Written 4 September 2009 At 1128 Montpellier Time
One aspect of my life that has changed is the satisfaction I get from the minor details of life I so often overlook in the United States. Getting to and from wherever it is I want to go, small chat with people with people working at the grocery store or gym, or completing errands. In the U.S., these aspects of life are often trivial. They are routine, often thoughtless acts I spend hardly anytime relishing. I have always taken satisfaction from conducting myself according to my principles of courtesy in conversation with momentary acquaintances or a nice drive down River Road with a cup of coffee in the morning on the way to school. However, they are always things I enjoy at that moment, often because they give me time to think of the things that are happening in my life or supporting the view I hold of myself as a nice guy. They do not last, always being eclipsed by my next thought or action. Tonight, and early this this afternoon, I held a lengthy conversation with with Vivian (french name for my female roomate, I couldn't possibly spell her real name). We spoke mostly in french and a few lines of english when the subject of our conversation delved into an aspect of the french language we are not accustomed to. I left feeling good. Our conversation amounted to nothing more than what year we were in at school, what I was doing that day, what we were going to do the next day, what she did that day, what our home cities were like, and our impressions of France and the language. Nothing too deep and something usually forgotten as verbal niceties in America, yet transformed into a major accomplishment here. I got the same feeling successfully riding the tram to and from the city and going to the grocery store by myself. By my standards of life at home, theses activities are trivial, minute details of the day easily forgotten and overlooked. But, here, they take on a new life. No matter how basic the conversation or how simple the task, it becomes something more. Something I can hold onto as proof that things will become easier and that I have the ability to survive here. It is fuel for my mind, keeping it from transgressing into a state of loneliness and unhappiness. Something to keep going and looking forward. Other than the activities listed above, I devoted my day to corresponding with friends and family through e-mail and Facebook and seeing some of Montpellier. I rode the Lacou tramway line as far as it would take me. It was fun. I got to see the outer reaches of the city as well as get a glance of parts of the inner city I hadn't seen yet. I met two Americans at the International Relations office, both were nice. It was nice to be around something I was familiar with, part of my home and easy to communicate. I won't write much about this because of a lack of information, but I saw the evening market open up in downtown Montpellier opposite La Place de la Comédie. It was fantastic. It had every food and item imaginable: candied fruits, french candy, several different types of cheese, meat, jewelry, pottery, wood carvings, dresses and other clothes, wine tasting, and olive oil stands. I was hungry and in a hurry to get home so I didn't stop to do any shopping. I can't wait to find out more!