Sorry I haven’t updated in a while guys. I’ve been really, really busy with homework. Like insanely busy. Like finals week at MSU busy. But I’m finally done with all of that homework so in the next few days I plan on making my final France post, but in the meantime this mini-post will have to do. The point is, I come home in 4 days and I have no more homework for my remaining days here. Excitement time!4 years ago
That's why this blog exists.
I have been really busy since I got home from Paris, so I haven’t had any time to write and really not a whole lot has happened. Monday night was pretty cool when we celebrated Independence day here, but I honestly enjoyed celebrating the 4th of July here more, despite the fact that there was no official celebration. During the day Monday, I did homework and sat around relaxing, then I ate dinner and then I met up with Jen and Matt near Les Halles so we could walk to the Loire together to get a spot to sit at, to watch the fireworks. We got there probably an hour and a half early and so we sat, shared a bottle of wine and some Kinder, and discussed our frustrations for the moment, like the fact that we’ve all spent so much money in France and hardly have anything to show for it, and the fact that we have an insane amount of work to do before we leave. We all still like it here, but we just have our frustrations and I think it’s good that we can talk to each other about them, so I’m glad that I had them to talk to. I don’t honestly remember what I did on any specific day because they sort of all blended together this week, but I did have some problems this week that I can definitely recall. Last week Nicole and I started a group project together for our class, with another student who does not come to class frequently. She is studying to be a doctor here so she comes to the Institute in the morning and then goes to University in the afternoon. When we were grouped with her we were really concerned about this problem and so we asked her if she was really going to be here for class for the project. She said yes and so we just hoped for the best. Well, Friday was the last time we saw her and Tuesday when we started the new school week, we were informed by our teacher that she was going to be returning to her home for some unknown reason and that so she was no longer going to work with us. Coincidentally, there was a new girl who was placed in our class that day, a Russian student named Karina. Before I get into my specific problem with this situation, I am going to first acknowledge the fact that classes started at the beginning of July. Tuesday was July 15th, which means that this girl was added to our class halfway through the month-long semester, which is absolutely ridiculous. By the time she entered our class we had already started our group project 6 days before and we had already taken three tests, so it was virtually impossible for her to catch up and/or pass. Anyway, back to the story, because the other girl in our group left, we of course got Karina in our group and this is where the problem began. First off I’m pretty sure she does not belong in our level because it seems like she doesn’t understand anything. We had to explain our project to her over and over again and she never seemed to completely understand. Our project is basically to “invent” a time machine and then choose a time period in the future to visit and a time period in the past to visit. Nicole and I had already created the whole time machine and I had already done my research for the past, and since we had already decided the time period for her all she had to do was use her imagination and write something for the future. It’s not that hard of a project and for her it should be easier because Nicole and I had already figured everything out for the most part. For Friday we had asked her to write out her part and when we got to class she said she had “reflected” the night before and that instead of writing her part, she wrote out eight questions she had for us. What the heck?! Eight questions? Seriously? We had already explained and re-explained the entire assignment to her and I had already written up a sheet with all of the information we had already decided so she could refer to it. Needless to say it was frustrating enough that Nicole and I decided to talk to our professor after class. We walked up to her and said “Can we talk to you?” and she said “Yeah and I think I know what this is about.” She then told us that she agreed that Karina does not understand things very well and that the girl asks too many questions. Apparently Karina asks questions every day during our breaks and after