Monday, December 15, 2008

ALMOST HOME!!!

Wow! It's been forever since I blogged. Sorry!! It's been really hectic around here lately, what with getting ready for exams and going home and all. My last couple of weeks have been really great, and this one is going to be FANTASTIC!

Last weekend I went to Paris because I wanted to visit it once while I'm here. I mean really, you have to go if you're in France. So, I went and toured places in Paris that I hadn't seen before. I left early Saturday morning and got to Paris around 1ish. I went to see the Catacombs, a place underground that has tons and tons of bones and other little things to see. While there, I met some girls from North Carolina who are studying abroad in Oxford right now. They were really cool, and we wound up hanging out the rest of the night. We headed for a brasserie after the Catacombs, where I translated for everyone. The waiter was really excited to know that one of us spoke French lol. The NC girls were blatantly American, but it was really cute. They got English menus while I got a French one. The food wasn't superb, but it wasn't absolutely terrible either. I left a little note for our waiter thanking him for putting up with us and our oddities, and that got a smile and a wink out of him lol. We went up to Montmartre afterward and climbed all the way up to Sacre Coeur. The Parisian skyline at night was really pretty, so of course we took lots of pictures. The girls got bored with Montmartre after a while and wanted to go shopping, so we headed for Les Galeries Lafayette, one of the largest department stores in the world. It was freaking huge!! And, there were hundreds of thousands of lights all over the building to boot. After shopping for a little over an hour we went our separate ways, and I headed back to my hostel. I originally was going to meet Julie from Baylor there, but I left my phone in Caen (stupid, I know), so I didn't really have any way of catching up with her. A guy from Seattle and one from Australia invited me to go to a frat party with them that night, but I originally declined. My feet were killing me, I wanted to wait for Julie, and the thought of an American frat party in Paris didn't really thrill me; however, I relented and went with them. (I'm very trusting, I know...stupid yet again). The party wound up being a bust because the line to get in was about 200 ppl long, but I was able to have a 20 min. conversation w/ some Italian girl in French, so I know I'm getting a lot better. Poor Luke (the one from Australia) doesn't know but 4 or 5 words in French, so he felt out of the loop a bit. Apparently his South African friend who invited him to the party knew some French ppl and they invited us out to a club. Now, I thought they said pub. I was okay with going to a pub...it's free to get in, and I don't have to drink w/ them. A club however cost 10€, and I didn't have that. Luc (this one's from Seattle) paid for my ticket. I had a pretty good time, but I got beer thrown on me by Luc (go figure) and was out till about 4am. I know. Courtney. Clubbing. 4am. Paris. Weird.






The next day was AMAZING! After sleeping till about 9, I got up and got some breakfast at the hostel. I ran into Julie for a few minutes, and she said her friends were headed up to the Pantheon and then elsewhere around Paris. I was gonna meet them at the Pantheon, but when I showed up, they had decided to take a walking tour instead. Oh well. The Pantheon was really cool because I got to see the graves of Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Sartre, Emile Zola, and the Curies. I even was able to read the little bios they had on all these people. In the Pantheon there is also this big gold ball that is apparently there to prove that the Earth moves like Galileo said. (And yet it moves...) The experiment was actually a pretty cool thing to watch. I got back to the hostel around noonish and then headed off to Le Musee d'Orsay. That museum was AWESOME. I almost liked it more than the Louvre. I saw tons of Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Gaughin, Renoir, Picasso, and other famous artists. I also met a man and his wife from Colorado with whom I talked for about 20 min. The husband is originally from Dallas and a huge Cowboys fan, so I got to talk sports for a little bit. THAT was awesome. I miss talking about sports SO much!! And, it was really great to meet another Cowboy fan. I took a break from art a little bit later and met some British girls whom I joined for coffee. They were convinced I was from Australia for a little while because Luke's accent had transferred over to me. It was really hard getting rid of it and talking in an American accent...everything felt forced. We had a ton of fun though lol.

That night, Luke took me to the Eiffel Tower for a glass of Chardonnay and to watch the lights on the tower. The sights were BEAUTIFUL. We were originally gonna go up in it, but it was literally subzero, so we decided just to view Le Tour Eiffel from the ground. There's now a blue spotlight on the tower and the European Union symbol b/c France is the president of the EU for right now, though its presidency is almost over. After freezing to death we headed to a cafe for some hot chocolate, which I taught Luke how to order in French. It was hilarious watching him try to say "Je voudrais deux chocolates chauds s'il vous plait." The waiter understood what he said, thankfully. While there we met a couple from Cincinnati who asked if we were on our honeymoon; that was sufficiently awkward. After cocoa we headed down to the Champs-Elysees because Thomas had told me to see the Christmas lights on the streets and in the windows. I'm really glad I went down there because it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL!! The only thing I can't wait to see that will be just as beautiful when I get back is colored lights...the French only believe in white and blue. The night ended very well (and very cold), and I went to sleep so I could get up early and get back to Caen for class.

Pictures: 1. Luke and I on the Champs-Elysees (a little blurry, sorry).

2. The North Carolina girls and I in the Catacombs

3. Le Tour Eiffel with all the lights

Friday, November 28, 2008

Joyeux Jour d'Actions des Graces

I'm gonna have fun with this one and write in PURPLE! Haha, sorry...totally random...


