Saturday, January 30, 2010

Funny weather we're having...

Today I woke up to pull back my curtain and see that it was snowing outside. That was quite a shocker. Unfortunately it all melted before i was able to take a picture. It started to snow again later, and i'll post a video i took. But today I saw snow, rain, clouds, and sun. It was really weird. The weirdest thing about it is that Poitiers is like Salem, it hardly snows. But there was snow on the ground when I got here and snow again today. This picture is just of the sun going down.

Friday, January 29, 2010

beaucoup plus compliqué que nécessaire

I know I haven't been doing any blog posts lately, but things have *slightly* evened out to the point where I don't need to write about me getting up, showering, eating, and going to school everyday. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened lately... except for a few days ago when I was walking downtown with two girls from Slovakia who live in my residence. We walked past a bar and there was a full blown band (the type with horns and drums and stuff) and a bunch of people dressed in very weird costumes. I tried to ask one guy what was going on, and I really couldn't understand him. It would have been a lot easier to if it hadn't been so loud around there. What's funny is that that was the ONE day where earlier I thought to myself "I don't need to take my cameras in my purse today... I won't see anything worth bringing them along" and this ONE time that I don't, I run into this. That's my life. But I was able to take some pictures and some crappy video with my french phone (my iphone doesn't take video). I'll eventually upload it and add it to this post.

Besides that I've just been trying to get my class schedule figured out. How it works here is that every student already has a "path" of study, and all their classes are pre-set for them. For us, we get to pick and choose whatever we want to take. That's just fine and dandy but the problem is deciding WHAT to take, and all the other logistical factors, like if it's the right level, what kind of credit will I get back home for it, etc. This process has NOT been fun or easy. I was about ready to lose it monday. All week any class I've attended has just been a test run. That's what they suggested we do. It's just so different than home. At home it's so nice and easy and organized. You go online, see all the classes with their times, locations, descriptions, etc. and register. Here I've been kinda deciding what to take by word of mouth. As far as I know, the classes are not posted online. You need to go to a specific bulletin in the school to find the schedule, and finding the stupid thing has been half the battle. And then there's knowing what you're looking at/for once you get there. Since there's so many different year levels, and types of study (I'd try to explain, but it's seems so complicated, and I really don't even understand it). I've had so many questions this week, and it's been tough because I'd really like to go see Sylvie (my director lady for the Centre Oregon) but she's always so busy and I don't want to bother her with my stupid questions everyday. I know that's what she's there for, but still... I feel like a nuisance. I still feel like I have so many unanswered questions. And here's another little challenge: they like to change class times and room numbers. This wasn't so awesome for me when I was 30 minutes late for my german class. What happened was that last week, when Sylvie suggested the class, she told me it was either in 1 of 2 rooms, but she couldn't exactly remember which one. So today I tried both, and I got there early for this reason. I went to one of the rooms, and there was a class going on inside. I waited until 4 (when my class was supposed to start) and no one left the room, so I figured that whatever class was going on in there was going from like 3 to 5 or something. So I went downstairs to the other room. Locked. So I got Sylvie and we went on this big chase asking all these people where the room ought to be. Turns out it was in the first room I was at the whole time, which made me look like an idiot. And then I get there half an hour late. Because they changed the time.

So this is one of the seemingly numerous examples of pretty much everything here being much more complicated than necessary. I could go into the whole situation of me moving into my dorm, and the money situation with my french bank account, but I can just make a few long stories short and say that these situations both were also much more complicated than necessary.

Ever since I got here, I feel like someone who's skiing, being dragged by a boat, and just can't get up on the water. I hope I can get on my feet soon though. I think I will enjoy life a lot more. I didn't expect this to be easy, but i also didn't expect to nearly have to lose my sanity over it either.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 14- 1/22

