Monday, December 8, 2008

Last post?

This may be the last post, but I might add follow up thoughts later on. While traveling I had a delayed flight which caused me to miss my flight from NYC to Chicago which caused me to miss two flights to KC. That meant that I had to sleep in the Chicago airport and take a 730 am flight home. All in all I spent over 33 hours in six different airports and took 4 different flights to get home. Whew. It was intense. And the whole time I just wanted to be home!

I am home. I miss all of my friends though and it won't really be home until they're here. I got to see Amy though today, so that was a lot of fun. Justin is also coming over in 15 minutes, so that should be great! I got a good night of sleep in my huge, soft bed. Hopefully tonight will be the same.

Turns out I'm still lactose intolerant. I didn't have a problem in Europe, but I think that's because they don't put so many hormones into their cows like Americans do. That kinda sucks for me, poor tummy.

Also, random memory. The last week I saw three different men peeing in the metro. I also saw a mattress ad with a gay couple! I'd been looking for it since we got there because Amanda said she saw in a couple weeks into our program. I think it's really neat that a company would advertise that.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tests, papers, and final thoughts, oh my!

I had the BIG test for French today. It's worth 40% of my grade, so cross your fingers! I think I did well. It was a completely different makeup from the old exams (the ones I used to study), but I understood all the sentences they asked and I think I was able to get at least 90% of my verbs right. The test (and my grade) is based off of 20 points. For American standards, 15-20 is an A, 12-14 is a B, and 9-11 is a C. I've mainly been getting 10-13 in my class, but I think I did better than that on the test. My professor grades pretty hard, test averages are an 8 or 9. The actual class itself is worth only 20% (that portion I've been going to five times a week). I was only allowed to skip it 5 times though or else the Sorbonne could fail me. I didn't do that though! The oral test, 20% of my grade, is on Tuesday.

Also something funny. During my test the professor climbed onto a table, climbed out of the first floor window, and proceeded to smoke FOUR cigarettes in a row! It was absolutely hilarious seeing her climbing out and then peeking through the window to make sure no one was cheating. That's a French smoking stereotype for you.

I wrote a paper on the Tour St. Jacques. It's actually a pretty cool tower in the middle of the Latin Quarter. People aren't allowed up the tower, but it's cool because they did science experiments there on the barometer and air pressure. It was also THE place to go for religious pilgrims. It was built in the 1500s, but the church itself was destroyed during the revolution. It's also a great style of Gothic architecture. I suggest to see it if you come!

I'm leaving a week from today. It's a very odd thought, but I'm really looking forward to it. I can't wait to stop studying and just lazy about reading and playing computer games. I'm also looking forward to hanging out with friends and family. And I can't wait to go to Oakland for New Years.

I enjoyed my experience abroad and I don't regret it at all. I was able to explore Europe, I really enjoyed learning French, speaking to actual French people, taking classes, exploring Paris, buying awesome new clothing (and boots!), tasting new and delicious food, etc. Unfortunately, I didn't have that many people to become friends with, but I really enjoyed making friends with the people in my program. I'm sure I'll hang out with them once I get back to AU. I'm also not as childish when it comes to hanging out in a bar. I also think I've been able to expand my personality and understanding of myself and other people.

However, I really am looking forward to being in the states. It's comfortable being around your own language and I think I feel more confident there. I like the places I've lived, Kansas City and DC. I miss them and will enjoy being back there. I can't wait! Only three tests left: the oral, Paris Culture, and Islam in France. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vienna and Caviar

I went to Vienna over the weekend to visit Bethany and I had a wonderful time! We walked around a lot of Vienna and I was able to see several cool places. Unfortunately I got sick, but I'm feeling somewhat better now. Bethany has classes in a palace and the place is absolutely gorgeous! I'm kind of jealous.

Vienna was very lovely. It was foggy the whole time and gets dark at 4, but it was still a great city. The city is full of old people! The last two nights were a bit interesting because Bethany's roommate snored incredibly loudly and we couldn't sleep. Bethany even came into the living room to sleep on the other couch! I hope I don't end up with someone who snores...

