Thursday, September 30, 2010

Food et les repas

So my host mother cooks amazing food.  Nothing super exotic or complicated, but SO DELICIOUS.

My favorites so far have been:

Quiche with egg and cheese and ham
Baked salmon with some other kind of fish, a delicious creamy/buttery/I have no idea what sauce, and rice
Spaghetti Carbonara
Stuffed tomatoes
Salad made of avocado, tomatoes, and cucumber
Roasted Chicken with green beens and potatoes
Fromage blanc (like plain yoghurt only thicker and less sweet) with lots of sugar!

I can't even remember all the other dishes because It's all been so tasty!

Some of the delicious things I've eaten at restaurants have been:
Onion soup with cheese and bread in it
Filet of Féra (a fish that lives in lake Annecy) with butter, lemon, and parmesan risotto
Steak with a basil sauce and string fries (sounds simple but it was top-notch)
Fondue (I have no idea which cheeses they used but it was SUPER tasty)

Some of the foods that I miss more than life itself:
scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese
just plain cheddar cheese
toast with butter
drinking ice-cold skim milk
apples and peanut butter
Berryline frozen yogurt (original flavor)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Catch-up Post

Haven't written much lately, probably because everything has been super super crazy!  I've only been home usually between the hours of 8pm and 9am, and most of that is eating/sleeping.  But I'll recap the past few days with some highlights:

Montmartre:  We took a little morning trip to Montmartre, and it was beautiful. We wandered around back streets with very very very few people on them (which made me very happy) and visited Saint-Denis and Sacre Coeur.  I learned that Sacre Coeur has a program in which people sign up to pray there at different shifts, to ensure that prayer is happening there 24/7.  Its a very spiritual concept, I think, and it reminded me that Sacre Coeur is still a place of pilgrimage and very much still an important church in the Catholic faith.  I lit a candle there for my uncle Tony, who has Parkinsons, and it's nice to know that someone will be praying for him throughout the day and night.

Bach at Sainte-Chappelle: We saw a Bach concert at Sainte-Chappelle, made up of a string octet.  They played some pieces I've never heard before, and a couple that I recognized...What struck me the most was how amazing the acoustics of the building were.  When I closed my eyes it sounded as if I was listening to a classical music album- the musicians were so in tune with each other both rhythmically and tonally.  The enormous blue/purple/green stained-glass windows, or les vitraux, were only icing on the gateau.

Mouffetard: rue Mouffetard is like a mini Davis Square. It's quaint, has some fun bars/pubs, a few restaurants/markets and clothing stores.  Plus, it's full of students because it's so close to la Sorbonne.  We had a walking tour in that area and then went to 'l'happy' (aka happy hour, pronounced [lappy]) at a nearby pub.  I'm making a concerted effort to develop a taste for beer, as a pint is cheap and can last a long time.  I think sometimes all you really want is to have something to hold.  Like, something to sip and to occupy you, and maybe give you a little buzz.  That's why lately I've preferred having a pint to having a cocktail.

After Mouffetard, we decided to rendez-vous later for the Erasmus party at Mix Club.  It's basically a party for international students in that in between 11 and midnight, you don't have to pay a cover if you have an international student ID card.  My friend and I got some wine beforehand and moseyed over to the club, where we met up with friends, made new friends, and danced until 5:30am.  We took the first morning metro back, and it was the best/worst decision ever.  Definitely a one-time thing, but it was fun nonetheless to walk out of the metro station at 6am in heels, makeup, and chic party clothes (don't worry, mom...I mean jeans and a tank top...the french dress more conservatively when they go to clubs)

This brings us to TALLOIRES, aka the most beautiful place in the entire world.
It rained. It was beautiful.  It was sunny. It was beautiful. The mountains were green and lush and the air was crisp and the lake was clear and blue and beautiful and I couldn't handle how gorgeous it all was.  I think I'm going to have to make a whole new post about the food I ate there.  We didn't really do anything special but the food and the drinking definitely deserves its own post.

Currently, I'm bro-ing out french-style. Watching soccer and drinking beer with my host father, brother, a priest, and a Scotsman.  And there's a fire in the fireplace.  Maybe I haven't moved on to the 'confrontation' stage of culture shock after all...

a demain!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sortir, and Versailles

This post will cover two subjects: going out to bars at night, and a trip to Versailles.