Today I got to sleep in until 10:30... when a guy from Orange knocked on my door. Basically long story short, my cell phone quit working. I went to the Orange store and they gave me a number to call. I went to Sylvie's office to ask her to call for me but she wasn't there, but her husband was. Leo was really nice and called for me and they said they could have another one delivered to me the next day. I left my old phone at the concierge just in case I wasn't here and there they could swap and I would pick up the new phone later. The guy went to the wrong concierge I guess, they gave him my room number, and came up to my room looking for the phone. I told him it really was with the concierge and i went downstairs with him and exchanged phones. I'm so glad to have a new one because before i got my own internet cord and not having a functioning phone, i felt really disconnected. When i got back to my room i fell back asleep and dreamt that i slept in till like 6:30, but i only slept in till about 1. For the rest of the day I just kinda chilled because this was the first day in quite a while since i've been here that i could just do whatever i wanted and had no plans. I thought about going downtown to look for a black scarf, but really didn't feel like going anywhere. At 6:00 pm my time Luke got online and I was able to talk to him through skype. I had a webcam in my computer so he could see me but I couldn't see him, but he's gonna get a webcam next week hopefully. My parents are probably going to get one set up too. After I talked to Luke, I went to the kitchen to get my milk from the fridge for my cereal (dinner) and ran into 2 girls from Slovakia that have only been here a few days and don't speak any French but really good English. There here on the Erasmus program and they said their courses should be taught in English, but other than that I really don't know how they're going to survive. There are French people who speak English, but a majority of them don't speak it well, if at all. In my opinion they should have gone to England or Germany, or really any other Germanic-language speaking country. After talking to them and having dinner, I went back to my room to upload more photos and finally got photos from day 7 on picasa (see day 7 for the link). At 11 my time Luke got back on after going to classes. We haven't talked in a while so there was a good amount of stuff to talk about. As for tomorrow, I plan on sleeping in and maybe going shopping.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 13- 1/21

I really didn't want to get up this morning. I got up and all nice and ready and actually sort of dressed up because I decided I wanted to look more French today. I got all the way to the university, went to where I thought my german class was, and the door was locked and there was no noise coming from inside. This is the part where I remember that there's only CFLE classes this week. Crap. But this was a good opportunity to go see Sylvie. It turns out Sylvie wasn't there, but her husband was. I actually needed some help because my cell phone hasn't been functioning correctly. It's a touch screen and although I can press the side buttons and make it light up, it does nothing when I touch the screen. it's like it quit sensing when it's being touched. I went to the Orange store the other day to ask them what to do and they basically gave me a help line number that I needed to call from a landline, so I asked Leo and he talked to them and explained the problem for me, for which I was very grateful because while I think I maybe could have managed talking to them myself, I also ran the risk of not understanding and not being understood. And this is kinda important. Like everything else, getting a new phone is unnecessarily complicated. I can't just go to the Orange store, show them the phone doesn't work and my receipt, and get a new one. I had to make an appointment so that someone from Orange comes out to where I live to pick up the old phone and give me a new one. This is a tiny problem because I'm pretty sure I'll be at the fac when they come, so I left my phone with the concierge (as Leo said they said I could do). They made me write a note saying that they could accept it and if anything happened to it they weren't responsible. While I was there I told them I still needed a femme de menage to come and inspect my room for me. But mumble mouth was there and came with me to my room to do it for me. He's getting slightly easier to understand, but I know I will never ever understand him perfectly. I went downstairs afterwards for lunch. I'm still out of the loop as to when exactly meal times are around here, and there was no one in the cafeteria but they told me there was a pizza place upstairs that I could eat at. There wasn't anyone there either, and they didn't have pizza at the time so I had a kabab and fries. Now I'm just chilling out in my room and trying to get caught up on photo unloads. I might go out tonight with some of the girls, but I don't know yet.

I should take the time to describe where I live now. I live in Roche d'Argent, which is a "Residence Universitaire" or university residence. It's only 2 bus stops from downtown, which is really nice, and about 15 minutes on the bus to the university. I live on the third floor, which is a 6 flight of stairs climb, but thats ok. It's warmer up here. And the view is awesome.

As you'll see in the pictures, I have a big long desk, a twin size bed with huge drawers underneath, a ton of shelf space, a good sized closet and window, and my own bathroom, which is teeny tiny, no bigger than a train bathroom, but it's my own bathroom and I'm glad to have one. There's a nice kitchen on every floor and I have my own little space in a refrigerator that I lock with a padlock. For laundry I have to go down this really old castle-like corridor. I actually have to go through one end of it to take another door to go upstairs to the main lobby, and at night it's really dark and scary. I think I said this before, but I live near Cathedrale Saint-Pierre (construction begun in 1162) and Baptistère Saint-Jean (construction begun in 360... yes, 360 years after Jesus). I think I also live next to a museum of some sort. I should visit it sometime.