class, regarding everything from the project to the schedule to homework assignments. She even finds our professor in the teacher’s lounge to ask her questions in the afternoon, which is ridiculous. Nicole and I were really relieved to hear that she agreed with us and to hear that she was going to give us all separate grades, despite the fact that the rest of the groups receive a group grade. She also told us not to worry at all about Karina’s part and to not write it out for her or anything like that. We were really relieved to hear that, because at that time we felt that our best option was to basically write out Karina’s entire part of the assignment with/for her. That afternoon we had our first official group meeting with Karina and I was hoping I’d feel better about it because we had talked to Céline, our professor. (Karina has no idea we talked to Céline still, but I think she doesn’t need to know that.) At the meeting Karina started asking us the eight questions she had. The majority of them were questions we had already answered multiple times so that was super frustrating. Also she kept wanting us to justify things we had decided, because the assignment didn’t seem logical to her. Well no really…it’s an assignment where you create a time machine, how can it possibly be logical!? Nicole and I were pretty firm (not mean though) with her and basically said, listen it’s a time machine it doesn’t have to make sense, we don’t need to justify things we’ve chosen because we chose them a week ago and that’s that, the only thing you have to do is write about the future and that’s it. That was basically our meeting in a nutshell and so I was frustrated again. Amongst all of this chaos with our group project, we also started another assignment for our conversation class, which is another expose. Our group project in class involves a paper and an expose, then we find out we have to do another expose on a completely different topic. And all of this is in addition to the book I have to read for Madame Norris. Perhaps I procrastinated a bit the first week of class this month, but I had no idea that I would be getting two big assignments all due in the same week! So I have to have my written part of the group project done for tomorrow, our group writing project in its entirety has to be done Wednesday. My expose for my other class is also Wednesday and I have to have Eugénie Grandet read by Friday, and there still remains 200 pages for me to read. Needless to say, my last full week of class in France is going to be a very stressful, very tiring, very busy week.
In addition to my academic stress, I’ve noticed that whenever I’m really tired or frustrated I have a huge problem speaking in French with my friends. I still speak French well enough at my host house (although I really have no choice) but my friends and I have reverted back to speaking in English with each other for the most part. We were really good about speaking in French to each other but for some reason when we are tired and frustrated it is so hard to speak in French. Plus I think all of us are a little homesick and speaking in your normal language makes it a little less foreign here too. I leave to come home in 11 days and so I’m going to really try to make an effort to speak more French, although I don’t know when I’ll have the time these next few days. I’m thinking that once Friday is over we are all going to be less stressed and we’re going to realize we leave soon so we’re hopefully all going to make more of an effort to speak in French with each other and do the things we wanted to do while in Tours that we have not yet done, like go to the Botanical Gardens, or go see a movie at the Studio, etc.
Oh another thing I forgot to add is that we have a new student living with us. She’s actually a teacher in Spain, who is married and pregnant, but she is here for the month of July to learn French better to help with the students who speak French who come to the school where she teaches. Her name is either Cecelia or Celia, I’m not really sure which because whenever my host mom says it, it sounds different. She’s really nice and she actually teaches music so when she saw my treble and bass clef tattoos she was really excited. Since she’s been here it’s made dinner a much more pleasant experience, because instead of me and Ziyed sitting at the table while Charles and Clément talk to each other, now Bernardo and Emmanuelle have sat with us too, which leads to better conversations and discussions that I can get involved in. So while I’m not necessarily speaking in French with my friends here I’ve at least been speaking more French than normal at my house here.
