Tag Archive | United States

Being French

reasons-to-like-france-graphElo, me naam eez CT, ande 2 monts agoe I beecame French. Well 50% French in the eyes of the law and sub-French in the eyes of every 100% French person, but that sort of ruins the announcement, don’t you think?

Finally, 17 years after being born on French soil to American parents, I was awarded a brilliant piece of paper stating that I now had french citizenship. The whole ceremony took place in a dingy office on the 2nd floor of a dusty creaking building that specializes in transforming peoples’ lives, and was officiated by a weary looking middle-aged woman who looked like she could really use a trip to, well, anywhere. After verifying that I wasn’t a llama posing as a human just to benefit from french health care, she offered me a three page list of first names and asked me to pick one. Despite my longtime fantasy of being named Gertrude Cunégonde, I decided to stick to CT after my father shot me a threatening look, which he only barely pulled off, since I could tell he was about to lose a hard fought battle to hysterical laughter. The lady glared at us, pursed her lips when I told her I was keeping my American citizenship, shook our hands and wished us good day, wrapping up the event in the pomp with which it had been conducted (yes young pineapples, that is sarcasm). And voilà, French I am.

As a French person, I have learned several things essential to surviving in the society of baguettes and berets, which I thought I should share with you here, as I am a kind and generous soul:

#1: Never, ever let on that you are any part American
Apart from the rare Frenchman who appreciates his neighbors from across the pond for having supplied his people with Star Wars and liberation from the Nazis, the French hold Americans to the very lowest of standards. We see the United States as perverting our culture of fine cuisine with such abominations as pre-made frosting (I mean seriously, who can’t make the effort of beating up half a ton of butter and confectioner sugar themselves) and yellow cheese (oh the woe of a people not able to enjoy a cheese made from real bacteria and mold). Not to mention the endless stream of loud and obnoxious tourists who get drunk everyday and end up keeping the whole neighborhood awake at 4am with a slurred version of the Star Spangled Banner that sounds more like a tyrannosaurus rex wailing because its arms aren’t long enough to reach the steak that’s on the top shelf of the refridgerator than any kind of musical ditty. So when in doubt, if the conversation at a wine-tasting soirée turns to the land of guns and bacon, just whole-heartedly agree that every American should be tossed into the Seine River immediately upon arrival, for fear of ending up there yourself.

#2: Act superior
If they hold Americans to the very lowest of standards, the French hold themselves to the very highest. As an ancient civilization with a proud history of invading and being invaded, it is necessary to maintain dominance on the rest of the word, a task which falls to every commoner as his or her civil duty. The code of conduct is as follows. When walking down the street, stride briskly and keep your face completely neutral. When spoken to assume a slightly annoyed look and adjust your voice so as to have a condescending echo (nothing obvious enough to allow for a formal rebuke of course). Finally, be sure to always having something French on you, such as a baguette or a book by a great French novelist (to be handheld in plain view). This will inspire awe from foreigners, who will return home and spread the stereotypes that allow for an international French reverence, and notify other Frenchman that you entertain the same noble quest as they, and thus deserve to be treated with respect.

#3: Be patriotic
This goes hand in hand with reason number 2, but is absolutely primordial: you must be willing to fight for your country, lie for your country, sow, reap and die for your country (I think I should change my career path to motivational poet. Thoughts? Actually, it’s probably better if you don’t say anything at all, I see you sneering from a million miles away). If you are caught doing something dishonorable, say you’re from England, those bastards have tried invading us enough times to deserve a little retribution. Of course if you’re being filmed by a television crew for having saved 15 people from a burning building, no matter if you look like raccoon whose wife is dragging him to marriage counseling sessions that cost way too much for the meager salary you make as a trashcan spotter, make sure to yell that you’re French. It’s very important to the social well-being of the country that we be recognized as underdog heroes. Keeps us modest and bashful.