On the flight back I complained to myself because the whole row in front of me was empty (even the other side) and the ONE person (a rather large man) sits in the seat in front of me! He then proceeded to recline his chair. He had to pick the seat right in front of me...

I'm registered for classes! I'm taking Statistics, Global Corporate Citizenship, French, Human Origins, and Civil Rights & Civil Liberties. Next year will have more business classes, but this semester I'm getting two general education classes and French out of the way. I'm looking forward to it. I'm also working at PR Solutions again; I definitely look forward to that!

I'm going to Oakland/San Fransisco to visit Ally over New Years. I know it's going to be amazing. She's going to have a dress up party and I'm sure I'll have lots of fun! I haven't been there in a year, so I'm excited.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Elections abroad...

New metro sights: a woman clipping her nails on the metro (crowded with other people), a baby falling asleep with a bottle in his mouth (adorable), and a bunch of little boys waving at me from a metro car (they pointed at me first which I was confused by and then started waving, they went wild when I waved back, also adorable).

Other news: I tried to register for classes but wasn't allowed because I don't have an In-Session Address. Hopefully my adviser will get that worked out... today. I have my perfect schedule picked out with enough time for me to work 15 hours. My earliest class is 12:55 (although I work three days a week at 10 am so I'd have to leave at 9). My latest class ends at 9:15, but that's statistics and the only time I could take it. I really like block classes so I definitely don't mind.

Elections! On Election Day I nervously checked the internet constantly even though I never got updates. My host parents pretty much shoved me out of the apartment to 'go to a pub and watch the elections'. I met up with Amanda and we went to Harry's Bar (an American bar). The streets were so crowded that they had police barricades from allowing cars in. There were dozens of television crews interviewing people. Amanda and I ran into several people we knew, some of them being interviewed. Of course I didn't see one McCain supporter, most of the people there were young. There were huge lines so we didn't stay there long. Amanda and I got coke and ice cream bars from Monoprix (their version of a supermarket) and camped out on the steps of the Opera house. I woke up on Wednesday to extremely good news!

France did a survey asking the French people who they would vote for if they could vote and over 80% said Obama. From my experience I don't think one foreign country would have preferred McCain. This is an amazing time in USA history and foreign people want someone who isn't like Bush and they want someone that proves the USA is open-minded and good on our word of equality. Race does have big role in Obama winning, we can't deny that. People wouldn't have been nearly as excited about him if he were white. However, I read an article saying the main reason he won is because he isn't Bush. Bush had really bad foreign relations and people wanted someone new. Obama seemed to be ideal because he has ties outside the US and his views on foreign policy seem to be different and just better.

Other interesting election tidbits: Missouri is STILL uncounted for, there's a difference of only 6,000 votes between the two (favoring McCain) so my vote did matter; gay marriage was made illegal by three states: California, Flordia, and Arizona; Arkansas banned nonmarried couples from adopting (they don't want gay people to adopt, but this also applies to heterosexual couples), Massachusets made medical marijuana legal (I had no idea they were THAT liberal); the House and Senate are also democrat; Nebraska voted to end affirmative action; and Washington state voted to allow doctor assisted suicide. We'll see how these change and affect each state and the US!

Can I just brag for a second and share that I was the only one in my Paris Culture class who got a perfect on the matching in our midterm? Yeah, that was me. I'm just saying that I'm doing well in classes right now. When I'm finished eating lunch and updating you people I think I'm going to study!

Don't worry... I had two crepes this week. And some delicious hot chocolate.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New things...

In the past week I have seen three new things happen in the streets of Paris: a little boy pee on the side of a street (hitting a car) with the direction of his mother, a man throwing up on the street, and two dogs having sex on the sidewalk. Also, a couple weeks ago I saw a typical drunk on the metro. He had a beer that he was hiding in his jacket and kept sneaking out to drink. The only odd part about this story is that it was eight AM.

Random: I'm sick of eating raw meat. We've had raw bacon and ham a couple times the past couple weeks. However, I'm starting to enjoy pate... And I do not like sauerkraut (spelling?). Sorry Bethany. Also, I love this drink called Blood Orange juice and I've searched four stores for it and haven't seen it, but Michelle found a store with it! YAY! I'm going tomorrow to get some.

