Friday, September 30, 2011

Coming soon..... an awesome weekend!

Hey all!

Just thought I'd take a second to tell you all about where I'm going this afternoon.....

COTE D'AZUR!!

which for those of you (myself originally included in this) who have no idea where that is, it's pretty much as far as i can tell the region of Nice, Monaco, and Cannes in the South of France! Thank you google maps for telling me this!

But this is where I will be spending the weekend, soaking up some french vitamin D and building some sand castles!

And so here I sit, waiting rather impatiently for 13:30 to roll around cause other than lunch at the fabulous pasta place, i really have nothing to do today.

I walked my host siblings arthur and Marie to school this morning. it was awesome. they were adorable. Marie said good bye at the door but Arthur wanted me to come into his school and see his cubby and his school room. there were a lot of adorable little french children running all throughout the hall ways. i don't know why i still find it so adorable that kids here speak french but it is seriously one of the cutest things. it's probably because they look like any old average kid and then all the sudden they open their mouths and french spills out at a super fast speed that leaves me baffled.

alright i guess perhaps i should pack. that is something i can do until pasta time. check back super soon for some pictures and stories of my trip!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Caves, Castles, Swimming, oh my!

Hey everybody! So no idea why the writing is in blue, maybe it'll stay this way, maybe not. who really knows. But i write to you from almost week four of my grenoble adventures! i went on a pretty wicked exploration this saturday with some of the kids from my program. we went up to the cuves des Sassenage which were just outside of Fontaine where i live! it was delightful. we walked around seeing the beautiful country side, took a picnic in this park and then began to hike up la montagne. me and michelle booked it up to the beginning of the caves and took a lot of silly photos and generally just had fun. the picture below is of the sign that marked the entrance of the cave. i was genuinely intrigued by these caves, they managed to remind me of the lost river caves, which anyone from northern nh will know what those are! sadly no lemon squeeze but it was still pretty sweet! there were bats that used to live in the caves and every time it rains or the snow melts of there's a ton of water coming down off the mountain these caves flood majorly cause they're literally in the side of a mountain and it's just wicked cool.
I am going to write in green now... this is the sign entrance to the caves, it was sweet.

and now light purple... here's a picture from michelle and kait heading into the depths of the caves..... scary? not really, there was a lot of light and the whole thing was so cool that even if someone had hidden ahead which i was thinking the whole time would be a really awful slightly hilarious trick, it would still have been cool. i really like caves. i could have explored forever and been okay with it. apparently they do this think called spelunking which i have no idea if that is how you spell it but it's pretty much zip lining through caves and ropes course adventuring through the caves. i want to go. it looks awesome!
This is the castle that i will be getting married in.... it's pretty gorgeous. and i will, regardless of how much in the future i am thinking, come back here for my wedding. it would seriously be like being a princess. plus there's moat which pretty much makes it the perfect place to live. all it needs is a vineyard and it would pretty much be my dream french home.
on the way down from the caves, alex, alissa, and i did some good old septemeber, really cold water swimming. i am from new hampshire, and i would say that i'm fairly used to cold water. this water was just frigid. i have swum in april and had water warmer than this. it was rattle snack pool or emerald pool cold. perhaps cooler. it was your definition of fresh mountain stream. the plan had been originally to just wade... but after alex decided to jump on in, i couldn't really pass up a change to say i'd swam in france.... so in i went! my hands were quite white and quite chilly for some time after but it was so totally worth it.
last but not least for photos that exist from this day. blogger only lets you do 5...) but i found a wall with a gate on it. i had to climb up a fairly steep embankment to get around the wall but once around it was just a perfect photo moment. i would be such a good prison inmate, cause i can totally keep my calm. just kidding!!

all in all it was a wonderful weekend. had some excellent food, thank you host mama! and some excellent dessert (again thanks host ma) went on some awesome adventures and got 2 out the 3 pairs of shoes i have here completely and utterly soaked. i hung them outside my window on the roof, stuffed with newspaper in order so that tomorrow, hopefully i will have shoes to wear!

i should really go to bed at this point, considering i feel like this entire post has very little logic to it... sorry folks, my sleep schedule is a little off. pinched a nerve in my left arm that has been making sleepy a wee bit challenging. but i will say bon soir and stay tuned for some more photos on flickr and i'm headed to the cote d'azur this weekend so stay tuned for a sweet blog post on that, written hopefully, when i've had more sleep!

paix.

p.s. i fixed all the text color changes, it was just way to challenging to read...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

photos photos and PHOTOS

Hey all,

So you should all be very proud, but i just managed to set up a flickr account so that people sans Facebook can see some of the pictures of my adventures here in Grenoble. You'll have to be patient with me as i don't exactly understand how to use flickr and why exactly there is no e in flickr considering there should be. but here ya have it, should be easy enough to figure out. you can all hopefully see it in english, just keep in mind that my computer has switched itself to french and is now much smarter than me and i had to try and figure stuff out in french. it was fun! alright, i'm off to explore more free museums.

au demain!