ANYWAY.

Last night the French-American Alliance threw a Thanksgiving feast for us Americans. It was really sweet of them, and the food was delicious! Granted, there was no pumpkin pie and I didn't get to watch my Dallas Cowboys whoop up on the Seahawks, but I did still have an awesome time :) Since we are in France, we had a typical French dinner, meaning there were at least 5 courses. When we got there, we were introduced to a bunch of old French ppl, some of them having emigrated from the US to Caen several years earlier. Suzanne and I were placed at the North Carolina table (sadly, they did not have a Texas one), and we began to mingle with everyone. I sat next to an older gentleman who was absolutely hilarious. He cracked jokes about every 5 seconds and laughed more than that. He used to live in Chicago w/ his wife (that's where she's from), but now he's back in France. Oh! And they have friends in Denton!! His English is very good, so when there were language problems, he was able to switch back and forth. I actually spoke mostly French the entire night, and there were only a few instances where I didn't understand ppl. I can tell that my French is greatly improving. For instance, the man told a James Bond-like joke about drinking, dancing, etc. like a Russian, and I understood everything!! :) The couple who sat across from me was also a lot of fun. Dr. Jacques was making fun of me because I kept putting my hair behind my ear since it was getting in my face. He proceeded to mock both me and stars he had seen on TV and act all haughty while doing it - and he's bald. There was plenty of entertainment throughout the night.

Our menu included:
  • Hors d'oeuvres of different pastries and some beef wrapped in baco
  • Pastilla avec des petits legumes et frie (turkey pot pieish thing w/ a lemon on top)
  • Rotisserie-style turkey w/ little cranberries, a small helping of mashed potatoes, and a stewed tomato w/ red onion on top
  • Trois fromages et une petite salade (to cleanse the palate)
  • Creme brulee
  • Cafe (coffee)
After dinner, the Franco-American Alliance wanted to get what seemed like hundreds of pictures of the 17 of us and had us introduce ourselves as well. There are 4 ppl from Connecticut here, and the last one to speak, Aaron, said he was also from Connecticut, clearly the better state. Since I'm Texan, and I was alone last night, I showed my Texas pride and proudly claimed right after, "Je m'appelle Courtney, et je deviens de Texas, le vrai meilleur etat." I'm Courtney, and I come from Texas, the truly better state. That got quite a few laughs from people.



Pictures: 1. Dr. Jacques, his wife, and me



2. The funny guy and me (never got his name sadly)


3. John, Henry, and me (John is from CT, Henry is from PA)



4. Thomas and me again!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We will never forget...

This weekend I took a spontaneous road trip to Bayeux. One of my friends Thomas lives there, and I wanted to go visit both him and the D-Day cemetery at Omaha Beach. Originally I was going to take the bus to the beach, but because it was Saturday, they were shut down. Lame. However, Thomas invited me over for tea and then took me to the museum and beach. His house is unbelievably beautiful!! I seriously cannot tell you how gorgeous his place is. It was built around 1740 (if I remember correctly), and Thomas took all last year restoring it. It is three stories of absolute beauty. Outside there is a garden and some stone walls covered in English ivy. The fireplace has a little soufflier start the fire; most of the floors are wooden; there are 4 bedrooms, each with their own theme; and the parlor where we sat made me feel as though I lived in the glory days of France during Rousseau and Beaumarchais. Thomas used to own a B&B, so the decorations are exquisite and perfectly chosen. I might take him up on his offer to stay there one night!

After tea, we went to Omaha Beach and visited the museum that was constructed last year. It was a very, very good museum: totally modern in appearance, but very detailed in the history of what happened 60 years ago. There was a name database that allowed you to search for soldiers buried there by name, unit, and state. I was easily able to find John Pavlich, the soldier whose grave I visited 5 years ago. They had detailed information on Patton, the Flyboys, what happened on D-Day in 2 hour segments, and plenty of videos and paraphenalia. I learned two very surprising things there: 1. Teddy Roosevelt's son, Teddy Jr., fought and died during Operation Overlord. 2. Saving Private Ryan, one of my favorite films EVER, is actually based on the true story of the Niland brothers. Fritz Niland (James Ryan in the film) was the last brother remaining, so the US government sent him home. It was cool to read all the different stories of people who died there and the sacrifices they gave (some the ultimate sacrifice, others lucky enough to survive).