Anyway, yesterday we went to La Rochelle and l’Île de Ré, which Professor Norris says is like a French version of Martha’s Vineyard. We had to get up super early and hop on a bus at seven in the morning for a three hour bus ride there. The bus ride felt vaguely familiar, sort of like the three hour bus ride we had coming to Tours in the beginning of June, except this time it was better. It made me realize how many people I have become friends with or become closer to since we’ve been here because while a lot of other people slept me and three other people talked the whole way there. When we finally go to La Rochelle it was really nice. My sunglasses had broken a couple weeks ago but luckily I brought my mom’s old school sunglasses that I had found last summer in our house and so I wore those. I had actually brought two pair and one friend thought they were so cool that she asked to wear the other pair. Needless to say we looked like ballers for the whole day. (Ballers = people that are awesome). It sort of reminded me of Venice a bit because it’s on the water and there is a river going through it and the buildings and little pedestrian side streets reminded me of it. We walked around a bit, saw some buildings, saw some markets, then we had time to wander on our own. We ate lunch by the water and then we went shopping. I’ve been putting off souvenir shopping for my friends back home for a while but I was able to find another cat postcard, something for my friend Brad and I found a really cool necklace for myself, which is made up of buttons, while at La Rochelle. Then in the afternoon we hopped back on the bus and rode to St. Martin on the Île de Ré. It was super nice there. It was right on the water and it was a tiny little village. There was also a beach but I did not go there at first. I walked around the village with Professor Norris, Thao and some other students. I found another gift for a friend and a gift for my parents. Then a few of us walked around, took some pictures down the pretty little alleys that were lined with flowers, and then we went to a little café to have drinks. I drank an Orangina and it was delicious. After that we walked to the beach and sat with everyone else who had been there the whole time. I love beaches and all but I’m glad to have seen the little town, it was cute, and I can go to a beach in Michigan if I really want to. After that we got back on the bus and came home. We got dropped off twenty minutes on foot away from where I live (which isn’t really that bad) and so Jessie, Jen and I started to all walk in the direction that we live. We got half way there when a little white car pulled up in front of us and the window rolls down and I notice it’s my host mom! It turns out she and Charles had went out to rent a movie and lucky for me, they happened to drive past there right while I was walking past there! I came home then, drank some water, talked with my host mom and Celia/Cecilia in the kitchen for a bit and then went to bed, which was lovely. Today I have a ton of homework to do and I am also going to be making chocolate chip cookies with my host mom because she wants me to make something American before I leave. The American cookbook I have though is in French and so it requires her help too. That’s it for now. Ciao.4 years ago
I’m going to apologize in advance because this is by far the longest post I have ever made. God speed, dear readers.
So today is the 14th Juillet, which is independence day in France, but right now it’s the middle of the afternoon and I don’t have anything to do so I thought this would be a good time to update this on my trip to Paris. I was in Paris from Friday afternoon until last night and it was so much fun. We arrived in Paris Friday afternoon and headed straight to our hotel to drop off our stuff. In comparison to the hostel we stayed at in Paris at the end of our Italy trip, this was a dream come true. It was in an old building and had a hostel feel but the furniture was definitely hotel-like. We even had TVs and bathrooms in our rooms. Since there were three of us, I got a room to myself, which was nice and relaxing. Anyway after dropping off our stuff we decided to go to the Arc de Triomphe. That was really, really cool. It was a lot bigger than I expected it to be and getting to the top was definitely a workout. There are 284 stairs in order to get to the top and we did the stairs non-stop at a very steady pace. My calves burned for a bit after that. The view from the top was amazing though. We could see Sacré Coeur, La Defense, and the Eiffel Tower very clearly. Plus we could watch the traffic in the traffic circle that goes around the Arc de Triomphe. It was pure madness watching that because there are no lines so people are driving in the same general direction, but not the same exact direction so you have cars that look like they’re all going to drive into each other. We even saw a mild car accident happen. I could never drive in Paris, or any of France for that matter. After that we walked down the Champs Elysées towards the Louvre. It was a pretty long walk but it was nice because there were French flags all along the road and you could