I always knew that coming to France for a year would be a cultural experience, however I hadn't realised I would be getting insights into cultures other than that of France. For last night I experienced my first ever Thanksgiving! With there being lots of American assistants in the region, Maggie and Anna organised a Thanksgiving Dinner at their house in Niort, for which people brought along a dish to add to the table. Knowing nothing about this festivity, other than the fact every American seems to celebrate it, I had to do a bit of good old Wiki'ing. For anyone as ignorant as I was, the reason for which the Americans give thanks for what they have on this day every year is because hundreds of years ago when pilgrims came to the States, they died the first winter from not having enough to eat. So the following year the Native Americans taught the pilgrims how to grow crops, and so at harvest time they had plenty to eat. As a result, the pilgrims gave thanks to the Native Americans (and to God). History lesson over.
I also had to decide on a dish to bring so needed to read up on what traditional Thanksgiving dishes were. I settled on a green bean casserole, which is basically a mix of green beans, mushrooms, onions and cream. Therefore rendering a potentially healthy side dish fattening and calorific. It seemed to taste nice, although I have no idea if it was anything like it should have been.
Mike and I got a lift to the soirée and back thanks to a young woman called Aurélie who lives in Melle and was also going to the dinner! So it was great on 3 levels; firstly we had transportation otherwise we couldn't have gone, secondly we were able to practice some French on the journey, and thirdly we now (fingers crossed) have a French friend in Melle vaguely our age! As well as Americans, Brits and Frenchies, there were also Spanish people there, so it was quite a multi-national evening! Because of this, when we had to say what we were thankful for in our life before tucking into the food, it was all in French.
The food was delish overall, with chicken, stuffing, roast veggies, mashed potato, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, tarte aux pommes, chocolate mousse, ice cream, bread, cheese, wine, champagne....NOM. Anyway, I can now say I have experienced American Thanksgiving, albeit with a few French influences thrown in.
Literally nothing else interesting has happened in my life since my last post. I've kept up the jogging though! And I'm actually enjoying it, which I never thought I'd say. Teaching has also gone pretty well, although once again I've only had 5 hours this week (partly due to the fact that a colleague forgot to pick me up on Tuesday), but I'm really enjoying it and I love the authority I have over my pupils!
Right now I am very excited indeed because I am off to Paris tomorrow to stay with Tamsin, who I haven't seen since uni 6 months ago. She's studying music there so it'll be great to hear all about her life there and to see Paris in winter for the first time. Can't wait! I shall tell you all about it when I get back on Monday, and hopefully I'll have taken some cool photos. Ciao for now.