All Things GoParis French Studies, Summer 2010

This morning has been rather intense. Actually, events have been kind of strange since last night, but the end result, I’ve found, is not negativity.

For starters, I forgot that, in France, a lot of times the dairy products are not pasteurized or sterilized. And I don’t drink milk generally (I’m lactose intolerant, for the most part), so since I’ve arrived  here, if I’ve had cereal, I’ve used rice milk. It’s not really milk, I know; it’s more like watery rice squeezings. Or something. I don’t know how they do it. You may also be wondering how I get along living here with all the dairy products in practically every dish. The answer: I just eat it. Sometimes I have a Lactaid pill with me to help with digestion, but for the most part I have just told my body that it’d better start picking up the slack again. Overall, things have been okay. Except for one and a half days ago, when I drank unpasteurized (and probably expiring) milk in my cereal.

I first had some of the milk two nights ago, and then again yesterday morning, both times with cereal. I felt okay, though kind of iffy, the whole time until about yesterday afternoon, after the meal at Chantilly (I will talk about the trip later). Then I started feeling more obviously sick. When I got home, I found out the milk in our fridge had quickly gone bad. This morning, our host mom couldn’t even pour it down the sink because it was mostly solid. So gross. And perhaps my upset stomach was not only the product of the bad milk, but of a couple other things, but I know the milk must have been a major culprit because both my roommate and I, who had had some of it yesterday morning, had the same sickness last night. Thankfully now we are better. Our host mom has told us that we should only drink the milk that says UHT on it (we have a small carton of it in the frigo), and that from now on she will buy that kind for us. She was really upset to know that we were ill. I’m just glad I’m still not mal à l’estomac. But I’ll eat relatively plain food until I know I’m 100%.

So, as a result, I didn’t get to go to Notre Dame again this morning. I slept in. But there is always next weekend. And as a matter of fact, the various interesting events of last night and today have resulted in a sort of revelation for me this afternoon. I’ll get to that in a bit. First, my day trip to Chantilly.

The entire IES group was invited to go yesterday, and for the most part, everyone was on the bus bright and early at 8:30. The actual bus ride wasn’t very long, and my friends and I amused ourselves in the back half of the bus the whole way, despite our fatigue. When we arrived at Le Château de Chantilly, I was so pleased with how large the grounds were (from what I could see in the pebble “driveway”). But I had no idea how giant the place actually was; the grounds expanded left, right, and straight into forests, gardens, and a small river. We were allowed to go off and explore until noon, when we had to meet up again at the big statue at the top of the stairs for lunch.

I was in a state of bliss. Exploring a giant castle grounds…it was fantastic. There was a small forest, a little collection of thatch-roof cottages, waterfalls, gardens, a little maze, and lots of wooden and stone bridges. There was also what appeared to be a man-made creek/river with giant carp in it. I kept telling my friend that it felt like we needed to be riding horses and wearing beautiful dresses, but the only horses we saw were across an impassable, swan-filled river. Quelle tristesse.

The château itself was incredibly beautiful. The rooms were large, ornate, and all very old, though some parts of the castle were built later on than the rest. Although there are many old, beautiful places in Paris, being in Chantilly was refreshing. It is equally beautiful as many places in Paris, but it’s out in the country, far from the busy city. It made me want to see much more of France, more than just Paris. And, par hasard, my roommate asked me yesterday night if I’d want to go to Versailles next weekend. Of course I said yes, and we invited our host mother, too. It’ll be great if we all end up going together.

What I was going to talk about earlier is the fact that I didn’t go to church this morning because I was sick last night. But regardless, today has been a day of revelations and thanks-giving. I learned a few things today that I can’t really mention on here in detail, but to make my point, the details don’t even really matter. Today has really been a day of reflection, a day of remembering. With everything that’s been going on around me, I cannot help but feel thankful for my life.

Here I am, in freakin’ Paris, 21 years old and very healthy. I don’t have many problems to speak of, certainly none that are life-threatening or life-altering, and I have both strong family connections and a supportive circle of friends. This is not to say that I don’t go through my own trials, but I know people who are dealing with harder issues than I am, and with less support than I have. I just want to thank everyone who has helped me become the person I am today, especially those who guide me and help me and love me, from near and from far. I am thankful for everything in my life that lets me be the rock for others, but I am also so very thankful for the strong people in my life who are there for me when I’m the one in need. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you all so very much.

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