Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Here we go again!

Well I just arrived BACK in Toulouse yesterday morning to start what will hopefully be another wonderful year! This year I got lucky and got placed at one high school in Toulouse. No more commuting! As much as I enjoyed the train rides and having that me-time, I will not miss the 5am mornings and waiting around in Lannemezan all day for my next class to start.

Right now, I'm staying with a teacher from the high school where I'm going to be working-she has kindly offered up her guest room for me to stay in while I search for an apartment.

The good thing is that everything is SO much easier the second time around. Knowing how to do things, how to manage the French bureaucracy (what documents are needed, how to push your way to an answer) and having been through this once before, definitely makes things easier and less stressful. (Re)opening my bank account, getting a french portable - well, apparently I'm banned from joining in another contract after leaving in the middle of my last one (after thinking that I wasn't coming back to France, I of course had to cancel my 2 year contract-which I made thinking that I was going to be here for 2 years...then I changed my mind...twice). But I have a phone and that's all that matters!

Even though I've only been in France for less than 36 hours, I'm already being reminded of little cultural differences. Faire les bises (there really is no English equivalent-basically kissing someone on the cheek twice in greeting) when meeting someone for the first time-I met my teacher's partner and my first instinct was to stick my hand out as I said enchanté to him! Major oops here in France...reminder: the handshake does not exist.

I was in the Darty store today (an electronic store, basically equivalent to our Best Buy), getting my cell phone and as I was waiting, I was fiddling with the Ipad. I started scrolling under the notes section and saw some meaningless things written. Then I saw something that made me smile a bit inside. Someone had written: "Caro- Je t'aime du tout mon coeur" (Caro-I love with you with all my heart). Maybe that was the first time someone said I love you to their girlfriend- or maybe it was the 500th. But it definitely made me happy and was a true reminder that I am back in France - for better or for worse, the French are not the least bit shy when it comes to showing their affection for their loved ones. 

We Americans are so prudish to begin with, that anything more than a peck on the lips in public is frowned upon. Until you come to France, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Making out in public is the least of it. People will do everything but have sex (oh no wait, that has been witnessed once before) in full view of the general population. And no one blinks an eye. I must say, while some of the PDA I witness I could definitely do without, it is quite refreshing to see that here, love is always in the air. ahhh la France, c'est trop romantique! Sometimes...

On that note, the French definitely approach relationships in a very different way than Americans. In France, to be in a relationship, much of the time, really doesn't mean anything. While in the US, becoming "boyfriend, girlfriend" is a huge deal and one that must be "DTR"ed (define the relationship) until it becomes official, in France, you can meet somebody once and they will already be asking to date you. I experienced this firsthand last year - I met this 19 year old while waiting at the train station (from Lannemezan, going to Toulouse) -I say 19 because a) he was still in high school and b) he was too young for me. We talked, rode the train back to Tarbes and then to Toulouse together (he thought that we could maybe catch a quicker train out of Tarbes even though it was out of our way home) and later that night, he came to the bar that I was at (since I casually mentioned that I was going there that night - we didn't even exchange phone numbers at this point in time). At least we didn't until later that night...he ended up texting me after he left saying "Je suis amoreux de toi" (I'm in love with you) and other sweet French nothings...Oh boy. Clearly you're not in love with me-I met you once, hung out with you for no more than 2 hours...I mean come on! I don't believe I responded. 

A week or so later I recieve a text from him saying "Tu veux sortir avec moi?" (do you want to go out with me). I said I was busy that day/night and he said "No, do you want to be my girlfriend?" HAHAHAHAH. And so you see that being boyfriend/girlfriend really means absolutely nothing in France. This type of thing would never happen in the US. Of course, this is definitely not always the case in France either and perhaps in high school this type of thing is even more exaggerated- but bottom line: relationships are extremely casual here and there is no real fuss made about their development.

Intéressant, non?

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