Life in Limbo

One of the interesting things about being an American studying in France is dealing with a sort of double life.

When it comes to school, we adhere to the French vacation schedule and an altered American curriculum. I have both French and American teachers who teach a melange of classes some of which are taught in English and the others in French. We adhere to the French 20-point grading system and the American grading periods. Like Hannah Montana used to say, we get the best of both worlds.

That is, most of the time. This week marked the end of the first academic quarter. Befitting the need to have multiple grades in the grade book, we were barraged with a multitude of tests, quizzes, projects in addition to the normal steady stream of homework. I’m not one to usually get too flustered when it comes to languages and literature but the long days, persistent drizzle, pervading chill and onslaught of work coming after two weeks of doing practically nothing was, to put it lightly, killer.

The Baking Crew with some of our finished product

Thankfully, the French love for food and the promise of an upcoming long weekend got me through the deluge of studying and work. On Monday, I held a cupcake bakesale to raise money for She’s The First, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing an education for girls in developing countries without the means or opportunity to do so. We raised 116 euros and it made the day before’s long afternoon of baking (gotta love confusing French ovens) totally worth it!

Pear tarts before they hit the oven

Continuing the trend of baked goods, on Wednesday, three friends and I started our three week long cooking crash-course, taught by an SYA teacher. We made mini Tart Tatins (an Apple and caramel tart), a pear and blue cheese tart (surprisingly tasty and not weird sweet and salty combination) and almond tuile (like a thinner version of almond brittle). It was hilarious and delicious and the leftovers made for a great breakfast! Can’t wait til class #2 next week…

Spray Vinagrette!

After the long and strenuous week, a couple of friends and I went out for dinner to celebrate A.N’s birthday. Wandering around centreville as usual, we happened upon a neat Italian restaurant with an all glass storefront and sprayable oil and vinegar. I hadn’t eaten saucy pasta in such a long time and my goat cheese and pesto lasagna hit the spot.

So as the first academic quarter comes to a close, here’s what I’ve learned this week. Stress is temporary and when it’s all over, there’s nothing like French food to soothe the soul (I bet it’s all that salted butter….).

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