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! :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Snow Go Away... But otherwise, YAY!!!

So we've been experiencing some weird weather in Poitiers. In the last few days we had a few little flurries of snow, but then yesterday as I was taking the bus to Leclerc (which is like walmart only bigger) it started to become a full-blown blizzard outside.
And then I woke up today to see that it had snowed even more during the night. I mean I like the snow and everything, but I'm going on vacation on monday and I'll be super upset if everything gets messed up because of the snow. I'm so tired of it being so fricking cold here. I'm too ready for sping and summer.

Speaking of spring, guess who's coming on the first day of spring?? March 20th Luke will be arriving in France to spend his spring break with me! :))) I'm so incredibly excited. What's basically going to happen is that on the evening of the 19th, after I get out of class, I'll take the TGV to CDG where I have a hotel room booked. The reason I had to do this is because Luke's flight gets in at 5:30 am, and the earliest TGV from here to CDG leaves at 8:30 on that day, getting me there at 10:30, which means Luke will have had to wait in the airport for me for 5 hours. And I'd feel awful if he had to do this. I could have also taken the last train on friday, get to CDG around 11 pm and wait for him for 6 hours. Then we'd have to wait even longer till we could check into our hostel at 2 pm. So doing what I'm doing, it makes commuting a whole lot easier (staying next to the airport vs. in paris), and it's actually cheaper than booking a hostel room in paris. Plus check out isn't till 12 from the hotel, so Luke can come back and take a nap and a shower if he wants. So we'll be in Paris for 3 days, staying at St. Christopher's. I stayed there when I went to Paris in January. It's really new and nice.

Then we'll take the TGV to Nice. I've booked us 2 nights at a hostel that's a minute's walk from the beach. I hope it's decently warm.

After that, we'll take the TGV to Poitiers, which entails going back up to Paris and then down to Poitiers. While we're here, I'll show Luke where I live, maybe take him to the school (however I will NOT be attending class this week... it's not going to kill me at all), and I'm hoping to make it to Futuroscope. Maybe we'll take a day trip to La Rochelle. I was there in the summer of 2007 for a music festival, and it's a really nice little town on the Atlantic coast. Luke loves mussels, and they have great seafood. I hate seafood for the most part, but I think he'll be in heaven.

On the night of the 27th, we may have to take an evening train to CDG and stay the night at a hotel because his flight leaves at 11:30 the next day and since it's a sunday, the train doesn't leave early enough for us to get there at least 2 hours before his flight. We'd get there 45 minutes before his flight if we took a train from Poitiers to CDG the day of his flight. Not a good idea. But this part is still being figured out.

I just hope he's ready for the best spring break of his entire life!!! I am.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Behold the new crêpe pan I bought for myself a few days ago!! This will make much better crêpes than a stupid frying pan. Much more "à la française". As you can see it's a lot flatter and has a much wider diameter. I totally didn't need it, but I don't see crêpe pans like this at home. And it's a pink-ish color. I just couldn't say no.

I also made a couple new French friends at school today. I met Sophie in german class. She came up to me and started to talk to me because she knew I was american and she speaks practically fluent english because her mom is from the UK. Then I met Thomas in my interpretation class. Somehow in class we got to talking about sports, and after class he asked me if I ever watched the superbowl. I said occasionally, and he invited me to watch it with him on sunday. The only bad thing about this is that it's on TV here from midnight to 4 in the morning. I have a 9 am class on monday. So when/if he texts me, I'll have to tell him I can't. Plus if it were only going to be us 2, I really wouldn't feel that comfortable. I have absolutely no intention of dating while I'm here. And I went to Monoprix after I got out of class so I could print my train tickets for my vacation. I'm super excited now. I guess I didn't explain the whole story yet. The funny thing is, I feel like I've hardly gone to school at all, and we get a vacation this month from the 12th to the 22nd. Just randomly... I don't know. School hasn't even been in session a month. So I'm taking advantage of it and going first to Toulouse to meet my friend Stéphane who will be there visiting his twin brother, then after a couple days, we'll go to Marseille where he lives. Then come friday night, Stéphane will take me to Toulon, where I'll stay with Miléna and her family for the weekend. They were my french homestay family during my first trip to France in 2006. I haven't seen them in 2.5 years. There's no way I could have stayed in Poitiers. It's a nice town and everything, but I need to get out.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday is not my friend... and other realizations

I decided that mondays are the worst they've been for me in a long time. At least I have no classes on wednesdays and 1 class on thursdays that only meets 2 or 3 times a month. But still... Today I woke up at 7:00 and this is what I saw
I don't like being up before the sun is. Then I was at the Fac for 9 hours straight today. I had 4 classes with about an hour or so in between each. All of them were pretty good EXCEPT my last class, which was medieval literature, that I was going to try to take so I could get the requirement of taking FR 317 (medieval lit) here instead of at home. I was told it was easier to do it here. But those people must have taken a lit class that was for exchange students. This class was a regular class for actual french students, and I tried so hard to understand and take notes, etc. But by this time I was tired and my comprehension level had gone wayyy down. Basically the teacher went on and on about the stories and the types of prose we would be reading, with a ton of what seemed like technical vocabulary I didn't know. Towards the end she started throwing out all these page numbers and apparently there's a book I would need to buy and I honestly didn't catch what exactly we had to do for homework. The teacher seemed nice and everything, but I just don't think I can survive in this class. I know this would be the one class I would absolutely loathe throughout the entire semester. I hate literature classes like this anyway. So I think the final verdict is just to take it at home. I'll hate it equally as much, but I'll have to do a lot of reading either way, and I'd prefer to not be clueless. I feel kinda bad because I happened to sit next to a girl from Canada, who obviously wasn't from Quebec, because I totally thought she was american. If I drop the class, I'm pretty sure she'll be the only foreigner in the class, but she seemed to have a handle on it. She was taking all these notes on her computer and wasn't scared to ask questions.

This all being said, I've come to another conclusion. After 8 thorough years of study I can neither understand nor speak french as well as I thought I could. And I feel like a idiot. I can speak and understand retard/baby french. Where it's slow and uncomplicated. Not everyday conversational french between two native speakers. Not such an awesome feeling after you've devoted so much of your time and energy into it. It's very depressing.

And my last conclusion for the day: my degree in french will be practically useless, because I am realizing more and more that i could never do professional translation for a living. I enjoy doing it, but I don't believe I possess nearly enough grammatical/lexical knowledge to do it right and trust myself in doing it. I've never been good with either of these things. And teaching is out of the question because i can't do that either.

It's kinda sickening knowing that everything you depended on for your future success has practically been annihilated.

Some funny pictures

These signs were above the washer and dryer in the laundry room. You don't even need to speak french to know how awful this is haha

This was written on the sign at the bus stop. at the top it says "The rich are going to pay". Sounds like some sort of political thing. I thought it was interesting.