see the whole set up they had for Bastille Day, which was interesting to see. After that we walked past Place de la Concorde and then we walked through a park near the Louvre. The park had really weird sculpture art in it and I didn’t really get it. Also, in that park we seriously saw like five or six couples making out on benches. Not just kissing, but seriously like making out. It was disgusting. Do they not realize people can see them? How awkward. In the park we ended up eating at a little outdoor café/restaurant thing. I ate quiche and it was delicious but our waiter was out of control. He was nice, but crazy. He kept calling us his “bébés” so that was weird. Also when Jessie asked for a pitcher of water in French, which is a carafe d’eau, she said carafe de l’eau, because it’s hard to know when to drop the l’ and when to not with those sorts of things and he freaked out, in a joking manner, saying (in French) “Everyone always asks for a carafe de l’eau, why? It’s a carafe d’eau. Why does everyone think it’s ‘de l’eau’?” And then he told Jessie she needs to start saying “d’eau” and he lightly smacked her with the menu. It was weird. After he walked away we were all sort of shocked by what had just happened and we started cracking up. It was crazy. Jessie said “I was just assaulted by our waiter!” From our table we could see this gigantic Ferris wheel by the Louvre and so we decided the best thing to do was to ride the Ferris wheel! It was evening time so a lot of things were lit up, including the wheel itself, which is called the Grande Roue de Paris. It was really awesome. It was a little scary at first but once you get past the heights and the fact that the little cart moves, it was an awesome view and it led to some good pictures of the Louvre and the city. I’m definitely glad we decided to do that. We also walked around the little carnival there that was happening. It sort of reminded Jessie and I of the Peach Festival in Romeo, so that was cool to see that carnivals like that happen in Paris too. After the wheel, we went over to the Louvre to check out the big glass pyramid. It was too late to go inside so we just hung outside of it for a bit taking pictures. After that we walked towards the Seine (the river in Paris) and we walked along it until we got to the dock where we were going to be taking a river cruise from. The boat ride was awesome because it was at night and so everything was lit up. We saw Musée d’Orsay, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower all lit up. I even saw a shooting star while we were heading towards the Eiffel Tower and that was really awesome to see. After the cruise we headed towards this place called La Defense which has a really big white squared arch. It was super eerie because it was in the more business-y area of Paris and so no one was there, since it was night. It was really eerie. The arch itself looks like something out of Contact with Jodie Foster or something, because it’s just a big square modern looking white arch with some weird white artwork/sculpture thing in the middle of it. We took some pictures of it and as soon as we headed up the stairs the lights on it all turned off too making it even eerier. Not to mention La Defense is literally on the edge of the map of Paris so that was a little weird too because we could look into unknown territory that wasn’t on the map. I seriously had bad vibes from that place the whole time. I kept thinking all of a sudden it was going to break free from the ground and fly off into outer space (not really, but it was creepy). After that we decided it was time to head back to the hotel and go to bed. That night before going to bed I got to talk to Joe for a while which was nice because I hadn’t talked to him in a few days.
The next day was our full day in Paris and so we had a lot planned. First we ate a delicious breakfast of bananas, nutella, and brioche that we had bought at a local grocery store. Our first plan for the day was to go to Musée d’Orsay which is the art museum in Paris with all of the Impressionist art. That was really cool. The museum is in an old train station that’s been restored so it looked really awesome inside. We got to see paintings by Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Cezanne and Toulouse-Lautrec. It was really awesome to see so many paintings that are so famous and that you learn about even in Elementary school. To me that was cooler than going to the Louvre. While it would be cool and all to see the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, I prefer the artwork by Van Gogh and Monet, so I’m glad we decided to go there. Plus there was no wait to get in and we really didn’t want to wait in lines since we were only there for two days. After the Musée d’Orsay we walked over towards Notre Dame Cathedral. Along the way there were a lot of kiosque sort of things to buy souvenirs at and I was on a search for cat postcards so the walk took a bit longer than I had planned but Jessie was able to find a really cool old book in French that she bought. (Note: The cat thing started in Italy when I found postcards in both Cinque Terre and Rome with cats photoshopped