more pictures here

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 12- 1/20

Today I had no classes so I went to the bank for my 11:00 appointment to set up some sort of renter's insurance. That took awhile. One thing I've learned is that I hate signing important papers when I don't know what I'm signing in English, let alone French. I've been doing what seems to be a lot of that sort of thing lately, which I feel like is something that should have already been taken care of by the Centre Oregon. It just makes me really uncomfortable. I checked my mailbox before I left and found that my pin had arrived so I took that with me and got my card while I was at the bank. Unfortunately everyone in France is 1) always stunned that my name is Mackenzie, because they always thought it was a last name, and 2) they think it's spelled Mackensie, so that's how it appears on my card. Awesome. After that I took the bus out to god knows where to the art school to possibly get into a sculpture class, and I got to the building(s) but had no idea where I needed to go, and every door I tried was locked. It was almost 1, the end of the time that I could talk to them, and just gave up and took the bus back to Roche d'Argent. I came back to my room and got a little cleaning urge so I washed my dishes and swept the floor. I wanted to go shopping with Caroline, but couldn't get ahold of her. I've been having real problems with my phone. It's a touch screen and right now it's been deciding when it wants to actually work and do anything when I touch the screen. It did at one point work, and I called Caroline but it went to voicemail. Before I left I dropped off the rest of my papers to the secretary I can barely understand. That went ok. At one point in the conversation I think he was trying to tell me that I needed to pay more than the 70 euros I was giving him (which is what he told me to come back with during our first encounter). He looked at his records and turns out he was just being retarded. Surprise surprise. Then I went to Leclerc myself. This place was kinda strange actually. It was a huge wal-mart type store, but it was also connected to a mini-mall, but it's all like the same store, I don't even know. There was so much stuff, it was overwhelming. I probably spent over 2 hours there. My biggest accomplishment there was buying an ethernet cord so I can have internet. The past 2 days I've been borrowing Caroline's. When I was checking out, I had picked up some apples, but the register lady said something about me having to go back and get the price. So I did and came back and told her it was 1 euro and some-odd cents. But she said what I needed to do was put the apples on a scale and then I guess it gives you a slip that you give the cashier. So i was just like, I'm sorry I'm new in France. Like they couldn't tell. I just told her to keep the apples since I was not going to run back a second time. I took the bus back home, and was excited to have internet. I went on facebook and saw that Emily, one of the american girls I went to Paris with, had a blog. So I went there and started reading. Turns out she posts a whole ton of crap about me behind my back. Like, really, really mean stuff. I could go off on a tangent right now, but need to keep this blog readable for certain people. I just told her that I couldn't believe how two faced she was, and that it was kinda sad because I had really liked her and thought she was a hilarious girl to be around. It wasn't long before the other girls started sending me apologies on facebook, because they were there too and Emily mentioned them talking about me too. Apparently Emily had told them all that I'd read the post. I'm not mad at them. I mean, I could have been incredibly annoying, ditzy, and blonde during the trip. But Emily was the last person I would expect to rant on me like she did. I did see that she took the stuff off her blog, but I haven't heard from her. And I honestly don't ever care to again.


I know this is like the 3rd time I've said this, but I'm still in the process of uploading pictures. I've added some to my earlier posts but I've decided that from now on I'm only going to add a few of my favorites to the post and then add the entire day's worth of pictures to Picasa (an online photo album for those who don't know) and then just add the link to the album in the post. In time, every post should have an album link with it, so if you want to see earlier pictures go back to my earlier posts and find the link.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 11- 1/19

Today I had to go to the Fac at around 11:30 because I needed Sylvie to sign and stamp a “caution” form which is basically a co-sign form. I took the bus back downtown to get 70 more euros that the secretary needs. I went back to Roche d’Argent to give the guy all the papers and the money, but the office was closed and didn’t reopen until 2, which is when I had class. So I left in time to go to my “Comprehension Orale” class, which was actually pretty good. We worked on identifying different accents of French within France and the world. That was difficult. It’s a small class. The class was 2 hours then I had about a 30 minute break so I went across the street to a cafeteria and got a sandwich. It was pretty dead, which is weird to me for it being a college campus cafeteria. It was really weird to me that they served beer there too. My second class “Les Visages de la France”, which is a French culture and society class, started at 4:30 and was 2 hours. We did an activity where for each letter of the alphabet, we had to try to come up with something that’s specifically French that wasn’t a person/place, for instance for B a lot of people put “baguette”. When the class let out I went home and started to thoroughly unpack. I feels so good to not live out of a suitcase anymore. Caroline came and visited me and let me borrow her internet cord again. We were going to go shopping today, but we’ll go tomorrow afternoon.

