feelin' (more) like a native.
What a world of difference just a few weeks makes. Last time I posted, I really was just getting settled and was still tired from being immersed in French, from eating dinner later, and from just generally getting settled into the lifestyle here. Now that I've been here for a few more weeks, the time is already starting to fly by. My mom is coming to visit me in just 4 days, and in my head, her visit marked the halfway point, so this is going fast!!! Two weekends ago, I had the opportunity to go to festival of Breton dance with my host uncle, who teaches that style of dance. Nantes is the historical capital of Bretagne, which for a long time wasn't even considered part of France because they speak a different language (Bretagne, which is not a dialect of French but rather a "relative" of Celtic) and have different cultural traditions. But it was fantastic to see authentic customs like that being kept alive, and even cooler to be able to participate in some of the more basic dances. There were people of all ages, from little kids to grandparents, and the atmosphere was so joyous and energetic that I couldn't help but have a great time, even when I was messing up. Here's a video of one the dances, so that you can get a sense for what it looked/sounded like: la danse bretonne This past weekend, most of the students on my program went on a 2-day tour of 5 chateaus. We visited Montgeoffroy (a private chateau, the proprietor of which is also the owner of Cosmo and Marie Claire magazines), Azay-le-Rideau, Villandry, Amboise, and Chenonceau. All of them were fantastic and unique in their own ways, and it was fascinating to hear about the history behind each of the buildings and the people who had lived there. We were lucky to have gorgeous, sunny weather despite the fact it is October and should be cold and overcast here. There were also relatively few tourists because it's the off season, so that made everything better too. [Pictures and captions are at the end of the blog.] This past Tuesday night, some of my friends and I went out for drinks with a group of young French guys that we met through our conversation club at the program. We talked for over 2 hours in French, and it was SUCH a rewarding experience to be able to communicate fluidly--both speak and understand, and to exchange ideas and little language tricks and stuff. I'm on such a high because I feel utterly accomplished and fulfilled. The only thing that would make it better is doing it again!!! But in addition to these amazing, enriching cultural experiences, it is study abroad, and with the time that has passed and helped me settle in, classes have also started to kick into gear. I have midterms over the course of the next three weeks, and I desperately need to get started researching and outlining the research papers that I have due in every class. I also have to work on some internship applications for the summer, but it's so hard to have the motivation for that while I'm here. Anyway, so far the experience is great. It's going so fast it feels hard to take it all in, and still feels like it isn't actually my life. I do miss friends and family (though Facebook and Skype are godsends!), but my mom will be here this week, and I'll be home before I know it, so I'm trying to just focus on soaking in every minute of the experience. Thanks for reading, and check in soon for another post! [gallery link="file" columns="2"]