old smelly people around and it clouds my brain (people over 40 don’t wear deodorant).

Final example: talking on the phone. I get so scared. I never know what people are saying. For me a big part of understanding is watching someone’s expressions, and reading their lips. Talking on the phone erases that. Anyways, I’ve figured out that if I just say “oui” a lot people hang up faster. Unfortunately this means I agree to things without having any idea that I did. Whoops…

In other awkward news, I was proposed to by a student on Tuesday. He asked me if I wanted to marry a French guy, and before I could respond the teacher (who I’ve nicknamed the Spandex King because I always see him in his entire spandex ensemble biking… a sight that cannot be unseen) said, ” why? are you interested?” and he said “yes I am. She is nice and pretty.” Well thanks little boy for making my day! Glad to know I have a backup plan for 10 years from now… lol just kidding.

Also Ron Burgundy had a classic one liner… We were talking about families and one kid accidentally labeled the grandfather on his paper as grandmother. Ron Burgundy looked at it and said, “when was the last time you saw a woman with a moustache? oh wait, Meaghan has one so I could see how you got confused” then he cackled and hugged me and walked away. I wish I was witty in French and had some good comebacks but I really don’t. Besides saying “at least I’m not old!” I got nothing… and I stole that from someone else so really I can’t count it. DANNNNG

Also apparently there is a lice outbreak at one of my schools and no one told me. I found a piece of paper talking about it in the teachers lounge. When I asked someone, they were like “oh yeah… you might want to check your hair and wash all your sheets, you probably have them” ummm thanks for telling me??? I feel like thats kind of important but maybe my definition of important and French teachers is different haha.

Well thats about it. Life here in France is weird. But hey it keeps it interesting. Anyways one month until I’m back in the US of A for 7 days so holla fo datttt!

2012: French Resolutions


I feel like I am being clever and calling this French Resolutions because it rhymes with French Revolution(s), but that is probably just a bad history pun… LOLZ nerd alert! It would only be better if I could work in a Napoleon comment, but hey you can’t win them all! Actually this is a well timed pun (so punny) BECAUSE today at school Ron Burgundy forgot I was American and was trying to make me talk about the differences between England and France. He is going on about all sorts of things and finally one kid raises their hand and goes, “one time France had a queen and her name was Marie Antoinette but then all the people killed her because she was mean. England didn’t kill their queen” I thought this was hilarious but I think Ron Burgundy just thought I was crazy for laughing. Oh well he is pretty crazy too so I guess it works out.

this is exactly what he looks like... plus a gold chain and you can see his chest hair... 70s classic

Welll anyhoo happy 2012 ya’ll! I can’t believe that it is not 2011 anymore! What a great year 2011 was, graduating and moving to France being the highlights, but I can’t wait to see what 2012 bringz, hopefully more delights and wonderfulness!

So New Years was fun! I went to Grenoble with my friend Mathanee who lives there. She is British and so funny with all her British English expressions (mate, knackered, using the word “piss” with like 10 different meanings…) which I just find hilarious. British English and American English are really quite different srsly! But we had a good time just going out and enjoying ourselves. Thankfully Grenoble wasn’t too frigid. Sunday we actually just layed around all day recovering from the celebrations and talking. It is really nice because she is someone who truely reminds me of all my friends back home in America and we just can talk about anything. We talked perhaps of taking a trip to Barcelona in February before we both head home during February break.

partyin' like its 1999, and by 1999 i mean 2012

So anyways that brings me back to the French Resolutions (haha I still think it’s clever)… 1. Run 5 miles 3x a week… so I can continue to eat baguettes and cheese like it’s my job (speaking of, new fav. cheese is def St. Marcellin, a type of goat cheese)… 2. Quit speaking so much dang English and really focus on my français… I’ve been doing super good about reading in French, now to just speak in it more… 3. Travel outside of France, meaning Barcelona, Italy, and (toss up) Switzerland or England… 4. Avoid the real world at all costs.

I like my list I think it looks pretty dang good! Sometimes I get lazy with my French when I know someone speaks English and I really need to stop that and just say Non, pas d’anglais! But really it is my own fault. Also as an afterthought, I’d really like to learn how to text in French because I’m fairly certain I sound like an old person when I text.

Hip people send cool texts like “CC sa va?” which took me a REALLY long time to figure out what that meant… translation “what’s crackalackin” more or less. When I text I type out all the words like “Bonjour!” which is the un-cool way of saying CC (coucou). I am the texting queen back in the US and here I think I sound like a grandma, and I feel like one too. It takes me ages to decode texts and usually I have to ask someone what they mean. Oh technology sometimes I find that you are not really my friend.

maybe i should buy this so i can be cool, also i have no idea what these twho dudes are trying to say

Today was also a great day at school because I’m finally starting to fit in at my fav. school. I walked in this morning and all the teachers “faire-d la bise” (franglais) with me… that is the thing where they kiss you on the cheek and you do it to people you are friends with. No teachers have ever done that to me so it just really made me feel accepted. I really am so happy here and so glad I got placed in this town with all these nice people!

Anyways since I couldn’t think of any way to work in a Napoleon pun I suppose I’ll end it here. If you think of any good ones, please leave me a comment with some inspiration (calling all history nerds…or dad) and i’ll leave you with a guy who is trying to convert Muslims by wearing a Jesus smock… because that is really going to work…

stylin' for Jesus

Mego