Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A day on the life of...

I'm going to describe a pretty mudane day in my shoes here in Chambery. 
Woke up at 8:20am and left at 8:35 for the usual twenty minute hike uphill to school. Class at 9, breakfast during class :) Lunch after class ( yesterday was pretty special, we went to KFC). After lunch I went to the park to play frisbee with Jeff and Mike Lui ( he has to go by first and last name because there are three other Micheals in ou group) for 3 hours. For a lot of the time we had an audience: an old man in a wheelchair was watching and cheering us on. Towards the end a 12 year old boy came and played with us and we met his parents. After frisbee went and got some baguets for dinner, and then hung out with a bunch of people during dinner. After dinner Sam and I went for a shuffle (my version of jogging)...last night was killer we went for 40 minutes. And that is a mundane day in France.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A weekend in the life...

This weekend was pretty quiet and relaxing! Most of the people in our group went to marseille for the weekend, so there was only a few people left to hang out with. Butthe cool people who stayed in Chambery went to the lake on Saturday. The girls who were at the beach laid out and got some nice tanning time in. I do not have the patience to lay in the sun and feel my pale skin burning :) instead I played frisbee for 2 or 3 hours and got in the lake a couple of times..however boring this may seem to other people it was a great way to spend the day! After hours a the lake we went back and we made dinner, a mix of enchiladas and fajitas; it was delicious! Then we went to O'Cardinals to watch the US loose to Ghana. Me and Sam were leaving to go run after Ghana scored the second time and everyone in the pub started chanting USA to try and get us to stay. That was pretty much the highlight of my wonderful Saturday!
Sunday, I went to church, to lunch, and then to the pool. The pool is pretty nice and is only a block away from our dorm. But the men have to wear something tight to get into the pool like a speedo for example :/ a guy in our group had swim trunks on and couldn't get in the pool. After the pool we watched a movie "rock and rolla" with Gerard Butler. And the last thing I did before I went to bed was my homework. And those were the highlights of my fabulous weekend.  

Thursday, June 24, 2010

La verite de France

The truth about France...
Some observations:
The bread is as good as it is rumored to be
Most of the bathrooms are unisex
The women don't shave...they wax
The public transportation here is in fact amazing
They dont have plastic bags for free at the grocery stores ( it's to encourage you to buy reusable ones)
The milk is kept warm ( you can refrigerate it but you don't have to: I had to get used to that)
There are a lot of smokers but no smoking inside public places
There is no leash law, but the dogs are well behaved 
There are scooters and motor scooters everywhere
The family ties are really strong


What a rush, trying to cram everything into 2 days! I've been to Paris before but it was jut as amzin to me the second. I've heard people talk about the rude people and dirty streets, and I still don't understand. Maybe it's different for the people who have studied French for so many years and finally seeing some of the focal points of study ( like the Eiffel Tower). The feeling I have when I see the Eiffel Tower, is like a huge goal in my life accomplished. And this time I could see the same feelings in everyone I was with too. 
This trip to Paris included a couple of "firsts" for me. It was my first time riding the TGV ( which a super fast train), my first time staying in a hostel and my first time at the Musee d'Orsay. 
The train, it was a three hour ride from Chambery to Paris. The hostel was much better then I imagined it would be. It was clean, I was in a room ( that locked) with 3 other girls that are in my summer program, there was a place to ge Internet and a bar with a tv ( to watch the world cup of course). The Musee d'Orsay was...Amazing! Last time I was in Paris I wanted to see it because it's a museum of impressionist art, and that's my favorite, but I didn't get to. It definitely lived up to my expectations! Monet is my favorite artist and they had a room full of his work, and I could of stayed there for hours. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of it and the feeling that I was surrounded by a great artists work, I am not ashamed to say, I cried. Every time I think about what I'm actually doing ( studying and living in France) I can't help but thank God for how blessed I am.
Aside from the Musee d'Orsay, I saw the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, some of the Louvre, Sacre Coeur, and Notre Dame. Some notes on those experiences: I climbed to the second "floor" of the Eiffel Tower, which is about 25 flights of stairs. That was the first night we were in Paris and we got off the metro and I recognized where we were and I got extremely excited and ran around the corner of the building and there it was directly in front of me, and then I got to watch everyone I was with as they turned the corner and saw it also. That's a moment I would never take back. 
My favorite sight in Paris is the Sacre Coeur, it was still as amazing this time as it was the first time. We went there first thing in the morning on sunday and there was no one there.
After Sacre Coeur, we went to this amazing church. It was held in a night club which was pretty funny to me, but Gods work can be done anywhere. And the church was amazing! They sang worship songs in both French and English and the message was about fear ( which is something I need to be reassured in). 
The whole Paris experience was amazing!  

