Thanksgiving was a beautiful evening as expected: dressed to the nines, our smiles got bigger as the night went on, thanks to a plentiful supply of red wine, cheerful conversation between family and friends, and merry entertainment from fellow IES students. (I even took part in singing Fly Me to the Moon with 3 others, acapella-style!)
Yet even though it was an evening to remember, it lacked that essential quality that defines Thanksgiving for me - family. I know I wasn't the only one who was especially homesick that evening. Indeed, it seems that even the French can't pull of a Thanksgiving feast like home: the turkey was dry and the "pumpkin pie" tasted much more like curry. But we appreciated the restaurant's efforts and reminded each other that in a month, we'd be even more thankful for a Christmas dinner at home.
Friday night I had the opportunity to attend a soccer game (or a football match, as they say in Europe), which seems to be a core part of European culture. Thanks to Theresa's friend Lutz back in Germany, I had a bit of an introduction to the sport, but this was my first live game.
I honestly don't understand why it's not more popular in the U.S. as it is just about everywhere else. The rules are easy to understand. The whistle doesn't blow every three seconds. And you can even see the player's faces!
Unexpectedly, when I told my host mom and brother during the week that I'd be going to the game, they looked at me in shock, or perhaps even horror, and then both burst out laughing. They then explained to me that in their household, they prefer rugby because it's a much more "intelligent" sport for gentlemen. My host mom did admit that the household is a little biased: her husband (who I haven't met because he's currently working in Morocco) has played rugby for many years.
So on Saturday night when the match between France and New Zealand ("the two best teams in the world" said my host mom) came on TV, they insisted I sit down and watch it with them. And I must admit that I enjoyed it, even though France lost. Imagine football with no pads or helmuts, few whistle interruptions, and no strange terms like a "down" to indicate that a team has actually moved horizontally. But it would never work in the states, not with all the blood and bruises on the players faces by the end of the game!
But alas, now it's December and the games are over.
As much as I love my birthday, for the past few years it's fallen at quite the inconvenient time: after all the Thanksgiving merriment, the coming of December reminds everyone that exams are not too far off, which causes the entire month to be consumed by massive cram sessions.
What's even worse is that Heidi and I have a double load. In addition to our five exams at the end of term, this Friday we have to take the DELF, a standardized French test which shows that we've reached a certain proficiency in the language. This test is actually even more salient than my exams, as the certificate is required for all Alma French majors.
It doesn't help that it's in Tours, and thus we have to take a train at 6 a.m. It will be a long day, but the upside is that we'll find out our results that same afternoon. If I do well, it will certainly give me more confidence for my exams, which start next week.
I'm trying not to think about the alternative.
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