Tuesday, July 27, 2010

La Dernière Jour

We took our time getting ready again and headed back into the city. It was between 4 and 5 when we got there. We went to see the Moulin Rouge first, while it was still day time. It was really cool! And the area that it is in was full of cool things. For example: Starbucks!!! I got a caramel macciato and was in heaven. We explored some more, went in to a few souvenir stores, and then walked in the direction of Sacre Coeur, that area has SO many souvenir stores and I still needed to get one last thing. We ran into a kebab place on the way and decided to get one last kebab from France, I’m kind of upset that I didn’t try one of those until our last night in Chambéry, they’re so good! We ate until we were more than full again, this time for only 5 Euros each. We found a grocery store on the way and bought some snacks for the flight home. I found what I needed to in a souvenir store and then we headed over to the Eiffel Tower! Last time we were here we only got to walk to the second level and we wanted to go all the way to the top. To our disappointment the line was hours long (and we only had 2.5 hours max) so we had to pass on that, but its ok. We went to the second level last time and the view from there is better than the top, you can see more. We found a bathroom and then set out to find a crêpe. We did and it was DELICIOUS! We ate them while sitting on a bench in a park by the Eiffel Tower. It was nice to relax and people watch. A great way to close out our time in Europe.
When we got back to the hotel we used one of their computers in the lobby with free internet to check in for our flight. Minor Problem: We’re flying from Paris to Madrid, Madrid to Boston, and finally Boston to NYC (stupid I know, but it’s what they gave us). But our flight from Boston to NYC no longer exists and they haven’t given us a new one yet. So we couldn’t print our boarding passes. And who knows how long we will be in Boston. I’m not too worried though because whatever ends up happening it wasn’t our fault and the airline will have to take care of us. We will see…

Paris, Day One

Sunday we had to get up early yet again, our train to Paris left at 8:20. Yet again a night with not enough sleep! We were quite a sight in the train station: two girls, each wearing backpacks, lugging around 3 big suitcases and one small one. Ridiculous. We got on our TGV with no problem, managed to carry our bags up the stairs because of course our seat was on the top level. Anna slept on the train while I spent two hours organizing photos. I have gotten pretty much all the pictures of Hope, Brooke, Anna, Michael, and Jeffrey, and then some of Mike’s so I had a lot to go through! Now they’re all organized in folders by date, ready for me to go through and pick out which ones to order (which will be happening on our flight to the US). When we got to Paris we easily found a cab to take us to our hotel, there was no way we were lugging everything through the métro. We got to our hotel about 10 minutes before check in time so we waited and then just fell asleep when we got to our room. We woke up around 4, took our time getting ready, and then headed into Paris. Since our hotel was by Orly airport it was pretty obnoxcious getting into the city. We had to take a shuttle to the airport, a bus for almost 7 Euros to the RER train, and then the RER train to the métro. Pain in the butt. We had planned to meet Alex and John, two guys who also studied with us in Chambéry and just happened to be in Paris this weekend, at 9 in front of Notre Dame. We were obviously early, and very hungry, so we decided to find somewhere to eat. While walking down a little side street full of restaurants a man who owned a Greek restaurant convinced us to eat there. It was 12 Euros for bread, a starter, main dish, and dessert, and he threw in a free cocktail “because you are from the states.” I’m pretty sure everybody got a free cocktail though. Dinner was delicious, we ate til we were more than full (a rare things this trip…unless we were at Mark and Joy’s) and just enjoyed the restaurant and Paris. It took 2-3 hours for dinner but the timing was perfect. But the time we had finished eating it was time to head to Notre Dame to meet the guys.
They were late. Typical. But it was fun because there were several entertainers around to watch-a man juggling and balancing on a rope, a band playing…never a dull moment in Paris! And we talked to a couple people in French, two different fairly lengthy conversations, we loved it! I LOVE being able to just understand people and communicate with them, obviously I can do that in America but it’s just cooler here. I’ve been learning French since I was 12 and now I’ve finally been able to use it on a daily basis. The guys finally showed up a little before 9:30. We stayed in the area for a little longer, watched a band of some sort play, and then went back to their hotel so they could change and so we could figure out somewhere to go dance. Googling ‘clubs in Paris’ didn’t return many reliable results. It was frustrating. We finally decided on ‘le monkey club,’ got its address (right off the Champs Elysées), and headed out. Apparently ‘le monkey club’ doesn’t exist. There was a club right near where it should have been, but they wanted 30 Euros for us to get in. No thank you. Alex and John had tried to get into a club called ‘Queen’ last time they were in Paris but had been denied. It was also on the Champs Elysées and they knew it was only 20 so we walked a little further til we found it. Thankfully they let us all in with no issues. But when we got downstairs we were shocked to find out that it was a gay club! Oops. We tried to make the best out of it and dance but it didn’t last long. We left, very upset, and the guys wanted to find a bar. We looked around for a while but nothing looked good so they took a cab back to their hotel. Doing that would have cost us 40-50 Euros so we decided not to. But the métro wasn’t running anymore because it was too late. Our plan had been to just be in a club until it opened again but that failed. The Champs Elysées is really lit up and full of people even at 3 AM so we decided to walk around some. We were in Paris, who cares if we wasted 20 Euros on a gay club (although that is a little upsetting)! We found a café/pizzeria that was open late. We each ordered a coffee and split some chocolate mousse and just enjoyed the night. Our four hour naps helped us to not be tired and miserable so that was good! We asked our server when the métro started running again. Unfortunately it was after the café closed. But he was really nice and even after they closed he had us wait inside while they cleaned up the place. We got to talk to him and a bunch of the other servers/employees (in French) and then when the métro finally started running again he walked with us because he had to take it home too. It was really nice! We made it back to our hotel and just slept until we woke up.

La France!

Saturday was a nice day…other than having to be up super early, and yet again getting 4-5 hours of sleep. Our train from Milan took us to Chambéry again. The next train to Lyon didn’t leave for over an hour so we had planned to meet up with our friend from when we studied there, he’s going to be in France for the whole year studying in Lille but is still in Chambéry until August. And it was cool because while looking for Jeremiah we saw two of our other friends who live in Chambéry. They had a train to catch but it was cool to see the briefly one last time. Jeremiah showed up with a baguette for us and we went to the park to relax and soak up Chambéry one last time. The market was going on so we went there and looked around. It was really nice to just be there again. We had stopped in Chambéry on Monday too on our way to Milan. And Anna had needed to go to her bank so we had to walk right past our apartments from before. I went to the bakery there while she was at the ATM and then stood outside our former homes and waited for Anna. It was sad and I had to try really hard to not cry a little. Chambéry was just perfect. This summer was amazing, I can’t get over it.
We got on our train to Lyon a little after noon and then transferred to a train back to Givors. Mark met us at the train station and on the way back to their house we stopped at Carrefour because he needed some things and me and Anna got some snacks for the rest of the trip. The rest of the day involved packing and relaxing and an AMAZING dinner made by Joy. Everything she makes is delicious. It was such a blessing to stay at their home this summer. And I love how Mark and Joy lived in Apalachin and know my family. It was an extra comfort. One night Mark was telling us a couple stories about my Grandpa Hall, just funny things he did that Mark remembers. From the stories I get this feeling that if he were still alive we would get along very well  After dinner Anna and I relaxed some and then we talked on skype with Mike and Michael…highlight of the day. It was fun to catch up with them, ahh I already miss being together with all of our friends in Chambéry, October is going to be GREAT.

