- Pierre Bost, someone who really understands my love of napping, in Monsieur Ladmiral Va Bientôt Mourir.
- Pierre Bost, someone who really understands my love of napping, in Monsieur Ladmiral Va Bientôt Mourir.
Well, I haven’t done this in quite sometime. Since I last wrote, I finished my first semester, said goodbye to LC kids, Malcolm visited, the Schaums visited, and I spent the holidays in France.
Finals went pretty well, I don’t really want to write about them, because they were just tests and pretty boring. Plus, I still have a paper to write for my program, so thinking about school makes me stressed.
So, I’ll start with Malcolm’s visit. Seeing that nearly-falling-apart green jacket with the mountain patch on the back from afar in the train station was one of the highlights of being abroad. We were so happy, and we stayed so happy for the whole trip. I showed him my new little French life. We ate tartes and baguettes and saw the most perfect snowflakes. We cooked for, we were cooked for, and ate with all the people I love in Strasbourg. After a week and a half of being giggly in Strasbourg, we took off to Paris to be happy with our friends. And yes, Paris is really as romantic as they say it is when you have limited time with a really great person and you take a short weekend trip to Paris- it’s perfect. In Paris, we got rained on, ate crepes and falafel, drank wine in a fancy apartment, slept in a tiny apartment, walked along the river, went to a funny bar, and Malcolm got sick. But, it was still so good. Here are a few pictures from our time together!
The day Malcolm left, my family arrived! So much sad and so much happy in the same two hours! It was such a weird feeling saying goodbye to Malcolm on the train platform; saying goodbye to him for six months, but knowing my family who I hadn’t seen in months was waiting behind me, ready to have fun. Once we got settled into our new home for two weeks, the ham/baguette/apple tart eating, coke drinking, and bananagram playing began! It was the perfect balance between relaxing/doing, schaum bonding/schaum-witko bonding. It was so great to spend Christmas with all the Witkowskis-a first ever! Plus there was a surprise visit from Santa! We’re such a good little family, and saying goodbye to the my Schaums was hard, of course, but it didn’t really hit me ‘til that night when I thought, “OH NO, I’M ALONE.” I had a minor freak-out, but then I re-adjusted, and am so happy that I got to spend a whole month with Malcolm or my family by my side non-stop.
Some Schaum Stras photos:
So that brings me to now. Like I said, the first couple days after my family left was hard, and I was sick and just wanted my mom. Then I adjusted and started getting out of the apartment at Sue’s. I went to a party with Kelly on New Year’s Eve: human interaction is a good thing! I had a lot of fun, and it was really awesome to meet Kelly’s friends. I even got to dress like a ballerina.
Currently, I’m procrastinating writing an essay for my final project by blogging and planning a Central Europe Trip! Vienna-Prague-Krakow here I come in February (hopefully!). Why yes, I am choosing the coldest places to go in February.
First, I must start with HAPPY BIRTHDAY KILEY. Today is my sister’s 25th birthday, and I wish I could spend it with her so badly. Luckily, Sam is visiting her, and he’s almost as annoying as me, so he will be a decent replacement.
I haven’t blogged anything in quite some time, since my last entry, I’ve gone to Amsterdam and returned to my normal Strasbourg life. Amsterdam was awesome, such a beautiful city, and I was visiting such a beautiful friend, so beauty all around. I was still a bit sick and totally broke, but despite those things, it was a great trip; lots of roaming around the city, silly conversations, nostalgia, good food, art, learning how to ride with two people on one bike… Here’s a few pictures!
