Friday, June 11, 2010

Quick update before heading home

I flew into Paris yesterday from Munich and made it alright to my hotel. This morning I woke up at 6:45 and left by 8, only to get to the airport to discover that my flight had been canceled, because of technical difficulties, or so I heard. I was very NOT happy. But that's my life. I found a small group of other passengers on the same flight who were with an airport rep who had US Airways on the phone, and one by one we talked with them to reschedule our flight for tomorrow. I feel kinda bad because an older french woman on the flight asked me to talk to US Airways for her, which I was fine with, but the person told me to tell them that they had to wait till sunday to fly to Charlotte. I don't know why the rep didn't just say to take the flight for tomorrow. The others (a couple women, and a father and daughter) waited at the airline desk and they gave us all a voucher for a 4-star hotel (usually like 300 euros a night) and lunch and dinner for today, and breakfast for tomorrow. And we had a personal shuttle to the hotel, although we had to wait over 30 minutes for it and it's less than a 5 minute drive away. We each got our own room and I'm pretty impressed. We all had lunch and dinner together, and earlier in the day I went for a swim and had a bath after dinner. Tomorrow we're meeting at 8 am to take the shuttle back, because they said to be there between 8 and 9. So it hasn't been too bad. I just really, really don't look forward to tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mehr Deutschland und Rock im Park

Last weekend was RIP. What a great weekend it was. I woke up at 1:30 am on thursday and we were on our way to Nürnberg by 4 or so, after stopping in Munich to pick up some people in our group. It rained the entire day. And when we arrived we had to park a little ways away, then we stood in line to get in for about 2 hours I'd say. It took us a while to find the others in our group who arrived before us saving our camping spot, but we finally found them. Then we had to get the rest of the stuff and set up. The rest of the day was spent trying not to soak and keep warm. I was so scared it was going to be like that for the whole weekend.
That evening when the rain finally stopped, we went and saw Rage Against the Machine. The next day we saw Bullet for My Valentine, In Extremo, Rise Against, and Rammstein. Rammstein was absolutely monumental. Best concert I've ever seen. I feel like I could have paid the 150 euros I paid for my RIP ticket, just to see them. It was that good. I think during either BFMV or Rise Against, there was a few guys who got on the stage and ran across it, and you could see it on the big screens... them and a security guard or 2 chasing after them. It was hilarious. I actually saw/heard many, many interesting things at RIP. The first night I was woken up by someone very loudly and very drunkenly singing a German partying song with a ghetto blaster. I saw one guy running around in nothing but a thong made of tape. And another guy in a green Bruno-bikini. I was asked several times if there exists a festival like RIP in the states. There's none that I know of, but I do know that a festival like RIP in the states would absolutely not fly. EVERYONE drinking publicly and many people running around nearly naked could only be done in Europe. And it's not like there were no cops. Cops were all over the place. On saturday we saw Cypress Hill, Jay-Z, and KISS. We pretty much slept in the grass between acts. When Jay-Z came on, it was totally without any warning and it scared the living crap out of me. I really didn't care about the first 2 acts that much, but KISS was cool to see, although their music is a little too old for my taste, but they're classic so I had to see them. Plus I had to get some pics and videos for mom, who was a fan of theirs when she was my age. The next day we saw As I Lay Dying, Gossip, 30 Seconds to Mars, Volbeat, and some of Muse, although not as much as I would have liked. They were the last band to play on the center stage and we wanted a little bit earlier to beat the people and the traffic. But I'm so glad we didn't stay another night, which was possible. Since the first day, the weather was wonderfully hot, but that last night, all this wind and cold and light rain came from no where. It wasn't too pleasant leaving as the garbage of 60,000 people was blowing all over the place. There was a ridiculous amount of garbage. It made me really sad. But I know that they probably have a lot of people who come in after RIP to clean. Somehow a toilet seat made its way near our tent as well. When we were at any concerts, we mostly just sat at our sight relaxing and drinking beer. The Germans don't mess around with their beer. I saw people bringing cases upon cases of beer. One of the days, we went to the waterpark nearby. I wasnt sure if I was going to swim because they told me it was a swimming hole or something, and I thought gross... I dont want to go swimming in a big puddle of dirty water. But it actually was a nice park with 3 pools. We swam a little then soaked up some sun. We left a little earlier than I wanted to, but it was alright. I'm just so glad we went, because I never showered when I was there. It was 2.50 euros and there was always a line. And I was gonna get super dirty anyway. On sunday, Andy and I got back to his house at about 2 am or so. I wanted to shower but was just way too tired. The next day went to Andy's girlfriend's house and the his friend's house to hang out. Then I got my stuff together and we went to Munich. I checked into my hostel, and I was pretty bummed because according to the website I booked on, I was supposed to have a single person room for 25 euros a night, but I'm in a 6 person room. I guess there was a problem with the website, is what they told me. But at least I get free breakfast every morning. And I got a free welcome shot too. Today I woke up early enough to just eat breakfast, then I fell back asleep and took some time getting ready. I went to my friend's house who I haven't seen in 4 years, and she had no idea I was coming, nor that I was in Germany, so she was quite surprised. Unfortunately we couldn't go out for a drink or something because she was working on a big presentation. Then I went back to the area of my hostel and looked around in the shops. I saw a dirndl store and wanted to buy one sooo bad. Then I found a grocery store to get some snacks, since I didn't want to buy dinner. Tomorrow Andy's girlfriend is supposed to come to Munich to show me around since she went to school here and has some free time. I'm looking forward to that.

more pics here

Monday, May 31, 2010

Many an Update

A lot has happened since my last post. Of my to-do list, I did get a french Guinness in Poitiers, and Marseille too. I never paid my hospital bills, which was only about 90 euros or so. But I didn't have any checks... Got 3 huge bags of stuff to Sylvie. Went to see Baptistère St. Jean, but didn't make it to Musée St. Croix. Last week I went out to La Grande Goule with Sophie and Marie and a random guy bought us each a glass of champagne. Twice. Sweet. The next day I went to the apartment of a few of the french girls who are coming to Oregon next year. The weekend before last, I spent in Niort with Sophie and her family, which was very enjoyable. It was fun to hear her family speak english and french all the time, since her mother is english and her father is french. Me, Sophie, her boyfriend Guillaume, her sister, and brother, all went to La Rochelle to spend the day and see the aquarium. Another day I went with her family to the "Marais Poitevin", where we rented a paddle boat and floated through these beautiful canals. The day before I left I tied up some loose ends with my insurance and bank and stuff, and went bowling with Sophie and Marie, which was really fun... but I lost both games haha, but it's been a long time since I last played. The next day I woke up pretty early to finishing cleaning and packing my bags, and I had to go through the room with mumble mouth. It was a stressful morning. Fortunately Sophie and Guillaume came and picked me up to take me to the train station, which was super nice. I appreciated the help, and I also liked not having to leave all alone. It was hard to say goodbye though, that's for sure. I made it to Paris ok, and I decided to take a taxi from Gare de Montparnasse to Gare de Lyon, which only has less than 3 miles between them, so I thought a taxi couldn't cost that much. But last Thursday happened to be the day that everyone decided to strike and the traffic was terrible and all the intersections were crowded and/or blocked, and the cops absolutely sucked at directing cars. So it took an hour to get from one place to another, and I paid 32 euros. I was not happy. Normally I would have taken the metro which is super easy, but with what's probably pushing 80 lbs. of luggage, and stairs, and people... taking the metro would have been extremely difficult. I made it to Toulon and spent the next 2 days at Milena's. We spent a lot of the time shopping and her boyfriend was really nice and bought me a new pair of flats because the soles of mine have become very unglued. The day i went to Stephane's, he asked us to meet in a town about an hour from where Milena lives, which was fine, but we didn't quite match up on a meeting time, so we waited for an hour, which didn't make her very happy. I felt pretty bad. But when I met up with Stephane, we went to the beach, and fortunately it was really hot, but the water wasn't. That night we went to his friend's house where we were going to stay the night because his parents are out of town. We left around midnight to go to an cool irish pub in Marseille with a dancefloor. I don't know what happened, but when we left the pub, we went back to Stephane's friend's house, got my stuff, then went to Stephane's house. I think what he told me is that is friend gets violent when drunk and Stephane didn't want us to stay there. We got to Stephane's house at around 7 am, slept till 12 pm, and Stephane, Sebastian (his brother), and I went to Cassis to look at the rummage sale they had going on. Today Stephane took me to the airport, and I flew to Munich, where I met Andy. I was soooo glad Lufthansa didn't charge me extra for my bags being heavy. According to their website, if a bag weighs more than the limit, it costs 10 euros each additional kilo. I was prepared to pay 100 euros or so more, but the guy at the counter didn't charge me. Maybe because I was just going to Munich and from Marseille it's only a 1.5 hour flight. It was really great to see Andy after 4 years. We drove through Landberg to go to his house. We were there for about an hour, and then we went to the grocery store to buy some beer and pizza, and then went to his friend's apartment which was right next door, and we played some PS3. His friend is coming with us to Rock im Park. I also got to meet his girlfriend, who is very sweet. We went into Landsberg all together to a few bars. It's sooo nice to be back in Landsberg after so long. I've really missed it. It's been a little difficult putting my brain in german-speaking mode after speaking french for so long. Tomorrow I'm going to town with Andy's mom and brother, because he had to go back to his university town because he still has classes. His mom is very nice as well, but she speaks very little english, so I'm going to really have to push my german-speaking abilities. But I think it will be easier after a few days. For the moment, I still automatically want to respond in french, and I kinda throw french words in my german sentences randomly. But I'm not too worried about communicating. Most people here speak very good english, and for those who don't, it gives me a good opportunity to practice. On wednesday, Andy will come back and we'll get together with everyone else that's going to RIP to guy more food and stuff and get better organized. I think on thursday we're leaving super early, like at 4 am, so we can drive the 2 hours to the RIP town and find a good place to camp, because there's going to be a lotttt of people.

