17 November 2009


Hello All!

Hope everyone is still doing well without me! I know y'all are at a loss without me in your lives, but hopefully these peeks into mine help you to push through. ;)

So, what's been up with me lately is that I went to ENGLAND!! I got to speak ENGLISH! And see friends and it was altogether a fantastic trip. I just wrote a blog about it for the France Revisited site (which I hope you all have visited! I already have one blog up!) and hopefully it should be posted soon! If you haven't yet you really should go take a look at the site! It's really cool. And the extracurricular blogtivity section has blogs from me and a few other girls from my program. They're all good writers and have interesting and different perspectives on their time here.

Well, England was amazing. I left Paris on Friday morning at 10AM via the Eurostar train. (I had found a SUPER cheap fare-- 55 euros round trip!!) My trip got off pretty much without a hitch except that the customs lady was just a B*%$#. I had to fill out an immigration card since I'm not a member of the EU, and one of the things that they ask on the card is address where your staying. Well, I was staying with 2 different friends on my trip, and I knew neither of their addresses, so I left it blank. When I got up there, she asked where I was staying and I answered with a friend. She asked the address and I said I didn't know it. She asked why I didn't know it... which is a weird question that you can't really ever answer... and I responded that I just didn't know it. She said that I could be denied entry if I didn't provide an address and then she got all kinds of snippy and said "I wouldn't come into your country without knowing the address of where I was staying, WOULD I?" .... to which I responded "um I guess not???" Since when can you not go somewhere on vacation and decide where you're going to stay when you get there? Does everyone always book their hotel in advance? Anyway, I told her that my friends both lived in dormitories and I could tell her their schools if she liked, but she dismissed this, telling me that I could go through this time, but I was getting off easy... The weird thing is, Steph never had to provide an address when she took the same train service from England to visit me in Paris. Stupid customs... grrrrrr.

Anyway, the train ride was pretty boring. I slept most of the way, mouth agape, probably snoring. But woke up just in time to see the rolling green fields of England, as well as all the sheep!! I think seeing sheep in fields is way cuter than seeing cows, so I just stared out my window at them for the last hour of the train ride. When I got to England I met up with Steph A. from Tulane (I am using the last initial here to differentiate as eventually in this story there will be 2 Stephs). We went and got lunch-- I got some REAL thai food! With spiciness and everything!! So I was happy, and then walked around London a bit until I had to get on the train to Cambridge to meet William! (Will and I went to Country Day together for 13 years, so we're quite good friends. He goes to Cambridge, and this is his last year, so I was really glad to get to visit him!) The train from London to Cambridge is only about 45 min, so it wasn't bad at all. Of course by the time I got there it had started doing that wonderful England cold and misting thing, so that was cool. not. Will and his girlfriend picked me up from the train station.

Friday night we went to what is called "Formal Hall" at Downing College of Cambridge (Will goes to Jesus College, but we went to one of his friend's formal halls). Formal Hall consists of everyone getting dressed up (church attire) and the students wear robes (like a graduation gown kind of) and then you're served a 3 course meal that Will tells me is usually just glorified cafeteria food. This one was not bad though. We had duck for the main course with a vegetable medley and something that was kind of like mashed potatoes? All the students bring a bottle of wine as well which you pay 1 pound to get uncorked and then everyone shares. Formal hall happens a few times a week at each college. The students were asking me if we had anything like this in America and I just laughed... because we really don't. It was very old world.
Anyways, my time in cambridge wasn't too terribly interesting (at least not to write about. I had a lot of fun!) We went to a free museum that had a whole range of different kinds of art. We walked around the town which was very cute and seemed like it had a lot for the students to do. There are a lot of shops. We saw a man make fudge and then got to buy some. We went to a covered market where we bought german hot dogs (yummm) and I got to meet and have dinner with Williams housemates who were all really nice! I was supposed to leave to go back to london to meet my stephs, but as it turned out, the train service was not running because it was "remembrance sunday" which goes along with Armistice Day which was that wednesday (which we call veteran's day). SOoooo, I got to spend the day in Cambridge instead. (which was fine with me since I had commented on leaving that the trip had been too short! careful what you wish for!!)
Monday I made it up to London and met Steph D., a friend from camp who is from Sussex. We walked around London and saw all the usual sights-- buckingham palace, big ben, westminister abbey. We met up with Steph A. that night and took a ride in the London Eye-- the big ferris wheel where you can see all of London. It was very pretty at night, you got to see the whole city lit up! But it did not make for very good pictures... everything turned out blurry and silly. Normally I don't like ferris wheels, but the London Eye goes really really slow. Like you can't even tell that you're moving half the time. So that's how I was convinced to go.

