Monday, October 31, 2011

La Toussaint

Salut, tout le monde!
I sometimes wish Halloween was celebrated in France just because it is a nice excuse to dress up. I never realized how much fun it was until last year when the Americans coerced me into going trick-or-treating (excuse me, candybagging as Ava would say) with them.
Instead, we celebrate La Toussaint- or All Saint's Day. It takes place on November 1st, and it is a day for us to reflect on our relatives who have passed. We place flowers, normally chrysanthemums, on our loved ones' graves, and some people attend special masses which emphasize the saints*. I've been to one once.
Schools (thank goodness!) and most other public places are closed on this day.

*I meant to talk about the Saints and French culture earlier! Aside from birthdays, most families celebrate their children's saint days as well. Saints play a large role in the Catholic church, and although I am not religious, I still take some time to celebrate my saint day. Sainte Sabine day is August 29, and hopefully, I'll do something exciting on that day next year so I can post about it. I'll talk more about Saint Days then.

As for the weekly dose of Nord-Pas-de-Calais culture:
We put chicory in or on most everything. Enough said. ;)

Sabine

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm not much for dancing, but for you I did...

Connaissez-vous Bud Light, Miller Light, et Coors Light? I'm sure you do. Those, mes amis, are not beers. OK, they are. However, the perceived pride the French take in their wines also applies to beer...well, in the northern regions, anyway. The Nord-Pas-de-Calais is known for its beer, and its production of it probably stems from Belgium. Brands you might find in the North are Ch'ti andTrois Monts.

DISCLAIMER: This topic may be somewhat iffy to some, but in France, it isn't much of an issue. We are taught to drink responsibly from a young age, so it isn't uncommon to see a young French person drink some wine or beer. It isn't taboo as it might be in the States.

On to the letter...
Il y avais un fois quand j'aimais Julien- I used to like Julien. I had a major crush on Julien in 2008, I guess. I don't know...was it really a crush crush or simply adoration for him because he was my friend when nobody else was? Je ne sais pas. That year was awful for me. I was lucky that somebody at that school would actually talk to me.

If anybody wants to confirm their thoughts that I like him as more than a friend, then go ahead and do it now. Perhaps I do like him and should stop denying things myself? I just don't know what to believe in anymore. Growing up is a funny thing, and I guess the way you see people begins to change, too. Maybe not that much. I still see him as my best friend and probably nothing more.

But I actually danced with him. Yeahhhhh. Dancing totally means nothing, though. Julien's mother's friend is a great dancer, and I'm sure that at age 43 she could still dance circles around Chrissa. She wanted to teach Julien's mom and Antoine (Julien's mom's boyfriend) how to ballroom dance.

The funny part? Julien wanted to try it. He loves trying new things, and I do to a fault. Dancing isn't one of those things I would want to try again. It's simply NOT my thing. However, Julien begged me, and I really didn't care to sit at home and be yelled at by my mom all day, so I gave in.

It was...different.

Could I be a contestant on Dancing With The Stars? Never in this lifetime. Was it awkward? Most definitely! I felt myself blush a few times, and I'm sure my face was as red as my hair. It was even worse that Julien's mom commented on how "cute" we (Julien et moi) looked. Hmm...I think I would rather hear my mom's constant nagging...
Antoine said that Julien would make a fine husband. Oui. His future wife will be the luckiest girl in the world because he is so kind and wants to make everything perfect. He doesn't want to make his dad's mistakes. Crois-moi...

-Sabine

Saturday, October 15, 2011

le 15 octobre

Salut!
Je m'appelle Julien. Normally, I'm a private person, and I wouldn't put my life on the Internet. But all of us have a story to tell, and I figure that I should tell mine. I had a blog prior to this, but I forgot the login and had to make a new one. The previous posts are from the summer.
I guess I should state the most important thing: I did not create this blog to talk about me as a person (though I'm sure I'll share some of that). As weird as it sounds, I created it to talk about Sabine and my rather strange friendship with her. OK...so maybe it isn't strange and it's just a normal friendship, but she has had a large impact on my life in different ways.
Enough about Sabine as I'm sure you read her blog. I know I said I wouldn't do this, but I will introduce myself more in-depth. I am fourteen years old, and I am in 3ème at Collège Paul Verlaine. I play football (soccer), but not for a school team because we don't have those in France. I love traveling, other languges, and other cultures. My favorite place in the world is Valencia, Spain. Spanish is my favorite foreign language, and I recently discovered that vosotros/as and its verb forms are not used in the Americas.
There are two things I want to be when I grow up- the world's best dad and a cours préparatoire (first grade) teacher. I'm fine with young children (considering that I have babysat my little sister Delphine forever), so teaching that age group doesn't bug me.