Pictures: 1. Omaha Beach


2. John Pavlich's cross


3. The brothers whose lives are what Saving Private Ryan is based on

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fall Break '08

Fall Break this year was like a whirlwind. I spent 4.5 days with one of my best friends, but it was over way too quickly. I thorougly enjoyed spending time w/ her and her friends. It was so unbelievably amazing to be able to get a hug and talk with someone I've known almost since birth. Definitely needed a change of scenery, and I got it.
Monday consisted of me being able to sleep in until 11 while Christian went to class. That afternoon we went to her geography class, which I had a blast in. I learned all about rocks, volcanoes, tectonic plates, etc. I found out why Alaska and the Netherlands are rising, as well as why Venice is sinking. Speaking of Venice, if you haven't been, you should probably go. Prof. Brack was saying that it might be gone by this time 22nd century. I also went to Christian's Modernism class, where the teacher was Irish, A.D.D., and pedantic. He was...interesting. Apparently he did his doctorate on why Ezra Pound is not that great of a poet. Later that afternoon, Christian led a Bible study. I was really REALLY excited to be a part of an all-girls Bible study again. I haven't been able to go to Bible study since being here because I still haven't found the Baptist church. This one was also in English, so that helped lol. At six I went to play practice which was absolutely hilarious. Franklin College is putting on The Complete History of America (Abridged). I don't remember who it's by, but it's a satire on our history. I was rolling with laughter on many occasions. Some included: the farce on the Kennedy assassination conspiracy, the birth of John McCain (which according to them was 17000 B.C.), anagrams of American and Spiro Agnew, and conspiracy theories in general at the end. One part that made my jaw drop was when Bryan gets asked to play the piano 19th century style. So, what does he do? He lays on the piano and plays "The Entertainer" upside-down. UP-SIDE-DOWN. It was freaking amazing!!

Tuesday morning I was a nerd and went to French class. Yes, I know, I was going to be skipping French class in France Wednesday morning, so I figured I would make up for it. It was worth it because I learned something that my grammar teacher didn't teach me! Woot! Christian took me to a chocolate factory about 15 minutes from her apartment. It was cool to watch the chocolate get packaged and shipped, and we got free samples! I definitely did some of my Christmas shopping while I was there. :) Since we had a couple of hours to kill, we decided to walk to Italy for lunch. Yeah, I said it. We took a train for about 10 minutes and then walked across the border into Italy. There's a video on here showing the two countries. We ate at a wonderful Chinese restaurant (go figure) and had pineapple gelato for dessert. I was going to go to Christian's seminar, but I decided to take a shower and pack. It's a good thing I did, too! We were in a hurry to get me on my train (which we wound up missing by literally 5 seconds). I hugged everyone goodbye, and May gave me some of her fabulous Bahranian beef and Thai coconut stew for dinner. Then, I rushed off to the train station where I finally took one to Milan for the night. I met a very nice police officer who wants to go to America who helped me find my hostel. Now I'm back in Caen and ready for my last month to fly by!!

Pictures: The cow at the chocolate factory
The pineapple gelato we enjoyed
Another bit of Swiss scenery

video

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Swiss Saturday

Hello everyone! Yesterday was my first full day in Lugano, Switzerland. It started off fabulously with a special trip to the Breggia Gorge in Balerna. Christian and I woke up around 745 and headed off on a hike, with the beautiful sky above us and the gorgeous mountains in front of us. Everyone has been telling me I'm really lucky it's not raining here because it's supposed to around this time of year. I laughed and told them I bring the absence of rain most places I go. I spent 10 days in London a few years ago and never saw even a drop of rain. Hopefully, the weather will continue to stay nice until I return to France. Anywho, the hike was BEAUTIFUL. God's creativity and masterpieces are unfathomable. It was a geology field trip filled w/ note taking for most of the kids; I got to tag along for the ride. However, I did feel incredibly intelligent because I knew what Professor Hale was talking about concerning rock formations and tectonic shifts. Speaking of Hale, he is a military brat who graduated from Duke, studied abroad in Germany, did research in Sweded, lives and teaches here in Switzerland now, and oh yeah, knows EIGHT languages. No big deal, right? My jaw stood agape for a good minute after hearing this. He speaks English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, and Gaelic. HO-LY-COW. Anyway, back to the field trip...we got to see quite a few waterfalls and springs, where the water was so clear, the depth was extremely deceptive. You probably could have dove into the water and not hit rocks, even though it looked like you would. All the leaves were changing color, so the scenery was just amazing.

After the gorge, Christian and I watched some House and got ready for Indian night, a.k.a., Diwali. It was a blast! For 5 Swiss Francs, we got a sample of some Indian food, henna, and a presentation of an Indian dance, as well as some Indian pop and hip-hop to dance to all night. I'm getting more henna done by Mai, Christian's roommate before I leave, but for now I have a fowl on my hand. The coconut dessert that we had was phenomenal, and the dance was awesome! The girls (and guys for that matter) were so talented! The dress was legit and the dancing was so expressive. Everyone really got into it. I'd say about 150 ppl were there last night. Seeing as there are 300ish ppl at the school, that's a huge success!

Pictures: 1. Breggia Gorge cascades
2. Random scenery
3. Henna picture
4. Christian and I before Indian night


video

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sono nella Svizzera!

Buon Giorno! That's the equivalent of bonjour in Italian. And, the title says I am in Switzerland! I will be able to get around with my French for the most part, but the large majority of ppl here speak Italian. I actually got around in Milan by myself with only French!! But let's start from the beginning...it's a very good place to start :)

Yesterday was a really rough day, so I decided to skip classes and just head for Paris. It's a good thing I did, too, because the train conductors decided they wanted to go on a greve. That's a strike, in case you were wondering. An Australian couple asked me if there was one going on because they had briefly read something about it, and they couldn't get to Rouen until 1800 that night. I didn't think there was, but I asked the bartender in French if there was one going on and how long it was going to last. He said he had no idea how long it would last, so I'm hoping I can get back to Paris on Wednesday morning. When I got to Paris, Emily and I went to Les Deux Magots, the place where Picasso, Hemingway, and Sartre were inspired. I felt almost existential...until I saw my 7€ bill for my hot chocolate. That's right. I paid 7€ for some hot chocolate - and it was totally worth it. It was THE best hot chocolate I have EVER had, which is good b/c the restaurant is known for it. It was almost like drinking pure chocolate soup. So fantastic!!