Tuesday Steph A and I headed into London and did some shopping. Even though the dollar to pound exchange rate is absolutely CRAP, there is a very very cheap store called Primark that we went to where I bought a nice coat for 25 pounds (about $45). It was so crowded though that I couldn't stand buying anything that I needed to actually try on. That night Steph D. met up with us to go see WICKED!! One of my all time favorite musicals, that was playing on the London West End (London's Broadway). I really wanted to go see Phantom of the Opera, since London was the birthplace of that childhood favorite of mine, but tickets were more expensive, and it didn't seem to strike Steph A's fancy....maybe on my next trip to london! (for there shall be another!!) Wicked was amazing, just like every other time I've seen it. The funny part was that they all had british accents! It's odd hearing Broadway music sung with a different accent because that style of singing is just so completely American. I did like it though--the actresses who played Elphaba and Galinda had amazing voices. And of course I still found myself tearing up at the end of the first act...like always.

All in all I had an absolutely amazing trip with everything that I needed to give me that midsemester boost! Speaking of mid semester, I'm writing this to take a break from the work that I have due in the coming weeks. I have 2 papers and a meeting on THANKSGIVING DAY. how horrid is that?! I have never ever had anything due on thanksgiving in my LIFE and now I have all these things at once... sigh. I'm going to miss that holiday more than I'll miss Christmas I think. Y'all don't make me too jealous now, ya hear? Somebody better burn their turkey.

Sorry if this blog seems a little sloppy. I was just writin to let y'all know what's been going on and to tell you about my trip. The blog I wrote for France Revisited is much more polished. I'll let you know when it goes up. I hope that all is well with you! It would be great to hear from any of you, I miss each and every one!

All my love and gros bisous! (big kisses) xoxo

02 November 2009

France Revisited

Hey guys, I just wanted to let you know that I (along with some other girls from my program) will be doing some guest blogging for a travel website called francerevisited.com
The creator of the website, an Emory alum who has lived in Paris for the past 20 years, got in touch with our program EDUCO to ask for guest writers. Some of the girls blogs are up and you should definitely check them out. Mine will be up later this week or next.

The link directly to the blog is http://francerevisited.com/extracurricular so I hope you go take a look and enjoy!

And don't forget to take a look at my newest blog directly below this one!! Lots of love!

01 November 2009

quoi de neuf?

Hello friends. I really am sorry that I've been posting so sporadically... It's just hard for me to make myself sit down and do this, even though I'm on the computer a lot. It's actually quite silly. I owe you all a bit more than this...

Well, classes are... going. haha. They're very french- i.e. vague and often don't make much sense. I mean for one of my classes there is no syllabus or reading list and our only assignment is to write a paper about a cultural observance? hmm. History of Paris (my class at EDUCO) is the only one that we actually have work in since it's supposed to be more american style. My final course load is Anthropology on wednesdays (5-8 BLEH), History of women and institutions on thursday (2-5), History of Jews in 16-18 century europe thursdays (5:30-8:30 BLEEEEH.... class for 3 hours at this time of night is a HORRIBLE idea), and History of Paris friday (9-12). So overall not bad, and as you can see, no class mon and tues! This is when I get some of my english tutoring done.