Back in MIlan

Friday we had to get up early to get to the train station in time for our train to Milan. We left the campground around 7 in the morning and made it to the train station in plenty of time. Our train to Milan was about four hours and we were in a compartment with 4 other people. One of them was from the US, she goes to NC State. We talked with her for a while, and she’s taken Italian 101 and 102, and is currently in a summer language program in Italy (like ours in France) so she would include one of the other men in our car in our conversation. And he spoke a little French too so that was fun! Even though we had gotten about four hours of sleep the night before I couldn’t fall asleep so I just wrote in my journal, I haven’t been as good about keeping up with that. It’s hard to do this blog and my journal, and then when I email Matt it’s the third time I’ve gone through what’s been going on, it’s just too time consuming to do all three. When we arrived in Milan Esmeralda’s friend Arnold was waiting for us. We had gone out to eat with him the first time we were in Milan. Esmeralda was on vacation so he was our guide. And he brought his friend Carolina too, she grew up in Milan so it was cool to be with her for the day. We first took showers and then we went to Carolina’s house to relax. She still lives at home with her family, we got to meet her mom. They were both SO welcoming. Carolina made us pasta and salad, she was glad to show us the way pasta is supposed to be. She’s been to the US and says that we don’t do it right. Everything was delicious. And then in the middle of the afternoon she made us Italian coffee, I loved it! We relaxed some more in her air conditioned living room and it was fun to just talk to her and Arnold. They’re both really nice. We went to see a couple more churches on our way to dinner. There are SO many churches in Italy! And they’re so beautiful. After that we went to happy hour at a different place than the other time. It was good, but there wasn’t as much pasta in the buffet…Anna and I were disappointed. We took our time there, and again enjoyed talking to Arnold and Carolina some more. After that we walked through a different part of Milan. It was nice to be with Carolina who grew up there because she would show us different hidden places, while Esmeralda did a good job showing us what tourists “need” to see in Milan. We got the best of both worlds! We took our time walking through various side streets, we went back to the duomo after dark, and she showed us an area the was an ancient marketplace, now there was a giant book vendor set up there. We sat and listened to a man playing the saxophone on the street for a while and then went to get our last gelato. We soaked up Milan a little more and then headed back to go to bed; our train was at 6:40AM the next day!

Pictures to come...


We arrived in Florence around 9:30 on Wednesday night, and the adventure began.  We were no longer with a native Italian to help us get around and we just prayed that we would run into someone who spoke English to help us out.  The hostel that I had booked gave pretty clear directions to their location and we just needed to figure out how to buy a bus ticket.  We asked a food vendor and he told us we could buy it right on the bus, it was more expensive that way but easiest.  We found our bus pretty easily and when we got on it there were a few girls talking in English so we talked to them for a bit.  Two of them were from Erie, Pennsylvania and they were with a friend of theirs from Germany.  They were really nice and it was comforting to talk to other Americans in a country where we didn’t know the language.  We almost missed our stop for the “hostel” but luckily we checked where we were right at our stop.  I say “hostel” because it was a campground.  I found it on hostel world and it’s located in an olive grove so they can’t have hard roofs (I don’t know why…) so there are actual camp sites for those who come prepared, or, in our case, there are tents set up with wooden floors and actual beds inside.  It was really cool!  Totally worth it for 18 Euros a night.  We dropped off our stuff and walked around the city for a while, it was nice.
Thursday we slept until we wanted to and took our time getting ready.  We started the day off by going to the Piazzale Michelangelo, it was a 3 minute walk from where we were staying and has a magnificent view of the city.  We took some pictures, soaked up the view and then set off to figure out how to get to the actually city.   It wasn’t far and we were walking for a while so finally this woman helped redirect us.  It only helped so much and we ended up back near the piazzale.  Anna saw some guys who looked a little confused as well and their t-shirts were in English so we asked them if they knew.  They didn’t, they were in the same predicament as us so the five of us decided to look for the way to the city together.  The three of them were in their upper 20s, all really nice.  And one of them is a CPA at Deloitte!  I asked them what they do and when he said that I was so excited!  I told him that’s what I want to be and about my internship at PwC this coming winter.  We talked about accounting and how he likes it and stuff for the rest of the walk into town; it was really cool and got me excited for my future job.
After probably 20 minutes of walking we made it to the city and parted ways with them.  Then Anna and I just walked around, saw some churches, the bridge that is well known there, looked around at countless markets, and ate some pizza for lunch!  We walked some more but it was SO hot (mid 90s and up all day) and we were just drained.  We had some gelato and sat and then decided to head back to our campsite until dinner.  We hung out at this bar area with a bunch of picnic tables and talked to this man from Amsterdam and then a couple that was traveling together.  The guy had just graduated from UNC and is looking into law school at Syracuse and his girlfriend is from Scotland.  It was a lot of fun talking to them all and it was nice to relax until the sun went down.  I fell asleep in our tent a little after that and slept through dinner, but then I woke up and Anna and I decided to follow the music we could hear from our tent.  We ended up at a bar/lounge/something that was a two minute walk from the campground.  It was cool to be out and around Italians but also lame because we couldn’t speak Italian so if we wanted to talk to anyone they had to know English…or French but that was rare.  And there was a good sized dance floor and it was packed, but all but three people were just standing on the dance floor.  Not even exaggerating.  We stayed there for about 20 minutes and then just went back to the campground.  At least we tried!
pictures to come later...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quick update!

Typing on my itouch so this might be difficult and lots of typos, sorry in advance!

We made it to Italy! We go here Monday night and Esmeralda, a girl from Italy who studied at north park last year, met us at the station in Milan. She brought us back to her apartment an had gelato waiting in the freezer! It was a perfect welcome :-) we talked with her a little while and then went to bed (we didn't get here until almost 11).

Yesterday we explored the city, it was fun...lots of walking! We saw a couple churches and a castle and just walked around with our own personal tour guide :-) we met up with Esmeralda's friend, Arnold, for dinner. He goes to her school but is from Germany. We went to a place for happy hour, it was 7 euros for a glass of wine and a buffet of Italian foods, perfect! Everything was delicious. After we hung out and Walked around.

Today we saw Esmeralda's school and then went to Leonardo da Vinci's painting of the last supper. Then we met Arnold for lunch and now were just relaxing for a bit before out train to florence at 5:30 :-)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Saturday and Sunday...

