28.11.11 So I finally blog again! I’m tellin’ you, life’s been so crazy lately!! Last week I was in three different countries all in one week!! I can’t believe this is my life haha I’m loving every minute of this!
So last weekend I went to Switzerland to visit my friend Nadia who lives in Zurich. She was an exchange student at AG my junior year of high school and we were in French class together and on the same swim team too. We were really close and we’ve talked back and forth since then, and I always said I’d come visit her but now I finally got to!! :] Switzerland is absolutely gorgeous!! The city of Zurich is really cute and I love the architecture and the trees were beautiful because they were all turning red!! Oh my gosh, it was amazing!! And, like everywhere I go……I want to live there :] All I have to do is learn Swiss-German and then I’m golden. Haha After several attempts I finally learned to say “Danke” (Thank you), but everything else was basically lost on me, but not for lack of trying haha. It’s interesting though because Swiss-German isn’t actually a written language, meaning there aren’t any grammar rules and or formal spelling of words (they just make up whatever spelling they want based on the sounds) because they use regular German in school and in government and stuff. But lucky for me, sooooo many people speak English there, and all of Nadia’s family and friends made an effort to speak English to me :]
But anyways, the first night I got there, Nadia and her mom and her friend Laura (who studied in Arizona) took me to a show called a Swiss Christmas which, despite the name, had 1)nothing to do with Switzerland 2)had nothing to do with Christmas and 3) wasn’t in English. Haha but it was still really fun because it was basically just a circus and they did all these cool tricks and stunts and stuff, and the whole place was all decorated for Christmas so that put me in the Christmas spirit!! :] Everywhere was all dressed up for Christmas and I was so excited because it was all cold and wintery and Christmasy!! Eeeee!! I can’t wait! :]
Anyways, the next day Nadia showed me around Zurich and we ate cupcakes and drank lots and lots of Starbucks (I was really excited because there were Starbucks everywhere and I’ve really been missing sweet coffee drinks!!) And then for dinner we went to the Fonduetram, which was soo cute! Basically, there’s a public tram system that goes around Zurich just like the one in Bordeaux. But there’s an old tram that’s been converted into a restaurant so you get to ride around town eating fondue, and looking at the beautiful city, and laughing at jealous people outside lol let me tell you, it was amazing. And then the next day we went hiking in the mountains behind Nadia’s house, and you have no idea how stoked I was because we had to wear a bunch of layers and dress all warm, and it was amazing!! I love the cold weather (but I’m sure if I actually lived in it I’d be singing a different tune)!!!! And the view was so breathtaking!! I couldn’t get over how absolutely beautiful everything was!! I’ve never seen anything like it!! We hiked up to the top of this mountain that had a viewing tower so we could see all of Zurich and the surrounding area. It was incredible. And then that night we went to dinner and then out to a club with Nadia’s friends. It was really fun because I got to meet all her friends that I’ve always heard about and it was funny because everyone was all nervous to speak English to me and so no one was really talking to me, but I could tell they understood what I was saying and stuff, and then when we got to the club and everyone started drinking, then they all wanted to talk to me and practice their English haha it was hilarious. Apparently they all liked my accent and thought I’m living the dream in LA hahah if they only knew how I felt about them! I guess it’s true what they say: the grass is always greener on the other side!
Anyways, we got to finish off the amazing weekend with some Swiss chocolate, some more Starbucks, and ice skating!!!!! I love ice skating and it was so fun doing it where it was actually really cold and beautiful!! And there was this huge Christmas tree in the middle of the ice skating rink and everything!! The weekend was literally so perfect and I’m so in love with Switzerland :]
Sooo…. moving right along, I’m sad to say that this was my very first Thanksgiving spent away from home. It was sad and we were all missing our families, but there’s a Bordeaux-USA club that set up a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and we got to go! It was really nice because they tried really hard to make us feel at home and to make a dinner just like the one we’d have with our families. And there was a bunch of French people too, so they got to experience what Thanksgiving’s like. And everyone spoke in English, and we had a Thanksgiving trivia which we all thought we were going to ace, but then turned out to be questions like “how many pilgrims sailed over on the Mayflower” and “What drink did the pilgrims bring over from England?” Yeah, not as easy as we thought haha So in terms of food, none of us really knew what to expect, but we started off with a rocky start with these funny appetizer things that were pieces of bread with like ham and cheese and nuts in them. Not American Thanksgiving. And then we got a plate with cucumbers and carrots and red cabbage that all had a dressing on top. Not really American Thanksgiving. But then we got a huge plate of turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and green beans. It was actually really good and it was some of the best tasting stuffing I’ve ever had. Finally, American Thanksgiving. But then we had a green salad and cheese haha Absolutely not American Thanksgiving haha And to finish it off, we had some really weird stuff that was supposed to be pumpkin pie but that tasted nothing like it. But it was fun even still, and it was nice to be able to have Thanksgiving and all be together so we weren’t too lonely missing our families.
But the next day my friend Sarah and I hopped on a plane and flew from Bordeaux over to London to visit my friend Ashley that I went to junior high and high school with! Going to London was the number one place I wanted to go while traveling in Europe, but it definitely exceeded my expectations!! Note to Sienna, now I finally know why you were so in love with London! And it was soooo nice to be around everyone speaking English for a change! London is really amazing because there’s so much history and beauty, but then at the same time you feel very much at home, like you could be in the US, expect for everyone and their beautiful accents hah
So as soon as we got there we came into King’s Cross station, where we got to do the classic Platform 9 ¾ picture from Harry Potter, and then we rode the Tube (ahh!! How exciting!!) over to Hyde Park where they had the most adorable Winter Wonderland/Christmas Market! They had these cute little log cabins with food and gifts and rides and ice skating and everything! It was amazing! We got this really good mulled wine, which is just like hot wine with mulling spices and it was really yummy and warmed us up because it was soooooo freezing!! (but luckily for us, the weather was amazing the whole time!! No fog or rain at all!!) After that, I’m just soooo excited for Christmas!! And for the huge Christmas Markets we’re going to in Strasbourg, France in a few weeks!! Anyways, after the park, we walked around as it was starting to get dark (because it’s an hour behind France and it gets dark at like 4 o’clock!!) and we saw Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Convent Garden, and the London Eye (which, if you didn’t know, is a huge ferris wheel). Everything was so gorgeous at night!!
