Hello friends! Welcome back to BABF. Today, we’ve got another episode of L’Etudiant Etranger. This one’s really fun, and I hope you all enjoy!
By the time I woke up, sunlight filled the room. It felt like it should be much earlier. But then again, I was still operating on Normandy time. I rolled over under my thick covers. Jet lag was real.
I glared at my still-packed suitcase. Silently, I cursed my past self. Why hadn’t I just unpacked last night? Sure I was tired, but I wasn’t much less tired today. I sighed and unzipped the suitcase. Might as well get to work.
It took some time, but soon enough, my belongings were put away. My life was here for the next year. My stomach erupted into somersaults. It was a scary thought that I’d be here for the next year. I missed home, but I was excited at all the possibilities. American culture had always fascinated me, and I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself.
I emerged from my room, my host family was already scattered for the day. Clarice was busy washing breakfast dishes in the sink.
“Pardon me Madame, but where might I find some breakfast?” I inquired.
Clarice looked up from her housework, meeting my eyes with a smile. “There are some pastries on the table. I bought them especially for you.”
After a thank you, I found the breakfast she described. I selected a croissant and bit in. It was flaky, but not quite as good as the ones Mère made. Store-bought pastries just didn’t hit the same. Nonetheless, I appreciated Clarice’s hospitality. She went out of her way to make me feel at home, and I was grateful for it.
“We’re going over to dinner at my sister-in-law’s tonight. She’s a magnifique cook,” Clarice informed. “You’ll like it there. She has seven kids. I know Rudy and Claire love visiting their cousins.”
I grinned. That did sound fun. I couldn’t wait to meet everyone. American culture was fascinating, and I couldn’t wait to experience it all. Just…maybe not hamburgers.
I groaned. I hoped Clarice’s sister-in-law didn’t make hamburgers. Ew.
“Is there anything else we need to do today?” I asked politely.
Clarice shook her head. “Rudolph is taking Rudy to track meet, but other than that we don’t have anything on Saturdays. Um, do you need anything from the store? I was thinking we could go shopping.”
I nodded. “Would you believe that I don’t have any way to charge my phone? Or any of my electronics? Plugs here are weird.”
Clarice chuckled. “I have some voltage converters in the bathroom for you. I remember being shocked when I first traveled abroad.”
“Where did you go?” I inquired, eager to know more about my host mother.
“The one and only Paris,” she smiled. “It was amazing. I went with my college class. A truly unforgettable experience.”
“Then, Rudolph and I traveled to Tokyo on our honeymoon. That was also a wonderful experience.”
I daydreamed about traveling to more countries. Tokyo sounded nice, but I’d always set my heart on Australia. And, I of course hoped to take at least one road trip while here in America. I’d never been on one in France, but I heard they were very fun. I wondered if Rudolph and Clarice were the traveling types.
“Do you travel much?” I asked.
Clarice sighed. “Some. Not as much as we used to before the twins were born.”
I nodded. That made sense. My own parents were world travelers before I was born. Kids seemed like a lot of work. My thoughts turned once again to gratitude. My parents had given up so much for me.
“Anyway, let’s get ready to go shopping. We’ll leave in about fifteen minutes.”
I did as I was told. Shopping in America sounded fun.
Though the stores were similar to French stores, there were some differences.
“Is it sale season?” I asked, noticing the bright red “SALE” signs.
Claire gave me a confused look. “What now?”
“I mean is it that time of year when there are sales?”
Clarice chuckled. “You see dear, in France, they only have sales twice a year,” she then turned to me, “Here, sales happen a bit more often. Like…every week.”
My jaw dropped. Sales every week? No wonder the American people were in so much debt!
I rifled through my purse. My Euros were all gone, replaced by American Dollars. Though the foreign exchange program took care of most of my needs, Mère and Père wanted me to have ample spending money.
“Merci,” I muttered to myself.
I tried not to spend much, but I did get a t-shirt with an American flag on the front. It had a red sale sticker on it, and I figured what better souvenir to have than an American t-shirt? Plus, I would always think of how Americans were weird with their sales when I wore it.
Claire looked longingly at a stack of notebooks.
“Do you like writing in notebooks?” I asked, striking up a conversation.
She nodded. “Every writer has a bottomless stack of cute notebooks. It’s just…mine are mostly empty.”
I grinned. I wasn’t a writer, but I did have a stack of empty notebooks lying around at home. “Don’t you need a new one?”
Claire nodded. “But alas, my allowance has run out.”
I looked over the notebooks. Once again, there was a “SALE” sign sitting atop the pile. It also read, “BOGO”
“What does ‘BOGO’ mean?”
“Buy one, get one,” Claire smiled. “Are you going to get one? Because if you do then you should get one for me too!”
“Claire!” Clarice scolded. “Where are your manners?”
I shrugged. “It’s fine. I was thinking about getting one anyway.”
Clarice sighed. “I’ll get you both one. Just pick out whichever ones you like.”
I looked over them all. One with the Eiffel Tower stood out to me. I nudged it over to Claire. “You should get this one.”
“Oh là là!” Claire exclaimed. “I love it!”
She handed me one with the Statue of Liberty. “Here’s one for you.”
We checked out and the cashier put our new belongings into plastic bags. We walked out of the store, and I felt like we were in a movie scene.
“What do we want for lunch?” Clarice asked.
I rolled my eyes. “Please not hamburgers,” I wished.
“Chick-fil-a!” Claire recommended. “Do they have that in France?”
I pursed my lips. “I don’t think so. I’ve certainly never been to one.”
“NEVER?!” Claire gasped. “Mom, we HAVE to go!”
“Do they have hamburgers there?” I shivered.
“No, it’s a chicken restaurant,” Clarice laughed. “Good idea Claire, let’s eat at Chick-fil-a.”
Clarice pulled the car into the drive-thru. “Um, aren’t they a bit busy?” I asked, eyeing the long line of cars ahead of us.
“Nope, this is normal,” Claire noted.
“It’s even a little slow today,” Clarice agreed.
Wow. I didn’t know why anyone would wait so long to eat lunch. This chicken must be good.
Surprisingly, the line moved quickly. Before I knew it, a bag was plopped into my laugh.
“Ooh,” I commented. It smelled delicious, and nothing like a hamburger. It tasted much better too. “Is this a popular dish in America?”
“Couldn’t you tell from the line?” Claire laughed.
At least there was one American dish that I liked. Thank goodness I wouldn’t be eating hamburgers all the time.
That wraps up episode two! I really hope you’re enjoying this photoseries. Let me know what you think in the comments!