photos to come

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Getting ready to say au revoir to Poitiers

I leave Poitiers in almost a week. I'm not feeling it yet, but I foresee my stress level as being on the rise. It doesn't help that yesterday during my appointment at the bank (to discuss closing my account), they destroyed my debit card. This makes me feel extremely uncomfortable and vulnerable. This whole time I thought I could just tell them to close my account on a certain date, and I could keep my card to use until the account had been closed and then the card wouldn't work anymore. Non... ça ne marche pas comme ça. It doesn't work like that. Because of the fact that I'm moving out of the country, it's no longer even legal for me to have an account, because I'd be without an address. So now I just have to hope to god that the transfers from that account to my bank of america account will work, because I'm expecting close to 1000 euros in reimbursements. And I have to carry cash practically from now on. I received another letter in the mail from the CAF requesting a copy of my birth certificate. This would be fine, but the birth certificate can't be any more than 3 months old. I believe mine is pushing 20 years. I really don't understand what it's for, but now we have to order a new one. It just doesn't make sense to me... if it's legible and valid, whoooo caresss? I got a check today from Alena (Sylvie's assistant, who goes to UO) as a reimbursement for the excursion I couldn't go on with the rest of the kids because I was stuck in Ireland. That made me pretty happy.

On Sunday, I went to Bryan's party, which was a very nice way to spend the day. There was a lot of people there, even some of my professors. At one point we did have a little talent show with "spectacles". There was a man there playing a viola with an accordion that I believe was a friend of Brigitte, Bryan's host mom. I told him I played violin and was wondering if I could have a shot at playing his viola, even though I might not be able to do it. He actually happened to have a violin there too. So I played Ashokan Farewell for everyone. I didn't suck too badly. I probably could have played it by memory, but I chose not too, since I didn't get much time to practice, and I didn't feel like messing up.

Monday I had my last exam for professional translation. I think it went pretty well. I'm just glad it really was at 9 am, since I only knew that it was in a different room. The professor sent me an email telling me the room but not the time. So I just assumed it was at our normal class time. I was going to be very upset if it had actually been later in the afternoon or something and I would have gotten up and out of bed early in the morning for no reason.

So here's the rest of my to-do list:
-figure out how to pay hospital bill, because I can only send a check
-get a Guinness at a bar downtown... need to try the french Guinness and see if it's up to par
-give Caroline the bedsheet she let me borrow, and get my scale back so I can weigh and send another box of stuff home
-start bringing stuff that I wont be taking to Sylvie for kids to use next year
-see Baptistère St. Jean and Musée St. Croix
-make a page for Sylvie's scrapbook we're putting together for her

I may also go to Niort this weekend to stay with Sophie's family. That should be fun :) No official plans yet though. I went to Buck Mulligan's with Sophie last Saturday to try and get a Guinness... but they DIDNT HAVE IT. I can hardly call them an Irish pub now. They had Murphy's, which is similar, but it's no Guinness. Hence the part of my to-do list that mentions getting a Guinness. I found a bar that actually sells it... finally.

On Thursday I'm going to go to the Fac to help Séverine fill out her apartment application and show her how to navigate the online class registration system. She's a french girl I met who goes to the Université de Poitiers with me, and is coming to Oregon in September to study abroad at the UO. It feels good to help her out, because Caroline did the same thing for me and it made my life a lot easier. So I know how it feels to be overwhelmed with and trying to understand all this study abroad stuff.

That's pretty much it until I leave Poitiers on May 27th. My train leaves for Paris at 12:20 (from Paris I'll go to Toulon). At 10:30 that day, I'll have to do my "état des lieux" with a cleaning lady... I don't remember the term in english, but it's when you go through the room and look and record any damages. I'm hoping I'll have time to run to the Fac to give Sylvie a few extra little things like a hairdryer and stuff I'd give to her earlier, but would want to use right before I leave. After I leave Poitiers, there should be updates about Toulon, Marseille, Landsberg, Rock im Park, Munich, and right before I go home.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Life Update

I've been meaning to write a little update since my Ireland post. A lot has been going one since I got back. At the moment I'm finishing up my exams, which have been going pretty smoothly, and the only one I actually have to know anything for is Wednesday. At the forefront of my thoughts is that I'm stressing out a little because I've got so many things to pay for, like my rent, therapy for my finger, hospital bill, and then paying to ship stuff home and for travel once I leave Poitiers. I'm still waiting to (hopefully) be reimbursed by Ryanair, but by the beginning of June I'm supposed to get a nice 400-500 euro check from the government for housing aid.

On May 27th I'm moving out and leaving Poitiers, and I'm going to Toulon to spend a few days with Miléna and then a few days with Stéphane in Marseille. Sometime before then, I need to make time to take a bunch of stuff to Sylvie, things like dishes and blankets, to give to students who will be here next year. I really appreciated getting free things when I got here, and I've got quite a bit of stuff that will make someone happy. Yay recycling. On May 31st I'll fly from Marseille to Munich, where my friend Andy will pick me up. I haven't seen him for 4 years. He still has a few days of school before we go to Nürnberg for Rock im Park, so I'll be staying with his family in Landsberg and he told me his mom is taking a few days off to show me around. That was so incredibly nice. It's not necessary at all... really, all I need is a place to sleep. But I'm excited for this. I haven't been to Landsberg for 4 years and know it a little bit, but it will be really nice to get a memory refreshing tour. I believe around wednesday June 2, we'll head to Rock im Park and get our camping site set up and such. I still have to get myself mentally prepared to see Rammstein, Rage Against the Machine, Rise Against, Slayer, Bullet for My Valentine, Lamb of God, As I Lay Dying, and HIM, among many others. I also have to prepare myself for potentially not decently showering for 4 days and getting very little sleep... because I already know that people are going to be partying 24 hours a day. After RIP I'll stay in Munich for 4 days just hanging out. I may try to get in touch with some old friends. The day before my flight back to the US, I'll fly from Munich to Paris CDG and stay the night in a hotel there. I could have flown into CDG the same day as my flight to the US, but with landing at CDG at 8:05 from Munich and taking off from CDG at 10:45, with having to pick up my luggage from the first flight, check it in again, go back through security... it may have been do-able but I would have had a chance of missing my flight home and would have been very stressed.

I'm a little bummed I wont get to go to England or Italy, but I know I'll make it there someday. There were other Americans who went to like 5 different countries during our vacations... I just don't know how they could afford it. I think they had friends studying wherever they visited, so that probably helped.

