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! :)