a college student's five month quest to see europe and soak in la vie française

a college student's five month quest to see europe and soak in la vie française

Saturday, January 30, 2010

amboise et clos lucé

fun-filled first excursion today with the bucknell en france group: first to amboise, a onetime residence for french royalty, and then to clos lucé, leonardo da vinci's home for the last three years of his life. lots of snow at amboise then, miraculously, beautiful perfect-for-picture-taking sunlight at clos lucé.
the quaint and slightly dreary view from the courtyard outside amboise.
the chapel at amboise where leonardo da vinci is buried.
pretty chapel ceilings.
colorful amboise bedroom.
da vinci's last home.
pretty windows with heart cutouts.
one of the towers surrounding amboise.
gorgeous sunset — seems to be a trend in my travels!
view of amboise from the other side of the bridge.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

for future reference

1 pound = 0.45359237 kilograms

therefore, if you weigh approximately 100 pounds, you weigh approximately 45 kilos.

therefore, do not respond to your host father’s hunting story about killing a 100 kilo pig by saying, “that’s what i weigh!”

no matter how many crêpes you eat in france, you will probably (hopefully) never weigh 200 pounds.

Monday, January 25, 2010

learning the hard way

la gare = the train station, pronounced la gar.
la guerre = the war, pronounced la gare.

le coeur = the heart, pronounced le ker.
le corps = the body, pronounced le kor.
le cours = the class, prounced le kur.

(so easily confused and yet people will think you're crazy if you mix them up.)

weekend recap

i had the most wonderful weekend in london. it was so nice to see michael and meet all of his new friends — not to mention to explore london when, for once, it wasn't gray and rainy! i feel like that counts as a once-in-a-lifetime. michael seems to already have mastered the tube so we made a stop at buckingham palace, witnessed a protest at the national gallery, stopped by the park where michael played when his family lived in london, and watched a spectacular sunset from the london eye.
in front of buckingham palace.
national gallery, scene of...
...this protest. apparently the british police have been confiscating cameras and forcing people to delete digital photos of public places for fear that they are somehow contributing to the next terrorist attack. these people had gathered in trafalgar square, taking pictures of anything and everything and sporting signs that said, "i'm a photographer, not a terrorist."
first glimpse of big ben (many, many more to follow).
amazing view from the london eye — we could not have picked a better time to go.
london and sunshine? two words that don't normally go together.
i know i got a bit carried away...
...but i promise i did take some time to turn off my camera and just take it all in.
last one i swear!

traveling by myself was actually much more pleasant than i had anticipated. it's not to say that i mind having company on the road (and god knows i got my fill with our routine family car trips with six people and two dogs packed into one vehicle) but there's something to be said for figuring it out all on your own. this was really my first experience venturing out on my lonesome (obviously short of local car trips to places like the dentist's office, to which my father will attest i still need directions) and i already feel much more independent. the experience forced me to read maps (never a strong suit) and think on my feet (in french — because practice makes perfect).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

know the difference

between emprunter (to borrow) and emporter (to take out). the french do not take kindly to people asking to borrow their food.

paris recap

paris was wonderful, such a great way to spend the weekend! our hostel was disgusting, the weather was foul, and everything was nonetheless absolutely beautiful. we did lots of touristy things but it was so nice to get to know the bucknell group better and just do a little traveling independent from the excursions we'll be taking as part of our program.
outside the louvre... i can't get over how much i love this building
generic tourist picture of la tour eiffel
me, valerie, allison, denise, annie in front of the eiffel tower.
view of the sacre coeur from the top of the arc de triomphe... not raining at this point!
slightly ominous view of the eiffel tower from the same perch.
arc de triomphe... look hard for the little ants on the top of the building, that was us!
ferris wheel at place de la concorde... amazing view of the city all lit up, minus the sheets of rain coming at us the whole time.
yummy yummy dinner on the champs elysées (allison, valerie, denise, annie, me.)
not-quite-worth-the-897892349-steps view from the pouring rain at the sacre coeur.
pretty even in the rain.
the love wall.
view from "the perfect hostel"... yes, this was truly the name and no, it was not perfect.

Friday, January 15, 2010

bon weekend!

i'm off to paris! we just wrapped up our first week at l'institut de touraine where we're taking our intensive language courses. we have one more week before "graduating" from the institute and obtaining our first half-credit from bucknell. we had our first DELF preparation class (the DELF is the french language exam that foreign students must pass to verify their fluency — kind of like the TOEFL for foreign students who wish to study in the u.s.) which seems a little superfluous (your average SAT prep class) but not so bad. i also started my art history/art criticism class at the actual university and it seems like it will be pretty interesting and not too much work. i start my class "enterprise for humane and responsible business" next thursday.

my host mom made la brioche for breakfast this morning which i was informed is best consumed with a generous serving of nutella (my newest obsession). being a vegetarian at the house has been very easy since my mom has been great about serving me salmon and shrimp in lieu of chicken and red meat, though eating out for lunch has been a little tough... let's just say nutella has been filling more than a few gaps in my diet. when the group decided on chicken sandwiches today (where the meat was literally shaved off a dead animal hanging behind the counter with an electric razor — disgusting) i opted for a nutella panini instead. dessert for lunch? maybe not the healthiest choice but cheap and very, very yummy.

it's definitely been a busy first week but a lovely introduction to french people and food alike. tomorrow morning we'll be taking the train to paris for some sightseeing, shopping, and general celebration of having survived our first week. my dad and i just finished nailing down some of the details for his visit in february (paris, barcelona, and lisbon, here we come!) so i've got lots to look forward to!