Day 10- 1/18

Today was an extremely exhausting day. I woke up at 7:30, had breakfast, then had to throw all my stuff in my suitcases because check out was at 10 and I had to be at the Fac at 10. I went to the Fac for the class orientation. That was interesting. I basically found out that I can pretty much take whatever I want. Although if I wanted the “Diplôme” I’d have to take specific required classes. I decided not to because I’d rather take about half CFLE classes (classes for foreign students) and half direct exchange. I went to lunch with Caroline and Lucille. We had crepes for super cheap. That’s a nice change after the weekend in Paris. I met with Sylvie afterward to discuss what classes I’ll take. I’ll take an oral comprehension class, a French culture class, a speaking class, a German class or 2, translation classes, and hopefully a sculpture class. Caroline has been a godsend today. She took me to the bank to get some paperwork for moving into Roche d’Argent. We went to Roche d’Argent, and I had to sign a lot of papers with this secretary guy that I could hardly understand. He has some sort of speech impediment or just mumbles terribly. This did NOT put me at ease as I was trying to sign important documents in another language. He mumbled something then said something about paying either 400 euros or 900 euros, and I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. I had assumed I had to pay nothing since it all should have already been taken care of. Caroline called Sylvie and she talked to him and set him straight. It was like magic. He was ready to make me pay a full month’s rent plus deposit. I needed pay a little more than 300 euros, which was deposit and half month’s rent. This was a little unexpected and Caroline helped me about in paying and I absolutely intend on paying her back as soon as I can. He also gave me an “état des lieux” form, where I need to go around my room and mark anything that’s damaged. I’ve done that before and I forget what it’s called in English. The problem is I don’t think I posses the vocabulary to be able to effectively fill out the sheet, so I need to have a “femme de ménage” (cleaning lady) go through it with me. I found out I needed some sort of proof of something from the bank, so we went back. It also turns out that I couldn’t yet get my bankcard because they sent my pin to Roche d’Argent before I arrived, and Roche d’Argent didn’t have it. I had to re-request it, and in a few days when I receive it, I’ll have to go back to the bank and give them the pin and they’ll activate and give me my card. So much more complicated than necessary but I’m learning that’s pretty common with anything in France. We went back to the Espace Kennedy where I got my stuff (they kept it locked in a room for me during the day until I could pick it up). With a lot of effort, we brought my stuff to my new place. I really really like it. I have a huge long desk, and nice big window with a really nice view, and closer, lots of shelves, and my own bathroom, which is unfortunately no bigger than a train bathroom. It literally seems like it’s about 3.5 x 4.5” big, maybe even smaller. But I’ll live. The bus that comes by here fortunately goes right to downtown (only 2 stops away) and in the other direction goes directly to the university, so getting around is very easy. I live next to Cathedrale Saint-Pierre, which I wasn’t aware of when I was there the other day. I also live next to Baptistère Saint-Jean, a church that was built in 360 (no, that’s not a typo… not 1360… 360). I need to go visit it sometime. Once I got back, Caroline let me use her Ethernet cord and I was catching up on internet stuff till 2 am.

Day 9- 1/17

I packed up after breakfast since checkout was 10 and called Luke. It was so nice to hear his voice. We went downstairs to hang out a while since we had all day to do stuff until our train came. We ran into Stephanie, the other girl in our room, and she said she was going to the catacombs and we decided to go with her. It was only 4 euros but it was pretty creepy. We took so many steps down, and there were tons and tons and tons of bones.
Afterwards we took the metro to the Eiffel Tower and looked at it from a distance for a while then went looking for food.
Every café we saw was so expensive and I said that most likely we would have to get food from a grocery store but they wanted a place to sit down. We eventually found a decently priced Italian place. We went back to the Eiffel Tower when the sun went down and those merchant guys are trying to sell key chains and light up Eiffel Tower statues were everywhere. We went underneath it and that was cool. As we were walking away across the bridge towards the metro stop, the light show started at 7. It only lasted about 5 minutes, which isn't long enough in my opinion.
We went back to where we were earlier in the day and got crepes and sat for a while and enjoyed the view. And the merchants kept trying to get us to buy stuff. Nearby there was this girl who was just dancing for no reason. We thought it was pretty funny. She was really breaking it down. We ran into her in the metro station and she was dancing there too. Kinda weird but we say that she had an ipod on. Went back to the hostel and hung out a while. I chatted with a guy from Argentina. He didn’t speak hardly any French and didn’t speak English well, and I know no Spanish. But it was still interesting talking to him. When we left the hostel we took the metro to the Gare Montparnasse and then the TGV (Train À Grande Vitesse, or High Speed Train) to Poitiers. I was so pooped and was pretty much knocked out the whole 2-hour ride. I think I woke up at one point to find myself drooling on myself. In pubic. That was embarrassing. We arrived at about 12:45 and it wasn’t until we had all dispersed to go home that I realized that the night bus doesn’t run that late on Sundays. So I was forced to walk an hour back to where I was staying. Alone, in the dark. I’m SO thankful that I had ridden the bus enough times to know where I was going and I followed the bus stops.

more pictures here

Monday, January 18, 2010

Once again more pics to come

So I apologize for the lag in blog posts, but I've been so incredibly busy every day and had little internet access. I'll get it caught up tho, and with pictures.

