Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Farewell Aix

Well, we only have 4 more days left in Aix, and I can't believe it. We've really made the most out of our last week here. This last weekend Mike's friend came to visit, and the two of them stayed at our place. There were usually at least 5 people here, and it was a lot of fun. We've all just been hanging out every chance we get. I don't think any of us can really believe that this is almost over. On Monday night we had a wine tasting that Pam's friend did for us, and last night we had our farewell dinner. We've been reminiscing a lot about how much things have changed since when we got here.

Being here has definitely been one of the best experiences of my life, and I'm going to be very sad to leave. I have made some amazing friends that I know I will always keep in touch with, and I know that someday I'll be back. So now it's just time to start packing and head to London for awhile!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


OK, I know, I've been terrible about keeping this up to date, but I finally have a moment. As you can tell by my lack of writing, things have been terribly busy around here, but in the most fun way! So here's a quick recap of what I've been up to!

After Sarah left, Mom came and we were off to Italy. Unfortunately getting there wasn't so easy because we had to deal with the train strike going on in Southern France. But once we got there, we had a marvelous time. We started our trip in Cinque Terre, which is a group of 5 small towns that were very cool and had amazing views. From there we stopped at Pisa and Lucca on our way to Florence for 2 nights. I really enjoyed Florence. It was a very beautiful city. We made our way back to Aix after that, only to find out that Mom would be staying an extra week due to the volcano. I decided to be a supportive daughter and join her in Monaco as opposed to deserting her and going to class. I just couldn't bare to do that to her! Monaco was wonderful. Beautiful views and lots of sunshine. I had lots of time to work on my tan.

I headed back to Aix on Thursday night in time to go to class on Friday and then on Saturday Clare, Kerri and I left for Madrid. We had a really splendid time eating tapas, drinking sangria and watching a Flamenco show. We had nice weather and got a great taste of the city. We flew back to Aix on Monday, and it was really nice to just be back for a little while. It really does feel like home here now.

The resting only lasted so long, because on the following Saturday morning Clare and I were at the airport early to catch our flight to Prague. It was really cool to see something of what is technically Eastern Europe. I think our favorite part was probably the fact that everything was so cheap. That was a nice break from the everyday expenses of Southern France. We stayed until Monday night, and by then we were very exhausted. Clearly we have been doing quite a bit of traveling.

It's great to be back in Aix now, and we are really on the home stretch here. We only have about 10 more days left in Aix, which feels like nothing! It's a bittersweet feeling, as we're all a little ready to head home but also very sad to be leaving each other. Of course, I still have a month over here, in which time I will be going to Disneyland Paris with Clare, up to London with Katie, over to Germany to visit my friend Dennis, and then back to London to pick up Megan on our way to Greece and Italy. So my travels are far from over! However, I'm going to be without internet soon, so I'm not sure whether or not I'll be able to update my blog. But thanks for following along, I'll update if I can, and see you all soon!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sarah's Visit

Wow! What a couple of weeks! As opposed to the tons of time I had to prepare and get excited for Eric to get here, it felt like Sarah just showed up out of nowhere! It was very exciting. The week before Sarah got here I had tests in all but one of my classes, so for the first time since I've been here I was very focused on my school work. It made the week go by very fast, and before I knew it it was Saturday and I was going down to the gare routiere to pick up Sarah. I was so excited to see her. I kept her up way later than she had the energy to be up, but we spent the night just talking and catching up on everything.

On Easter Sunday I let Sarah sleep in even though she had told me to wake her up. I finally did around noon because I knew she'd be mad if I let her sleep in past that. We had an easy going day, just strolling around the town. There was a craft fair going on on Cours Mirabeau, so we walked around that and then spent some time sitting at a cafe, the real French way. Again I kept Sarah up past her bedtime, but we just had so much to talk about!

Monday we decided to take the bus down to Marseille. I think it was cool for Sarah to get to see another big city in France other than Paris and see how it was different. We had a great lunch on the water and then took the bus up to the church on the hill. It was a lot of fun. That night we watched movies and got ready for Paris!

Tuesday was our travel day. We caught the train at 11:00 and got into Paris around 3:00. We went to check into our hotel which was a little outside of Paris. It was actually in a suburb called Malakoff, but it was nice to be in a quiet area that was just a quick Metro ride away from everything. Once we were checked in we took the Metro to the obvious first thing we needed to see, the Eiffel Tower. We got some great pictures, but instead of waiting in the MASSIVE lines to get to the top we decided to go get dinner on the Champs Elysee. We walked down and saw the Arc de Triomphe during sunset, which was really beautiful. Finally we walked down to the Seine and took a night time river cruise. It was really awesome to see all of the monuments lit up. We especially loved the light show that they do on the Eiffel Tower every hour. It just looks enchanted.

