America is where my Heart is

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I’M HOME!!! After being awake since 3:30 AM and arriving home not until 2AM French time back home, which was only 7PM here, almost a whole 24 hours of travel with only 2 hours of sleep the night before, I can say I was happy to see familiar faces and a familiar place. Going through 3 security checks and 2 customs, especially fatigued, made for one extremely long day.

One thing is for sure, studying abroad has made me realize how great America really is. It has made me appreciate my home and this country so much more. I have missed the American sized men that are giants compared to Frenchmen, the fact that Americans smile all of the time, public bathrooms, my car, water accessibility such as water fountains, ice cubes, free refills, American coffee, 4G, access to my phone 24/7, air conditioning, and most importantly ENGLISH SPEAKING PEOPLE.

I think one thing that made it hard for me, is that the French idolize America.. Obama is a celebrity over there .. and everyone I met wanted to go/be in America and here I am in a country where many people I met wanted to leave.. it’s the American dream I guess..

Anyways, the criticism of American people may be true such as that we are always in a rush and our food isn’t as fresh, but despite these I love being home. It’s nice to be able to be carefree again and not always have myself put together. I don’t think I have stopped talking since I have returned home and a lot of my sentences have began with “Well, in France..” but thats okay.. my family may not fully understand the feelings I have and experience what its like to return, but they still enjoy listening.

One thing for sure is that I am not going to miss French cheese.

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I spent my first night home eating American Mexican which I have so missed… unfortunately no more alcohol for me… And I took myself a long missed American shower and fell asleep not dying of heat. I woke up and treated myself to a nice 2 mile run.. and I don’t think I have smiled so much WHILE running.. and afterwards I felt absolutely amazing. I was pleasantly surprised to have only put on a few pounds in a country where exercise is foreign. 6 weeks without even a run has been one of the many challenges for me. While in France I saw no gyms, no protein shops etc. but yet they are so skinny?! I don’t understand.

“We travel not to escape life, but so that life doesn’t escape us.”

I have decided that seeing other countries opens up your mind and gives you a more worldly view on life, but I would like to see more of my own country before I travel more elsewhere. Why go somewhere else when we have just as great of a country here.

In France, within 3 hours of each other, you have mountains and a city identical to Colorado and in the opposite direction you have the Mediterranean Sea and a city similar to Florida, and then there is Paris which is identical to New Orleans all in one country the size of Texas….

Yeah I might miss being able to walk to the grocery store or sitting on the side of the street at a Café for lunch, or not having fast food accessibility.. but  I am happy and content right here in America.

I do think if I was, however, to study abroad again, I would like to stay longer, because 6 weeks is just a taste.. I was just starting to get the hang of things.. the first 6 weeks in college I didn’t have the chance to make a solid group of friends, to go out much, or just in general have the chance to really experience college.. same with France I feel like if I had more time I could have REALLY experienced it. On my flight home I met a young man who is only a Junior in high school and was flying back from Belgium where he had been studying for the past YEAR and hearing about all the friendships he made and how Belgium had become his home was really neat…and he said it took a good 4 months to build those bonds…he was scared to return because he knew his connection with his American friends wouldn’t be as strong nor the same…

Since I lived so far from the city I never really went out at night because working public transportation at night is quite stressful.. a lot of young French people take the last metro out at 1AM and the first one home at 5AM… to say the least I didn’t put myself through that which I may regret… I do wish I had the opportunity to meet more French people my own age.. but I will always have my French siblings.. and thanks to my French family I got to see a lot of things I wouldn’t have got to see or experience if I traveled to France on my own with my family. And because of my host family I really got to experience the French culture.

Now to catch up on American culture.. I’ve been jamin out to American music I listened to in middle school.. some Sean Kingston and whatnot… I feel kind of behind haha

I also have to work to stop my natural reaction to say Merci instead of Thanks and Yes instead of Oui.. in response to everything…

Home of the brave, land of the Free.. God Bless America. 

The Day Before Departure

I can’t describe these feelings.. Now that it’s time to say goodbye, I dont want to go.. I’m just getting accustomed to the culture.. And I’ve come a long ways with my language. Just as I’m getting comfortable in this environment.. its over .. in the blink of an eye. I’m gonna miss the the people, the place, and more importantly the family that made this adventure so great .. It wouldn’t have been the same with anyone else.. I got very lucky to have such a caring and loving family.. To nurture me, be patient with my learning, take me places, and all the little things in between.

Today.. my last day in France.. I wouldn’t have spent it any other way… Shopping during the final period of the French holiday SOLDES… In France there are only 2 times a year stores are allowed to put their items on sale…and it happened to be while I was here.. for 3 weeks prices are marked down on clothes…and each week it goes down more and more. What a perfect way to spend the last of my Euros.. they won’t do me any good in the States 😉

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And finally I had my last meal … What a bittersweet event…

And tomorrow starts my 16 hours of travel back home to the United States……………..

