En Italie…

As many may have already heard, Venice, Italy is currently experiencing the worst flooding it has had in over 50 years. The damage and the footage of it is unreal; I believe the French news pin-pointed it to a peak of nearly 4 feet. For comparison, below you will find pictures (the last 6) I took Venice a few weeks before compared to some of the same locations affected (mine are the ones fortunately without water).

Venice is not particularly the biggest city of them all, but it is well known for a reason (or rather, many): the criss-crossing canals with boats of tourists gently paddling through, the narrow alleyways between buildings in which I could easily touch walls on either side at the same time, the buildings and architecture right on the water – the list goes on and on. But certainly the one thing the group looked forward to the most was the food. The French version of ice-cream (la glace) does not at all compare to the creamy, sugary ice-cream of the US, nor do either of those two compare to the thick gelato of Italy. I think gelato takes the crown – the thickness and richness of flavor makes even the smallest amounts a real treat. On les vacances de Toussaint (the school break around the time of Halloween), we treated ourselves to severe amounts of pizza (absolutely unreal – the sauce, cheese, peppers were godly), spaghetti, and just taking it all in.

Naturally there were many tourists, and I told the group that I would not like to imagine what Venice is like on a weekend. Even on a Wednesday evening there were people galore, taking pictures under the lights, poking in and out of street shops and restaurants, getting on and off boats, and enjoying their time with friends as we were. The first few photos are some of my favorites from Venice, views that were simply polarizing. With each trip, I am constantly reminded of how easy travel is in Europe; I think the flight from CDG in Paris to Milan was only one hour. At the same time, it reminds me once more of how large the US is. One of my goals being abroad was to experience different cultures and, more simply, different life than that in the States; fortunately in Europe, that can be easily attained for a new country is never more than a couple hours away. 

Pretty houses in Burano
les filllllllllllles
Venice at night
TOPSHOT – A general view shows people walking across the flooded St. Mark’s Square, by St. Mark’s Basilica on November 15, 2019 in Venice, two days after the city suffered its highest tide in 50 years. – Flood-hit Venice was bracing for another exceptional high tide on November 15, as Italy declared a state of emergency for the UNESCO city where perilous deluges have caused millions of euros worth of damage. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)

The square in front of St. Mark’s Basilica
VENICE, ITALY – NOVEMBER 15: A flooded St. Mark’s square (Piazza San Marco) during a new exceptional high tide on November 15, 2019 in Venice, Italy. A new exceptional high tide of 160 cm was registered today at 11.20 am. Venice saw its second ever highest tide on the night of November 12th, two people were killed and mayor Luigi Brugnaro declared a state of emergency. (Photo by Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images)

Adjusting in a foreign country: #1 tip

After three months now in France, I could say I’ve certainly had my share of French life. Classes are in full swing, extracurriculars (well, volleyball) are going smoothly, and the French way of life has become rather normal. To that end, there are a couple thoughts I have had or realized over the course of my time abroad thus far that have greatly helped in terms of daily foreign language use and acclimation in such an environment.

I think having a host family is easily the best way for me to not only speak French daily, but to speak it a lot. From time at dinner to casual conversations watching TV, to complaining about the day’s work or course-loads, there is always plenty to talk about. And to that end, when there is a lot to talk about, there are certain ways to talk. And what I mean by that is that the manner in which the French speak is different than that in which Americans speak. Over the past couple of months, you start to realize that you hear certain words not only a lot, but every day. And being on the road to improving language fluency, it is precisely these little things that will develop the language.

And to this end, I have realized one trick, if you will, to fast-track a development in the language:

The way the French talk? Copy it.

And I mean it literally; these words and phrases you hear day after day after day… it means something, doesn’t it? It’s the way the French speak, and as a French major…is that not kind of the goal?

You hear a new word? Write it down. A new phrase? Write it down. A new expression? Write it down. And then use them as often as you possibly can until you don’t even realize that you’re saying them because it has become a part of your regular vocabulary. I am by no means there yet, but that is the goal – one that I hope to have by May.

With that said, here is a collection of a few words or expressions that I hear more or less daily and are fairly useful (moreover, ones that I have not learned in the classroom).

Du coup: so
Vachement: really (for emphasis) (or if you’re from Mass, you could see it as “wicked” like I did)
Pénible: tough, a nuisance
Véritablement: really (used for emphasis)
Bouquin / Bouquiner: A book / to read (have your head in a book)
Enfin bref: nevermind
Effectivement: Indeed, really (often used towards the beginning of a sentence)
J’ai la flemme: equivalent of “I don’t really want to” or “I don’t feel like it” (I use this one far too much)
C’est ouf: Verlan (french slang) of “C’est fou” meaning “That’s crazy”
Toucher sa bille en: To know a thing or two about
Un tas: a pile
Se lover: To curl up (i.e. to curl up on a couch or under a blanket)Un truc de malade: equivalent of “sick” as slang (i.e. oh c’est un truc de malade == oh that’s sick!