For the past couple of days, I’ve had a sore throat. Usually, I don’t think much of them, it’s my body’s way of telling me that the next few days are going to be full of mucus and tissues! Aka I’m coming down with a cold. However this time around, my throat has been hurting more than it usually does and after 3 days of no relief, I asked my host mother if she would mind accompanying me to the doctor’s this morning. I had no classes (and probs won’t for awhile… more about that later) anyways and she nicely agreed to do so.
So we headed on down to her family doctor. We proceeded to wait in the waiting room for over an hour (apparently you can go see a doctor in this country without an appointment). And then we spent a grand total of 5 minutes with the doctor. He was really nice and checked my ears and my breathing but I could tell by his relaxed demeanor I had jumped the gun for nothing, as usual. I didn’t think he was actually going to prescribe me anything besides a little R&R (rest and relaxation…. in fact my dad didn’t know this even meant this until recently. He always assumed it meant Railroad Crossing… which it does on signs on the side of the road right before a railroad crossing. Oh Papa.) But I forgot that the French are big time hypochondriacs and freak out at the sound of a sneeze. I’ve learned not to tell Mamie Tite when I don’t feel well because she then starts offering me all these little remedies she has stored away in her own personal pharmacy.
The doctor goes on to write down Doliprane, Physiomer (or something like that, hard to decipher his handwriting), nasal decongestant spray, and Advil. I perked up at the sound of Advil and was totally unaware you could buy that here. Advil is my drug of choice for everything pain related and I had already been taking that twice a day to make the headache go away. Anyways, I obviously don’t need to get all that just to get over a cold since they go away on their own without you actually doing anything. I also knew all those drugs combined wouldn’t get rid of the cold either, it just needs to run its course. But if you try telling the French that, they’ll just bombard you with more remedies.
I amused (as I usually do when French people ask me for my name) the doctor when I told him my name since my host mother had told him I was American, prompting him to comment “That’s not very American!” For the 69038475th time I stated the old “Mon pere est francais” schpiel. He also complimented me on the fact that I spoke French so well which I will admit I always appreciate. I know I speak the language okay but to actually hear the approval of natives is always nice and not something I ever take for granted. At least I know Mamie Tite isn’t lying when she says the same thing. My mom is convinced Mamie Tite has been lying to her all these years since she thinks her French is terrible. I know Sandrine and I tease you a lot Mom, but you’re really better than you give yourself credit for.
Afterwards my host mother commented “It’s expensive to be reassured isn’t it?” referring to the fact I had told her I had wanted to go to the doc’s to get checked out and make sure it wasn’t anything serious. And then I had to pay 22 euros to be basically told I had a cold. Though to tell the truth, the doctor never said the word “cold.” (Or the French word for it which is “rhume”) He used all this fancy medical terminology to describe it but that’s another French thing. The French like to make medical conditions sound scarier than they are. If an American goes to the doc to get his ears or eyes checked out and then gets prescribed ear/eye drops, the American will say “Oh I have an ear/eye infection. No biggie.” The French will dig around in their more sophisticated repertoire and come up with some word comprising on average of 12 syllables that sounds more terrifying than “cancer.” No wonder they’re such hypochondriacs. And while I admit I’m one too, I don’t see the need to scare off patients with such menacing sounding medical vocabulary.
So I’m absolutely fine, no worries. My host mother seemed surprised I was not going to the pharmacy to buy all the stuff I had been prescribed and advised me to keep my throat covered. I have to point out that you technically do not get a cold from just being out in the cold. You get it by sharing a common space with an already sick person.
I went back home and napped for 2 hours and then around 2:30 I headed to my internship.
Oh yeah, that’s right. I have an internship. Finally! As the French like to say sarcastically “Ce n’etait pas trop tot.” If you remember from a few entries ago, I visited a museum about the French Resistance and Deportation movements during World War II. I am now translating all the explanations that appear in the permanent collection of the museum from French into English. And I’m not getting paid for this, it’s for academic credit. It’s a little weird since I don’t really need to physically present at the museum to do the translations but I need to be on site a certain number of hours. It’s a lot harder than it sounds because you can’t translate literally otherwise the text sounds rather stilted and awkward. I am constantly changing around sentences and digging around for different words and harassing the staff in the office to explain terms I don’t understand. A lot of the historical terms don’t have an equivalent in English so then I have to come up with a way to explain them in such a way that a native English speaker would understand them.
The director is a nice guy but I don’t know what happens after I translate all the texts. My program director wants me to also translate them in Spanish but I’d rather leave that to a native speaker. I suppose I can try and do my best but I don’t think I’ll get far. I know I probably won’t be around to observe Spanish visitors making fun of the translations but I’d rather give them the chance to read decent translations and not my attempts at butchering the language.
