So many things to think about…

Alright, I will warn you now that this entry is going to be very random.

Firstly, The french have redeemed themselves today, as you recall my last post was how they didn’t help an old man who fell. Well, today another old man fell because its been raining and all the sidewalks are very slick. Anyway, a lot of people came to his aid and helped him up and made sure he was ok. I would like to think that this is the normal reaction and the other day was just a bizarre group of people. Anyway, they have redeemed themselves in my eyes.

Secondly, there are many things that people don’t think about when they decide to study abroad. One being the massive amount of time away from friends and family. Four months is a long time, and some people do an entire year! Anyway, today has been one of those days that has made me really think about how long I’ve been away. Why? Well, before I left for France I had started doing Crossfit. If you don’t know what Crossfit is, you should look in to it. Its a lot of fun and will get you in shape in no time! Anyway, not the point. The people I do crossfit with are a truely great bunch. They have good attitudes and morals. It was a nice break from the drama you find at school. But back to my point. Today, I learned that one of the Crossfit babies (a couple at crossfit had a baby) died. She was only 7 months old and I’m not even sure of the circumstances. When I left the US she was getting stronger and from what I had heard everyone anticipated a happy ending. Now, I know what babies, its never certain, but I didn’t even know that Baby Kirby was even back in the hospital, much less that she was in fact that sick. Well, my point is, I am watching all of my friends from Crossfit gather round this amazing couple and help them through this truely rough time and I feel helpless because I am in France. This brings me to my next point. If you study abroad, make sure you say good-bye to everyone before you leave. You never know what will happen in the next four months.

I guess today has made me think a lot about my choices and why I choose to do what I do. I don’t like being in France while my family and friends are in the US. But on the same note, this is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life and I am having fun. Im not saying any of this to change peoples mind about studying abroad. I do in fact think it is the BEST way to learn a language but when you make the decision, give it a lot of thought. I know that when I return to the US many things will have changed. And as some people have told me, I am sure I will have a new whole culture shock when I return. Well, I am going to continue my study abroad experience. Until next time.

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Ughhh French People can be so rude!

So I know I haven’t checked in for awhile but I will be sure to get caught up. I am half way done with my program and time is FLYING by. Also, my french has improved so much it’s crazy. Anyway, this story comes from anger and frustration.

Today I took the bus home from the center of town. There are three busses that use my stop so there are always a lot of people there. Today, actually a few minutes ago, I was waiting at my bus stop and all was normal. All the sudden I see a lot of people moving towards my direction. I also see a man stumbling around. I think, ok drunk man annoying people for money, like usual. But no this man was probably 60 or 70 years old and has literally fallen on the ground, lost his glasses, and isn’t getting up.

Everyone around me just watches him lay there. Now, in america if you see a stranger pass out or something, most everyone goes and tries to help. In france, no one did anything. It was RIDICULOUS! So, I go over and get this mans glasses and give them to him. He looks at me still in a haze from the fall and says thank you. I ask if he is ok and help him get up. Finally, I ask if he is sick or drunk or what happened and he tells me he didn’t eat lunch today and is on the way to a friends house for dinner. Now, I said my french improved but I’m still not perfect so, with my grammatically incorrect phrase I ask if he needs help getting to his friends house or going to the hospital. He tells me no and that his bus is arriving now. By this time most everyone else is making a line for the bus completely apethetic towards this poor man.

ANyway, I help him onto the bus, and luckly two other girls about my age tell me they will help him get to his friend’s house.

This really shocked me becasue I was thinking, if this was my father or grand father, I would hope someone would help him but everyone was so pre-occupied with their own lives and they were so apethetic. It was shameful. I, probably the only person there who doesn’t speak french well, was the only one willing to approach this man and try and help. I am not proud of the french people right now and very frustrated that they were not willing to do anything for this man.

Hopefully something good will happen soon so the french can redeem themselves but don’t hold your breath.

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Cooking with Carla

Alright, so this past weekend I decided I would cook an “American meal” and so being the culinary genius I am, I made grilled cheese and rice krispy treats. When I told my host mom I was going to do this, Carla decided that she would help me. Ok, picture this, Me, a five year old, marshmellows and fire on the stove. I told Carla she wasn’t allowed to be at the stove but she could mix all the ingredients and butter the bread and pan and whatever else she wanted to butter. Finally, the rice krispies were made and I poured them out onto a sheet of wax paper to cool. So, after this, I went about cooking and noticed that Carla was begging to help anymore. Turned around and she was eating the rice krispies off the wax paper with a long string of melted marshmallow covering her hands and face and a jar of nutella open and half gone!