After the snackage, Emily and I went our separate ways. She headed for south Paris, and I went up toward Sacre Coeur and Montmartre. The hostel I was in was in a "dodgy" part of town. It wasn't a bad hostel, though. I was, however, followed by a creepy Tunisian guy that I tried losing. He mentioned that he wanted an American girl as pretty and sweet as me, blah blah blah. I finally found my hostel and said au revoir and didn't look back. When I entered Friend's Hostel, there were two blatantly American guys there. I told them about the Tunisian guy, and about an hour later, I was hangin' out w/ them in their room until 1am lol. Before that though, I talked to the co-owner of the hostel, who is from Morocco, for 30ish minutes...all in French!!! I was so proud of myself! I even got a history of the colonization of Morocco and understood all of it! Jacob, the American guy from Wisconsin, was very impressed when I told him I had only been studying a year. It's amazing what immersion into another language will do for your skills. He and Theo (the other guy) are studying at a university in the Netherlands, but they go to college in Iowa. Apparently the rumors are true: they do only have corn.

I woke up at 430 the next morning, hailed a cab in a matter of seconds, and was on my way to the bus station. The guy in there was texting while driving and kinda sleepy. It scared me to death. Fortunately, and obviously, I got there safely. He knew I wasn't French because I was struggling a little bit (who wouldn't be at an ungodly hour?), but get this: he totally thought I was Italian!!! That's a first. I've gotten Canadian, British, Minnesotan, but never Italian. And, I got Irish for the first time today, too. A Canadian who speaks w/ a British accent b/c his parents are from the UK this morning thought I was Irish. Apparently when I spoke French to him it was with an Irish accent. How weird! It's really fun experimenting with all these different accents, though. I'm still speaking w/ a heavy Chicago accent, though, and I blame it all on Theo.

Getting to Milan was mostly easy. I slept for about an hour on the flight, and Matthew (the Canadian) waited for me. It was really nice because no one else spoke English around us, and we wound up having to get the same trains to get from Bergamo to Milan. It was a little hectic since neither of us speak Italian, but we managed. :) I even was brave and once I got to Milano Central, stepped out into the city and looked for lunch on my own. I got a few sneers when I used French just by habit (the Milanese apparently detest the French), but I wound up getting a Siciliana pizza for, get this, 3.20€. A whole pizza!!! My hot chocolate cost twice as much, and I couldn't even finish this pizza! It was fabulous, though :) It was hard getting to Lugano because I missed my train by 2 minutes and had to wait another hour. What was also frustrating was when I went to the police ppl looking like a dumb tourist, only one of them spoke English, and his English wasn't even that good. I said as blatantly American as I could, "I'm lost." He said, "What did you lose?" Ugh. I knew this wasn't going to go well. So I said je suis perdu. That he understood perfectly and proceeded to help me the rest of the time in French. Thankfully I understood him.

I'll post pictures of Switzerland tomorrow, but I have included a view from my travels here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Obamania has swept France...




Obama is adored by about 80 percent of French people, but I haven't met any of those 20 percent who would rather see McCain get elected. Friday night, if you were able to read my FB, you noticed that I was going to be participating in a debate at the City Hall of Herouville, a suburb of Caen. I got an official email from the mayor's office and everything! I had trouble finding the actual Hotel de Ville because it was hidden amongst a circle of buildings.

When I did finally make it into the City Hall, I was greeted by 3 ppl who only spoke French and one American who was fluent in French who helped me out. I had no idea he was an American at first because his French was perfect! It turns out that Thomas from L.A. has been living and working here for 14 years. He was going to be debating for Obama, which, as it turns out, everyone else was doing, too. Unbeknownst to me, I would be the only McCain supporter in the entire building.

Before the debate started, we met the mayor and went into his personal office to have a radio interview with some blond reporter. That was absolutely terrible because I didn't understand anything and my French came out in spurts. The mayor was really nice, though, and said my French was very good for only having studied the language for a year. I certainly didn't think it was anything to be proud of lol. The mayor was dressed very spiffy in a brown corduroy suit with matching tie and appeared to be about 40 and graying early. He was awesome to talk with, especially since he tried using English sometimes. Most of the time it came out very well, but his first attempt at English was rather amusing. Instead of inviting us to sit down, he merely yelled "SIT DOWN!" Apparently my facial expression was one of being taken aback, and he laughed and repeated in a much smoother voice, "I mean, sit down...please!" smiling as he said it. We all laughed and talked about American politics and university life for about 20 minutes and then went to the debate.

When I got in there, with the exception of the few American students who showed up for about 30 minutes, I was the youngest in the room by at least 15 years. I was most certainly the youngest who was actually debating. My first task was to paint a picture of who McCain was and what he stood for, since most of the ppl in the room only knew what Obama stood for, and even then they didn't really know the grand lignes of his campaign. So, I explained that he was a senator from Arizona who got into politics after being a POW in Vietnam. I gave a few of his ideas on health care and economic reforms and such, but it was very difficult to do in French. I told them at the beginning to bear with me because I didn't know very much but that I was trying. They seemed appreciative, but apparently one lady didn't think anyone was comprehending what I was saying and came to translate for me. I was grateful but also kind of hurt because Thomas has sat next to me so that he could translate for me, and he had given no indication that my French was not being understood.