Day 8- 1/16

Today I woke up and showered, and their water pressure wasn’t so awesome but oh well. We ate breakfast of baguette with butter, jam, and nutella, cereal and orange juice. We left at about 11:30 for the Champs Elysées. We took the metro and when we came up from the underground the L’arc de Triomphe was right there. That was pretty cool since that was the first time I’d ever been right up to it.

We took some pictures there then walked up the street. We went into the Disney store just for fun and to get out of the cold, because today it was cold, rainy, and windy. Then we went into this other store where I bought a fabulous pair of studded ankle boots for 30 euros when they were normally 90 euros. Dad said to slow down on the money, but honestly this is the first thing I’ve bought here that wasn’t food or a living expense necessity. Then we walked down a side street to a café where I spent 4.5 euros on hot chocolate made from powder and half of which was whip cream. I got the “Chocolate Viennois” which is hot chocolate with whip cream of course. Lauren got just regular hot chocolate and actually about half more hot chocolate than me. That was really a rip off, but it’s Paris and a café and it’s undoubtedly going to be pricy. Everything’s expensive here. France is one of, if not the most, costly countries in Europe. Then we walked up the street and went to Louis Vuitton. Here’s the bag I got from Louis Vuitton… and it was free! Actually, no. I’m trying to be funny. They gave this to us immediately after we walked into the door for our umbrellas. I would have taken pictures inside, but I was scared to since I figured I’d get yelled at for doing so. I wanted to cry looking at all those bags. I couldn’t even afford a dinky little keychain (which was 250 euros… pocket change I guess for anyone who can afford to shop there). We walked back down to the L’arc de Triomphe and took the underground passageway to go underneath it. It’s so much bigger in real life than I had imagined. They had some sort of Paris museum underneath it, but we didn’t go in because the others assumed it would cost something although a lot of museums will let you in for free if you’re a student. We took the metro again to a place that was actually quite a walk to the Musée d’Orsay.
We had to walk across this really large courtyard and then across the Seine where there were a lot of padlocks on the side of the bridge. We waited a really long time in the rain because there was so many people. I was expecting to get in for free but it cost me 7 euros to get in. In order to get in for free you have to be a student for a least a year. Well crap. The museum itself is really cool because it is an old train station. I was excited because I got to see some of Monet’s and Cezanne’s original paintings which I’ve seen a lot in school and elsewhere. One of Monet’s paintings I swear is shown in Titanic. After the museum we were all really tired and came back to the hostel for showers and naps. I went downstairs to work on my pictures and blog. Courtney and Emily came down to have dinner and I ate with them. I had a Croque Madame which is basically and toasted ham and cheese sandwich with an egg on top. I’ve been sitting downstairs waiting for pictures to upload to facebook and this guy from Tunisia starts talking to me so I talked to him in French for awhile. Then I said that at 10 my friends and I were going to go out (this gave me an excuse to leave). I came back to the room and the girls were just drinking wine and talking. We went back downstairs to the bar because no one felt like going out since it was a really cold day and we were tired. We eventually started chatting with Australians and I hung out until about 3. They were so funny to talk to.

more pictures here

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 7- 1/15

Woke up at 4:45 this morning to get ready to leave by 6:00 to go to the train station. The train ride was seemingly very short, much shorter than the one I had from Paris to Poitiers last week. I guess that’s because I was with other people and since the train was going to and not from Paris, I think it took and different way since it was going to a different train station anyway. It was dark the whole way so we couldn’t see any of the countryside. When we got to the train station we had trouble buying tickets for the metro because the trains wouldn’t take our cards.
We eventually get to our hostel, which isn’t very far from a metro stop. It’s actually very nice, new, and contemporary. The room has 10 beds and a sink. There’s 6 of us and then there’s a girl from Vancouver, WA and another girl from I think some where in south America. There’s no one in the other 2 beds. The girl from WA told us that they usually don’t book rooms full until summer. It was only about 9:30 and we couldn’t check in until 2, so we had their free breakfast and left our stuff in the luggage room.