Wednesday morning we let ourselves sleep in a bit and then decided to tackle Notre Dame. We had to wait in line for 2 hours to get to the top! This was the first time that I've really had to battle the throngs of tourists since I've been here. That's been the great part about being here before tourist season. But that's alright, because it was well worth the wait. I had forgotten how spectacular the view is! That could just be because I was so light headed by the time we reached the top, but I think it has more to do with the beauty of the place. When we went back down we took a short ice cream break, then we went inside the cathedral and across to Sainte Chappelle, my favorite part of Paris. It was so fun to share it with Sarah. Although she's been to Paris before, she was too young to really remember all of it. It was like getting to show it to someone for the first time. When we were done with the churches we went down to the Bastille. Sarah was very interested in seeing that because she loves learning about the French Revolution. I was surprised by how much she knew! She definitely taught me a lot! After the Bastille we did a little shopping and as we were walking down the Rue de Rivoli we ran into my friend Mike. It was very random and funny. We were both pretty shocked. They went on their way to more sightseeing and we decided to go up to Montmartre for dinner. We really hit the trifecta of churches, going into Sacre Coeur when we reached the top. (Ok, I'll admit it... we cheated! We took the tram up the hill instead of walking it. But have you seen those stairs!) We had a great dinner and then went and saw the Moulin Rouge. It was a very full and fun day!

Thursday was tour day. We got up early and went to the Fat Tire Bike Tour office for our tour of Versailles. Our guide's name was Ned, and he was very funny. We took the train to Versailles (which was a thrilling experience with bikes!) and then went to the market to get the makings for a picnic. Sarah and I made a friend with a 19 year old girl from Australia that was taking her gap year in London and in Paris for her break. Her name was Amanda and she was very nice. We rode our bikes all around Versailles and saw Marie Antoinette's pretend peasant village, the Petit and Grand Trianons, and a lot of the gardens. We stopped for our picnic at the end of the Grand Canal looking out at the chateau. It was really an amazing experience. We were all a little stunned. When we finished lunch we went and toured the chateau, which is really just the definition of opulence. It was breathtaking! After the chateau we headed back to Paris, and Amanda came to dinner with Sarah and I. We found this little restaurant that served traditional French dishes and I got Sarah and Amanda to try escargot for the first time! After dinner we walked under the Eiffel Tower while it was all lit up, then Sarah and I headed back to our hotel.

By Friday we were both feeling a little bit worn out, but we still had to do the Louvre! We didn't spend the 7 hours that Amanda had suggested, but instead just hit some of the highlights and spent about 2 and a half hours. It wasn't as crowded as we were expecting it to be, so we got a great view of the Mona Lisa! After the Louvre we went to check out the Opera house but it was closed, so we went to get desserts at a place Sarah's art teacher had recommended called Angelinas. Talk about decadent. They were some of the fanciest desserts I've ever seen, and neither of us could finish! We decided we needed a little resting time after that so we went to the Touleries garden out front of the Louvre and just sat and journalled in front of a giant fountain for a little while. It was very relaxing. After that it was time for the Ghost Tour we had signed up for. Sarah had her first experience in a bar, as that was the meeting place. We walked around Paris a bit and our guide had all kinds of interesting stories to tell. I think we were both a little disappointed that it wasn't scarier, but it was still very fun. Our guide was an interesting character and had met some even more interesting people, including a convicted serial killer that he went to dinner with! After the tour we headed back to our hotel.

This morning we got up and I took Sarah to the airport. We were both sad she had to leave, although I think she was a little more disappointed because while she has to go to school next week I'll be in Italy with Mom. After I dropped Sarah off I went to Les Invalides, (the tomb of Napolean) and the Rodin Museum because I had some time to kill before my train back to Aix. I got back to Aix around 7. Now I have tomorrow morning to do a load of laundry and repack, then I pick Mom up and we're off to Italy on Monday! Not too shabby!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Eric's Visit

OK, OK, I know I'm way behind on this and have been putting it off... but here's finally an update!

2 weeks ago Eric came to visit, and I can't even begin to explain what a fabulous time we had. He got here on Saturday night and I was able to keep him awake until midnight. He slept in until 1:30 on Sunday, but luckily that seemed to be all he needed to get rid of the jet lag. We spent the day Sunday just hanging out in Aix, and when my friends all got back from their weekend excursion that night we went out to O'Sullivans, which has become our favorite pub.

On Monday Eric, Kerri, Clare and I went to Arles, where they have a lot of old Roman ruins. It was a bit of a rainy day, so we didn't walk around too much, but we really enjoyed seeing the old theater and ampitheatre, where they were gearing up for the Easter bull fights.

Tuesday I had class in the morning, but we spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging around Aix. I think Eric really enjoyed just getting to see what I do with my friends and the town that I'm staying in. That night we went out with most of the people in my program to celebrate Eric's last night in Aix, and we had a really amazing time.

Wednesday we caught the train to Geneva, where we were hoping to meet up with Eric's friends John and Josh who are studying in Lausanne. We still hadn't heard from them when we got there, so we spent the night just hanging out in Geneva, and taking it easy. That night at midnight Eric got a call from his friends saying Eric should meet them at the airport at 6:00 the next morning where they were picking up their other friend, Paolo. Eric let them know that that wasn't going to happen, and we'd try to contact them in the morning.

On Thursday we were afraid we weren't going to hear from Eric's friends, but they called around noon so we hopped on a train to Lausanne and were there by 1:00. Eric was so happy to see his friends. We spent the day just hanging out with them. I have to admit, with so many girls in my program, I had forgotten what hanging out with boys was like! They were pretty funny and random. At one point, Eric's friend Paolo was riding his skateboard next to the water by Lake Geneva, and he hit a pebble and the board went right into the lake. I thought that was the end of that board, but Eric and Josh kept telling him he shouldn't give up and that he should try to go in after it. Really I think they just wanted to see him jump into the lake. But he did! Paolo stripped down to his boxers and then jumped in, and he got his skateboard! I was in absolute shock. It was very funny! That night Eric's buddies really wanted him to stay the night, so I went back to Geneva and Eric spent the night in Lausanne with his friends.