Above Lili is pictured with Elvis the cat, a very nice cat, at the cutest little café. There I had the best apple pie EVER. (Note: I know my mom’s apple pie is actually the best, but I’ve never tried it because I used to not like pie. This apple pie was the best that I have ever tried, I know my mom’s will soon take that role.) If you’re ever in Amsterdam, you gotta stop by and taste this delicious pie, I wish I remembered the name of the cafe…
Since Amsterdam, I’ve been living pretty mellow. Still feeding stray cats and tutoring a 12 year old boy in English. Yesterday, as all of you know, was Thanksgiving. It was such a weird feeling to hardly even acknowledge the holiday. I skyped into the family dinner, and boy, was it strange and made me pretty homesick. But, alas, my family will be here in a month! Though it wasn’t my typical Thanksgiving, I had a really nice one. I finally have money again! WOO toothpaste! (So many problems with Bank of America, I could write a whole post about just that, but that might get ugly) I went shopping. Then, I went to an art opening with my host mom; there is this huge art show in Strasbourg every year where galleries from all over Europe come and show off. We saw a lot of interesting art and drank good champagne. Dinner at a restaurant followed, the pizza was good, but the dessert was AWESOME. I ordered Fruits Melba: ice cream, tons of fruit, berry sauce, a massive amount of whipped cream, topped with cinnamon. I wanted to take a picture to show the Schaum’s because it was just so Annie, but I was too embarrassed.
It’s a really weird time here right now. Everyone from LC, except Ben and me, and leaving in just under a month, so their mindset is changing. Meanwhile, I’m only a third of the way done with my program. It’s makes me both homesick and stoked that I am here for the year at the same time and nothing in between. Being abroad is lots of emotions.
As far my French goes, I understand really well now, but I am still having a lot of trouble talking. My host mom was telling me that I need to talk more which I know, but I’m already shy enough in English! I don’t feel too discouraged though, talking is bound to follow comprehension at some point.
MALCOLM COMES IN A WEEK AND A HALF. I can’t wait! We’re going to Brussels, drink spiced wine, eat tartes, and everything good.
Time to get back to laziness and my book.
It’s about time I wrote a line or two.
First, how can I not say a little something about the elections! This morning, I went to a breakfast for Americans in Alsace. When we got there, it was already clear that Obama was the winner, so we were already in good spirits when we got there. The concession and acceptance speech were both projected on to giant screens. It was really incredible, it was the first time since living abroad that I really missed the USA, as a country. I always miss my people there, but hadn’t yet missed the country as a whole. But man oh man, Obama’s speech really got me, and I really wanted to be at home to feel that electric energy after an election, positive or negative, I really wanted to be in the middle of it. But at the same time, it was really awesome celebrating the US somewhere so far away, to feel the solidarity of a country outside of itself.
Something really amazing that I think this election showed up quite clearly is that the USA is changing into a country built for all of it’s people, not just privileged white men. We’re not close to there yet, but all the victories of women today, the Latino vote, and the new states that legalized gay marriage show that we’re getting there. It’s so easy to be cynical and callused, because there is still so many things to be cynical about, and it can be so hard to see the slow progress through the problems. Today, clear progress was made, and I feel so happy and hopeful. Obama and everyone newly elected might not be perfect, and I’m sure would criticize them to the ground, but it really seems that the American people are so much better represented than years past. Which is the point..kind of..
Enough of that…
On to my travels,
Last week we had a vacation for Toussaints, and I did some traveling. I went to Paris with the whole LCCF group, and it was awesome. I had been there when I was 12, but it was great to go back now that I can think and appreciate things more. Some of the notable things we did as a group or I did independently of the agenda were: Le Centre Pompidou, Le Musée d’Orsay, mounted L’Arc de Triomphe, Le Musée Rodin, Palais Garnier, and Sacré Coeur. The best part: All of those things were free! With my student ID card I could go to all of those places with paying, so awesome; really says something great about how France treats their citizens/students. So that I don’t go picture crazy, I’m only letting myself choose two photos from Paris:
After Paris, I was off to Barcelona! Lili and I planned this trip together, but unfortunately could only align one night together, so I did most the trip alone. My first time taking a trip alone. I was nervous and scared that I’d get lonely or bored or lost or worst. BUT I loved it and didn’t feel unsafe once. After doing tons of touristy things in Paris, I was content to just wonder around my neighborhood in Barcelona. I did see a few of the big Guadi sights, and the neighborhood was in was awesome, great food and people, and not that many tourists. Not know any Spanish was difficult, but everyone was really nice to me, and things went rather smoothly. My last day (until the very end) was just the greatest. I met up with my friend Haley who just graduated from LC, and she took me a coastal town. It was so warm, blue, and perfect. After lounging and laughing on the beach, I headed back to the city to see Lili, and that’s when something great happened…. We got Mexican food. I satisfied my tamale craving! However, I had been feeling a bit sick all day, and by this time it had gotten a lot worse, so Lili took me back to the hostel and tucked me in.
