French First Impressions

Alright, I admit this sequel to my first post is late. But cut me some slack, I just traveled 5,800 miles to be here. Already I’ve tasted about 7 different mustards, so I think I’m on the right track (baby, I was born this way). Let me just say, American mustards can’t hold a candle to French mustards. If you’re looking for a condiment to slap you in the face every time you take a bite of your corndog, you gotta try the real stuff (not that French people would waste mustard on such foods). I will try to bring some back with me when I return, but I’m not making any promises because that stuff’s expensive as hell. I think maybe I should backtrack and describe my time traveling from Paris to Dijon because I feel like the anxiety I felt at the time is also part of the French/European experience.

My long journey to Dijon started with an excruciating (alright, maybe not that dramatic) drive to LAX. My gracious parents drove me at the crack of dawn and it still took us around three hours. However, when I got inside the airport it wasn’t so bad. Actually, it wasn’t bad at all, especially considering I was taking an international flight. The flight wasn’t too bad, but I was happy to be off when we stopped in Montreal. I’m not much for sitting in one position too long, even with short legs it’s no fun. The layover at YUL was longer than expected because the flight was delayed due to the huge amounts of snow I think. Sitting, waiting at the gate prior to the flight, I had no idea just how horrible the flight to Paris was about to be for me. It was maybe a 6 hour flight but it sure felt like forever. I sat window next to a nice Quebecois couple, but the ride still sucked. I watched Moana and La La Land though, so it wasn’t all bad. Before my journey, I was most nervous about getting from the Paris airport to Dijon. When I got to Paris, I wasted no time after retrieving my luggage to try and find the metro. I had to ask for help, as one is wont to do — one who isn’t me, though, because I never like to ask for help as I’m way too nervous/shy usually. But this was a special occasion because I could not find any signage for the metro. The very nice lady I asked told me which direction to go and I was off! I had no idea, however, that I’d be walking about a mile to get there! That was one big ass airport! When I finally got to the metro area, I was overwhelmed; it was huge and there were loads and loads of people. I saw a line and queued up (luckily it was the correct line). This story probably isn’t all that exciting to read now that I’m sitting here typing it all out, but it sure was getting my blood pumping at the time (and now, as I relive it). Alright so speeding ahead a little bit, I took two metro trains and finally got to the main train station I needed to be at in order to take the TGV (bullet train? Sort of like Amtrak, I’d say) to Dijon. This station felt bigger and more confusing than the airport. I ran around for a while trying to figure it out but I made my way to an area that seemed right. I had about 5 hours until my train. It felt like an eternity. My nightmare wasn’t over at that point, either. I would go into the details of what was so confounding after that but it really won’t make much sense if you’ve never been. I will say, though, that I witnessed the increased military presence of France. While I was trying desperately to open the SIM card slot of my iphone with a detached staple (I was like MacGyver, really) (Or, rather, MacGruber!), I looked up and saw a heavily armed policeman surveying the area in front of me. It was pretty jarring, he was outfitted like a SWAT member. This was a day before the attack on the other airport, I was safe in Dijon already by that point. 

Anyway, I made my train and arrived in Dijon. The family I am staying with is so, so nice and we are getting along great! I’ve spoken French everyday, though it is probably elementary at best. The family speaks to me very slowly and enunciates so that I can understand. Basically, they don’t speak like other French people so I’m gaining a false sense of confidence about my abilities, ha. I’ve visited the city center, Old Dijon (?) a couple of times now and it is truly incredible. I never knew about this city before, but it is rich with history and it’s very beautiful. The history is really interesting too and I wonder why we never hear about it in the US. I feel like it would make a good TV show for sure. I think I’ll end my boring story with just some observations:

  • Doors are different here (at least in the house I’m in)
  • Toilets are different, too
  • I had to pay to use a public toilet three times while I waited for the train !!!!
  • The air in Dijon smells different
  • When we went to the mall, I had to have my purse checked before we could go inside this one big store that was like a better Forever21
  • French people are about as friendly and about as rude as Americans (so far)
  • Drinking tea out of a bowl (the French drink their morning beverage like coffee or tea this way) is far superior to drinking out of a mug
  • My diet is definitely going to improve; we eat a full and balanced meal for lunch and dinner everyday.
  • I took a 5mi walk/hike the other day, so this stay will probably really be good for my health
  • French presidential debates are set up like a gameshow, they all have really cool podiums and the production design is great
  • Their female version of Trump really is the female version of Trump, sad!

I wish I had more exciting news to share, but I really haven’t done all that much yet. And I know I haven’t shared any pictures yet, but that’s because I haven’t taken any! They told me to wait because it has been really gloomy and they don’t want me to have souvenirs of a sad and grey Dijon. I’ve got plenty of time, don’t worry.

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