On Friday Eric and his friends all came out to Geneva and we spent the day hanging out in a very cool park. Again... forgot what boys are like! When I'm walking through the park with a group of friends and see a big pile of sticks, I barely notice and keep going. When the boys were walking through the park and saw a big pile of sticks they thought, "Hey! Let's hit each other with these!" And that was the beginning of a giant stick sword fight. It was very amusing and I had a lot of fun seeing all of the ridiculous things that Eric and his friends do. Eric's friends all headed back to Laussane around 8:00 and at 10:00 Clare and Kerri got into town. We all went out for a drink, and Eric was happy he got to see them one last time.

On Saturday morning I had to get up and take Eric to the airport, which I really did not want to do. We were having so much fun and we both felt like the week had gone by way too fast. But I had to say goodbye, and I'm so glad we had such a wonderful time. I spent the rest of the day in Geneva with Kerri and Clare, and that afternoon we caught a train to Lyon. When we got to Lyon we had a little bit of an adventure finding our hostel. What I thought would be a 20 minute walk from the train station was actually an hour and a half walk, but we made it and then had a delicious pizza dinner.

Sunday was a lot of site seeing in Lyon. We went up the hill to the Fourviere church, but we weren't able to go in because it was Palm Sunday and there was a big catholic ceremony happening on the steps. It was actually very cool to get to see that. From there we headed down the hill and went to the Lyon Miniatures Museum, except it wasn't just a miniatures museum, it also had a huge collection of movie paraphenalia. It was very cool, and right up my alley. I of course thought of Sarah and Aunt Debra a lot while we were looking at the miniatures. They would have loved it. And while we were there we saw the guy that made them all walking around the museum. There was a part where we got to look into his giant workshop, and Sarah, Aunt Debra, you guys would have just died! It was huge! From the museum walked to get lunch and had a traditional Lyonnais dish called quenelle. It was very delicious. Because our legs were very tired at this point, we decided to do a bus tour of the city, which was nice. It took us to the Art Museum, where we got to see paintings from some of the artists that we've been talking about in our Art History class. We decided to take it easy for the rest of the day since we were a little warn out, but that night we went to a very cool restaurant and had a delicious dinner.

On Monday we only had a little bit of time before our train back to Aix, so we walked around another garden and then caught our train. I swear, Europeans know how to do gardens! The train ride back was nice, and when we got back to Aix we just took it easy for the night.

This week of school has just flown by. We had tests in 4 out of 5 of our classes, so I've been pretty busy with school, which is the first time since I've been here. I haven't even had time to think about the fact that Sarah is coming, but she gets here today!!! I'm SO excited! Only 8 more hours! Kerri and I are going to go to the market and get some things to prepare for her arrival. I really can't wait. Time for another great week, and then Mom gets here and we go to Italy! In the words of my dear friend Kerri, "This doesn't suck!"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

La Tour Eiffel

I finally went to the Eiffel Tower (for no more than 5 minutes), but at least now I know I'm really in France!

Mont St Michel


Parc du Tabor

Rennes was beautiful

On My Own

This weekend was a whole new adventure. For the first time, I travelled on my own! I had two Eurail pass days that I needed to use, so I decided to go to Northern France. I went to Rennes, which is in the Brittany region of France. I left on Saturday morning and took the train, with a layover in Paris. I got into Rennes around 5:00 and made my way to my hostel with no problems. I dropped my stuff off and then went to explore Rennes. I swear the town must have at least 10 huge gorgeous churches. There was a new one around every corner! It was very cool. The style of building that is popular is the thatched buildings in various colors. It looked awesome. I wandered around town a bunch and then picked a place for dinner. I had a delicious meal, although I have to say, eating at a restaurant alone is not my favorite thing to do. I felt slightly awkward, but it was a new experience and I enjoyed my meal!

On Sunday morning I got up early and wandered around another part of town until the Musèe de Beaux-Arts opened at 10:00. I was there before they evened opened the doors, and I was the first person in. The museum had an archeology section and paintings from the 14th-20th century. It was very cool, and it was fun having the entire museum to myself. I really enjoyed it. When I was done there I made my way over to the bus stop and caught the bus for Mont St Michel. The bus ride took about an hour, and I was super lucky with the weather. It was a beautiful day. The first thing I did when I got there (after taking some pictures and just taking it all in) was go tour the abbey. It was amazing that such a huge abbey could be built in such a remote location. From there I got lunch, which consisted of some traditional Normandy dishes, such as pâté and sausage. It was a great lunch looking out at the view.

After lunch I had some time to kill before my bus came back, so I moseyed around the town and went to the historical museum. The town was very cool, but small, and a little tourist trappy. All the same, I’m very glad that I went and saw it. It was definitely worth it. Ever since 7th grade, when we learned about Mont St Michel, I have wanted to see it, so I’m glad that I have.