Friday, September 16, 2011

C'est la vie baby

So it's been just over two weeks that i have been in Grenoble thus far. Many things have happened. Some better than others and some things that were just amazing. I have just finished my first week of class. For those of you who have sent me emails asking when classes are starting or if i'm actually taking classes, here is your clarification: yes i am in class don't worry! it's going well enough, moved up one language level. it's very new and very very different to take classes entirely language. in my french class i understand about 90 % of what is going on. in my seminars, about 65%. thank god for power points. but it has been really interesting so far and i've meet a lot of really interesting and fun people from all over the world! i was going to get to be on top of the tallest summit in europe tomorrow but unfortunately there's a storm coming in and they cancelled it. oh well. i guess i'll find something else amazing to do. like hike back up the bastille! this time all the way to the top! here are some photos from the last week here. there's a story to go with each and every one!!!!
This stuff right here to put it simply, is the thing that makes me happy to be awake early in the morning. it is the reason i am so perky at 8am on the tram. there's just so much to be said for this stuff! here's a small example of how much i love it. i have been here for 15 days. every single morning, and i mean EVERY morning i eat two pieces of toast with nutella. that's it. with either apple juice or orange juice. lately, cause my host mom just went to the market we've had bananas, so i've been adding a banana to the mix. it's really really good. best of all, nutella exists in the states so when i'm back and missing french bread, at least i'll have my chocolatey friend nutella to keep me company.
here's a photo of me in front of one of the many many fountains in Grenoble. This one me and kait call the ball fountain for clear reasons... it's really beautiful though, just chills of the corner headed back towards the alsace lorrene tram stop. i love it when the water is actually flowing too cause it's utterly beautiful.
after a long slightly stressful day this week some friends and i went to the fnac, which is a french best buy for all intensive purposes. we were to buy movies, and along the way found some pretty funny french translated to english but still in french films. i took a bunch of pictures but this one is by far my favorite! in case anyone doesn't recognize it, it's the Hangover. somehow hangover translated to english becomes very bad trip. we got a pretty big kick out of this one!
and yet another fountain! this one is next to the building that i like to call the super french building. i have no idea what it's actual purpose is but it has a lot of french flags and is very regal looking. so very french building it is. and the park before it clearly has another fountain. i think i will post again sometime soon and give everyone a fountain tour of grenoble. i'll go around sometime this week and take a ton of pictures of all the fountains which will be cool cause i still don't know exactly where all of them are!
this slightly epic photo took place atop the Bastille. kait and i hiked up to the top while james, Uly, Michelle, and alex took the famous bubbles. all i can say is that there were ALOT of stairs. and it was around 30 degree Celsius which translates to pretty much just really really hot. the view from the bastille is incredible as you can sort of see from this photo. you get up just high enough that you can see literally the entire city. you can see all the parks and tell all the old buildings from the new based on their old red roofs. it's really beautiful. i strongly suggest if you ever visit grenoble in your life that you save time to ride the bubbles!

Well this morning i'm off to the market behind san bruno. which i should probably get ready for! so have a wonderful weekend and i'll post again soon!

au revoir!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Food.....

Well you can say you were forewarned about my obsession with food... so here goes an entire entry on just that. food! First of all, those of you whom have been to France know what i am talking about when i say that it is unlike anything you can/could ever eat in the States. Seriously it's just that amazing. Fresh bread, cheese, wine, fruit, yogurt, you name it, it's all amazing!

First and foremost let me say, these cookies are eaten with breakfast. BREAKFAST. and they are good good good good. chocolate and vanilla frosting deliciousness. in a cookie. yeah go france for your breakfast cookies. I LOVE YOU.
This my friends, is a crepe. and one of the best things in the world to eat here. there is a crepe shop that i have no joke been to three times in the last week. i attempted to go for breakfast this morning but it sadly only does lunch dinner. this is called a dessert crepe but it was what kait ordered for lunch one day and what i ordered for literally dessert the next day! it is a heavenly mix of nutella, bananas, whipped cream, and of course the crepe itself. it is seriously heavenly. i could eat it forever and ever and be happy.
one of my first lunches here in Grenoble consisted of this sandwich. fresh (and i mean FRESH) mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, pesto, with some veggies on top. G-O-O-D. it was seriously a fiesta en mi boca for all those people who know my literal spanish translation tendencies. so so so good. i think it's the cheese that makes it personally. no one does cheese quite like the french. it's fresh, it's strong and it's good. really good. seriously, a part of me dies when after dinner the cheese plate comes out. i have never had such amazing cheese. and it's not even like i love it all, some are gross, like gorgonzolas. didn't like it before france and now for sure don't like it but still, even parmesan cheese is better here. freshly shredded. it's unexplainable and tastes good with everything or alone.
the last of my meal pictures thus far...my dessert. first meal in grenoble and this was what i got for dessert. apple tart with custard sauce. mmmmhhh. yum. i told myself i'll be healthy and eat only one. lies. i ate both and a bite of someone else's cause they had date flavored ones instead of apple. it was just that good. plus it just looks pretty! the french are very keen on plate arrangement. it's gotta look amazing and then the taste is just increased. and frankly they're right. and their food makes me want to cry everything i eat anything soooooo everybody out there, come to france and eat!!

