A different kind of rentrée

Hi there! I write about la rentrée (when all of France goes back to school and back to work after summer vacation) every year (2014, 2015), but it’s my first time in years being a student for back to school season!

I have to say, I like it. I love being a student. I’m currently studying translation, localization, and interpretation at MIIS and it keeps me busy seven days a week. It is fun to be back on the other side of the classroom and remember how I felt when I was the teacher. (I don’t miss it.)

I think that being in an international environment and a familiar city (I grew up here) have muted the effects of reverse culture shock. It was surprisingly easy to quit my beloved Franglais (for the most part) and I’m almost never surprised by sales tax anymore (but I’m leaving my weather app in Celsius!)

A few observations:

Phone plans, wine by the glass, and q-tips all cost at least double what they would in France. (But there is a staggering selection of peanut butter.)

Happy hour is from 4 pm to 6 pm (what?!?!?)

Bureaucracy is just as much of a pain here as it is in France, and a lot more expensive in some cases! (At least we don’t have to stand in line at 3 am.)

Free health insurance does exist here! (Kind of. If you earn zero money.)

I miss the structure of French interaction. I never know when a conversation is over. And customer service representatives here always ask you how you are, which is nice, but then I feel like it’s rude not to ask how they are too, so we kind of rush through the “very-well-and-how-are-you-fine-thanks-and-how-can-I-help-you-today?” and it all seems kind of awkward and insincere because they just want you to order so they can do their job and you just want your In’n’Out because you’re starving and need fries.

The cat has finally accepted me. I think my slippers helped.

Other Important Things, in no particular order:

I watched all of The Office on Netflix (the U.S. version, and yes I will watch the British version at some point) and got really invested in all the quirky characters. Now I’m working my way through Gilmore Girls before the revival comes out. (#TeamJess all the way.)

I went back and looked at all my old blog posts, and I hate them! (WOW I oversaturated a lot of photos! What was I thinking?!) But I still like blogging. I like having a creative outlet, a place to compile memories, and I like the blogging community (you are great! Thank you!)

I keep having a strong urge to DIY stuff, as anyone who follows me on Pinterest can attest. One night I worked my way through all the sewing archives of A Pair and A Spare and then sewed approximately nothing. (A few weeks later, I made a tulle skirt which Hugo says makes me look like a meringue.)

A professor showed us the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, and it is so much fun to look back at some of my favorite big-time blogs and see how they’ve chanced since their inception.

I discovered this YouTuber who made me want to braid the crap out of my hair.

The New Yorker’s Comma Queen series is everything.

I am eating my way through Trader Joe’s – chocolate-covered pretzels make any day a better day. What are you favorite things to buy at TJ’s?

This post from A Cup of Jo is so much more than career advice.

* * *

A few unedited snaps of California life (aka sunsets and beaches)…


Hugo obligingly jumped off this rock about four times so that I could take pictures.


I swear I didn’t edit this photo. It was a neon sunset!

A walk on the beach = stress management

More blogging on life, France, travel, and school when I scrounge up a little time. I hope your autumn is off to a good start!

6 thoughts on “A different kind of rentrée

  1. I loved this and I can so relate to it. Fabulous to read about France from the other side for a change and I can quite imagine how you miss the structure of the French conversation. I have to admit I like the formality, I don’t want to feel as if I am best friends with a complete stranger in a shop or an office. There are pros and cons about everything and everywhere!

      1. Ah that I totally agree with, I love that everyone says bonjour to everyone when they enter a room, a shop, an office and likewise au revoir. I would find that most odd if it didn’t happen now!

  2. Peanut butter, REPRESENT!! How I miss all the choices… and almond butter and cashew butter and ahhhhhh!
    So first, excuse the dumb question, but are you going to school to learn about the science of translation and the theory that surrounds it or studying to become a French to English translator? Super interesting either way.
    Loved your observations. Bureaucracy sucks in the USA too, def not just a French problem!

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