Some of the highlights of the debate: a guy who couldn't have been younger than 75 said he was glad I was so respectful of veterans and of the POW situation, esp. since I was such a little girl when it happened, but wanted to know what else was good about McCain besides personality. He wanted facts. I didn't have the heart to tell him I wasn't even thought of when McCain was a POW lol. I told him that I thought his military experience would carry him far and that it was very important seeing as we have so many troops overseas right now. Another guy later, who seemed very angry with me as though I were McCain himself, asked how I could possibly paint McCain as being a moderate. I had to remember that to the French, Democrats are moderates and Republicans are as far right as they get, no matter how moderate that Republican may be. I told him that McCain was a very moderate Republican because of his views on gay rights and abortion, and the fact that he was willing to take flack from his party and vote against them because he didn't agree with them. The number one highlight, and not a good one at that, was when I was trying to explain that America was founded a lot of things; one of them being that if you work hard, you will be rewarded. We have a strong work ethic in America, especially compared to the French, who get 5 weeks paid vacation every year!! I explained that Republicans believe we should not share the wealth. We have organizations like Medicare and Medicaid to help out the elderly, poor, or people who can't work, but it is not our job to watch over them, which translated to "babysitting" in French apparently. They did not like that at all; a huge gasp went around the room. That's not what I meant, and I grimaced, but Thomas told me there was no real way to explain this concept of strong capitalism to a country who has had socialized healthcare since before they can remember.

All in all, I thought the debate was a total disaster lol. I was so unbelievably nervous, and it was excruciatingly hard to express my ideas in a different language. The people on the committee of the debate and a French guy who is a part of Obama's campaign in France (his name is Archippe) however said that I was very brave to sit in front of about 100 ppl and express my opinions and beliefs which directly contrasted with those of everyone in the room. "You are so young and so small, but you are strong!" were the words I heard over and over as we talked about the debate and American politics over dinner. I told them that if that didn't jumpstart my political career, I don't think anything will.

One of the funniest things of the night, though, was the mention of Chuck Norris. Yes, the French ppl know who Chuck Norris is. He was mentioned because I had told them that I wasn't really fond of McCain; I had originally wanted Mike Huckabee. Archippe knew that Chuck Norris had endorsed him and was travelling with him. Without thinking, I was like, "Oh yeah, Chuck came to my school and he goes to my church," as though this was no big deal. Wrong. The entire table shrieked and started freaking out about how I "knew" Chuck Norris. Immediately the Chuck Norris jokes came. Oh yes, the French know all about the jokes. I was rolling with laughter as one by one I heard the most famous ones in French (and actually understood them). I even piped in and said one of my favorites in French and they started laughing harder. It was a great ending to a nervewracking night.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

6 weeks left? What??

Bonjour tous le monde! Comment allez-vous? Je souhaite que vous etes tres bien! Okay, so in English, "Hello everyone! How are y'all? I hope y'all are very well!" This week has been crazy...and it's only Tuesday! I have so much to fill y'all in on!

I finally got to cook this past week at my friend Candice's apartment. I made my lemon chicken soup of which everyone thus far has asked for the recipe :) It makes me very excited!! I altered it a little bit, as I am apt to do, and it turned out very well. It's amazing what food that hasn't been grown with pesticides tastes like lol. It was great being able to cook again and to enjoy sitting at a dining room table with friends as though we were family. Sadly, I did not take pictures of the soup before my friends and I inhaled it. Sorry!

The weekend was pretty boring as a whole. I went to the market on Sunday and got asked out on a date by a Gambian. That was a fun adventure. He asked if we could be friends, so of course I was like, "Oh totally! Bien sur!" when he really meant "Can I take you out to dinner sometime? Or we can eat at your place if you like." At that point I pretended as though all my French knowledge left me and I proceeded to lose him in the market. Terrible, I realize...but I was alone and caught off-guard; what do you expect me to do? One exciting thing that happened this weekend though was that I got to watch my home church online for the first time since being here. That completely made my day as the music was tremendous and the sermon was great to hear. I still haven't found the Baptist church here yet, so I've been having to attend church in my dorm room. OH!!! I completely forgot! I found a Christmas-themed crosstitch book which took up all of my time on Saturday. I'm making a stocking :) 3 bears in Santa costumes singing carols = TOTALLY cute!