The next day, we woke up early and had a huge traditional English breakfast, which includes English Breakfast Tea (duh!!), two pieces of toasted, grilled tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, a hashbrown patty, a piece of sausage, a piece of bacon, two fried eggs, and all this over baked beans. So much fooooood!! But it was so good and really cheap!! Yay!! Then we went on a tour of Westminster Abbey and it was soo gorgeous!! We got a free audio guide and it was narrated by the guy who did the voice of Scar in the Lion King, so that was exciting haha but it was amazing how much history there is there! And we got to stand where everyone was coordinated and where Cate and William got married!! And then we went to this cute English pub and I got fish and chips! And we rode on the double decker buses to get around and we got to sit in the front on top! P.s. it was funny when we first got there because I had a moment where I forgot they drive on the other side of the road, and I got all confused haha And then after lunch we went back to Trafalgar square so we could see it during the day and there’s a really big countdown to the Olympics next summer. And then we went to the National Gallery, which is an art museum for those of you who don’t know, which was cool because there’s free admission to all the museums! This was extra cool because the pound is so strong right now that we were losing even more money in England than we do normally in France!! I never thought I’d actually miss the euro!! Haha But anyways, at the museum, I got to see Picasso’s famous Sunflower painting, so that was exciting. So when we were walking around earlier in the day I saw this Yule Log (which is a type of Christmas cake) in one of the café windows and so then I really wanted to try it because they look cool and Harry Potter eats it (therefore it’s amazing). So we found the place and it ended up being this really tacky restaurant and the waiters were being weird and were like trying to flirt with us but they weren’t cute and it was weird and then they gave us the bill and it was soooo expensive for just tea and cake!! They never even showed us the menu! And I just kept having issues figuring our how much all the coins were worth so I ended up with like 11 one pound coins and I didn’t even know it, so we paid half the bill all in change. Haha It was ridiculous, but now we have a good story. After that we went over to the Old Vic theater and we saw this play called Playboy of the Western World that was set in old Ireland and it was the last night of the play and we only got tickets because they reserved them cheaper for students. But anyways, the reason we went was because one of the main actors is a pretty famous British actor that’s been in movies and shows on the BBC, and his name is Robert Sheehan and he’s really kinda gorgeous. He’s on this show called Misfits. Anyways, Ashley and Sarah are kind of obsessed with him and after the show we waited for him and we got to take pictures with him! Even though I didn’t really know who he was, it was still exciting, and I think it was worth waiting in the freezing cold lol
Then yesterday we woke up and ate porridge (which was really amazing and I’d say better than oatmeal) and then went to watch the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, and it was super crowded, but I found a place where I could see slash get a good calf workout at the same time haha and the royal band even played the Star Wars theme!! And then we rode biked through Hyde Park to see the statue of Peter Pan. After that, we went over to St. Paul’s, and it was surrounded by a city of tents as a part of the Occupy London movement, but we looked inside a little bit and it was gorgeous. Then we found this adorable little tea shop and we got afternoon tea!!!! Oh my gosh it was so exciting!!! You get to pick your tea and then they bring you this two-tiered plate of little finger sandwiches, and scones and little cakes and it was soooooo goooooooood!! It’s funny because before I came to Europe, I didn’t really like straight coffee or any kind of tea at all, but now I looooove tea with milk and sugar :] Anyways, that was one of the highlights of my trip. And then after, we went to the Tower of London, which as amazing! It was incredible how much history there was!! We got to see all the kings’ old amour and prisons were famous people were kept and they had old torture devices and that’s where all the famous beheadings took place. But the most exciting was getting to see the Crown Jewels!! It was ridiculous!! I can’t even fathom their worth, and it’s crazy to thing that they actually wear them and use all the gold plated dining sets!! Oh, the life of royalty. If I’m living the dream life, then what would Nadia’s friends say about Cate Middleton?? After we left we walked across the Tower Bridge (which I learned is often confused with the London Bridge…haha I had Fergie stuck in my head all weekend), and then we walked by the Globe Theater and across the Millenium Bridge (luckily there were no Death Eaters in sight), and then we walked down Oxford Street and Regent’s Street, they were all decorated with all these really cool Christmas lights!! I’m so excited for Christmas!!!
London was so amazing!! I just got back to Bordeaux today and I already want to go back. The whole time I was walking around I just kept wanting to watch every movie I’ve ever seen that was set in London: all the Harry Potters, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins..etc etc haha And I had Starbucks around 5 times in the three days I was there yay!! They literally have them on every corner!! And all these European Starbucks have different holiday drinks. The only complaint I have about London was the fact that it was near impossible to find a trashcan (a “bin”) anywhere!! Apparently it’s because it’s too easy to put bombs in them. Also, they have surveillance cameras everywhere! It’s kind of weird and reminds me of Big Brother; someone somewhere watched me eat my Yule Log and half of Ashley’s. Great. Haha
All this traveling has been so incredible and I still can’t believe that I’ve spent the past few months in Europe literally having the best time that I’ve ever had in my whole life. And now with all the Christmas decorations and Christmas markets I literally can’t wait for Christmas to come!!!!!!! AHHHH!! I got in the spirit by listening to Christmas music today!! But I’m most excited that I’m going to be spending Christmas at home with my family! :D
12.11.11 Helloooooo! Sorry it’s been so long since I last blogged; believe it or not, I’ve actually had work to do!!! Gasp, I know. But it was bound to happen sometime, what with me being on a study abroad program and everything haha
So it’s pretty exciting because they’re starting to dress Bordeaux up for Christmas!!! They put up pretty lights everywhere and Christmas trees and they’ve started work on building the Christmas village!! (I’m not really sure what all that entails, but it should be exciting!) I know my mom is always saying how they keep bringing Christmas earlier and earlier every year, but they have an excuse over here because they don’t have Thanksgiving, so technically it’s their next holiday lol
Speaking of holidays, we were talking with our host parents at dinner last night and they were telling us that in France, they only have about five national holidays: New Years, Easter, Toussaint (All Saints’ Day), L’Armistice (which was yesterday and celebrates the end of WWI slash France’s independence), and Christmas. After which, I proceeded to list all our random national holidays, which total nine, if you were curious haha but don’t worry about the Frenchies; in the end, it all works out because they get five…count ‘em…FIVE weeks of vaca from work!!!!! Yeah, I’d say we’re gettin’ the short end of that stick.
So it was really fun because last week we went to this 50’s style diner for some “French-American” food!! Haha it was really cute, and I love 50’s diners so I was having the time of my life! They had like cute little booths and we had milkshakes and they were playing old cartoons and we got burgers!! That even had ice in the drinks(!) which, by the way, isn’t something they do here in Europe, so you know we were getting the authentic experience. The only difference was that everyone around us was eating their burgers and fries with fork and knife, making us look like barbarians eating with our hands hah
It’s funny slash annoying because my host dad always asks us how to say things in American and if we’re speaking to each other in American. And then I’m always like there’s no such thing as American!! It’s English!! Ahh!! True, English in England is very different than English in America, but I feel like it’s condescending and derogatory to single us out like. Haha Why you gotta do that host daddy???
So I actually am really enjoying my French civilization class because I’m actually learning things!! (what a concept) So this week we were talking about the dynamics of family in France and how it’s evolved over time and yadda yadda and it came up that apparently it’s perfectly acceptable in France for a married man to have mistresses, and the wife can know and it’s fine and dandy and it’s not grounds for a divorce or anything. Exhibit A: Nicolas Sarkozy, aka the president of France, has like a love child from a mistress and apparently everyone knows about it—the media, his wife, other politicians—everyone. And no one cares. Ha. Yeah, I’m sorry, but I just can’t get on board with that, France.
And while we’re on the topic of politicians, Obama was in France last week and he met with Sarkozy, where Obama made a somewhat awkward comment to Sarkozy who’s wife just had a baby: he said congratulations on his new daughter and he hoped that she got her mother’s figure before she got his. Haha but that’s not all: apparently the two world leaders were talking to each other and didn’t realized that the mike in front of them was on and Sarkozy was saying how he couldn’t support Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, because he’s a liar, and then Obama chimed in and said, yeah and I have to deal with him more than you do. Haha Wow. That’s all I can say.
