Monday, May 2, 2011

Ireland part 1

The main theme of this trip could be summarized in two words: nature and food.  For this reason, all mentions of the exceptional food and nature that we encountered will be italicized.  Because I feel like it.

I met my mom at Shannon and we got in our taxi to Doolin, the driver giving us little tidbits of information about all the gorgeous landscapes and interesting ruins that we passed during the one-hour ride.  Arriving in Doolin, we were just overcome with excitement and giddiness.  After settling in to our lovely B&B, we took a look at the menus of the local restaurants that were compiled for us in a very convenient little binder.  We made lists of all the meals that we wanted to try, so that we could maximize our food coverage.  
After creating our giant food list we set off for a hike/exploration around the village.  In three directions were huge green pastures and rolling hills dotted with cows, sheep, and horses, and the fourth direction yielded magnificent views of craggily cliffs leading to the ocean, with the waves crashing upon the shore.  
We walked about 3 or 4km  looking for this restaurant called “The Stonecutter’s Kitchen”, but alas we were unable to find it (we were to later find out that it was on the ‘high road’ that was a good 3 miles from our B&B).  So we walked back, enjoying the scenery all the way, and stopping in O’Connor’s pub for a pint of cider and some dinner.  First tasty dish of the trip: baked atlantic salmon with an herb sauce, mashed potatoes, and mashed butternut squash.  My mom had a St. Tola’s goat cheese tartlet (basically baked goat cheese over caramelized onions and marmalade on a tart shell) served over salad.  Naturally, we split our dishes half-and-half for an amazing first-night food experience, finishing off with homemade apple crumble with ice cream made from the milk of local cows.  We then went home and slept off our food comas.
We woke up and had our delicious breakfasts, cooked by the owner of the B&B, Martin.  My mom had a full irish breakfast, which is made up of fried eggs, sausages, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, and irish bacon.  I had the vegetarian omelette which was made up of tomatoes, mushrooms, shallots, and cheese, enveloped by a perfectly-cooked and fluffy omelette.
Next, we took a bus ride up to the Cliffs of Moher (or Mothair, in Irish).  We stepped out and immediately could tell we were in for a treat.  For a lunch-time snack we had a freshly baked scone with butter and blackcurrent jam, and then set off to the edge of the cliffs, only to be amazed by just how tall they were, and by how small the views made you feel as you looked off at the rows and rows of gargantuan cliffs as they disappeared into the fog.  We spent about an hour and a half at the cliffs, and then set off for the 9km walk back to Doolin, as the last bus had already left.  Along the way we saw an adorable older man white-washing his fence, who, upon seeing us, promptly crossed the road and introduced himself to us as ‘Gussy’, and chatted with us about our stay in Ireland. After a few more chats like this with various people we saw along the way, we came to the realization that Irish people, or at least the people of Doolin and Liscannor, are exceedingly friendly and open.  Every single person we passed stopped and said hi to us, and one elderly man even stopped his car to chat for a bit and offer us  a ride back down to Doolin.  
To break up the walk, we stopped at the Stonecutter’s Kitchen (whaddya know, we were on the high road!) for a tasty lunch of garlic bread and cheese, potato and leek soup, and fish and chips. One of my favorite parts of eating in Ireland was the irish soda bread that was served with every meal.  Yum! For dessert, my mom had banoffee pie (biscuit crust with caramel/toffee on it, topped with sliced banana and whipped cream), and I had lemon cheesecake, again with ice cream made from local cows.  
         After that we finished our walk home, and rested for a significant period of time before forcing ourselves out of bed and schlepping over to MacDermott's pub for dinner.  Mama and I both had a delicious vegetable soup with soda bread and butter, and Bulmer's pear cider for a drink. Nom nom nom.

To be continued...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Springtime Recap

Today is the first day of le printemps!  And it sunny and gorgeous out!

Emily has been here this weekend which was so awesome, and today we're going to meet some other Alpha Phis who are visiting Paris this week!