We went to the Louvre and on our way there, there was evidently a man who was sitting next to Lauren who had his penis sticking out of his pants. She was so freaked out the whole way until he got off. Don’t blame her, but I didn’t even notice. That was freaky. You see a lot of weird things in Paris I guess. The Louvre was amazing as usual.
Didn’t look too much around in it. That would take like a solid week to see everything. So we saw the staples, like the Mona Lisa of course, which nowadays they let people take pictures of, with the flash too. They weren’t letting people do that the last time I was there. Went to Notre Dame, which is always cool.
They still had some of their Christmas stuff out. People were allowed to go up into the bell towers, but it cost like 10 euros or something, and they only let 20 people up every 10 minutes and there was a line, so we decided not too. I was kinda bummed since they had it closed for construction the last time I was there. Maybe I’ll see that with Luke when/if he comes. We walked around some more and went across the bridge to I believe the right bank to a British bookstore called Shakespeare and Company. On the way over the bridge we saw a homeless woman with 2 sleeping puppies cuddled to her chest. It broke my heart. You see a lot of that in Paris. And there’s not much you can do. After the bookstore we basically walked in one giant circle looking for food. We eventually ended up at a falafel place. One thing I’ve noticed in France is that in food preparation they don’t like to wear gloves, nor do they wash their hands after handling money before handling food again. I hate it and I know my dad would have a cow but that’s another thing you just gotta ignore. From there we went back to the hostel and I went downstairs to do more internet stuff. It wasn’t long before I was approached by another greasy immigrant French guy. Thankfully it was almost 6, when I told him I had to go back upstairs to get ready because we were going to happy hour at the bar in the hostel and then out. When we were drinking beers, the greasy guy was in the room and I could feel him staring at me. It sucked. Then the parents called my French cell phone and mom was all pissed because I hadn’t gotten ahold of them in a while. What she didn’t realize was that I’ve been EXTREMELY busy, my internet access is limited, and every time I’ve been online, that’s when I’ve been alone and in the hang out place of greasy guys who I have to deal with when they approach me instead of doing important things like sending emails. We left and went back to the Notre Dame area. Went to a quiet bar (but then again it was only about 8pm) and had a mixed drink half price. I almost got a white Russian because it reminds me of Luke, but that sounded a little too heavy for me at the time so I got a Mimosa instead. Walked around some more. The guys who stand outside their shops and try to get you to buy their stuff or eat at their café are so incredibly annoying. And you have to ignore them as well, which is kinda hard for me cuz I guess I’m too nice and want to acknowledge them in some way even if it is to say that no I don’t want to buy your stuff, or no I don’t want to eat there. We ended up at a pretty cool pub that had live music and I got a small beer and a sandwich. It took forever for us to pay. We thought the waiter was annoyed with us because we were American. We took the metro back to the hostel and at one stop the train had to stall because in the next car over from ours a big fight broke out. We had no idea over what. As we were walking back to the hostel I got the crap scared out of me because I walked past a guy who leaned over and said “vous êtes charmante” (you are charming) and I thought he was leaning over to steal my purse. When we got to the room the other two girls were asleep and we made a lot of noise. Tomorrow I’m waking up in time for breakfast and a shower.

MANY MANY more pictures here

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 6- 1/14

Went to centre ville at noon today. Only Emily and Lucie were there at the time, since the other girls were running late again. So we went to a nearby café for something warm to drink instead of wait for them in the cold. Once the others got there, we went to an internet café to book our hostel. It took us awhile to find one that worked, and actually I don’t think we even booked a hostel because there were none left that worked for us. I think we’re staying in a 2-star hotel. There was a hostel perfect for us, but it booked up like the second we found it. Then we went to Monoprix where I bought some cups for when we drank our champagne I bought. And I bought a sandwich to go while the other girls went and got kababs. While waiting for them in the mall, I saw Monsieur Un Dent’s friends walk inside. We were sitting at a table a ways away, but I hid behind my big bag.
Instead of walking all the way to the river and up the hillside to get a great view of the town, we took the bus. The view was great, and I wanted to go up to where the statue was but the door was locked to get to the stairs.