The fall catalogue for classes went up on April 30th. I'm pretty sure I get to register on May 19th. I've done what I think is the correct math, and I'm supposed to earn 28 credits from being abroad, which is half of what I needed before I came here. Meaning, I have 28 credits left, 8 of which are French classes, 8 are general education, and that leaves 12 credits of electives. So I basically have 2 terms left until I graduate. I've broken it down like this: 14 credits per term with 1 required French class (4 credits), 1 Psychology class (for gen ed, 4 credits), one 4-credit elective class, which for fall term will be "The Psychology of Gender", and then 2-one credit classes. For fall term, these are probably going to be a weight training/body sculpting class and a salsa or tango dance class with Luke. For winter term, I'm planning on taking my last required French class and another Psychology class, German 312 as my 4-credit elective, and perhaps yoga and another weight training class as my 2 one-credit classes. Organization and efficiency are my friends.

On sunday, Bryan (a guy in my program who goes to school at PSU) is throwing a big BBQ at his and his host mom's house for all of us in the Centre Oregon program. There's also going to be a little talent show. His host mom has a friend who will be there that has a violin that he said I could play if I wanted. I'd be happy to, but I have no music and I'm sure I absolutely suck. I haven't legitimately practiced in over 6 months. We'll see. I think I may try to look up online some sheet music I know and try to mentally practice.

That's pretty much it for the moment. This month is going to be an exciting/complicated one, so there will be much more in the way of blogs to come. I just know it's going to be such a relief when I'm finally on that plane back home. A bittersweet relief, but a relief nonetheless.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I think I've finally worked up the stamina to write this post. So here goes: On wednesday, april 14th, I woke up at approximately 3:45 am. It was too early for me to take the day bus, and the night bus didn't come by my place at right time to take me to the train station. So I walked there all alone, which took me about 20 minutes or so and I took the 6:20 regional train to La Rochelle. When I arrived there, I walked from the train station to the bus station and took the bus to the airport. The La Rochelle is so pathetically small. I've never been to the Salem airport, but I can imagine the one in La Rochelle is smaller. As I was waiting at the gate I could hear people speaking with Irish accents, which made me excited and happy. Flying with Ryanair was kinda irritating to be honest. It wasn't too bad since the flight was only 90 minutes, but they CONSTANTLY were trying to sell you stuff, from scratch cards to smokeless cigarettes, which I'd never heard of before. I don't understand how a cigarette can be smokeless. I arrived and went through customs and it was a little funny because they asked me when I was leaving, and I told them that saturday, but this was when I was completely unaware that I would be leaving the FOLLOWING saturday. As I walked outside of the airport, I quickly realized they drive on the right side of the car and the left side of the road. The Dublin bus system is impossible to understand. All I knew was that I wanted bus 16a. Which I did find, but not because of the unhelpful info I got from a grumpy bus driver... not the best first impression of the Irish for me. On the bus, an older man sat next to me, and we talked a lot of the way. I told him I was a little confused about where to get off at, and he told me to get off 2 stops after he got off. Dublin bus stops don't have names, so I had nothing to watch for. I found my hostel pretty easily and checked in, put my stuff away, and updated facebook. I took a little tour of the Christchurch Cathedral across the street from the hostel, and had my first meal in Ireland at a mexican restaurant. I was super hungry and just wanted something familiar... even the price at 10 euros was something I was used to living in France. But I decided I'd splurge this one time, which turned into a few more times, and spend nearly $14 on a meal. I did a tour of Dublin Castle and did some more walking around, down to the riverfront. There's this souvenir shop called Carroll's which was huge. I found the Hard Rock Cafe and bought a shirt there, since I sorta collect them. Couldn't afford to eat there though. That night I ate at the bistro next to the hostel because a lot of places seemed closed. When I went to bed that night, my room was freezing. Day 2 there were still no other people who had been placed in my room of 6 beds. At breakfast, I learned how to use the weirdest toaster I've ever used in my life. It was like a box that got warm with a conveyor belt you put your bread on. That morning I walked to a hotel near St. Stephen's Green (a big park in Dublin) to meet my bus for my Wicklow tour. As I walked there I realized how incredibly nice it was to be in an english-speaking country. My bus was late, and it had me worried, because I'm just the type of person who would be unlucky enough to wait for a bus, and never see it, but it fact it came and went, but was around the corner and out of my sight. We stopped along the coast and drove out of Dublin and into the mountains. We went through Dalkey, which is where Bono and Enya both either live or have houses, can't really remember. The tour guide was telling us random things like how there was a blood drive called "a pint for a pint"... and for every pint of blood you donated, you got a pint of guinness. That's Irish motivation for you. I also learned that anything with "National" in its title is free to see. We stopped for coffee at a place called Avoca Handweavers, where I almost bought an amazing Irish wool scarf but didn't. When we were in the mountains, we went over the bridge that's in the movie "PS I Love You" which made me incredibly happy. We drove past Guinness Lake too and had a complementary shot of Jameson Whiskey. I should note that from the beginning of the tour, the tour guide told us that the previous day, there were about 10 people who talked the entire time, and he told us that if we needed to talk/translate, to do so quietly. Fortunately (sarcasm) I was sitting next to a bunch of French women who would never shut their traps. Apparently they didn't know that every time the tour guide told people to be quiet, he was talking to THEM. I almost wanted to tell them to shut up myself TAISEZ-VOUS MESDAMES PARCE QU'IL VOUS PARLE. But whatever. We stopped at a little village for lunch, and that's when I noticed for the second time that soup in Ireland has the consistency of apple sauce. We drove to Glendalough (Valley of the 2 Lakes) and saw the cemetery and monastery there. On our way back to Dublin, the tour guide told us some history about things like leprechauns and banshees. The Irish love to talk/tell stories and history, he said. But I also noticed this by myself. He said that the irish people believe the Kennedy Family had the curse of the banshee, since they were irish and so many of their men died. Then we listened to traditional irish music. I got dropped off at St. Stephen's Green and went to the nearby mall. I wanted to shop sooo bad. But didn't for the lack of funds and the fact that Ryanair only allows carry-on baggage to be 10 kg. I needed to buy toothpaste, and had to get cash from an ATM. The homeless in Dublin are pretty clever. They sit next to convenience and grocery stores and ATMs. Way to go making me feel like an awful person pulling 20 euros out of a machine while you beg for 20 cents. Food is SO expensive in Dublin. OMG. It was so hard not spending more than 5 euros each meal. I did finally find a place that did these chicken fillet roll sandwiches for 2 euros. When I went back to the hostel, and was waiting to cross the street, a man came up behind me and started laughing the most retarded, scary laugh I've pretty much ever heard. He walked away, and I turned to the women next to me and asked if he was drunk, and she said yes, but that this was Ireland. True... but it was also only 5:45 pm. Later that afternoon I went to St. Patrick's Church and the Guinness Storehouse, the most visited tourist attraction in Ireland. Unfortunately it was closed. I walked to what was labeled on my map as James Joyce's house of the Dead, which I thought would be something cool, but it was just a run-down brownstone. I later realized that this was probably just the setting for the last chapter of his book "Dubliners", which was called "The Dead". I read it in high school. I walked to a 24 hour convenience store thing for dinner, and that's when I first heard about the volcano explosion on the news playing on their TV. Craaaap. When I went back to the hostel, I noticed there was a place where you can get your own table with 2 taps in it, one being for Guinness, and you can just sit there and pour your own pints. Pretty cool. That night Lucas, a guy working in the hostel I met, asked me what I was up to, and I said not much. He told me he was going to be playing with some friends who asked him to practice. He plays the drums. So I went with him, and actually unfortunately didn't stay to listen to him play much, since they sent me and his irish friend Murph (Lucas is from California) to get beer. We got to the store 1 minute too late. So Murph and I went to "The Church" for a Guinness. This was my first one and it was like love at first sight. The Church was also super cool. An old church renovated with a huge bar