Now I realize that I’ve been rather unkind to the French in this post, and before any of my fellow compatriots descend upon me in a flurry of rage and cigarette smoke, I’d like to share the words I wrote in my letter to the mayor: “J’espère amener honneur à vous et aux institutions de ce pays dont je suis si fière d’être devenue la citoyenne”, which translates roughly to “I promise to try and not disgrace myself any more than I already have… but dawg I’m French now, and there ain’t nobody who can touch me” (very roughly).

Liberté, égalité, fraternité to all my French homies out there. I’m going to stop writing now, before I get any more ghetto.

Live long and prosper \V/
Yours sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager.

Advertisements

Charleston Shooting: Appearance vs Reality in the US

As an American citizen living abroad, I often have an idealized vision of my home country. I’ll defend its honor when people verbally attack it, I’ll stand with my hand over my heart during the national anthem. I love the United States of America, but what I love I now realize is only the tip of the iceberg of a truly messed up place.

When I wake up, 4000 miles away from reality, and I read that 9 innocent people were shot in a historic black church by a white 21-year-old, I feel physically ill.
So many times before, we’ve seen atrocities where children get shot and students lose their lives. And for each one of those occurrences, I feel sick to my stomach, I wonder how it’s possible for a person to be filled with so much hate, how someone could so recklessly take the lives of innocents and forever change the existence of the families of the victims. Each time, I am angry and sad, but filled with hope that finally something might change in the consciousness of the American people, in our hearts and in our government, and that something will be done to stop these senseless killings. Then, I forget. It’s a truth that I hate to admit, but that I must. After a few months, I stop remembering what happened to the children of Sandy Hook and the people of Aurora, as the stories gradually fade out of the media. Discussion changes to the threat of ISIS and of Al Qaeda, to how we can protect ourselves from the foreign terrorism we so fear.

Well guess what. Terrorism doesn’t only come from the outside. The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” When Dylann Roof allegedly told one of the victims “I have to do it… You rape our women and you’re taking over our country, and you have to go”, he had a social objective. When he told a survivor “I need someone to survive”, that survivor was most likely kept alive to tell the tale of that horrible day and reach a wider audience. By killing 9 and provoking fear in millions, Roof was not only committing a hate crime, he was committing an act of terrorism. We need to recognize this, and stop thinking that the only terrorists are people from different faiths and cultures, because by doing that, we’re blinding ourselves.

I studied the fight for African-American civil rights in History class this year. I dissected the demonstrations of white racism and thought about how far we’d come, how reformed the United States was. I thought that the acts of violence executed today were perpetrated by lone madmen, and that the very reason we couldn’t understand and couldn’t explain them was because they were isolated. But sooner or later, I have to face the facts: if the confederate flag has been flying on the grounds of the South Carolina State House since 1962, it isn’t so much a symbol of southern heritage as it is a constant insult to the African-American population of the state. Racism is alive and well in the United States, and Dylann Roof, with his Rhodesian patch, acted because of personal convictions that were nourished by a discriminatory culture.

This morning, I watched the families of the victims make statements to the gunman. Whereas I felt intense anger towards this perverted assassin of a boy, the messages in the courthouse were those of love. The daughter of victim Ethel Lance spoke to Roof, telling him that “you hurt me, you hurt a lot of people, but God forgive you, and I forgive you”. The granddaughter of victim Reverend Simmons stated that “hate won’t win”.  These people have lost loved ones, and yet still they are able to forgive the one that caused the pain.

As I sat, head in hands, watching Roof’s expressionless face on the television screen of the courthouse, my respect for those speaking deepened, and I knew that what those families were saying was true: love will prevail, but not automatically or because it should. Love will prevail because we as a people are realizing that we need to remember, need to talk, need to fight and need to change our country. Let’s not let another horrific shooting slip into the darkness of forgetfulness. When Jon Stewart says that “we’re bringing it on ourselves”, he’s right. But it’s the “we” that’s important. If we can bring acts like this on ourselves, then we can change. So let’s.