On to other things...

I haven't seen Sabine since 2008. She left the country for some boarding school without personally telling me "goodbye", and I won't lie. It kind-of hurt, considering we're good friends. She returned to France a few months ago as a result of her mother's demands. When I first saw her face, I felt like America had changed her. She actually wears her glasses now; she used to hate them.
Fortunately, she didn't change much personality-wise. I'm glad of that. If her personality changed, that would have been like having a whole new Sabine. Her clothing style is still the same, and I'm glad that she hasn't adopted sweatpants. I appreciate it when girls dress nicely. It looks much more respectable.

Things between us weren't too awkward as I had expected they would be since we hadn't spoken face to face in so long. The first thing she brought up was Miley Cyrus, which was expected. I then asked her if she wanted to help me babysit Delphine, and she said "sure". We talked some about America, and Delphine insisted that we had crushes on each other.

I thought she was being the typical little sister who liked to get on my nerves, but maybe her words had some truth to them. Some truth...I mean, I admire and respect Sabine and I love her in friend sense. I wouldn't say I have a romantic-type of crush on her. I don't think I could ever date my best friend because I wouldn't want to destroy our friendship. I have much more respect for her, and I'm sure she feels the exact same way*.

*Or maybe not.

Sabine invited me to her house for dinner, and afterwards, we went on her balcony to talk as we usually did when we were younger. Her brother snickered at us, and once again, I was assuming he was being the typical older brother. Her parents didn't think anything of us going on the balcony, but then again, we French seem to be more relaxed about relationships with the opposite sex. Sabine told me that some Americans are weird with boy-girl friendships, and I can safely say that society is more liberal in Europe. We don't always assume the worst.
We were talking about America and Miley Cyrus again, and in the midst of conversation, I remembered I had something to give her. I handed her a note that she had written me three years ago, and after she read it, she looked like she was going to faint from shock.
After I left, I regretted returning it to her. She gave it to me, and giving it back was rude. I was expecting a confrontation about it, but fortunately, she dropped the subject. In some ways, it's just best to leave the past behind.

-JH

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To further procrastinate from sharing the letter...

...I will kindly direct all of my readers to this interesting topic. CLICK HERE!
Since I have red/auburn/whatever-you-want-to-call-it hair, I found reading this interesting. While red hair isn't common to France as a whole, I will say that it is far more common in the northern regions where the people are lighter. I have yet to see a redhead in Nice, but I'm sure some live there. One's coloring just depends on the region s/he lives in, I guess, and some people don't get that because I was asked by an American (hint...her name starts with a "C" and ends with an "A") if I was seriously French* because "French people don't have red hair". So yeah, to reiterate, most have darker hair, but regional differences also play a role...AND THERE ARE REDHEADS IN FRANCE. In some ways, I feel like she is stereotyping...

*Note that she never asked Christelle this question, and Christelle is rousse, too.

To add to our discussion of regional differences, here's #3:
Maroilles*- it's probably one of the more common cheeses from the Nord=Pas-de-Calais (and the Picardie region, which is below the NPDC). In my previous post, you can see that it's also common to dunk it in coffee. Not going to lie, it's strong if you aren't used to it, but I think it is delicious.

*You're probably wondering how to pronounce that..."mar-wahl". :)

Sabine

Friday, October 7, 2011

C'est octobre...

...and I haven't posted. Ugh, life has just been unbearably busy. You have no idea what the French educational system is like until you've been in it. Basically, all of the teachers assume their students have no lives, so they drown the students in homework every night. Oh, and we have half a day of school on Saturday, so I can forget about having a complete weekend...
So, here is #2 of my "You Know You're from the Nord When" series:
Café au lait- or coffee with milk- seems to be a huge French stereotype of some sort. I cannot begin to tell you how many people assume that I drink it because I'm French. I do drink coffee, true, but not with milk (because that stuff is awful). I like to drink it with chicory, which is extremely popular in the Nord. We Northerners add chichory to a lot of different things- even waffles. Wild leaves are usually bitter, but in foods and things, chicory is delicious!
Another thing we do in the Nord is dunk maroilles (a type of cheese- it's very strong) in our coffee. I like that, too. This cheese is extremely popular in the Nord, and I have yet to see it in another region of France.

Also, I styled my hair for once in my life! I normally like to wear it down because it always looks best that way, but I'm enjoying this style. My mom helped me with it, which was a shocker. She never really helps me with anything.
I still need to relax some, and then I'll share details about the note mentioned in one of my prior posts...it's shocking. Croyez-moi.

Sabine