Wednesday, May 15, 2013

London Vacation!

During my vacation I had the opportunity to fly to London. The trip was such a treat for me because I had just done my first out-of-country study abroad there the year before, for the month of January. Plus to add to the excitement I was able to meet up with a couple of my lute friends! One currently attends with me, the other is my close friend from Norway. Being able to see her so soon after her departing the US was absolutely amazing!

Together my friends and I met up in a cafe and caught up with each other, then we ventured though the London Dungeons, followed by a more relaxing ride on the London Eye. Late afternoon called for a trip to the Freud Museum-- in his London house. That was interesting but not quite as exciting as I had hoped.

To finish the evening we had authentic Indian food. The following day we all had lunch together, and my Norwegian friend and I enjoyed the Camden markets. It was a huge relief to see people I previously knew. Thank you for such a wonderful time guys. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

I see London, I see France II

So, I haven't written in forever.
Sorry, but I've been busy.. doing stuff..-- since forever.

Ok, so down to business.

A couple weeks ago I started my big break from my courses at St. Paul Valery. It was a huge relief because four hours of French language each day, no matter how much I love the language, can be a bit burdensome.
I was lucky enough to have 2 weeks of vacation, but with a tremendous amount of French holidays and cancelled courses, I was given a 3 week vacation. So what do you do when you have 3 weeks free in France?
Well if you're me, you go to Paris, London, Aigue-Mortes, Pont du Gard, and Cassis. Basically just visiting the heck out of the south of France.

Enough talking, I know you just want pictures.

 This is a photo of my host mom, Garou, and me at the Aqueduct in Montpellier.
                  Our Hotel in Paris, close to the Champs Elysee. It was comfy and reasonably priced.
 This was the delicious Croque Madame I ate when I arrived. I was so happy because I love these things!
 Taking a picture in front of the Arc De Triumph! I really don't remember being infront of a tree though...bizarre.

          I had a beautiful long weekend in Paris. It was always warm and sunny and welcoming.
 I also visited the Gardens of Versailles which were soooo beautiful and vast.
 Here is Marie Antionette's exciting (but not really that exciting).

                                And here is her portrait. Beautiful!
After a nice stay in Paris, I returned to my host family in Montpellier for a little while. I had a few days of rest then it was off to London. WHICH WAS AWESOME.

But I will post about that next :) Soon, soon.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Beaches, Bisous, and Bonbons


I'm writing on Easter Monday, a day that many people get to enjoy off of work and school (me included!). So I'm going to write about my Easter weekend, post a few pictures and a few observations.
First of all, Easter was fabulous. The weather was nice and the food was delicious. The day gets an A+.
One thing I introduced to my family was "Peeps". It was accidental, actually. Mother had sent me a package and I thought I would put them out on a nest of chocolate eggs I had bought to share. I figured they would serve no purpose in my room, so why not let them at least be a decoration?

Photo: Joyeuses Pâques! And Happy Easter everybody! Today I introduced my host family to purple"Peeps" and put them on a little nest of chocolate eggs. I didn't realize that they are not famous here! But they were well received for being semi-tasteless birds of pure sugar. (:

My host parents eyed the bird curiously and I ended up explaining the legendary peeps to them, not even noticing that they aren't popular in France. I must admit this is probably due to the fact that I was trying to not eye all of the delicious German kinder eggs on their shelves. The peeps were well received and thus four purple peep casualties followed. Goodbye, sugary sugar fluffs.

After a tasty potato and cheese omelet we went to the beach! Unfortunately it is not yet swimming time, but walking time. So we visited an old cathedral where there lay a couple popes, followed by the beach, and then sat and had drinks and talked for a while. Parfait!

 Oh! And my host family and I also took the lifts across the riviera. It was a pleasant, 4 minute ride in a small little box-like thing. Very cute! Good photo opp too.

Perrier..."so French" haha. 

 Statue of a fisherman. I believe it doubles as a light signal, but not exactly sure. !

That's not all, frankly. I wanted to make another point really quickly, as mentioned in my title. Something that has been difficult for me to adjust to has been the famous bisou francais.

That is, when people greet in Montpellier, it's typical to give 3 bisou: sort of like a kiss on the cheek, but not really, it's kind of more of a pretend kiss where you put your cheek on the other persons, or really close to and make a kissing sound.

It's somewhat like that, except I've never done it right.
Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against the greeting, but I am so awkward with it. And, on another note, I do not do this when I see my friends, but typically the two older women that I volunteer with will greet me this way. Except to make things more awkward, they do it only twice, which is not very typical. Also, many "older" French people I've been introduced to, who don't realize that it's new to me/a little uncomfortable will approach me and do it. Sigh, last time I did it I felt like a penguin, swaying from side to was awful. Definitely not graceful with this. I guess I won't quite get the hang of this one...and that's okay with me.

