Santé! Cheers! Prost! Salud!
It’s scary how quickly birthdays seem to approach each year. I think this year was especially baffling to me because I realized that I have been here since September! Amazing how quickly time flies…
I woke up and started getting ready for class as normal, yet when I opened my bedroom door; I found it covered in signs. The signs said “happy birthday” in German, English, French and Spanish(Gulia was not happy that the Italian one was missing, but she sang to me in Italian to make up for it.) I was touched that my roomies woke up early to decorate my door before going off to class! It reminded me how we would always decorate our friend’s rooms and/or apartments for their birthdays at Grand Valley. When I finally got to my class, all of the students started singing happy birthday to me in English. The teacher somehow found out it was my birthday and told them about it all, as well surprising me with a box of French chocolates.
The ladies in the lunch room also must have known it was my birthday, because they just happened to serve an amazing rice dish with mussels and sausage which I happened to love! After a big lunch there, I headed back home to chill before meeting a friend in town for ice cream. I thought it was a bit weird that my roomies didn’t want to get ice cream with us, but figured it was their loss and headed off to town with my friend. When I returned a couple hours later, I discovered a huge surprise dinner waiting for me complete with salmon, a Lyonnais specialty dish and chocolate fondue! Now I’m not dissing birthday cake, but birthday fondue is pretty spectacular, especially when the chocolate was imported from Austria by your Austrian roommate.
My birthday was completed by some lovely phone calls and skype sessions with friends. Thanks to all of you who called and sent cards!
Amanda’s birthday celebration round two:
Part two started off with an international food party at a friend’s apartment. Everyone had to bring a dish from their own countries. It was hard to find food that was typically American, besides hamburgers and hot dogs, so eventually I settled on peanut butter cookies and pancakes. (Yeah yeah, I know pancakes are from Sweden, but pouring maple syrup on them makes them American for this party. Besides, no one can deny that they are a favorite USA breakfast food.) I went to a huge grocery store in a nearby town to get the supplies for my American delicacies. The grocery store reminded me of Mejers and although my friends thought it was too big, I felt like I was right back at home as we searched the aisles for different food items and occasionally each other when we got lost. We then returned back home to start cooking.The PB cookies were my first attempt at baking here in France, and I must say I did decently well. Of course, I made sure I intentionally burnt the first batch as a customary sacrifice to the cookie gods, but I was quite pleased with the way the rest of them turned out.The rest of our meal was accompanied by German pastries with ground beef in side, a French onion and bacon tart, dried ham, and lots of bread and wine! There was also a surprise chocolate birthday cake for me hand made by a friend! To top of a wonderful evening, we went out dancing at a pub in town. It was wonderful to go out, let my hair down and just dance around for a bit with friends. I was reminded that French people dance a bit differently than we do. They tend to kind of just bop around from side to side, while Americans get a bit more into it. As usual, we started the dancing, and pretty soon the dance floor was crowded with people. We sang along to the songs we knew and swayed to the songs we didn’t. I learned a French line dance which I promptly forgot after the song was finished. By the end of the night I was exhausted, but I suppose that is what four hours of dancing nonstop will do to you!
All and all, I was overwhelmed by how wonderful this birthday was. I received a ton of emails, messages on facebook, phone calls and love from around the globe. My friends here made sure my birthday was fantastic and full of surprises. If the beginning of my 24th year is a preview of what this year will be like, it’s going to be a pretty darn good year!