My Top Three Pet Peeves

This certainly isn’t a topic I’d usually write about, by why not give it a go?

Let’s start with the lowest first, shall we?

  1. People clipping their nails in public.

I’ve never understood how people can do this. I understand wanting to even them out and trim them, but why not wait until you’re home? Okay, I know this one is a little ridiculous, but I hate the sound of it. I don’t know why, but I do. The sharp clicking and snapping that occurs as the metal pinches through the keratin makes me gag. I don’t even like hearing the sound when I’m clipping my own nails, and I can handle it far better than when I can hear others doing so. I definitely know how it feels to break a nail and to want to fix it, but you can use a file for that and shorten the others when you return to you abode. Am I right?

  1. Not following the enter and exit signs for stores and the like.

Seriously? They are clearly labeled. Very clearly labeled. Unless it’s the Walmart Neighborhood Market across the street from where I’ve been staying…then one door is marked “Entrance” with the small red “Do Not Enter” sign below it, and the other is marked “Exit” with the small green “Enter” sign underneath it. When it’s raining or you’re in a giant hurry, it can be really tempting to go in through the exit if it’s closest, but taking one or two seconds longer to enter won’t make that much of a difference. Plus, it makes it difficult for those who are (italics) following directions to get through the doors. Yet again, this is fairly silly, but there are stickers and signs everywhere.

  1. “Learn English!”

This is by far my biggest pet peeve, especially when these words are uttered by travellers. I’ve met countless Americans who only speak English that think anyone and everyone in the world should as well. When I hear people say, “This is America! Speak English!” it breaks my heart. Many of the people who are recipients of such verbal abuse do speak English, sometimes as their first language, but they are communicating with others who may not or prefer not to speak English. But also, if just going on holiday or on a brief business trip, one might not want to or be able to fully learn a new language.

When I was returning from my first stay in France, Karissa and I were in the waiting area near our gate at the Montreal airport, and we heard a group of people talking. They were clearly American and were speaking loudly about the announcements coming over the PA system.

First man: “What is that? Is that two languages?”
Woman: “I think it’s Spanish.”
First man: “No, I think it’s Italian.”
Second man: “Why on Earth would they do that?”
First man: “Don’t they realize we’re in the US of A??”
Woman: “Apparently not.”
Second man: nearly yelling “Why won’t everyone just speak English?!”

Clearly, they didn’t know we were in Canada. And even though they’d been on our flight from France, they couldn’t recognise the French language in the least bit. They continued complaining until we were boarding our flight to Chicago.

If these people had put any thought into what they were claiming (even if we hadn’t been in Canada at the time), they would have noticed their blatant hypocrisy. They were complaining about people not learning English while traveling and the like, when they had just spent time in France without learning French. This isn’t something that many Americans think about, specifically those who make these remarks, but it’s true. They wish to force foreigners to speak English, but they are not usually willing to learn the languages that are spoken in the countries to which they are traveling.

I’m on the opposite end of that spectrum, as I’ve gone a little overboard with the amount of languages I study. I’m currently studying French, Spanish, and Italian, and although I can’t speak Spanish or Italian at all, I’m certainly willing to try. I just wish others were as well.

What are your top pet peeves?

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How to Be a Book Nerd without Books

There are many common misconceptions about book nerds. One of the biggest ones is that they are constantly reading. I mean, in a sense they are. They may be reading short stories or articles or magazines, or they may be like me and be “currently reading” a book for a month or so without really picking it up at all. A great example of this for me is Les Misérables. I started reading it back in June because I was just too excited and couldn’t wait. But here I am in September, about 100 pages in, and I’ve barely started. I love the story. And I love reading. But sometimes I just get tired of reading or find myself turning to other modes of entertainment, like Netflix and Solitaire.

july-wrap-up-2
My July wrap-up photo, featuring the wonderful Erik, one of my best friends.

I read six and a half books in July. Before that, I had only finished one book in June and had been very slowly reading through two other books. Because of reading so much while on holiday, I got a little burnt out at the beginning of August. But I’ve also been incredibly stressed and busy since I returned to the States and don’t have any of my books with me, let alone the books that I truly want to read, because all my stuff is still in storage and I’ve been living out of a suitcase for nearly three months. So here I am, longing for my books and wanting to read, but without the means to read what I’ll be able to focus on. If you’re in a similar situation in any way, these are my ideas of how to be a book nerd without your books.