Thanks to the UCLA vpn and Netflix, I finally saw “A Knight’s Tale”!!!!! hahah I was super excited because they joust in Bordeaux and other parts of France around here that I’ve visited!!!!!! Ah!!! Exciting!! :]
So, with all this ample free time I’ve been having, I’ve been catching up on all kinds of shows, one of which includes 90210, and I realize that when I watch it I start to get a little bit homesick lol But, sh…don’t tell anyone lol
So, I realize it’s a long time coming, but I’m starting to come to the conclusion that I’m not a huge fan of my host family. I think it sank in the other day when Kate and I sat down to have lunch where one of our host brothers and our other host brother’s girlfriend were eating and they straight up ignored us. Like, they both left and said goodbye to each other, and not a word to Kate or me. Yeah. And it’s not for lack of trying: Kate and I said hi to them and everything. But it’s just that there are so many of us here (nine people!), that it’s more of a boarding house than a family. True, we all sit and have dinner together, but even then, no one really talks to Kate and me. Our host dad used to talk to us more and ask us things but not as much now. The only time we really get to speak is when everyone goes home for the weekend and it’s just Kate and me and our host parents, so at least there’s that. But overall, I just don’t get a very welcoming, comfortable, loving, homey environment here; I feel like everyone is very formal and distant. Our host mom rarely every smiles and she’s pretty cold like. Idk, I just feel like they aren’t really hosting students because they’re passionate about it or because they actually want to get to know us: they have plenty of space, so it’s more of a business for them, because for the past eight years they’ve constantly had students here, coming in and out. So yeah, that’s that. It’s by no means terrible or anything, but it’s just not exactly what I was expecting. All I can say is, if it weren’t for Kate living here too, I honestly don’t know what I’d do! It would be so awful and I would be so lonely hahah So yay for her :]
With that said, the other night it was exciting because we had like a dinner party I guess because a friend of our host parents came over to eat and we had fancy hors d’oeuvres in the living room, and then we ate duck (canard)!!! It was actually really really good, and I really really liked it haha And of course, we had it with French fries because the French eat fries with evvvvvverything hahah Oh yeah, and before dinner we had champagne and everything and our host dad just kept coming around and filling up our glasses haha It’s true what they say: you can speak French better once you’ve had something to drink. Haha we were chattin it up with our host sister and it was all very natural and flowed haha Apparently it’s because you don’t hesitate or think too much about what you’re going to say, you just say it. So, in a way, I guess that’s good, because we really do know a lot of French and how to say things well, we just need that extra confidence :] hahahah
p.s. happy 21st birthday to marisa looney <3
31.10.11 DISCLAIMER: This is going to be one LOOOONG blog because I’m going to tell you all about the Italy Fiasco of 2011 lol
So where to begin….it all started with the EasyJet airport staff confiscating my almost empty bottle of face wash (sad), but other than that, we flew into Milan with no other problems and then took the hour long shuttle from the airport over to the train station. Here’s where it all really begins. So I was traveling with my friends Kate and Alex; Kate and I were able to buy our train tickets for Italy in France before we left, but Alex couldn’t buy them at the same time as us, so by the time she went they were all sold out. We weren’t worried though because we figured she could just by them once we got to the train station in Italy. From Milan, our plan was to take two trains that would ultimately take us to La Spezia, which is the closest major town outside of Cinque Terre where we were going to be hiking. So we get up to the self service ticket machine (which, btw, was the most hilarious thing ever when it was set to English because it was 1, super loud and 2, made all kinds of grammatical mistakes) and for whatever reasons it won’t accept either her French bank card or her American one. Luckily, train tickets in Italy are much cheaper than the ones in France, so she was able to buy the first leg of the trip in cash at the ticket window, but the ticket man wouldn’t sell her the second leg of the trip because there was a potential that it might be canceled “due to weather.” We knew before we even got there that it was forecasted to rain, so we weren’t surprised.
Fast forward two hours, and the three of us our at the second train stop waiting to transfer when we find out that the train Kate and I are supposed to take to La Spezia is cancelled, but there’s another one going there, so Alex buys a ticket on that train but the information desk gives Kate and I another route that gets us there a few hours after Alex. In the rush of trying to make it to our train that was leaving in 5 min, the plan is that Alex will get there before us and check in to our hostel and stuff and we’ll meet her a few hours later. Mistake number one. So somewhere in the midst of all this traveling, Alex texts me and says that she’s running out of credit on her prepaid phone but that there aren’t any trains going to Le Spezia because the station is closed, and that she has to find lodging in another town called Lavanto that’s close to Cinque Terre. I try to call her, but for some reason, none of my calls go through. So now, we’re starting to get worried. We keep expecting that our train is going to be rerouted, but somehow we arrive at the La Spezia train station at 11pm, all the while I’m trying to call Alex with no luck and Kate’s new phone has been locked and requires the pin number that’s on the packaging which is at home in France. We try to take a taxi to Lavanto, and that’s when we find out that apparently all the cities of Cinque Terre have been flooded and there is no way to get there by train or car. Yeah. We were panicking. There was no way for us to get to her that night, or to contact her at all. And on top of that, we had nowhere to stay for the night. So we ask the taxi driver where we could find a good, cheap hotel, and he points us just down the street. So we get there and the little old guy working who owns the hotel is the sweetest ever!!
So I haven’t really addressed this up until this point, but without speaking Italian, it was so much harder to get by than I was expecting!! I guess since the last time I was there, I was with a tour group, I never really needed to know it, but here we were and we had to sink or swim. And the whole trip we were basically having a language crisis because we automatically wanted to speak French when we heard a foreign language so we’d be like oui, yes, si and looked like idiots haha yesssss. So anyways, this guy spoke both French and English pretty well (I was surprised how many people we were able to speak French to), so through a mélange of the two, he set us up in a room for the night and gave us the password for the WiFi so Kate could use her iTouch to try and contact Alex. But for some her iTouch couldn’t access Facebook, which was coincidentally the only way we knew to contact Alex. It was as if everything that could possibly go wrong did. And while we were there, we were watching the news, and even with the little Italian we knew we could clearly understand that what we first thought was “bad weather” in La Spezia was in reality a flash flood. Houses were submerged, cars were floating, and 9 people, including 2 tourist were killed. I couldn’t believe no one had told us this to begin with in Milan!!!!
That night I was so worried about Alex, and a thousand thoughts were going through my head about what could be happening to her. The next day we woke up and found an internet café nearby and tried again to call Alex or to message her online, and finally, with the help of Kate’s incredible mom writing to Alex on Facebook back at home in California and relaying the information to us, we were able to get a message from Alex that said she had found lodging the night before and was safe, but that her phone had died and she was trying to find a way back to Le Spezia, but she had to leave the internet café, leaving us out of contact again. We found out that the only way you could get to La Spezia from Lavanto was by boat, and we texted her the times that they left, hoping she was getting my texts but not knowing. We walked down to the harbor so we would know where the ferries would come in, but the next ferry wasn’t even leaving Levanto until 2 hours later. We watched them loading up emergency boats with water, nonperishable food, and supplies to bring to the flood victims in Cinque Terre. We were just about to leave to go eat lunch, with the intention of coming back later to wait for her, but Kate noticed a boat heading towards us. We figured we’d wait to see if there was a slim chance she was on it, but we didn’t see her. I was turning to go, when suddenly Kate sees her!!!!!!!!! We ran up to her and were yelling her name!! We probably looked like something from a movie haha I couldn’t believe she had actually found us!!!! It turns out that she had been able to get on an emergency boat leaving from Levanto. All I can say is, God was sure watching over us!! Everything ended up working out perfectly, if we had left or hadn’t even decided to walk down to the port, who knows when we would have found her??