On Monday morning I had some time in town before my train at 3:00. I took my time getting ready, and then wandered to the center of town. I sat at a café for awhile and read the book I was in the middle of, Three Cups of Tea. Side Note- READ THIS BOOK! Kerri gave it to me the other day and I’m so glad she did because I loved it and found it very inspirational! Anyways, back to France… After my café I walked over to Parc du Tabor, which was one of the most amazing parks I’ve ever been in. It was gorgeous! It was so green and beautiful. There were statues and an aviary with all kinds of birds, and a huge botanical garden with tons of types of plants. I walked around just soaking it all in and found a sunny place to read for awhile. It was so peaceful and fun. When I left the park I went to get some lunch at a crêperie, because that is one of the things Brittany is known for… great crêpes. I had some of the most delicious crêpes I’ve ever had, and I’ve had my fair share of delicious crêpes (although is it really possible to have a crêpe that is anything but delicious!) After my wonderful lunch I made my way to the train station through a part of town I had not been to yet, walking by about 50 new huge churches.

I got to the train station early, so I sat at one of the cafés across from the station. It was so nice out that I was able to sit outside without my coat, which was VERY exciting. I caught my train and changed trains again in Paris. I had to change train stations, but I had an hour and a half, so I decided to take the Metro to the Eiffel Tower. I decided I’d been in France for long enough, I really needed to see the Eiffel Tower. I hopped off the Metro, snapped a photo, and then went to my next train station. But at least now I know that I’m really in France. I got back to Aix around 10:00 with a new sense of accomplishment and self confidence. It feels great to know that I can handle traveling on my own for a weekend!

Back to class today wasn’t too bad. We have the most class on Tuesday’s with 6 hours, and it’s nice to get that out of the way with for the week. Today was especially hard because the weather is finally starting to resemble that famous Provencal weather that lured us all down here in the first place, so we really just wanted to be outside. We went to a café after class, and all the ones that got any sun were absolutely packed. As we were sitting I made the observation that class here really just feels like the filler that gives us something to do between the weekends. I have quite the schedule coming up. Eric comes this weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can count the days on one hand!!! Here’s a little layout of our travel plans:

March 24-27: Geneva, Switzerland with Eric, Clare and Kerri

March 27-29: Lyon with Clare and Kerri

April 3-10: Spring Break, Sarah’s here, Paris

April 11-18: Spring Break, Mom’s here, Italy

April 24-26: Madrid, Spain with Clare and Kerri

May 1-3: Prague, Czech Republic with Clare (tentatively)

After that we only have 2 weeks until the program is over and I think we’re going to Monaco and Cannes during the film festival. After that I plan to go to London, where I’ll meet Megan and we’re going to go to Greece and Rome. Needless to say, life is good and I have a pretty busy schedule. If anyone has any advice or suggestions about things to see in any of those places, please pass along your wisdom!

Merci Beaucoup!



Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Happy to be in Cassis

Emily N., Kerri, Me and Clare on the boat

The beautiful calanques!

Cassis and French Cooking

Alright... sorry for the delay in an update. There hasn't been too much going on here the last week. Just class and such. This last weekend was again pretty relaxing. On Saturday Clare, Kerri, Emily N and I went to Cassis, which is a small fishing village on the coast. We took the bus there, which took about an hour. The village was so cute. We were so lucky that it was an absolutely beautiful sunny day. We walked down to the water which was crystal clear. Because the weather was nice there were a ton of people out and about and the boat tours of Les Calanques were running. Les Calanques are the inlet cliffs that run between Marseille and Cassis. The tour we went on took us to 3 of them and they were absolutely breathtaking. It was really amazing. We weren't able to spend a ton of time in the town because we had to catch the bus back to Aix, but we were there for long enough to fall in love. I plan to take my mom there when she comes in April.

Sunday and Monday were just lazy days in Aix. It was a little rainy and cold so we didn't do too much.

Today I had class and then tonight some of us had a cooking class. There is a lady from Paris that comes down to her amazing apartment in Aix to teach foreign students French cooking. Tonight we made and then ate Terrine de Courgettes Concasse de Tomates (Zucchini and eggs baked on top of tomatos), Blanquette de Veau et son Riz Basmati (Veal cooked in white wine over rice) and Mousse au Chocolat. It was amazingly delicious and surprisingly easy to make. I have 3 more classes, so by the end of my time here I should be a pro. We ate the dinner and practiced our French and it was really nice to have something other than the stir-fries we've been making on our stove top. We don't have an oven, so we won't be able to make these recipes until we get home, but then I think I just might have to invite you all over for a French dinner party.

The week is of course flying by! Time seems to pass insanely quickly here. This weekend I think I'm going to go to Mont St Michel. I have a weekend on my Eurail pass that I need to use, and I've always wanted to go there, so that's the tentative plan. Less than 2 weeks until Eric gets here! I can't wait. I have a lot planned for us.

À Bientot!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Relaxing Weekend in Aix

Well, this weekend I was supposed to be going to Germany to visit my friend Dennis, but when I went to buy tickets last week it was too late. All of the trains to Paris (where I would have had to connect) were full due to the Paris vs Marseille soccer game on Sunday. So it ended up being just a relaxing weekend in Aix, which was actually very nice.

On Friday night some girls came over and we just hung out and had a good time. I haven't gotten out of bed before 11 the last two days, just spending my mornings reading my book in bed. I'm reading Julie and Julia right now, and it's really making me wish we had an oven so that I could Master the Art of French Cooking!