         A couple of nights ago we (a few friends and I) went out to find a fun bar/club (boite de nuit).  We went to Saint Germain-de-Près, and followed directions to Rue Princesse, which apparently was a very happening place. We were right, for as soon as we turned on to the street we could see it was teeming with young (18-25ish) people, spilling out of the bars.  We went to a bar called The Frog and the Princess first.  It was super crowded, but fortunately was closing at 2 and as it was 12:45 when we arrived, the crowd started to thin out as the night wore on.  The 5 of us split a pitcher of beer and got a round of shots, and then we just watched people and conversed amongst ourselves.  Every once in a while a couple guys would approach us and talk to us, which was fun speaking in French (sometimes English).

         Then, once the bar closed, out on the street, we met a group of Canadian (?) men, and spoke a mixture of French and English with them. We were all being rather rowdy, and it was one of the Canadian's birthday's so we all cheered and clapped and laughed.  It was semi-flirtatious but so much fun!  A great way to practice French.

         THEN Saturday night was my host sister's soirée rallye and it was amazing! I brought along one of my friends in the program, and we danced up a storm!  There were so many people dancing, eating hors d'oeuvres, drinking champagne, but they were all younger than us (ages 14-18).  One of my host brother's friends kept trying to dance with us but we felt kinda sketchy doing so and thus maintained an appropriate distance between us and him (we didn't want to be cougars, haha).

        Today was a trip to Versailles, which I can honestly say I was not looking forward to.  Having visited the inside of Versailles twice, I find it incredibly boring.  Like Plymouth Plantation without the actors and more crowded and less interesting.  It's just rooms made to look fancy, with plaques in each room, and tourists jostling each other to look at all the fancy rooms.  Not my cup of tea.
        Fortunately, though, we never even went inside today!  We spent all day in the gardens, my favorite of which was the Jardin d'Anglais.  Anne-Sophie explained to me that the difference between les jardins français et les jardins d'anglais, is that the french gardens are more geometric and planned out with straight paths and perfectly manicured trees and hedges and flowers.  the English gardens are more 'organic' with trees planted hap-hazardly amongst winding paths and stony grottos.  I MUCH preferred the latter.  It just was more relaxing, like taking a stroll through the countryside in England as opposed to walking through a museum-garden.

       Tonight was my other host sister's 14th birthday, and I got her a gift card to a nice shoe store, because she is very interested in fashion and clothing, etc...She seemed to really like it, so I'm happy!  I also had an AMAZING dinner.  Baked salmon and some other fish, with an amazing amazing sauce. I have no idea what was in the sauce but it tasted like butter, cream, lemon, salt, and delicious. And rice on the side.  I don't think I've been that into a food dish in a while. It was just so tasty!

Ok I need to catch up on my sleep!

bonne nuit!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Les premiers jours

Alors.  It's been really busy these first few days, and I know I said I'd post pictures of Paris, but I haven't taken any yet...So here are pictures of my room!

My room viewed from the window.
I have a shower and sink en-suite!
My room viewed from my door.
 (Note: looks messy, but its not actually)

I like my room a lot (I like my room, alot...roarrrrr).  It's small but cozy, and I have a sink, shower, mini-fridge, and microwave.  Also it's high up (6th floor) so I can leave my window open and not worry about break-ins.  

Today we explored the Latin Quarter and Left Bank.  It was nice, but I don't remember much of the navigation...just some cool places we saw (i.e really old buildings/streets, etc..).  Some of the walls are so thick in the old buildings, and the (mini) streets SO narrow; our guide told us that it's basically what it was like au moyen-âge - in the middle ages.  

I also finally joined the blackberry club, as that is what my french phone is.  Too bad Sprint doesn't use SIM cards otherwise I could bring my phone home and use it in the States as well.  

These past few days, boy it's been a sensory-overload! A lot of it is just walking/exploring in between orientation sessions and French classes.  I still need to buy some things but haven't had the time yet.  At least Saturday is a free day so I can get some stuff done.  

It's late; so time for bed.  