Phew. So it would be a bit of an understatement to say that our vacation got off to a rocky start. Haha It felt like so much had happened and it had only been a day and half out of our five day trip. Needless to say, we didn’t end up going to Cinque Terre at all, but we ended up exploring La Spezia for the rest of the day and the next morning before our train left for Venice. We found the cutest little café ever; it looked like an old time candy shop (we soon found out that most Italian cafés look like that!), and it was here that I had my first in the long line of cappuccinos that I drank in Italy haha now, I’m not normally a coffee person, unless it’s loaded with chocolate and sugar to mask the coffee flavor, but oh my gosh, authentic Italian cappuccinos are amazing!! True, I still had to add sugar, but they are sooo delicious!! We also found a cute little open air market that sold all kinds of fun things, so we spent awhile browsing. It’s interesting because, not only at the market, but in Italy in general, everything is so much cheaper than France! I don’t know if it has to do with the country’s wealth or what, but we were pretty excited :]
So our next stop is Venice, and this time, we made sure to all take the same trains. But we were still unable to escape the curse of the awful Italian train system: our train first train just decided to start in a different city and skip La Spezia altogether, so we had to take a later train, which made us late for our second train, which made us late for our third train, so they let us go on a later train, and we had to just sit in empty seats and hope that we weren’t sitting in someone’s assigned seat. Ugh. But we finally got to Venice, where we spent 30 minutes trying to find our hotel and after getting bad directions from Joe our hostel’s desk clerk (what kind of directions is “go left at the round-about”??) and a sketchy group of guys, we finally found this adorable Englishman who helped us find it. Haha but don’t worry, it wasn’t all terrible! From this point on, we had an amazing time!
And let me just say, I am absolutely in love with Italian food!! Along with my many cappuccini (that’s the plural), I made a point to try all of my favorite Italian dishes and even a few others: pizza, raviolis, spaghetti, gnocchi, lasagna, tiramisu, torta dell nonna, Cioccolata, crème filled croissants, donuts; oh my gosh I was in heaven. Hahha. Before we got to Venice, I basically only had pictures of food haha
Our hostel was right next to this really yummy pizzeria that was really cheap and delicious. The first night we were eating dessert and the waitress comes up and says to me, I don’t speak English very well, but I’ll try, so I’m like oh okay and I’m thinking there’s some type of problem with something, and then she proceeds to say Mateo, our pizza boy thinks you are beautiful and wants to go have drinks with you after he gets off hahah yeah, I was not expecting that at all haha But by that time, we were so tired from our crazy train adventure, that we just wanted to go home and sleep hhaah
Our hostel wasn’t actually in the main part of Venice, so we had to take a 10 minute bus ride to get there, so the first morning we cram on this bus and I kept falling and this old Italian women kept like catching me and then she’d like say things to me in Italian and obviously I had no idea what she was saying and then she was like touching my butt and I think she said something about my dress (I was wearing tights under it btw so even though it was shortish, I was all covered up hah) and then everyone started laughing at me. Story of my life. It was awful.
But overall, Venice was so gorgeous!! It definitely redeemed the trip for us lol Since it’s totally surrounded by water, we got to take this water shuttle around. It was fun because we didn’t really have a plan of what to do, so we just kind of explored, which I’ve never really done on a trip before so we just kept finding all this cool stuff, like whole shops full of Venetian carnivale masks (we even saw a Harry Potter one!!). And it was funny because we never bothered to buy a map, so we just used my placemat from lunch that had a map oh it bahahah
So it was really funny because there was this weird fashion trend in Italy of everyone wearing these hideous construction boots! Men, women, children, everyone w as wearing these gnasty boots! We were confused haha
The trip ended with a super early flight, another airport confiscation of my contact solution (djfaksldfj I hate EasyJet), but luckily we had two super hot flight attendants to smooth over the previous grievances :]
So “at the end of the day,” Italy was gorgeous and it all turned out great. We learned that Italian trains should be avoided at all costs, that Italians have some interesting choices in footwear, that Italian food is the most amazing thing ever, that the word “Prego” can basically mean whatever you want it to from “next in line” to “you’re a stupid tourist,” and that Italian men are pretty gorgeous lol But as much as I loved it, I was surprised by how happy I was to be back in France, where it felt like home. :]
24.10.11 Hi everyone!!! Are you all excited for Halloween?? I know I am, even though I hate Halloween haha Then why am I excited, you may be wondering?? Because across the pond in France we get a week and a half vacation for All Saints Day, which is the day after Halloween, and I’m GOING TO ITALY!!!!! Ahhhhhhh!! I’m so excited!! We’re leaving tomorrow and we’re going to go to Cinque Terre, which are five coastal towns that you can hike in between and each town has its own personality (for those of you who have nothing better to do, here’s a link telling all you’d want to know about it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinque_Terre), and then we’re heading over to Venice for two days and finishing off with a night in Milan! I’m so excited for the food!! As much as I love French food, I know that Italian food is going to blow French food away (sorry France, I have to be honest).
So every night at dinner we always end up having these very philosophical and political chats, all about world affairs (did you know that in French NATO is called OTAN?? Lol) and all this other crazy stuff that I’m really not educated in haha I’m starting to think I should start watching CSPAN or something or at least The Colbert Report haha that way I can keep up haha but, hey, even though I know next to nothing about the next American presidential election, I can tell you loads about the French presidential election and its candidates haha yessss. But don’t worry, Kate and I contributed to the cultural experience that is dinners at the Michaud residence when we taught them all about the Mormon religion and the Amish hahahah all I can say is that it was incredibly entertaining having Kate explain the history and practices of Mormons and watching the family be super confused hah I finally just told my “hose” brother to watch the South Park episode haha He’s the one that studied abroad for a year in Kansas, so since he is able to compare French and American culture, he brought up an interesting point: he said that Americans like to live more in community than French do. At first, Kate and I weren’t sure what he meant, but he explained how we have our school friends, church friends, friends from each sports team, work friends…etc etc and we all like to do things together in a community sense. Apparently the French don’t operate in the same manner, if that make sense. It’s funny because that’s something I didn’t even realize that we do until it was brought to my attention like that.
As usual, this past weekend, we went and saw two movies at our favorite independent theater lol I highly recommend seeing “Another Earth.” I believe it was released in the US during the summer at various film festivals, but it won an award at The Sundance Festival, and you should try to watch it if you can!
