Thursday, December 19, 2013

10 Things I'll miss about France

Recently I came up with a list of things that I miss from the US. Now, as my stay in France draws to a close it's beginning to hit me all the things I'll miss from the wonderful country of cheese. Which, ironically, does not rank on my list. On the cheese front I'm woefully American and prefer milder cheese.

This semester has been a blast-- I will write a post eventually trying to put into words the craziness and the ups and downs of studying aboard. While it wasn't my first time in France it was my longest stay in France and my first time at a French university. Funny side note, whenever I try and tell someone that this is my fourth time in France I inevitably say fortieth and really impress them.

In no particular order, here are ten things that I'll miss about France:

1. Bakeries 

It should come as no surprise that France has amazing pastries and bread. But what's also cool about France is the abundance of boulangeries and pâtisseries. I love the fact I can just drop by for a quick snack, a warm croissant or a baguette for dinner, when I'm out and about. Sometimes in the States it seems so odd to me that there aren't any little bakeries to get a quick handmade snack. 

2. Travel 

Another obvious choice-- being in an European country has the marvelous advantage of making traveling to another country almost as easy as traveling to another state. I'm currently writing this bit on the short plane ride home from a really fun trip I took to Barcelona on a whim-- it cost me less than 100€ for both transportation AND lodging. It was a great deal. But more on that later! 

Even though my program wasn't quite conducive to traveling, as I had class every morning, I was still incredibly blessed and visited several amazing cities during my stay in Europe. 

3. Euros

This is something I didn't realize I would come to like so much. Euros are going to be hard to give up. For one, they are a heck of a lot prettier than our all-green bills. Secondly, I love the fact that they have .50, 1€, and 2€ coins. I've gotten used to being able to pay with just change, it's awfully convenient. It's going to be odd going back to a country where the biggest coin used is 25 cents. 

4. French language 

The French language and I have had an usual relation-- like that one time I tried to ask someone if they were mocking me but most likely ended up asking if they miss me, not very effective. However, I do like speaking French, so I'll miss being surrounded by French. It will be super weird to go to the supermarket and understand everything, all the labels, all the food, what everyone is saying. Weird. 

Luckily, on this point, I'll be staying in the French house next semester-- a house on my college campus where we speak French and eat meals together. 

5. Veggie/fruit stands 

Walking down the main drag in my city, St. Étienne, there is an abundance of fruit and vegetable stands/small shops. They only sell fruits/vegetables and they have a wonderfully homegrown feel about them. 

6. Walking

I have to say this with the caveat that this is heavily colored by my rapidly settling in nostalgia. If you had asked me a week ago I would have cursed the mountain of a hill that I had to hike up everyday to get to my room. I hated lugging my groceries up that hill and there have been a couple Sundays I just didn't leave my room because I knew if I did I would have to hike up that hill. 

However, looking at this issue from the standpoint of someone who never has to climb up that hill again, I really like the French culture of walking everywhere. In the States seeing people walking places, outside of big cities, is weird-- over here it's perfectly acceptable. I feel like Americans could benefit by walking places more. We drive everywhere-- it's kind of absurd, until you take into account how far away everything is in the States. 

7. Gaufres 

Waffles! Waffles are a popular sweet snack over here. Coated in sugar, Nutella or plain they are delicious. I would buy a bag of them at the supermarket and bring them in as a snack for my three hour class. 

8. Coffee vending machine 

There was a coffee vending machine in the foyer at my university. It sold little plastic cups full of espresso, cappuccinos, tea, ect. It was really convenient for a cheap shot of caffeine. 

9. People

I would be terribly remiss if I didn't say I would miss all the people I met during my stay in France. Studying abroad is bitter sweet, as it allows you to make friends from all around the world, but then forces you to say goodbye after just 3 1/2 months. I meet some great people that made saying goodbye to France that much harder.

10. Public Transportation

This semester I relied solely on public transportation to get around. And while I'm excited to have my car again, I'll miss the extensive public transportation they have over here. Getting from one end of the city to the other-- and from one city to the next-- is fairly easy and fairly cheap. For example, we've settled into our French house for the holidays (post to come! it's awesome!) and I've been hopping on the nearby train to get into St. Etienne to see friends. Not only is it cheap-- cheaper than the tolls when you drive I think-- it's also quick and easy.

There you have it! I've spent a wonderful 3 1/2 months in France and it'll be bittersweet to fly out on the 26th. I still haven't decided if it'll be more bitter or sweet.

Stay tuned to hear about: Le Fête des Lumières, my whirlwind trip to Barcelona, the good and bad of studying abroad, and our French country house.

Whew. I should go write those posts I suppose.

Thanks for reading!

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