 

  1. Fandom Merch

So I can’t really talk about owning fandom merch, especially when it comes to book-related fandoms. However, there is so much you can have! From artwork and posters to graphic tees and pins, bookstores and websites are constantly coming out with more book-inspired gear. Right now I am showing off my book-nerdiness by having a Hogwarts crest pinned to my book bag and a Winnie-the-Pooh tsum tsum figural clipped to one of the pockets. I’ve not read any Winnie the Pooh in ages; but growing up, I loved the Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, and I really wish I still had that book so that I could reread it now.

  1. Following Booktubers, Book Bloggers, and Bookstagramers

There are so many wonderful people who are actively involved in the book side of social media, and I’ve made some amazing friends by getting involved in these communities, even if I’ve not been active lately. These wonderful men and women range from taking beautifully posed photos of books and rating and reviewing their latest reads to recommending books and discussing the writing process. And there are always more book nerds getting involved.

Here are some of my favourites:

Booktubers:
Olivia’s Catastrophe
I read books in nightclubs
Read by Zoe
Jesse the Reader
Little Book Owl

Book Bloggers:
Word Storm
Olivia’s Catastrophe
The Book Lover’s Guide
The Halcyon Days of Summer

Bookstagramers:
Olivia’s Catastrophe
Maru Books
The Halcyon Days of Summer
Bloomsbery
Chez Melodie
A Boggus Life (Well, I might as well, right?)

Bookstagram photo.jpg
My photo for my favourite book to movie translation in the #booklovershowlingjune challenge.
  1. Fanfiction

Whether you like to read or to write, fanfiction is a wonderful way to keep fangirling over your favourite characters, stories, and worlds. I don’t tend to read much fanfiction and I’ve never written any, but I am still aware of how wonderful of a community it can be. I’ve come close to writing fanfiction a couple of times, but my stories always come to be their own completely unique tales and never seem related to the original stories at all. But if you or I were to write fanfiction, there are so many sites that make it easy to spread our work and, more importantly, our love for these fandoms. Most fanfiction sites have a search engine that makes it easy to find the fandoms and types of stories you most want to read. So have some fun and take a dive into the community of readers and writers.

Fanfiction
Archive of Our Own
Reddit

  1. Libraries

For those of you who don’t live near libraries, I’m so sorry!! Libraries have always been some of my favourite things. The library I’m staying closest to doesn’t have a wide selection at all, but it does do inter-library loans, and many other libraries are doing the same thing more frequently now. If you don’t have books but want to actively be reading, check out your closest library.

Loads of libraries also have classes and events on a regular basis. Just last week one of our local libraries had its second annual LibraryCon. It was so much fun! There were loads of people cosplaying, people creating and selling things, a life-size TARDIS, authors and artists, and various panels. My friend and I went to two panels. The first one was about nerdy books that are the librarians’ favourites and book that are about to be released over the next few months to year (including X-Files: Origins!!!!). It was great hearing about the books and why the librarians loved them so much, and I added around twenty books to my TBR (because I totally needed more) just during that panel. The second was an author panel. We got to hear six different authors discuss their writing habits and process, ask questions, and hear about their books. We even stopped by an author’s table afterward so Katie could buy a book, and we found out about some opportunities to write some short stories have submit them to published.

Go see what books, events, and classes your library has to offer!

  1. Bookclubs

Now I really need to start taking advantage of these. I’ve not been in one since high school; in other words, it’s been over six years since I sat down with a group of people (outside of a class setting) to discuss a book. And goodness, do I miss it. I know the library system here has book discussions, and I would love to get involved with those, but I want to be a part of a proper book club. I might just have to start one myself, and I’d definitely be okay with that. But there are websites that exist that can help you find online and real-life book clubs. I’m certainly going to join one.

Reader’s Circle
My Book Club
Meet Up
Goodreads
How do you get involved with the book nerd community and share your bookish pride? Let me know in the comments below!

Working in France

It’s been an amazing seven weeks in France. It’s been quite different than the staff and I had originally anticipated, but it’s been an incredible time despite the changes that have taken place. I’ve been able to participate at two local churches, a Bible study, and the Institute to learn more about the French spiritual condition and to teach about it as well.