So I finally broke down and went shopping here lol It’s about time, though, right?? I got these really cute ankle heeled boots with bows!! That’s one of the things that’s definitely different here: everyone wears heels everywhere!! One of my friends went to Toulouse for the weekend which isn’t too far away, but she said that everyone was dressed a lot more casual there; unlike here, where everyone looks straight off the runway. But it’s interesting because, even though they all look really fashionable, they all wear the same thing! There’s really not much personal style or unique touch going on here, they all just wear the same few fashion trends haha even so, I still want all their clothes haha :]
So yesterday was the final match of the Rugby World Cup and it was France against New Zealand’s team, the All Blacks. So of course (bien sûr) everyone was all into it and stoked for the game! Kate and I watched at home with our host dad, which was just about the most hilarious thing ever!! He got all into it and was like throwing pillows around, and hitting the glass coffeetable, and yelling at the television haha it’s confirmed: men and their sports are the same in every country hahah but anyways, at the beginning of the match I realized that every other country has a much more epic National Anthem that we do…sad. Haha And it’s cool because before each game, the All Blacks perform this traditional Maori Haka war dance (here’s a clip of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUSoJb7m2dk&feature=related) I know if I were the other team, I’d be terrified of them haha but yeah, in the end (“at the end of the day”) it was a really close match and New Zealand won 8-7. Needless to say, our host dad was sad lol
But then we got to spend the rest of the day in the countryside at our host parents’ vineyard!! Yay!! I love going there! We got to have this nice big lunch with really good meat and vegetables and two desserts! And then Kate and I just spent hours reading in front of the fire and drinking tea :] (Kate literally spent hours reading French words in her dictionary haha) Ah!! It was perfect!! There’s this really cute dog that they have out there and it’s funny because my first instinct was to say “Hi” to it, but then I realized it obviously responds to French haha isn’t that weird that animals can be trained in different languages too? Haha but anyways, this dog was hilarious because it kept wanting us to play fetch with it…..with a rock hahaha I’ve never seen a dog play fetch with a rock before, but we’d throw it and it would bring the rock back and drop it at our feet over and over again hahah those silly French dogs.
It’s kind of weird because when we’re at the table, no one asks us to pass something to them; unless it’s really far away, they’ll just totally reach over your plate and grab it haha and when I ask if people could please pass the such and such they act like I’m being uber formal and polite haha it’s kinda weird to get used to.
Good news: Kate and I are definitely improving!! Ah!! :] Obviously I knew that would happen, but when I actually take note of it, I’m always super excited :]
So I’ve started reading the second Harry Potter book in French, and there are all these subtle differences in the French translation. For example, Hogwarts is called Poudlard. I looked it up because I thought it might be the literal translation for “hog” and “warts” but not the case, so I have no idea where it came from. The only thing I can think of is that it’s because the “Ho” sound in French is awkward because the “h” is silent. The same thing goes for Snape being called Rogue: the “a” sound that we’re used to doesn’t really flow in French haha so basically, French children are all confused about the true Harry Potter hahah
Today I actually did some type of work for the first time when I started trying to do research for my final psychology paper. So I was trying to find what I needed in these hefty, dense, books and it was near impossible because there wasn’t any table of contents of any kind. I was starting to get really frustrated, when all of a sudden I flipped to the very back of the book, and there it was—the table of contents on the last page. Haha. How helpful is that going to be??
Quick story to end this blog: the other day I was drinking from one of the glasses from the set we have and noticed there was an expiration date on the bottom edge of the cup. I was really confused and thought maybe it had rubbed off of something or I don’t know what, and I mentioned it to Kate and we couldn’t figure it out. So a few days pass and I did’t think of it again, but then Kate comes up to me and says oh I solved the mystery: turns out all this time what I thought was a nice matching set of glasses are really old pots of mustard!! They even have different colored bases and everything!! Haha yeah, I was feelin’ pretty stupid
19.10.11 Hellloooooooo all! I came to the sad realization yesterday that I have exactly two more months left here; my wonderful vacation from life is already halfway over. :[
Soooo, first order of business: as some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been blogging every day like I was before, but that’s only because I started to realize that the more time I spend here, the more acclimated I’m becoming, and I’m starting to get the hang of things and fall into a day to day routine! Exciting! But for those of you reading my blog, that means that if I blogged everyday, you’d basically be reading a boring account of nothing haha soooo, I’m going to save my blog for the good stuff! Yay!!!!
And it just so happens I have a something good to share too hahah so I’m taking this French methodology class which everyone hates and is basically just how to be a French student gag me haha and the teacher is really mean and everyone is scared of her buuuuut to get back on track, the other day she was wearing this straight up see through white shirt haha and I’m talking bra and boobs and everything and she’s like hot haha yeah, it was really weird for a teacher to be wearing something so scandy as that haha and, I’m pretty sure that’s the first time the boys in the front row enjoyed the class ha
So my frustrations with the French school system continue…..it’s bad enough that I basically hate all my classes because they’re all super boring and the only two that actually interest me are so long that I lose interest, but on top of that, everything is majorly disorganized!! Exhibit A: today I went to my class that was supposed to be at 3:30 like 15 minutes early and I was like oh I’ll just sit and read until people come in and class starts. So I’m just sittin there and all of a sudden this woman comes in and says oh I’m sorry but this room is closed, I’m locking it up right now. And I’m like all confused and was like well there’s normally a class here right now, and she told me that classes for the day were finished in that room. So then I’m like panicking and I’m thinking what the heck, so I’m like it is Wednesday, right??? And what I had to end up doing is like walk all the way to the Sociology department and look at this bulletin board where it said in the tiniest writing that my class for the day had been cancelled. Yeah. Come on. Can’t they give us some type of warning?? There’s something called email!!! Oh my gosh, they are like stuck in the stone ages over here!! But yeah the same thing happened last week and the whole class was walking around trying to figure out where our class was and it turned out they randomly decided to change the class to another day for like 3 weeks, but didn’t feel the need to mention it. So frustrating!!! Luckily it’s not really that big of a deal because I literally have nothing but free time here haha but that would never fly for me back home haha but here it’s just annoying cuz I waste time going all the way out the to campus for no reason hah
So it’s pretty exciting because Bordeaux is famous: they’re filming something randomly in the middle of the city and there’s all these trailers and stuff set up, but it’s funny because it’s not really a huge deal or anything, it’s all very low key haha but maybe I’ll see a famous French movie star who I have no idea who they are hah but I was excited because it’s almost like I never left LA haha
I learned something really interesting in my civilization class today (for once!). Like I said before, France is very big on the separation between religion and the state, and since public schools are funded by the government, religious symbols are prohibited. So when I first heard that, yeah, it made sense and I wasn’t shocked or anything but then it was pointed out that that means Muslim girls can’t wear their veils in class! That really took me by surprise; I feel like that’s just so extreme, and it’s a part of their culture as well as religion. But yeah, I’m really starting to see how much different America is than other countries in relation to our views on diversity and inclusion of a mélange of different cultures. Yeah, we have a lot of issues of our own, but I think diversity and the “Melting Pot” that is America really influences our perspectives and attitudes. Haha don’t I sound so intellectual?
So for some reason I have it in my mind that English is like this secret language I can use here, and no one will be able to understand me. Let me inform you, that’s definitely wrong: I keep making comments about people only to have them give me dirty looks haha oops.
Oh yeah, another difference between the schooling system in France and the humble USA, is the fact that French universities are for all intensive purposes free. They only have to pay for their books, which, let me just say, are like a quarter of the price of ours. Yeah, that’s free by my standards hahah I think that ‘s the only advantage of the French system though. Haha
Today Kate and I watched Amélie all in French! It was the first time I’ve watched it all the way through, because I tried to watch it once but it was too advanced for me haha but I understood the majority of it, so I was excited and it was hilarious. :]
So I’ve been talking to other people staying in host families and I’m slowly starting to realize that Kate and I are being straight up spoiled with our four course dinners haha it’s amazing!!! We eat so much better than anyone else I’ve talked to haha :] Yay!! Haha For instance, being that it’s Fall and such (haha I do talk about the weather and seasons a lot, huh?), we’ve been eating all these homemade desserts with fresh apples!! Ahh!!! Sooooo good!! Haha after these few months I’m going to have to live at the gym to work of all this delicious food hahahha so worth it.