Ok so after the guys who read this have proceeded to vomit from the amount of cuteness that I just exploded on y'all, I guess I'll give you a bit of normal not so cutesy news. I finally got snail mail!!! I got a letter from Nick (totally made my day btw) as well as a letter from my grandparents! I didn't realize that my parents had given them my address, so thank you Mom and Dad!! If you're wondering what my address is and you don't have FB, just shoot me an email and I'll be happy to send it your way! Today I got my Grammar test back, and I was totally dreading looking at my grade. It was on a 40 point scale, and I got 25 correct. Now, I know that translates to a 62.5/100, but that was the 2nd highest grade in the class :) The top score was a 37.5 from some Italian lady who's only in this class to work on composition. She's pretty fluent in French. So, I feel much better about myself, especially after one of the guys who tried correcting me on my grammar last week only got 16 out of 40 correct. I also had my first presentation today. I had to present Rousseau's Social Contract which made me feel like I was freaking back in Social World. I actually did really well, though, and got a lot of "tres bien" on my notes. I think I overloaded the poor Asian kids on Rousseau's theories though. Stupid BIC and stupid paper...made me turn into Rousseau lol. However, I feel like my grade in that class just shot up, so everything is going well :)
TOP NEWS!!! Erica and I got interviewed by L'Ouest France, a major newspaper in Normandy. We were asked questions about the election: who we hope to see win, why we want that specific candidate, if America is ready for a Black president, and if we think we'll see riots or an assassination attempt if Obama is elected. We got our pictures taken in front of an American flag (how patriotic). The journalist was laughing because she was impressed and surprised to see two people able to be friends whose political views were so different lol. We also have an interview tomorrow evening with a rival newspaper lol, and I'm going to a presidential debate on Friday night! Apparently some VP of some committee of Obama's is going to be in Caen at the City Hall on Friday and wants some Americans (pro-McCain and pro-Obama) to get into a debate there. I'm uber excited!!

Pictures: 1. Candice and I (She's Australian)
2. Merlin!! Oh wait, that's St. Jacques
3. Pretty stained glass window in the chateau (we went there on a field trip)






Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How quickly time flies by....

No pictures today (sorry!), but I felt like blogging. I leave in less than 2 months!! I can't believe how fast time has been going by. This weekend will mark the halfway point of my graded weeks, and yet I don't have Fall Break until the 8th. I'm hoping to go to Switzerland to visit my friend Christian, but I'm having problems with RyanAir. It's very frustrating. Something about a National Identity card....

Anywho, I had my first grammart test this week. I felt good about it going in because I actually studied for two hours; however, my studying was in vain. The first half of the test was a cinch. No problem at all. The second half...I wanted to cry. We had to change verbs into nouns to make headlines for a newspaper, so there was no way I could have possibly studied for it. You either knew the nominalization of the verb or you didn't. I think I made up words. I know I made up "Fermage." Apparently the word is "Fermeture." C'est la vie.

Oral class was most certainly interesting today. If you have been to my FB, then you have noticed that my status is...interesting to say the least. One of the Chinese girls had an expose today, and she did hers on sexual discrimination. That led to a discussion of positive discrimination, which we Americans call "affirmative action." Paul, whom I lovingly call "Panda bear" for a multitude of reasons, is known for making perfectly normal conversations become immediately awkward. When one of the Chinese guys was trying to explain a biological process where you take genes from one fruit and add it to another for a new species, Paul asked if the fruits were getting married. We had a good time with that one. Today, he asked about transexuals, and we had to educate the Chinese on what that word meant. That was fun, too lol. My teacher, Mme Geslot, for some reason mentioned "gateaux secs." I think she was trying to explain how to pronounce "sexuelle" and "sex." Anywho, she wrote "gateaux secs" on the board, which means "dry cakes" in English. She explained that it was sort of a pun or something b/c the little kids, when they say they want "gateaux secs" for breakfast, pronounce the "s" at the end (the "s" is supposed to be silent in case you were wondering). We were all roaring with laughter. It was a good ending to the class. :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cherbourg my Cherbourg

This weekend Suzanne, Erica, and I took a spontaneous trip to Cherbourg, a port city in Northwest France. We couldn't decide if we wanted to go to Honfleur by bus or Cherbourg by train, and we wound up going by train. It was a fun hour-long ride that consisted of reading British Cosmo and listening to my mixed CD from Siobhan :) Odd combination, I'm well aware lol. Anyway, when we got off the train we saw a Texas bar!! I really wanted to go in and see how legit it was, but neither of my friends wanted to go. I was quite sad, but at least I got a picture! :) We ate at a restaurant that overlooked the port and the 50 bazillion boats that are docked there. The food wasn't amazing, but it was pretty good. Erica and Suzanne got a huge pot of mussels as an appetizer (which the French call entrees), fish, and some cheese for "dessert" for only 13.5€. I had a massive tuna salad (which the French put as "tunny" in their pseudo-English), some steak and fries, and a piece of lemon tart for dessert.

After lunch, we went on a walking tour of the town that consisted of seeing a beautiful theatre, two churches (one without a door), a Napoleon statue, and some beautiful port scenery. Oh, and a guy dressed as a male body part. That was most definitely the most awkward part of my day. I called him Pillowcase Man because me being my typical sheltered self only saw him as that. Suzanne had to explain what he was to me. He was giving away suckers, but since Suzanne and Erica didn't take one, I figured I wouldn't either. Guess that was a good idea! Mommy always told me never to take candy from strangers lol :P

This morning I went to the market in search of some new boots because I have finally decided to retire my 6 year old brown ones. I almost had a funeral for them, but then I realized how many blisters they have given me this semester and I just trashed them instead. The boots in an earlier picture are actually my friend Kylie's, but I really wanted some, so I got some! I found a pair for only 20€, and they're a lot like my brown ones at home except these are black...and French! :) I'm so excited!!! The girls all loved them, and I can't wait to wear them tomorrow morning! :)