After being incredibly jealous of Ally and how she can cook, I now get the chance! My host-parents just told me that they won't be here all of next week and I finally got up the nerve to ask if I could cook there! So that means I'm definitely having a couple people over sometime to cook (I asked). If I can find zuccini flowers, I'm definitely making them.

Also, updates on life at home. I have an apartment for the spring semester! I'm living with Ally and we're living in the Avalon. It's a really nice place with one AND A HALF bathrooms. That way when people come over they aren't invading our personal bathroom space. It's also the closest apartment complex to AU. We're renting furniture (only $100 a month) so it won't look completely like a poor college student's apartment. I'm excited!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No crepes? Ridiculous..

Last week was the first week I went without a crepe. How odd...

I voted for the first time last week! It was a great feeling. I was really excited (more so than I thought) when I found my ballot in the mail. It's nice to know that in a state like MO I have the ability to make a difference and make my voice heard. I voted for Obama and encourage you to do so as well.

My host brother was kind of a jerk tonight. He asked me if I've noticed my French improving since I've been in France. I didn't understand because I haven't learned past tense or the word for noticed and asked him to clarify. He told me in English and then said 'obviously not.' Later on his dad and I were speaking and he told his dad not to speak in French to me because I wouldn't understand (when I was), so I spoke up and said so. I have definitely improved since coming to France and I'm seriously learning new things every day. It hurt my feelings and confidence to be judged off of one sentence I haven't even learned yet.

I went to Rome to visit Ally again. I had a great time even though we didn't do much. We did go to a real Roman market and met with Ally's vender. You have to know someone in Italy. He even gave us free grapes! Then we made an excellent dinner with her friends. We made fried zucchini flowers, brochette, and minestrone soup. It was all delicious and I had a great time.

I'm going to be home in almost a month. That seems really weird to me because I've been out of the country for three months! It's been really crazy and I'm actually really excited to go home. I've enjoyed my journeys but I'm ready to be home among friends and family.

I finally went to the grocery store! I now have enough food for 8 lunches and three or four dinners. I bought bread, nutella, oatmeal, cereal bars, French crackers, cereal, jam, cookies, and juice. I wish I could find a place that sells peanut butter! It'd be amazing to have nutella/peanut butter sandwiches.

Some people in my program are really lucky. Bridget has a few friends from home living in Paris so she can see them and meet REAL French people. Tracy just moved in with a very wealthy family who will give her three meals a day and took her to their home in the country side last weekend. They also introduced her to French kids my age. And Amanda has a fellow student living with her who she's best friends with. I'm jealous!

In other news I did well on my Islam midterm (85%). I have another midterm on Thursday for Paris culture but I think that will be alright. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Châteaux, boat rides, and midterms - Oh my!

This weekend started on Friday with a midterm in my French class! It was 100 points instead of the few 20 point quizzes we've normally had and a bit scary. Hopefully I did well (I studied). Afterwards, Michelle and I picked a random metro stop to explore so we picked Miromesnil. Apparently it's part of the business section of Paris, so there wasn't much to see. We did find an excellent Chinese restaurant though. I've been combing restaurants in Paris for two things: tofu and sesame seed balls. I have yet the find either.

Saturday was eventful. We had our second (and last) day trip to Fontainbleau and Vaux le Vicomte. Both are gorgeous châteaux right outside of Paris. Fontainbleau was probably my favorite. Vaux le Vicomte was the château that inspired Versailles. A guy named Fouquet owned it and threw the biggest and best party ever so the king (Louis 14th) threw him in jail. He threw him in jail either because he was jealous or because Fouquet was wasting money. However, considering that he then went on to build a bigger and better château, I'm likely to say the former.

After seeing the châteaux, Michelle, Kirsten, and I went on a boat tour of Paris. Our program gave us tickets so we decided to use them. It was the warmest weather we would get for the rest of the semester, but it was still a little chilly. We were able to see the mini Statue of Liberty and really great shots of the Eiffel Tower.