17.10.11 It’s official: I’m in love with Paris. I honestly cannot even put into words how beautiful and amazing it is!!! My life would be complete if I could live there someday! The city is gorgeous, there’s so much to do and so much to eat! Ahhh!! I loved every second of being there, and let me tell you, we jam packed every second of our three days there because Kate found this blog of a women who’s been living here for a year and she recommended all these places to go! Haha But it was amazing and sooo much fun! And the weather was perfect!! Apparently it had been raining and gloomy all last week, but it was sunny and clear all weekend long! And it was so gorgeous because it’s Fall. The last time I went to Paris 3 years ago it was summer, so it was a different experience this time with all the leaves on the trees all orange and red and yellow, and it was really cold and beautiful!! I’m coming to realize how jipped I’ve been my whole life in the weather department; there are actually four seasons???
And nowwww, let me tell you alllllll about my perfect weekend:
Friday: (it’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday….sorry just had to do it) Anyways, we woke up before it was even light out and took the early train into Paris and got into the City of Lights around 10am. We metroed over to our hostel, which was in the Latin quarter, kind of by Notre Dame, and dropped off our stuff and then we were on our way to the Pantheon, which is a church that has a lower level crypt where notary French citizens such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Marie Curie (the first woman buried there. My hero :] ), and Victor Hugo are buried. After we ate lunch, since we’d all already been inside Notre Dame, we climbed the zillions of stairs up to the towers and we got to see the most beautiful view of the whole city. But when we climbed down, our legs were all wobbly and literally like Jell-O. haha To revive our achy breaky legs, we stopped at this famous ice cream place and I had this delicious pear ice cream. While we were eating, I heard these women speaking English and I offered to take their picture, and it turned out they were from Orange County! Haha small world. Then we went to the Père Lachaise Cemetary, which is the largest cemetery in Paris, and is the final resting place of Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Chopin, Jean de la Fontaine, and Ingres to name a few. It’s also where Oscar Wilde is buried, and it’s tradition to kiss his grave, so there’s thousands of lipstick stains and writing and candles and flowers and everything all over his grave. Next we went to Montmartre, which is a huge hill on which the Sacré Coeur Basilica sits, and you can see another view of the city. For dinner, we went to a fondue restaurant that the blog recommended to us and it was pretty small so everyone was packed in really tight and the waiters have to actually help you step over the tables so you can sit down against the wall! So it was fun because you can’t help but talk to the people all around you, so we met some people from Ohio (woot woot) and two girls from New York, and one of them was studying abroad in Amsterdam. But the coolest thing about this restaurant is that they serve you wine in legit baby bottles hahah it was hilarious! But the food was amazing and we got the best ice cream ever for dessert!! Afterwards we went with our new New Yorker friends to this piano bar and we were singing away with the singer and she like came over to our table and was singing with us and everyone was giving us funny looks haha of course.
Saturday: We woke up and had breakfast at the hostel and it was kind of funny because you could get coffee and hot chocolate and stuff, but they served it to you in this huge bowl. So after that we found this bridge that was covered in padlocks; apparently you and your significant other are supposed to lock one on the bridge in symbolism of your unbreaking love lol Next we checked out the Centre Pompidou, which is basically an inside out building that has all its colorful pipes and things on the outside. Then we walked around trying to find this market for awhile, with no luck, but we picked up some food and then we metroed over to this little cupcake shop that was adorable, and we had a picnic lunch on the Champs de Mars, which is the park just under the Eiffel Tower (le Tour Eiffel en français). So basically I was eating cupcakes under the Eiffel Tower. How perfect is that?? It was hilarious because everyone was taking pictures everywhere, obviously, but there was this middle aged woman and her husband and she kept posing on their picnic blanket and then would get mad at him and tell him he didn’t know what he was doing and he wasn’t taking the pictures right, and then she’d get up and show him how it was done and then go back and pose again and like sprawl out on the blanket with the food and look off into the distance hahaha it was entertaining. And while we were sitting there, there was something going on and we kept thinking they were saying there was going to be a flashmob and we were all excited, and then it wasn’t that at all haha but anyways, next we walked over to Les Invalides, which is where Napoleon is buried, but we mostly just looked around the gardens. We headed over to the Musée Rodin and I kept looking around for preggers Carla Bruni, to pop out and give me a tour of the gardens haha then we met up with Kate’s high school friend who’s studying in Paris for the year and we went to Ladurée, which was Paris’s first teahouse, for some tea and their world famous macarons!!! Oh my gosh….so amazing!!! Then we went over to the Bastille and met Kyra’s friend from UCLA who’s studying in Paris (yay, new Bruin friends!!) and then the four of us went over to watch the Eiffel Tower light up!!
*This photo by Kate Wolf (gotta give credit where credit’s due :] )
Sunday: (p.s. by this time our feet were literally murdering us, we were in soooooo much pain, but we kept going) We started off at the Musée d’Orsay, which is an art museum specializing in impressionist and post-impressionist art, that was converted from an old train station. It was really gorgeous and I got to see some cool pieces by Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet, and Picasso, but they were working on the impressionist exhibit (quelle dommage) so it was closed just until October 20. Ha. Yup, there’s my bad luck again. Haha After the museum we went to the Catacombs, which are under the streets where they put all the bones that they had to dig up and move during the restoration after the French Revolution. You go down into these deep tunnels that go under both the metro and the sewer system, and the walls and stuff are literally made of skulls and bones! It was kinda cool slash creepy! But there are literally millions and millions of bones; it took them 9 years to move them all. It’s a little bit mindblowing haha but Kate was really excited because she’s an Anthropology major, and one of the security guards who’s been working there for 16 years noticed how closely she was examining them and he basically gave us a private little tour and was showing us all the cool bones and stuff hahaha it was amazing, but our legs were dying when we had to walk up the stair again after our ordeal with Notre Dame on Friday haha but it was funny when we were coming out because they had to check all our bags to make sure no one stole any bones! And what’s even crazier is that they had already found two skulls in people’s bags just that day! So by this time, we were exhausted, but we went over the Arc du Triomphe and were just about to get in line to climb it, when they closed it down for a special ceremony. Dang hha But we were so tired by that point and we could barely walk haha our train didn’t get back to Bordeaux until 1am, but lucky for us when we bought our tickets, only 1st class was left, so we had the most incredibly comfortable seats ever! :] The perfect end to a perfect trip!
Phew!! I honestly can’t believe we did all that in so short an amount of time! I was super impressed the entire time at how well Kyra and Kate were able to navigate around the city because it’s huge (yeah, I was basically useless the entire time in the directions department, but what’s new?)!! It was crazy because every time we’d come up from a metro stop I felt like I was in a completely different city, because every part is sooo different.