Sunday, June 13, 2010

La croix du Nivolet

My first hike of the summer!
I see this cross on top of a mountain everyday and I found ou that on Saturday we could hike up to it. I instantly got excited first, for the oppurtinity to break in my new hiking boots and, second, to get to see that cross up close and personal.
It was a trying hike but I enjoyed it immensely. There was one great view after another, and I took a lit of pictures of them. I saw so much plant life and a ton of slugs and snails. It was a blast and finally being at the top was amazing; I felt accomplished and the view from the top was well worth the difficulty in getting up there. 

La premiere semaine

This has been a crazy week, and because of how jam packed of activities it's been it feels like far longer then a week... In a great way! School has taken up all of my mornings and I enjoy it profoundly. In the afternoons I am always doing something. By the time I get back to my room I lay down and I'm gone.
We've started doing nightly dinners in someones apartment because we stopped eating out (it's expensive). Once a week we have an atelier which literally translated means a workshop and it's an extra 3 hours of school, focusing on a more hands on experience (for example next week we are cooking and focusing on the terms and phrases used for cooking). 
I went shopping this week with some of the girls and restrained myself from buying the million cute things I saw, but when soldes start very soon I will not restrain myself. I went to carrefour ( French walmart) to stock up on necessities. Wednesday night wAs a blast I went salsa dancing at a club called mojitos. 
Also, went to the beach (on the lake) and played frisbee and volleyball which was fun; I am not very good at either sport but I love to play them.
Went to Grenoble one day and road in cable cars to get to a Bastille. And it was the windiest place I've ever been in my life, but it was cool because I got to walk around in a tunnel of an old Bastille. 
I watched the opening match if the world cup in a pu, and the atmosphere was absolutely amazing. I've never really gotten into footbal (soccer) bub I am now. Did I mentiont the openin game was France v uruguay? It was a great experience and because of it I made the french newspaper: there was an article about the support shown for Les bleus for their first match. Pretty exciting stuff!
That concludes the highlights of the first week of my life in chambery! 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mes Etudes

Class starts at 9 am everyday, we leave around 8:30 because it's about a 20 minute walk from our dorm. There's a giant hill at the very end of the walk that really sucks, but it's a good wake up walk. 
I'm in the advanced class which means that my week consists of 3 days history and civilisation of FRance with one teacher m. Fillon and 2 days of grammar with sabinne.
Mr. Fillon drives a motorcycle, carries a pocketwatch and has matching glasses for each outfit. He's pretty much awesome. Sabinne is always cheerful and they are both really helpful and I'm already feeling much more comfortable with French. 
The wors part of it is the almost literal hike to school, but even that can just be seen as good prep for hiking in July.  