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Au Revoir, À Bientôt

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My Last Weekend in France

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What a final weekend in France it has been. The 100th Tour de France happen to come through Lyon Saturday.. how many people can say they got to go see the Tour de France in person?! What a neat experience!

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Sunday we got up bright and early and my host family took my friend Kelsey and I to the Mediterranean! I can’t complain about spending my last few days lying out on the beach.

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On our way home we made a detour through the Lavender Fields, in Provence, which happen to be in bloom. Pictures don’t even do it justice. The smell was amazing along with the hum of bees making it quite peaceful. ImageImageImageImageImageImage

We also drove through Grenoble and saw some astonishing mountains. IMG_4316 IMG_4344

Finally to end the day.. since it was 14 juillet… or Bastille Day as we know it.. we got to watch the fireworks over the Rhône river!

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Successful final weekend I might say.

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Now I have to say goodbye to this beautiful home in which I have become very fond of ….IMG_4128 IMG_4129 IMG_4132 IMG_4135 IMG_4136

Lyon Coming to an End

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So last night marked the final banquet of our program here in France. Like everything else, it’s always bittersweet having to say goodbye. We shared the night with all of the other host families and their students drinking wine, eating pork roast, and reminiscing these past few amazing weeks. I don’t think it has quite hit me yet that I have to say goodbye to this beautiful country and more importantly this loving family I have been blessed with, that allowed me into their home, and took me in as one of their own children here in France.. in just a few short days.ImageImageI am also going to miss the amazing people I got to share these experiences with. Looking back we had a pretty cool group of people many of which are also apart of the Greek Community at Mizzou along with me. 🙂

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I have enjoyed watching myself improve these past weeks. At the beginning of this trip I could not comprehend nor speak very much French and now sometimes I have trouble telling if someone is speaking English or French to me.. and finally being able to understand a foreign language is one of the coolest experiences.

After Eulalie left I asked one of her friends that she introduced me to if she would like to get lunch and spend the day with me. The entire day was all in French.. and yes I look forward to coming home where I don’t have to think before I speak, but being able to carry on an entire days worth of conversation in French was very cool. We went to La Crayon, one of the tallest buildings in Lyon and a very nice hotel, to have drinks.

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That same day on my way home a poor middle aged man was lost and couldn’t find his bus.. and he tried asking me and I told him I spoke English.. so he tried to ask me in English but couldn’t put the words together so I said to try French and he did and I was able to help him! It was such a proud moment for me.

Having to celebrate the 4th of July in France was a little disappointing especially when my heart was in America on this particular day. For the occasion my French dad made Gin Tonic and American ribs but to my disappointment, the ribs were pre-cooked and were far from American tasting ribs. 😦 He tried, that’s all that matters! But my dad back home made sure to hang up an American flag for me 🙂

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In the past weeks, I also travelled to Prison Montluc. This prison was used all the way up until 2009, but back during the World War it was used as an interrogation center and interment camp for those waiting to transfer to a concentration camp. I learned that here they divided the prisoners into two groups: with luggage and without luggage… those without were sentence to death. It’s crazy to think that up to 10 people at a time lived in these small cells with such terrible living condtions… they had to take turns sitting, use the bathroom and everything in here. Afterwards it was made into a Military Prison.

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My host family invited me to come with them to a 50th birthday party of one of my mom’s coworkers. What a neat experience to say the least. First of all the theme was 50s… well I don’t think my French mom has seen Grease when she said it was Grease themed.. more like disco. Anyways these were some of the nicest people I have ever met, and made sure I had a pleasant time.. and the food was incredible, it was ALMOST a true American BBQ! (I think Im getting more pictures soon)

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Last Sunday I made my family French toast, since its ironically foreign here and happily it was a success!

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After class Sarah and I went to grab some lunch and explore some more of Lyon. It’s a never-ending city. For lunch all I wanted was a cheeseburger, which I almost found.. but it still wasn’t American .. I really miss cheddar cheese because French cheese is not one of my favorite foods to consume…. Their ketchup is even different.

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Another afternoon we ate lunch by the river and took an afternoon stroll. Unfortunately, I got pooped on by a bird.. so I have good luck coming, right?! Sarah also sketched me!

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Of course before I leave my French father had to make frog legs and snail, the specialties of here, for me to try. I was either really hungry or the butter and seasoning was enough for me to actually like what I was eating.. I just had to pretend I didn’t know what was going into my mouth.. which I have found I do a lot here. We had cow kidney’s the other night…… oh but even worse than that I had they lyonnaise specialty of cow intestines.. afterwards I almost wanted to go vegan.. it tasted bad and even smelled bad.