in the center of the sanctuary and a restaurant and club. Pretty much the coolest church I've ever seen. By the time we were done with our beer, the guys were done practicing. Lucas, Murph, and I went to another pub and they bought me another Guinness. That was fun... I slept well :) The next day I got up purposely at 9:15 for breakfast which ended at 9:30, came back and slept some more, and ultimately got a late start. I did a hop on/hop off bus tour and got off at the Storehouse. I almost didn't do it, because I felt like at this point I'd spent enough money, but I'm so glad I changed my mind. It was a very cool place, 7 stories high and shaped like a Guinness Pint glass, with the "Gravity Bar" at the very top with a 360 degree view of Dublin. Included in my admission was a pint of Guinness, which I could have at the Gravity Bar, but I decided to get it from a another bar that let me and taught me how to pour my own pint of Guinness. There is a ton of very exact science that's behind the making, pouring, and drinking of Guinness. You don't do it right, then it doesn't taste right, or like it should. I even got a little certificate saying I poured the perfect pint. I took the bus again, this time to the National Museum with the intention of seeing the Bog Bodies. My tour guide told us about them, and they're bodies found in the bogs around northern Europe that are over 2000 years old, but very, very well preserved due to something in the soil in the bogs. But the museum closed right as I got there. That night I did a musical pub crawl, which was entertaining, but not as wild as I was expecting/wanted it to be. It was a group of about 20 people with 2 irish musicians and we were at 2 different pubs where they played for us. I was probably the youngest person in the group. Most of the people were Americans and my parents' age. Although there was a young married couple who I ran into on two separate occasions around Dublin. I only bought 1 pint the whole time, when I easily could have done 2 at each place, but at around 5 euros a pint, that really wouldn't have been very financially responsible. Day 4 I got another late start. It was weird because the day before, I came back to my room at some point and saw that someone had checked in and left their stuff. That night I went to bed and they still weren't there. I figured they were probably a couple of American girls who were going to stumble in drunk at 3 am. Actually no. These people came in at about 7:30 or so... I know since I heard my phone drop from my bed and I checked the time. They slept for a few hours and checked out. Weird. I never talked to them... just pretended I was asleep the whole time. Didn't want to have to socialize. The next day, day 4, I had to go to the airport and re-book my flight. At this point I'm pretty sure I had rebooked it for monday. But I eventually had to go back and book it a second time to fly out on saturday, a week after I was supposed to leave. Three north Ireland girls checked in that day. They were really nice. I went to Carroll's again and searched forever for cheap food. That night I had a failed attempt to find a bar for cheap Guinness. I pulled a Luke when, during my search, a woman standing outside a restaurant asked me if I was looking for somewhere to eat, and I told her no, I was looking for a bar. Something Luke would totally do... give people like that unexpected, honest answers. The next day I woke up and chatted with the irish girls. Went to the grocery store for lunch. Afterwards I went to the mall, and had to pay 20 cents to use the bathroom just because I wanted to wash my hands. Never done that before. I walked around some more, and that night when I got my usual chicken fillet roll, an arab/north african-type guy who worked there notice i was back. I told him, yeah I'm kinda becoming a regular. Then he kinda asked me out for pints. I was like, ummm. He thought I was being shy. Hardly. I was just not comfortable with that, and talked my way out of it. I was sly the next times I went back to that place to get food. That night I went for Guinnesses with Murph at the Brazen Head, Ireland's oldest pub, established in 1198. I ran into Murph quite a bit, since he's a tour guide and was also staying at the Kinlay House (my hostel). The next day I went back to the airport to once again rebook my flight. I went to the tourist office just for something to do. Came very close to buying a super cute pink Guinness shirt with a crown on it. I talked to Luke on Skype and finally found a really cheap grocery store on the other side of the river someone told me about, and just bought a loaf of bread, PB and J, orange juice, butter, water, bananas, and rice pudding. This was pretty much breakfast and lunch for the remainder of my time there. Day 7 I had a long get-go. I walked to the other side of the river, and found a super cheap clothing store, called Penny's. I had absolutely nothing to do, so I decided to see a movie, and took advantage of the fact that I could see a movie in english and saw "Remember Me", which I highly recommend. In the evening I walked to this pub where there was supposed to be live punk music. I walked there but there was a dude with a foot tall mohawk, and thought I'd stick out and feel awkward if I went inside, so I didn't. Day 8 I went to the bookstore next to the super cheap grocery store, and then went back to the super cheap grocery store to get a few more things. The Dropkick Murphys were in town and playing at a theater right down the street from my hostel, but I didn't want to pay 25 euros for a ticket, didn't want to go alone, all my cameras were dead, and I was down to my last set of clothing and didnt want to get all sweaty in a moshpit. I didn't mention yet that I wore the same clothes for about a week... I absolutely refused to pay 7 euros to do a load of laundry at the hostel. I also sent home my shotglass I bought, since I didn't think I would be able to get through security with it, since you know, I totally look like the kind of person who would break it mid-flight and try to kill someone. Psh. Around day 9 or so, I walked to the Jameson Distillery for absolutely no reason, just because I wanted to see it at least. I talked with Joe, a guy from California who was also stuck in Ireland like me. We talked with some german girls too. That night I went to a nearby bar with Joe, Murph, and Lucas. The morning of day 10, 4:30 am a guy from reception comes into my room asking if I was going to the airport. I said no. The reason for this was because I told Lucas to call the shuttle to come pick me up at 4:30, but they messed up on which morning I wanted, so the guy came looking for me. I didn't realize this at first, but after he left, I looked at the time and that's for sure what happened. I had to change rooms that day, and I switched to a 4-bed room that had an old lady staying there already, which I was completely fine with, I've just never seen old people stay in a hostel before. I guess she was touring by herself like I was. I bought some postcards and mailed them off. And I bought a day-pass and took the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) along the coast out of town and got off at any stop that looked interesting, walked around, took a picture if my cell phone would let me, and got back on. When I got back, I met up with Murph and we went to the same bar we went to the night before, and I ended up singing 2 karaoke songs, after about 3 Guinnesses, a couple of Bailey's and a Baby guinness. It was my last night in Ireland. Had to go out with a slight bang. By the way, the thought that the Irish are alcoholics isn't entirely a stereotype. I saw a lot of advertising for responsible drinking and for as much as Murph told me he liked to drink and the guy I encountered at the cross-walk, it makes it even less of a stereotype. The next day sucked. Plain and simple. I took the shuttle which came to pick me up from the hostel at 4:30, which was incredibly convenient for the 7 euros I could have paid for a bus I would have had to walk to. When I got to the airport, I started putting on a lot more of my clothes and stuffing my pockets with as much as I could, in an attempt to lighten my suitcase, because I wasn't sure if they were going to weigh it or not. Anything over 10 kg has to be checked and there's like a 40 euro fee to do so. But I went through security without being weighed. I think they were just so busy and backed-up from the delays and cancelled flights that they just didn't care. I flew back to La Rochelle, and re-traced my footsteps to the train station. They wouldn't refund my train ticket I bought before I left, that I couldn't take because I was stranded, so I bought a ticket for the next train to Poitiers, which was leaving about 10 minutes later. I could have gotten a train ticket for later at a cheaper price, but I didn't care. I just wanted to go home. I arrived in Poitiers, took the bus, and finally got home at 12:30. During this time I was missing the excursion that all the other Centre Oregon study abroad students were on. Sylvie sent me an email with some options for maybe catching up to them the evening after I got back to Poitiers, but it really wasn't worth it, and I was dead tired. Now I've had to worry about getting compensated for expenses from Ryanair. At first they said they wouldn't pay anyone anything, but the European Union requires them to. They've said they'd reimburse the cost of the cancelled flight. But I plan on sending an additional thing to the EU requesting about 200 euros to pay for my accommodations and food, like Ryanair is supposed to pay for by law.