Finally, when I got Carla to stop eating the rice krispy treats the meal progressed nicely. We made the grilled cheeses, and then put the home fries in the oven. It took about 10 minutes of trying to turn the oven on before we called my host mom. Why can’t france just have an on button? Anyway, so we ate the grilled cheeses, the fries and we were ready for dessert. I brought out the rice krispy treats and nutella and we started to eat.

Sometime between sneaking bites of rice krispies and finishing the grilled cheese, Carla decided she didn’t like the dessert anymore. So instead she took a HUGE spoonful of nutella and just ate it plain. Just nutella. Nothing else. It was odd and adorable! She had a brown tongue, teeth, mouth, nose. Everything in her way turned brown!

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Normandy

The city on the beaches of Normandy

Alright, So, I’ve been slacking on this blog but I’m back now. We took a trip to Normandy and saw the American cemetery and the museum for WWII. It was really cool and nice to be away. The only bad part was it rained. The whole time. It rains almost every day here and the weekend of Normandy it was windy, rainy and cold. Not the best for walking outside and on the beaches. But, I enjoyed the trip in spite of all that. We went to the Museum where they had a lot of the soldiers gear and documentaries on what the soldiers did and thought while they were fighting. We saw a lot of beaches and on top of it all; we got the best ice cream I’ve ever had! I know that was a weird way to go with this but it was really good ice cream. It was called la crème de dieu and had a regional alcohol in the ice cream. It was such a weird and new taste but it was also WONDERFUL!

The other excursion we went on was to Cornacouille and this one was rather pointless actually. We didn’t really do anything but it was still cool. We went to the most western tip of France and climbed the rocks to stand surrounded by ocean. It was also raining (as usual) and so it was quite dangerous. When we started our climb we passed this sign.

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After we read the sign, we climbed the mountains with fairly little problem. Getting back down, however, was a little more challenging. The rain mad it even worse. All in all, we climbed in about 25 minutes but then getting back down took about 45. It was fairly hilarious because many people were slipping and busting their butts. This is funny to watch but also very scary because as I’ve said, we were on cliffs with just the ocean and other rocks below us. After this we went to a restaurant and had lunch. Vegetable soup, chicken, green beans, French fries and a Bretagne dessert. The chicken, green beans, and French fries were all in this apple type sauce that tasted like the Bretagne famous “cidre”. Cidre is like apple juice with a very little amount of alcohol in it and also, it is carbonated. The soup was also very delicious. And finally, the Bretagne cake. It. Was. AMAZING. Like a croissant type cake with layers and layers of butter. And that’s it. Just bread and butter. LOTS OF BUTTER. It was amazing. By the end of the meal, people were looking at other tables to see if they had left overs to eat. It was That good.

Anyway, this ends both excursions and conveniently it is time for dinner. Until Next time!

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Another Host Family Story

So, I have been with my host family for about two weeks and it’s very interesting. Some things are just like in America and some are very BIZARRE! (Sorry, I’m not good at spelling) anyway, yeah, so the girl is 5 yrs. old, still has a pacifier, uses one of those little plastic training potties and wears a diaper at night. Now, I don’t know what age kids start walking and talking and potty training because I don’t have any kids but I’ve babysat enough to know at five years old, kids should be potty trained and the pacifier should be gone. Oh, one more thing, she still sits in a high chair to eat. Now, you can correct me if I’m wrong, but a high chair? Really? Anyway, not the point of the story.
Ok, so after an entire day of school, I came home and we had dinner as a family, Salmon lasagna. (it was actually pretty good). After dinner Carla, the little girl, decided we would play school. Her mom would be the teacher and both of us would be the students. It started off very easy, counting and learning the alphabet (g and j in French are very hard to distinguish). During all of this I sat there and was a wonderful student and Carla, well, she acted like a 5 year old. Once this was over we all went to bed. The next day, we played school again but Carla was teacher and her mom and I were the students. If you could imagine two five year olds on crack, that’s almost as bad as we behaved. It started with her giving us chairs and we fought over who got what chair. After that, she gave me a piece of chalk to write my name on the board. I wrote my S backwards and my L upside down. Once I finished writing my name her mom stole my chalk and started drawing on the board. Carla sent her mom to time-out and so I was the only student left.
I decided that my chair was a hat and the dog was my pillow. I quickly got sent to time-out also. With no other students in the class, Carla told us the dog was now a student (he was probably the best student she had). Once out of time-out, her mom and I had to do math problems, 2+2 and stuff like that. We got every single one wrong. This way Carla would actually have to do the problems too. Anyway, we quickly got sent back to time out because her mom pinched me so I pinched her back. After this exhausting game of “maîtres” which means teacher, we finally got to go to bed.