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I would have to say my favorite experience so far has been L’Ateliers de Chef because we got to learn how to cook and the food was fantastic! For an appetizer we made smoked salmon rolled with a goat cheese spread and a French salad. The main meal was baked chicken and mashed potatoes mixed with olives… never thought mixing olives and potatoes would be good but it was phenomenal. Finally for dessert we had caramelized apples, almond/sugar crumble, and salty caramel ice cream .. to die for. They also have a cocktail making class.. maybe next time 😉

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I sure post a lot of pictures of food, but how can you not.. the presentation is always so grand.

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I was all about this whole summer romance in France thing, but since that isn’t working out to well for me looks like I won’t be moving to France afterall 😉 bet my dad’s happy about that!

Everyone knows about the People of Walmart page, but I really think France could use a “people of public transportation” page … because it never fails that my ride to school every morning was quite the entertainment.

Every night my French brother joins us for dinner I never fail to have a good laugh.. Last time he was over he downloaded an app on how to tie a tie.. and attempted to figure it out.. but failed miserably.. what’s even worse is that he is 30.. haha

I look forward to coming home so I can finally get back into a routine of exercise, it is just inconvenient here and there is just no place to do it.. I don’t get how to French eat so much, but yet stay so skinny… boot camp starts when I get back home.

Let me also add that my French family doesn’t think I’m American because I don’t like coke….

All in all, I have loved my time here, but I am ready to come home. I ready to not always make it seem like I have everything together.. I’m ready to spend my last couple weeks of summer.. without makeup and carefree having the time of my life American style… doing the things I miss most about home. One of those being eating dinner not at 10pm…. And I’m ready to eat the foods I am used too.. chocolate milk, breakfast, pancakes, cake, cookies ….

However, I’m going to make these last 3 days here count! 🙂

Je crois que tout arrive toujours pour une bonne raison!

Bisous!

Road Trip Across France

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I may be miles away from home, but this summer has been one of the best.

Yesterday my host family took me and a friend on a Road Trip to see some of the best of France. Here is a map of my travels:

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We started in Lyon and made our first stop in Aix les Bains where we saw the Lac de Bourget:

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Next we stopped in Anncey and sat and had a nice picnic lunch near the beach.. and unfortunately saw a few in the nude …

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Next stop: La Clusaz

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Not far past La Clusaz.. we could see the tallest mountain in all of Europe – Mont Blanc and just behind lies the country of Italy!

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Here we also got to see a lot of cows and even more mountains … This would be the place France is known for its cheese!

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Finally we made our last stop in Yvoire – and the mountains in these picture are part of Switzerland!

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Lyon Continued … Vieux Lyon/ Parc Tête d’Or/ Oignt/ Beaujolais Day Trip

Thursday I got to see the Traboules of Vieux Lyon:

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Friday afternoon I spent walking around the Parc Tête d’Or – it’s kind of nice to have such a peaceful place to go in such a big city. It even has a zoo! ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Saturday we took a day trip to Oignt, a medieval city.

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We also visited the Beaujolais Winery where we had a wine tasting and got to talk with a winemaker.

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Finally we visited a Chocolaterie where we talked to a chocolate maker and learned some of his techniques! .. and of course tasted some too!

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(Pictures courtesy of Sarah Campbell)

Study Abroad Weekend Travels – London

ImageThe weeks continue to fly by, especially this last weekend in which I got to spend in London with a good friend of mine. Thanks to my awesome class schedule, with no class on Fridays, I hopped on a plane after class Thursday to explore the beautiful country of England. England was a lot less sunny than France, however it was still incredible. Getting their was quite the experience. I have never boarded a plane outside… Europe style for sure. Image

My friend met me at the airport and we took an hour train ride north to her hometown of Soham. Upon arrival, I had an actual American cheeseburger with YELLOW mustard. I was one happy camper. Yes the French can make burgers, but they just aren’t the same. I’m not even sure the English know how to make them, but her father, who is a chief, is currently stationed in England, so I was spoiled with their American cooking all weekend. I had chocolate chip pancakes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (because France does not have peanut butter), and ribs with mac and cheese. It was nice having a little taste of home, that is for sure.

That night we walked the streets of her town, which was so quiet and peaceful. In most cities in England the Church is almost always at the center, it was pretty neat to see one at night. ImageImage

The next day we made our way to London. The first thing we saw was the London Towers, and my favorite the Tower Bridge. The colors were so vibrant and I just fell in love. Image

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I also took a picture in front of a classic red telephone booth. Image

We basically spent all morning running all over the city and taking the tube (underground transportation system) here and there.