My two pictures from Barcelona:
The day I left Barcelona was a little sad. I was feeling so sick and had to wake up super early for my flight that was followed by a seven hour wait for my train to Strasbourg. Since, I wasn’t feeling well, I decided, hey, I’ll go see a movie. I went to a really pretty little theater in Paris and saw Amour. It was so, so good, but equally sad. I’m not sure if it was because I was alone, in Paris, sick, or just sick of traveling, but it made me ball. I sobbed the entire movie, and I’m almost certain I made a bit of scene. In hindsight, it’s really funny, but at that moment, it was so dramatic.
Alas, I made it back to Strasbourg safe and sound, and man did it feel good to be back…. But, I’m about to hit the road again. Now that I have successfully gone to the doctor and pharmacy in French, I am ready for my trip to Amsterdam. I’m taking the bus which should be interesting seeing as it is supposed to take 12 hours… But I get to hang out with Lili when I’m not running a fever! So excited to be with a dingle.
I’m sorry if there’s lots of typos. I’m notorious for typos, but I’m not going to edit. I took sleep medicine, and am fighting so hard to stay awake. Maybe I’ll try to edit tomorrow when I’m more coherent, but will probably forget.
HEY EVERYONE. Look at the hat Sara made me. Isn’t it the best thing ever!? Isn’t she the best thing ever?! Such a good day. Last class canceled and a new hat to keep my bald little ears warm!
Looks like embroidery is on the agenda!
That’s right, I cut my hair. Back to the buzz cut. I haven’t paid for a hair cut in a long time, and I wasn’t about to start. However, cutting my own hair is quite difficult… in less, I have buzzers. So here it is:
It’s funny, I actually feel much prettier and feminine like this. Maybe because it’s more me than a lot of other haircuts; I’m not sure, but I feel good.
I told my host mom that I was going to cut my hair, and she was surprised that I was going to do it myself. Since she was curious, she opened the door mid-buzzing, and she was so surprised. She yelled, “Stop! Stop!” I think she felt bad, so later she let me know that it was cute, but I think she still thinks my new cut is pretty weird.
On to other things… Let’s see, there’s a lot new.
Emily was visiting this week, and it was so nice to have someone to visit and show Strasbourg. Sometimes you just need to have a little piece of home with you, and Emily is perfect because she both a piece of Rancho home and Portland home. We did lots of good stuff like tons of coffee and tart time, ate tarte flambée, visited the cathedral, tried new places, had a little French picnic, and did lots and lots of walking. Here’s a photo from Emily’s first night here:
We were happy girls.
Next on the agenda: my cat internship.
I know I mentioned in a previous post, but it’s official now, I have a sort of internship with an organization called Cat’Mon Doux. It’s an organization that does two things: helps cats who need homes and neuters, spays, vaccinates, and releases stray cats that are too wild to be domesticated. They don’t have one central location to keep the cats who are up for adoption, so the cats are put into host families. However, host families can be hard to find. That’s where the woman I work for, Sylvie, comes in. She essentially runs a humane society for cats in her home. We had plans for me to start helping her friday, so I made what turned out to be the hour long bike trek to her house in a suburb of Strasbourg. It’s really hard to describe the set up she has for the cats. She has thirty in total. The older cats that are already domesticated but waiting to be adopted roam her property as if they were hers. Then, there’s what I like to think of as the kitten room, she has this room that is, well, not really a room. It is has a gate-material for walls, and sun room-type material for a roof. It is attached to her house by a door, but is really more part of the backyard. This is where the six or seven young and pretty wild cats live. Finally, there is what Sylvie calls the hospital room where there are really tidy and large cages for cats who were just fixed or sick stay.