While we were up there we ate our food and drank my cheap raspberry and peach champagnes. Apparently there was a school nearby that let out because little elementary-aged kids walked by us and were laughing at us, especially when Emily was taking the cork out of the second bottle and it exploded off the bottle and flew into the air. We took the bus back downtown and went back to the mall where we could sit in the warm without buying anything. Although we did get yelled at for eating my galette. We decided to go to the train station to buy our tickets to Paris tomorrow instead of waiting for tomorrow morning. It was a little more expensive than we anticipated, only by like 12 euros, but it was very last minute. Then I came home and took my computer downstairs to do some internet stuff. Here comes the most fun part of my day (this is a complete and total exaggeration). This guy comes up to me and starts talking to me, gives me his number, etc, etc, wants like 3 pictures with me, and finally leaves. I get a little peace and quiet when this other guy comes up to me and talks to me for about a sold 45 minutes and wont leave me the hell alone, even when I told him I was “engaged” (which I’m not, but I thought at least having a ring on my finger and telling them that would make them leave me alone). This didn’t work whatsoever. He basically was trying to get me to sleep with him for the entire conversation DESPITE BEING “ENGAGED”. They don’t care here obviously. He kept telling me “Ah but you are in France. You gotta live. He is there, you are here” blah blah blah. And how beautiful and unique I was with my blue eyes and blonde hair and how every other guy in the room wanted to be in his place talking to me at that moment. Don’t think that I was lost in translation and getting the wrong idea, because I wasn’t. I couldn’t understand everything he said, but I got the gist of it and I know the intentions of guys like this. It hasn’t been this bad with a white French guy. Not to be racist, but I’ve been told that the immigrant men from North Africa are the worst for this sort of thing. I wanted to scream at him to leave me the alone. In the meantime I was trying to talk to Luke and update my blog, which I’ve had very little time to do. And I wasted all that time because this guy wouldn’t stop talking to me. I finally told him that it was bed time for me, and as I went up to my room I told the nice old guy at the reception desk that if someone comes saying my name and asking for my room number to not tell them. He told me not to worry and that he wouldn’t give out any of my information. Then I came back to my room and just cried. I don’t really know why. Maybe it was because I didn’t feel completely safe, because I wanted to be left alone, because I wanted to just sit there and do my thing without being sexually harassed, because it hasn’t even been a week and already I’m so tired of being approached, but I think most of all is because I miss Luke so much and wish he was here to protect me from all this. I swear I feel like I’m gonna have 1000 restraining orders here before I go home. And for hardly ever being approached at home, I really don’t know how to deal with it, and it doesn’t help that everything is in different language.

On the bright side, tomorrow morning I’m going to Paris with the girls and I’m excited.

more pictures here

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More pictures to post

I have many pictures to attach to my last 2 posts, but I'm exhausted and will do it tomorrow. For now you have the entries.

Day 5- 1/13

Today was an interesting day. After I got off the bus and was walking towards l’hôtel de ville where I was going to meet the girls again, a mother and her little 3 or 4 year old girl were walking behind me. Apparently the girl had stepped on my heel, tripped, and fell to the ground and started balling. I felt sooo bad. What made it worse it that I could still hear her crying all the way I walked. Then I walked past a group of guys who I think saw my pink coat and were saying something like “pink, pink” and being stupid. I need to get a new coat I think because my pink one makes me stick out SO much. It’s getting to the point of being ridiculous. And I can’t go without it because it’s too cold. After we met in front of l’hôtel de ville we went looking for the Café Bleu, which is owned by one of the girl’s homestay sister. In the process of doing this, we walked past a French guy who said I was beautiful and I said merci and we talked for a little while. I told him I was a student and he asked me twice where I lived. I didn’t tell him. He was actually kinda gross. He had very much a smoker-type face and yellow teeth with a missing front tooth. When he left, and was walking away across the street, he yelled my name and said he loved me. EW. It was nice to go to the Café Bleu because I’d been there before and already had a free wifi account there. We all had Chocolat Bailey’s, which was hot cholocate with Bailey’s Irish Cream. After we left there we kinda “explored” the town a little more. We continued and saw what I think is the Palais de Justice (like where the government is), which was beautiful.

We finally went to Notre Dame La Grande, the church that Poitiers is famous for.

It’s there that we ran into “Monsieur Un Dent” (Mr. One Tooth) again. Ugh. This time he was with all his little greasy smoker French guy friends who all thought we Americans were “belle” and was trying to get our cell phone numbers so we could “fêter plus tard” (party later). I told him I didn’t have a cell phone (which I do actually) and he ended up exchanging numbers with another girl in our group. I felt bad for her but she thought it was funny.

Walked more around the town and the streets.

This is for Luke

We ran into the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, which is this HUGE cathedral that I took a ton of pictures of. It’s construction began in 1162 and it has the oldest choir stalls in France, which were carved between 1235 and 1257.

Very near by was L’église Sainte-Radegonde. It was founded by the Queen of the Franks, Radegonde, who died in Poitiers in 587. They began building it in the 11th century.

We kept walking and eventually came to the river. We were going to climb the hill which will give us a great view over the town, but decided to do that tomorrow. There were a lot of ducks in the river and it was funny to watch them. They thought we had food.