in front of monuments, landscapes, etc. Last weekend Kristen went to Paris and found the most splendid cat postcard I’ve ever seen and so I was on a mission to find it. In doing so though, I found five lovely cat postcards of Paris that make absolutely no sense and so I bought all five). Notre Dame was really awesome to see too because it’s something you learn about a lot at school especially in high school French. The line was too long though and so we didn’t go inside but we could see inside and we took pictures of the outside and walked around to the back to hang out in the little park back there. We got some crepes before heading to the park though and so in the park we ate crepes and watch some high school choir group sing songs at a gazebo. It turns out the group is from Great Britain and is one of many groups that play at that gazebo during the summer. The sang songs from the Beatles to a medley of songs from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. One boy actually sang a solo while playing the guitar and it was really cute because he started it off by saying “Okay, je m’appelle Sam,” and everyone laughed. The song he sang was in English and was really cute so I wrote down the lyrics and I’m hoping google will help me figure out what song it is exactly. Anyway after Notre Dame we wanted to go to the Pere Lachaise Cemetary, which is the cemetery where a lot of famous people are buried at. We got there sort of late in the day though and so we only got to visit three graves while we were there before getting kicked out, but we were able to visit the grave of Honoré de Balzac, which is cool because I am reading one of his books right now for school, we also saw Oscar Wilde’s grave, which was covered in hundreds of lipstick kisses. People also wrote things to Oscar Wilde in lipstick on it. It was kind of weird to see a huge tombstone all covered in writing and kisses but at the same time it was kind of cool because everything that was written on it was positive things about people’s feelings about Oscar Wilde. There was even an envelope addressed to Oscar Wilde next to a flower. I really wonder what that letter says. Then we saw Edith Piaf’s grave which was interesting. I had wanted to see Chopin’s grave because I play piano and all but we didn’t have time and so I guess next time I’m in Paris I’ll just have to go back! We had plans to go to the Eiffel Tower that night to meet up with a friend of Jen’s from MSU who was interning in Paris and so after the cemetery we stopped at a wine store and bought three limited edition bottles of wine, that only cost 2,80 euro. That’s some pretty cheap limited edition wine! One of the bottles even had an Oscar Wilde quote on it which was cool since we had just seen his grave. After that we headed towards Montmartre to see Sacré Coeur and the Moulin Rouge. When we got to Montmartre we ate at a little restaurant called Les Oiseaux (the birds) and that was nice. Then we headed up towards Sacré Coeur. After climbing all of the steps to Sacré Coeur we could see the whole city almost and it was really cool to see the city from someplace we had seen from the Arc de Triomphe. We even saw a couple who had just gotten married inside which was really cute. Then we went inside and the inside is beautiful. There was a huge mosaic of Jesus in a half-dome about the alter. We were able to walk around for a bit, but we couldn’t talk much and we couldn’t take pictures. I ended up lighting a candle there for my family. After that we went to the Moulin Rouge and the walk from the Sacré Coeur to there was totally sketchy. It’s the red light district of Paris (ironically enough, since it’s right by Sacré Coeur) and so we saw a lot of weird shops and “theatres.” It was gross. We got to the Moulin Rouge and it looked different from what I expected. It wasn’t nearly as nice looking as I had thought it would be, but I assume that’s just because the front has been changed a bit over the years. It was still cool to see but I was a little disappointed because in pictures they always crop it enough so the Moulin Rouge looks really pretty and it was cool, but not very pretty. I’m glad we went over that way though because then we had the opportunity to find the little Café from the movie Amélie, which was only a block away from Moulin Rouge. We drank some coffee and hot chocolate right in the little café and it was really cool because it felt less touristy there then other places and I don’t know anyone else who has ever visited there. After that we met Mike under the Eiffel Tower, which is lit up all in blue at night, and it was awesome. We sat on the lawn by the Eiffel Tower, drank a bit of wine and talked. He brought a friend with him too who only speaks French so it really made us have to speak in French, which was good. The Eiffel Tower is honestly crazy to see in person, especially at night. It looked so pretty all in blue, but it really is gigantic. Everyone knows it’s huge but when you actually stand under it or right near it and look at it it’s sort of overwhelming how absolutely enormous it is. At about 12:30 we called it a night so we wouldn’t miss the last metro back to our hotel.