So all in all, I learned a lot about traveling alone. I know I love Ireland, and how I totally should have been born Irish, and could almost live in Ireland and it would feel like Oregon. Except I know I'd probably die, when I stand at a cross walk and step out in front of an oncoming car because I have the tendency to look in the other direction for an oncoming car. No wonder they print "LOOK LEFT" or "LOOK RIGHT" on the street at crosswalks. But I think what I realized the most is that I don't particularly like traveling alone. While it was more peaceful than traveling with someone, it was also incredibly lonely and I felt really vulnerable. I think that outweighs the peacefulness and makes me think if I travel to another unknown country again, it shouldn't be by myself. Because you experience too much to not be able to it share with someone.

Pictures from album #1 here

Pictures from album #2 here

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ireland post coming soon

I got back from Ireland finally on saturday, and having been there for a week and a half, I have quite a bit to say, thus requiring a good amount of time to write a proper blogpost. But I'm pretty sure I'll finally have enough time to do it this weekend. The rest of this week is going to be a busy one.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My new favorite song

Much belated updates

Sooooo... I've been wanting to make a post since Luke left, but have just been too occupied to write anything of quality. Luke's time here was a great one, but packed full of things to do. I left Poitiers to go to CDG the night before he arrived. I was easily able to find my hotel shuttle and I had dinner in a restaurant right next to it, which was insanely overpriced for a small piece of slightly cold chicken breast, green beans, bread, and dessert... like 11 euros. But you gotta eat. Or else it would have been a baguette and apple I brought along. I had a hard time sleeping that night. One of those nights where you think you just lie in bed all night just with your eyes closed. I think I woke up around 3 or 3:30 because Luke was supposed to land around 5:30. I got a text from him around 5:00. I headed to the airport and found him pretty easily, which was one thing I was concerned about. I probably got some stares in the airport when I practically attacked him right after I saw him as I walked around the corner. They don't really hug in France. Or jump on people in over-excited joy. Usually the most you get is the famous two-cheek kiss, which I gave him also. We went back to the hotel and I let Luke take a little nap before we went downstairs to have a buffet breakfast for less than 5 euros, which was very reasonably priced in my opinion... compared to the hotel we stayed at the night before he left, which was 20 euros for breakfast (I'll express my disappointment in this hotel later). After we checked out, we went back to the airport, where we got RER tickets (the region Paris train) and took it to Gare Montparnasse. From there we took the métro to our hostel, which had me a little confused because we had to find it from the opposite side of where I found it the last time I stayed there. We couldn't check into St. Christopher's yet when we got there, so we left our luggage in their extremely small luggage room. After ditching our idea to go to Versailles (because it would have easily taken half the day, is a trip to get to, and Luke didn't even really know what it was anyway), we went to the L'arc de Triomphe. We walked down the Champs-Elysées some. I originally planned to walk all the way down to the Place de la Concorde, but that was much further than I knew. So we just went into Louis Vuitton and walked past the Maison du Danemark, which absolutely necessitated a photo with Luke since he has Danish ancestry. I think by that time Luke was pretty pooped, so we went back to the hostel, checked in, and took a nap. That night we went on the Bateaux-Mouches, the boats which go up and down the Seine. I hadn't done that since 2006, and it's a nice way to see a lot of Paris' most famous landmarks. The next day we walked down some of the Canal St. Martin, which our hostel sits right next to. We just so happened to stumble upon a super cheap grocery store, which was pretty much a miracle for Paris. Luke bought a thing of juice and was drinking out of it as we walked. Very not french. Very Luke. Ha. Oh well. We made our way to Parc des Buttes Chaumont, a really beautiful park I happened to find out about during my research of what to see and do. After that we took the métro to the Canal St. Martin location seen in one of my favorite french films, Amélie. Unfortunately we weren't able to go stand on the exact canal bridge. We did get to see a long skinny boat make its way through the canal, and the guys having to run around opening dams in the canal and flooding sections of the canal so the boat could pass. It was hilarious to watch this duck who was obviously very confused when the boat began to sink with the water level. We went to Pigalle, walked past the sex shop in the film, and went to the erotic museum. Needless to say, that was a unique experience. Only in Pigalle haha. We stood outside Moulin Rouge and took some pictures. We couldn't afford the 90 euros per person show. Sad. Someday when I'm richer and older. We walked up the hill right beside it up into Montmartre, where we went to Café Les Deux Moulins, the café from Amélie, and had crème brûlée. I was in heaven. If you've seen the movie, you should know why. When we were done we booked it to Notre Dame to try to make it in time for the last group to go into the belltowers. Since I've never been able to find where you go for the belltowers, I ran inside to ask where to go, and the lady was actually pretty rude in saying "it's outside and around the corner but you're too late". I ran out there and it was pretty much right at closing time, and they'd already cut off the line. I was livid. Mostly because it was kinda my own stupid fault for not managing time better, and also since I'd always wanted to see it and had never been able to. And I really wanted Luke to see it since he loves the Disney movie. I felt bad for Luke afterwards having to put up with my adult temper tantrum, but I just wanted it to go right and this kind of stupid stuff happens to me all the time. So we just went inside and I could let the solemnness of the church calm my nerves. Luke helped a little bit too :) After that we booked it again to the Louvre. I read online that it closed at 6. We made it there by 5:15. When we got inside, I noticed none of the ticket booths were open. I asked information what was going on and they told me they w selling tickets at 5:30. I checked my phone, which had the exact time, and it was 5:20. I could have bitched and complained to them, but that would have done absolutely no good. I've just learned that in France, things close before they close, at which point I just broke down. I hate crying in public. Thank god for big black sunglasses. At least Luke got to see the lobby. Oh boy. The Eiffel Tower was next. I wanted to go up all the way to the top so bad. They stupidly had only TWO pillars open, one being the elevator, the other the stairs. Of course, the elevator line spanned the entire bottom width of the tower, and easily would have been a 3 hour wait. At this time of the day, my feet were killing me since I was wearing flats with 0 support. I almost convinced myself to suck it up and take the stairs but Luke talked me out of it. We stood beside it and I took pictures of him in his halloween french costume. Unfortunately he FORGOT his béret. We walked across the street to the crêpe shop and got a lemon one which we ate on the side of the river. On our way back to the hostel, we went back to the cheap grocery store and got some dinner food. We had every intention of going back to the hostel, taking a nap, waking up around 10 and going to a club next to the L'arc de Triomphe until around 3 or 4 am, but Luke passed out. I did too eventually. And I knew it would be complicated taking the night buses getting back and the next morning we had what should have been a train at 11:45 to go to Nice. The next morning we checked out, took the métro to Gare de Lyon, and when we arrived, we saw that our train wasn't posted on the departure board. I stood in the information line and asked what was up. The guy told me the train had been "annulé"... cancelled... and for unknown reasons. Maybe not enough tickets sold, but 9 chances out of 10 it was because of some sort of strike. That's how you get things done in France. The next one was in 5 hours. Thanks God... glad to know you don't hate me. So we sat for a little while trying to figure out what we were going to do. We decided to ask if there were lockers since we couldn't go back to St. Christopher's and expect them to hold our stuff after we already checked out. We paid almost 10 euros for a locker for our luggage and went back to Notre Dame, where we waited for I don't know how long... maybe a little less than 2 hours... to go up to the belltowers. We almost gave up on it, but we finally made it. I was pretty excited. The bells rang right when were on the crossing between the two towers, which I have a video of. Loud. I was just so glad we did actually have another chance to see it. That's pretty much the only good thing that came from a cancelled train. I got some pictures of Luke with the gargoyles and I got a video of him singing the song from Notre Dame song from the movie without him knowing haha. Precious. When we were done we walked past the birdman, who's always standing outside Notre Dame feeding the pigeons. And then we went around the outside of the church to admire the architecture. We tried the Louvre again. Went there with all these hopes of having another chance to see that too... but I forgot that it was closed on tuesdays. And didn't remember this fact until we got there. So tell me why there were so many people just chillaxing outside and what seemed to be people going in? Luke and I sat around the fountain around the pyramid for a while, then went back to the train station. By then it was almost time for our train. It was a little nerve wracking since we were told to just find a place to sit since we no longer had official reserved seats. But come hell or high water I was determined that we were going to get first class seats, since that's what I booked. Fortunately for the whole ride, no one got on the train to wave their ticket in our faces and say we were sitting in their seats. Luke slept most of the way, which was fine. He still wasn't used to the time difference I think. Meanwhile I had to call our hostel in Nice to tell them that we were going to be arriving after the reception closed. Thank god I took the time to print out the hostel info from the website I booked it with. We arrived at midnight, basically cutting us short of precious Nice-time by about 7 hours. The walk to the hostel wasn't bad at all, about 15 minutes. We had to use a code to get into the building and then a code to get our room key out of a safe. The hostel was very old, but charmingly so. I was happy with it. We got our stuff into the room and then took the 2 minute walk down the street to the beach and the Promenade des Anglais. There was NO ONE. Much deader than what would seem normal to me for France. People start to go out at midnight. The next day we basically just walked around. Went to the beach again and near the water, where I almost lost my flip-flop in the tide. We went to "Vieux Nice" (the old part of Nice) and walked through the streets. Bought 3 baguettes at a bakery, and Luke had one entirely eaten by the time we found a grocery store to buy things to make sandwiches. We bought ham, grated Emmental cheese, crème caramel things, and a cheap peach champagne which was delicious. We sat on the stairs going to the beach and had lunch. When we were finished, I took Luke to the park with the carousel which was right next to the hotel I stayed in the last time I was in Nice. I think after that we walked around some more then went back to the hostel where we took a nap again. In the evening we went back out for another walk. Found a decently priced grocery store where I made Luke buy a reusable grocery bag for his mom, because I knew she'd love it. That night we were going to give going to a club another go, but again we were too tired. The next morning we took the train back to Paris so we could go to Poitiers. This time Luke could see the Cote d'Azur coastline since last time it was night. In Paris we had to slightly hurry to take the métro from Gare de Lyon to Gare Montparnasse. As our train left Paris, it started to pour rain. That's another thing (one of the few) that went in my favor. Not being rained on in Paris. When we arrived in Poitiers, we took the bus back to where I live. And we had dinner in the RU ("Restaurant Universitaire"), which I think Luke was pretty impressed to get a decent meal for under 3 euros. We also met up with Caroline, a little reunion between fellow Ducks, which was nice. The next day we kinda had a late start, but went to Leclerc to get some groceries because I had almost no food, and later in the afternoon I took him to the university where we met up with Sophie and I introduced them. That went pretty well. We had the intention of going to Futuroscope after that, but it continued to be rainy and cold and I figured we'd try the next day. That night I took Luke around town some, near the river and such. I wanted to take him to La Grand' Goule which is a really awesome club very very close to where I live, but again we were tired and it was windy and rainy outside and it sounded like a better idea to us for me to just cook dinner and watch Amélie. The next morning we thought we could get up early and get to Futuroscope when it opened and get back by around 2. Yeahhh no. Way too tired and it was still rainy and cold. So we went to take a walk in the afternoon. I took Luke to Cathédrale St. Pierre and we went to this café Caroline recommended that had excellent hot chocolate. It cracks me up how they serve sugar with it here. Always... and despite being american and being used to everything being packed with sugar, I actually like it the way it is. We caught our train around 4:15 back to CDG. Got to the place where our shuttle was supposed to be, and it came, but it sort of pulled up, and as I walked up to it to get on the driver kinda of waved me away, turned around, and then parked on the side of the street for about 15 minutes. Then he let the people off the bus. I walked up to some people, a father and teenage daughter, and asked them in french what was going on with the bus. They were actually american and I sort of intimidated the poor girl at first haha. I actually can't remember the reason why he pulled over and just sat there, but then he came for us and we got back on the bus. Luke and I talked with the father and daughter on our way to our hotel. When we got there, there was only 1 girl at the front desk checking people in and answering the phone. Once we finally got up to the desk and checked in, we found out the pool closed in 20 minutes. I should note that the ONLY reason I booked this hotel and decided to pay the 20 or so more euros to do so was BECAUSE it had a pool, and I thought that would be a nice way to relax and spend the evening. Also, I swear I booked a non-smoking room, which was completely booked, so we had to take a smoking room. Nice. We got to our room, which had the air conditioning on (trying to air out the room maids?) The smell wasn't too bad but it was noticeable. We opened the window but that didn't help much. We decided to have dinner in their Irish restaurant downstairs with its ridiculously overpriced food. But we hadn't spent much on food the entire trip. I got some mexican thing and Luke got some chinese thing and we shared. I was not impressed. The quality was pretty horrible and the portions were tiny... but I guess you have to compare the american and european definition of portion size. I was surprised that the vanilla crème brûlée was decent sized. Later that night, Luke needed to try to get his tickets printed, so went to see how much internet was. EIGHT euros for THIRTY minutes. I've never ever seen internet prices that high. He found out he could just print it at the airport. I probably looked like a dumbass when I asked them if we were charged to even watch TV, but honestly I felt like we were going to be charged for everything we did in that hotel. The next morning there were 2 people at the desk both with lines, so Luke got in a line and I got in the other. I would have reached the desk first, but then as the guy in front of me finished, this indian guy came out of absolutely no where and cut in front of me. I figured maybe he was in front of me but standing to the side and I just didn't notice him, but Luke said he definitely cut. All he wanted to do was do a currency exchange for like a ridiculous little amount which took about 20 minutes. During this time the shuttle came and left. He saw me getting anxious and said "don't worry i'm taking the shuttle too" i said "yeah but it's gonna leave". I said to the guy at the desk that we were in a hurry and just wanted to check out. I felt bad for him because he was going as fast as he could and looked a little flustered when I said that to him. I didn't want to look like a total elitist bitch, but I was PISSED. I should have said something, but it caught me off-guard. So Luke reached the desk from his line first. They tried to charge us for our dinner again. We paid for it the night before. She kept listing the things she thought we had at dinner, none of which was ours. Luke showed her the receipt and it was ok, but still. Seriously, get your S together. Never ever staying there again. To catch the shuttle we had to run to a neighboring hotel and it almost drove off as we were running up to it. When we got to the airport, I found out that because it had turned to daylight savings time the night before, we were there an hour earlier than we should have been. I changed my phone's clock because I figured all the clocks in the room and the hotel hadn't been changed yet, and that my phone wouldn't automatically switch. After that things went pretty smoothly. I was just a little mad though because we got to security and of course it was packed but the line looked like it was going pretty quick, but Luke insisted that he go. But it was 2 hours before his flight. So we disputed that for about 15 minutes. After a difficult goodbye, I found a wifi center and paid 3 or so euros for 30 minutes of internet, which timed out and I didn't check my email to get the password to sign back in. So I paid 3 or so euros for about 5 minutes. Lovely. Then I went to the train station in the airport. And sat for about 4 hours. Got back to Poitiers and basically cleaned and felt alone for the rest of the day. Despite all the difficulty, I'm so glad Luke got the chance to come see me. I'll try to get videos posted after vacation when I can upload them from school with a fast internet connection. It takes me about 1.5 hours to upload about 30 seconds of video with my internet connection. Feels worse than dial-up.