Okay, so know that you have the general idea of the situation, I can tell you a little more about my first day. I was there for a total of about 5 hours. First, I played with the young cats, trying to convince them that I wasn’t the scariest creature in the world. They wouldn’t even let me near them in less I had some sort of toy to fool them out of hiding. They are all really beautiful, and I know once they get over their fear of humans, I will want them all. Hell, I already do. After that, we really got to work… we cleaned the entire kitten room. It was real dirty, and she told me that she had cleaned just two days ago! That many cats is a lot of work. It wasn’t so bad, they’re all litter box trained, so the mess was mostly fur and stray litter. After cleaning, we got a break from the cat house and went to pick up three new cats from the vet. They had all just been neutered, so we prepared their cages in the hospital room where we put the terrified new cats. Poor things. After, that I was back on kitten playing duty until it was time for me to hit the road.
All in all, I really like what I’m doing. I get to talk to a French woman one on one all day and play with cats. Perfect for an Annie. Sylvie is so nice; she loves to teach me new words and to give me snacks. It’s also really obvious that she needs help with taking care of the cats, so I’m happy I’m using my time to help someone who could use it. Next Friday, I’m accompanying Sylive on a mission to trap stray cats. Should be really interesting!
To wrap up:
This weekend I spent a lot of time at Sue’s house, and it was perfect. Vanessa, Jordan, and the kids are visiting, so there’s lots going on. I slept there last night, and it was just what I needed. It’s so nice to have somewhere where I can feel really comfortable, where I can put my feet on the couch and complain about the things that are difficult for me in French. I’m really lucky and happy to have them around. I’m feeling so happy right now, and I know it’s because of a day spent with the Witkowskis.
That’s all for now folks, à bientôt
As most of you know, I am pretty notorious back home for being a terribly picky and small eater. I am the go to girl for leftovers, I carry the legend of the girl who’d only eat fruit, I’ve been asked “…so then what do you like?” But let it be heard! My new reputation with my host mom: The girl who eats everything.
Over the last couple of years since going to college, I have definitely expanded my palette, but still, there were a lot of things I wouldn’t eat. For some reason, coming to France expanded it like you wouldn’t believe. A lot of it probably has to do with the fact that I am shy and even more shy when I have to speak French. I didn’t feel comfortable giving the new stranger who is obligated to feed me seven days a week a long list of everything I didn’t like, I mean long list. So, I ate everything, and to my (and probably many of your’s) surprise, I’ve pretty much like everything I tried. Granted, I wasn’t a fan of rabbit, but that had more to do with the intact spine I found in my cut and not the taste. Now, I eat mushrooms, raw cheese, fish, dijon mustard, jam (I am currently obsessed with jam), black coffee, and so many more things. I will also try most things before immediately rejecting them because they are seafood looking, soggy, or unfamiliar. My host mom was surprised when last night at a dinner, I said no thanks to olives. She said, “You don’t like olives? That’s the first thing that I’ve heard you don’t like!”
I’ve also progressed a considerable amount when it comes to portions as well. I used to eat like a bird (except for desserts), but now, I always eat more than my host mom. Now, that I’m twenty, I finally have the appetite an adolescent is supposed to have. I am always the one who finishes off the meals. However, this didn’t start by my own free will, my host mother, whenever we haven’t finished something at dinner, tells me that if I don’t finish it, she’ll throw it away. I’ve never handled guilt very well, so my training began, and now I’m able to finish plates like you wouldn’t believe.
I am a changing girl.
It’s been a while…
As part of my abroad program, we have to do a sort of internship, though they’re not usually very academic. I, for example, am in the process of acquiring an internship at an organization called Cat’Mon Doux. It’s a small association that helps stray cats! Perfect for an Annie, I’m still learning about exactly what they do, but I really hope it works out.
As exciting as an internship with cats is, having real conversations on the phone in French is terrifying and extremely difficult. I was feeling very confident in my comprehension until I listened to the Cat’Mon Doux woman give me information so quickly that I felt like I was drowning in French. Some how I managed to be semi-successful with the phone call because it looks like it will all work out.
