Monday, April 25, 2011

France Day Two

My second day in France involved seeing a bit more of Lille. We didn't really have any specific places in mind, but we headed into the city's center after stopping off at Paul (a bakery chain that is also common in London) for a lapin chocolat (chocolate rabbit).

We ended up taking a path into a park, and when we got to the other side of it, we discovered that there was a carnival in full swing, with rides, games, and carnival food. We walked through and we both got barbe de papa (dad's beard, or cotton candy.)

As you can see, it was huge- and that was the smallest size! Megan said that she didn't know if she could finish all of it, and as we walked through the carnival eating our cotton candy, some teenage boys passed us and one snatched a handful of Megan's cotton candy! Be careful what you wish for, I guess :p

Megan led me toward the local zoo, which had free admission- that still blows my mind. It was a small zoo, but still a pretty good one. I was surprised that most of the cages/animal areas weren't enclosed. I was pretty sure if an animal wanted to jump out, it could- that's how low some of the walls were.

As I said, the zoo was small, so it didn't take us long to get through it. Megan then took me to the miliary base, but we couldn't go inside.

Something that is obvious but still surprised me was that people speak French. I know that sounds dumb, but I did just go to Italy, where people automatically switched into English when speaking to me. Being in France has been my first real, immersive experience when it comes to a different language. And while I've taken French since eighth grade with two great teachers, I have zero aptitude for the subject. I love it and think it's interesting and try hard, but I can still barely put a sentence together. Add to this the fact that first, they speak very fast, and second, they ask me things I never learned (due to my low level) and I was completely lost. By the third or fourth time, I actually felt the physical change as my eyes switched from normal to a glassy I-don't-understand-a-word-of-what-you-just-said stare. Thank God I had Megan there to help me. I was really irritated with myself for not being better, but it wasn't just lack of knowledge that held me back. I actually knew how to speak more French than I did while I was there, but I've always been so concerned about pronouncing something wrong or searching for words that I generally opt to be mute rather than risk making these mistakes. Therefore, most of the French things I said over the weekend were limited to "pardon," "merci," and "lapin chocolat, s'il vous plait." Disgraceful.

Tomorrow: Paris!


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