Every year on my birthday, people ask, “How does it feel to be another year older?” Well, normally for me, it’s like nothing has changed, except the number I rattle off after a moment’s pause when someone asks me how old I am. But this year, I celebrated my birthday in France, and not with my family. So the realization of being a full year older went slightly eclipsed by the renewed realization that I was in France (it hits you over and over again.. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being pleasantly surprised that I’m actually in Europe).
On my actual birthday, my amazing friends who are super sweet took me out to a birthday galette lunch, where I had creme brulée for dessert. I love that I can say stuff like that casually about my life. I love France.
As another example of how different life here is from back home, I didn’t have to look further than the little excursion my MUN group and I took to work with a local high school’s MUN. In preparation for the upcoming ILYMUN conference, the girls of SYA’s MUN team participated in a mock debate at VHB (a lycée located a quick Metro ride from Villa Alverez). Speaking in an amalgamation of French and English (theirs had a surprising slight British accent), it was neat to see how MUN works in France and to meet more French kids. Plus, there’s nothing quite like a mock UN resolution that references Beyoncé, to brighten up your day.
On Saturday, after slogging through various renditions of Hamlet’s “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy and having attempted to memorize both dialogues from a scene in Parfum: L’Histoire d’un Meurtrieur by Patrick Suskind, I had a birthday double-whammy. Starting in the afternoon, I celebrated with my host family, tofu (for the first time since I’ve been in France so it was kind of a big deal), two cakes (one chestnut, the other chocolate chip) and a scarf (clearly my host family has noticed my obsession… Happy birthday to me :D). In the evening, my friends and I wined and dined ourselves at a cute pizzeria in the Medieval quarter, followed by a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity (Apples to Apples for Teenagers).
Looking back, I have a distinct feeling that my time in France is going to be characterized by days like this Saturday: lots of writing, fun times with my host family and casual nights out with my friends. The French have the balance between work and play down to a science, and I think that maybe some of that savoir-faire is starting to rub off on me.