I'm tutoring my 17 year old host sister (doing conversation stuff), a 15 year old neighbor (again, mostly conversation and reading some articles together), and then 4 delightful 10 year old neighbor kids (including my 10 year old host sis, marion). It's been really good. I try to talk slowly and clearly, without much accent. I did have to explain to both my conversation partners what the word "y'all" means....because I really can't delete it from my vocabulary. I inevitably use it at at least some point in the conversation. My explanation was that it's the same as the plural "vous" in french, which really does make a whole lot of sense. I also explained that they are never allowed to write this word in any of their papers or use it in class, but they can recognize it and know what it means.
With the younger kids, the lesson is a bit more trying. For one thing, I'm starting out doing the lesson in french while we build some vocabulary. They're still not up to par with the alphabet, so we're starting small. It's really tricky to do a lesson all in french and then switch to english for some parts! I end up saying some english words with a silly french accent, which is not what I'm trying to teach the kids at all! haha. I've tried to make the lessons a little more fun than just school work, but it's hard because the kids come to me on friday afternoons directly after school.... not exactly the easiest time to get kids to concentrate! And it seems that when I give them a game, they get too riled up!! I've got to find a balance. We've learned animals, fruits, and vegetables so far. I have them tell me a vocab word in french and then I ask for the english equivalent of it. After we've figured out what it is in english I have them write it out, spelling the word out loud with the english alphabet. I think it's a pretty good system. If anyone has any ideas, I would be very grateful for some help! The game I had them play was a type of pictionary. They would draw an animal (written in English) out of a bowl and they had to remember what it was, then draw it for their friends, if the other students could guess what it was, the drawer got a point for being able to explain the animal. They got very competitive though and kinda were bouncing off the walls. It's a lot to handle (but camp counselor kim knows what to do!) I've been perfecting my new french "teacher voice"... I've got the english one down thanks to many years out at camp with some crazy kiddos, but french was a bit harder to catch on to. I've gotten pretty good at saying "eh, théo! quest-ce que tu fait là!!" (oy! theo! what do you think you're doing over there! <-- oy was the closest noise I could think of to "eh"... although I guess "hey" works too). Another of my favorites is just giving the good ol' teacher evil eye. That one's universal :)

So, we are approaching the holiday season with the first of them all-- Halloween! It was a little bit depressing here, because you saw NO signs at all that it was halloween. No costumes, no decorations, no pumpkins. It made me a little sad. I just wanted to walk past a store front and see a ghost and some cobwebs in the window. My host mom explained to me a few weeks ago that they tried to do halloween here, but it just didn't really catch on. It's apparently only really for the younger kids, and even then it's not that big. It is harder here because there really aren't any houses that you can just walk up to and ring the doorbell. All the apartment buildings have a keypad (sometimes several different ones at different points) to even get in. Also, I don't know how receptive this crowd would be to little hoodlums ringing their doorbells asking for goodies. None the less, my friends and I went out last night, and found a small halloween scene. We weren't really dressed up (some were a bit)... I didn't bring much to france with me (I'm missing some of my favorite tshirts!) so there was definitely no room in the suitcase for a halloween costume! We just ended up going to a bar... they had raspberry beer that was really good! It tasted like a raspberry soda! (p.s. I can legally drink here... it's a really weird feeling even though I'm about to be able to legally drink in the US in only a few months.) It was a good night though!

Some french observations:
when I'm watching TV with my family, they CONSTANTLY are using the expression "n'importe quoi!" which I can't really translate precisely but I guess it means "anything goes"... literally it means "it doesn't matter what". but they use it in a context where it's like "oh they just show anything on tv these days" but they express all that with just that short little phrase. It can be when some guy's head gets blown off in one of their cop shows, or when they're making fun of Sarcozy on one of their political satires, or when there's some weird nudity in a french commercial. It's all just "n'importe quoi," always said with a bit of a chuckle and a shake of the head. Very interesting to me.

Also, metro observation: it has been literally making my day when someone makes eye contact with me and smiles on the metro! It's the little things that make your day a little bit brighter.

Phrase of the day: The higher the percentage chance of rain, the lower the percentage chance that I'll get out of my bed. That has been my motto today :) on the rainy sunday. Although I hear if that was y'all's motto back in texas, y'all would have been in bed for the last 2 months, eh? Hope y'all aren't drowning! Missing you all a lot.
(again sorry for the long gaps between posts... I'll try harder, I really will. Next update: ENGLAND! I'm headed there next weekend from the 6th-11th. Pictures and stories to come!)


oh, and P.S. "quoi de neuf," the title is the french equivalent of "what's new?"