This past week swooped in like a breath of fresh air, both literally and figuratively. For the longest time in a while, we had sun EVERY DAY. For Rennes, this was a monumental occasion. Granted, it still managed to shower us with hail one day and pour amidst a glowing sun the next, but I’ll take what I can get.
The fleeting moments of pretty-ish weather helped shed new light (look at me being all punny :P) on what is normally a very dreary stretch, between my birthday til Spring Break. It’s the longest the French go without a break, and the uninterrupted stretch of school was really starting to get to all the expatriate inhabitants of Villa Alverez; clearly, we have absorbed more of the French culture than we realize.
Despite our ever-deepening assimilation (or so I hope) into Frenchness, this week afforded me and my friends some moments of quiet (and not so quiet) Americanitude. As a whole, the French are much less outwordly celebratory about, well, everything, so the Olympics have passed by in a much quieter fashion than I am accustomed to. Nevertheless, a couple of my classmates pulled up a livestream on one of the school’s old desktops downstairs, slapped on a Do Not Touch sign and voilà, SYA’s very own Team USA viewing party. One day after lunch, a good 10 or so of us were crowded around this one computer enthusiastically commenting on the Men’s HalfPipe in anticipation of Shaun White.
And all of a sudden, it was Friday. As if it had been coordinated, almost everyone was sporting various shades of reds and the little mailbox/cubbyholes steadily filled up with little notes, pieces of candy and pink cake pops. It was the first time in a while that I think I’ve actually done something on Valentine’s Day with my friends, except we put our own spin on things. With only 10 boys in the whole SYA France Class this year, what else would you expect but a resounding rebranding to “Galentine’s Day”? 🙂 The evening was duly kicked off with festivities planned in celebration of my friend R.M’s birthday, however without the commercialized fanfare and hype we’re used to back home, it had sort of slipped our mind that the French in fact, do celebrate Valentine’s Day. Our Plan A, B, C and so on were all booked out, so it was with growling stomachs and immense relief that one super nice and decently prized Italian restaurant with deep plush chairs finally let us in.
Surrounded by my five Valentines, our stomachs bursting with food and sweets, cracking ourselves up over poetry and the smell of tea, I felt all warm and fuzzy. I was reminded of the Common App prompt we’d been asked to think about earlier that day and its reference to a place where you feel content. For me, nights like this past Valentine’s Day sum up the state of mind I associate with contentment. Being in France has further proved to me that those small moments that you’ll cherish forever make all the ups and downs so worth it. It’s almost like running cross country- I don’t mind the uphills as much because science tells me that what goes up, must come down. And so it is with life. With the right perspective, the struggle days fade but the golden memories remain.