Yesterday started out disappointing but turned out to be great!  We woke up at 6:30 in the morning to get ready and catch a train by 7:20 to head to Montpellier.  We got there around 10:30 in the morning and just began to wander.  We didn't have a map, and apparently we exited the train station on the wrong side because everything was DEAD.  We were walking around asking each other why everyone thought Montpellier was so great.  WE followed signs toward the port, thinking that would be right on the Mediterranean.  We walked...and walked...and walked.  We finally got sick of wandering aimlessly and asked a lady on the street if the sea was close.  She told us not by foot, we'd need to backtrack and take a bus.    While backtracking we ran into a Carrefour, it's a Walmart-type grocery store that's everywhere over here.  We bought snacks/food for the day and before leaving asked some guys who looked like they were going to the beach how to get there.  They looked at us really weird and weren't very helpful at all.  We just continued walking the way we had been and eventually ran into their tramway.  It looked closed so we stopped in a restaurant and asked yet again how to get to the beach.  The guy was more helpful than the previous two and then while waiting at the tramway we ran into a woman who asked us if we knew how to get to the beach.  It was cool to be on our own and using French to figure things out again.  The woman was either from England or Ireland (I hear Anglaise and Anna heard Irlandaise) but she kept talking to us in French which was cool.  She helped us figure out what needed to happen and we were finally at the beach by 12:30 or 1...over two hours after trying to get there.  But it was worth it to be in the Mediterranean one last time!  On our bus ride to the beach we met two girls who were backpacking through Europe.  They were from CA, but one of them goes to school at NYU.  They weren't very friendly though...whatever.

We stayed at the beach until 4ish and just sun bathed and talked and swam in the sea.  The water was SO warm like in Nice, it was almost like floating in bath water.  I don't think our pool at home gets that warm, it's weird.  It was a really hot day so we kept switching from laying out to the sea.  And I was dumb and forgot our sunscreen (I'm not always thinking clearly at 6:30 AM...) so my face got burnt, but other than that nothing got burnt.  My hair is getting super light on top though.  I haven't had this many highlights since I was in middle school and had nothing better to do with m summers but run free in the neighborhood!  We mad a goal to leave around 3:30 so we wouldn't fry but as we were thinking about going a guy heard us talking and came over to talk to us.  He works for a photo shop in the town by the beach we were at and goes around the beach taking pictures of people having fun at the beach, kind of like the people at amusement parks who are annoying and always want to take your picture so you can go buy it from them later.  We figured why not and had a mini photo shoot on the beach.  It was fun and i wish we had the pictures on our camera.  And the guy was really nice, he spoke really good English.  He said he went to Michigan State for a year while in college and I think he was in the US another time, when he spoke English he sure did not sound like a French person speaking English, it was almost like talking to someone from London. He gave us his card so we could go to the shop and buy the pictures if we wanted to, but we weren't around anymore by the time they would have been available.

After the beach we headed back into town.  We were already drained from the sun but we knew we had to find the Place Comedie.  It again took us way long than it should have but we eventually made it after a break for fanta, free wifi, and AC in McDonald's.  We only had a little over an hour in the place but it was enough.  It was really cool.  There was a market going on (our favorite!) and we bought a couple of souvenirs for ourselves and certain people at home.  And there was a reggae group singing a version "surely goodness and mercy shall follow me..." it was sweet!  We soaked up Montpellier a little bit, took some pics and made our way back to the train station.  It was a good day :-)  We had almost two hours in Lyon, our train from Montpellier got into Lyon 5 minutes after one left for Givors and for some reason another one didn't leave for another hour and 55 minutes :-( But it was ok, we just walked around outside for a while.  We walked past the bar where we ran into Miros (my roommate) and watched the first half of the US-Ghana game on our way back from Marseilles.  We just walked around town and everywhere we went something reminded us of someone from Chambery.  It's kind of sad, but I can't even be too sad.  I was just smiling all day while remembering with Anna.  I am so lucky to have been a part of these peoples' summers and I can't help but smile when I remember.  I think it's a good place to be in.  And out of the group of about 8 of us who hung out a lot I know that I will see them all again.  And I told Anna to just picture us when we all see each other again, it will be amazing and ridiculous and none of our friends at North Park are going to want to be around us, haha.

We shared a Kebab and then caught our train back to Givors.  Mark picked us up from the station and when we got back to their house I took a MUCH welcome shower.  Then Anna and I spent more time on our computers in one sitting than either of probably have.  There were just all these new pictures people had put on facebook and comments and Anna and i again spent the next hour or two telling stories and laughing.  I'm so glad she's here too.  We had a good balance this summer.  We had the same group of bigger friends (Us two,Yvonne, Hope, Liz, Brooke, Jeffrey, Mike, and Michael) but within that group she had people who would always want to stay out and dance with her, while I had people who would have rather have just hung out and talked.  But then the whole group of us would hang out a lot during the day, so we know the people who we were talking about in our stories, but sometimes we have different stories that the other one wasn't there for, but because we know the people they're still hilarious. 

This morning we went to Mark and Joy's church.  It was great!  I absolutely love going to church over here.  And it just keeps getting better and better as we've been here longer because it is really easy to just listen and understand nearly everything.  And we were telling mark and Joy how we like churches over here because they feel more intimate and close-knit.  Like the worship and singing lasts longer, and then there will be a time for anyone in the congregation to just pray out loud and thank God for whatever he's been doing in their life, or to pray for something they're going through.  Not to say that doesn't happen in the states, it does, but just as freely or as frequently.   There was a time for visitors to stand up and introduce themselves, so Anna and I stood up and Joy offered to introduce us.  She said we were students from America and that we had been studying over here for 6 weeks.  And then because she had said that a couple people came over to talk to us after church.  It was cool.  One of the guys had lived in the US from 6 years growing up and he was really excited to speak English with us, and then another one had studied somewhere in Illinois for a year a little while ago.  It was fun to talk to them, someone and then one of their friends came over to tell them about something that was going on this week, and she said me and Anna could come too, but we'll be in Italy.  It was really nice of them though!

After church Mark and Joy brought us back and we had a quick lunch together.  They left because Joy is hosting a quilting camp in a nearby town this week and she had to go get set up for it.  Anna and I have just been hanging out, we did the dishes and then did laundry for only the second time since we've been here....amazing!  We're just taking it easy for the day.  Later we're planning to pack up so we don't have as much to do next weekend when we return.  Tomorrow we're headed to Italy ( the land of my people :-P ) until Friday or Saturday.  I'm not bringing my laptop just because it will be one less thing to worry about.  But I will have my itouch so I might update this if I feel the need...at the very least my facebook status will be updated whenever I can find internet!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

About my Time in Chambery...

So me and Anna are back on our own again.  It's weird.  We feel like we're just on one of our one day or weekend excursions and that tonight or tomorrow we'll return to all our friends in Chambery.  But that's not how it is.  It's weird and sad but I'm glad I still have Anna to turn to and say "remember when...." 

This whole summer has been such a unique experience and I truly feel that each and every person I came into contact with changed me.  Anna said it's cool to have known me and how I am at school but to then see me here, still similar to the me at school, but just more carefree and laid-back. This summer has just been so refreshing and amazing in so many ways.  I met so many great people, did so many things that I would never think to do at home (for example...canyoning, I just don't do things that aren't guaranteed to be safe), gotten to discover more of myself, and I've for sure grown closer to God.  It's amazing and I thank God everyday for bringing me here.  He has truly blessed me and looking back on the past 6 and a half weeks I see how he was there all along the way.  We have had such a good experience here so far, nothing has gone seriously wrong and even when things did (my camera breaking) I was able to just go with it and not stress out about it. Everyone's prayers are being answered, and this has been the most amazing experience of my life.

