Greetings from French Camp

Second day of French camp was good. And that’s absolutely what I’m going to call the orientation time where I’m at a hostel because it really is like summer camp, except my parents didn’t drop me off =/

For one thing, we have to wake up at a god-awful early time, which is especially sadistic because we all still have jet lag. We had to meet at 9 a.m. (aka 3 a.m. in EST) to take the Metro to our school, which meant I woke up at 7:30 a.m. and ate breakfast at 8. And when I have 8 a.m. classes, I usually say “eff this” and sleep until 7:50 and then run to class and my hunger keeps me awake until I can run back and have breakfast. So this morning was pretty rough.

I know I set out to write about French food mainly for this blog but I don’t think I will be able to do that for a while. We all received breakfast and dinner vouchers for the time we spend at the hostel, and what we get to eat is basically French cafeteria food. And I can’t bring myself to take pictures of cafeteria food.

Breakfast today was literally orange juice, a choice of Kellogs corn flakes or Chocolate pebbles, a roll or croissant, and for condiments there was butter, honey, and a knockoff version of Nutella. The milk was lukewarm whole milk and the coffee was very, very strong and I added so much lukewarm whole milk it looked like baby coffee.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine eating this food. It’s good and it’s filling, but I don’t want people to think that all French food is like this. And yeah, I’ll admit, I haven’t been as culinary adventurous as I would like because my stomach is still acting up and being queasy and I haven’t really been hungry when it is meal time here.

So far we’ve just had takeout pizza for lunch, which I thought was hilarious because the pizzas are like the size of a small pizza in the States so there were like 30 pizzas ordered for 40 people. The cheese pizza was literally a cheese pizza—in addition to mozzarella (and no tomato sauce) they threw a bunch of different cheeses on the pizza so there was a different cheese in every slice (pretty sure I just came up with a slogan there). I had a slice of mozzarella and blue cheese that I traded with someone (see! Summer camp all over again!) who had a slice of mozzarella and brie, and someone else had goat cheese on their pizza. The French meat lovers pizza had big, thick slices of Easter ham that fell off the slice as soon as I picked it out of the box, and there were little crumbles of sausage (however, I don’t think it wouldn’t have bummed out Liz Lemon). But the veggie pizza, man, it had olives, spinach, eggplant, a bunch of other chopped green veggies, and we all think maybe a white carrot or something. It was really veggie-y.

Dinner was at the hostel again, and we get two small sides, a big plate, and a drink. The small sides can be a variation of a small salad bar plate, cheese, yogurt, or an actual salad, or one of the different kinds of dessert. The wine dispenser (like a soda dispenser when you have a bunch of different sodas and drinks and you can press your cup on a lever and the drink comes out…no one I’ve asked knows the word for that) wasn’t available though, which was embarrassingly disappointing.

Basically, we have all of our meals taken care of even though technically we are free to eat anywhere we want. Because the Drexel study abroad office lied to me and I am actually at a summer camp in Paris.

The teachers are like our camp counselors, taking us on exciting excursions like buying phones or going to the pharmacy. It was the worst when we squished ourselves into a Metro car and one of them hollered “CIEE STUDENTS WE GET OFF AT THIS STOP!!!!” and even though I was standing in a throng of college-kids at the other end of the car I still felt like, Mommmmmmmmmm stop it, you’re embarrassing me!

Then we split into groups with a different leader that gave us little lectures on different topics. My group leader, the in-house guidance counselor/director of housing placement/French professor, talked about health and safety tips.  The two takeaways I got from that was a) apparently my international life insurance policy is worth 100,000 Euro and b) I have to stop smiling at French people (mostly men) on the street because they’re going to think that the blonde American girl with blue eyes is hitting on them. And yes, the guidance counselor used me as an example because she said I smiled too much during the talk—and not even at my friends or something, but I smiled too much at her. Um, sorry.

Mostly it was like the talks they give on the first day of camp and then we went on a field trip to the most ridiculous boat ride on the Seine. So I went by the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre and a bunch of other important French landmarks, but I didn’t take pictures because I have them from the other times I’ve been to France. Just Google them or whatever.

After we split up and my group went to Monoprix. Monoprix is basically a Tar-get but it is actually French. I bought my face wash there and was too vain to buy a French face wash, so I just bought the same Neutrogena pink grapefruit scrub I use at home. It’s still cuter than that American face wash, obviously.

But unlike the American Targets that I am freakishly in love with and spend exorbitant amounts of time and money at whenever I’m home, this Target let me down. I was like 99% sure you used le flip-flops for French class, and all of the girls I was with thought that was right. So when I went to buy my faux-French face wash I politely asked Avez-vous des flip flops, or ‘do you have flipflops?’ and the cashier just looked blankly at me. So no English skills, then. I had to be very poetic and ask if she had plastic sandals that you can wear to the beach, and she finally understood what I meant and said no, they didn’t have it and I could try this little boutique down the street. Which was really disappointing, especially because the store had literally twelve different pairs of slippers.

SO now that we have free time for the rest of the night, it was another night of standing on large hand towel in my crappy prison shower because I didn’t get a pair of stupid shower flip-flops. But hey, I still showered, which is better than some of the people at this camp and even some French people on the streets. It’s really disconcerting because the man or woman will look professional or normal and then you walk by and you have to turn around to make sure you didn’t just walk past three naked homeless dudes.

P.S. The French word for “hipster” is “le hipster” or “le bobo.” I have no clue why that isn’t printed on a crop top at Urban Outfitters but it needs to be.

P.P.S. photos take FOR-EV-ERRRRRR to load. And the Internet access keeps dropping. I haven’t tried the wifi on my laptop at school so maybe that will help. But I’ll upload most of my photos on Facebook, FYI.

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3 responses to “Greetings from French Camp

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