Today, Sunday, I've done nothing. People are holed up studying for midterms, so I'm left to my own devices. I have studied some (I'm writing a brief on everything we've had to read for Islam in France), rented the Scorpion King 2 (still downloading), scoured CNN, and have perused the internet. Hopefully I'll end up doing something for dinner.

What would you do if you won a 50 million dollar jackpot? And how much would you donate? I asked Ally and she shook her finger at me for saying I'd donate only half of it. She claims she'd give away all but four million. I guess that makes sense, but I think I'd share a little with you people too. : )

I bought a couple books as presents on September 17th, but they have yet to get to me. They were supposed to reach me by the 20th. I looked them up and apparently they're in a random post office just outside of Paris. Now what?

Random things I've been craving: Hershey's Chocolate Cake, my dad's chocolate sauce, my mom's coffee brownies, sesame seed balls, chips, English books, friends and family, a couch, FREE things (yes, including refills), prime rib (my mouth is watering right now), and reeses peanut butter cups.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

And the award goes to...

Well, I had a record of four comments for my last post (encouraging). Therefore I find it in me to write another post. Something exciting, my mom and sisters are going to visit me in November! I arranged for really cheap flights and a very good hotel for a decent price and their trip is going to be cost effective, but the time of their lives.

Phonetiques is over so now I'm left with even MORE spare time on my hands. I don't have anything to do until 5 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Therefore I'm going to try and get out of my house more and see the city. I think we may hit up the pere lachaise cemetery tomorrow. I know my dad would love to visit that (in case you didn't know he loves taking pictures of graves and posting them online for people to research their ancestors and see where they're buried, very thoughtful hobby).

I've booked another trip, this time to Barcelona! Unfortunately it seems that people aren't very active in their wish to go to Istanbul or Budapest, so I don't think I'm going to be able to go. That's really too bad.

On Saturday we have another day trip to Fontainebleau and Vaux-le-Vicomte. I'll let you know how they go!

Daily concerns

1. Money. I've never lived off a budget before and I started for the Europe trip and this semester. It's really hard! However, it's definitely good for me. I just bought the plane ticket to Barcelona (and I need to book lodging) and pretty much all I have left in my account is for food. I've already booked my plane tickets to Rome and Vienna, so I will have a little extra in November to go shopping! It seems so trivial, but I would really love classy and cute clothing from Paris to take home and last me a while. I bought a really great coat in Rome in addition to two cheap shirts, a pair of jeans, and fake converse (I didn't bring shoes because they would be too heavy on my trip). Once I get money I'm going to buy cute shoes, boots, and a nice sweater. Any good clothing suggestions?

2. My group of friends. There's a bit of a rift in my school group between a couple girls and it's causing problems on the whole. Unfortunately this means that I can't hang out with them both at the same time and I also am stuck to answer 'why' questions, etc. I'm trying not to let this affect my time here in Paris though. And I do honestly like everyone.

3. Food. I've lost weight in Paris. I'm actually hitting the 5th beltloop on one of my belts (I've never hit it before... even during Freshman year of college when I lost 15 pounds). Of course that's my only way of telling though. I feel like I eat enough because I have four course dinners four nights a week, but I can see why I'm losing weight. Europeans don't snack. They also don't have big dinners. I also don't have big luches because I don't like spending money. Therefore I have two slices of toast for breakfast, a sandwich/cookie/can of soda for lunch, and then either a four course meal or something random. That's it. At home I snack constantly though. It's definitely an odd change...

4. French! I have to take French when I get back and I was worried that I wouldn't know enough to do well in that class, but since speaking with a couple girls who take it and compairing what I'll learn here, I think I'll be ready. I've learned so much already and I think I need to study it every night for it to sink in, although I haven't been doing that every night. I took another test on Friday and I got a better grade though, so that's promising.

Until next time, Emily

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Two Days in the Life of...

I need two days in the life of Emily to show you my life from Monday to Friday. They're all very interesting days, so I'm sure you'll enjoy them (only a tiny little bit of sarcasm).

Day One (Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays)
These days depend on what I'm doing in the mornings. For instance tomorrow morning I have a trip to the Louvre, a meeting, and an absentee ballot to send before class.

