alexandra stepanuk
  • print
  • make this is a favorite!

    0 other people called this a favorite

Living French Cliches

August 17, 2010 @ 4:15 PM | Permalink

Where have I been for the past 5 weeks?  Although isolated from friends and family, I have been more connected to the French culture than I ever was during a year and half of combined time previously spent in this country.  Each day, I spoke, breathed, thought, and ate only in French  (ate because my daily meals consisted of baguettes with jam for breakfast,  local cheeses and meats, crème brulées and mousses au chocolate for lunch and dinner).  For the first time, I really felt like I was a part of French culture.  Before I had experienced moments of  ”Frenchness”, or moments where I suddenly felt less American in a party or in a bakery, but now I have started to see the world as the French do (yes, a scary thought perhaps).  I now understand their culture references, and not because I read about them in a book, but because I’ve lived them.  So you’ve noted by this point that I still have not said what exactly I have been doing, and the answer is, oddly enough, working at a Christian resort.

Le Domaine de Chadenac, a charming little estate on the outskirts of le Puy, welcomed me with all the love and charity that good Christians should have.  In all seriousness, Chadenac is a charming place, and the owner, Laurence, and her husband are kind, generous, and motivating people.  So, despite my lack of religion, I felt strangely at home at Chadenac.  The clientele are the upper-class of French society (Christianity is strongly connected with the elite), and they typically come from old money.  Although I do not necessarily relate to their traditions and social standings, I was pleased to discover that most of them had traveled to the United States and other parts of the world and felt that a knowledge of English was important.  Indirectly this meant that they understood the difficulties of learning a second language, which indirectly meant that I felt much less embarrassed by my mistakes and accent in French, which indirectly (the last one I promise) meant that I spoke a lot of French.

However, the two weeks that really influenced me and put my head into the “French spirit” were my two weeks en colonie.  Two weeks of sleep-away camp with 50 French adolescents and 5 group leaders.  I’ve never done a sleep-away camp in the states, so I have nothing to compare my experience to, but it was hectic, stressful, and hilarious.  Teenagers who snuck out at night to smoke, a boy who constantly hit on the leaders, an English director who adamantly insisted that the kids learn Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence (not an easy song mind you), and all of this is in my second language.  Needless to say, I was exhausted after 2-weeks, but I have now lived through an integral part of the French adolescent experience.  If you want to get a visual idea of this experience, watch this clip of  ”Nos Jours Heureux”  (Our Happy Days).  The clip will be in French, but you’ll get the idea.

Outside of Chadenac, I spent one weekend at a French “camping,” which has no relation to  camping as Americans know it.  Basically, there was a large plot of land next to the beach that was crammed with tents, caravans, and campers, as well as a bar, a resto, a shop, and a stage for dancing. This is a popular French activity in the summertime, and it has inspired French classics such as  Les Bronzés.   Honestly, les campings make the Jersey shore look like a top-class resort. The ambiance is claustrophobia, and there are horny teenagers every where.  Not quite the Côte d’Azur that I had imagined…


Post a Comment

Search This Blog
Monthly Archives
View All
Recent Comments

No comments yet for this blog.


Or login with Facebook:

Forgot your password? We can help you change it! Click Here

Not registered? Click here to create an account.