Alice is from California, and has a sweet, kind way of speaking. She is one of the few students at ACPP who will stay for the entire year rather than a single semester. I admire her for that, and almost wish that I still had the desire to do the same. A group of us begin a weekly tradition of hanging out on a fountain in the square in from of the marie. In France, you are allowed to drink alcohol in public areas, so we buy cheap bottles of rosé, the region’s specialty, and bags of various Haribo candies from convenience stores and spend hours on the fountain.
Our group talks and laughs and complains about the unpleasant director of our program, an unexpected way for all of us to bond in this new setting. Our voices echo off the high stone walls of the nearby cathedral and faculté des lettres, the university for students of literature. I am one of the few students in the program whose French is advanced enough to take a class there.
One of these nights, Alice asks all of us to stay for the year too. But I know my limits at this point. “I’d love to,” I tell her, “but there is absolutely no way that I would.”