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Here are some more pictures of everything I got to see:

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Westminster Abbey where Kate Middleton and Prince William got married Image

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Policemen on a Horse

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The park where Peter Pan was written

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Abbey Road Studios – I finally got to walk across the actual Abbey Road crosswalk just like The Beatles. I think we walked across the crosswalk a 100 times before we actually got a picture we liked. The cars were not very happy with us… but we weren’t the only ones. ImageImageImageImage

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We also went shopping in Harrods, which is a big store that has basically anything you could ever dream of. Image

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After shopping we wanted to find the house used for filming in the Parent Trap movie, but neither one of us had access to the internet, because 3G does not exist in these countries, so we weren’t able to look up the address until we got home. Little did we know it was a block over from Harrods.

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M&M World (I was like a little kid on Christmas, it was kind of embarrassing) – and I took a picture with the nice little midget that was greeting everyone at the door. He was so cool, it’s not everyday you see midgets.

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After walking everywhere our feet needed some rest so we stopped and had the classic British meal of Fish and Chips with mashed peas. SO GOOD. Image

Then we headed home out of the London King’s Cross Railway Station from the very Platform used in the Harry Potter movie. Unfortuanely, I didn’t get any pictures because we didn’t want to miss the train home.

Saturday we walked around the open air market, got some ice cream, and spent the rest of the afternoon sitting by the river. I love being in countries where nothing is commercialized and everything is so rich in History. However, don’t get me wrong though, I do miss home.

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In England I was also introduced to Cadbury Spread, which is 10 times better than Nutella. I was also introduced to Ginger beer, beer I could actually drink AND I got carded for the first time in England… felt so grown up.

All in all England was a lot of fun, especially since I got to spend it with a sorority sister on the entire other side of the world. You never know where life can take you.

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While waiting for the plane at the airport I ran into Madame, our professor in charge of our Study Abroad Program, with her husband. They were flying back from Ireland. I love how the world is so big, yet so small.

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Study Abroad Part 2 – Lyon

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Lyon is where the real journey began. The car ride from the train station to the house with my host dad was quite the experience, especially since I am just a beginner with the French language. There were a lot of nods like I knew what he was saying, but in truth I had no idea… and then when he did attempt to explain something in English I just got even more lost. Therefore, I was a little worried as to how I was going to manage to survive these next few weeks.

So the night began, as soon as we arrived I got a tour of my families beautiful French house. French houses are a lot different than American houses because here the shower has its own room, the toilet has its own room, and the sinks have their own room. I do however love how green everything is here; it’s so very picturesque.

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With in the first few minutes of my arrival my French father offered me was a glass of wine and it was this moment I knew I was going to like it here. At this time, no one was home except for me and the dad. We sat together on the terrace, and he showed me lots of pictures from his IPhone, ones of his children, his house on the Mediterranean, his house in Portugal, and his boat etc., something my own father would have done as well.

As we talked he kept talking about ‘la vag’… ok so what is a ‘la vag’ you ask… I had no idea either and for the longest time I could not figure it out.. Finally, after lots of confusion, I put the pieces together and viola! La vag = the wave … after this an English/French dictionary became a necessity in the house.

I also learned that my French father is Portuguese, explaining why they have a house located there. The night continued on and I finally got to meet my French sister, who I had been in contact with months before my trip. Unfortunately the first week and a half I would be in Lyon she would be studying for her final exams, but she still managed to make me feel very welcomed here. Later that night I finally met my French mom, a very small lady, but someone with a very big heart, something that is very common among this family. I will never forget when she told me that “I brought the sunshine” which I found very sweet because apparently it had been raining straight for the past three months.

French dinners are quite extravagant. They usually start out with an aperitif (before dinner drink) and a snack such as nuts , olives, cherry tomatoes etc. We drink lots of wine, but occasionally we have other drinks such as pina coladas. However, on Sunday nights they drink beer (I’m not a big fan even though it taste a lot different than American beer). With the wine my French dad usually adds different flavored syrups… one of my favorites is grapefruit and rose wine. After the aperitif we usually have some type of salad. One of my favorites is a cucumber and tomato mix with some type of dressing. One time for this part of the meal we had a enormous plate of asparagus and one.. yes one.. boiled egg. Another salad we had consisted of cheese, tomatoes, red peppers, anchovies, real black olives, and onions. It was different, but nothing I have had here has been bad.. well except for one drink my French sisters friend had me try.. which tasted like straight up black licorice.  But that’s beside the point. After this we have the main meal and I have had everything from baby cow, salmon, rabbit (which I thought was just tough chicken, until after I finished eating……and knowing I just ate a rabbit was a little unappetizing), and then lamb. Then we have dessert, which is not what you would think of as a typical American dessert. It usually consisted of a big plate of fromage (cheese) and bread (which is always on the table). So far I have not been a huge fan of French cheese. Their flavors are quite strong and I feel like it is an acquired taste. Often my family eats yogurt with sugar for dessert or sometimes, my favorite, a big bowl of strawberries. One night we did have a tarte du praline for dessert, which is a specialty of Lyon. It is a very thin, kind of like graham cracker crust, with a gel like strawberry-ish topping with nuts. Sometimes we have sweet ice cream for dessert such as raspberry or lemon sorbet. Finally after dessert, we end the meal with a café.