It was really exciting because, being students, we got into the museums and monuments and stuff for freeeee (my favorite number) with our ID cards!! I was stoked, basically. :]
This was my first time staying in a hostel, and it was interesting because I felt so European traveler-esque haha we were in a big room with a bunch of bunk beds and 7 other random girls. Oh yeah, and it was awkward because the shower was directly across from the sink and the mirror, but had no shower curtain whatsoever haha yeah….let’s just say I was livin the Bohemian life this weekend hah but we basically spent zero time in the hostel, we just went there to crash every night haah and we were always the first ones to leave in the morning and the last ones to get back haha
It was interesting because one of the biggest differences we noticed between Paris and Bordeaux is that you can literally get by without speaking a word of French in Paris. Literally everywhere we went we were surrounded by English speakers! It was actually kind of annoying, and it definitely took away from the authentic experience we’re getting back home in Bordizzle. What was really annoying was that all these American would just talk to everyone they saw in English, as if every single person they encountered spoke English hah oh gosh. Americans. Haha
I know I’ve said it a thousand times, but I’m very serious about wanting to live in Paris, but definitely France, someday. It’s so beautiful and I love the weather and the food and the fast pace of life. Sigh, why do I ever I have to go back to the Stars and Stripes?
12.10.11 As of today, we’re officially set for a weekend in Paris!!!!!!!!!!!! We’re going to be there for three days, and it’s my personal goal to fit in as many museums, activities adventures, and as much food as physically possible!! And guess what? Paris even has its two very own cupcakeries!!!!!! Heck. yessss. Basically, I couldn’t be any happier haha and we’re going to stay at a fancy auberge (that’s French talk for hostel) right by the Louvre!!! Eeeeeee!! :]
So today I had to have a medical examination as the final part of my visa experience (trust me, the whole thing has been the biggest pain ever). So I basically went from one examination room to the next with a different doctor doing something different in each room haha But it was funny because one of the older nurses had to take a medical history and she was asking me about sexual diseases and using condoms and AIDS and stuff but I didn’t know the vocabulary, so she asked me something and I’m like sorry I don’t understand and she was all awkward and I could tell she really didn’t know how to slash wanted to explain it to me and she had to like find the English translation in this healthy habits booklet and I was like oh gosh no I don’t have that hahah it was entertaining. Oh, and I also had to take off my shirt and bra and everything for a chest x-ray because they’re all paranoid about tuberculosis over here, so of course that was a pleasant experience. I got to keep the x-ray hah now I don’t need to buy any souvenirs haha
Today my Japanese friend was wearing this sweatshirt that had English on it, but when I looked closer, I realized that it was basically jibberish haha not a single one of the sayings (including such things as “all softly 100%”) made any sense haha it cracked me up and reminded me of when Janna and I hit up the Japanese stores in San Fransisco haha
So we’ve been learning in my French civilization class that the French in particular are really afraid of change and things that are different, that’s one of the reasons they have the stigma of being so snotty, it’s because they’re actually afraid of things that are different. So Kate and I have been able to see that firsthand, specifically at the dinner table. Now, we already knew that our family is bourgeois and pretty well off, but they are always talking bad about Arabic people and making really awful, racist comments. It’s actually really hard to hear; Kate and I just look at each other with disgust. Like, I asked one of my “hose” brothers to teach me some slang, and I was thinking he was going to teach me dirty words or something, but instead, he was teaching me derogatory names for Arabs. Yikes. And the Spaniard is always jumping in and joking around with them too, like oh yeah they should go back to where they came from yadah yadah, so I’m wondering if it’s a European thing to feel like that about non-westerners, because apparently they have similar, but not as strong, sentiments against Asian people also. It’s weird to hear such outright discrimination because in the United States people are much more conscious of being politically correct, which definitely doesn’t exist around here. Also, I think I’m generally around more liberal college students and other people of our generation who are generally more accepting of different races and cultures. So yeah, that’s definitely been one of the most surprising things I’ve seen since being here.
On a lighter note…tonight at dinner I drank red wine that was older than me (1982 to be exact). Weird. Haha
I was really excited today because I got home and there was a letter for me on the stairs!!! Thank you to Adam for writing me the most amazing letter ever, complete with pictures!!! :] It was definitely the best part of my day!!
10.10.11 So I decided I’d compile a few days’ worth into one blog so you can get the sparks note version of the end of my weekend and the beginning of another week!
On Saturday, we went to Utopia again (it’s just so dang cheap we can’t help ourselves from coming back!) and this time we saw an actual French movie called “La Guerre est Déclarée” (The War is Declared) which was about a young couple, coincidentally named Romeo and Juliette, and they find out their little baby has a brain tumor, and how they deal with everything. It was really good, but sad too. Not gonna lie, I cried a bit, but I really liked the movie and it further confirmed that I for sure want to be a pediatrician :] But yeah this one was a little bit harder to understand than the other French movie we saw because they talked faster and more under their breath lol but it was good! And what was even better was that we didn’t see restaurant creeper while we were there!!! Victory!!
Then that night we went to our friend’s apartment and had a dinner party, where we had a tour of the world with bruchetta, cashewed chicken, French tarts, and tequila haha It was fun! I learned how to press garlic. So naturally, with that alone I’d consider the night an accomplishment.
Last night we FINALLY got to go to the carnival!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You don’t know how stoked I was!!! I even braved walking a few blocks alone in the dark (armed with hairspray, of course) to get there because Kate didn’t feel up to going. If I’m willing to walk alone in the dark, then you know how bad I wanted to go haha The highlight of course was the huge ferris wheel that I was talking everyone’s ear off about going on haha it was really cool because from the top we could see out over all of Bordeaux! It was gorgeous!! And of course we had to sample all the fair food! I got a candy apple (can you believe it was actually the first one I’ve ever eaten?) which is called un pomme d’amour in French, meaning an apple of love haha it literally looked liked Snow White’s apple haha like I mentioned before, cotton candy is called barbe a papa (barbe=beard) and Joe got one that was bigger than the size of his head haha they also have churro things called chichi (pronounced she-she) , and these donut things with nutella in them!! Yum!! I already knewI liked fair food, but now there’s like a whole other category of food opened to me! The best part is that there’s no entrance fee, and I walk by it everyday on the way back home, meeeeeaning I can eat fair food whenever I want for the next month haha
So it was really funny because all the rides have English names; we went on a little ride they like to call “Sexy Dance.” Yup. The back of the ride was painted with some….interesting(?)…depictions of women: basically, I’m talkin all these girls with 80’s hair and bulging boobs that were bigger than beach balls haha oh don’t worry, I took pictures haha but yeah the ride was really fun cuz you basically went around really fast on these swinging cars and there was like smoke and strobe lights and fire(?)!! Yeah. Not bad for a traveling fair haha and the ride went on forever!! We def got our money’s worth haha only thing is, I have really bad whiplash today haha
Moving right along……today, in classic French fashion, we’re sitting around in class waiting for our teacher who’s notoriously late, and then someone walks in and is like, oh she’s sick and will be out until Wednesday. Um….yeah, thanks for telling us haha good news: no class! Bad news: I had a class before that one so I still had to wake up at 7. Grrr
So Kate and I tried this Indian food place for lunch today, and we were so early we were actually sitting in the restaurant before it was technically opened haha yesssssssssssssss but the food was sooooo good!! Oh my gosh! I’ve never had Dahl before (Indian lentil bread for those of you who were curious), and I love it haha I was stoked haha And while we were eating, these girls walked in who were speaking English and we ended up talking to them and they’re both au pairs, one’s from Oregon and the other one is Canadian (haha). It was kinda funny because we were jealous of them being au pairs and they were jealous of us going to school here (for some reason). Hah they only know a few other English speakers, so they were excited to hang out and do something in the future. Can you say new friends???? YAY! :]
Another thing I’ve noticed in my classes is that people don’t say “shhh” to quiet each other. No, here it’s more like a hisss“ssssssss.” Maybe they’re working under the assumption that they can scare everyone into science. Or maybe they’re talking in Parseltounge, and I’m just working against yet another language barrier.
