For now anyways. I doubt this will be my last time to Toulouse, just as I know I doubt it will be my last time to France. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here 5 months, which is the longest I’ve ever spent in the fatherland. I have to say it was a nice change to get away from Normandy and Paris, which are the two regions of France I usually visit since this is where I have the most family. Now do not worry French family, I still love Normandy and Paris! But it was fantastic getting to know Toulouse, a city none of my French family knows very well (except for the Bordeaux relatives, I’m assuming they’ve been here at some time or another).

I guess there isn’t much to say academic wise since I didn’t go to class much. I have a feeling a lot of my American family is going to act like I was on vacation for 9 months. Well not quite guys. I DID have some work and by the way, I’d like to see you translate the equivalent of 47 panels for a history museum! And no, I didn’t get paid either.

Anyways the abroad experience goes waaaay beyond the classroom which if you’ve studied abroad, I’m sure you agree. People don’t just go abroad to get academic credit (or at least, I didn’t even though my major is Spanish and I’m a French minor), it’s for the whole cultural thing too. And that cultural thing is tripled when there is a language barrier. Obviously I did ok in France, actually fooling some people into thinking I was 100% French. My boss at the museum told me he and his employees kept forgetting I was American because I was able to follow their conversations and actually participate in the discussions (though I will admit sometimes the Toulouse accent threw me off, specifically with one of the employees who was the nicest guy ever but I didn’t know what he was saying about 50% of the time). Every time I asked a question about the texts I was translating, they kept looking at me surprised as if they expected me to know what it was, simply because I am practically 100% bilingual.

I just want to point out to Uncle Pat right now who once told me I “wasn’t really French” (maybe as a joke, but I didn’t take it as such you don’t mess with my nationality) that after this experience, he totally can’t pull that card on me! Sometimes I wonder if my American family (besides my parents) realizes just how well Sandrine and I speak French and the fact that even the French are impressed with our levels of 95% fluency. I have had random French strangers comment on this and while my parents did a phenomenal job in teaching us French, a lot of it also has to do with the French American School. Seriously, if I ever make it big, I’m donating all my money to that school because it so deserves it.
So yeah Uncle Pat, none of that “but you aren’t really French” business, otherwise I could say “you aren’t really Irish.”

However before you think I had it all easy in France (which I didn’t), there was definitely a language barrier in Spain. While I surprised myself with how much I could actually understand, speaking was another matter entirely. My Spanish host mother had the patience of a saint when I awkwardly tried to make conversation, something a lot of French people never seem to have the patience for. It took me awhile to feel comfortable entering stores and conversing with the employees in Spanish or even going out in restaurants or simply just asking for a sandwich. They are used to seeing tourists in Andalucia and most waiters would try to hand us the English speaking menus when they heard us speaking English amongst ourselves. Oh those Spaniards, always so accommodating to tourists! (French, not so much sorry to say)

Anywho I’m leaving France in a few hours and I probably won’t be back for awhile, not until next summer at the earliest. I’ll be in Madrid tonight, then I’ll arrive in Malaga tomorrow with my friend Kathryn and we will be crashing at Paqui’s for the week and visiting various sites in Andalucia. And La Queen will be arriving Monday morning, I just hope she remembers Spain already has a king and a queen jaja.

And then it’s back to New York on June 7th. That’ll be weird to say the least, my family hasn’t changed one bit as our Skype conversation yesterday only demonstrated.
Mom: your father says you should go to bed, it’s almost 2 AM there. (grumbling in the background usually accompanied by guitar playing)
Me: (talking about various things then La Queen interrupts)
Mom: La Queen! Go away! I’m talking to your sister about her presentation. Go away, I don’t want to talk to you! Amelie! Amelie! Don’t listen to your sister! This is the first time she is traveling to Europe by herself, you go pick her up at the airport like the good big sister you are!
La Queen: MOM! STOP! (continues to complain about how she’s 19 yadda yadda)
Mom:  SO Amelie, you see things haven’t changed here, are you sure you want to go come back? Oh and your dad still thinks you should go to bed.

On second thought…

Just kidding, I love you guys, even though you’re all insane.

Alright well I still have to pack.

Amelie

PS. Mom I sent over 2 packages full of my stuff in order to lighten the load in my suitcase. Probs still going to have to pay a weight surcharge though. So yeah if you get those, it’s not actually for you. It’s my stuff.