It's been so fun to just meet people, not only the Americans in our program but local French people or other people from other countries who are living in France.  It's funny to see the things that bond us together.  God, speaking English, speaking French, music, dancing...it's beautiful.  I'm constantly reminded that there are so many people in the world, I've grown up in this focused little bubble and it's just been amazing to expand my horizons and get out and experience the world. Before I left, Kelly Hall (my babysitter from growing up) told me that I would be addicted to traveling after this and she's right.  Several people told me how great of a time I would have over here and I expected to have fun and enjoy myself but I never expected to become so close to so many people so quickly, laughing constantly, or that I'd find myself just talking to complete strangers.  I'm usually skeptical of people, mostly just from living in Chicago, but I have honestly never felt threatened over here.  Yea when all the girls would be walking around town dressed up and stuff people would talk to us, but it was never worried for anyone.  And even about getting stuff stolen.  Yea, we were careful to hang on to our stuff in Paris but in other little cities people are just so trusting.  At the beach in Montpellier yesterday people would just leave their things in the sand and go in the water, not even thinking twice.  It's cool.  It's going to be so weird to go back home and get back into the routine of real life.  Although I miss it when i stop and think about home, I am excited to get to spend a few more days in Europe, and that Anna's here to reminisce with me...maybe I'll be sick of talking about it so that I don't drive you all nuts when I get home!

Friday, July 16, 2010


The past two days have been great!  I don't even remember what exactly we all did, but we've all just been hanging out together.  Very little sleep, lots of hanging out and good times.  We considered another all nighter Wednesday night, then thought about a sleepover, but then we all just hung out til 4 and went to our own rooms for a little sleep before class on Thursday.  Thursday morning I woke up at 8:37 to the sound of my buzzer.  We usually meet to walk to school at 8:30.  I guess I missed my alarm...I got dressed in record speed and ran out the door to meet everyone.  We had our final 20 minute hike up to school.  It was bittersweet, possibly the only thing I won't miss about this trip, but it was still a last and a reminder we won't be here anymore. 

In class we had an easy day, and  Sabine was our prof for the day :-)  We got some grades back.  The grading system here is way different than in the US.  It's out of 20 but apparently it's really hard to get an 18, and a 12 is considered good.  I'm hoping whoever translates my grades at school knows that too.  We got our reading comprehension back that we did last Friday, the one that I was struggling so hard to focus on at the time...I got an 18!! my other grades were all decent too and the four sections average into a little over a 16...which we decided is like and A in America...at least I hope!

Anna, Jeffrey, and Me with on of our teachers :-)

After class they had a farewell drink for us and then we all parted ways for a little while to get some things done.  Some people went out for Indian food for Laura's birthday, Anna, Hope, Yvonne, Brooke, and I went to the train station to buy train tickets.  Ugh it's so sad.  We got everything we needed without any issues and then we went to help Brooke buy a phone.  Then we all just went to our rooms for a little bit and packed and stuff.  Hope and I went to the jewelery store at some point and then met up with everyone else a little after.  We all hopped from room to room and hung out.  It was good just hanging out and being together.  We all had a picnic at 8:30 in the park.  We played frisbee and hung out.  Then I went to get Kebabs with Brooke, Jeffrey, Mike, and Michael.  It was good, I hadn't had one the entire trip (which is amazing because people get them all the time because they're so cheap).   I wasn't too hungry so Jeffrey split one with me.  It was delicious!

 Mike and Jeffrey

After that we stopped back at the park and then went back to our apartments.  We got ready and hung out some more and then we went to Mojito at midnight-ish.  We hung out, danced, and enjoyed eachother for one last night.  A bunch of people went to the club around 2 but I left with Jeffrey, Brooke, Michael, and Mike and we just hung out in Michael's room til the morning (except Jeffrey, he decided to go to sleep in his room...).  At 5:30 we left to bring Mike to the bus stop.  But when we got there we found out that he gets his numbers mixed up and his bus didn't actually leave until 7...so we sat outside and waited with him.

After that we all took naps of some sort and then Anna, Jeffrey, Hope, Hope's mom, Michael, and I went for lunch together.  We went to this burger place and it was SO good :-) They gave us so much food, it was like we were already back in America.  After that we hung out just a little more and then it was a massive group trip to the train station/bus stop.  Anna and I took a 4:01 train while Michael and Liz were getting on a 4:00 bus.  A bunch of other people came to see us off...ugh it was rough.  After hugging goodbye several times we parted ways.  I hated it.  It's not like saying goodbye to people at home or at school, because in those situations we know that we'll be together again, and we usually have a pretty good idea as to when that is.  All I know is that I can't wait until my birthday, everyone's coming to visit Chicago and it will be amazing :-)

Anna and I struggled to get our bags through the train station.  We have so much stuff, I forgot how miserable it was to travel with all our bags.  Other than that we had a pretty easy trip back to Mark and Joy's.  We met a man on the train from the US and talked to him for a little while.  Joy picked us up from the train station and brought us back to their house.  We talked to her while she made an AMAZING dinner and now we're just relaxing, bed time is soon.  We have a busy day tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tuesday into Wednesday...

Another great day on Tuesday :-)  Class dragged by but once it was over the fun began!  There were some people from school were outside having a picnic and invited us to join.  It was fun, we talked (in French) with one of the administrative people at the school, and some French students, while relaxing and having a little snack/lunch.  After a while Anna, Yvonne, Hope and I headed into town and did a little shopping.  For about 25 Euros I got a dress (which I LOVE and plan to wear Thursday night, look for the pictures :-P), two shirts, and a necklace to go with the dress.  Super exciting, these soldes really are the greatest.

Hope and I were quickly all shopped out, so we convinced the other two to get ice cream and Michael met us there.  After ice cream Anna and Yvonne shopped a little more while Hope, Michael, and I just relaxed.  It was necessary.  Jeffrey and Brooke joined us later and then Mike got back from Chartreuse.  We all hung out until 9 when we were meeting to go see fireworks.  In France July 14 is the equivalent of our 4th of July so there were fireworks last night (even though it was the 13th....I wonder if there are some tonight too?).  The fireworks were sweet, we were so close to where they set them off that ask was raining down on us, something I've never experienced while watching fireworks.  The bus back into town was packed so we decided to walk.

We got home a little after 11, changed and then went to Mojito...again.  The town was SO alive last night because today's a national holiday...and there are a bunch of tourists around for the tour de France, which started here this morning :-D  We hung out, decided to go to the club cause we heard it was free.  We didn't have our IDs but the guy took care of that for us, but then we got inside and found out it was 10 Euros...not worth it.  We came home and Mike, Michael, and Brooke were hanging out in my room because they had my key and the internet didn't work in any of their rooms.  We hung out for a while and before we knew it the four of us turned it into an all nighter.  I fell asleep around 6:30, which was upsetting because we had said we'd make it until 7 and then go to our rooms to shower and stuff because we had to meet at 8:30 this morning for the tour.

