I have written many different drafts of different blog posts.
I can't seem to figure out what to say- I want to describe everything and yet I also want to keep it all to myself.

It is Monday night.The weather is turning colder here and we're experiencing some of the classic Bretagne precipitation.
I have a killer cold. It is raining outside and in my sinuses.

I said in my last post that I was starting to feel more comfortable and confident around school. I think I can say that with a lot more truth now. I have established a really wonderful group of friends and I am so excited that I have an entire schoolyear  with them ahead of me. The same goes for my host family: they are wonderful and make me feel so comfortable and cared for. They are endlessly patient with my inability to find the school bus. They make me laugh and feed me REALLY AWESOME FRENCH FOOD. Eating dinner with them is usually the best part of my day. Tonight we had Galettes, which are a sort of salty crêpe that is a regional speciality. Sometimes we try to speak English at dinner, which is endlessly hilarious. I have been trying for three weeks now to teach Marco, my host dad, to say "yeah" but it keeps coming out "yahyer."

Needless to say, life has been good. I feel more comfortable and less awkward here everyday. I am finding a new normal.

I think I expressed this in my last post, but it really is quite something to live without having language at your fingertips. Sometimes it is incredibly frustrating, because I can't really be myself in French yet. Everything is so much more confusing and complicated when you can't communicate, which means that I constantly feel stupid and incapable of doing things for myself. Humility has become a fact of life for me.

Sometimes I am homesick for English. The other day I had to call Wells Fargo about my credit card. The representative I talked to was so nice- I explained that I was in France studying abroad for 10 months and we started chatting a bit. I wanted to stay on the phone with him forever and just tell him everything. I have never felt so pathetic in my life.

The funny thing is that speaking French, as hard as it is, feels great. I can't describe it- I just love the feel of trying to function in a different language. Yes, my accent is terrible and I usually just bypass proper grammar to try to get my point across. But I can already feel how much I've improved since I got here. My comprehension is so much quicker and I'm able to pick up on a lot more details when people talk, I can put sentences together much more competently, and my vocabulary is expanding through the roof. The idea of someday speaking fluently seems so exciting and wonderful and....unattainable.

When I don't understand something I say, "Quoi?" which people usually take for "I didn't hear you." When I really mean, "What the f**** are you saying to me?"
This results in them repeating what they said at the same speed, and rather than have them repeat themselves again and again, I just smile and nod vaguely.

A friend of mine told me that language immersion is like drowning, and whether I struggle or not the language will eventually fill my lungs and I'll be pulled under. I thought that was a very accurate and beautiful way to put it.

I think my blog is very heavy on "Nora's stream of consciousness" and very light on actual details about the town and my host family and what I've actually been doing here. Those things are coming, I promise. Very soon. But right now I need to go watch Les Simpsons, take my homeopathic cold medicine, and pass out in my cozy little bed in my cozy little room at the back of the house in the French countryside.



  1. this is beautiful. you always make me cry. WHY AM I SO EMOTIONAL.
    i really like it when you write like this. i do want to hear details, but please don't let this go.

  2. Hey, Hon! Sweetheart, humility is the key to life. Don't you forget it!! You are SO LUCKY [but aren't we all?:) ] to be learning this key life lesson at your age. And, also, in such a lovely place on earth.

    I DO know how you feel because I was there. Only Spanish is kind of easier to learn. You will always be a better person for this experience.

    Also, I love French too. Did you know I am taking French at the AF here? Beginner 3. Go, me.

    Stream of consciousness is good. Now, next blog, describe some French small children or old people that you see.

    Also, please try to find and eat a "Kouinh Ammanh" -- ask your family! (Pronounced Queen Amman). Then tell me what that was like!


  3. We had dinner w/ Liz and Eric tonight at Sea Salt and were talking about your blog, so I had to go home and look you up. I love reading what you have to say, and think it is really amazing that you have found a group of friends and that you love your host family already.

    keep letting that language fill your lungs. It enters the bloodstream faster that way.

    I can't wait to hear what else is going on...

    enjoy, enjoy, enjoy (and feel better soon. That same cold has hit S. Mpls w/ a vengeance!)

    ps I thought of you the other day 'cause Kris played your radio documentary for JH opening to inspire the other students.