Live long and prosper \V/
Yours sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager

The Art of Being Late

SP_GL2014_Destined_for_Lateness_01_HR0Yes, esteemed ladies and gentlemen, ’tis an art. Not anyone can be late and get away with it, much less be accepted as a generally tardy person. Ah well forget it, I can’t write a whole blog post in posh language. ‘Tis not the way I roll (dammit, it’s harder than I thought to stop!). I happen to be one of the many people who are late to absolutely everything, including for example, writing on The Mostly Confused Teenager. *southern accent* Folks, it’s been a near two weeks. Nay, three. I really am not very good at speaking in a southern accent. I sound like a dying Australian cat.

I am a notorious latebomb (person who is late. No? Do you have a better suggestion? Huh?). In 6th grade, my friends threw me a surprise party at one of my dearest friend’s house. The problem with packing the attic with people and telling me to get there at 2pm sharp was that at 1:45pm I decided to go shopping. What a decision that was! Well, time passed and still I wasn’t at the ‘party’; but since I gave no indication of where I was, all of my friends stuck out the rats and cobwebs in the attic for an hour before I finally showed up. The consequent scene was, as you can imagine, powerfully embarrassing for me. Today people expect me to be late, so I am often given a time earlier than the one that the others are given. More times than not however, I find out that I was given a premature time and subsequently arrive a precise half an hour later than the normal time. Yeah, it’s pretty bad.

Life has been… life. I’m not being deep here (or maybe I am. Or not. Whatever.), just trying to explain that in between a college tour in the United States of ‘Murica during fall break, rooting for the Red Sox and the Patriots, homework and school, I have had no time for blogging. BUT never fear, oh faithful readers of which I have few, I am back! And better than ever bab.. well perhaps not, but you get my point.

Anyways, this post is going to be dedicated to me. Yay! In my fashionably/just plain ridiculous fashion, I shall address the amazing number of awards that I have received in the past, um, two months *clears throat awkwardly*. I’d just like to offer a shout out to Chris Thomas, George Peat and Attempting Reality for the awards that they nominated me for and that I looked at over on their blogs. They are pure awesome, please, check them out! (fancy typography)

sunshine-awardSo first we have Rienne, who nominated me for the Sunshine Award. Right now it’s miserably cold and rainy outside, so I’m actually really optimistic about this award. Thank you Rienne, I looove your blog, it’s so terribly entertaining! Here are 10 things about me. I can’t honestly call them entertaining but… well… 😉

1.  I’ve dreamed of going into space ever since I was a little girl, preferably on a nice big ship like the USS Enterprise where I won’t get claustrophobic.
2. My favourite colour is pink. Most people assume that it’s purple because I always have at least a little bit of purple on me, but the only reason that I am not clothed in hot pink is because it’s hot pink. I think a blonde girl in hot pink who likes to blend in is sort of self explanatory.
3. I am a slob. Shocker.
4. My favourite things to do are sleep and eat, in that order. Oh, and see my friends. Sorry I forgot that one guys!
5. My favourite subjects in school are Biology and English.
6. My two least favourite are without a shadow of a doubt Math and Physics.
7. I’ve only ever been on the coasts of the United States, although I would like to go inland some!
8. My sleeping habits are a wee-bit f’d up. (Wee. Makes me think of pee. Now I need to pee. MAAAAAN COME ON!)
9. I remember things that are not useful and forget the things that are.
10. I spend way to much of my precious free time doing unproductive things.
11. I haven’t drunk a Coca Cola since last year.