Now every night we play maitress and every night I somehow end up in time-out. Last night was great though because I ended up in time out with the dog (who makes a great pillow).

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Short but hilarious story

Living with children is difficult. As you know if you have been reading my blogs, I live with a 5 yr old girl and her mother. It is difficult. In France, they don’t spank their children and there are very few rules. One day, I came home from school and it was the little girl’s birthday (her name is Carla). So anyway, it was Carla’s birthday so she had another girl over to play and her grandparents were here and all that. Well I was stopped outside but her mom (Cecile) who told me to sit down and eat cake and what not with them. So I did and it was fine, I thought I had missed the party because I was at school. But then the mother said she was going to prepare dinner and so, I hadn’t missed anything. Anyway, im getting side tracked. About an hour in to the party the two girls come outside and start playing in the new princess castle Carla got for her birthday. I look over and both girls have masscara and eye liner all over their faces. They had eyeliner on their cheeks, eyelids, mouths, foreheads, everywhere. I asked them where they got the eyeliner and they looked at me and said, “O its yours but you weren’t here to help us so we did it ourselves. Aren’t we pretty?” And at this, the grandmother stood up, yelled something in French (that I couldn’t understand at all but im guessing wasn’t nice) and sat down. They of course apologized and went about playing. A few minutes later, the dog (a black labrador) comes out sporting bright red lipstick on his nose and bright red finger nail polish on his paws. Once again the grandmother tells the girls to come here and explain why they were in my things and they look at her and says, “We weren’t in Lisa’s things. You said not to do that, so instead we got mommy’s nail polish and your lipstick and now Richelieu (the dog) is pretty too! We are all princesses now!”

So that is my most recent story. It was very hilarious. I couldn’t even be mad because they looked so funny and at least they were princesses. (Not to mention they didn’t use my stuff on the dog.)

So until the kid gets in my stuff again, this is all i have for you!

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Host Family and A lil Stinky Cheese

Alright guys, I have a story for you that is well, about cheese and cow feet. I recently moved in with my host family and they are awesome! The mom is divorced and has a daughter who is 5 years old (lots of estragen in the house). She also has a neice who has been living here but I think leaves today who is 18 yrs old. So, needless to say, there is ALOT of talking and it is very loud. Well, the other night we had salmon lasagna, pizza, and lamb for dinner. I don’t know if they made the HUGE meal for me or if it how they always eat but there was ALOT of food. (No stinky cheese yet, but I’m getting there)

So today, they said it was a wonderful day outside and so we would have a picnic outside and eat. I was like awesome! Beautiful weather and eating outside, cool. I walk outside barefoot in my wofford t-shirt and its about 50 degrees….. FREEZING MY BUTT OFF! The lattitude of Rennes, France is about the same as Maine or Canada. It is the end of summer and its sooo cold. Anyway, back on track, we had a lovely meal with peas and some kinda meat (i don’t know what it was) and then she asked if I would like some cheese. In France, you can’t say no to cheese! So of course I said yes and she brouth out a tray of 8 different kinds of cheese. All looked like they had been on the tray since I was born and I was just thinking to myself, there is only one bathroom in this house… (sorry, that was gross) But anyway, so I tried the Swiss cheese first because we have that in America. It was delicious! A lot stronger than the kind you find in america but also a lot better. So next, I tried some bretagne specialty cheese. It was like hard and crumbled and seemed to me like it had gone bad. It was SO GROSS But my host mom and her neice just looked at me and said isn’t it great?! France is known for this cheese!! And of course, I said O yeah….wonderful….. (…probably going to have this cheese at every meal now….) There were four other cheeses that I had but they were but ok…all of them seemed like they had gone bad and one even had mold growing on the outside. My host mother told me that’s how you know when its good to eat. In my house in America, thats when you throw it in the trash!