The churches I have been able to participate at are both about twenty minutes away from the Institute, though in opposite directions and they are two of the only Protestant churches in the region. Though others do exist, they are few and far between. There are some people who drive around an hour to go to one of them because it is the closest Protestant church.
Last Sunday, we were able to partake in what is the near equivalent of a potluck at the smaller of the two churches. This church averages about ten people and has been without a pastor for nearly two years. They learn about God from having guest speakers who are willing to come for free and by listening to podcasts.The commitment they have to learning about God is incredible; however, it is extremely difficult when they do not have the resources available to them to learn in a clearly understandable and cohesive way.
The other church we attend is much larger averaging in about seventy people. The building is barely large enough for the size of their congregation, but it only encourages them to continue spreading God’s word and trying to grow in size. This church was able to host two services for Easter as well as help host a Southern Gospel concert put on by a group from Paris. It is a very charismatic church, full of people who want to see that all people know they are loved by them as well as God, despite differences in beliefs, religions, and lifestyle so that the people they encounter might come to know Christ.
The Bible study I’ve been going to is held at the university in Caen. Technically, it is not allowed, and it cannot be called a Christian group. Because of this, it is a group averaging around twelve people some Christians, some not. They go through different selections of scripture each week. They do this by reading through it two times and then going through verse by verse and asking questions, which may or may not have definitive answers. It is an amazing way for some of the very few Christians to interact with each other and a few who disagree with their beliefs in a friendly and intelligent manner. This group has become more than just a discussion group though as many of them have become close friends. They have become more willing to talk about religion, beliefs, and God, and this has opened many hearts.
The groups that come through at the Institute are mainly here to learn about the region and have a cross-cultural experience in France. While they are here, though, they are able to learn about the spiritual condition as well. This, combined with their many other experiences, leads many of the people to have a desire to learn French and return to study as well as minister. These groups have come to an end, and we are now preparing for the students who will be coming to study for the summer. These students will have a chance to impact the churches and the lives of people in France in combination with their studies, and I am excited to be able to work with them, even if only for a short time.
I do, however, still owe the Institute some money for my internship. I would really appreciate your prayers as I continue trying to raise the rest of the funds. I have raised all but $1600.
If any of you are interested in helping support me in my last month, please contact me.

Well, I least I learned something

People always tell horror stories about saying the wrong word in a foreign language and either saying something offensive or sexual. They rally are trying to say something innocent, but the word is mispronounced or the phrase doesn’t mean what the speaker thought. Well, after a few years studying French, I have have finally made that, and I left laughing but embarrassed.

Many people start off making more understandable mistakes like saying “je suis chaud” or “je suis excité.” Both have sexual connotation, but to the person learning French, they mean “I am hot” and “I am excited.” (The correct way to say the first is “J’ai chaud.” For the second, one should continue the sentence and state why he is excited.) However, I seem to have generally skipped these and jumped to one many probably haven’t encountered.

At lunch last Friday, Jacob and I were eating the delicious creations of our incredibly animated and lovable cook Danielle when she asked what we were going to do for the rest of the day. Jacob simply said he would continue sleeping so that he could recover from falling ill, and I listed a couple work assignments before saying that I needed to knit. This led to a conversation about knitting and crocheting in which Danielle learned that I prefer to crochet instead of knit. As the conversation drew to a close, her interest was sparked, and she asked what I am knitting. I told her assuredly I am making a hood for my sister. Or at least that is what I thought I had said, but the wide-eyed expression crossing her face as she tilted her head and leaned slightly forward told me otherwise. “Comment? (What?)” she asked. “Une capote,” I responded without the assurance I had before. She asked again. ” I repeated while making the motion of putting a hood over my head. I was incredibly confused. I had thought she might ask what I was knitting and wanted to be able to tell her, so I had looked up the word earlier in the week using both a translator as well as a dictionary. I didn’t see how the word could be so wrong. Danielle waved her hands gently in front of her, saying “Non, non, non, ça, c’est pour les hommes. C’est un préservatif masculin. (No, no, no, that’s for men. That’s a condom.)”

Apparently it can also mean a cape or the roof of a convertible, but the first thing a French person will think of when they hear the word ” une capote” is a condom. The word I needed was “un capuchon.” You can take this as the embarrassing story it is or form one of many different lessons that can be found in it. I’ll largely just look back on this story and think of the time I learned the French version of “a rubber” after telling someone that I am making one for my sister.

If you have any embarrassing language stories, please tell them in the comments below.