The next day, yesterday, we had most of the day in Paris before having to go to the train station to come back to Tours. We went to the Centre Pompidou and had made plans to meet Mike and his friend there. While waiting for him I finally found that one cat postcard Kristen had found last weekend. Right after I bought it we heard some loud drum sounds so we decided to go look for it. It ended up being a group of about eight people with different percussion instruments performing in the street. The all looked like they were in their mid twenties and they all wore shirts that sort of matched but were different colors, that I am pretty sure they had made for their group. They were really, really good and I think it’s always cool to see street performances when the artists are actually really talented. I ended up giving them a euro because after watching them for about fifteen minutes I decided they earned my euro. Plus I can appreciate their music, since I play an instrument myself. Then we headed towards the Centre because Mike was on his way. Once inside we decided to start at the exhibition on the six floor and work our way down. In retrospect that was a bad choice, because the exhibition was seriously weird, like disturbingly, nauseatingly weird at some points. It started off being just really weird artwork, like one canvas was just covered in dead bugs that were tarred on there. That was gross and weird, but it still didn’t prepare me for what I would end up seeing. Some of the artwork I actually liked, like some of the really strange colorful abstract art actually looked cool, despite the fact that I didn’t understand what the heck they meant. Some of the art was just videos. For example there was a “film” of a man’s feet climbing up stone steps and it just looped over and over again and it was called “Ascension.” Artwork like that I just don’t understand. We also saw artwork which I’m pretty sure was acid art, because it looked very similar to the artwork I saw in books while researching LSD and Timothy Leary back for History 201. Plus the titles had works like Hallucination and stuff in them. That’s when the really weird artwork began. One room had four spinning colorful discs on the wall with black lights pointing at them. It was really bizarre and they actually had a warning on the wall for epileptics, warning them to not stay in the theatre. After that I unfortunately discovered “art” which was three large squares of glass, each square was really two slabs of glass put together, like a slide for a microscope, and in between the slabs was old dried blood. It was gross. On the wall above the slabs was a poster of a person having blood drawn and underneath it was a recipe involving blood and onions and other odd things. I read the description of the artwork and it had something to do with religion and communion and other weird stuff and so that was really sick. It made me mildly nauseous and I didn’t think we could find anything weirder than that but unfortunately while I discovered the blood thing, Mike and Jen discovered the weirdest, most disturbing thing I have ever seen. It was two screens next to each other with a woman on both screens. One the left screen it was just her kneeling naked in a white room with her back towards the camera. On the other screen it showed her doing various odd things to herself like whipping herself so hard that she made herself bleed. It was seriously messed up. I read the description and apparently it’s a twenty minute long clip of what she does. First she gets naked, then she drinks wine from a glass, then she breaks the glass and cuts a star into her stomach, then she lays on a slab of ice with a heater pointed at her stomach to make the cuts bleed more and then she just lays on the slab of ice until it melts. Somehow this really messed up combination of acts that she does is supposed to signify her pain and angst involving her family and her past or something. To me that’s just someone who has a lot of issues and belongs in a psych unit somewhere. It was seriously gross and I can’t believe that’s actually considered art. That just proves that there are some really dark, dark corners of the art world that I wish I knew didn’t exist. The rest of the museum was cool but after what we had first seen there we really couldn’t concentrate much on the rest of the art, nor did we feel interesting in staying there longer. So we left and ate lunch to make ourselves feel better. After that we headed towards the Eiffel Tower because we had planned on going up to the top of it before leaving. We go to the Tower and unfortunately, since it’s the weekend before Bastille day, the line was like ten times longer than it normally is and we didn’t have enough time to go up it. That just gives me an excuse to come back. So me, Jen, Jessie and Mike played Uno in front of the Eiffel Tower for a couple hours while listening to sound checks and a rehearsal for a concert that was took place last night after we left. After that we said our goodbyes to Mike and headed back to Tours. Last night when we returned we all went out to the outdoor bar by the Loire and danced for a long time. Normally I hate dancing, but after having such a good weekend in Paris and because the music was really fun, I danced for about a half hour with everyone. It was a lot of fun. Anyway that brings me to the present time now. It’s about 3:37 now (it took me a long time to write this, plus I was uploading Paris photos onto my computer at the same time) and I think I’m going to be doing a bit of homework before heading out for the night. I’m all by myself at the apartment right now and I actually kind of like that because I feel like I never get any alone time. Not that I want to be a loner or anything, but it’s just nice to have some time to myself every once in a while. So I guess that’s it for now. Adios.4 years ago