Wake up at 930. Putter around the apartment and get breakfast. The hot water in my apartment didn't work from the day I got here until Thursday, but I assume I'll be taking a shower this time now.

Either eat lunch in my room while doing homework, reading, or playing on the computer.

At 2 I pack all my bags and get ready for class. I leave around 230 for class at the Sorbonne. I have a four block walk to the metro and I have to change lines once so my whole trip takes me 35 minutes.

At 3:30 I have phonetiques. This class ends this week (it was only for one month) and I've got a test sometime soon. The teacher is really nice and we shift from a classroom to a audio room to half way through. In the second half of the class we tape ourselves talking and listen to our mistakes.

From 4:30 to 5 we have a break. During this time I've discovered a great little chocolate store. It has really bad sandwiches but amazing rice cake. It's two euro for a big gooey slice of amazingness. I've also grabbed coffee with Bridget and often do some homework.

From 5 to 650 I have my French grammar class. My teacher is pretty attactive and all the boys drool over her. However, I got frustrated with her today because yesterday we have aquiz where we wrote 200 words imaging who this girl was and her likes, etc. I had 10 mistakes (out of 203 words) and got a 5 out of 10. The girl behind me had 27 mistakes and got a 7 out of 10. Ugh!

From 650 to 730 I run home to grab dinner with my family (we eat together Monday-Thursday). We always have four course meals and I love it. The French ALWAYS have dinner at home with their family and I think Americans should pick up on it. These dinners are relaxing and a great way of winding down and sharing your day with each other. I've finally started speaking some French with my family and they're very helpful.

After dinner I'm told to go to my room... This is aparently common because every other student says the same thing. So from 830 to bedtime I'm hauled up in my room. Once again, this is a great time for homework, chatting, and reading.

I usually hit the sack 11-12.

Day two (Tuesdays and Thursdays)

720 wake up. Then I grab breakfast and get ready.

I run out the door at 805 sharp. Today was an utter mess! My train stopped between stations and went completely dark for two minutes. Then I get off on the wrong stop and get on the wrong train (thinking I'm going to the Sorbonne instead of the Accent Center). I eventually figure everything out but I was 20 minutes late to class (first time being late). I usually get there 5 minutes early.

From 9-11 I have Islam in France. This class is really interesting and we've discussed immigration in France and what it means to be French, etc. Fascinating. I learned a new fact today too! Did you know that in Britain, Italians were put in internment camps during WW1? Weird.

From 11 to 130 I have a break. I usually grab lunch (most often a chicken baguette, a soda, and a chocolate cookie for 6.55 euro). Then I usually do some homework and chat with people.

From 130 to 3 I have Paris Culture and Civilization. It's an interesting class and I like the professor, but some of the stuff he says just throws me. He's a literature major from Cornell but he says it's okay to cite Wikipedia on our paper and he didn't read one book before assigning it.

From 3 to 330 I rush to Phonetiques.

The rest is described in the first day.

There are plenty of variances. Usually there's one day where some friends and I go to a bar and have a drink or two. We also usually have lunch on one of the days we don't have class until 330. Weekends vary a bunch!

The Attractive French TeacherWhat's wrong with this picure? Look closely. It's an advertisement all over the metro.
Bridget. We're becoming close friends. Notice the legs.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Only in Paris...

While in Paris I've noticed several things that wouldn't (or just doesn't) happen in the US. Here are a few of them:
Four of the girls in my group from left to right: Tracy, Kirsten, Amanda, and Michelle.

Amanda enjoys some wine as we sit along the banks on the Seine River.
You can buy cups of wine to go.
This car was touching one and had literally two inchs of space on the other side.
I don't even know what car this is, but it's adorable.
Aparently Rome doesn't have that many 2 euro coins... Amanda had several.
I hope you enjoyed the few pictures I shared with you. I plan on adding several more as the semester continues. Maybe one of my room too when I get around to it! I was able to go to Rouen and Giverny yesterday and had a great time, although an early morning of 630. Rouen was where Joan of Arc had her trial and was burned alive. Giverny is where Monet's house and gardens are. Rouen had some great chocolate stores and cheap sandwiches while Giverny was amazingly gorgeous.
I have a few trips planned and a couple I really want to go on. I'm going to Rome in October and Vienna (to see Bethany and Stephen) in November over my one and only break (of two days). I also really want to go to Istanbul, Turkey and Budapest, Hungary. I've got the flights picked out and everything, I just need some consent and some money : ). Amanda, her roommate Lilly, Bridget, and Ally are interested in going with me, so I wouldn't be travelling alone. I would love to see places outside of Western Europe (and Prague barely counts)!