We stopped by a little place that sold bread and pâtisseries. I bought this braid-thing that was filled with raspberry. It was amazing. Then we came back to centre ville and decided to part ways until tonight where there was supposed to be a “cake party” outside of town. I went back to La Brioche Dorée and got a sandwich again, because it’s cheap and very tasty. Then I came back to my place and did some texting on my new French cell phone, which took a while because it doesn’t have a full keyboard and the screen is very little for a touch screen. At around 7:30 I went to Carrefour to by more galettes des rois and some cheap champagne for the party. I lugged it downtown where I met Emily and Lucie at 8. Turns out the rest of the girls couldn’t make it or something because of dinner with their host families. And we waited and waited for the bus that was supposed to take us outside of town to the dorm where the party was supposed to be, but it never came and it was getting late. So we decided to go get at drink at the “Fruity Club”, this café that’s decorated entirely of fruit, even the floors are clear with fake fruit underneath. They got some expensive drinks (like 8 or 9 euros) and I got a little tiny cup of hot spiced wine, like Kim (Luke’s mom) makes. It made me miss them ☹ Then I took the night bus back and got online to do some thorough blogging for the first time in ever. I’m gonna be tired tomorrow.

more pictures here

Day 4- 1/12

I forced myself to get up at 8:00 this morning so I could catch breakfast before it was done at 8:30. At 11:30 I took the bus to the centre ville where I met the other American girls in the OUS group in front of the hotel de ville and we spent the day shopping. We actually got a lot done. The first thing we did was go get cell phones at Orange, which is what I believe to be France’s largest cellular carrier. I tried to just get a Orange SIM card and put it into my phone, but my phone wouldn’t accept it. So I bought a cheap cell phone that I’m pretty happy with. It was 49 euros and has a touch screen like my iphone and is really little. We actually were there a while because as I was trying to put the other girls’ numbers into my phone, I found that I couldn’t add a name to the number in the address book so I asked them to help me figure it out, and then it took them even a while to figure out. They finally came up with some kind of solution but I eventually figured out a better one. Before we went into Orange we checked out this "palace" thing across the street.

Then we went looking for somewhere to eat. Some of the girls wanted to go to a certain café but first we went into the mall and saw Brioche Doree which is a great place where you can get a sandwich on baguette, a dessert, a cold drink, and coffee or tea for about 7 euros, which is practically a steal. Then we went to Monoprix because the girls had to get a few things like toiletries and such. I just bought a fork, knive, tablespoon, teaspoon, bowl, and a glass. After that, Emily and I went to get our bus passes. Most of the girls got theirs yesterday. Then we lost them but found them again in the mall. Here's some pictures I took along the way. OMG WEDDING DRESSES!!! I love wedding dresses.

We agreed to meet tomorrow to go shopping again at the same time and place. After we separated, I went in search of a hair straightener. Emily and I passed a salon while we were out getting the bus passes, and they had them, but every one they had was more than 150 euros. I think I’ll be wearing my hair up for a while. I might invest in one, but I don’t know. They aren’t very common in France. I went walking around the streets downtown and went into a store in which everything is 2 euros, and got a cute cover for my passport and a little tiny sock with a clasp on it that’s for small change. I took the bus back to L’espace Kennedy, put my stuff away, got more money (I spent a lot today…) and went to Carrefour for a few necessities and dinner. Unfortunately I can’t buy anything that needs to be refrigerated, but I did buy cheese, which at this moment I have taped outside my window so it stays cold. Something interesting I’ve noticed and think is quite weird is that the French don’t keep the eggs and milk refrigerated in the grocery store. That’s something I just don’t understand. While they keep the cheese cold, it’s common for them to not refrigerate that either. I was amazed to see that they sell pretty much any kind of hard alcohol in a grocery store. I guess the reason might be because grocery stores here aren’t open very late, and none as far as I know are open 24 hours. I bought a bottle of crème de framboises (raspberry cream) that is really good but strong. It also feels really good to buy alcohol and not be carded. The French and Europeans in general are very lax like that. That’s one thing I love about this place. People actually enjoy life it seems. It makes Americans look so anal about everything. People don’t really seem stressed. As one of the girls was telling me about Sylvie, Sylvie was really tired after all the stuff going on with us at the fac yesterday, and Lucie (the girl) told me that she was thinking “That’s like my life everyday, and that’s normal”. The French just aren’t used to the high-paced lifestyle of Americans, and I wish we would adopt that style of living. I think, or actually know, that I would like and appreciate life a whole lot more. I could be wrong though. The French complain a lot about life. But I think they do it mostly for the sake of having something to complain about. They love to complain and argue, and appear pretty pessimistic but in my opinion are just being realistic and on the very extreme, exaggerate, because they like to do that too.

Anyway, after shopping I waited for a long time to see the guy I thought would set up my computer to receive the wifi here. It was actually the wrong guy. I went next door and finally got my computer configured and came downstairs to have my computer connected for a little while, but then it was being slow and I messed with one thing too many, screwing something up and deleting a password so I lost internet. I have to go back to the guy tomorrow and have him enter whatever it was I deleted. It’s been really annoying not having internet, but when I get to Roche D’argent, I’ll have internet in my room. It wont be wireless, but at this point I couldn’t care less.

more pictures here