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My First Post

I’ve only been here 3 days and I feel like so much has happened; I suppose a lot has. I’m going to give a brief summary of what’s happened every day, because I honestly don’t have the patience to describe in detail tonight.
Thursday/Friday: Not a lot of exciting action at the airport. I met up with my travel buddy, Jeffrey (from MSU for those of you who don’t know he is). We flew from St. Louis to Detroit to Amsterdam to Geneva. Our flights were all good, no running to gates to get to connections on time. I wasn’t expecting to go through customs in Holland because I thought that would happen at our last destination but…customs was seamless. The only real problem we had (and we originally didn’t think anything of it) was that we had to check a piece of our carry-on luggage in St. Louis because there wasn’t enough room for it in the overhead compartments when we boarded. They lost it somewhere along the way and neither of us have our little luggage yet (that’s a little stressful) but we know that they made it to the Geneva airport.
After flying forever, we made it off the plane in Geneva and then headed to the train to go to Chambery. Mostly because of our exhausted state we just did not understand the train situation. It’s a long story that still brings up some bad memories but we did in fact make it to Chambery on the right train thoroughly exhausted.
We were met at the Chambery train station by two guys from the school (around our age) and another group of Americans were there as well. We were driven to the residence and taken to our rooms. The apartments are two bedrooms, with bathroom and kitchenette (no oven or microwave). My roommate is a girl from America named Jordan and we get along thankfully. Jordan and I went exploring for a while getting some basics; I needed shampoo, conditioner, and body wash because those items were in my carry-on/checked bag. When we got back to the apartment I crashed for an hour.
When I woke up I really felt a combination of exhaustion, stress, homesickness and the reality of being in a different country (far from home); the biggest part being exhaustion and the other feelings being heightened by this. I had met a girl named Sam earlier and she said to come to her room anytime and I knew I needed to be around people because of my extremely exaggerated emotions (also I had not been able to contact my mom to tell her I had arrived yet and that stressed me out because I figured she was stressing out). I went up to Sam and her roommate Chelsea’s room and hung out with them for a couple of hours, and Sam kindly let me text my mom so I felt a lot better after that.
I went back to my room and then was getting ready for bed and I borrowed my roommate’s outlet converter and ended up blowing the power out, good times! At least it was at night and we could just go to sleep. Jordan figured out how to fix it in the morning because she’s amazing! Waking up and the lights working on Saturday made my day!
Saturday: Woke up and got ready for the day; we had plans to go to the market and have a picnic. There was also an International Festival going on, which was a blast to explore.
You know how randomly you meet some of your friends, well randomly we had a group of people by the time we went to the market to get lunch food. It consisted of me, Jordan (my roommate), Jeffrey (my travel partner), Sam and Chelsea (the room I went to when I was emotionally imbalanced), Kris (a guy from Iowa), Michael (a guy from Indiana), and Laura (from upstate New York).
We ended up going shopping which included riding the bus for the first time, at Carrefour a store similar to Wal-Mart. It was inside of a mall which seemed random to me, and the mall looks like a warehouse from the outside, no joke. We explored the mall and there are some cool shops in it.
After our mall adventure and a small rest, we found a tavern to eat dinner at. We had a really nice waitress who helped some of us order (including a hand gesture to go along with the description of a flat fish). We were definitely enjoying ourselves and then realized we were being the loudest group in the restaurant. Most Europeans are more soft spoken then Americans, in public at least.
We went to a pub with our guide Guillome, after dinner. It was a lot of fun, don’t worry I didn’t drink but two sips of beer. We met more nice French people and some creepier ones (but I’m being extremely safe). For the most part I’ve met very nice and helpful French people, they don’t hate Americans and they don’t look at you like you’re an idiot when you don’t understand, they try to help you,
Sunday: It was a very interesting day; We rode a charter bus to a Fromagerie in the mountains and then to Annecy. The roads up the mountain weave back and forth as they rise up the mountain, this is a slightly nauseating and terrifying experience in a charter bus, but the view was absolutely gorgeous. Imagine a stereotypical French country house and that’s exactly what was along the road; there were beautiful wildflowers, giant pines, giant cows, small villages, and the mountains in the background.
When we reached the fromagerie (cheeses making place), we got to see the goats being herded up the mountain, it was a sight to see. Then a woman explained to us how cheese was made at that fromagerie and we got to taste it. It was delicious, and I don’t even like cheese that much!
When we made it to Annecy, I was astounded by the beauty once again. Annecy is on a huge lake and the mountains are just hanging out in the background. I went on a paddle boat with Sam, Chelsea and Laura, and it was great fun. We didn’t walk around too much because we were exhausted from walking so much the day before. Walking here is something that I’m already adjusting too because you have to. I was content with just laying in the grass by the lake and talking to everyone. It’s amazing how everyone in the group of people on this program seems to get along, and in this sort of situation it’s impossible not to make friends quickly because it’s a bonding situation.
I know this wasn’t nearly as short as I intended and I’ve don’t know how blogs are supposed to be so I hope you enjoy!
More to come soon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

First Post

Ive never written a blog before so bear with me!