Friday, September 12, 2008


I've been in France for the past week and a half and I've been having an amazing time. My host family is adorable and extremely nice. I'm in a group of seven people from my school. We're small but we all get along, so that's great. I've had excellent four course dinners with my family four nights a week and I'm totally looking forward to the rest of them. I've been trying new things and am enjoying 98% of them aside from Apricot Chilled Pudding (or something, I hate apricots), tomatos, and a very undercooked pizza. However, I've tried eating half an alvacado and vinegar and really like it, never would have seen that coming.

Any suggestions as to what I should do in Paris that I wouldn't do otherwise in the States? Food suggestions? I love escargo, so I'm already on that one.

The only bad thing about this is that I have class Monday through Friday and one 5-7 pm. This really limits travel which is definitely a part of studying abroad. However, I'm still travelling! I'm going to Rome this weekend and I can't wait!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Digging for my life

Ho there! It's been a while since I've posted, but that's due to a lack of Internet. The dig was amazing. The site: Dilston Castle, part of it from 1417 still standing, the rest from the 1600s was destroyed because the Earl James Radcliffe supported the Jacobite Rising (to reinstate the Stuarts as kings), he was one of only two leaders beheaded, we're digging the kitchens, servants areas, etc. The people (aside from two) were great, the site was amazing, and I spent less money than I thought. We bought our food at a grocery store and made our meals, aside from a few nights out at the pub. Of course my meals mainly consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, soup, and granola bars. The food at the pub though was really good. I had their Alston Pie (included ham and a bunch of good stuff) and their Chicken and Ham Pie with an amazing fluffy, toasty roll. One day I went into Hexham and went around the marketplace and a little greek restaurant for lunch. The people: Sophie 1, Sophie 2, Sarah, Beth, Jo, Donna, Holly, Grace, Frank, Kevin, Tom, Rob, Brian, Michael, and Max.

In the last week things became pretty exciting because on Wednesday Frank fell into a hole. This hole turned out to be the Castle's bathroom. On Thursday Max, Rob, and I dug out a bunch of treasure. On Friday Sarah, Sophie, Rob, and I continued digged and found even more gorgeous objects. These included: almost four full plates (one this amazing piece was blue and white with a nude Chinese woman, showing that they were really wealthy if they could afford Chinese pottery, two with very interesting and different brown and yellow designs, and another blue and white plate), several glass bottoms of bottles (some worth around 1,000 pounds), several pieces of bowls and chamber pots (one with a complete handle), several pieces of a glass perfume bottle, a really amazing top of a wine bottle, a couple vases (one with a complete handle), a brass button, a metal ring of some sort 5 x 5 inchs, several shards of window glass, metal nails, bones, etc. It was amazing.

I'm now in France, one hour away from talking to someone about my host family and three hours away from meeting my host family. I'm kind of terrified. I have yet to meet anyone from my program, but I will soon. I'm going to grab some food though before I talk to anyone so that my stomach will stop grumbling! I'll update you more later!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sick, Scared, and Excited

Prague, Berlin, and Amsterdam went well. I'm sorry for not updating you until now. I got sick in Berlin and I'm still hacking up a lung. I bought cough syrup today though (however gross the stuff is), so I'm looking on the bright side. I'm sad to see everyone go, especially because I won't be seeing most of them for the whole semester. The trip was great and I'm extremely glad I went.

Now I'm excited and nervous about the archaeology dig. My fears are that I'll be lonely, it'll be miserable weather, I won't have the proper clothing or equipment, and I won't have access to the internet or a payphone. Hopefully these will prove to be nothing. I'm excited about the trip though and looking forward to everything. My boarding time is in 15 minutes, so I'll keep this short and sweet.