This past weekend was kinda crazy- Thursday was the Taylor Swift concert and then St. Patty's celebration; I made a bunch of new friends and had such a fantastic night.  Friday I made more new friends and cooked delicious dinner with my friend Lauren.  Saturday was when Emily arrived, and I took her to a party with some guys from a local rugby club, which was really fun but I was kind of an idiot that night and just generally failed at being normal...probbbbably didn't make too many new friends Saturday

Oh well, past is the past and this weekend is Prague with Anna, Brinkley, and Lauren!  If I can just get this Vietnam War dissertation  out of the way...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gorgeous Hymn

Sung to the tune "Finlandia"

This is my song, oh God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine
My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
This is my song, thou God of all the nations;
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Best breakfast ever!

So this morning, my family didn't have any cereal (my go-to breakfast), so I improvised.  Ended up eating:
a kiwi, wholegrain toast with butter, whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana, and orange juice.  I've decided that it's the best breakfast ever, second only to scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese on rye toast with bacon.  All of which I miss incredibly. Rye bread is very hard to find, here, sadly.

Monday, February 21, 2011

All I want is le printemps...

It's grey and icky out.  And it's been this way for ages, except for two weeks ago when it was sunny and in the mid-fifties.  All I want is for it to be like that again.

In other news, the semester is picking up! I have my first assignment due this Thursday, and after that a steady stream of essays to write; none of them are looking to be incredibly incredibly difficult though, just tedious.

My friend Colleen is visiting the first weekend in March, the next weekend my Best Friend's boyfriend (who is also one of my good friends) is coming to visit for 2 weeks, the following weekend my little sister (in Alpha Phi), Emily, is coming to visit for a weekend, and the weekend after that I am going to Prague to visit some Tufts friends with Best Friend and her boyfriend.  April 8-15th I'll be in Italy with Best Friend and two other new friends I made while here, the 17th-21st I'll be in Ireland with my Mom, and then the 21st/22nd my actual little sister will be in Paris and I'm SUPER excited about that, cause she's going to get to come have dinner with me and my host fam.

Oh and I'm seeing a Taylor Swift concert in March, which I am also vair vair excited about, cause I've been listening to her new album a lot and it's fantastic.

Here are some recent photos:
This is from a Where's Waldo-style children's book...the translation of her name is "Mireille Big-Eyes"...As you can see,
the French have never really been into the whole politically-correct thing. 

The poster for "No Strings Attached".  Often, American film titles are translated into other English things, that they seem to think the French will understand.  Naturally, "No Strings Attached" was translated into "Sex Friends".  This brings to mind a conversation I had with a French person, not too long ago.  He was asking me if I wanted to get a drink sometime and I figured why not.  He then asked me what I expected of him, just so that things were clear.  Here is an excerpt from the conversation, translated into English:
Me: Well to be honest I'm only looking for friendship.  I don't want to start anything right now.
Him: Oh, so just a hookup.  Sex friends!  (He actually said "sex friends")
Me: Noooo, not sex friends.  Friends.  Nothing sexual. Just friendship.
Him: I have an apartment
Me: I don't care
Him: but you're so pretty!
Me: Thank you, but that doesn't change anything.

That was the end of our conversation. Now, I'm not posting this exchange in an attempt to brag, just to show how ridiculous French males can be.  They have to be persistent because French women are very stand-offish when it comes to romance.

I <3 it

So much meat, but not a grill to be seen...

"Si tu vois un Eskimo, tu finis en beauté, si tu vois un Indien d'Amerique, c'est raté" ...A translation wouldn't  do it justice, but suffice to say it's another example of the French not caring about being offensive/politically correct. 

This is for Amelia. I hope she reads this post. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011


If any of you readers would like a postcard, email me ( your address (or post it in a comment) and I'll send you one!

Also, if anyone feels like sending me snail mail, here's my address:

Amy Norton
Tour CIT b. 1024
3, rue de l'Arrivée
Paris 75749
Cedex 15

Semestre 1 est fini! Semestre 2 a commencé!

YAYY I'M DONE WITH FIRST SEMESTER!  Funnily enough, my classes for the second semester at Paris I started the day before I finished my first semester at Institut Catholic de Paris.  So tonight, Thursday the 27th of January, is the first day since classes started in September that I haven't had an assignment hanging over my head. Hallelujah.  And let the (2nd semester) games begin...

Here are some things I've been thinking about recently:

           French gyms suck. As does the work-out culture here.  The male clientele fits into 2 categories: crazy muscle men wearing tiny little spandex shorts/shirts and shoulder-length hair (sometimes earrings)...think Fabio meets the Village People, and scrawny men with no muscle whatsoever, who sit around and pretend to work out when they're really just DOING NOTHING.  I used the assisted pull-ups/dips machine after one guy who was about my size (aka skinny about 5'9"), and he had it set to a full 20lbs more weight than me!  In other words, he needed 20lbs more of assistance to do a pull-up.  It made me feel very strong.