But here's the link to all the photos on my facebook... my photos and Luke's photos.

Other news: Starting today, I have 2 weeks of vacation. I originally wanted to go to Italy for a week and then the UK for the next week, but quickly realized I absolutely do not have the funds for that right now. So I'm staying in Poitiers this week, so I can get some homework done, start going to physical therapy for my finger, and keep my hospital appointment for next friday. Now I'm thinking the second week of my vacation I might go to London and hopefully Dublin. Unfortunately I have to go alone, but that's ok as long as I'm not dumb about it. I've talked to a lot of people who have traveled alone and they say it's fine and sometimes even better than traveling with someone. I can't just sit in Poitiers the whole time and do nothing. I think I could maybe go to Italy after I get done with school in mid-May. Go visit my friends in the south of France, then go to Italy, then up to Germany and then go home. I will be completely satisfied at this point in my life if I can see England, Ireland, and Italy while I'm here.

Tomorrow I wanted to go with Lucie to Bordeaux to do some vineyard touring and wise tasting. But unfortunately I called to late to try to reserve a place and the woman told me she "believed" it was full. Bummmerr. So I'll just have to try again sometime before I leave France. A little spendy... 60 euros for the tour and the round-trip tickets to get there, but I think it would be a neat thing to see.

I'm officially legal. On the 31st I finished the process of getting my visa finalized. It included getting my lungs scanned to check to tuberculosis (yay for healthy lungs... something not so common in France), and then a nurse and doctor exam, where they did the normal stuff and asked me about my meds, past illnesses, family medical history, and pricked my finger for a blood sugar sample. Then I just gave them all the paperwork they wanted and they glued another thing into my passport. With that I've opened a CAF file, which is a thing with the government which will subsidize my housing, paying like 100 euros a month. I'll get a nice reimbursement check when I leave I think.

I had a german test yesterday which went a little better than I planned, but I think I really sucked at the whole "translate from german to french" part. The prof allowed me to use a dictionary, which helped a little. But translation from german to french is soooo hard. I told the prof I was considering dropping the class since everyone in it has been studying german for about 8 years... about the same amount of time that I've studied french. She told me to take the test and see how I do and then decide from there. So I don't know what's going to happen with that.

I start physical therapy for my finger on monday. Truth be told, I probably should have started it the week I got back from the hospital, but I got busy, then Luke was here the next week, and then this week just took some time to get Sylvie to call for me to get it started. It's healing pretty well though. All the stitches are gone and I think the scar is going to be pretty small. The problem now is that I can't bend it like I used to. I can write pretty well though. But that's what the therapy is supposed to fix. They said it would take 6 weeks to heal anyway. I'm supposed to wear the stupid brace thing they gave me, but I haven't been because I literally could do nothing with it on. And it's dumb to sleep with it on because my finger falls out of the little sling it sits in. I'm thinking that, like my hospital stay, the treatment has been a little over-done. I never got the pain medication, bandages or anti-biotics like they told me too. They said I would need a nurse to come to where I live every 2 days and redo the bandages. Not necessary. And I never had any real pain that would have made me need a prescription pain killer. And I kept it very clean.

