Day 32 – June 14

Today during lunch, I ended up having the most interesting conversation with the people at my table. First of all, let me give some background on lunch here. People always take their lunch break away from their desk (it’s very strange if you eat at your desk) and it generally lasts 1-2 hours, but never less than an hour. On the bottom floor of my building, there is a little cafeteria area, but it’s quite different compared to the cafeterias in the states. This one is set up kind of like a small banquet with the flood being served out of big metal containers. The tables all have linens, silverware, décor, and you use real plates. It’s fun, lunch here truly is a break from everything else. Since the area to sit is relatively small, your food is placed at a random table with other random people – sometimes you know them, sometimes you don’t. Oh, I should also explain what I mean with “your food is placed.” A waitress (kind of) follows you down the table with food choices and then carries your plate to the table. Alright, moving on, so I was actually placed at a table by myself since it was still fairly empty. Eventually a man, Tunde, who works in the same department as I and who is from Nigeria, sat down, and then another woman joined us. Tunde loves tea, this other woman loves coffee and tea and they were both so surprised when I ordered water since it is the same cost as one of these other drinks. I explained that I did not drink coffee or tea. At first, they didn’t say anything, then Tunde, who knows we fairly well, said he just had to ask why and we proceeded to get into a very interesting and thorough conversation about the church – word of wisdom, modesty in dress, only having sex in marriage, etc. They both mentioned that the Church was very large in their home countries – Nigeria and Tanzania (yes, this is the same woman from the conversation yesterday haha), but they were surprised that people in the United States would follow such rules. Eventually through a few more questions and being able to tell that they were curious, it came out that the first and last person I would have sex with would be my husband in October. They were shocked and kept saying “Wow – a new face of America!” Americans, especially my generation, have a fairly bad reputation here, so I was happy to see that this changed a bit for them.

Poor Jenny had a horrible day to day. She had to stay late for a conference call, so I stayed late as well to get some work done on my own projects – research, job searching, doctorate programs, wedding stuff, etc. Dr. G was able to call from his office – it was so fun to catch up and get his thoughts on some things. I have had a pretty specific career path planned, but over this past week, it has kind of fallen apart. I was planning to apply to doctorate programs this year so I could either take online classes while Jason finishes, or defer, but at least know where I was going. However, the schools I am the most interested in will note allow me to defer. They do offer online classes, but they discourage their non-online doctorate program students to take them. The online doctorate programs are not a long-term option since they are not in a field I am interested in. As a result, I have been feeling a bit lost…

After Jenny finished her call, we got a taxi and she asked (in French) if she could take me to dinner. I was a bit confused with her phrasing, but told her we could definitely go to dinner. She said “no, I want to take you, treat you to dinner.” She’s so sweet! We went to the Mikel hotel (best hotel in town). It is a real hotel! There’s a lobby, a pool, and everything. The restaurant is out by the pool and the food is delicious! I had real bread and even used 3 packets of butter on them. (I hardly ever eat butter in the states, which is why this is confusing.) I ordered a pasta dish and they brought me real parmesan cheese for the top. I also drank to Fanta Passions and they were delicious. (Here when you eat out, you may as well get a drink since water costs the same amount.) I learned during dinner tonight that Jenny is also a huge Desperate Housewives fan, so I updated her on the latest and we had a great time laughing at how ridiculous the characters are haha Later on, her friend Michelle met us so she could have some drinks with us. (The restaurant was having ½ off alcohol since it’s their version of happy hour, so Jenny and Michelle were living it up.) The football game came on and since football is such a big deal here, they used a huge projector to show the game. I immediately thought of Jason since he loves soccer and has been telling me all about the European Cup. Well, they played the European Cup game between Ireland and Spain. Spain won 4 to 0 and I found myself following and enjoying the game. I’m sure I’m still missing a lot of info that Jason will have to teach me, but it was fun to realize that I enjoy watching soccer!

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