The women at the gyms are a bit more diverse; it ranges from the women who do nothing but sit around and text on the machines or stroll (yes, stroll) on the treadmills, to women who are doing the basic cardio to keep their French physique from getting too grosse, to women who are actually breaking a sweat, lifting weights, and adding extra resistance bands in the abdos/fessiers classes.

Also, what bugs me, is that only about half of the gyms have free-weights.  WTF.  Free-weights are so essential!  Machines just don't cut it, and I'm too lazy to go into why, but this website has gone to the trouble for me.  Fortunately, one of the Club Med branches that has free-weights is near one of the universities that I go to, so I can just go to that one when I'm on a lifting day, and do my cardio at the gym closer to where I live.

Here's what I'm taking this semester, so far:

Histoire des Sciences- Paris I (Sorbonne)
        This class is a history class, but focused on the scientific world.  So how different scientific schools of thought/events affected, and were affected by, other things in the world.  It's quite literally the history of science.
Histoire des États-Unis de 1896 à nos jours- Institut Catholic de Paris
        Pretty self-explanatory.  Sounds like a cop-out, and maybe it is a little, but I'm honestly interested in that period of American history and I think I'll enjoy the class itself.
Littérature et Société Française- Tufts
        This is French 32, a required class for my major.  Your basic French lit.
Poésie et Contes Fantastiques du XIX siècle- Paris III (Sorbonne)
        More interesting French lit, focusing on poetry and the fantastic (as a genre).  Also focused on the 19th century, which to me is preferable to older French lit which I find denser and less interesting.  Awk.

So that's a look at life right now.  Here are some pictures, as well.

Some girl actually wearing Moon Boots on the metro. It wasn't even precipitating.   MOON BOOTS...really?

What would you find in a Darty Box? Sunshine, beer, music, grilled meat?  And what am I gonna have to do for the initiation...

Random American book series in a French book store...hmm

Gustave, one of the kids I babysit. Used to be the squishiest baby ever when I started (and he was 11 months).  Now he's 15 months and getting less sad

The beginning of the snowpocalypse that has plagued New England.  It figures, the one winter I'm gone in a country where 2 inches of snow is a 'dumping', my home state gets the most snow they've ever had in a month.  I just wanna sled...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bienvenue, 2011!

So it's a new year but not quite a new semester.  This coming week is my last week of Tufts classes, and the following week is my last week of classes at le Catho.  And then Tufts classes start the week after THAT, and my cours externes start the first and second week of February (for le Catho and Paris I/III, respectively).

So I don't have a week of complete break, but I come pretty damn close the last week of January.

Best Friend is here, now, for the semester, which is super super awesome!  The day she arrived I went to her apartment and it was like no time had passed. I spent the night and then the following day helped her and her mom shop for/carry apartment items and groceries at the giant centre commerciale Parly 2.  We left around 1pm, returned at about 9:45pm, cooked dinner, and then Best Friend and I went out to some bars/clubs.  I spent the night at her apartment again, and finally left on Sunday to have lunch with another friend and babysit (which is a whole other story...gotta love when a baby poops while you're in the middle of changing its diaper.  Poop was everywhere.  Up the kids back, on his shirt, on the towel, on the changing table, on me, on his hands, etc)

Another close friend of mine and Best Friend (whom we shall call Best Friend's Roommate or BFR) arrives tomorrow morning.  She is super awesome and was BFR for freshman and sophomore year.  She'll be living in an other banlieu completely across paris from me, so chances are we will converge at Best Friend's apartment very often to save the trek.  Tomorrow we'll be having dinner all together, which will be super awesome as the three of us haven't hung out for an extended period of time since this past spring!

Posts might will be sparse in the next 2 weeks as I finish reading/writing assignments before the end of term, but I'll try to post more as soon as I have time/something to post about.  Maybe I'll write a post when I figure out what classes I'm taking for the spring semester...So far I'm looking at another Tufts lit class, a lit class at Paris III, a History of Science class at Paris I, and then I'll need one more class to fill the 4th spot.