Wow I did it! I didn’t think I could come up with 11 things about myself! I am impressed — self-five. And why don’t we forget that that ever happened and move on?

abc-awardThe next award is from PatKayBites and it is the ABC Award, or Awesome Blog Content 🙂 Mom, Dad, you’ll be mightily/not at all impressed that I got this award on your behalf, so danke-Idon’tknowhowit’sspelled. And danke-Idon’tknowhowit’sspelled to Patty Cakes too, oh so much! Your blog is hilarious! I’m supposed to, using an acrostic, describe myself in one word. Well finding the word isn’t that hard:

Team (I may be a little bit of a social recluse, but my team is my life)
Energy (SUGAR, THE FRIEND OF HYPERACTIVITY)
Eavesdropping (excuse me what?)
Normal (Ha. Just Kidding.)
Abnormal (there we go!)
Girl (duh)
Eager (I love new stuff, junk, knowledge, torture, whatever you prefer to call it)
Relatable (I hope that I’m not the only confused person out there!)

liebster-award1Booya. The first Liebster Award comes from the inspiring Danny Zucho with the awesome name. Thanks Danny, you are truly amazeballs! I know that I am supposed to state 11 things about myself, but since I did that earlier and am depressingly out of ideas, I’m just going to answer the questions.

  • What is your favorite TV show?

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER! Is there any other answer? But I also love the Big Bang Theory, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Community… I do have my geeky side to uphold of course!

  • Where is one place you go that calms you down?

My room in our house in the French countryside, Normandy to be more precise. I redid it myself in the fall of last year; peeling of the old paint, plugging holes with plaster, painting 3 layers of lavender on the walls and 3 of white on the ceiling and finally decorating it with posters that, of course, hid my wonderful paint job. It’s my zen spot, the crowning glory of 16 year old.

  • Coffee or Tea?

Oh man, this is a hard question! I guess I have to say tea, just because I have it more often and have known it for a longer time, although I do still love coffee (with loads of milk and sugar. So basically, coffee flavoured milk).

  • Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Half-full, let’s be optimistic here!

  • Favorite Disney movie?

Dang it, another really tough question. I’m going to have to go with the Lady and the Tramp on this one, it’s the cutest, most amazing Disney movie!

  • Do you believe in love at first sight?

Yes. Only I haven’t experienced it yet. YET.

  • Why did you decide to start blogging?

I thought I needed a summer project during my vacation, and since I was pretty bored I decided that it should be something that I could commit to every day if I wanted to. Yes, The Mostly Confused Teenager is a product of my boredom. And need for a space to ramble.

  • Who is someone you look up to?

The Great Cookie in the sky. Final answer. The truth is that I haven’t had an amazingly influential person in my life, so I’ve always kind of formed my own thinking without basing it on my impressions of someone else.

  • What type of superpower would you want to have?

The ability to be able to not pee. Wouldn’t that be a lifesaver?

  • Right now, if you had a chance to travel anywhere and money was not an option, where would you go?

Either the Caribbean or Canada. Exotic, n’est ce pas? The Caribbean is warm, beautiful and has the best beaches and Canada has snow. It’s a toss up really.

  • What is one goal that you have that means a lot to you?

Getting into a good college is definitely one of my main short-term goals. This means getting my grades up, especially my dismal math grade; which in turn, means more homework. Ugh.

Next on the list is Kairomaniac, the 14 year old with a gift for writing. You go girl! Her questions are the following:

1. If you had the option to run away from your life and start again, would you take it?
No. My life has it’s hard parts, rough patches and just plain sucky experiences, but I imagine that it’s all just part of the full package. Ahum.
2. What is/was your least favourite subject in school?
The Math of Mathematics :p
3. What is your least favourite colour?
Khaki. It looks like goose poop, don’t you think? Actually now that I think about it a lot of people with khaki coats might take offence at this, so let’s put the brown that’ s the colour of poop instead. I have a strange fascination with poop in this question it appears.
4. What do you never leave the house without?
I wish I could say my keys, phone or wallet. Unfortunately I forget those items practically more times than I remember them, so… Chapstick. My lips look like chipped boulders otherwise.
5. Do you like cheese? (always a great one to ask ;) )
Heck yes! I live in France, land of cheese. I could definitely live on bread, butter, cheese and milk (please, oh scientists, don’t contradict me on this one will you?)
6. Do you think teenagers are given too little credit?
Yes and no. In one sense we’re looked at like children who are totally irresponsible, which makes me mad; and in the other, we do weird-ass sh*t. Eh.
7. Have you ever said hello to a sheep? (hey! stranger things have happened)
Immediately after I’d seen Doctor Doolittle, yes. In fact I had a whole conversation with it. Well, it was more of a monologue.
8. What song do you have stuck in your head right now?
Grace Kelly – MIKA.
9. ‘Ice cream is overrated’ – How much do you disagree with this statement? ;)
Although you can’t see my face, I’m scowling. Ice cream is not overrated, and I dare anyone to disagree. *snarls and chokes*
10. Why do you blog?
Today, I blog because it’s an escape. From other things that I’m supposed to be doing.

