Thursday, January 15, 2009


Paige Cunningham
2, rue de Montargis
45072 Orleans cedex 2


So, if you are not aware, my sisters and I often like to compare ourselves to the Little Women sisters, and of course, I generally declare myself the Jo of the group. But in France, I have discovered that I have become the Beth. I miss home so much and time passes soooo incredibly slowly here. I feel like I've been here for an eternity and it's only been a little over 2 weeks. Also, I am, like Beth, sick right now (no doubt due to my absurdly drafty dorm), but luckily, I'm pretty sure it's not scarlet fever.

But, my dorm room has become very much a prison cell. It doesn't help that I'm reading Villette- a Bronte book whose main character is a dull, hermitish-type girl like me who, in the first volume, goes crazy from solitude after being left behind during summer vaction at the French school where she teaches English. Anyway, as I have habit of doing, I see very much of this prudish girl in myself, and I don't want to get feverish from solitary confinement like she did and end up roaming unknown French streets in the rain and passing out. Luckily she was saved by her friend, Dr. John, and a priest, but if I were in a similar predicament, I probably would end up dead or worse.

But, I am very grateful for my friends here. One gave me her alarm clock (no way to keep time when your phone is dead and you lack a watch!), another- her battery charger (she wasn't using it and I need it for my camera) and another very generously lets me use her lappy all the time. (Since I am sick and she and the girls are out, I'm using it while she's away.)

Anyway, classes here are mostly absurd. I have geography, history, writing, grammar, oral practice, and "atelier chanson" (that I haven't been to yet because the professor was absent and will be so next week as well). But I have class till 3 PM on Friday, which sucks hardcore if I want to spend weekends in Paris with Julia. But my history and geography teachers are amiable enough. My writing teacher scares me a little, but I think she's kind at heart. My grammar/other writing teacher is okay, but I hate how he's constantly looking over my shoulder to see how miserably I'm completing whatever excercise we're working on. And finally, my oral teacher who, upon first impression, seemed as harmless and sweet as confiture, is now the bane of my existence. She hates Americans, or so I gather. My friend, Kelley, and I were forced to introduce ourselves (everyone else had already been there from last semester) and the teacher could not understand us for the most part. I had to repeat the word, "Dallas," at least 100 times and Kelley got a lecture about her pronunciation of Monaco, saying that we put too much inflection in our words. She also got mad at us for not taking notes on some CD she played (because we couldn't understand a word!!!) and she asked us if we take notes in America. Without answering, she concluded that we didn't and said, "Ca ne marche pas ici." Oy. I do not like her and that class is going to kill me.

I guess I might as well recount my church story while I'm here. Well, on Sunday I went to "messe", taking the tram by myself and without much fear because I thought I'd just go to the cathedral which is not far from the "De Gaulle" stop. Well, of course the ginormous cathedral wasn't holding mass at the time our tour guides (from the day before) told us, but luckily there was a map posted inside with other churches nearby and their mass times. I decided to go to one that didn't seem too far and I tried to memorize the streets I needed to take to get there. Well, of course, walking down little cobblestone streets, I got lost. But eventually, I found the Loire River and could see the top of the church from there. After nearly giving up (mind you, I was wearing, in my own stupidity, heeled boots that were INCREDIBLY painful on those hilled and bumpy streets), I finally found it. And of course, mass was already finishing when I got there. But, mustering some courage, I stuck around in the cold and after mass, I asked a few people in my terrible French when the next mass was. Well, one guy didn't know and seemed as clueless as me. But another lady said there was one at noon, but it was different than the one that just finished. I didn't understand what she said was different about it, but I stayed anyway. I think she said the first one was a classic Latin mass and the one after is in all French. Not that it matters, I didn't understand anything anyway and I tried faking my way through all the parts that didn't have words on the guide to follow along with. But it was a beautiful "little" church that was so old, it was clearly under repair (scaffolding was all about the inside of the church). But you could still see the enormous altar and huge windows tipped with stained glass. It was lovely and distracting (but like I said, I couldn't understand much anyway). After finding a map outside the church after mass, I tried to memorize my way back home, but of course, I got lost again. This time to my very near detriment. I found a large street (Bourgogne) where one of our tutor-type people had said there were a lot of bars, so I took it, hoping it would lead back to the cathedral. Well, it was quite empty, and as my feet were just about to crap out on me, I was walking rather slow when I came upon a man. He was staring and smiling at me with an evil, mischievous smile on his face. Being the only girl visible at the time, I nearly froze. I saw a restaurant near by that was miraculously open (nothing is open on Sundays!) and I pretended to look at the menu posted in the windows, as if I would go in. The guy must have guessed I was pretending because he kept staring (the restaurant had mostly Arabic food, and well, I'm super white, so that must be why). But just as I was about to have a cow, a group of people my age came up behind me. So I carried on (with the others right behind me going the same way), pretending to decide that the restaurant was not to my liking and I finally found my way back to the cathedral and back to the tram stop. One of the pads of my feet is now bruised looking from my painful journey, but otherwise I came out of all that alive! :)

But I am definitely not going to that church again by myself (and hopefully the other Catholic churches nearer to the tram stops have mass at regular times). I miss my car. Crystal- you had better be taking good care of my baby!

Otherwise, there is not much news. Ha!

Love love love!


  1. Hang in there Paige! I'm sure that as you get a little deeper into the semester you'll find other students to commiserate with!

  2. "dead or worse"? I've been there too. Surprisingly, it occurred Sunday/Monday night for me. What's the time difference?

    Anyway, hooray for adventuring on your own. I don't think that guy would have killed you - probably just drilled wholes through you with his eyes. (Let me tell you Paige, it was difficult not to make a different joke there that would have had you and your Mom and probably your Dad, brother and sisters all mad at me for a VERY LONG time. But that is the kind of strength, consideration and discipline that I have. I held out until a different joke came into my head. You can thank me later. And Carol, if you are reading this - Happy Birthday to you.)

    So is the city quaint? beautiful? charming? boring? And that oral teacher you think hates Americans - well she is just proving what I have told you all along about the French, except now it becomes apparent that the olfactory challenge of the French is internal as well as external. What of the food?

    Throw away those heeled boots and get you some hiking shoes and a mini skirt - then you are ready for EVERYTHING / ANYTHING. Is your red jacket working for you or is the cold to your bones and you wish you had 3 pairs of long johns on under your clothes?

    I cannot send you anything in snail mail, yet, but I will. Meanwhile, I will do my best to leave you comments as much as possible.

    (BTW - this is just between you and me - if you put yourself into the stories you read, I am glad there is not a book of The Last Tango in Paris. In case you don't realize it, I am entertaining myself something fierce!)

    Love you, Paige. I will try to be a little less sarcastic and a lot more "in tune" next time. I am serious about the questions with which I challenged you. I really would like to know about the city and the food.

    Looking forward to your next blog.

  3. wow you sound like your having an adventure! was mass the same for the most part?

  4. Oh Mary- you are the best! Thank you for refraining from the dirty jokes. :)

    Orleans is all of the above. While it is quite a pretty little town, it is small and very dull compared to Paris!!! :)

    The food is usually very good (especially overpriced crepes by Le Tour Eiffel) and I am addicted to sliced gouda. As far as drinks go, I've only tasted sangria and it was unappealing, but hopefully I'll get some good wine soon.

    My red jacket is warm enough but nobody wears colors over here so wearing my red jacket is the equivalent of holding a sign that says, "Look at me! I'm American!" Sometimes it's not unbearably cold but throughout the day it changes and I'll sometimes wish I had more layers on.

    I love your comments!!! Keep 'em comin'! Love you!