In sadder news, my friend Molly is returning home early. She has been battling a bunch of health problems lately and for other personal reasons she decided going home was best. I’m sad to see her go because it is really hard when you are far away from home and you are dealing with a lot of emotional and physical stress as I’ve only learned too well from personal experience. I hope she makes a full recovery at home and that her long break will do her some good. I’m going to miss you Molly!
Just when I thought the French had settled down on the striking front, they go ahead and prove me wrong. On Thursday, during the break of my 3 hr lit. class our professor comes back into the classroom to announce to us that the president has suspended all academic activities until further notice. This means there are no classes until… well I don’t really know. I think my professor was looking for some kind of excuse not to finish the class because she was being all Miss Goody Two Shoes and saying “Technically I am not allowed to continue classes if they have been suspended.” Though what she was really saying was that there was now a “blockage” which is kind of a weird French expression but I understand it I guess. And so that’s how I headed home an hour and a half earlier than usual. I still don’t know what this all about except that the French students and professors need to show they will not be taken down by the man. Which I think means the system… They will not bend to the system’s will… whatever that will happens to be. They will kick and scream until they get their way. You get the picture. To prove their point, the students have used the childish but effective technique of blocking entryways and doorways of the different buildings with desks and chairs. One of Dickinson cohorts took a bunch of pictures of the “mobilized” campus. You would think they were preparing for actual warfare.
I will not pretend that I sympathize with this because I don’t. I suppose I need to experience a taste of what French education is like, strikes and all. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Thank GOD Dickinson employees and students do not go on strike or else I would never graduate, having gotten tricked already into starting a semester later than everybody else (not something I will ever recommend to anyone. Ever.) Not only would that really anger Carlisle residents but I’d also starve to death if all the caf workers decided to quit working for awhile. That’s where I get all my meals! Though I wouldn’t miss the creepy old ladies and their robotic way of saying “Hello. Thank You.” as they swipe my ID card every time I go there for a meal. And my parents aren’t paying a ton of money for me to not go to class and march around waving banners and chanting.
Last night I went to this concert at a nearby theater with other Dickinson students and was also accompanied by my host mother. We listened to this singer called Bruno Ruiz (his dad was Spanish) sing and sometimes recite poems. He was a bit over the top dramatic in some of his songs but he was a really good singer and I enjoyed the concert a lot. I haven’t tried to see if his music is available online but I suppose it can be obtained somewhere.
And the news you’ve all been waiting for (French relatives, pretend to be devastated) I’m going back to the US aka coming home June 7th!!!!! After my program in Toulouse ends May 29th, I’m spending a week in Malaga again at my Spanish host mother’s with a friend before flying back to Newark. My father seemed confused and wanted to know why I wasn’t taking the opportunity to travel elsewhere but I have my whole life ahead of me. People act like junior year is the only opportunity to travel but I refuse to believe that and I won’t listen to anybody lecture me about the real world and responsibilities.
And indeed it will be great to come home. I’ve always tried to regard France has another “home” and I’m sure if I lived here long enough outside of a school program (and not with a host family) and settled down and all that jazz, I would feel comfortable enough to call this country my home. I mean, it took me awhile to feel comfortable at Dickinson but I am really looking forward to senior year and consider my beautiful limestone campus my home away from home. However, France still remains foreign to me in a lot of ways. There’s a whole lot about the country I don’t know which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it’s not like I know everything there is about the USA either. I definitely feel more comfortable here than in Spain because I actually understand the language and the French don’t automatically assume I’m American. Unless I’m surrounded by Dickinson students and we are all speaking English. However I don’t think I’m ready to consider France a second home yet. I hope one day I’ll be able to call this wonderful but incredibly contradictory country home someday.
Sometimes I wonder how my father was able to leave his homeland behind along with his family and friends. And I wonder if my mom would have been able to leave New York behind. Is love really strong enough to make up for all that? Oh yeah I forgot that old saying: Home is where the heart is. How cheesy! So basically I need to fall in love to feel at home somewhere? Well easier said than done! But maybe the saying is true… my French host mother DID live in Cameroon for many, many years with her husband and kids with no qualms whatsoever before sacrificing living with her husband for her kids’ education. And she wants to go back there and live with him once her kids are all set education wise. How many of you would want to go back to Cameroon? (I think Uncle Pat would have had an embolism if faced with that prospect. Don’t move to Africa Aunt Sharon.) Don’t raise all your hands at once.
All you need is love… dodododododo…. and with this piece of Beatles wisdom I am going to go.