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. 

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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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