With the first leg of my journey over there is still so much left. I only just finished the first three weeks of my time abroad out of four months! It's rather daunting to think about in many ways. I can only pray for the best though and be optimistic. I'll be visiting Ally, Bethany, and Stephen sometime over the semester to view their study abroad worlds and share my own. Hopefully I will have some interesting things to share of my own as well.

I really have to go to the bathroom, but I have five minutes left on the internet! I've been holding it for twenty minutes though and I don't think I can last any longer. Until next time my fair companions!

'Snap, Crackle, Pop your face.' Ally

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Venice... smelly canals and a precious cottage

Although Venice had smelly canals, it really was a beautiful and quiet city (from the lack of cars). Our group relaxexd the first day and didn't hit up any tourist places, but the second day we ran around like crazy and Ally got blisters on the bottom of her foot. Our cottage was very cute with three bedrooms and it was very cosy and out in the middle of nowhere (next to a corn field, almost remindes me of home!).

Rome was also a great city, if hard to appreciate at first. We stayed right next to the busy train station in an area where tourists are told not to go out at night, so that was a little unsettling. However, when we explored the neighborhoods away from our area Rome was gorgeous and full of adorable nooks and crannies. I can't wait to visit Ally when she lives there because now that I've got all the tourist stuff out of me we can go to the less well known areas and also relax and eat in the romantic restaurants in the side streets of Rome. I always pictued Rome as a romantic city, but you have to get away from the train station to see it!

Due to some errors in reserving hostels our group forgot to reserve the nights of the 6th and the 9th. Therefore we're staying an extra day in Berlin and staying tonight in Milan. We're not going to leave our little neighborhood though because we're all pretty tired and we're just going to relax and go on the internet! Yes, we did go to McDonalds for dinner tonight, but it's the first time we ate American food and I only had four euros to spend (which I hit exactly with a kids meal). I'm trying to spend only 20 euros a day, but food is a killer! I'm doing well though and I'm keeping close track of all my finances, my parents, grandparents, and Justin should be proud of me! By the way Justin, how's your ankle? (for those of you who don't know, he fell off his motorcycle in the rain and broke it, didn't hurt the bike though).

I'm pretty excited to go to Prague because I've never been to Eastern Europe and I really hope I have a good time. The language is going to be pretty tricky though, wish us luck!

I'm writing in a journal and writing down funny quotes and little stories about our trip which I think is good. I'll tell you one every post to keep things interesting. A couple days ago we had to RUN to the train or else wait an hour for another one and Bethany, Stephen, Ally, and I held open the train doors for literally five minutes for the others to run on. It was pretty close and I'm sure the conductor was extremely mad... he was waving at us and yelling in Italian...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hiccups, stairs, and siestas

I have had hiccups for the last five minutes and will probably continue to have hiccups for the rest of this post. If you did not know I usually only have a hiccup or two a day, but when I get them they last forever! Erin has had hiccups several times today because we woke up at 3 am and got on a plane to Rome at 625. It was freakishly early, but that's the earliest travel we have for the rest of the trip, so that's something to look forward to! I am pretty sleepy though.

Speaking of sleepy, I just recently learned the word siesta (Spanish for nap in case you didn't know either). Since learning that word I've taken siestas on the Louvre grass, the Eiffel tower lawn, and plan to in Rome as soon as I get off the internet. Funny though that I never took one in Madrid. Do siestas prevent you from sleeping well at night? I don't think I've ever really had a problem with them... It's nice to relax after running around all over the place. My feet were literally killing me in Paris, but they've gotten a lot better since then. We didn't walk much in Madrid though compared to Paris and probably Rome.

Stairs. They are the essence of Paris. We walked up hundreds and very likely thousands of stairs every day! Trust me, it begins to hurt after a while. It's weird to walk so much here when in the US I do very little walking. At school I walk to class and such, but here we're walking several miles every day. It's intense. I really hope I'm more in shape by the end of it though!

Two thoughts for today: Europeans are crazy drivers. There is also more graffiti in Rome than I've seen in any other city.