Almost 2000 words later, we’re down to the before last awesome sauce person who nominated me: The Editing Girl. It’s another Liebster Award, which I guess are actually to applicable to me anymore since I have over 200 followers (whaaaaat?!) but I like them anyway. So thank you! 🙂 I present to you… the questions:

1. Favorite book series and why? –> the Anne of Green Gables series. I grew up reading it and always wanted to be my own Anne Shirley.

2. Favorite movie series and why? –> Star Wars. Do you even need a reason?

3. Favorite song or artist and why? –> it changes practically every month, but right now it’s Imagine Dragons! Why? Why not?

4. Favorite brand/company (any product) and why? –> this is actually near impossible for me to answer as I don’t really shop for brands. I guess I’ll just say that I really like Bath and Body Works.

5. Television (shows and movies) or reading? –> HIMYM, BBT, New Girl, Community, Doctor Who, Glee (so sue me)… And, sadly, all school books.

6. Role models? Grace Kelly, Evita Peron

7. Favorite quote? –> “Always suspect everybody”, Charles Dickens.

8. Favorite smell, feeling, taste, sight and sound? (I know that’s multiple questions in one) –> favourite smell: food or fresh hay. Those make me feel happy inside! Taste: pizza. Heck yes. Sight: sunset over our house in Normandy. Sound: the birds in the morning/early afternoon, waking me up during vacation.

9. Biggest fear? –> Spiders. Those creepy crawly things scare the bejeezus out of me.

10. If you could change only one thing about the world, what would you change? –> something environmental. I want this planet to survive long enough to give humans a chance to resolve their other problems that you very much.

LAST ONE! Paul Smuts, I love you. Well not really, not like that anyway, but you are super inspiring. Keep running!

1) What takes up most of your free time? –> I’m tempted to answer, what free time? The problem is that when I have free time, I waste it. So probably watching stuff on my computer. This being said, I also go for regular runs, bake, and read. My nose may often be buried in a Calvin and Hobbes book.

2) Are you more of a book or movie person? –> Even though I do watch a lot of movies, definitely a book person. I’ve been having an affair with books since I was a little girl, and it’s something that I’ve never been able to get over.

3) What is/was your favorite school subject? –> I have two, English and Biology!

4) Coffee or tea? –> Copy and Paste 😉 Oh man, this is a hard question! I guess I have to say tea, just because I have it more often and have known it for a longer time, although I do still love coffee (with loads of milk and sugar. So basically, coffee flavoured milk).

5) Do you plan your week or live from day to day? –> I plan my week and then live from day to day!

6) Favorite series/movie? –> favourite series: How I Met Your Mother, favourite movie: Remember the Titans.

7) Where do you see yourself five years from now? –> hopefully, in college! I can dream right?

8) Favorite fast food? –> Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m going to call it a fast food.

9) A movie that made you cry? –> Actually, once again, Remember the Titans. It’s just so… *sob*.. amazing!

10) A goal you recently set for yourself? –> not only survive but excel in my intensive track and field sessions.

You might notice that I haven’t put any of the rules up here, for the simple reason that I’m in a rebellious mood. Secondly, I haven’t nominated anyone, but I have nominated everyone! Yeah, cheesy, I know. You certainly all deserve it!