Bonne nuit!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bonjour Paris!

I am finally (somewhat) settled in!  I have unpacked, figured out what I forgot (2 dresses, a skirt, and my sneakers), and interacted with my family.  I love them!  There are two daughters (14 and 16) and son, who will be 19 in November.  The parents gave me a tour of the neigbhorhood yesterday, which I thought was very nice of them to do.

My room is small-ish but delightfully cozy; I have a little shower/sink in my room, as well as a mini-fridge and a microwave!  Quelle chance!  I'll post pictures and write more later, but now I have to leave for my first orientation session.


Un grand post écrit on the airplane.

          I’m sitting here on the airplane, at least 4 hours into the flight, and I look up and the monitor says there is 4:54 remaining until we arrive...WHAT?!?! This is only supposed to be a 6h20 minute flight!!!  So I silently freak for a few minutes (more like 10 seconds) before I realize, wait a minute, thats the same amount of time left that there was two airline-tv shows ago!  So I turn on my computer, and it’s actually 11:30 pm, which means it’s 5:30am Paris time, and therefore I only have 2.5 hours left in this airplane...whew. That’s two Boston Legals and then descent!!  
         I also decided to turn this into a blog post because I have nothing better to do...the airline TV is crap and my seat is very uncomfortable.  The airline lady said that my seat (9E on a boeing 757 version 1) was ‘the best seat on the plane...window seat in an exit row’  but it turns out not only is there no window at all in this row, but the seat is a good 1.5 feet from the wall, so I can’t lean up against it.  Also as there are no seats in front of me, we have to store our carry-ons overhead, like 5 rows back.  Oh well, at least I have extra leg room!   Next time I fly this model of a plane, I’ll know to choose seats 10A or 10E.  That way I get leg room, AND a wall to lean against when I try to sleep.  
         Soul Sister and her partner came to see me off at the airport, it was so nice.  I gave her a present and also a present for her to give to Best Friend and a card for The Boy that he isn’t supposed to open until mid-semester cause it’s all time-specific and cool like that (‘by now it’s midterms, halloween just happened’, etc..).  Hopefully he waits cause it’s no fun to read those kinds of letters early.  Totally spoils the fun. If you’re reading this post, DON’T READ THE CARD UNTIL NOVEMBER 1ST OR ELSE! 
         I have no idea what my host mother/father/sisters look like, only my host brother cause we’re facebook friends (yup I creeped mega).  I wonder if he did the same thing I did, showed his parents ‘look mom and dad, it’s my host sibling!!’  ...I wonder if they know what I look like!  
         Saying goodbye to my family was really hard, I cried a little bit. Especially when saying goodbye to Sibling.  I got her a present as well, it’s one of the Willow Tree figurines (these beautifully carved figures that are each assigned an emotion/virtue/relationship and are very expressive despite having no face!), the one called “miss you”. It’s a small child holding a wire balloon that says ‘miss you’ in the middle and has a tilted head, one hand up to where it’s heart would be.  It’s sad but cute, exactly the body language you’d imagine.
        I got Best Friend a pair of the figurines, “sisters at heart” and they face each other and are posed as if they’re playing a clapping game.  Très mignonne!  
        Ugh I just want to fall asleep or get off this airplane.  But when I arrive in Paris I will have a whole day ahead of me!  No rest for the wicked, eh?  
         ALSO my a cappella group just got three new members!  Ryan, Angus, and Morgan.  I won’t get to meet them until next Fall, but I’m so happy that we have babies!  To be honest, some of the (used to be) seniors really needed to leave in order for rehearsals to run more smoothly, etc.  It was kind of funny/sad, it seemed like some of the used-to-be-seniors were dismayed when they realized that life in the group had gone on fine without them, that we still got along and had fun, that we didn’t fall apart when they left.  Talk about narcissism. But that’s ok, I know I have my own faults and in a group of 17/18 type-A performers, narcissism is the least of your worries.
         I miss many of my friends already, especially the experiences I have with them.  Going to Mr. Crepe with the Best Friend, long, drawn-out Dewick dinners with Soul Sister, watching Party Down with The Boy and cuddling, conspiring with Best Friend’s boyfriend to team up against her when we play quarters,  laughing at the Elderly Insane with Sibling...
         WAIT...the Elderly Insane, you say?  I don’t believe I have used this terminology before.  Let me explain, dearest readers.  The Elderly Insane are, quite simply, my parents.  My 61-year old mother works as an instructional aide in our local high school; my 66-year old father is a retired teacher who now works as a store clerk in our local general store.  They are elderly, and insane, but lovely people in actuality. 
Ok turbulance is minimal so I’m going to use this opportunity to pee.  