Pictures: 1. Texas bar
2. Stained glass window in Notre Dame de Cherbourg
3. View of Cherbourgian meadow

Friday, October 10, 2008

My apologies




It's been forever since I've blogged! I'm sorry! Last week was a very, very rough week, so I really didn't feel like blogging anything. This week has been much better...lots more stuff going on to try and get my mind off of things. Anywho, on Monday we went to the Abbey aux Dames for my French history class. It was rather boring, but it took out 2 hours of my 3 hour course, so I'm not complaining. The church isn't much to look at sadly. Yesterday I had my first test in my Comprehension and Expression d'Oral class. OMG it was terrible. I think I might have gotten an 8 out of 20. The questions were easy, but they play a tape recording w/ a guy who speaks very quickly, so it's almost impossible to hear everything. Even Curtis, who has taken French for like 6 years or something, had trouble understanding it verbatim.


Now the fun part...I went to my first pub last night!! It's called the Glue Pot Pub (strange, I know). Of course, me still being me, I got a Coke :) It was my 1st glass bottle of Coke, so give me a break! Anyway, I had a blast being w/ my friends from Texas, Connecticut, and Kentucky/Kansas. Emilee came, too!! She's my French friend who speaks almost perfect English. She's probably one of the sweetest girls I've ever known. After the night was over, Ana, Suzanne, Aaron, and I decided to take the last tram home. Ana and Aaron wound up walking, but Suzanne and I got on. There were about 30 students in there drunk off their butts. It was kind of terrifying but also somewhat entertaining. They were singing some random French song and chanting. Anywho, there were some Brits in my car that were watching it as well, and I started talking to one of them. I tried telling him I was from Wales, just to see if he would believe me, and he did!! He asked me if I was studying abroad as part of the IBP program and I was like, "Of course! I'm a third year!" I interjected randomly with "bloody mad" and " very clever," and he thought I was legit! He wasn't even drunk! Very nice guy...from the RAF (that's Royal Air Force for you Americans :P ) He and his mates were here to see the Normandy beaches, as most of the Brits who come here are apt to do.


Anywho, that was my last couple of weeks. Send me mail!! My mailbox is getting very dusty!!


Pictures: 1. Emilee and I!
2. About to go bar-hoppin'!
3. The very bland church lol

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mont-St-Michel





Hey guys! This weekend wasn't too eventful, but I did get to go to Mont-St-Michel (Mount of Saint Michael, Taylor) on Sunday. If I had known that the drive from here to MSM was like the drive from Dallas to Waco, I would have brought music. **sigh** Anyway, the place is gorgeous and is actually almost an island off the English Channel. At night, when the tide comes in, the road to MSM is completely underwater. If you go with a guide during the day, you can walk through the nasty quicksandy stuff. We had to promise our professor we wouldn't do it; however, I stepped out onto it anyway ;) We climbed a bunch of stairs, really steep ones, and saw hundreds of pictures from places like MSM around the world.


This morning at 5am, Suzanne got up to take her friend Erin to her train and passed out, hitting her nose on something and breaking it. I woke up to the thud and then heard blood-curdling screams. It was absolutely terrifying. Fortunately, she's going to be ok, but I haven't been that scared in a very long time. Pray that her recovery is quick!


Pictures are all of MSM, and the 1st one is the fog that I woke up to Sunday morning.

Friday, September 26, 2008

School...week one....

TGIF. In French, MDCV lol. That means "Merci Dieu c'est vendredi." Classes weren't terrible this week, but they certainly weren't a breeze. To start off, I got my schedule changed yet again because there were too many ppl in each phonetics class and not enough headphones. So, me being subject to Murphy's Law (which I so lovingly call Burge's Law), I was one of only 10 ppl to get put into a different phonetics class. Now I go even later on Wednesdays and Fridays. Major suckage. Then, I went to my Connaissance de France (French history) class and understood maybe 20% of what my teacher said. She mumbles a lot and has a lisp, so it's very hard to understand her. I have her for Lang. and Lit, too, but thankfully for only pt. 1. Monsieur Spiroux is much easier to understand for Lang. and Lit part 2. Below is my schedule and a picture of my 1st day outfit, mainly for mi madre to see lol.


M: 2-5

T: 1040-1220, 310-5

W: 820-1030, 130-300, 520-620

R: 12-240, 445-615

F: 9-10, 12-1, 3-4

Monday, September 22, 2008

Booze Cruise? Haha nope!




Hehe...I thought the title of this blog might get your attention. According to our paper, the boat ride we were going on was going to have welcoming cocktails for everyone. In France, cocktails clearly mean alcohol, so the event got the name the "booze cruise." However, the whole ride was just a bank advertisement, which none of us wanted b/c we're already signed up with a bank. It was rather lame, but I enjoyed myself. I got to take a tour of the canal for free and talk to a lot of Americans for two hours. I met some really cool ppl from Connecticut (yes, they're Yankees), as well as a couple of good ole Southerners. The only really sad thing was that they played some swing music on the boat and I got rather excited, only to have my hopes dashed by the fact that not a single person knew how to dance! It made me miss Baylor Swing Society and dancing w/ Taylor very much.