I was pretty stoked because we had, wait for it……MAC AND CHEESE with dinner!!!!!!! It was pretty exciting, and of course the cheese was fancy and delicious haha We also ate this cheese that had this fancy little contraption on it that you use to cut the cheese in such a way that they come out in little flowers!!!!!!!!! Yeah, how cool is that???!!! :] Once again, I’m easily amused haha Also, my host brother Romain, kept trying to get me to eat more and more of these cheese flowers haha what do they think I am, American or something???
7.10.11 OH MY GOSH!! I’m so excited because I just booked my flight to Zurich, Switzerland for mid-November to visit my friend Nadia!!!!!!!! She was a foreign exchange student at my high school my junior year and I’ve only seen her once since then, so it’s going to be so fun!! I get to stay at her house and it’s going to be good because I’ll actually be able to do nontouristy things because she’s a local and all haha And it’s going to be all cold and wintery and beautiful!! YAY!!! :]
Speaking of which, it was really nice today because it was cold and we got to wear our warm coats and scarves and boots and everything! I’m excited that there’s actually going to be a winter here! I decided that I’m going to live somewhere with actual seasons at least once in my life, because I want a change from California where your only options are rain and sun haha But yeah, since it was chilly I went running this morning in the Jardin Public (public garden) and it was beautiful!! I thought it would be good to try to go running once in a while with all this consumption of desserts and cheese and bread haha
So this evening we saw this American movie called Drive that has Ryan Gosling in it, and it was nominated for an award at the Cannes film festival. It’s about this guy in LA who’s an amazing driver, like he stunt drives for movies, but on the side he helps with robberies and stuff by being their getaway ride. So then he meets this girl and her son and he ends up having to do all this crazy stuff to keep them safe because people are after them haha it was really good and it was funny cuz with the music and stuff it was like an 80’s movie and it was super melodramatic haha But basically it was amazing because Ryan Gosling is absolutely gorgeous and was driving around LA all fast and badass and, let’s just face it, he was hot haha yeah, five girls watching Ryan Gosling? haha what do you expect? But it was funny because with all the scenes of LA, it was the first time that I missed it, lol and afterwards we were all saying how we were all a little homesick haha but yeah I’m not sure if it’s out in theaters at home, but I’d def recommend it.
Then we went to dinner and after we had the most amazing crepes!! They were all warm and delicious and mine had caramel in it!! Oh my gosh, it was sooooooo good!! :] And then we went back to our friend’s apartment and it was adorable! It had this huge window looking out over the street with a window seat! It was perfect. Every apartment I’ve been to has been really cute with a lot of character! I’m happy living with my host family, but I wish I could live in a cute place like that!!
Oh yeah, and the stupid creepy waiter called me again….twice. Let me just go ahead a point out 1) I ignore every one of his calls, so why does he keep calling?? 2) I still don’t know his name 3) I will never ever ever give someone my number again 4) I ignore every one of his calls, so why why why does he keep calling???
When we were riding home on the tram at like 1 am, it was like crazy and everyone on the tram was young and drunk and smoking and yelling haha it was like a party haha it was fun. I love France. I never want to leave.
6.10.11 So I’m not sure, but I think it’s a good sign that I’m starting to forget English haha Today I had to write up a course description in English and I was all awkward and unsure of what words to use because I just kept thinking of what I wanted to say in French and my advisor, who’s first language is French btw, had to correct me hahah yessssss
So the other day I was in my room on my computer with the door open and one of my “hose” brothers walked by and he was like all excited about my computer cover and keyboard cover and like called the other one in to show him too and he was asking me where I got it and stuff haha so he ended up buy one off of Amazon too haha but it’s really awkward because the word for the cover is “coque” pronounced like “cock” haha so I feel really weird whenever I ask him about the computer cover and I like hesitate before I say it because I just feel like that’s not the right word haha and then Kate and I were trying to explain to him what it means in English haha
It was funny because today my “hose” brother Andréa came into my room where Kate and I were chillin and needed help with his English homework because he had to write a conversation between a mother and daughter and the daughter wanted to be able to walk to school alone, and then he had to write a little essay about whether or not he thought parents should give their kids total freedom. (why are language prompts so ridiculous??) Haha but it was funny because we finally got to have some payback for all the times he was like no your pronunciation is wrong haha when he was writing he used the word “nowadays” and I thought that was funny. But yeah it was definitely some bonding for us, and now Kate and I are friends with him on facebook hah yeah, no big deal.
So today I wore this flower in my hair that I wear all the time at home and it’s like whatever, but here, everyone was complimenting me on it! Haha my host dad was saying how he liked it and he was joking about how it’s an American flower because they don’t have those kind in France hah and then this waiter at the coffee shop we went to said he liked it, and then my program director, and then my host dad again at dinner was saying oh it’s still alive, you must have a little cup of water hidden behind your ear hahaha
So my Art teacher is kind crazy (must be a requirement to be an art teacher, as demonstrated by Ms Scott), and she’ll like randomly emphasize certain words really loud and it’s really hard to not laugh and literally everyone is bored to tears and we just don’t know how she can’t see that everyone isn’t interested hah we all draw elaborate pictures and stuff, today a good portion of my actual notes were in picture form haha but we actually did learn a few interesting things about French theater in the 19th century, like how they would change the endings to Shakespeare’s plays so that neither Hamlet and Ophelia or Romeo and Juliet died, but instead the two couples got married haha and they used to pay people to come and sit in the audience with these clappers so they could create applause lol
Exciting News: I decided I’m going to be a French minor!!! With all these French classes I’m taking, I only need to take two more classes back at school and I’ll have finished the minor!! Exciting!!
I keep having issues with my cell phone so I needed to call the customer service line to have everything straightened out, but I didn’t think I would be able to explain things well enough and everything, so my program director called for me and it was really funny because she was pretending to be me and she’d be like yeah my name is Jill Chanley and I am American and then she’d look at me and giggle and then she’d be like yah my birthday is April 8th and then she’d look at me again and giggle some more haha it was priceless
I was trying to get my host brothers to teach me some French slang today, but who knows what I was actually learning haha
At dinner tonight the Spaniard was talking about different accents in Spain and he’d be like oh, well in Madrid they talk like this and in Barcelona they talk like this and then he’d laugh hysterically like it was the weirdest thing he’d ever heard and Kate, our two host brothers, and I were just sitting there like um….they both sounded exactly the same to us hahahahaha
Interesting tid-bit: our “hose” brother commented today on the fact that Americans put their bread on their plate, but French people put it to the side on the table. Lol
So it’s really weird because when French kids greet each other they always say “Coo Coo” hahahahha they sound like clocks haha it’s really weird and it make me laugh.