Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Ready for a fun entry? Before I left in order to fly across the Atlantic Ocean for my three month long stint in France, both of my well meaning grandmothers decided to give me separate lists of some “important things to do.” My mother’s mother sat me down and instructed me on her multiple, lovely suggestions while expecting me to agree to them all wholeheartedly (right then and there). My father’s mother actually wrote out a “I’m Going To Miss You” card filled with her advice, and expected me to agree to its contents before I even had a chance to open and read it. Now, I know what you may be thinking: That is SO cute! Her grandmothers, who obviously have a much greater amount of life experience, have both given her a list of must-do, utterly necessary, DO-NOT-PASS-UP opportunities. It’s adorable. They probably want her to climb the Eifel tower, have coffee and a croissant at a roadside café, and take pictures of the City of Lights at nighttime. They want her to be adventurous and soak up her first real exposure to European culture. They want her to have the time of her life.

Well, you’re wrong. No, my grandmothers did not supply me with that kind of an adventurous list or those kinds of sweetly cherished tidbits of advice. On the contrary, they left me with a list of completely and utterly ridiculous RULES for France. Yes, you read that correctly: Rules.

Now, before I type out the actually handwritten list of rules, I feel as though I ought to explain to you just the type of woman my grandmothers can be described as. First things first, they’re Roman Catholics, and entirely “old school.” They look after me as though I am still a child (heck, they even treat my parents as children), and they are always willing to reprimand and inform those around them, even those they don’t know, as to whether they are or are not being proper enough. As I’ve been told flat out, I am their last hope for bringing the family into a brighter day and enhancing our good image and reputation. So, since they couldn’t convince my parents to force me to stay in America (which is precisely what they initially tried to do when I began talking about possibly spending a semester in Vienna or Lyon), they decided to do the next best thing.

Of course, I always laugh about how ridiculous they can be, but I do find it rather offensive too. I just feel as though I’ve proved myself to them multiple times. By now, they should have more faith in me to make my own decisions based on my own sets of morals and values. However, it shows that they love me. They care, and they want what’s best for me.

SO, now that I’ve once again fallen off topic (you’ll notice this to be a pattern in my writing), here is the list of rules and regulations for studying abroad in Lyon, France! EnJoY!

1. Don’t talk to boys (they mean men, but once again, I’m still considered a child)
2. Don’t travel alone (pairs is even a bit if-y)
3. Don’t take the subway system or trains (any form of public transport)
4. Don’t go out at night (AKA: pass dark)
5. Focus on your studies and say no to those distracting you when you have work to do
6. Go to bed early (don’t sleep your days away)
7. Make sure to wear a scarf, gloves, hat, and winter jacket when it starts getting cold
8. Don’t spend all your money frivolously
9. Eat healthy foods (don’t eat anything off of a cart)
10. Keep a good hold on your purse/bags in public places
11. Don’t take anything that is offered to you and seems to be free (it could be a gypsy)
12. Don’t flash money around
13. Don’t let people know you’re American

Avec l'Amour,


Chinako said...

LOL! I LOVE that last rule: Don't let anyone know you're an American. How rediculous! What happens if someone comes up to you and speaks in French? Do you just say "potato" over and over?

Yes, I agree... our grandmothers are another breed altogether. They are silly and very "old school", but they mean well despite the fact that they are still living the old way.

Love & Misses!

Jena said...

Oh, I *have* to comment on those rules!

(sorry for my lateness in finding your blog, I just noticed that you left me a link to it today.. it's been a *long* semester, and it's just started!)

Granted, more of my experience is in Marseille than Lyon, but in any case.

Travelling alone, even in the dead of night has actually proven quite safe for me. I'm not saying to do it necessarily, but as long as you watch out for groups of three, you should be okay. --The French have this nice habit of pickpocketing in threes, one will try to chat you up, while the others will walk circles around you looking for accessible pockets.

The subways in France are *excellent*, please DO take the subways in Paris! I don't know about the ones in Lyon, but the subways in Paris are excellent. Some don't even have a conductor and you can sit at the front! --just always have your ticket ready! There are controllers that like to bother people, because no matter how hard it looks to jump the subway gates, people do it, and they do it often. Don't be surprised if you're getting on the subway and someone nearly jumps over you.

..oh, and you can take the metro to the top of Montmartre.. it's a great view.

Go out at night, it's gorgeous. Just bring friends with you and know where you're going. The Champs d'Elysee is beautiful after dark, and you can see the Eiffel Tower on your way back from the subway.

Yes, focus on your studies, but also find time to go out and *have fun*, you're in France! ..you know the expression, when in Rome, do as the Romans.

Don't be afraid to eat food from a cart! ..yes, I know it sounds silly, but some of the best food comes from little hole in the wall places and carts. Obviously take a peek around, but portable foods are actually quite common in France. Make sure that before you come back, you at very least get some roasted chestnuts off a little cart, and visit a true French bakery.

..and here's one I agree with. Don't let people know you're American. America at the current moment has a *very* bad rap internationally. (Of course, by what you see on the news here, we're *awesome*..:P) ..anyhow, the less you advertise, the better. I've heard the phrase "stupide Americains" muttered on more than one occasion in a crowded place. (That being said, in crowded places, you're more likely than not to see a few Americans, or at very least Anglophones walking around.)