For those of you interested:
I have officially raised 2575 for my trip! Thank you all so much for your help!
I do still have quite a bit to raise.
If you would like, please visit my fundraising page for more details about my stay in France and about how to donate to my internship funds.

La première semaine

My travel experiences have always been a little bizarre or planned last minute. I can’t say I like it, but it certainly keeps life interesting. When I found out my itinerary just one and a half weeks before coming to France, my nerves were wrecked. All the unexpected changes on flight day didn’t help. But even after a majorly delayed flight, a changed flight, and running through the airport like a maniac running from a herd of charging rhinos, I finally made my first connecting flight and met up with a friend from school afterward until our next flights.

Since then, my life has been a strange mixture of the familiar and the brand new, as the village I lived in two years ago has changed and the people I’m living with are no longer the twelve people I came to know as family, but instead three of them and four people completely new to me (as well as one visitor who left before I awoke this morning). I’ve already become incredibly attached to these fantastic people, but my heart is being pulled seven directions for John, Marshall, Cate, Dylan, Karrisa, Anna, and Michelle.

Because of all the groups who will come and stay at the house throughout the spring, I’m living with Claira in Elvira’s apartment, and it’s incredibly different from what I had known before. But it’s only a block from the house, and it’s nice to be forced to go outside every morning. The view from my window is gorgeous and will never fail to be so, especially just as the sun is peeking it’s first rays over the horizon in an attempt to grab onto our beach and stop blushing after its first sight. It’s still fairly shy most of the time, but the sun has made more of an appearance the last couple days.

I’m so excited to start working on a more set schedule this week, even if it means working at 7:15 in the morning. Because my week of ease and jet lag is over and the first group’s arrival today, I will be working on overload in the mornings and the evenings and then have a bit more time to work on my own projects and the language learning content (editing, creating, and artwork) in the late mornings and mid afternoons. I get to take part in helping several groups of American’s learn more about France, French, and the state of the church as well as make their stay as enjoyable as possible. I’m so excited to see how God uses my time here to impact the people I encounter and change my own life as well.

Starting this week, I’ll try posting more often about the details and funny/interesting stories and such. But here’s to my first week finished and to my second week beginning.
Feel free to comment below and ask questions about my stay, experiences, travels, and work.

I am still trying to raise the last $1600 for my stay, so if you would consider donating that would be wonderful. There are several ways to contribute, and they are all listed on this fundraising page: http://www.gofundme.com/faith_in_france

Stay faithful, and stay fantastic. I’ll write you later this week.

A New Journey

Early this semester, I was asked to return to France with the Jacques Lefevre Institute as an intern. I’m glad to say I decided to apply and was accepted for a three month trip. I wrote this poem the day I was asked to return:

Longing for Tomorrow (or Sword Beach)

Whoosh! Wave. Whoosh! Wave.
The delicate hum of misplaced air
Mingles with the constant rustle
Of the shining green blades.

This. That! This. That!
Silver speech and pointed hearing
Interrupt the gentle melody
With beautiful clashes of excitement.

Water. flowing Water. flowing
The sweet scent fills the air
As imagined bread bakes
Near the beach so far away.

Pit. Pat. Pit. Pat.
Feet move in the style of the blades
While aching for the foam soaked grains
Piled high with shells of yesterday.

This is an amazing opportunity for me to continue learning French as well as gain work experience in both language as well as art and writing. I will be helping create the language learning content that the Institute is putting together for French learners. However, because I will be working with a non-profit, I need to raise the funds to go for these three months. Please consider looking at more specific information and donating at http://www.gofundme.com/h0cqb0. Also, please consider sharing the link with the people you know.

Thank you. I hope you enjoyed the poem!

Fernweh

Today a good friend of mine returned to where we first met. She technically landed tomorrow morning in France. As stated in my last post, I always want to go back to Normandy, a place I call home, but getting a message from her this afternoon saying she had arrived to the very home we lived in last year is really difficult. It had been a goal of mine to return this summer as well, but things just didn’t work out. All day, before I even got her message saying she had arrived, I have been dwelling on thoughts of Normandy and my French family and friends. I long to return so badly… I want to be back in France, thrown into the culture and language that fascinate me so. I want to see the people I met while there and spend hours talking with them. I want to walk along the beach and eat crêpes. I want to have fresh baguette sandwiches with butter, meat, and lettuce. I want to be able to wake up and see the only place that I have truly and completely considered home. But that probably won’t happen soon, and it breaks my heart.