My Life in PARIS!!!

Friday, September 01, 2006

3 Days left in Paris!!! Crazy huh?! I can't wait until I don't have to pay almost 5 bucks every time I want to use the internet for only an hour. Yesterday Mom and I went to Musee D'Orsay and today to the Castle of Versailles. Both extremely impressive. My time is about up on-line so this is going to be a very short message....but the plan is tomorrow -Monet's gardens at Giverny and then Sunday Mass at Notre Dame and then the Louvre museum. Yes, I saved so many of the overwhelming museums and sightseeing until the end, and it makes for some very tiring days. I'm so excited to come home and see everyone! HOpe you are all doing well!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

FAMILY! :)

I haven't been able to use the internet at all. Since the fam got here, we have been running around sightseeing non-stop. So this entry will be really short, but at least you'll know where all we have visited. The family arrived in Paris on Sunday and it was sooooooooo great to see them all. My parents and Adam and his girlfriend, Kristine. I know, in the most romantic city of the world with two couples....Yes, I'm kind of a 5th wheel...haha just kidding. I took them to all my favorite places and acted as their tour guide. :) Then we went to the NEtherlands- to Amsterdam and then to Volendam. We checked out the windmills and the wooden shoes there, it was awesome. My favorite thing from Amsterdam was the Anne Frank house. I will write more about it later, but it was such a powerful experience. I will never forget it. Today we are in Prague- we arrived here on Friday. Unfortunately the taxi drivers ripped us off big time on our 5 minute ride from the train station to our hotel so it wasn't the most pleasant start. We took an overnight train from Amsterdam and yes, it was very long. Tonight we leave for Stuttgart, Germany. We plan to be there for a couple days and then back to Paris. I just realized today that I come back a day earlier than I thought (the 5th not the 6th) . I have had such a great time, but I know that I'm going to be ready. It's only a week and a half away! I can't wait to see everyone when I get home and catch up with you all! :)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Beach!

"Pardon, Pardon!" This is what we shouted as we ran off the metro with extremely heavy backpacks on and our hands full as we tried to dodge all those in front of us. We sprinted up and down stairs, from the metro station to the train station, then up the escalator to the info desk and then to our train, all the while knowing that our train was supposed to LEAVE in 5 minutes or less. Long story short, we made it on the train...with sweat dripping down our faces, our stomach aching and our hearts racing...but if we hadn't been running, we wouldn't have made it. It's just kind of how Monday went for us. IT started when we both slept through the alarm and woke up an hour later than planned, then we spent 8 euros on pastries to take to the cafe that we go to every morning b/c it was our last day and we wanted to say thank you and goodbye and then...the cafe was closed...yea...so we had a huge box of pastries and we didn't even get to say goodbye! It was a bummer b/c we became friends with all the servers there and also the other regulars that came every morning. Oh well, maybe when I'm back in Paris, I can stop by again. So the train ride was about 5 hours and we were going to a city called Biarritz. It's right next to the Spanish border along the coast of France. We ended up getting off one station too soon at Bayrone, Biarritz. To cut the story a bit short, we had some complications with the hostel we were planning on staying at and we ended up camping out with some of our french friends we met in Paris b/c they were vacationing just a half hour north of where we were. They basically saved the day (and night). Thank goodness we had cell phones and they had cars and could come pick us up. Everything worked out and it was really fun to go camping here in France b/c we've been in an apartment the whole time. So yesterday we went to the beach and relaxed in the sun and went surfing. I guess that the Southwest region of France is known for its surfing so it's really exciting to be here and try it. The waves weren't too big but it was nice b/c it was only my second time ever surfing. The water here is actually really warm and also very clear and the beaches are nice and sandy. It is so nice to see the water again; I have missed it so much. The Seine river in Paris is beautiful but it just isn't the same as the coast. It reminds me of California here (so yea, of course I love it). It isn't a big touristy city so we haven't seen or met many Americans. It's more of a place where the French vacation at. Last night was a holiday (Ascension), so we watched a fireworks show on the beach. It was so beautiful! No Mozart playing this time, but there were two shows going on at the same time and we were right in the middle of it and we had a perfect spot on the beach. My favorite fireworks were the ones that went off in the water. Today we spent awhile on the beach and we're feeling a little zapped by the sun. Our french buds that we went camping with hooked us up with a place to stay for the next few days for a really good deal, so we are very very thankful for them. We stay here til Friday evening and then we're headed back to Paris. The fam comes in on Sunday morning!!! :)