Just as slight example of my meals in the last week at home for dinner....
Monday: mac and cheese :)
Tuesday: salmon cooked on top of veggies with french bread, cheese, melon
wednesday: pasta! with meat sauce and fresh cheese, salad and yogurt for dessert
thursday: quiche :) this was particularly amazing!!
friday: crepes for a late lunch
saturday: croissants and nutella baby

So i leave you know with drooling mouths. i wish i could say i could bring french bread back for you but somehow i think customs wouldn't like that....

au demain mes amis!

Monday, September 5, 2011

La vie avec ma nouvelle famille!

Bonjour a tous le monde! Je suis ici, a Grenoble en la France! C'est fantastique et j'adore la ville! Mais je sais que il y a les gens qui ne parlent pas la fran├žais et maintenant je parle en anglais....

Hello! I write to you from my amazing town of Grenoble, while at this moment I am actually at my host family's house in Fontaine, it's very close to Grenoble, a hop skip and a jump over the river and volia, you're there! I love France so far. It is amazingly different and really you can't even make a comparison because it's so different and entirely it's own amazing thing. There are most definitely things that I am not so big a fan of, but for the most part, everything has been very nice and exciting so far.

I will give you a small run down of my first couple of days here. We arrived Thursday at Lyon airport. drove down into Grenoble and stayed at a lovely hotel on Felix Vaillent ave. took my first shower sans a shower curtain and lived to tell the tale. went on many adventures into town and did some good old fashioned shopping :) perfume in France is just delicious smelling and in case you're all wondering i did buy some and now i smell like a dream :) but perfume aside, the entire town is surrounded (and by surrounded i mean encased) in the alps. the mountains are HUGE. even for me, someone who has lived in northern NH her whole life and visited the mountains out west, these are big. and rocky. and kind of amazing. can't wait to go for a hike.

grenoble is seriously a little european dream. all of the shops and apartments are gorgeous and it's very very french. we went out to eat at a charming little restaurant the first night, ate a lot of food and had my first taste of french wine, which was amazing. (those of you in the US, the drinking age in most of europe is 18 so it's perfectly legal/encouraged here!) the next morning was ours to explore the town. went around and tried to orient myself. me and some of my new friends took the tram to the university of grenoble to see where we would be going to college. it's very different from saint mikes with it's ivy covered brick walls. to be polite i would call it 1980s architecture... it kinda looks like someone gave a different building to a bunch of people to design and it's just different than what i am used to. the location is gorgeous and i love it. after that we returned to town and did a bit more shopping and went out to a delicious cafe for dinner.

saturday was the day we met our host families! we spent the morning exploring more of grenoble and attempting to figure out the trams.... i met my family at 6pm that evening and they have been absolutely delightful so far! their family name is Chamon and they live in Fontaine in the nicest little french house ever. my host mama is called Sophie and she works at the university where i take classes. my host papa is named Herve and he works in the financial sector. I have three french siblings, Charlotte (11), Marie (8), and Arthur (4). I love them. they are beyond cute. charlotte and i watched Pocahontas on sunday morning, in french of course! and then played a series of board games.

the food has been unbelievable so far. I have no idea how french people stay so trim because they eat a lot of bread and do not exercise! but i am happy to eat all of their bread and croissants and whatever else they whip up for me! i have tried some very interesting cheese since arriving here. let me tell you, french cheese, is very VERY different than any cheese i have ever had in the US. much stronger and almost spicy at times. even fairly bland cheese like provolone or mozzarella are very different here! it's very funny to me because after every meal except breakfast, out comes the cheese! it's on a plate and you eat it as straight cheese! you don't add a cracker, some cheeses are acceptable to put on breads, but for the most part it is just straight up cheese!