On Saturday night we had our weekly Pizza and Beer night with most of the people from our program. It's become a fun little tradition and a great way to make sure we all still see each other. We always end up playing a card game called Mafia, and this time we also played Big Booty, another game I had learned from Y2Y. It was a lot of fun! After lots of pizza and games we went out to some of the pubs, and made it home around 1AM.

Sunday was another lazy day. Kerri, Clare and I went to see Le Mac, which was the new action comedy film that just came out over here. It was a little hard to follow all of the dialogue. They were talking very fast and using a lot of French slang. But it was pretty funny, at least the parts that I did understand. There were several times that everyone in the theater would laugh and I would have no idea why! That night the 3 of us went out to dinner, and then watched The Big Lebowski, which I had never seen.

Today there's a little more on the agenda. We have a test in our Translation class tomorrow, so I guess I'd better study a bit. But the weather is starting to get really nice, so I think we're going to go study at a cafe in the sun! I'm so glad I don't have to wear my coat everywhere anymore!

I hope you're all doing well! Miss you!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Carnaval de Nice


View from the top of the Brewery

At the Windmill

The ridiculous yellow hats that the waiter gave us

Brugge at night



L'Arc de Triomphe

The group in front of Notre Dame of Brussels

Katie and I at Mannekin Pis

In front of the Royal Palace

Brussels, Brugge, and Nice!

Wow! Where to begin? I feel like I have so much to update you all on! This last week we didn’t have school, so 7 other girls and I went to Belgium for the week. We spent 5 days in Brussels and 2 in Brugge. I loved both places. Brussels had a big city feel to it, but was still small enough for us to walk around easily. The first day we were there it snowed all day, but that didn’t slow us down too much. We saw the Royal Palace and Mannekin Pis (which is a fountain of a little boy peeing and is oddly famous!), and we went to the Cocoa and Chocolate Museum. We thought that was appropriate for Valentine’s Day.

On our second day, Monday, we took it easy. We went into the center of town for a little while and then out to Atomium, which is a giant structure meant to look like an atom that was built for a World Fair. Not quite as pretty as the Eiffel Tower, which was built for the same purpose. It was funny because I read and had heard that Brussels is not a pretty place, but we were very pleasantly surprised. I loved it, and I think the ugliest city in Europe is still prettier than any of them in the USA. That night we made dinner at our hostel, and then went out to a bar that had over 2,004 kinds of beer. Across from the bar there was a statue of a peeing girl, Jeanette Pis, and we found that way funnier than the little boy. It was a statue made by the bar to get publicity, and it definitely worked.

On Tuesday we did a whole ton of sightseeing. We went to a big flea market, and then over to the Palais de Justice, which was huge! After lunch we went to the Musical Instruments Museum, which was really cool. They gave you a pair of automatic headphones, and when you stepped in front of an instrument, it would start playing. From there we went to the Brussels Museum, where we learned a little about the history of Brussels, but our real interest was the top floor, where there was a display of the costumes that have been given to Mannekin Pis. There were some really funny ones, including a yellow jersey for the Tour de France and Elvis. We also made sure to eat some Belgian waffles, and oh my goodness were they delicious!!! It was great!

Wednesday was a day trip to Luxembourg. Unfortunately, it was a little rainy and cold, and there just turned out to be not a lot to do there. We went to the tourist office to get some suggestions, and a round lady with a thick, and slightly terrifying accent said to me, “There is nothing to do here”. Even the tourist office employees admitted that their city was boring! We ended up walking around a bit, seeing some churches and old buildings, and when we tried to take a bus to the European Union building we got on it the wrong way, rode it for half an hour, and then decided it was time to go back to Brussels. My advice to anyone thinking about going to Luxembourg… Don’t plan on more than a day, and don’t go if the weather is bad! We actually had a lot of fun just hanging out with each other, we’re glad we saw it, but I don’t think any of us will be returning.

Thursday morning we got up and took the Metro to see the L’Arc de Triomphe of Brussels before heading to Brugge. The train ride only took an hour and we got there around 2:30. We checked into our hostel, which was very cool. It was called the Snuffel Hostel, and had a bar attached that was actually a pretty popular place! We spent that night just wandering the town, and I fell in love with the town. It was so beautiful. We tried to go into the Church of Our Lady, but they were closed, so we just wandered around. There must have been at least 50 chocolate shops in this tiny town! A couple of us ended up going into a little café for drinks that night, and ended up with the most hilarious waiter I’ve ever had. He just waltzed around the restaurant in a very flamboyant manner and gave us neon yellow beanies that looked ridiculous, but of course we wore them. It was a very fun night.

We played extreme tourists on our last day. We saw the windmills, went to both the Church of Our Lady to see Michealangelo’s Madonna and Child, and Church of the Holy Blood to see a vial of the blood of Christ, and did a Brewery Tour after lunch. After that we wandered around the town a little more, and walked around the main square. That night we hung out at the hostel’s bar and ended up making friends with a group of British boys that were also staying at the hostel. They were very funny and we ended up going out to a couple of clubs with them. We all got a kick out of the music that was being played, including a medley of songs from Grease.