After we met this morning we walked to the main part of town and claimed our spot on the side of the road.  Everyone, even those who didn't pull an all-nighter, was pooped.  We all have the same mentality: It's our last week, let's stay out late and make the most of it!  We stood around for about 4 hours waiting for it to start.  but there was stuff going on the whole time.  We got a lot of random free stuff, saw a parade and then it began.  The bikers were SO close to us.  Like close enough that Mike, who was standing next to me, shook one of their hands while waiting for it to start.  #211.  It was SO cool.  And Michael got a sweet pic of Lance that I stole from his facebook:
Now it's nap time.  We all agreed to go to our rooms and sleep for three hours.  I'm not too tired, at least I haven't been.  I packed and started cleaning.  It's so sad.  This summer has been so perfect.  I can't believe it.  I feel like I've known my friends here forever, I can't believe that two months ago I didn't even know they existed.  It's so weird.  Tomorrow night and Friday are going to be fun but rough.  It's going to be so weird to say goodbye.  It's different than saying goodbye to other people.  When I leave home and say goodbye I know that I'll be back for Christmas or the summer and that I'll see who I want to see.  When I leave Chicago for the summer I know that we'll be right back in the fall.  Those things aren't so sad.  But with these people, it's not like we're just going to all meet up again in France next summer (I wish!).  We will never ALL be together again, and that's sad.  There are so many different personalities on this trip, yet the group as a whole is SO fun.  We were out dancing at Mojito on Monday night and you would NEVER guess that we just met less than 6 weeks ago.  I'm getting teary-eyed typing this so I'm going to stop.  I wish I could explain the unique bond we all have, but it's impossible.  I will never forget this summer or these people.

France is great, I love it, I never want to leave :-(

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The final countdown...

Today was a great day! We were allowed to go to class late because our bus from Nice didn't get back until 5 in the morning.  When we got to school the classes were on break and we ended up only having to endure 1 hr and 10 minutes of class :-)

After class Anna and I made lunch and Jeffrey and Hope came over while some of the others went out to eat.  After that we all just hung out in the hallway/Anna's kitchen and put pictures online and stuff.  It was good to just be together without needing to do much of anything.

Around 6 we all went our separate ways to get ready for our dinner.  Included in the cost of the program was a dinner "gala."  It was SO fun and everyone looked SO good.  I wish I had pictures on my camera but I didn't even bother to bring it because of the broken screen,  just made sure whoever I was around took some good ones.  I don't know if I stopped smiling the entire time, it was great.  The food was questionable but it was great to just hang out, be dressed up, and be with everyone.

After the dinner we cruised around the lake, got home around midnight and then headed out to Mojito.  We all figure that it's our last week and we might as well live it up!  A bunch of us got tired and left there at 2, we do still have tests tomorrow.  It's exciting though, this week we don't have class on Wednesday because it's their equivalent of the 4th of July (and also the day that the tour de France starts in Chambery) and Friday we don't have class because they're all done on Thursday, so we have plenty of time to just enjoy each other's company.  It's great.  I'm going to miss all of this so much, it's truly been the ideal summer.  I'm always happy and just loving every minute.  I wish it didn't have to end, but I'm ready to enjoy every last minute of it!

France is as good as ever, and I am for sure still loving it :-)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

This is gonna be hard to remember everything that has happened since Wednesday...

We had class FOREVER. It was our last super long day at school though so that was cool, and I brought my computer and was able to load nearly 400 pictures to facebook during that time (and to think, 400 are just my favorites!). After class me, Hope, and Michael went for ice cream and walked around for a while. Michael found this mall type thing hidden between buildings. We've been here 5 weeks and haven't even known it existed. We invited Louie over for dinner and he brought one of his friends. There were like 10 of us all eating and hanging out, and then we went to O'Cardinals for the Spain-Germany game. After that we walked around some more, some people got ice cream, and then we walked back home. Some people went to bed but Brooke, Hope, Michael, and I hung out in Michael's room for a while. We were gonna watch a TV show or something but then we all just talked. It was good, I really enjoyed it.

Watching the game outside...

We had class with Sabine again, it had been a while! It was good, I don't remember what we did but I do remember being interested the whole time. After class I walked back to the apartments with Jeffrey and Michael while the girls went shopping. I've decided that any clothing that I have bought over here has been just to buy it, not because I really need it...and that's ok for a little but I'm trying to avoid excessive clothing purchases. We ate lunch and then went to meet up with some people at 4. Me and Anna had to buy train tickets and Jeffrey and Michael had to buy train or bus tickets of some sort too. Me and Anna bought our tickets to Italy! They leave a little later than we hoped but we aren't going to Normandy at the end anymore so we have Monday-Saturday in Italy. We could only buy reservations to Milan, we have to wait until we're in Italy to buy our tickets back and between the different cities. Right now we're hoping to go from Milan to Florence to Venice to Verona and then back to France...hopefully it works out! Then we bought tickets from Givors to Paris for that Sunday. Crazy! After that we all went home and napped and showered and got ready. I went over to Anna's around 8 to finish getting ready with the girls. We were going to eat dinner too but my appetite has been super weird lately. I'm stuffy and kind of sick and I just have no desire to eat. I don't feel hungry and even our classic bread dipped in olive oil didn't sound good to me that night. Weird.

We left around 9:30 to go to a concert at the castle. It was SO good! It was completely a cappella and amazing. We missed the beginning of it and it was over way too soon. After the concert we went to Mojito. That was also fun. We hung out and talked and did some Karaoke. Karaoke ended sooner than we expected, we only got one song in (Brittney Spears, Hit Me Baby One More Time) and then we headed over to the club. It was SO fun. Almost every song they played was American music and I'm pretty sure that I didn't even sit down for a whole song the entire time we were there. Amazing, I know! A bunch of us left at 3:45 and headed home, not too excited about having class on Friday...On our way out of the club I fell down the stairs, usually not a big deal, I'm clumsy and fall a lot. It was a spirally staircase and I was walking toward the middle so I could reach the railing and because it's so narrow toward the middle I missed a step and fell. I was fine, but my camera (that was attached to my wrist) took quite the hit. I looked at it, it seemed fine and I didn't think anything of it. But then on the bus on Friday I turned it on and the screen is broken, it got scratched just a little too deep. I almost cried. It still takes pictures, which is good, but I just can't see them. Dangit. And it's not covered by my warranty so until I get working again I have a busted camera. Ugh.


In class we had a test. We were warned on Thursday, and in theory the material wasn't very hard but it took every single last ounce of concentration to do it. One of the people said that their professor looked around the room at them and then took a survey of when people went to bed, haha! It's ok though, we all had fun and it was worth it, we made it through the class and then had to meet at 12:45 for our bus to Nice. The bus took FOREVER! It was about 7 hours from the time we left Chambery to the time we arrive in Nice. Which wouldn't have been too awful but the whole route was through twisty roads in the mountains. It was so obnoxious and everyone on the bus got a taste of the motion sickness that I experience every time I get on a bus over here. When we got toe Nice we checked in to our hotel and then we were free. A bunch of us all walked around looking for some dinner. It was kind of obnoxious to do that with such a big group of people, especially when most people were crabby because they were so hungry. We finally had enough of the indecisiveness and Brooke, LaTia, Michael, and I went to KFC while the others went to a too expensive, not very good looking, Chinese food place across the street. After that we all figured out who wanted to do what. Jeffrey had left a while back to see his friend who happened to be in Nice too; Dana and Liz went back to the hostel and slept; Hope, Anna, and Yvonne went back to get dressed to go look for a club (they can't get enough dancing!); and then Brooke, LaTia, Michael, and I went and explored town some. We found this place where there was a foot volley tournament. Basically they play volleyball but, like in "football", they can't use their hands. It was pretty cool to watch. We sat there for a while and then moved over to this area where there were lots of pretty fountains and sat for a little. We eventually made it down to the beach and it was awesome. The Mediterranean felt SO nice. I just pulled my skirt up a little higher and walked in. It's weird here, the beaches are all rocks, not a single beach has sand in Nice. The four of us hung out and talked a while. We didn't leave the beach until almost 2 am. When we got back we all just went to sleep.