Thank you so much, it means so much to me that you all nominated me, and I hope I have been able to do you justice! Also, if you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! 😀 This has been a really long post, I’ll try not to be this late next time. Now I have to tackle my email and the wonderful comments you’ve all left me. I love you guys so much!

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

Never Forget

9-11-flagThank you. Thank you to the people, thank you to the firemen, thank you to the doctors, thank you to to ambulances drivers, thank you to the police, thank you to the radio operators, thank you to the rescue personnel, thank you to the brave Betty Ong, thank you to the coast guards, thank you to the ironworkers, thank you to the structural engineers, thank you to the carpenters, thank you to the electricians, thank you to the machinists, thank you to the plumbers, thank you to the pipefitters, thank you to the riggers, thank you to the Red Cross, thank you to the rescue dogs, thank you to the volunteers, thank you to the unsung heroes stuck inside, thank you to Americans everywhere, thank you to the world. Thank you to so, so many more. Thank you.

I was only a little girl when the attacks took place, but that frightened little four year old saw her parents hysterically crying and hugging each other. Now 4 times the age that she was then, this teenager still automatically reverts to a scared child when she sees footage or hears stories. Even though back then I didn’t know what was going on I knew it was something big and horrible that I couldn’t even begin to imagine; I knew nothing of hate, the place of the United States in the world, politics or terrorists. Today I’ve seen original footage, films, interviews, read stories, seen Mike Piazza’s home run that gave life back to New York, heard the phone calls that were made from the Towers, seen the people jump to their deaths. 

Today I know that my Aunt got lucky. See, she worked in a building directly adjacent to the World Trade Center. If you walk out of her office you are at Ground Zero. On September 11th 2001 my Aunt got a headache when she woke up. After long debating whether or not to go to work, she decided that she’d better stay home and call in sick. That one decision saved her life. Later that morning her building was totalled under the falling of debris and eventual collapse of the Twin Towers. It makes me wonder, how can something as trivial as her decision was change, just… everything?

I’m sometimes asked what kind of movie scares me the most; gory, mysterious etc. But the real answer, the one I don’t often give is “the real kind”. The 9/11 videos that make me cry uncontrollably. It’s a different kind of scary, and for me, it’s much, much worse.

RIP to all those that lost their lives in this horrible tragedy. We will never forget you.

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

PS: I know that this isn’t my usual light happy fluffy unicorn style of writing, but in previous years all I’ve known to do is wear black on 9/11. This year I have somewhere where I can finally pay tribute, somehow, to the fallen and the heroes of September 2001. Never forget.

The Magic of an Accent

When I was singing Tubthumping/I Get Knocked down (weird name, weird lyrics but horribly catchy) earlier today I noticed that I was adapting my voice so that I sang with a British accent. Now I think it’s important to understand that I have a stereotypical American accent, without any twists. I’m not sure what part of the United States it comes from, although I’m guessing that it’s a mix of New York, Boston and San Francisco, transmitted to me via my obliging parents.

Yet even being an American teenager living in Paris I still find a foreign accent perfectly thrilling to listen to. It sounds exotic and exciting and because of the whole “the grass is greener on the other side” thing, I always tend to think that foreigners are, in general, better people than the ones I find here.

Here are a couple of the accents that I, in a rather clichéd fashion, adore the most.

#1 : French

I’m putting French first more in loyalty to my country than anything else, but it still means that I’ll be able to fire a quick retort at any snarky politician who accuses expats of not being patriotic enough. Not that that will ever happen per say, but you can never be too sure. French is known as the language of love, and for a visitor, a visibly distraught French citizen struggling to make you understand that the rind on a Saint Nectaire cheese can be eaten safely is extraordinarily sexy.