Saturday was a travel day, and it took us about 8 hours to get back to Aix. The train ride was relaxing, and it was fun to watch the French country side. All in all it was an amazing trip. Even though we struggled to keep warm, we had a really fantastic time, and I’m so glad I got to see that part of Europe.

I’ve only been back for a day, but I haven’t had much down time. Today Kerri, Clare and I went to Le Carnaval de Nice. It was so beautiful! We had about 4 hours to walk around Nice before the parade started, so we walked up and down the beach on the sunny, beautiful day we were lucky to have. We also walked through the market that was going on in old town Nice. Everything was so beautiful. Carnaval was amazing. It’s the closest thing the kids have to Halloween, and a lot of them were dressed up. Everyone was lining the streets with silly string and confetti at the ready. The parade started, and as the floats came by everyone started throwing the silly string and confetti at the floats and at each other. It was impossible not to get covered in both. We had a little silly string war with a group of men and women standing next to us and a little boy on his brother’s shoulders. The floats were fantastic. The theme was saving the planet, and I think our favorite float was one that had Obama as a super hero. The whole experience was amazing, and I’m so glad we went.

Tomorrow is going to consist of homework, laundry, and errands. It’s time for me to start planning for Eric, Sarah and my mom each to come for a week. Next weekend I’m going to Germany to visit a friend from high school that lives there. I can’t wait! Thanks for keeping track of me! I love hearing from you guys, so feel free to shoot me an email! À toute à l’heure!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Off to Belgium

I have to say, I am really loving these 4 day weeks. The week went by so fast, and now it's time for our February break! I'm leaving tomorrow morning for Brussels with a group of 7 other girls. We're taking the train to Paris, then from Paris to Brussels and staying a a hostel. It should be really great. I get back on the 20th, and then on the 21st we're going to the Carnival de Nice. I'll update when I get back!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

OM Match and Superbowl

The flares

Were's the goalie???

Watching the Super Bowl in a cave!

Fontaine de Vaucluse


Le Pont d'Avignon

Clare, Me and Kerri sur le Pont d'Avignon

Le Palais de Papes

What a Weekend!

Wow!!! It has been a crazy fun weekend! On Saturday we went on an excursion to Avignon and Fontaine de Vaucluse, two beautiful little towns. Avingnon is where the Palais de Papes is, and the famous Avignon bridge. I went with Clare and Kerri, and it was a really fun time. We walked around, saw a beautiful little park, and really enjoyed the area. From there we headed up to Fontaine de Vaucluse which is a small town with a population of 610 that has a huge river running through it. The river is the source of Le Sorgue, which is a river that runs through Provence. We hiked up to the top and it was absolutely beautiful! When we got back on Saturday we met up with Pam and the rest of the AbroadCo kids for hot cocoa and mulled wine, and then we all had another pizza and mafia-playing night, which was really fun. After that we went out with one of Clare's new French friends, Laura, and she took us to some of the popular clubs in the area. It was really fun, but when everyone else was heading to the next place at 2AM, I decided I was ready for bed!

We got to sleep in late on Sunday, which was nice! We spent the morning relaxing, and I started planning for when Eric, Sarah, and Mom each come for a week! I can't wait! At 4:30 we met everyone at the bus station, and took the bus down to Marseille to go to the OM football match. We walked around Marseille for a bit during sunset, which was absolutely beautiful, and then started the 45 minute walk to the stadium. Our seats were up in the nose bleeds, but no one was really checking so we got to get right down in the front, which was very cool. I've never been at a sporting event in my life with such excited fans!!! At each end, behind the goals (which isn't where we were) the fans never sat down and never stopped cheering. There were people with microphones leading the cheers!! After the first goal was scored, Someone let of a flare, and then about 15 people let off flares, and then there was a sound that sounded like a cannon, and tons of blue smoke! It was insane!!! The smoke was so heavy that we couldn't see the other team's goalie on the field, but they kept playing. It was very cool, and we all got a big kick out of it. The game ended at 11:00, and the last bus back to Aix left at 11:50, from across town. I don't think I've ever power walked so hard in my life, but we made it with about 2 minutes to spare!! When we got back to Aix, a couple of us went to a pub called WooHoo where they were playing the SuperBowl. It was packed with American students! You go downstairs into basically a cave, I squished into a corner, and made it to halftime until the thought of bed was too enticing! It was a long day, but a very exciting one!

Luckily today consists of going to the train station to reserve my ticket for February break and doing laundry, and nothing else! I'm looking forward to some time with my book, which at the moment is Harry Potter 3... in French!

For the February break, which we planned this week, 7 girls and I are going to Brussels and Bruges, and planning on seeing Belgium. I wanted to know if anyone had any suggestions about where to go in the area. We're thinking of a daytrip to Antwerp or Waterloo, and definitely Luxenbourg, but I would love your thoughts!!

Love from France!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Classes, Amsterdam, and my birthday!

