When in France


Natalie Larimer, Staff Writer

Everybody in France is a TERRIBLE driver. Seriously. I was scared for my life. Their lanes barely fit a car and everybody drives super fast and packed together. Motorcycles speed between cars and semi-trucks and everybody seems to have a death wish. It is terrifying.

Other than the terrible driving, I accustomed to France surprisingly well. I went on the French exchange with 14 other French students and teachers Mary Moermond and Kelly Coleman. We stayed with host families and did interesting touristy things during the week with all the Americans and sometimes the other international kids. The school we were visiting had “International Week” while we were there. Including us Americans, there were groups from England, Spain, Hungary, and Germany. We all spoke kind of half-French and only the Britons and the Americans could communicate otherwise. The Germans were surprisingly good at English, however, so we were able to talk to them a bit.

We Americans got to France in the early morning of March 13 and then spent four days in Paris. We saw Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Catacombs and all sorts of other touristy places. I noticed how in Paris, it would be really really weird to live there. Like, you’re walking down the street, turn to your left, and BAM there is the Eiffel Tower. That would be surreal.

After four exhausting days in Paris, we took a train to St. Etienne, a city about an hour away from Lyon. We met our host families at the train station there and went to our temporary home. During the week, we would meet at the school, go off for a morning activity, such as touring a chocolate factory (Moermond was so excited), going to the museum of modern art, or a photography competition around the school. We would eat lunch with our hosts (they have a TWO-HOUR LUNCH) and then have an afternoon activity.

On Tuesday, we were put into groups of five with one of each nationality (except French) to go on a scavenger hunt throughout the city. I was lucky enough to be with a German who spoke very good English and a Briton who spoke very good French so we could somewhat communicate with the Spaniard and Hungarian. We were told to find the Planetarium but none of us could read the map and the French are apparently too cool for street signs, so we went North instead of East and had to have a Frenchman help us find the Planetarium. The sculpture outside was of all the planets and they still included Pluto even though Pluto is NOT a planet. Don’t get me started on Pluto.

Everyone asks me how the French food was. In all honesty, I didn’t notice much of a difference. They eat more bread and croissants than we do but that’s because they’re French. They have sandwiches on baguettes (also the word for magic wand) and they cut their pizza with scissors. They eat EVERYTHING with a fork and knife. Even salad. They don’t have peanut butter or ranch dressing over there (both of which are super upsetting to me), but they ate pretty normal stuff in my opinion. They are all obsessed with cheese though. It was kind of weird. Probably the weirdest thing food-wise was that my host-mom took the spaghetti noodles in the boiling water and the strainer, walked past the sink in the kitchen, and drained the noodles in the bathtub. I don’t think that’s a France thing, that’s just a weird thing.

The thing that bothered me most about France was the bathroom in the school we were at. They didn’t have a toilet, they had a hole in the floor. Literally. You think I’m exaggerating but I am not. They have a HOLE in the FLOOR and call it a TOILET. It was a traumatic experience.

All in all, France was fun, but America has normal bathrooms. I can happily slip back into my usual routine and use a normal pizza cutter. While I do enjoy hopelessly speaking in horrible French grammar, English is perfectly fine for now.