#2 : British

My friends and I have this ‘game’ where we walk around for a couple hours speaking only with British accents, holding our pinky fingers up and holding our heads so high that they are in danger of being permanently stuck that way; the position is so uncomfortable. And yet melting down the entire population of the UK into one accent and attitude is seriously fun, though I can’t figure out why for the life of me. Then there’s the guys. There is nothing hotter than a boy speaking with a sophisticated sounding British voice. Once again, why? Once again, no idea. All I know is that I have this preconceived idea that any British boy will be willing to sit and listen patiently to my whining while offering me tea and crumpets as opposed to an American boy who would probably (and rightly) tell me to f*ck the hell off. So British boy, come to CT. Ugh, that sounded weird.

#3 : Canadian

This one I’m pretty certain came more from How I Met Your Mother than anywhere else, so in reality I’m not sure how life-like it is, so to all my Canadian readers, I am sincerely sourry if I am putting forth a false portrayal of your wonderful accent. The Canadian accent is awesome because you can hear it in both languages: English and French. I have a friend who speaks (French) with a Canadian accent and in that Canadian way, not exactly wording things the way that we would or saying things that make sense to us. Nonetheless, whether it’s in French or in English, the Canadian accent is delightful because it’s familiar and yet very different at the same time.

So now that I have successfully degraded three accents, I will go to bed and read aboot a lady who kills her psychoanalyst for the sole reason that he annoys her. Aaaaah, summer reading in high school…

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

Those Crazy American Commercials

There’s something that makes American TV commercials somewhat different from ads in other countries, or at least ads in France. Yeah, you know that I’m talking about those erectile dysfunction ads that come on every two seconds *involuntary shudder* I mean the purpose of one in three TV ads is, it seems, to council men on how to get boners.

Whenever I go on holiday to the US I always get excited about watching TV. Reason 1) I finally get to watch my shows on the big screen without having literally every male character sound like a 12 year old girl because it’s been dubbed, and reason 2) because I know that I’m garanteed a fit of hysterical giggles when it’s time for ads. And man, it’s always time for ads. In France you’re not allowed, by government law, to advertise any prescibed medication on TV, in magazines or in the papers, which in some way makes sense but in another makes French ads sooo much more boring. L’Oréal, because I don’t care. Get the idea? Pratically nothing ever happens, and when it does it’s most often an American ad that has been dubbed into French.

But in the United States of America, with it’s freedom of speech and wonderful liberty, there are no such rules, and the results are both glorious and disquieting:

“Are you having trouble living up to your ‘woman’s’ needs? Do you need a treatment that will last over 36 hours? [wait woah… 36 hours? Now I may not now much about the birds and bees junk but 36 hours seems quite a long time to be prepared for] Try our new SuperBonerCrap and go, go be free! Have sex in the middle of the street, in the park, in front of your grandkids! With SuperBonerCrap, it doesn’t matter when, where or how inappropriate the circumstances are, if you’re feeling it, take action. Warning, an erection lasting more than 5 hours may cause serious nerve damage. [God TMI people, kids watch Top Chef too you know] Side affects may include extreme exhaustion, nose bleeding, digestive issues, liver failure, prostate cancer, respiratory difficulties, brain damage and death. [Um excuse me, whaaat?] And as usual, stay safe! SuperBonerCrap, making you wish that you were single and surrounded by cats.”

So maybe I exaggerated a little bit, but not that much. And I know that erectile dysfunction is a real thing that affects a lot some people, but the number of ads compared to the percentage of the population that might need the product is disproportionate. Then again, it’s America, why am I suprised?

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

The French and School: a Match made in Hell

School is school. Now you might be thinking ‘geez, this one has a knack for stating the obvious’, but as the awesome Attempting Reality demonstrated, school can be very different depending on which country you’re in. And while Attempting Reality (who I love, check out her blog!) presented a more elogious description of her school, mine will be a bit more, let’s say, ranty.