Monday, January 11, 2010

les mots du jour

cautious: prudent(e)

rude: impoli(e)

safe: sans danger

ugly: laid(e)

if that's any indication of my day...

first day of classes

long first day (language intensive class at the institut de touraine 8:45-12:10 and 2:30-3:30 followed by a meeting from 4:00-5:30). took a placement test and argued with bucknell professors about class times (not interested in 4 p.m. class on fridays) and their interference with weekend traveling. i got pretty worked up since this seems to be one of the only programs that doesn't strongly encourage weekend travel as a means of rounding out the european experience. truthfully, the desire to travel is half the reason i'm here. yes, we all want to learn french, yes, we all like our host families, yes, tours is great, but we need a little break sometimes too — and especially with europe at our fingertips! i had a little confrontation with the bucknell professor-in-residence during which i explained that i would be happier if i had some "me" time every few weekends to travel with friends and family and i think, hope, pray that i got through to him. now trying to decide which class to take since the french university hasn't released exact schedules yet (classes start next week!) and i don't want to wind up stuck in a 4 p.m. friday class that prevents me from traveling. frustrating stuff.

anyway lousy breakfast of a slice of stale bread on my way out the door, overpriced lunch of excessive quantity of pasta with group for lunch, but yummy dinner of some sort of fish and broccoli for dinner. my host brother wouldn't eat his serving of broccoli because it reminds him of les arbres, to which his mother asked if the platter of broccoli reminded him of a forest. i think things that might not be so funny in my family or in english — like the dad trying to sneak bread and cheese even though he's on a diet and the mom swatting him away while the kids taunt him and tell him how good it is — are funnier in french. hoping for a better day tomorrow, warmer weather, less homework, better outlook...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

french words i learned/looked up today

alive: vivant(e)

to borrow: emprunter

to lend: prêter

to share: partager

snowflake: un flocon de neige

to wake up: se réveiller

(these may seem rather elementary but keep in mind i took a semester off from french and need a little reminder sometimes!)

sunday brunch and such

took a quick spin around tours today in the FREEZING cold and stopped at the bucknell apartment for more galettes des rois. had brunch at 12:30 which consisted of smoked salmon, a strange potato concoction, and the usual bread and cheese. dinner (circa 7:30) was shrimp, pasta, a seafood medley (which none of the kids, including me, were daring enough to try), the bread and cheese course, and yogurt for dessert (i opted out — yogurt freaks me out). skyped with mom, dad, and reilly and i would say it was nice to see them but their webcam makes them look like watercolors and occasionally even still-lifes. i start intensive language classes at the institut de touraine tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (high school all over again!) which i'm not particularly looking forward to. that said, can't wait to go to london in a couple weeks — and word has it lady gaga will be there in february so i might need to plan another visit as well!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

french words i learned/looked up today

blog: un blogue

blogger (female): une blogueuse

busy: fréquenté(e)

drums: la batterie

loud: bruyant(e)

speakers: les baffles, les enceintes

je suis arrivée!

i've settled into my host family's home in tours and things are going as well as they could be considering no sleep for twenty-four hours and the six-hour time difference. my family is very friendly (not at all your stereotypically rude french folks) and my living arrangements are small but comfortable. the rooms are kept very cold here so i'm anticipating a six-month cold unless i wear my hat, scarf, and gloves around the house.

the food has been decent so far; i'm not sure how to say "picky" in french so i've been good about trying everything even if it doesn't look very appetizing. last night we had salmon and rice followed by bread and weird-looking cheese followed by le roi des gallettes, a traditional french cake wherein a little trinket is buried and whichever person finds the trinket in his or her piece of cake is considered le roi or la reine (the king or queen) for the evening. last night it was my 15-year-old host brother, paul, who may or may not have cheated by very carefully selecting which piece he wanted to eat/rummage through. after sleeping for twelve hours (which my host mother informed me is pas grande chose because her twins can sleep until noon) i awoke to a very yummy chocolate croissant. we don't typically eat lunch (the biggest meal of the day) with our host families because we will usually be at the university but my host mom invited me to eat with her because the rest of the family left her for la chasse (to go hunting). she is the only one in the family who doesn't care for the sport and so she prepared us some scrambled eggs and some strange blended veggie concoction that she described as coming from a vegetable that is longue and verte (i'm thinking zucchini or cucumber?) anyway that wasn't my favorite but i'm being good about branching out of my comfort zone.

this morning she and i went for a walk so i could see where the language institute and the university are (as well as several other need-to-know spots, including h&m and zara, where apparently tous les jeunes shop). the streets are very busy because of les soldes, the post-holiday sales, and because all the shops are closed on sundays here. the business reminded me a lot of new york except the people were generally better-dressed and the buildings are prettier.

i'm off to meet the bucknell en france group at the jardin des prébendes so we can walk together to go buy cell phones. au revoir!
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