I returned to Zürich yesterday from a week spent at L.C. in France. It was just Mark, Stephanie, and their extended family (who do not speak English) so it got to be a semi-lonely week. (Especially when I ran out of money on my cell phone on Wednesday--I could receive texts but I couldn't send them... The horror!)
So at this incredible house in France where nothing totally matches but everything seems to go together (when you are feeding 24 people one needs a lot of plates) I practiced my french, read a lot, and this time, didn't get stopped by the border patrol on runs. A few entertaining moments:
-Since I was the "new person" the family was very interested in asking questions about my life, family, school etc. Now I'd like to think I'm fairly proficient in French, when I lived in Vienna and decided to take a cab home at night our cab drivers were usually from French speaking Africa, so I'd try to give them directions to our apartment in French--and we always made it home! but, after Stephanie telling me that my French leaves something to be desired I was a little nervous to speak. [The only time(s) I speak French freely are after I've had a few drinks and I care less that I'm getting things wrong]. I can understand it pretty well, even their grandfather said that I understand almost everything and was impressed, so I knew what their questions were, but unfortunately my answers were a little off. So this family thinks that: my father is a lawyer for a company that may or may not sell strollers in airports, my brother is an English professor in South Korea (you're welcome for the job upgrade Jack), and that my mother is a chef at a small restaurant near our house. Whoops.
-The children, since I've been here, have had to do homework every morning. They do: English, writing, math and Mark also does French. Anna said that everyone in France has their children do it, and since she had to, her kids have to also. It's a vicious cycle but the person it hurts the most is the au pair. I seriously think having your au pair make your children do summer homework is a means to punish the au pair and not the children. Well at least Stephanie now knows how to count on her fingers!
-Their grandfather brought his girlfriend (of around 10 years or so) who is this incredibly fashionable, glamorous, and beautiful French woman. She's everything you imagine a French woman to be, so naturally every clumsy action I did, I did in front of her. She always happened to be seated across from me at meal times, and if I dropped something, spilled something, or did something incorrectly, she always witnessed it. At least she was kind enough not to laugh at me!
-Meals were wonderful and terrible at the same time. There's this book or diet or something called, Why French Women Never Get Fat, well I was with the exception(s) and I know why. Our meals were incredible--filled with bread, butter and cheese. We would have an appero, lunch, salad, cheese, dessert and coffee for lunch and dinner. But, if anything, these meals strengthened my faith--after every one I always prayed, prayed that my pants would button the next day. So far, so good.
-I definitely realized that I take things for granted. A week or so ago (I can't believe I've been here over a month) I was talking to my friend Cait and she said, "I can't believe you are actually there," and it made me stop and realize that I am in Europe. Living in Europe. Unfortunately though I was still ready to be finished with my week in France because next week I have off! On Thursday I found myself humming and singing while I was with the kids took me a couple minutes to realize that I was humming "One Day More" from Les Miserables (the irony because I was in France) and "Tomorrow" from Annie... Guess I'm just excited about my vacation!
Today is the Zürich Street Parade, the one day when the Swiss allow themselves to have fun. It's supposed to be pretty crazy and I'm definitely looking forward to it. Tomorrow I think I'm headed to Spain (but now I'm thinking Greece or Croatia?) but I'll keep you all updated on my travel plans.