Last night I went to a surprise birthday party for a thrown by a french girl for a french girl I met. They both are going to UO for a year in september. Meet a lot of french people and it was a pretty good night. I swore I wouldn't be there very long, but I ended up staying there till about 2:30 or 2:45 and walked home with Caroline. We got approached by a north african guy who I think asked us to get a drink, and we were both thinking hell no. Who honestly just sees people walk by and asks them to get a drink? You yourself have got to be drunk.. he probably was. Whatever... as long as you don't pursue us... do as you please.

So that's pretty much it for now.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"If not a tattoo as a lifelong souvenir, why not a scar?" or, "Why God created *plastic* cups"

These past 2 days have not been fun ones. It all started around 9:15 pm on Sunday. I was washing my dishes after dinner, and as I was washing my glass, it slipped from my hand and as an automatic reaction I tried to grab it before it broke. I guess it hit the sink and broke before my hand reached it and that's when I cut the top of my middle finger of my right hand, from my knuckle all the way down to where my finger meets my palm. It didn't even really hurt when it happened. It started bleeding ridiculously and I was concerned that it was like a situation of a cut wrist, loosing a lot of blood quickly. But after it happened, I did feel like I was going to pass out. I called Caroline and she came over to help me. She asked if there was any french student on my floor who we could ask what to do. I said the girl across the hall, so she knocked on her door, and it just so happens that her boyfriend was there, who is in medical school and had a car, so he took me to the hospital. I was very lucky, because if there hadn't been anyone, I would have either had to call Sylvie, which would have made me feel really had since it was late and she lives really far outside of town, or I would have had to suck it up and wait until the next day to go to the hospital. Once I was there, I had to wait maybe 20 minutes or so before I was called back. They started by what they said would be 10-15 minutes of soaking my hand in an antibiotic, which turned out to be longer than an hour. Then a nurse guy came in and hand me flex my hand, which made it continue to bleed like a faucet. Then bandaged it up and left me in the room. It was maybe between 12 and 2 am when they took me back for an x-ray to see if there was any glass in my hand. The x-ray showed nothing. Then I waited some more, and finally around 4 am, another nurse came and put an I-V in my arm and finally I was wheel-chaired to my bed where they said I would spend the night. The next I woke up to them taking my blood pressure (which they seemed to do every single hour I was there), then I was accompanied to the shower, and had to wash with this weird iodine-looking stuff. I did not feel clean after that. Not to mention that I hadn't even brought any clean underwear. I didn't know when I left my dorm that I'd be at the hospital for 2 days. Then around 11 or so, I was taken to the anesthesia room. They injected some hard-core numbing medicine in my arm which completely deadened it. I also felt like loopy too. But I wasn't put out. The surgery lasted about 20 minutes. I didn't see or feel a thing. Thank god, because I didn't want to. I was hoping I would have been able to have this done the night I came in, but the surgeon wasn't in at that time. After that I just chill-laxed in my room, reading magazines a library lady came to lend me and TV channels in french, german, spanish, italian, and arabic. The only 2 channels in english were BBC and CNBC, which were both extremely boring. All they talked about was stocks. They'd taken out the old lady I was sharing the room with for her surgery I guess, so it was nice to have the room to myself. Sylvie came and saw me for a while and brought me crispy M&Ms and mint mentos, which made me happy. Eventually the lady from Social Security came to talk to me about how I was gonna pay for all this hospital stuff. This was a conversation I wasn't too excited about. She kept asking all these insurance questions I didn't know jack about and kept asking me about how much money I was receiving and stuff. It was just annoying and I gave her Sylvie's number and she said she'd be back the next day. Last night I would have slept pretty well, but I swear the nurses were coming in every 10 minutes to take my stupid blood pressure and waking me up every single time. I'm pretty sure my blood pressure isn't gonna change between then and the other 50 times they came in to check it. And I hated the I-V. I guess it was for an intense pain killer, but geez... this whole thing seemed like a bit much for a finger cut. It was actually a little more than that though. I cut it so deeply, I sliced a tendon as well. It was sick, I could literally *lift* the patch of wrinkly skin that covers my knuckle. Before I left, I was taken to the place where they make casts and stuff, where they made me a sort of brace for my forearm and finger. It's to hold my finger in the right position so the tendon heals the right way. The Social Security lady came back. Oh joy. Thankfully she got there the same time Sylvie did, and they figured out that they would send the bill directly to my parents and they could take it up with the insurance company, because I didn't want to deal with it. I hate dealing with this official financial business when it's in *english*. Everyone seems to think that I wont be able to do anything now. They were all concerned if I was going to be able to dress and feed myself, do my grocery shopping and cleaning. Please. It's one finger I can't bend and I have 9 others that work fine. Granted it's not easy. But the stitches are the kind that will eventually fall off within 15 days and the brace I'm supposed to wear for 6 weeks. Today when Sylvie took me from the hospital, we kinda sorta forgot to, check-out? The nurse called me about 6 times to tell me that I left without signing papers, getting my pain killer prescription, and my bandages. I called her back and I think she was kinda pissed, maybe not so much at me, but at Sylvie. She tried getting me to come back there this evening by asking me if I knew anyone who had a car and could drive me back there. I told her no, because I don't. And honestly I'm not gonna die if I don't have liquid vicodin in my body for 24 hours. They're so insistent here, and it's kind of annoying. After I get my stuff from the hospital tomorrow, I hope they leave me alone. Unfortunately if I do end up starting to hurt really badly before tomorrow, I can't take the ibuprofen that I have because she said it would make me bleed. Ok? Never heard that one. So the lesson I've learned? Plastic from now on.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Soirée à Toulouse!!!

I received a CD in the mail a few weeks ago that Stéphane sent with pictures from our "soirée" in Toulouse. I was pretty excited. Here's a few:

More pictures here

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mein RIP ticket ist angekommen!! :)

I got my RIP (Rock im Park) ticket in the mail a few days ago. I received a slip in the mail saying they tried to deliver it to me and that I needed to go get it from the post office, and I didn't really know what it was I was picking up, so I was surprised when I read that it came from Germany. I was surprised they sent it with an "envoi en recommendé". I don't know how to say it in english, but it's when you pay extra to send something so there's a guarantee that it gets there. Maybe because it was international mail... I don't know. But I am so super stoked now!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Some new songs I'm in love with