I’m finally watching the debates both presidential and vice presidential… now, that I’m not living in America, I feel more attached to the politics, or maybe I’m just becoming more of a grown up. Who knows.
Not a whole lot else is new, I went out last night and met lots of new friends from all over. So tonight, I’m going to have a quiet night in with The Princess Bride.
Also, good news! Emily is on her way to her next farm with a pit stop in Strasbourg for a few days!
Another week gone by, I’m amazed at how quickly time is going by. It’s a little scary!
I have yet another trip planned! After our excursion to Paris during Toussaint vacation, I’m going to meet Lili in Barcelona! 70 euros, round trip flight. Can’t get much better than that. I can hardly wait!
Alright, there’s a lot new. Let’s see, classes are still going really well, long days, but I’m learning a lot. This weekend, the group went on an excursion; we went to a WWII memorial, a château, and a real nice restaurant in the cutest little town. The memorial was heavy, but really informative, well done, and interesting. The chateau was really amazing. Since Alsace is a region that has been both French and German multiple times and since castles take forever to build/are refurbished often, it was a melange of cultures and time periods. Plus, there were lots of shiny old things. Unfortunately, en route from the chateau to the restaurant, I got car sick… nothing like throwing up on the side of a tour bus in a tiny French town… Definitely the low. Luckily, though, I made plenty of room for dinner because it was delicious! I was so full, I nearly had to be rolled out of the restaurant, plus the dinner came with lots of good wine….
Here’s some pictures from the excursion:
Saturday, we had a guided tour of the cathedral in town, I ate a cheap and delicious pretzel, and I got a functioning phone finally! I can call the states! Happy kid. Saturday night, we had a girls night at Courtney’s which meant facial masks, nail painting, girl talk, Enchanted, raspberry tarte, and snuggles. It was really nice to spend time with friends on the weekend in a more comfortable setting than a bar or restaurant. I love anything that I can wear my nightgown to. Here’s a picture of us being the best snugglers:
That’s my little nub head in the corner.
Tomorrow, I start “tutoring.” I am going over to a really nice family’s house for dinner where I will help there 12 year old son practice his English. However, he has informed me that he doesn’t really want lessons or anything formal, so I just get to hang out and talk in my native language to really nice people, seems like a good gig to me!
It’s getting late for this girl!
ps. too sleepy to edit, sorry if there’s typos.
Today, I had seven hours of class…so much French! When I was little, I had both Tiny Tots AND movement class on Thursdays making it my “tough” day, because I didn’t have enough “down time.” Tuesdays are contemporary Annie’s “tough day.” However, all that listening and thinking in French is exactly what I need. Days like today, I barely speak English, because there is little time for anything else other than school, dinner, and study. Most days, I have lots of free time and see my friends from the program for longer periods of time, and talk way too much English. We’ve learned that it’s hard to turn off the English switch when that’s what automatically comes on around other Americans.
I have an official schedule now which is very comforting to creatures of habit like me. I have 12 hours of language block a week, and six one hour, once a week “option” classes. As far as option classes go, I’m taking phonetics, genres of painting in France, initiation to architecture, gastronomy (yep, that’s real), German, and philosophy in France. Tonight, I read Descartes in French! I enjoy reading Descartes, but I definitely disagree with most of his ideas that I’ve read. However, it’s really awesome to read one of the “greats” in the language that it was originally written it.
I have some new travel plans that I’m so excited about. A trip to Brussels with my aunt and cousin to visit my cousin and her new baby is in the works! Hopefully, just two weeks away! A new city and a new baby, can’t get much better than that!
Also, today, I booked a bus ticked to Amsterdam! It’s a ways away, November 8-12, but it’s the first ticket that I’ve purchased since being here! I’m going to take an overnight bus on the 8th which should be interesting. The best parts: I’m not only meeting Maddie there, AND we’re visiting Lili! Two of my favorite girls in the same place! They’ve never met, and I get to introduce them in Amsterdam?! This is dream life.
It’s time to let my brain relax, and indulge in some English. That means This American Life or My So-Called Life until I fall asleep….
No class on Friday! Everything is too good (Taken with Instagram)