I had my university level language placement test today. it was much harder than my placement test at saint mikes!! a lot a lot of listening by native french speakers and a lot of reading comprehension. i will find out what level i was placed at tomorrow. after that it's time to pick which seminars i want to take this semester! i am leaning towards french culture and society, history of french cinema, and history of france since 16something or another. i also have my core french classes that i have to take, which i am really looking forward too.

so that's pretty much what's happening right now in France, i've had a lot of new and different experiences so far, from shower curtains to the time dinner is eaten at (8pm or later!), it's all new and for the most part fun!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Taking Europe by storm

Well hey there everybody. Finally arrived in FRANCE!!!!! Which of course means that everything is now French! Even my prompts while writing this, are in french, which makes me feel odd writing in english... well. it's been an AMAZING couple of days. london was like a dream. there was so much to see and so much to do and so many amazingly accented people to talk to! let me just put it out there, brits have some pretty kick butt accents. seriously it's amazing. it honestly wouldn't matter if someone was asking you directions to the water closet or to marry them, it would sound just as awesome. but my obsession with the way they speak aside, here's a recap of my time in London....

Flew out of Boston at 7:05pm on Monday the 29th. Irene, you may have been annoying and caused a lot of havoc, but you didn't mess with my flight, which in turn makes me joyful. relatively uneventful flight. 6.5 hours long. i think i slept for maybe, 20 minutes? it was awful. tried to watch a film, failed three times to concentrate long enough to actually watch it. i'm sure that water for elephants and no strings attached are great films but my concentration levels were slightly down. arrived in london at 6:25am their time. which translate to 1:25 EST. i was, for the first time in my life, one of those people that gets met at the airport by a person with a sign. well, me and the other people that were flying into heathrow as well... but whatever. we were driven to the classiest hotel i have ever been too. in a mercades bus with everything on the wrong side! the wheel, the gas, the shifter. i had forgotten that they drove on the opposite side of the road, which actually almost got me hit by cars a couple of times when i looked the wrong way before crossing... whoops. but i fought jet lag all day tuesday. i can proudly say that i went without sleep for well over 24 hours. from 7am monday until 10:3opm tuesday. that is how long i went with no sleep. it got really REALLY hard towards the end. it gave you a headache, made you feel gross. jet lag is no fun. but fighting jet lag actually turned out to be the best thing ever cause when i woke up wedneday morning i was ready to explore. which is of course, exactly what we did. between tuesday and wednesday we literally crunched in enough things to fill probably at least a week of vacation! we went to the gardens by Princess Diana's old castle, saw the Albert Memorial, went to Westminster Abby, ate yummy food. Went out to an irish pub and made friends with the waiter shaine and the bartender ben. finally collapsed for the night at around 10:30 and have no recollection of my head even hitting the pillow!! tuesday was another jam packed day. got up, had a tour of london on a bus with an amazing tour guide, she knew everything! saw buckingham palace, (the queen was out of the country, which of course ruined all my plans of meeting her...), saw westminster abby, saint paul's cathedral, london bridge, big ben, parliament, the tower of london, pretty much, everything it felt like. after that, we ate lunch at a delicious little market place, and went to the tower of london!!! it was pretty awesome. thank god for my stupid id for reducing the price! got to see a trebuchet in action, lots of gory torture devices, all the queens jewels, an awesome royal guard, the place where anne bolyen got beheaded. overall, it was fairly awesome. from there, we went to the london eye, some girls wanted to go on, but after seeing just how far we would actually have to walk, we went back to the Tube. once on the tube again, took it up to King's Cross Station, which, to any person who has read Harry Potter, means a lot. we found, and as i like to imagine, went into, platform 9 and 3/4. it made my day. so much joy. from king's cross it was a long ride back to the hotel where we were meeting everyone for dinner. we found this amazing pub in Pickadily Circus that was literally four levels with a bar on the bottom and middle layer. this is where i had a london classic of fish and chips. it was quite good, the chips, or fries as they were pretty much, were good enough. me and kait split a plate which actually turned out to be a wise idea as it was literally an entire fish... we walked around for a little while before deciding it would probably be wisest to head back to the hotel as we had a 5am wake up call to head back to Heathrow airport for our flight to Lyon!

and there ya have it, that was my time in london, it was amazing! i enjoyed practically every minute other than the jet lag. it is definitely worth visiting again sometime soon! but now, here i sit in my hotel room, typing away, while most of you are still at work of just getting out of school or sport practice. i must say the time difference is a royal pain for trying to coordinate calls. dad, if you're reading this, we should plan a Skype date! to the rest of you, have an excellent thursday afternoon, i am about to take a shower in a france shower. which pretty much means it's tiny with no shower curtain and i have to hold the water spout above my head. come back later this week for some london pictures and some of my first shots of grenoble!!! from what i've seen so far, it looks amazing and i cannot wait to explore tomorrow!! Bonne nuit!