Since I failed in every single one of my pre-term resolutions and have no desire to rehash my utter lack of self-discipline, I'm instead going to write a list of things I have learnt during this semester in France. Donc, sans plus de cérémonie, je vous propose ma liste de choses que j'ai appris grâce à la France.
- Whether you turn up late or on-time to a lesson, you will still always be early.
- Never drink French rum.
- In fact, never order spirits in a French bar unless it's in shot form, or you're prepared to pay upwards of eight euros for a vodka mixer.
- If you're ill on a weekend you might as well say your goodbyes and make peace with your impending demise, because you're getting no drugs or medical attention a single minute before nine o' clock on Monday morning. (Unless of course that Monday is a jour férié, in which case it will actually be Tuesday morning. Desolée.)
- If in doubt, you have three options to effectively cover up the fact that you have no idea what someone just said to you: an indifferent "bah...", a generic "du coup...", or simply a slow shrug that illustrates just how profoundly you do not care.
- In Paris, being a European student under 26 will get you into almost anywhere for free.
- Also, being a girl will get you into a French nightclub, no questions asked. (No questions asked.)
- On that note, there is no greater shame than being IDed for wine in a country that offers wine-tasting classes for children.
- When a français tells you it's going to get very very cold in the winter, what they actually mean is: "It's going to get sort of cold, but I've never experienced a Scottish winter so my threshold is pretty low."
- People really do carry baguettes around in the front basket of their bikes, wear berets, and say voila! and oh la la in real life. They do not, however, wear stripes very often. Or, like, any colour at all.
- Despite having a very lovely language of their own, the French have an unsettling tendency to use ever-so-slightly dubious English phrases ("so British" and "bling-bling" have both made frequent appearances, to my utter horror) and also to give things partially-English names so that you have to purposefully pronounce words from your own language wrong in order to be understood. This, as a temporary ex-pat, is tantamount to being forced to drink a cup of The English Breakfast spiked with French rhum while trying to explain the concept of gravy on chips, c'est-à-dire difficult, unpleasant and upsetting.
Also, bonus side-effect, I now often accidentally forget to capitalise months and days or find myself pluralising adjectives in English. So, cheers for all that, France. Many a life lesson and no small amount of future anecdote-fodder.