Oh yeah and Monday was my last day of class and I got my certificate and everything. I got my last test back and I did sooo much better than the first one, I was really excited. Out of 60 points, I scored 10 pionts higher than last time, so I improved greatly. It even said "Bien" at the top!!! :) It's really nice to be done with class now though.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wow, well I thought that when the time came, I would be ready to leave Paris...well, now it doesn' t appear that way. Erica and I are heading to the Soutwest part of France next Tues. to get a little sun and relax on the beaches. It will be wonderful, but there's a part of me that REALLY doesn't want to leave Paris...and it's going to be difficult. The fam is coming on Sunday- not this weekend, but next. I'm really excited to see you guys!!! My last day of class is on Monday and then we have to be out of our apartments on Tues. This month has been very different than last. August is the month that most Parisians take their vacation and many of the shops are closed. La Boulangerie that we went to every morning to get our croissant or pain au chocolat is now closed as well. Our cafe is still open though and we still get our cafe au lait each morning. That is one of the things that I am going to miss the most b/c of the thoughts I've pondered there, the insights I've gained, the people I've met, the French I've practiced, the chats Erica and I have had there, the stories we've shared, the laughs we've had... :(
There's many more tourists here this month and the city seems to have quite a different feel to it. Seeing cameras flash constantly, hearing English again...it's just not quite the same. I feel like there's still a lot that we haven't seen, but sightseeing is so exhausting. Erica and I watched a beautiful sunset in the Tuilleries gardens while sippin on some really good Champagne. We're trying to really live it up these last few days. Thank goodness my plane leaves from Paris in September so I'll be able to come back and say goodbye one more time.

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer!!! I miss you all very much!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

So most of my blog entries have been more like an itinerary of what I’ve been doing and what sights I’ve seen, but I haven’t written very much about my thoughts and reflections of the experiences…I’ve just been writing all that stuff in my journal, but I thought that I might share some of it with you all.

I feel like when I return home to all that is familiar, I won’t possibly be able to explain this experience to someone. There’s so many stories every day, and so many thoughts every day. It’s almost like a really long retreat- not quite as spiritually refreshing, but similar to some degree- just different. It’s similar b/c it gives me time to basically think about life and makes me reflect on who I am, who I want to be, what I want to do with my life, what goals I want to make for when I return home, how I can better myself… It’s awesome how an amazing experience such as this can change your view of life (at least to some extent) and really open your eyes to the world. I really hope that some of the aspirations I’ve acquired while I’m here don’t dwindle away when I get back home. One of the most challenging parts to an experience such as this is to actually let it change you- to grow and to go home without losing or forgetting the growth you have gained.

It’s almost like my life at home in the states is on hold but for all of you it’s still going on and I feel totally lost like I don’t know what has happened with all of you! You guys get updates of me, but I don’t get many of all of you. When I return home some things will have changed. I can’t imagine if I spent a whole year abroad…I’ve only been gone for a little over a month! I’m sitting here at the café I always come to in the morning but it’s later in the day, and this time I’m sipping on an “espresso” not a “café au lait”. An espresso here is a straight espresso shot, and it’s really popular for people to order. It’s really strong and quite bitter but now I understand why they think our coffee is so watered down in the States. I had to add some sugar. I definitely prefer my café au lait or cappuccino, but this is less expensive.

I’ve been a bit overwhelmed about all that I still want to see because I’ve put off going to so many of the museums and other touristy sites, because I had so much time, but now…well I’m only here for another week and a half (a little more depending how long the fam wants to stay in Paris). I have had such a great time meeting people and the small little interactions and conversations are what I will remember the most. But of course, there are some must-see places.