 Foot Volley

We met at 11 to head to the beach. Some people branched off and went shopping first, but I continued to just avoid them temptation and went to the beach with Brooke, Jeffrey, and Michael. We found a good spot and headed into the water. it felt just as good as the night before. It was the warmest water that I've been in, that wasn't a pool. I could seriously just get in without having to slowly walk and get use to it. Everyone else eventually showed up and it was good. The day was pretty much spent relaxing at the beach. Jeffrey left earlier than the rest and then I left with a couple other people before everyone else. The girls were going shopping again and not only did I not want to spend money, I was wet from the Mediterranean and wanted a shower. After I showered I hung out with Michael and Jeffrey and then we found somewhere to eat while the rest of our group got ready. We went to Monaco last night so everyone was getting all nice and dressed up. We left later than planned and missed the train we had planned to take but luckily there was another one a half hour later. We went to the platform and got on the train, but then about 2 minutes before it was supposed to leave we were informed the train to Monaco was a platform over, they switched it and everyone on the train missed the memo. There was a rush of people out of the train, down the stairs and then back up the other ones, but we all made it.

The Beach

We got to Monte Carlo in Monaco a little before 9:30 and it was just crazy! I wish I had my own pictures to post on here, but they'll get on photobucket from Anna eventually. We walked around and headed to the Casino. Everything in the city was just rich. Like the people who live there, or even spend a night there, have to be completely loaded. We got to the casino and Jeffrey and Michael weren't allowed in because, although they looked nice, they weren't wearing pants. Liz and I just went in to look, we didn't really care to do much else, and it was 10 Euro to get into the main room anyway. We left after a minute and the two of us walked around with Jeffrey and Michael while the other girls did what they wanted to do. We all met at 11 again to check in but then people were being indecisive again so the four of us told everyone to meet at the train station at 11:45 (the last train for the night to nice was at 11:58) and then we kept walking. We walked down around the water. Everything there was beautiful. It was crazy. We got back to the train station at 11:45 and were waiting for the others. Jeffrey and Liz stood right inside the door and I walked around while Michael was waiting on the sidewalk looking up the hill. I went over to look with him and by the time it was 11:50 we started to get worried. Finally when there were only 5 minutes left we realized we had to get moving, even if the other girls weren't there. We walked in the door and Jeffrey and Liz had already left and then we remembered the really long walk we had after getting off the train. Luckily my shoes were off because the two of us were running to get to the platform. I felt like it was a movie or something. Me in the nice dress, holding me shoes, and running through the marble halls of a really nice train station. Two really long hallways and two escalators later we made it to the platform and got on the train. Out of breath, we found everyone else. Apparently the girls we had been waiting for outside went straight in the station and to the platform by 11:45 and we were just outside. Almost a miscommunication gone really bad.

When we got back to Nice I just packed and then went to bed. We had to check out at 10:30 today and after that we went to the beach again. We spent a good three or so hours there and then branched off and did whatever we wanted to until 4:30. Again, I avoided shopping, it's so hard to do when everything is on sale and ridiculously reasonably priced. Michael didn't want to shop either so we just walked around the main Street, going in and out of air conditioned stores, a very nice break from the intense humidity. We eventually ended up just sitting in the mall in some chairs and ran into Jeffrey then. The three of us just sat until a little before 4:30 and then went to meet the others. Some people went to see Twilight, not me, and the rest of us continued to wander Nice. It was kind of Nice to have free time but I didn't know what to do with all of it. After walking around for a few minutes Yvonne decided to go shop on her own some more, and then Michael and I ran into Liz and Sam and asked if they wanted to go find somewhere to eat. They had already eaten so we just went to Quick Burger and sat in the air conditioning and used their internet on my itouch for the rest of the time. At 7ish we all met up again. It was entertaining to hear their take on the movie, it was in French with no subtitles. Ha. Then we went to the grocery store and bought some snacks for the bus home. We all walked some more, and then found a little restaurant that was playing the world cup game. The people who were at the movie ate dinner while the rest of us just ordered drinks or a snack. And the guy gave us free chips and salsa :-) We met back for the bus at 9, left around 9:30 and the journey began...

I'm going to miss this so much. I just can't get over it. This is the most amazing experience and I can't believe how close we've all gotten over the past 5 weeks. Last night when we got back from Monaco, Liz, Michael, Jeffrey, and I walked around and we ran into a guy who looked lost. I asked him (in French) if we could help him, he responded by asking if we speak English and then we walked with him while he looked for his hotel (we were going the same way). He was from Oregon and then asked us where we were from. After we told him all our different places he was shocked to hear that we didn't all know each other before coming to France, he said we seemed like we had known each other a long time. This week is going to be a lot of fun, but I am not looking forward to Friday. But the good news is that we were all talking about it and it sounds like a lot of people are going to come visit Chicago for my 21st birthday in October!!! I'm SO excited. Jeffrey has his fall break then, Hope said she'd drive over from Ohio, Yvonne wants to try to come, Michael said he'd definitely drive from Indiana, Liz thinks it would work, and we're going to work on a fund for Mike to fly in from CA. It will be great :-) Well I have some homework to do, I'll try to be better at updating this but who knows what the week holds!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Today was a good day!  The weather was absolutely beautiful and class didn’t drag by too much.  I didn’t get a ton of sleep last night so it was a little rough, but considering it all I handled the day very well.  I figure that I should just do whatever and be with everyone because in a week and a half that will no longer be an option :-( I seriously get emotional every time I think about that, so we all decided to ignore it for now.
Anna and I got up early to go to the market to get our food for the week.  I forgot to write this last week, but one of the guys who sells his vegetables at the market knows us.  He saw us coming last week and I heard him say to his wife (in French)”here are the Americans,” before coming over to greet us.  It’s cool.  And the man at the train store knows us because we’ve gone in there a bunch to make reservations for traveling.  It’s cool.
After class we had some free time so we went shopping for a bit and then met Gillaume at 3 to play petanque.  It’s a French game that is basically bocce ball, there is no real difference, except that each team gets 5 balls.  There were three teams and the game took a while, my team didn’t end up winning but we didn’t end up losing either, not bad for four girls who didn’t really care…
We then headed to KFC for dinner.  They all had wanted to go there on the 4th of July (because it’s American) but they told us the bus never came so they couldn’t.  Today everyone’s hopes were granted and we ate fastfood with free refills on drinks…but not diet pepsi, I miss that stuff. 
When we got back we hung out for a while, some people went running while the rest of us continued to hang out, and then I watched a movie with Mike and Michael.  A nice relaxing day, but I had a lot of fun hanging out with everyone some more.  I can’t believe we’ve only been friends less than 5 weeks, I know I write that a lot but it’s truly baffling.  I don’t remember not being friends with everyone here!
Tomorrow we have a full day of class, morning and afternoon, but I’m sure we’ll make it great after :-) It’s bedtime!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Every day I love this more and more.  Ahh!  Today I was telling a couple of my friends that I just love everything that we're getting to do.  We're honestly living the life.  Yes, we get up for class at 9 AM every day, but starting at 12:30 we have the days free to do whatever, and we're in Europe!  And on a lot of days there are sweet activities organized for us that I wouldn't be doing at home.  And as an added plus, I can't remember the last time I was this tan!  My summers are usually spent working so I don't have time to just be outside, everything it just great!

