May 24, 2004


Tim found a humdinger of a quote today:

I think all Americans would love their country if they had to live abroad for a while. -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Amen. While living on a military post in Germany gives us Americans a taste of what Europe is like, there is no substitute for actually living the European life. And getting garbage thrown at you on the public bus. And having young boys threaten to rape you. And having your director of study abroad repeatedly tell you she hates the United States. And being banned from speaking English in the apartment you pay for by the couple who chose to host an exchange student. And being singled out and ridiculed by your teacher for daring to raise your hand and try to participate in class with your ugly American accent. And did I mention the garbage and the rape?

There was no day I loved the United States more than the day I left France.

Posted by Sarah at May 24, 2004 10:28 PM

Wow. I've seen your mentions about being miserable in France before, but I never realized how bad it was. My study abroad experience in Paris (fall '02) was nothing but wonderful. People were nice to me--admittedly, some thought I was English because I dressed better than the "other Americans." I took one (American literature) class at a French university, and the professor was sweet and always relieved to have me talk in class. Some of my peers wanted me to teach them American (rather than British) accents. When walking on the Champs-Elysees, I found an area where people had left multples bouquets and other offerings with notes saying, "We love USA--go George go."

Of course, it was only one year after Sept. 11, and before we were in Iraq. I'm not sure if I'd have the same experience there now--and given Chirac, I'm not sure I'd want to go back.

Posted by: Carla at May 25, 2004 08:16 AM


Why did you study American literature in France? Was there any overlap with what you already knew, or was it taught from a fresh perspective?

Posted by: Amritas at May 25, 2004 10:42 AM

Ha. I've revealed my wimpiness.

I went to France to study French, of course, and at my school (NYU in France, all American students) I took 3 classes in French. I also wanted a way to meet French students, but I wasn't confident enough in my language skills to be able to survive a course in French--so I decided to take one in English.

The course was very different from American courses on literature. We only read two books the whole semester, and concentrated on close readings of the texts with different themes each week.

Posted by: Carla at May 25, 2004 07:12 PM

Thanks, Carla.

Nothing wimpy about what you did. At least you took classes in French at all. (It's the students who go to English-speaking countries that make me wonder why.) I'm surprised there was an American literature class in English at a French university (part of the University of Paris system, I guess). I would assume that it was for advanced French students of English.

Posted by: Amritas at May 25, 2004 09:52 PM

Yes, as I recall it was intended for 3rd-year English students. Most of them were timid about speaking English (and I tried to converse in French with them, for my own good), but they were pretty good at it--some better than others, of course. It was at Paris X, Nanterre, about 15 minutes outside the 17e arrondisement.

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