Wow, so much has happened in the last week and a half! School started, and having class all day really makes the time go by fast! I have five different classes. I’m taking a French language course 10 hours a week. I have two different teachers, Monsieur Tissot and Madame Richard. I like them both a lot. The first day of class I sat up front, and M. Tissot told me it was my job to shake my head and say no every time he called himself old. It’s now my official job of the class, and it means I have to pay attention the whole time! Besides that I am taking 4 electives. There’s English Translation, the 5th Republic, Photos and Literature, and History of Art. In my translation class we’re currently working on translating Harry Potter into French, which is pretty fun. The 5th Republic is a politics class, and the teacher in that one is hilarious. Her name is Mme Lamouroux, and she loves going off on crazy tangents. Photos and Literature is at 8:00am, which is pretty brutal, but I think it’s going to be interesting. We’ll be comparing photos with literature (such as Camus and Sartre) from the same time period and see how their messages vary. Finally there’s Art History, which just seemed like a must while I’m here. I’m going to come back feeling so cultured!

Other than class, things have been pretty relaxing. It’s weird that now that we all have different schedules I don’t see everyone in my program all the time, but I’m also meeting new people that are in my classes with me. I’m definitely settling into a routine, and I really love it.
So this last weekend Clare and I went to Amsterdam. We had a really great time! We were there Saturday evening, all day Sunday, and came back Monday afternoon. I was so taken with how beautiful of a town it is. I loved all the houses. We did a TON of site seeing. We started with Anne Frank House, which was very moving. Then we did the Van Gogh museum, the Rijksmuseum, Madame Tussauds, The Ice Bar, and a canal cruise. Let me tell you, we had some pretty sore feet by the end of the weekend, but it was definitely worth it. It’s also nice to have the whole travelling thing figured out. It was a little challenging, but we were able to handle it!
After coming back on Monday, I got to celebrate my birthday all day Tuesday! It was so great! Although it started with 6 hours of class, it was really fun. Thank you everyone for all of the birthday wishes! I felt very loved! On our way back from class Clare bought me a delicious strawberry tart for my birthday cake. I got to talk to my family, Julie and Megan, which was really special and made my day. That evening the two of us and the girls in our program that live downstairs, Katie, Emily R and Emily N, went out to a really cute little restaurant and had a nice dinner. After that we met up with some of the other people in our program and some of the girls in my language class and we all went to O’Sullivans for the night. It was really fun and a very special night.

Now we’re just gearing up for the next weekend. We’re going to Avingnon on Saturday and then to a Marseille soccer game on Sunday. It should be a really great weekend. We’re also starting to plan our trip for the February break. It’s going to be about 8 of us, and we’re going to go to The Rhine Valley in Germany, Luxembourg, Brussels, and Bruges. It should be a lot of fun! Thanks for reading. Miss you all!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Clare and I

This is my roommate and I in Marseille

Monday, January 25, 2010

First Weekend

So, I've finally found some decent internet. The trick is sitting on the left side of the apartment as opposed to the right. No joke, it makes all the difference!

This weekend was pretty awesome. After Marseille on Saturday we did a tour of the Luberon on Sunday. We started at Ile sur la Sorgue, where there was a beautiful market that had everything. Olives, cheese, bread, meats, fruit, lavender, clothes, etc. It was really beautiful, and we had a fun time wandering around. I bought some lavender and had a great lunch!

After Il sur la Sorgue we went to a little village called Roussillon. It's famous for the ocre, which is the red dirt that was everywhere. Everything in the town was red. We went on a little hike, and there were some amazing views. The town was completely deserted, so it was really quiet, but the place was stunning.

Finally, we stopped at Gordes, which is on a hill and made entirely out of stone. Again, the views were beautiful and the town was deserted. Once we got back to Aix we just had a quiet night, gearing up for the first day of classes.

BUT I DON'T HAVE ANY!!! I got my schedule today and it looks like I won't have any Monday classes, which I am very excited about! It will be really nice to have 3 day weekends. So tomorrow is the first day of classes. I have 4 hours of French Language and the 2 hours of Translation. I'm going to have about 20 hours of class a week, but at least my French will get really good!!

Today we spent just relaxing and running some errands. Clare and I booked tickets to go to Amsterdam next weekend! I can't wait. Let the traveling begin!

A bientot!


Red Dirt of Roussillon

Market at Ile sur la Sorgue

Pizza and Mafia night!

Aix: City of Fountains!

Flower Market

Some Pics!

This is the church in Aix-en Provence

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I'm here and I'm never coming back!