Okay everyone, more post later!
"Gros Bisous" and Ciao!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Time for an update..

Yes, I believe an update is longgg overdue. So I apologize to all my loyal readers, -ahem-, I mean, Mom.

To explain my disappearance I will put it like this: sometimes, you suddenly get 12 emails from 12 different people wanting 1,000,000,000 different things. Okay I'm exaggerating, ..a little bit.
The short: I discovered that I had an online course with my study abroad program that I was completely ignoring. Oops.

What's new with me lately? Let's see...where to start...

1. Host Family Life
That's been good. The animals remain as cute as ever.

Doggy GAROU is getting along well, and he is being taught to "raise his hand" (because I didn't think about the fact that there's a French word for "paw") by me...ha. He's actually starting to do it!

Maybe if he likes it I will  teach him something else new.

He is well taken care of, gets lots of walks and naps, and can't help but release his tongue when he sleeps. 

He also snores extremely loud!

But that's okay because he's cute and the family baby.

Oh, English Bulldogs.

Candy is getting along really well with me lately!

She used to be so timid but occasionally will climb onto my lap if I'm sitting still for long enough.

Also she loves leather! Ha.

Note: My host "family" family is actually really good, too. They're still just as kind and as entertaining, we have lots in common and always have a good dinner together.

Nearby my host family there is a large beautiful spacious park.

These palm trees are beautiful and kind of deceptive -- they aren't native to this region, so this climate isn't as "tropical" as I had thought. That's okay! I'm comfortable and there's plenty of sun. 

More Palmtrees! And a Bench!

I love this part of the woods/park. It's so secluded and perfect for a little thinking time. 
Ooo Aah. 

These trees are also amazing.
Now for some other photos of the park!

Not to mention a beautiful boarded up Chateau. I would love to buy it one day. Ah, if only I had a few million Euro. (:

That's all for now, I will continue posting some more information later. (: 

Monday, February 25, 2013

4 Quirky Things From France

1. Electronic Price Tags

I know, this is the least exciting, and it's not like France necessarily discovered these.
But why don't we have these already? 
I mean, with a push of a button prices can be switched, and we don't have to have employees spending hours changing tags and messing with plastic or stickers as much. 
I know it's only a drop in the bucket, but it also helps reduce the paper waste with those paper price tags.

2. Crustless Bread! 

 I don't really need to say a lot about this but it's basically my childhood dream come true.

3. Colored, Patterned Toilet Paper and...Chemistry?

 Yep, Chemistry.

I wasn't quite sure what to think when I found this in my bathroom, but I know a couple of people who would probably have hours of entertainment with this...

Who needs a smartphone when you can read chemical formulas for hours on end?...

4. In France, when Juice gets cold it puts on a hat...

This doesn't actually happen. But this brand decided to give some of it's beverage their own little!

Ciao !

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Culture Shock = No Joke

"You're in France! Your dream come true! You should be indefinitely happy!" Is what part of my brain and everyone else thinks. Nope, sorry, not that easy.
There was nothing truly wrong happening, it was just very frustrating not being able to communicate, and being treated by some strangers like a complete idiot because I am not extremely fluent when it comes to rapid, murmur-y southern French.

So I apologize for not posting, but it was because life was like this...
Okay, so this week has been better. And not everything was bad.  Last week I visited a small town where my host father grew up at..

 Below: Beautiful old theater

Beautiful little place, indeed.

After I went on an excursion to Carcassonne: Feel free to google it! Like any castle, there was a lot of power, wars, crusades, and remodeling done over the centuries.
Below: One of my favorite pics walking up to the castle; It's in the distance.

                      Almost to the castle...
  On the way to the castle still...
 Finally at the castle!

Within the castle walls..

Does this woman look familiar?

I think I have a pretty good guess.

These photos were taken in the cathedral attached to the castle.

I find that with every great location like this, there is an absolutely beautiful cathedral attached.

And with any good cathedral, there is always a magnificent lay out, stained glass windows, statues (for example, of the apostles, or these guys..)

                      Below: The Apostles
 I didn't get a lot of pictures with me in them...because it was FREEZING! Still awesome though.
              Above is a photo from inside the castle, to the outside city of Carcassonne. Lots of the buildings in the south of France have this interesting orange-y roofing. I think it's different and beautiful.
Below are some more pictures from inside the castle walls. Beautiful!