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Here in Utah, and through out most of the American West, school starts in just one month. (Summer always flies by!) And I’m already fielding emails with back-to-school questions.

In France, shopping for school supplies is a pretty big deal. It’s kind of a cultural event! Teachers provide loonnnng and super particular lists, and parents assume they’ll need to visit several stores to find every last item. When I say particular, I mean it. Instead of paperclips, they might list 18 paperclips. Instead of bookcovers, they might list 3 red plastic bookcovers + 2 blue fabric bookcovers.

Last summer we were pretty intimidated by the whole thing and I definitely felt overwhelmed. But this year we know more what to expect — and I’ve already calendared a whole bunch of time for school supply shopping.

We’ve been in the U.S. for 2 weeks now and I keep happening on back-to-school displays every where we go. It’s just about killing me that I can’t take advantage of all the great sales. Hah! But French school supplies are different than American supplies (for example, in France, they rarely use pencils) and there’s almost no overlap. So I just browse the back-to-school aisles and remind myself I’ll get to fill my cart next summer when we’ve really moved home.

Is back-to-school on your mind yet? What’s on your list this year? Lunchboxes? Sports gear? Erasable markers? Do you like to get an early go on your kids’ school supply lists? Or do you find yourself at the 24-hour grocery store the night before school starts?