One thing I miss about home is having big fattening desserts such as chocolate cake. They do however have pain du chocolate which aren’t bad… it’s a croissant with a little chocolate, eaten typically for breakfast.

On a side note they have bread here called Bioche, IT’S SO GOOD. It’s just a sweat piece of bread and I can’t stay out of it. When I first went for a piece of it one morning, I opened the loaf expecting to take out a slice not realizing it was a whole loaf and you had to cut your own slices. All in all, I love the food here because everything is so fresh.

However, I did witness one of the strangest things, after dinner one night my French mom made herself a bowl of bread and milk.. not cereal and milk.. but bread and milk. I told my real mom, and she responded that my grandma used to do that with popcorn instead of bread… I didn’t know that was a thing, but I do now and I have no desire to try it.

On Sunday nights we ‘picnic,’ usually with a variety of sausages, both Portuguese and French, raw jambon (ham), smoke salmon (my favorite), etc., and like I said beer and usually they drink it out of a wine glass. Different for sure…

Somehow the subject of French toast came up and my French family had no idea what French toast was because it doesn’t exist here, which is very ironic because its called French toast. Same with French fries…. They are called frites here and I don’t think are French.

One thing I found interesting about the culture here, is that at least in my family back home, we sit around and drink after the meal, but here it is something that is done before.  They also place their glasses in the freezer right before serving their drinks to chill the glass, which is something I may start doing when I return home.

As a gift to my family I brought some Kansas City BBQ sauce, peanut butter and a handmade trivet made of wine corks for my French mom that now sits as a center piece on the dinner table. Before coming here I didn’t know my French dad was a retired chef, but I made a good choice because he loved the BBQ sauce.. phew! And here in France they don’t have peanut butter and I will always remember the size of my French sister’s eyes when she saw the jar because she had some the last time she was in the states and fell in love with it.

Everything here is a lot smaller.. here is a picture of a normal sized drinking glass next to a regular sized jar of peanut butter.

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The utensils are also a lot smaller along with the fruit. An apple here is half the size of a normal sized apple in America. However, even though their coffee here is a single espresso shot, my French dad makes me an American sized black coffee for breakfast every morning, another example of why this family is a perfect match for me.

Another stereotype I found to be true here is that one morning while I was eating breakfast my French dad was outside in his morning robe trimming bushes, it was priceless and was a great start to my day.

My French dad is awesome to say the least. One evening, around 11pm, my father offered me some Cointreau, or better known as orange liqueur, and so we each had a glass before bed. He treats me just like his own daughter. I truly was blessed with such a great host family.

Another thing I always found interesting is that you have to order water at restaurants and they don’t refill your glasses for you. You also have to ask for the bill at the end of the meal because French people don’t like to rush you a long, which is a nice change from the fast paced America.

Here is a picture of a French Pizza that was really good. Most of the time when I order food here, I have no idea what the ingredients are, so I usually just randomly pick something and hope I like it. I never thought a zucchini pizza would be good, but it was!

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I have learned a lot about the language also. One of my favorite words in French is the word for bird which is ‘oiseau.’ Try pronouncing that… I guarantee you didn’t get it right unless you said wazzo.. because ‘oi’ in French makes the ‘wha’ as in ‘what’ sound.. weird, right?

One night me and my French sister, who is very fluent in English (I don’t know what I am going to do without her, because coming home from school after listing to French for four straight hours, it’s kind of nice being able to have a conversation that doesn’t kill my brain).. anyways we sat around and talked about all the little words that make up a language, but yet are so different for example: when we say ouch! .. they say aie! They also say ‘oh la la’  in response to things… and instead of say ‘oh ya’ they say ‘ahh oioas’ sounds like ‘ah way’.  They also say ‘Dac’ and ‘Up’ for things such as organizing or while completing a task. Also when someone has to go to the bathroom saying that you have to go Pee Pee is the polite way to say it. To me the less polite way sounds more formal to me than Pee Pee.

French is a very hard language to learn because it seems like most of the time they don’t pronounce half the letters in their words, so it sounds like they never finish what they are saying. A lot of their words also run together, so it’s hard to make out the different words. Another challenge is when I try to say something in French, I know what I am trying to say but my pronunciation is so off they have no idea what I am trying to get across.