Vacation and News

This past week was vacation week. I really don't know why, because we have only been in school for a little less than a month. Mais bon. On the 15th I left Poitiers to go to Toulouse. My friend who lives in Marseille was going to be there visiting his brother. I got packed and can never seem to do so lightly... it's just impossible. I got to the train station just fine, but I looked at the departure board and saw that my train was 2 hours late. This was a problem because I had to change trains in Bordeaux to go to Toulouse. So I talked to someone at the desk and he told me to take the next train to Bordeaux, which was also 2 hours late, but I only had to wait an hour and a half or so. I was kinda bummed because I could have gotten some more sleep. When I got to Bordeaux, my original ticket said I had 10 minutes to get from one train to the other. Before I left Poitiers, I was told to just take the next train to Toulouse. So I found someone who worked at the train station on the platform and he happened to be standing next to the train I needed to be on. They were aware about the connection issue and gave me a 1st class ticket for the Téoz train, which wasn't the TGV, but still fine. I sat next to a man who told me why the trains were 2 hours late. Someone at a train station in Paris was trying to commit suicide on the tracks, and since most trains come from Paris, most all the trains were late, causing a big fiasco with the police, fire department, etc. Way to go. Someone told me that there's really only 3 reasons why the trains are ever late: 1. someone was trying to commit suicide, 2. someone committed suicide, or 3. snow. So I arrived in Toulouse 3 hours later than planned, and Stéphane was there waiting for me. His brother lives about 5 minutes away from the train station. And omg his apartment was the most quintessential french style ever. Old wood floors, tall skinny windows that open like doors with shutters, and antique doorknobs. I meant to take pictures but forgot. Stéphane's twin brother Sébastien had 2 roommates, both named Zoé, and one of them plays violin, and one night she showed me her violin and I got to play it some. The day after I arrived, Sébastien took Stéphane and I on a little tour of Toulouse. We went into the town hall and some art galleries and did some shopping. Toulouse is known as the "Pink City" because of all its brick architecture.
That night Stéphane asked me if I wanted to go to a club, but it was like 11. I forgot that people go out here around midnight. We didn't go because I was just too tired and not really prepared. The next day we just hung out and got ready for the little "soirée". They invited about 20 friends over and we played beer pong, which was so much fun to teach them. I think I went to bed around 5 am that night and slept till 2 the next day. Thursday Stéphane and I rented bikes and went on a little ride around one of the rivers. The weather wasn't the best, but it was still nice. The next day I woke up at around 6 because Stéphane and I took an 8:00 train to Marseille, where he lives. After we arrived in the station, we waited for his friend to come and pick us up. We were randomly approached by some undercover "policiers" (cops) who searched Stéphane for drugs. It's so prejudiced in my opinion that they just pick out people who look a certain way to see if they have anything. I was in shock for most of it and didn't really know what was going on. I think they could tell by the look on my face that I was foreign and innocent. They searched my purse because I was with him, but they went through his entire bag and patted him down. They asked me if I smoked "le shit" (seriously, that's the word for weed). Stéphane told them I don't smoke, and I told them that as well. It turns out Stéphane did have a little bit of weed on him but he wasn't arrested. They just took it from him, thank god. I had no idea the police did stuff like that. After his friend picked us up, we went to McDonald's for lunch. I think they think it's weird that I'm American and will not willingly stuff my face with Big Macs and french fries. I had a salad, yogurt, and water. His friend then took us to where Stéphane's car was parked. We drove around some and we went up to the Notre Dame de la Garde, which is a basilica looking over the city. We drove around town some more and we picked up Stéphane's friend Max and went to Cassis, which seemed like a quiet little town. But I'm sure it's very busy with tourists in the summer. We walked around there for a while and had a beer. Around 5 we left to drive to Toulon, where I met up with Miléna, my french homestay sister from 2006 who I hadn't seen for 2.5 years (the last time being the summer of 2007). I said goodbye to Stéphane and her boyfriend picked us up from her university where I met her, and we went back to her house about 30 minutes outside of Toulon, in the country hills. We got there and started to get ready for a dinner party at Miléna's friend's boyfriend's house whose parents were out of town. It wasn't a crazy party or anything. We went to the grocery store beforehand to get some wine and desserts. The house was amazing. It's 200 years old. I decided to be a creeper and take a few pictures. I couldn't help it. I had a good time seeing some of Miléna's old friends. The next day we went into town to go shopping. I didn't buy anything. I hardly bought anything the entire time. I'm desperately trying to save money for when Luke comes. Anthony (Miléna's boyfriend) picked us up and we went to some odd store that reminded me of some sort of craft store, but with home stuff, among other things. When we were trying to get parked before we went in, Anthony almost backed out into a car that was passing behind us. I kinda jumped and screamed out of reflex. He said I was right because he didn't see the car. He asked me if I was scared and I said yes because I was in a bad car accident when I was younger and now have a permanent fear of them. When we got back to her house, we watched the rugby match between Toulon and Toulouse on TV. That was the first time I'd ever seen a rugby match. Quite a weird sport, like a mix between football and soccer. Toulon won. We ate dinner with her parents afterward and then went to see Sherlock Holmes in the theater. They were worried that it would be no fun for me if I couldn't understand but I told them no, I understand the gist of things and listening to it is good for my ears anyway. It was a pretty good movie. I didn't think I was going to like it, but now I want to see it in english. The next morning I got up and ready for my 11:30 train. Miléna and Anthony took me to the train station and waited to wave goodbye to me on the platform. Odile (Miléna's mom) was so cute and gave me a lunch before I left with a ham and butter baguette, 2 fruits, and water. I hope I can come see them again before I come home. Daniel (Miléna's dad) said I should come back when the weather gets nicer. Provence was decently warm (compared to what I was used to in Poitiers). I was basically going from the San Diego of France to the Alaska of France in one day. Someone tell me whhyyyy I didn't study on the Mediterranean??? There isn't a train that goes directly from Toulon to Poitiers, so I had to take the train to Paris (a 4 hour ride), which brought me to Gare de Lyon. I had to take the Métro to Gare de Montparnasse, which was really easy, I just needed a map, which I got from the information desk. While I was on the Métro an older man started talking to me asking if I was coming back from/going on vacation. I told him I was going home. I don't know why he started talking to ME. I wasn't looking blatantly foreign at all. The only give-away is my blonde hair. I was wearing a black coat with a scarf, skinny jeans, and heeled ankle boots... very french. I always get kinda apprehensive when people (especially men) talk to me randomly like that. I made it fine to Gare de Montparnasse but had to wait for the platform number to be posted, which they post 20 minutes before the train leaves. I swear I suffer from an acute form of dyslexia. On several occasions while driving with Luke he'll say "go left" and I start to go right. My point is that on my ticket it said my car was number 19, but somehow I read 16, and that's the car I went to, and didn't understand why someone was sitting in my seat. And then I realized... looking like a dumbass. I made it to my seat and realized that I had put above what I thought was my seat the birthday present Miléna gave me. And had to go back and get it. Did I mention that I also have a short-term memory problem and am very forgetful? I didn't mention before, but Miléna gave me a bath set from Sephora and a Marilyn Monroe shirt, which was super nice. So I made it to Poitiers, waited for the last bus that would take me home as planned. While I was going home, on the train and such, I realized I couldn't immediately find my dorm keys in my purse. I like to make sure something is definitely missing before I start to panic and freak out. So I called Caroline (my friend from high school who lives in my dorm too) and told her i might have possibly lost my keys and if I could crash with her for the night if need be. She said that was fine. It wouldn't have been too bad since I had all my stuff with me. But I discovered I had left my key in my door when I'd left since I was all stressed about getting to the station in time. So they key was sitting in the door lock for the whole week. I wasn't too concerned that someone came in and stole my stuff. I live on a floor with a bunch of girls who seem really chill and keep to themselves. I'm just sooo glad I didn't loose them. I know the residence would have charged me some ridiculous amount of money to replace the lock in my door and my mailbox since the keys are together.

So that was my vacation in a nutshell. More pictures here.

In other news, I have a cold again. Not so awesome. And it doesn't help that I was exposed to a considerable amount of second-hand smoke over the vacation, much to my dislike. It literally makes me feel sick. School is going pretty well. I have to give a small speech this week in my oral expression class about a tradition unique to my country. So I think I'm going to talk about thanksgiving. Since everything in the US is pretty much everyone else's business, it's kinda hard to find many traditions which are unique to the US that people from other countries don't know much about. Stuff at school has finally smoothed out I think. I've finally got a concrete schedule and in a couple of weeks we have mid-terms. I looked online today at the UO website and it says that for registering purposes I'm technically a senior, which is exciting. But I only have 124 credits, and you need a minimum of 135 to be a senior. I think it has something to do with study abroad. A girl came knocking on my door this morning as I was trying to get ready for class trying to sell me books for France Loisirs. I didn't know what she wanted at first and she asked to come in, so I let her. She asked me if I liked to read, and I said yeah... and she asked me what I liked to read, and I really couldn't tell her. I like to read but I dont do it so much for pleasure because I do it so much for school. She ended up trying to sell me books in the Twilight series. I told her honestly that I don't have a lot of money right now. I think she got the hint and left. That was irritating. I bought my ticket for Rock im Park today. So stoked. It's long been a dream of mine to go, and this year is the 15th anniversary, so it's 4 days long!! Better buy me some earplugs. One concert I can handle... but 4 days of them? I know I'll walk away deaf. Once I have more money I need to buy my train tickets to Germany. Most likely I'll be in Germany until I have to come home. It just sucks I can't change my plane ticket to leave from Munich rather than from Paris. It would save me a considerable amount of time and money. Later this week there's a dinner party at Sylvie's house (she's our director for study abroad and kinda like our "mom"). It's for all the kids in the Centre Oregon program and their host families. She asked me to bring veggies so I gotta go to the big grocery store tomorrow and hopefully find a pre-made veggie plate of some sort like the kinds back home. On saturday some of us kids in the centre oregon are having a cake party where I live, I'm pretty sure. Everyone's just gonna bring cake and drinks of some kind and french friends they invite. Should be fun. Other than that I'm just looking very much forward to March! :)