Alright, time for an update. I don’t have internet in my apartment yet, so this has been challenging! Anyways, I got into Aix late on Monday night, and was brought to my apartment. We’re on the top floor, which means every time I come home I have to go up four flights of stairs. I am going to have some awesome legs by the time I come home. My apartment is pretty nice. There’s a big living space, with a kitchenette on one side and a bedroom/bathroom on the other. The kitchenette is really just a nook in room with a sink, hot plate, and mini fridge, but it works. The bathroom is also tiny, and learning to shower with the 5 minutes of hot water we get has been interesting. For the first day I had to just keep telling myself, “It’s all part of the adventure!”. My roommate Clare is awesome! Abroadco did an amazing job matching us, because we get along great. I can already tell we’re going to have a really great time together.
So Tuesday morning I got to meet the rest of the people in my program. There are 8 other girls and 1 boy. We spent the morning walking around Aix a bit, all got lunch, and then had our orientation. We then went to Monoprix, which is the closest thing to Target, to gets sheets and towels and such. The first night I spent laying on a mattress with a light blanket thrown over me, so sheets felt like a huge luxury! I also got my cell phone, which is BIC brand… like the pens! That night Clare and I wandered the town, went into a Fromagerie and learned a little about cheese, and then sat in our apartment and chatted while enjoying our French wine, fresh baguette, and stinky delicious cheese. We had hot chocolates at a café, and then called in a night.
Wednesday was the placement test, and started out really not so great. I was feeling really sick, but after a little nap I got the day going, and we ended up wandering around a bit and doing some errands we had to get done. I had my oral exam, which went really well, and I think I’m going to be placed in the highest level, which would be awesome! We had a free afternoon on Wednesday, so Clare, Mike (the only boy in the program! Lucky guy!) and I wandered into an internet café/bar called Hub Lot, and it was pretty empty, but we had a great time talking to the owner and some of the people there. At one point Clare and I were both on the computers (we still don’t have internet in our apartment) and the owner of the place asked Mike if he knew how to play guitar. Mike did, and the owner pulled out a guitar and an amp, and Mike started playing. A while later an older French bar patron came in and asked if he could jam with Mike, and so they started to play together. Then the owner grabbed a microphone and got Mike to start singing, so he made up words and sang about our trip. Everyone in the bar was listening to them, and when we were leaving, one lady wanted to know when he would be playing here again. It was insane! It was one of those “I can’t believe this is actually happening right now” moments, and we loved it. I think we’ll become regulars there! Wednesday night we had our official Welcome dinner, and we went to a cute little place and had a very French meal. It was delicious, and I’ve had a great time just getting to know everyone in the program better.
Thursday started with a walking tour of the city. Pam, the program director, showed us around and had a lot of great info about the city to share. It’s very old, and there is a lot of old Roman influence and ruins still around, and I just love all the history there is. I swear this is the most beautiful city I have ever been in. It’s very quaint, and I just want to stick my head out the window and yell Bonjour every morning, Beauty and the Beast style (although I don’t think that would go over too well). Anyways, after our tour on Thursday, and bunch of us went to a restaurant called The Olde Bulldogge, and when we walked in there was actually a little bulldog on a leash tied to our table! He sat under our table for the whole meal, and was super sweet. Sarah, I immediately thought of you! The rest of the day was very relaxed. We went to a café and spent a couple hours just sitting, and then Clare and I had dinner on Cours Mirabeau, which is the well known street here. Last night we experienced the French bar scene, and that was pretty interesting. I’m pretty sure half of the people were American everywhere we went, but we had a great time! My favorite part was probably the fact that there was a drink called a Sexy Zombie.
Friday was pretty relaxed. We didn’t have any activities planned, so we’re just took it easy. We got the results of our placement test, and I placed in a pretty high level, which I’m happy about!
Today we took the bus to Marseille, and Pam gave us a tour of the city. We went to a beautiful church, Notre Dame de la garde, which sat on top of a hill that over looked the city and the Mediterranean. We also walked along a fish market that had a ton of fish fresh off the boats, and even a live octopus or two up for sale! It was a really great day! When we got back, a couple of us went shopping to get some more weather appropriate clothing. The California girl was soooo not properly prepared! Then everyone in the program came over, we got pizza from the bakery next to our apartment, and played mafia. It was really great fun. Tomorrow we’re touring the Luberon, which I am very excited about!
I promise there will be more updates once I get internet in the apartment! I am having the time of my life, and there are so many times that I just stop to take it all in, and think, “Oh my Gosh! I am actually in France, doing this right now! I am actually here having this amazing experience!” Don’t want to worry anyone, but I just might not ever come home!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I leave tomorrow!!!

Well, I'm about to go to bed, but I don't think I'm going to get much sleep tonight. I'm way too excited!! I can't believe I actually leave for France tomorrow. My flight is at 2:20, then I have a nice 12 hour flight to Frankfurt, followed by a 6 hour layover, and then a 2 hour flight to Marseille. Luckily the little cold I caught a couple days ago seems to be slowly going away. I'll just have to take a lot of Tylenol PM. Thanks to everyone for seeing me off, and I'll see you all in June!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Practicing my French

The closer I get to leaving, the more I realize that I really need to be practicing my French!! So, today I am watching Batman Begins and the Dark Knight in French. Yes, Batman seems a little less threatening when he's speaking in French, but it's a fun way to get ready. Sarah's also been a big help. She has her French 5 final next week, so she's been walking around the house speaking French and had me quiz her on her French vocabulary. It's been a great help.

I keep finding little things I have to do, and although my To Do list is making me a little nervous, I love doing it because it means I'm getting even closer to leaving. I can't wait!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Getting Ready

Alright, it's starting to feel real! My room is a mess of piles trying to figure out how much I can bring with me. I feel like I'm adding things on my To Do list faster than I can get them done. But I have a passport with a Visa and Euros in my wallet, and I am so ready to start this adventure. Just one more week!!!!

I got my schedule of activities today from our program director in France. It looks very cool, and almost every weekend there's an optional excursion. I don't think I'll be spending a single weekend at my own apartment! I'm particularly looking forward to going to the Luberon because I just finished reading Peter Mayle's book, A Year in Provence, and it makes Provence just sound like the most amazing place ever. I'm also excited about the wine tasting and cooking classes. I'm going to be a pro with French cuisine when I get back.

Hopefully I'll get to see some of you in the week before I leave, but if not, I'll see you when I get back!!!