French people also don’t pronounce their “H’s.” For example, Haley in French is Aley.. and for the longest time I didn’t realize my French dad was trying to get my attention.. embarrassing, right? And they thought Hughes was pronounced like Hewg. It’s also funny when they try to explain something in English, for example, try getting hole from.. ole… I thought we were talking about an owl.  The ‘Ch,’ and ‘th’ sound also don’t exist in French.

One of my favorite experiences thus far is getting to train with my host sister’s arrhythmic gymnastics team. Me, being a retired gymnast, found it really cool to see something very similar to what I grew up doing and it was from these girls that I learned that the English expression ‘it’s a piece of cake,’ in French, is ‘un doigt dans le nez,’ which translates directly as ‘a finger in the nose.’ This gave me a good laugh.

I also got to attend the end of the year show and every year they do a themed routine.. and this years theme.. drum roll please… Mama Mia – so American. We also had to eat dinner there because we thought it would get done earlier, so I just got what I thought was just a plain ham sandwich on a baguette then I realized it had some sauce on it.. well after I finished it, I was told I had a ham sandwich loaded with butter.. no wonder it was so good.. Their hot dogs are also served in baguettes… but yellow mustard is not available here.. I’m kind of lost without it because I’m not a fan of their specialty, which is Dijon Mustard.

Transportation is always an experience here. Where I live, in Ecully, which is located kind of in the country.. which in America you think the middle of nowhere but that is not the case here.. country is still very civilized, there is just more space not occupied by large buildings. To get to school, I have to take a 20 minute bus ride, sometimes more depending on traffic, and about a 10-15 minute ride on the metro. Let me tell you getting on a bus without having any understanding where you are the first couple of days was quite scary, I just crossed my fingers and hoped I got where I needed to be.. I did however almost miss my bus stop on the way home…

The very first day of class my sister walked me to the end of the drive and we we’re talking as the bus came, little did I know I had about a 100 meter dash between me and the actual stop.. and as the bus drove up she looked at me and said “you should run” .. so my first experience catching the bus in France I was ‘that girl’ running after my bus… After that I made sure I was always a few minutes early to the stop.

Well except one day when I accidently overslept… I am please to say I got ready in less than 10 minutes and still managed to get to class on time.. however, I was starved so for breakfast I had a chocolate covered waffle.. yes they serve these in the vending machines here.. however it wasn’t as good at it sounded or looked.

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Apparently the French boys, who also go to school at the same place as us, told our French professor that us American girls are cute.. I just can’t get over the fact they told our professor.

Another fun thing about looking American though is that when people come up to speak to you, most of the time they just start speaking to you in English.. it happens to us a lot. Once it happened on the elevator, but this guy was British and we hadn’t said anything, but he just knew we were American.. I’m not sure why, but I guess we just have a distinctive look…. but apparently, according to the French boys, it’s not a bad thing.

One bad thing, besides sitting in class for four hours, is that there is no air conditioning in France, and on those days it was really hot out, it is REALLY difficult to focus in class.

I still haven’t adjusted to the whole French greeting.. French kisses on the cheek thing. It is a very genuine gesture because it somehow makes a very warm welcoming, even when you barely know someone. I always found it very cool that even when there is 10 people sitting at a table and a new guest arrives, a kiss on each cheek is always given to every person upon arrival and before departure.. a simple goodbye is nonexistent here.

I was very surprised at how Westernized it feels here.. for the most part French people listen to American music in English.. but I’m pretty sure, at least for the most part, I don’t think the French understand the lyrics. They also listen to a lot of techno music without lyrics. I got a little taste of this at my first French club with Eulalie. After she finished her exams, she invited me to go out to dinner with her school friends and get drinks afterwards. It was a very neat experience. After dinner, we went to the riverside and hung out. Many French people are obsessed with Americans, which made me feel very welcomed because when we arrived they were like “we’re only speaking English tonight,” one because they wanted to practice and had a reason to speak it, and two, because they felt bad I didn’t understand anything they were saying.

Later that evening we went to the boat on the Rhône river to go dancing. French clubs are a lot different here because everyone has their own little bubble.. when you walk into an American club people are usually dancing on someone, but here that just wasn’t the case instead everyone just lets loose and has fun dancing like nobody was watching.

Now on to my travels… Along with the program I am on, I had the opportunity to spend an entire day in Perrouge, a medieval city in France. People walked around here in medieval costumes like it was normal. We were told they are only 80 inhabitants of the city right now and if flowers were placed outside the window that meant the house/apartment was occupied. Here I got to try some hard cider, which was delicious by the way, along with the famous Sugar Pie, a pizza with sugar topping… not the best in my opinion.

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I also ate lunch while watching young kids sword fight.. its crazy to think people actually grew up in places like these. Below are also some pictures of a few of the students on the trip also atop one of the medieval buildings.

