Monday, December 17, 2012

Closing Time

Well, this semester in France is almost to an end. I’m both happy and sad about this. I’ve had a great time exploring France, and a wonderful opportunity to reflect on my life and my future plans. Time away from friends, family, and life as I know it has really made me appreciate everything I have and made me grateful for the freedom life as a United States citizen gives me.  

After class last Wednesday I headed to Agde to prepare for the Assistants’ Christmas dinner. I stayed with my wonderful host from Thanksgiving – Natalie. On Thursday I went to Montpellier to visit my friend Kait and her French boyfriend Mathieu.  Although it was raining, we still had a wonderful visit. We chatted in a French café over coffee, then went to Mathieu’s house to make pasta for lunch.  Kait and Mathieu had just their PACS (civil solidarity pact), which comes with partnership rights and responsibilities, but not as much as a marriage would. After lunch, I walked around the Montpellier Christmas market and had some hot chocolate. 

On Friday Natalie and I started prepping for the party on Saturday – peeling sweet potatoes, stocking up on wine and baguettes, and listening to Christmas music…and then Natalie’s boyfriend texted her about the tragic shooting. We were shocked and immediately went online to read about it. Being so far from the United States makes news like that seem somewhat unreal. It’s horrifying, and yet life goes on. We spent the rest of the evening in a completely different mood, waiting for the news sites to post updates. One thing my French students always ask me about is gun control in the US. They don’t understand the way of thinking in the US, and how intrinsic the 2nd amendment is to our history.  Personally, I believe in stronger gun control, but how to achieve that in a way which does not cause a civil war – I do not know.  I do know that an event like this makes us all think about what we can do to help. My own response is just to try to be kind and patient with everyone I encounter – to try to do as much good and put forth positive energy into the world as I can. 

Friday turned into Saturday, the day of our Christmas dinner. There were 12 of us in all, meeting at Sophie’s apartment for the celebration. We had an amazing potluck dinner, with roast chicken, roasted potatoes, candied parsnips, marshmallow sweet potatoes, broccoli, mashed potatoes, salad, baguettes, wine, chocolate, cake, and cookies. We also opened our Secret Santa gifts. I received a pair of super soft gloves. After, we played Charades, and let me tell you – this group was amazing! Some of the titles guessed from the abstruse clues were incredible. It was a lot of fun, and a great way to celebrate life and enjoy the world even through the damper of the tragedy. 

Assistants' Christmas dinner

Natalie and Gwen with the pile of Secret Santa gifts
This is my last week of work before the holiday. I taught today, I teach tomorrow and Wednesday, and then Thursday morning I head to Paris to meet my cousin and a friend for a few days before hopping a plane back to Arkansas. I am incredibly thankful for my wonderful family, friends, and this amazing semester I’ve had in France. I have been so lucky and God has given me so much, my life sometimes seems like a dream!

Me and my cousin, who I get to see on Thursday!


  1. I've been accepted for TAPIF for oct 1, 13 - may 1, 2014. Did you stay until April/May this spring? Or did you come back to Arkansas at Christmas 2012?

  2. I came back to Arkansas at the end of December. Most assistants stay through April or May though.