Today was great again.  After class we went to the train station to go canoeing.  It was a lot of fun.  And beautiful.  I got a single canoe, it was just easier to not worry about someone else, but on the lake I was with at least one other person.  I had brought my camera in a ziplock bag to protect it from stray water and then was SUPER careful not to tip my boat.  It worked out just fine, and the scenery was simply gorgeous.  I sure don't see mountains like this in Syracuse or Chicago!  We played volleyball too before and after canoeing, it was a lot of fun.  The group here is just so great.  It's such an interesting mix of people but I love them all and I don't know if I have ever laughed as much or as hard as I have while being in France with these wonderful people.  It's weird to think we'll be saying goodbye next week.  I'm never one to get too sad about goodbyes, I think I've only cried while saying bye to Matt, but I'm pretty sure this will be a sad goodbye, with tears involved.  The good thing is that most of our better friends who we're around a lot are all at school in the midwest (except Mike....he's in Cali) so I'm sure we'll see the ones we're going to miss the most another time.

After canoeing we went to the grocery store and then made some dinner, we need to get more veggies at the market tomorrow.  Then we hung out and then got ready to go out.  The thing I love about being here is that it's easy to find reasons to wear my dresses.  It's great!  We went to Mojito and saw Javo and some of his French friends (a few of them were the ones Anna met last week).  We sat down and talked to them for a while.  It was SO fun!  I was just laughing and enjoying it all.  One of the guys lived in the US for a year and he just loves that we're from America.  I spoke to him in French and he asked if it was ok if he speaks to me in English, he said he only has a little over a week until his piece of America leaves, haha!  And I met his friend Stefan, he's the one who works at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Lyon.  He's a junior consultant there.  We hung out and before I knew it my watch said 1 AM!  Anna and Hope wanted to stay and dance but I was getting tired and still had hw, and luckily Michael was tired too so I had someone to walk back with.  I just don't understand how people can function on such little sleep.  Maybe if we could sleep in but I just can't focus in class if I'm up late every night.  On our way home we ran into another group of people in our program and they were just going out.  They tried to get us to come back with them but it just wasn't realistic, and those people do that kind of thing almost every night, I don't get it.  We have big plans for Thursday night though, as my roommate said "we won't sleep until 6 in the morning!"  haha, it'll be good. 

But now I'm doing this instead of my hw...oops.  I guess I should go do that.  There's not too much scheduled for this week activity-wise, but we're planning to make it great!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Evian (yes, as in the bottled water)

Today Anna and I got up before 8AM to head to the train station to go to Evian.  Once we had realized we couldn't use our Eurail passes for Nice next weekend we decided to find two other cities to visit.  The first was Marseilles (last Saturday) and then for the second one we asked Guillaume what he would recommend, and he told us Evian is pretty.  So Evian it was!

It took us two trains, a bus, and over 3 hours to get there but we made it.  We had been nervous because yesterday I checked the weather and it said it would be thunderstorming all day.  And even this morning I checked the hour by hour forecast for Evian and it said 60-80% chance of rain allllllll day.  We got there and it wasn't even close.  I'm sunburnt on my face.  The only clouds in the sky were fluffy and looked like whipped cream on a beautiful blue sky. 

Gillaume was right, Evian is GORGEOUS.  The lake is right there, and it is SO clear.  The town is just adorable and it was just a great place to spend our day.  We walked around at first and came across a road of just shops and artists with their stuff out for sale.  It was so cool!  I wish I had all the money in the world because I totally would have bought something.  There were these candle holders that were like partially broken wine glasses with pedals on them so they looked like flowers.  The ladies selling them seriously looked like there were just sitting in a garden.  It was SO pretty. 

While walking we heard this great music and followed it. It was beautiful.  This band from sounthern England.  They were SO good.  Like I don't know how they're not famous.  They had a violin, two guitars, and a piano.  The two girl singers were twins and their voices blended beautifully with the main guys'.  We bought one of their CDs.  They were mostly just playing covers on the street but it was SO good.  And it was just a cute set up.  They were right in a little area outside a cafe where people were sitting and eating lunch, and it was on the same street as the artist-y stuff.  We talked to them a little and bought one of their CDs, I seriously want to just go to England to see one of their shows.  I'll have to remember for next time I return to Europe.  The band is called Lucid, check them out: Their MySpace and Their Website

We just walked around after that, soaking up how beautiful the town is.  We truly are blessed to have this experience!  We each bought a panini from a stand along the lake and sat in their chairs outside by the lake, we actually fell asleep for a little bit (which is probably why my face in sunburnt).  We then walked around some more and headed back to the train station to catch  our bus at 5:45.  We had another long trip back but eventually arrive in Chambery a little after 9.  When we got  off the train we saw one of our friends from around town.  He's living here with a family but is from Mexico, his name's Javo.  He's around a lot with us but I've never actually talked to him.  Anna and I talked to him for a but while we waited for his ride.  It was fun and funny.  I just love our whole experience here.  As Anna said, everything about today was cute. 

We made a late, yet much needed, dinner and then did our homework with Jeffrey.  We had to write a skit for class, I think it will go well.  Then I just came back to shower.  I feel like I always need to take a shower, it's been getting so hot and I'm always gross.  And the shower in my apartment is questionable so I don't even feel fully clean all the time.  Top that off with the fact that since we don't have dryers here my clothes all had to air dry, inside, so now they smell funny...I will say that as great as this I can't wait to feel clean, clean when I get home. 

Well enough about that, I'm pooped!  Goodnight!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Geneva, Switzerland

We spent our day in Geneva today...it was beautiful! It was in the 80s and sunny all day, which was good yet draining! We arrived around 10:30 and had 7 hours to explore. We walked along the lake through a park type thing and headed for the United Nations European headquarters. The red cross museum was right across the street so we stopped in there too. By the time we were done with that we were super tired and ready for some food. Bad news EVERYTHING in Switzerland is SO expensive! We found a kebab place that was kind of reasonable, I got a panini for 7 Swiss francs, I got one last weekend for 3,50 euros a little under the equivalent of half the price.

After that we walked around. Anna, Hope, and Yvonne wanted to stop in stores so I went ahead with the guys from our group. We walked around, tried to find some sandals for Kris, and saw some more of Geneva. One of the mikes (there were three if them with us today) and Javier wanted to watch the Argentina game so they split off around 4 while kris, the other two mikes (well, Mike and Michael), and I went to walk under the giant fountain. I didn't actually go under cause I didn't want to be soaked but I held the boys' stuff while they got closer.