Sunday was the market, and holy crap is it huge!! I thought this thing would never end!! I bought a kilo of potatoes for lunch (which turned into dinner for me and someone else as well). I suck at metric system conversion and didn't realize that a kilo was so much. However, I got myself a watch for 5€, and I found Les Mis (in French) for only 3€!! I can't wait to read it once I get back from France!! I obviously want my French to improve before I try and read such a hard book. Sunday night the girls went for pizza and watched Pushing Daisies which has got to be one of the cutest, funniest, and saddest shows I've ever watched. I've never gotten a warm, fuzzy feeling inside from a TV show.


Pictures: 1. Shue (sp?) from China, Itana from Latvia, and me after the boat ride
2. A view of a vineyard-like road on my campus
3. The gang before the boozeless cruise lol

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Caen: La deuxieme semaine



Bonjour mes amis!


I haven't updated my blog in a while because not a whole lot has happened since the party Saturday. I'm finished w/ my first week of classes, which actually was a week of orientation classes. I was in a "limbo" class called 1-3 because the professors didn't know if we should be placed in A2 or B1. Basically B1 is for those who have had at least 2 years of French because the classes continue grammar work, but they also start teaching French lit and French civilization/culture. I really wanted to get into B1 b/c that's what I'm getting credit for at Baylor. And I did!!! I was really excited because I've only had 1 year of French, and my friends who have had 3000 level courses are also in my class. We have no classes on Friday, and 95% of the time we only have morning classes. I'm not really a morning person, but coffee is cheap on campus and then I get the whole afternoon off to shop, peruse, travel, etc. We're going on a boat party this weekend, which my Connecticut friend has aptly name the "booze cruise." Apparently that's from the Office. I have no idea. I'm gonna have a ton of fun watching drunk French students, seeing as I'll be one of the only sober ones there.


Pictures!

1. Me and a kebab! A kebab is actually like a pita bread sandwich, not something on skewers. We're guessing that kebab deals w/ the kind and style of the meat.

2. L'hotel de ville (City hall) w/ moi being a proud American

3. The macaroon hamburger

Sunday, September 14, 2008

One week down...





Bonjour!!


Today marks the first official week of my life here in Caen. Yesterday we went to La Fete du Port de Caen, which we figured was a party since fete means party; however, it wound up being like the state fair back in Texas!! It was still pretty cool seeing all the kiosks and such, but my feet were KILLING me. Since we all dressed up, I was stupid and wore my red stilettos with my red dress to match. They looked really good, but my feet didn't think so. I have two blisters on my toes, and last night I wound up taking them off by the port. EVERYONE stared at me and some muttered things under their breath. Four French people actually said something to me about putting my shoes back on, and one realized that my feet must hurt. Apparently going barefoot in France is a taboo...good to know now. Anyway, attached to this will be pictures of the party and stuff earlier. Enjoy!!
1: The CUTEST little boy EVER
2: Me in my dress and coat
3: The port and its ships
4: The random band that was so terrible but really amusing to watch

Saturday, September 13, 2008

J'ai froid!!!

My post for right now will be short because I'm freaking cold. It's about 58* here right now and windy, so I'm gonna wait to blog when I can be indoors at a computer instead of in the wild. Therefore, pictures will be tomorrow or Monday, too. I'm going to a party tonight at the port, so I kinda want to wait anyway.

Anywho, we found a Tex-Mex restaurant here!!!! It's really, really expensive, though, so we'll go later when we all have money. It's kind of exciting. We got our French bank account today and social security. It was really cool. The only bad thing is that it takes them a week to deposit a check and have it go through!! I will never complain about a check taking too long again. Anyways, that's all for now...gotta get ready for la fete!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rockin' it at McDo




Bonjour mes amies!

Je suis a Caen!! Le temps ici est tres bien; c'est soixante-cinq!! Haha, for those who can't speak or read French, It says that I am in Caen *thankfully* and the weather here is very good; it's 65*!! It has been raining most of the day, but fortunately I brought rain boots. Erica and Kylie's flights got cancelled, so they didn't get here till Tuesday. It was very stressful getting here by myself, but God sent 3 ppl my way who spoke English and managed to carry my luggage and take me to where I needed to go. I am forever grateful. The campus is not very pretty - not like Baylor - but the surrounding city is BEAUTIFUL!! I will post pictures on here of the campus and some ppl that I met, and pictures of the city will go in later posts. Today was just a great day to tour the town. We ate at McDonald's for lunch and a Chinese restaurant for dinner where they gave us free rice cake pork rind things, a cocktail (which I didn't drink don't worry), and free chocolate at the Mickey D's. The burgers there were actually fabulous! Andit's so funny b/c there are American, Canadian, British, and Austrailian specials this month. I'm rockin' it here in McDonald's b/c I have free AND unlimited Wifi, or as they say, "gratuit et illimite!" I had a crazy CRAZY experience in the airport in Frankfurt and a very interesting first full day here. I saw janitors riding bikes IN the airport!! C'est tout pour maintenant. A bientot!

1st picture: Picture of the tram station and restaurant A
2nd picture: My dorm room with, of course, my homey touch of zebra stuff. It's actually pretty nice since I don't have a roommate.
3rd picture: Me and Suzanne, the girl from U. of Kentucky who lives next to me. We bonded over our first day misadventures, and her dad called mine to let him know I was ok.