à bientôt, mes readers!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Last night at home.

It's sad.  Tomorrow night I will be on a plane and then in France.  This is crazy. What am I doing?  Was this a bad idea?  I know it's not but's superscary nonetheless.  If you're religious, please say a prayer for me.  If not, send some positive energy into the universe?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Un peu moins overwhelmed

          I have most of my stuff packed (and the rest of it sitting on my bed waiting to be put in a suitcase), so I'm feeling a wee bit less overwhelmed.  Also, I went up to Tufts last night to go to ZBT (a frat on campus that most of my guy friends are in) with my best friend for some Thursday-night Panama.  It was really awesome, seeing all my 'bros' (Ben, Greg, David, Craig, Dalton, Jessie, Evan, Jose, etc...) and having a return to the general Panama night silliness that I enjoyed every Thursday since my second semester of freshman year.

I need to create titles for people in my life to preserve anonymity.
So far we have Best Friend, who I met my first day of school, and is basically my partner-in-crime/sister-from-another-mister.  She and I really 'get' each other and have basically the same sense of humor, taste in food, likes/dislikes.
Then we have The Boy, who I met through rugby the beginning of freshman year, and gradually became my best friend/confidante/person-I-can-act-five-years-old-around.  He's creative, driven, (attractive), and I just love his company.
Finally there is Soul Sister, a girl who I sing a cappella with, and who I connect with very spiritually.  It's nice to have someone to talk to who is also very spiritual/religious (I'm Christian- United Church of Christ, and she's Muslim).  I always know if I'm facing a difficulty I can ask her to pray for me and she won't think I'm a weirdo, haha.
Sibling is my little sister, who is 4.5 years younger than me but we're always on the same page. Sometimes we fight (just because we know exactly how to push each other's buttons) but mostly we do that annoying sister thing where we communicate without words and just kind of know what each other is thinking by looking at each other.

So there's a bit of background, now you have an idea of who I'm talking about when I use those terms.

au revoir for now, mes amis!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Je n'aime pas this feeling

I'm starting to feel really overwhelmed and scared about the fact that I'm leaving so soon. And the worst part is that I can't even cry because my chest wall is so bruised that crying is super painful. Merde.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Packez votre stuff!

My sister turned me on to a site called packwhiz that generates packing lists for different types of trips, and it's customized.  You just fill out a checklist with criteria like 'international' 'hot weather' 'rural' 'bus travel' and it then creates a packing list tailored to your trip!  You can then personalize it further by adding or deleting items as you see fit, but it's definitely useful because it had items that I never would've thought to add, like 'a copy of your packing list lest you leave something behind on your return trip'.

bonne packing, mes amis!

Three jours before je départe!

Bonjour, readers!

Vous êtes compris des amis (friends) et famille (family), et peut être des randos!  I created this blog to chronicle my year in Paris, through the Tufts-in-Paris program.  Not much to write about so far, mostly preparations.

Today I said goodbye to lots of my friends.  It was tough, thinking that some of these people (friends who are seniors now) I might never see again, but reassuring to know that others (i.e my best friend who will join me in Paris for the Spring) will only be absent from my day-to-day life for a few months.

I've been fairly irritable today, or rather, my crying threshold is lowered, and to cope I've been anti-social, in the hopes that keeping interaction to a minimum will prevent my family from saying something that accidentally sets off the waterworks.  That and I keep repeating random things in my head whenever I do feel tears coming....watermelons, screwdrivers, pickles, ponies...watermelons, screwdrivers, pickles, ponies...

The next two days will be devoted to packing; if I have all my stuff packed by Thursday night I am going to go up to Tufts for one last night, hang out at Panama with my ZBT friends and the best friend, and also see the boy.