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We also got to visit Vieux (Old) Lyon and here is where the Roman ruins are and the amphitheater. Lyon was the capital of France before it became Paris and here is the very original Eiffel Tower which models the now famous one located in Paris. It sets above the city by the Basilica, which overlooks the city.

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Lyon is also known for cinema because it is where the inventor of cinema lived. It was really cool visiting the very house they lived, now called Institut Lumiere. Here I also got to stand in the very spot the very first film was ever made. I learned that what we know as a 3D movie is pronounced rolief in French, I’m not exactly sure how it’s spelled probably something very different. Anyways, from now on I see rolief movies, not 3D movies.. it only seems right since it was invented in France. I also learned that when we watch films, half of what we see is pure darkness.. so a four hour Star Wars movies is probably 1 hour and 45 minutes of darkness.. because in reality we’re just watching strip of pictures with a black space in between, it makes since I just never thought of it like that

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Orignal camera used for filming – Image

This passed weekend my French family had a wedding to attend in Paris, so they asked if I could find somewhere to stay for the weekend. I had always dreamed of going to London, so my French sister tried to see if one of her friends would want to go with me, but it started to look unpromising. Not long after the disappointment, one of my sorority sisters posted on our group wall and said she would love if a Sigma Kappa could come visit her in England, and like I said before, everything happens for a reason. So I booked my flight the next day and got to see yet another incredible city. That post will be coming soon. 🙂

But in the time being I had to say my final goodbye to my French sister and got to enjoy a nice dinner last night with the family I could easily call my own.

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Study Abroad Part 1 – Paris

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This summer has yet to be a disappointment. I can’t believe the halfway mark of my journey in France has recently passed, I have been beyond blessed to study in such a beautiful country. I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. In high school my school did a way with French as a class my senior year so instead of taking an online course; I opted out of taking my fourth year of French. Little did I know that if I had taken that online course I would have been exempt from completing foreign language credits at Mizzou. Yes, that would have been nice, but because of that mishap I was given the incredible opportunity (with the help of my parents) to study French in France itself for the summer. I can’t even begin to put in words what an amazing experience it has been thus far.

As this post is a little wordy I am going to attempt to describe my journey, starting in Paris. At the beginning of June I left my home in Kansas City, a big step in itself, and flew across the ocean to a country I knew little to nothing about. It would be my first journey to another country without my parents, but as soon as I had arrived I have never felt more at home.

Let me begin with the flight. First of all, plane food is not exactly what I would call fine dining, but the flight attendant made up for it. To our surprise at the end of our six-hour flight (and two movies later) one of the flight attendants brought the girls I travelled with a bottle of wine to share with all of the students in our group because we had told him why we were on our way to France. It was a nice welcoming gesture I might say, but then arose the question ‘how were we supposed to get the bottle of wine past customs?’… but as we later found out that would not be a problem.

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The first day was the hardest of my travels, only because of the six-hour time difference… jet lag at its finest. We arrived at our hotel around 6AM a little delusional. We were not allowed to check in to our rooms so we placed our bags in the “hold room” and went and got ourselves some breakfast. We all were longing for a nap, but we knew we had to push through to get on the European time schedule. My first meal in France consisted of a warm buttery French croissant, a glass of orange juice (with only one ice cube), and a café (coffee). When I got my coffee I was a little surprised to find out that a black coffee in France was a single espresso shot…  but it kept me awake, as I would be staying awake nearly 48 hours with only a 2-hour nap. This French Cafe would be the place we went every morning for breakfast. By the last day the owner asked to take a group picture of us Americans to hang up in his Cafe. Parisians made us feel very welcomed into their city that is for sure.

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Walking the streets of Paris was incredible. So much is packed into one city, you could spend years in the city and still never see it all. I can say however, the stereotype of young males riding around on mopeds with French baguettes hanging out of their backpacks is not only but the truth. For those of you who might be wondering, yes, French boys are attractive in their own way. They might be lacking some meat on their bones, but they do have great fashion. Although some may not know exactly how to be charming… for example… while sitting outside of a Cafe in Paris a trash truck decided to stop on a one way street, holding up several cars, to honk at us and then proceed to motion ‘call me.’ Apparently there is no way to hide our American identity even from a distance, but anyhow it was a tad unexpected and definitely far from charming.

A girl on the program with me knew a couple people who have been studying abroad in Paris for a while now, so I had some experiences I would not have had otherwise thanks to them. I got to hang out along the canal and drink with all of the ‘cool kids.’ One thing nice about France is that the normal dinnertime here is 8:30pm so happy hour is typically 5-7pm when we American normally eat, perfect for the college budget. Not to mention the drinking age being 18 here is very convenient, and drinking when it’s actually legal is a lot more enjoyable I might add. I also got to visit the Parc de Belleville, one of the most beautiful views of Paris from atop the city. It might have been a sketchy and tiring walk to the top, but it was worth it. In my opinion pictures can’t even come close to capturing its beauty.