After that we walked back toward where the bus was picking us up to get some chocolate. We then went to a more expensive chocolatier to look and we each bought a truffle. One was 2 Swiss francs (a little under $2) but it was SO good! The lady there told us that the Swiss are known for their MILK chocolate. She told us that anyone can make a good dark chocolate, but only the Swiss can make a good milk chocolate. It was cool.

Then we came home, made some dinner, and then went to O'Cardinals to watch the Spain game. It was a good one. After that we all went running, which didn't involved much for me, my legs haven't felt this dead in SO long. I think it was all the biking, combined with walking allllll day today. Ugh. I'm glad I went though because we heard and then saw fireworks not too far away from the track we were running at. Like a little piece of home for the 4th :-) After we ran we just chilled in the park like the French people do. It was fun and nice. We talked to a couple French people who seemed to be a little younger than us, it was cool, and then we were just goofing off.

Tomorrow Anna and I will be spending the 4th in Evian alongside Lake Geneva (assuming it doesn't rain, say a prayer, it's supposed to!) This whole trip is so great, I love it and am starting to get sad to say goodbye to everyone.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

It's been a while so this is long...

Every day something new amazes me. I've met a bunch of people from all over and they don't all speak English so we're connected through this language that neither of us grew up knowing. We can still communicate even though we don't know the others' native language. Crazy.

Tuesday night we went to O'Cardinals to watch the Spain game (which was SWEET) and after we just hung out there for a little bit. There was a guy there from England (some people had met him before), his name's Luke and he's in France on "holiday," they don't say vacation. He was with some French people who he knew (they were all our age) and it was cool to be able to talk to them and hang out. One girl, Solene, is really nice and enjoyed hanging out with us. I went back a little after 11 but Anna stayed and said that later they met more people and one of them works at PwC in Lyon, I'll have to meet him sometime.

Wednesday was alright. We had class FOREVER. From 9-4 with a one hour break for lunch. And it was all with the same lady, the new teacher who doesn't understand the importance of letting us out in time or giving us breaks during the 3.5 hour morning like the other profs do. She has also given us more homework in just two days than I've had since arriving. Wonderful. After class Anna and I went back to the train store to fix our first class tickets. We got it worked out for the 17th, we will be going to Montpellier for the day. But our tickets to Normandy don't have second class available so we might just look into going somewhere else...any suggestions from whoever is reading this???

After the train store we went shopping. France has this time of year called "soldes." It only happens twice a year, it July and January, and EVERYTHING goes on sale. Like crazy on sale. And apparently they get better as time goes on. Yesterday was the first day and we just couldn't resist. I got black flats for 5 Euros! And I also bought a jacket that is seriously the exact same jacket that I pictured in my head this spring when I realized I needed a jacket. I got a couple other things and before we knew it it was 7:30...time for dinner!

After dinner I went to a concert at the castle with Brooke - La Flûte enchantée.  It was pretty good.  We got there a little after 9, when it was supposed to start, but in Typical French fashion it didn't start until almost 10.  We stayed until about 10:45 and then went to meet the rest of the group at mojito.  We all hung out there for a while and then some of us left around 11:30.  I had forgotten about some homework that was due today so I had to leave and get that done asap. 

Today was great! We had class from 9-12:30 and then we ate lunch in the cafeteria.  Class dragged on at points again.  It's weird, I'll make it to 11:30 just fine and then think that one more hour won't be too bad, but then I'm more than ready to get out at 12:30...it's awful. After lunch we met Guillaume and then we were off for paragliding (parapente).

Anna and I went first out of the group.  It was AMAZING!  Not at all terrifying like I expected.  But nothing's too bad when compared to canyoning.  I just put on a harness thing and the guy buckled it to him and told me to walk and then run.  It was like 50 feet of doing that before we were in the air.  The other thing he had told me was to not sit down until he told me I could.  He said if I did we’d die…A little dramatic, but it really actually is super dangerous to do that, Guillaume told us you’d basically fall down the mountain.  It was so cool to be up in the air, now I know how bird must live.  We were actually up above them.  I took some pictures in the air.  It was just gorgeous.  And I didn’t get motion sick either!  Guillaume told us that last year the instructors/”pilots” had a contest to see how many people they could make sick.  They would just do a bunch of turns and spins and stuff.  He told us that out of 15 students, 6 threw up!  Thank goodness they didn’t do the same thing this year.

After paragliding we went home and showered before making some dinner.  At 7:30 we met up with Brooke and some others to go get chocolate mousse.  Brooke went a month without having sweets and it ended yesterday so we all went out to celebrate.  Solene, one of the people we met at the bar on Tuesday night, came with us.  She is so funny.  She lives in town, is 18, and if so animated when she talks, I love it!  We came back after to get ready and then we all met at 11ish to go out to Opera, the club in town.  Anna, Brooke, Michael, and I had never been before so it was a new experience for us.  It was really cool!  And way more fun than I thought.  I’m not usually one who just wants to dance but I really had fun.  And even better...a few weeks ago when Anna and Hope were leaving Mojito a guy who works there gave them 6 free passes to the club, and they gave one  to me so it was free!  Can't complain about that.  We came back around 2, maybe if we didn’t have class in the morning we would have stayed longer.  Some other time maybe…

Today getting up wasn’t too bad.  I guess the past two summers of working at DD at 5 AM prepared me for the nights that I don’t get as much sleep as I’d like.  We had Bruno again for class today.  We talked about sports in France and learned some more about how the nation doesn’t like soccer as much anymore because they players are only in it for the money.  After class we bought a sandwich from the café and then walked to the vélostation to meet the group to go to the vineyard.  We rented bikes for the rest of the day and rode to the vineyard.  It took forever!  We were seriously riding bike for an hour and a half in the 90 degree sun. And that was just to get there.  

When we arrived the woman who works there gave us tons of water.  We were so gross.  One of the guys looked like he had peed his pants because he sweated so much.  We were all that sweaty but luckily our pants didn’t all show it.  Not a good time.  Lucky for us the place we were in was cool, like being in a basement.  The lady talked to us about the vineyards, then she showed us a video about the vineyards, and then we walked through the little museum there.  It was sweet.  And I was very impressed with my comprehension skills today.  Then it was time for the tasting!  We tasted a white, pink, and red one.  I actually liked the first two and I think I could have grown to like the red one.  We rode back, this time it only took an hour (we got a little lost on the way...).  On the way back one of the Russian girls wiped out on her bike.  She hit some gravel while turning and going too fast and fell.  Like arms and face all scraped up and bloody :-(
When we returned Jeffrey and I stopped to get some bread for dinner.  We made French bread pizzas....for real. They were delicious!

After dinner we (Anna, Hope, Brooke, Mike, Michael, and I) started to watch the Hangover that Hope downloaded at school but something went wrong and it stopped in the middle.  uh oh.  It's ok though, cause they left and now I can go to bed.  The lack of sleep last night, combined with the exhausting bike ride, have just taken it all out of me…Switzerland tomorrow!!