There is one master key to French schools; and that is academics. Yes yes I know, academics are the key to most (I won’t say all, who knows, I might be wrong, though I find this to be unlikely) education systems, but the French, as they do with a lot of things, go over the top with it. On average, we have class from 8:30 to 4:30, although in my old junior high we went from 8 to 6. It was rough. I mean it doesn’t give you much time to enjoy life, and that’s what our teenage years are all about right? Like, YOLO people! Oh dear God, I may have just rendered my whole argument invalid by saying YOLO. And of course now I have the Lonely Island song stuck in my head. Anyway, back on topic. A study showed that we spend around 847 hours per year in school, as opposed to the 774  hours that constitute the European average. And yet our education system ranks far lower? Um, hello people? Wake up? Please, copy Finland, I beg of you.

Oh homework, I hate you so. There’s so much of you I can’t even keep up anymore. We’re supposed to spend a minimum of 4 hours a day on homework, and if you get out at 5, it gets difficult. Over the last school year (sophomore year) I pulled around 20 all-nighters, and on most nights didn’t go to bed until 2 am. It’s not healthy! Jobs after school are unheard of. And you can forget about extracurriculars, who has the time? We squeeze them in as bet as we can, after all there’s no getting into American college without ’em, but they’re a blow to the homework designated time. I should point out that none of these extracurricular activities are school operated, we have no football or baseball teams, no Friday night games, no Spring musicals. As far as french thinking goes, school is for intellectual studies only. This also means that there are no social gatherings like Homecoming or Winter Formal, much to this teenager’s sorrow (yeah, I’ve seen movies and read books. Everything happens at the dances). Quite basically, we’ve got no school spirit.

Now since we’re so focused on becoming corporate lawyers and Wall Street bankers, everything is fiercely competitive. We are ranked, cataloged, and watched closely for the duration of our scolarity, from the age of 6 ’til we’re done. And then comes the stupid part. At age 16, at the end of sophomore year, we are forced to make a life changing decision, one that will follow us for the rest of our careers. And really, once the choice is made, there’s no turning back. We have to choose in between 3 (I know, not a lot of choices) programs: S (scientific), ES (economic & social) and L (literature). They didn’t want to let me into S because I don’t have the grades in math, but I fought back hard. I want to study biology, not math! You can’t make me study economics when I’m going to become a doctor! The system is rigid and blind to individual needs, and that’s what makes it difficult to succeed. Apart from college counseling, which is particular to the EABJM, we get no guidance. You either shine or you fail. And you have to get your claws out (isn’t that a weird turn of phrase?) to get where you want.

Concerning the actual school system, we have only 3 years of high school that culminate in the grueling and infamous baccalaureate, or BAC for short. And contrarily to the american system, we don’t get to choose our classes. We have a core curriculum that we are given, so there’s no AP junk, mixing grades or anything. We move from classroom to classroom as a unit, never truly separated from each other. Since I go to an  international school, I’ll be taking the BAC OIB (with international option). Also, my school likes to torture its students by forcing a lot of tests on us: last year, the british IGCSE, next/this (oh gosh, it’s that time of year already!) year the american SAT and in ‘terminale’ the french BAC. We’re being prepared for ‘prepa’, which is a 2 year ordeal wherein you have no social life whatsoever, thus no development. All I can say is; college is the easy, more expensive way out for me, and it is going to be a breeze!

Now as much as I hate the french school system with all my might, I do love some aspects of my everyday school life. I love the exhiliarating feeling of flying towards the subway station in the morning, knowing that if I miss the next one I’ll be late. I love seeing my friends when I enter the classroom. I love grabbing some takeout chinese food and rushing to my friend’s house to watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother before classes begin for the afternoon. I love guessing what tie my Physics teacher will be wearing (Snoopy? M&M’s?). I love spending all of my money on Starbucks (seriously, 5 bucks for a Chai Tea? Come on Seattle, get your sh*t together) when the day is done. I love accompagnying my friends to their subway stop even though I then have a longer trip back. I love homewor- oh wait no I don’t, I’ve gone too far 😉

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.