Ok, Almost forgot about the cowfeet. We went to this open market thing which happens downtown every saturday. It was awesome. Literally, five blocks of fresh fruits and vegatables. Then we got to the meat part which was in an open barn type thing. Right when you entered there was a vender selling live chickens and cows. Next to him was a man selling cow tongues, ribs and what not. As we continued through the barn it just got stranger and stranger. There were rabbits, goats, cows, animal hearts, livers, brains. All sorts of stuff but there were three things that I just could not handle! COW FEET, PIG FEET, and lastly HEDGEHOG. So the cow feet and pig feet you can probably guess why that grossed me out, they were feet…. But the hedgehog was the worst becuase it still had its little spikes and head and everything! But it didn’t have any skin. The entire hedgehod was sold for about 10 euro or 15ish dollars. But it was horrible. The poor lil hedge hog had no skin but the calcium that made its spikes and all its brains and what not were still there. It was so gross!!

So there is my stinky cheese and all around gross food story. More to come later!

From France,
Hope you enjoyed!

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stinky cheese and wine

So guys, I’ve been in France for a few days and its kinda really awesome! I stayed with a friend the first night I was here and his apartment was very small. Not small like only one bedroom and a kitchen small but small like just a single room about 10×12 feet. O, also, it was on the 6th floor of the building, AND in france that really means the 7th floor because the ground level is the 0 floor. So, I stayed in a little room on the 6th floor of an apartment building with no elevator and no air conditioning. It was horrible. But it was only one night and so it was ok.

I met my study abroad group at the hotel and we learned our room assignments and a little history of the hotel. It was one of the oldest hotels in France (which meant all I heard was once again no air conditioning and no elevator….) and it was very important to the french people. So guess what room I had? I had the room on the 5th floor…with seven other girls…. As we were walking upstairs complaining about not having an elevator we all notice that the stairs feel very weird. It was becasue the middle part, where all the weight was, had dipped in and the entire staircase was lop-sided. So everytime we walked on the stairs you had to try not to fall in the middle (becasue of course there were no railings…)

We visited a lot of museums and of course the Tour Eiffel. The thing I like the most though, was the metro. There was a little girl on the metro (probably 4 or 5) who went to every person in that metro car and said “Bonjour! Comment cava?” which means Hello how are you? and I responded I’m fine and the man next to me said I’m not so good. The little girl looked very confused and said “Pourquoi pas? Je suis tres mignon!” which means why not? Im very cute!” It was very nice to the normal interactions between the people because most of the tourist hot zones were loaded with people who thought everyone was trying to steal there money.

But now, I am getting ready to take a shower and go to bed. I have moved in with my host family. She is a divorced lady with her 5 yr old daughter but I have yet to meet either of them. (She is on a business trip) and So right now it is just me and her god-daughter. We had salmon lasgna for dinner which was surprisingly good and I told her about my family and school.

It is about 10pm here now. I have a placement exam in the morning and so, it is time for bed. Sorry there were no stinky cheese and wine stories in this, maybe tomorrow.

A+
(Thats how the french say see ya later)

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Lazy days of Summer

Alright guys, so I have been enjoying the two or three weeks of summer I had between organic chemistry and my trip to France but my departure date is arriving soon and it’s time to get serious. Today, I registered to get an absentee ballot sent to France so I could vote. This process was a breeze; it literally took about seven minutes and I was done. So I guess I will talk a little bit about what has been fairly easy, what’s been frustrating, and what’s been just horrible. Here goes nothing:

Let’s start with the easy stuff, packing, toiletries, flight arrangements, and money have all been fairly non-eventful. As for packing, the program I am doing is through CIEE and they provided us with an amazing list of EVERYTHING you ever wanted to pack (down to battery operated carbon monoxide detectors). So I followed this list and done. Packing was a breeze, granted I haven’t put everything into the bag yet but hopefully it all fits. :) Next, toiletries, obviously a toothbrush and such are important but I’m talking more like cold medicine and stomach medicine. I was told by one of my friends (who lives in Paris right now) that you can’t find Nyquil or Motrin anywhere in France. So this was helpful, I went to the store, got the biggest box I could find and done. But I think having that information was helpful and so it may be worth it to bug the study abroad advisor’s about these types of medicines because who goes 4 months without a cold? No one. Ok, flight arrangements, I don’t actually know if these were easy because my dad took care of it and just told me when I was leaving, so for me it was very simple. :) And finally, money, I applied for a credit card last Tuesday, and it is now Monday night and I have my card in hand. It was a breeze.

Now, what has been frustrating is Skype and visiting family. This is sounds a lot worse than I meant it to but hopefully you will see what I mean in a moment. As for Skype, I had to download and teach my mother to use Skype. Downloading it was a breeze, teaching my mom to use it, o my word, it was almost impossible. I don’t know how many times someone can mess up hitting two different buttons but after about 4 hours of trying, I finally got her to do it the right way. Now we will see if she can remember how to do it once I leave. Visiting family is frustrating only because in my family, a visit is 3 or 4 hours….. So while I have 8 million things to do, I am talking to my grandparents and aunts and uncles and such. I definitely think it is worth the time to see everyone before I leave for 4 months but I would definitely recommend having everything much more organized than I do currently. I am very stretched for time.

And finally, the worst things I have had to do in preparation for my departure. The French consulate is the only thing that has been a real HUGE pain in the butt. I went to Atlanta, applied for the visa to study abroad, then left. A few weeks later they called, they had a problem with my visa because my parents are divorced but have the same last name…. I don’t know why this was a problem but anyway a two hour conversation later, it was resolved. About a week later, they called me again, one form said I was leaving the US on the 25th and the other paper said I was leaving the 26th. Now, if this was me I would have thought ok, whatever, this person can leave on the 25th but no….they had to confirm which date I was leaving (at this time I still didn’t have a plane ticket). And another few hours on the phone the problem was fixed. So, with all these problems occurring, I was thinking my visa was only going to last the exact time I was in France. I receive my visa and it’s for 8 months….. Mid June to mid-February….So, why did they care the EXACT date I was leaving???? I have two/three months range! It was ridiculous.

So there are all my struggles and what not. I am very excited to leave on Saturday and ready for this adventure to start. I hope this post was too terribly long, and once again I guess I will get better at this the more I do it. But for now, I am just working out, sleeping, and packing. Waiting for my adventure to begin.

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In organic but all I hear is french

So guys, this is my first post and I’m still trying to figure out how to use all of this stuff but here goes nothing.

I’m currently still in the US taking organic chemistry. So i sit in class for about five hours a day and have tests every monday. You’re thinking, this has nothing to do with study abroad what are you talking about (hold on, Im getting there). I was sitting in class listening to another one of Dr. Bass’s fun filled lectures (but seriously if you come to Wofford take him!), and I was thinking O my word, I leave the country for four months in a few weeks. This was a huge revelation and so I quickly got out my phone and texted my dad. I said when does my flight leave? When do I arrive? (he bought the tickets without consulting me -.-) and so in a fit of panic and basic hysteria, I am still…. sitting in class. My dad texts me back saying I was freaking out for no reason and to just focus on organic (easier said than done). But anyway, the study abroad advisors suggested we blog before we leave so you guys can know how we prepared. I dont know if my freak out sessions are normal or not but I thought it was worth sharing. Other than freaking out, I have done nothing. I have freaked out a few times about the flight and being so far from my parents for such a long time but other than the freak outs, nothing.

Back to class, Dr. Bass likes to make jokes in class and it is all fair game. Race, religion, gender, sexuality, he hits them all which I supposed if you are joking to joke about one group why not joke about them all so no one is too too offended… But he started teaching in french one day with a HORRIBLE accent. Now, organic is hard enough but in french?! I was thinking o my word I’m never going to survive living in France and understanding all these people! (This is freak out number 2 if you’re counting) And so Im currently taking organic but it is sometimes taught in all sorts of languages (my favorite is south mississippi).

So I think this is an abrupt place to stop but alas, I have told you about my freak outs and will post more as the time of departure draws nearer.

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