There was a warm breeze that Friday in September when I packed my two large bags, kissed my family and friends good-bye, and left my home. Thus the greatest adventure of my life was begun. On my first day of studying in France, I woke up early and took a quasi-shower, which consisted of sprinkling myself with water for hours until all the soap finally drained out of my hair. My dressing procedures were followed by a silent breakfast that consisted of some bitter-tasting, dark liquid and a hard, bread-like substance. The bread I ate dry, for fear of the dark scary-looking pot of jam. I packed my books and headed off for class.
As soon as I left my street, a man on a bike stared at me as he passed. "Stupid American," he thought and went about his business. Walking on, I passed a bakery with numerous strange people inside getting their baguettes. They stared at me as I passed, then they all turned to one another and made various snide remarks about me. They chuckled, thinking I didn't understand anything that they were saying.
When I got to the first stoplight, I waited for the little man to turn green. The drivers who had a red light chuckled and thought to themselves, "That girl has no idea what she's doing. Don't they have street signs in America?" Walking along the street, there was a man walking his dog. I smiled at him, and he scowled and thought, "Silly Americans. Always smiling at everything." Next I passed a school, where a number of mothers were chatting outside, having just dropped their children off They looked at me, then back at each other. One said, "Oh my, I wouldn't wear that unless I was an American."
Eventually, I passed a car repair garage. The men inside looked up as I passed. Then they looked back down at what they were doing and thought, "I should have hassled the dumb American." Just after I passed the garage, I came to another stoplight. I waited patiently again for the green man. Several students passed me, and they all said, "Does she not know how to cross the street? Maybe she needs someone to hold her hand."
When I got through the stone wall that surrounds my city, there was a small bar, where men sat outside drinking hard liquor at 8:00 in the morning. They all stared at me as I passed and thought seriously about surrounding me and harassing me until I screamed for help. I walked carefully down the narrow sidewalk of the street, until I passed a man walking the opposite way. He tried to run me off the sidewalk and scowled at me just for being in his way. He thought, "I wish these Americans would learn how to walk." Not long after that, there was a strange and straggly looking man in my path. He tried to stop me by asking me a question, but I kept walking. I didn't understand the question because he said it in French, but I'm pretty sure he was just trying to torture and embarrass me.
When I passed the cafe just outside of my school, there...