My French has improved a lot. It has been pretty gradual so it isn’t as noticeable to me but when I think of where my French was when I first arrived and where it is now, I guess I’ve come quite a ways. Today I talked with some French kids and it was cool b/c we were able to understand each other and they probably didn’t know I was American– and if the did, I think they were too young to know many of the stereotypes and opinions of Americans anyway, but it was refreshing to chat with kids. Being away from home and from all of you would be so hard for a whole year but I really feel as though I could become almost fluent if I stayed all year. I finally had a dream in French the other night! I have heard a lot of my friends talk about having dreams where they were speaking in French and I never had one until the other night. I think it’s because I have been trying to think in French all day long, even more now than I was before- I’m trying to journal my thoughts in French (it’s really hard and takes a long time but it’s good practice). Unfortunately I wasn’t fluent in my dream, but maybe next time…

I can’t believe that I only have a week and a half left of class!! I have been enjoying it a little more because I’m getting to know the other students better, but I will still be very glad to be done. I think I mentioned this before but I wish it was more conversation-based b/c the days when we do get to chat more w/ other students, I improve significantly more and it is so encouraging. It really boosts my confidence and therefore, helps me speak in French the rest of the day. The days when my prof just lectures all day- those aren’t as fun or as helpful. Yesterday our prof paired us up (she never lets two students w/ the same nationality work together) – and I was with a Japanese student named Yaoko. She was really sweet and after we finished what the prof instructed us, we just kept talking in French and getting to know each other. It was so cool. I wish we had the opportunity to do that more. After I left class yesterday I ended up talking with another French person for quite awhile and I was proud of how long I could talk with them for. But days like today- my prof lectured about really complicated grammatical stuff- she was explaining lots of verbs that almost mean the same thing (like come, go, enter, go out, come back, return, reenter, exit, leave…) some can be interchangeable, and others can’t. Then if you want to say the same thing in past tense it’s a whole different story! And of course there are exceptions to everything!!! Man, it exhausts my brain to even think about it- I’m not looking forward to tonight’s homework assignment.

It’s really neat to see and experience the unity in the classroom because there is so much diversity and yet we are all at about the same level with learning and speaking the French language. Except the Spanish kids pick it up so fast and seem to comprehend better because their language is similar to French. I’m a little jealous. We are all able to communicate and bond together. Pretty much everyone can speak English and they all have said that learning English was soooooooo much easier than French. It’s funny to see all the different dictionaries for the different languages.

Oh yea and I also wanted to explain some of my spelling errors…haha. It’s really difficult to constantly switch back and forth between French and English because there are many words that are spelled and pronounced so similar but maybe only one or two letters different (like apartment – appartement, or chocolate- chocolat, return- retourn) so in many cases they both look correct to me. Especially now since I’ve been trying to write and journal more in French. Then when I really think about it or I catch it, I feel silly- like I’m back in 1st grade or something. When I type in Word and copy and paste my entries I can usually catch most of them, but sometimes I type straight onto my blog. So anyway…just had to explain that. ;)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Well, last weekend I went to London to visit Dusty. It was so much fun. I had never been there before so I was really excited. We did a little sightseeing like the British Art Museum and the Sherlock Holmes museum, but honestly as much as I like to see those things, I'm learning that you can't really get a true feel for a city unless you do the not-so-touristy things. It was kinda weird b/c it was almost like a reverse culture shock to be back in an English speaking country; it kind of through me off. I kept speaking in French by habit especially little things like "pardon" "merci" "s'il vous plait" (the general please, thank you etc). Also when I would be about to order anything at a restaurant or talk to anyone, my mind was still constantly thinking in French and I was preparing how to ask or say what I was thinking. The weather was much nicer in London and the city is much cleaner than Paris. The metro stations in Paris are disgusting- the smells, the random things on the wall and ceiling...But, I'm not gonna lie, the food isn't as good in London. The french cuisine truly is how they say- SOOOOO GOOD!! We had a really good time going out dancing on Friday night. I met a bunch of Dusty's friends and they were all really fun. I went to a place called the Kew Gardens on Sunday and that was beautiful.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Beautiful view (Loire Valley)

My favorite Chateau

Hangin out with Dusty and Luke at the Eiffel Tower

One of the Loire Valley Chateaus


Chartres

Chillin along the Seine river