Monday, January 28, 2013


I didn't really think that taking a 4-hour long French exam and then two consecutive hours of analyzing a Baudelaire sonnet would be how I would celebrate the five-month anniversary of the day I arrived.
As you can tell, I didn't understand the La Fontaine fable at all. But I wasn't the only one; neither did my friends.
During those four hours, I had to identify and give examples of the literary procedures these four authors used to explain their conception of happiness and then write them all down in a supposedly coherent form. And then I had to write an essay giving my opinion on the question, "To you, are the diverse forms of argumentation found in literary texts an effective way to offer to the reader a reflection on man?" while making references to the four texts above, works studied in class, and works I have read myself. Whereas most other exchange students got to stay home while their classmates took the bac blanc (this exam), I went to school like a trooper and braved this horrific form of intellectual torture like the rest of the French students did. Thus, I can say that I am une VRAIE française, people.
As if that wasn't enough literary analysis, we had two hours of French class afterwards, spent analyzing the incredibly depressing Baudelaire sonnet "The Blind," in which he expresses how he is even more unhappy than blind people. (See, I didn't even fall asleep in class, I followed along and learned something from it.) (If you have ever read a certain series by Lemony Snicket... I'm certain this man is the namesake of the series' protagonists, and after having read his poems, frankly I'm not surprised.) Bon, je ferme ma parenthèse. Yeah, so here's the guy who wrote a book of poetry called The Flowers of Evil.

"Vous osez critiquer mes oeuvres? Et vous vous sentez découragée? ...oui, ma vie fut une catastrophe. Vous avez raison."
I used to think happiness was a simple emotion, but thanks to those texts I read this morning, my definition of it is now complex and muddled. Oh, thank you, great French thinkers of human history.
"Je vous en prie, Amanda, on existait pour te faire réflechir" says Jean-Jacques Rousseau with an amicable glance my way
However, what I choose to make matter to me is that here, I am happy. I am happy to be in France. I am happy with what I have done and especially what I have left to do. I don't care what you think, Voltaire. I don't care if that Brahman you met told you it was impossible to be wise and happy at the same time; although I've made many mistakes during my time here, and I've doubted myself more than I ever have, and I've agonizingly questioned the meaning of this all, I regret nothing. I have made it this far, and for that I am completely satisfied. In short, I am happy.

In other news, Claire the Australian arrived last week! She is staying with Matthieu the outbound's family.

Claire and Matthieu
From the time I have spent with her, I love her already! I am so happy I'm no longer the only inbound in Parthenay. I'm also quite content with the fact that she is Australian, because I have always had a fondness for Australians.
Furthermore, a lot of the outbounds found out where they are going to be placed next year. I saw all their excited statuses on Facebook, and I felt the excitement with them, remembering exactly how I felt a year ago when I found out I was going to France. Oh, and Matthieu?
I will most certainly see him in Oregon next school year. I am so happy (I know, that phrase is getting awfully redundant at this point) that a friend from my school is going to my state as an exchange student! I would like for him to end up in Tualatin, but we'll have to see. At least now I can say that I am bringing a French boy back with me... ;)

Recently, it came to my attention that the Sergeant of Arms of the Tualatin Rotary Club has been reading my blog entries, and in the last lunch meeting he printed out pictures from this site and asked members of the club to identify them to see if they were keeping up with me and reading the Tualatin Rotary weekly newsletter (my blog link is at the top). I must say, that delighted me (thanks for telling me Barbara!). What a splendid idea. So if you are a member of the Tualatin club reading my blog right now due to that activity, I would like to thank you personally for helping make this experience possible for me. I mean this in the most sincere and grateful way possible. Thank you.

It's a bit hard to believe that my exchange is halfway over. I still have these moments where I tell myself, "Oh hey, everyone speaks French," "You're living in France," and "You have a life in a French high school." And now I have to tell myself, "You're more than halfway done."
Am I really?

And lastly, here is a fact so true that no French philosopher would doubt it... the best is yet to come.

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