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Of course I also got to see all the main attractions that Paris is known for including: the Eiffel Tower,

On a side note, the Eiffel Tower was everything I had dreamed it to be, I could sit outside it for hours, the only downside is it’s a prime tourist location so there are always people around, and lots of pick pocketers. When I get back home I will probably walk around hording my bags just out of habit, which I guess isn’t a bad habit to have. Two people on the trip became victims of these horrid pick pocketers, one by the Eiffel Tower, and the other out and about by some young kids trying to get one of the girls in our group to sign their blank, yes blank, paper. Both managed to get their things back thankfully, but still.ImageImage Notre Dame Cathedral, ImageArc de Triumph and Champs-Elysées,Image

Versailles Palace, (also pictured is the wall of mirrors inside Versailles) ImageImage

Louvre, (also pictured is the famous statue of Aphrodite),

The Louvre was also a lot of fun.. well only because it’s in the National Treasure movie and because Sarah and I decided to pose like every statue and take pictures to pass the time… got to make memories some how 😉

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Centre Pompidou, (also pictured is the art outside of the musée)

The Centre Pompidou was very neat because it is the only modern building in France so all of the modern technology is shown on the outside of the building, including the escalators.

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and the Lover’s bridge (and no I could not find the Kardashians lock, but I did get to witness a wedding!) ImageImageImage

I also visited Stohrer, the very place that invited wedding cakes. It was here I had my very first French Macron, a little piece of heaven.

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Now on to more food… One evening I got a nutella crêpe to go from a stand on the street, and I’m glad we don’t have these randomly located on the streets in the States because that would be very dangerous for my waist.

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I am however going to miss having my sandwiches on fresh baguettes. I will never forget wanting a du poulet (chicken) baguette for lunch and even though the place we were at had no more left, the nice little Frenchmen went and got me one. Image

Nor will I forget having my first legal drink, a strawberry margarita with a taco salad that was far from an American taco salad. Instead of being loaded with cheese and shredded lettuce, I got a spinach salad, freshly sliced tomato, and fajita chicken.. it was surprisingly good, just not what I was expecting.

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Also instead of wine, cheese, and crackers… its wine cheese and bread here. French people love their bread and I can see why… I have never been one to eat a lot of bread, but I cant stop eating it because it’s too good.  I will talk more about food when I get to Lyon’s adventures because Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France and my host dad is a retired chef and bar tender.

You can’t go to France without experiencing the underground Metro. Wall to wall people, but without them I don’t know how you would get around because drivers here are crazy especially for foreigners. Mopeds and bikes don’t have any regulations either so they zoom up right passed cars; I’m truly surprised there aren’t more wrecks. Metros are not only convenient, but also really cool especially when musicians play for you in the tunnels. The shape of the tunnels allow the sound of the instruments to bounces off of the walls making beautiful music which is quite nice to hear after a long day.

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In other news, one of the girls on this trip got engaged while we were in Paris because her boyfriend happened to be visiting also, now wouldn’t that be a story to tell your kids one day. I hope one day I’m just as lucky.

At this point it was time to say goodbye to Paris. Although it was sad, my adventures in Lyon would be just as good, if not better. However, one taxi ride and one train ride stood between Paris and Lyon. Not hard right? Wrong.

First our taxi driver decided to drive our taxi to the end of the road where 30-40 males of different ethnicity stood. Here he parked the car leaving the keys in his ignition with the driver window down and seven pretty girls in the back with all of our luggage. Talk about fear…. if it wasn’t for our professors husband in the passenger seat, someone could have easily hopped in the driver seat and drove away with us. It gets even worse. While everyone in the car felt very uncomfortable, our taxi driver finally comes back and while we think we’re leaving this neighborhood… he drives us even deeper into the crowd of men and once again leaves us parked while he helps the other taxis load even though we asked him not too. A few bangs on the window was all we needed to know we wanted out of that area fast, for as little as we knew drug activity could have been going on. Thankfully, we made it out safely and the next step was the train.

Travelling is never easy especially with 20 students and one professor… so trying to get all of our luggage on the train before it leaves was quite the challenge.. and trains don’t wait for anyone and frequent travellers were far from pleased with us. However, a three hour train ride later, we finally made to the Lyon train station and it was here I got to meet my French father, Jose, for the first time. Little did I know that this family would be almost a carbon copy of my very own family… and I would be blessed with a French sister that would show me the ropes and become a lifelong friend. Unfortunately she is leaving me for New York this week, and I wish her luck on her three-month internship in the States. Stay tuned for my post about my travels in Lyon, the first capital of France, which will be coming soon!

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Host Family: Jean-Hugues, Jose, Catherine, and Eulalie

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Bisous! (Kisses)