un aide-mémoire

My Life in France...Beyond Julia Child style

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Last Thursday I took a trip to Nantes- the biggest city in the region just 45 minutes north of La Roche.  It was beautiful!  It’s a young town, filled with a unique melange of old and new.  Leah, a new friend, and I discovered organic beer in a cement bar, found the most delicious chocolate and toured a Chateau where people can casually picnic.  

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This video is of Camilla Sparksss- her show was described as “a physical experience” since she performs with dancers. Her music was also compared to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It’… if it was sung by a shark.  

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I’m Baaaaaaaccckkk!

Due to popular demand, my first blog is back! Actually, it’s more due to the fact that I don’t regularly have wifi on my phone and it seems kinda impossible to keep everyone updated all the time.  I take it as a sign of being loved :) So thank you.

Anyway, I’m in La Roche Sur Yon! It’s a town about the size of Chapel Hill, or any mid-size university town.  I am currently typing this while watching Bones (the only English I’ve heard here) and staring outside my window while thunder rolls outside (cue Garth Brooks).  This place is a lot smaller than Montpellier, but it’s adorable.  There are small parks everywhere and a town square with these cute electronic animals.  For example, you can control this hippo in a lake to shoot water at people passing by. I kind of love it already.

So far, I’ve been trying to set up life here and get familiar with the area.  I’ve checked out local watering holes with a girl who has taken me under her wing; I’ve eaten paella from the local market that apparently has one of the highest quality ratings in the region; I’ve enjoyed time at a cafe while typing away on my computer.  It’s all pretty surreal.  Life will pick up once works starts, but for right now je peux reposer. 

A bientot!

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Back in America

I am no longer in Montpellier, France. A;LKDJFALKDJFLKAJDFLKAJDSLKFJALKF. I’m only freaking out a bit. Actually, I’m doing pretty swell right now.  I’m so excited to be with friends and family that it’s not too heartbreaking.  The only weird thing is having English ALL AROUND ME.  

Highlights from my last, but oh-so-perfect week in la France:

1. Haribo Factory tour with Lorene and Marie Ann.  Came home with literally 10 1bs. of candy. Yummmmmm.

2. Beach. I have the horrible sunburn lines to prove that I spent the majority of two beautiful days on the beaches of the Mediterranean.  It was 75 degrees with a slight breeze and 0, I say 0, humidity.  Love.

3. Dinner with my host fam.  We went to a nice restaurant par la plage and I ate traditional French dishes: fois gras w/ bread, sweetbread (look it up) and kidney in a mushroom sauce.  Didn’t really know what I was eating till I looked it up later, but it was delicious.  Ignorance is bliss.

The rest of the time was spent packing, making a final round of all my favorite spots in the centre and hanging out with my host family.  I just want to say thank you so much to everyone who supported me this semester and kept me in their thoughts and prayers.  I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.  If anyone ever travels to the south of France, hit me up and I’ll let you know about some d-a-n-k places to visit.  

Gros Bisous! 

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An American in Paris

This is a piece created by George Gershwin that describes his experience in Paris as an American tourist.  You’ve probably heard it before in classic films.  Part one is supposed to invoke the feeling of driving through the city’s chaotic streets and part two is a pleasant stroll through the Jardin du Luxembourg.  It ends in a joyous and even triumphant finale.  

I went to a concert at the Corum, a performance hall in Montpellier, last night and this was the final piece played.  I have to say that if I had heard of it before, I would have said it was the perfect theme song for my trip to Paris.  You may not be in Paris, but through this song you can get a bit closer.  Enjoy!

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One week left

BAHHHHHH ONE WEEK LEFT!!!!! Not sure how I’m handling it.  Pretty sure I’ve decided to go down that short-but-sweet road of denial.  Despite the fact that the countdown clock has officially begun, I am super looking forward to this week.  Exams are finally DONE so I have 7 days of doing nothing, or everything.  The weather is finally nice (70 degrees, sunny and ZERO humidity) so I’m thinking beach, beach and peut- être more beach.  Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m going to the Haribo candy factory tomorrow with my host family and then later on I’m going to cook them an “American meal”: meatloaf, mashed potatoes and s’mores.  Marie Ann found real, American marshmallows, so we couldn’t past the opportunity up.  Should be interesting considering the fact I usually mix up the sugar and flour anyways, let alone the fact that I have to use the metric system.

In other news, today is a big day in France cause it’s the presidential elections.  Who will win? Holland? Sarkozy? The world will know in about 8 more hours. The way that voting goes down here in France is plus simple than aux Etats-Unis.  

Step 1: All the participating parties send their posters, platform info and voting card in an envelope to every house.

Step 2: Voters go to their local voting station (a 2 minute walk from our house).

Step 3: Voters pick up a blue envelope and step into a private voting booth to slip their voting card into the envelope.

Step 4: Voters put their envelope into a box, present their registration, sign the electoral register and c’est fini!  Très simple, non?

Should be interesting to see what happens! 

Mk well I’ve got to get back to relaxing in the South of France :p Look for one last post from me before je rentre chez moi!

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Final Stop

Aaaaannnnddd my last stop was Barcelona to see my friend Rena.  Did I really explore the city? Naw. Did I totally embrace the Spanish lifestyle for 3 days? Oh yes.  Rena was a gem and played tour guide, showing me all her favorite spots and the iconic sites of Barcelona.  Other than that we mostly picnicked in some grand parks, soaking up the long-awaited rays of sun.  It was finally 70 and sunny in Europe and I have the awkward tan lines to prove it.

My favorite parts? I’m so glad you all asked! Hmmmm, welllllll there was…

1. La Sagrada Familia by Gaudi.  It’s this huuuuge church and Barcelona’s most famous work.  It’s been under construction since 1882 and isn’t projected to be finished for another 50 years.  I can’t even really explain it, but I’ll post pictures.  Google it. And then go to Barcelona. Worth. It.

2. La Plaza Espana.  This is the area where a bunch of construction was done for the 1992 Olympics, so everything is beautiful of course.  At twilight Rena and I watched a water/light show that was to a Disney mash.  Nothing is more epic than watching the sunset over the hills of Barcelona while hearing “Circle of Life” blasting from speakers. 

3. The Barco v. Madrid game.  I just happened to be there for the only other rivalry I have found that can be compared to UNC and dook.  We went to a bar and witnessed the intense passion that Spaniards put into futbol.  Crrraaaazzzy. And the Spanish beer wasn’t too bad either.  

So yes. There is my spring break. My last three weeks in France (!!!) will be spent living “la vie quotidienne”, taking my exams and enjoying being with my host family.