I’m alive and situated in my new home in Moncaup, France (population 100 persons).
A bit about my family: Husband and wife, three daughters ages 13, 11, and 5. My host dad, Phillipe speaks some English, enough to get by. Each of the daughters speaks bare minimum. And my host mom speaks literally none. I came into this program with the impression that I did not need to know any, and that is absolutely not the case. Even though with the language barrier, my family has done a wonderful job at making me feel welcomed and a part of their family, so I really can’t complain.
A bit about what I have done this week: I arrived Saturday afternoon after a delayed train ride. During dinner, I was told that the next day I would be heading to Bordeaux for Fete Le Vin, a wine fair/festival. It was huge! So cool to see so much wine in one place. Unfortunately, I did not get to taste any, rather I got to sit behind the counter of our tent and see what all was going on. I had never been to such thing before, so I found it very interesting, even though everyone around me spoke French. Yet again, so many wines in one place! We later met up with a cousin of the family who thankfully spoke English. We walked through some of the city. C’est beau! We stayed at the cousin’s apartment for the night and returned to Moncaup in the morning. I then had my first lunch. In France, dejuner (lunch) is the main meal of the day and its big! Entrée (appetizer), principal plat (main dish) and desert, every lunch, every day. All the food we eat is fresh out of the family’s garden. I love the food! Everything is very good!
Moving on through my week. Monday afternoon I headed out to the vines to put in my first hours of work. The work is pretty easy, which is good and bad. All we have done this week is work through the vines plucking leaves off the side of the vine that faces the sun in the morning. Since the afternoon sun is much warmer than in the morning, getting rid of the leaves surrounding the grapes helps the produce more sugars, equal amount of sugars to the side that gets the afternoon sun… makes more sense when I talk about it out loud, I can’t put it into words too well. I also did this all day Tuesday. On Wednesday I went to the ecole (elementary school in French). There were 9 students all together in one classroom with one teacher. They played a math game and did an activity about the second world war during my time there. The teacher spoke good English, so I was finally able to have a full conversation with someone for the first time since I have been here. In the afternoon, I went with Chantal and Phillipe to Madiran, the village of the appellation. We went to the wine shop that sells wine of all the wine makers in the appellation. Lots of wine, no surprise there! J Yesterday, Thursday, I worked for two hours in the morning. In the afternoon, I went with my host mother to sell wine to previous buyers. Yet again, I had no clue what was being said, but we took boxes of wine out of the car to the customers, so I’m guessing we made some sales! And last night I was given the best news of all… I didn’t have to work today and got to sleep in for the first time since I have been in France. Even with the chance to sleep in, I was up by 9. Darn it.
Today nothing exciting happened really besides my co-worker asked me to proof read a paper he translated from French to English. (He speaks English fluently, little did I know, but he cannot write it to save a life). Many phrases he translated made little sense to me. Once he’d describe them in more detail I had no problem understanding what he meant. At that point in time, I realized how much work it is going to be to become fluent in French. There’s a big difference between the languages. Looking back, I definitely wish I would have taken those French classes in high school seriously. On another note, as I was proof reading these papers, I was talking to Andres and got to know him a little bit. He went to school for a year to study DNA and genetic engineering (he started talking in debt about it and lost me, I don’t do biology). So last summer he worked for Clos Baste just as a summer job, in the fall he forgot (I think) to turn in the papers to return to school. Phillippe offered him a job to continue working for the winery and now Andres loves what he’s doing here. Morale of the story, or where I am trying to get is that while I was talking to him, he said that I could not of gotten much more lucky with my internship family. They make excellent wine that has won many prizes and awards and the family is amazing. I couldn’t agree more with any of that.
And now I’m here… watching the France and Germany match on the Fourth of July (so un-American) with my host family.