Sunday, February 14, 2010

France: January 12, 2002

Sorry I didn't write yesterday!! I went on a guided tour of the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens yesterday with the Tulsa students. It was colder inside the cathedral than outside! But, oh, it was breath-taking inside and out. I love how the tour guide explained that the pictures outside of the cathedral told stories from the Bible because when it was built during the Middle Ages people (most of them) couldn't read. So, the church decided to teach the people the Bible through these pictures. The outside (porch) used to be in color; it was painted. From time to time, usually during holidays, they light up the front of the cathedral in colors using a computer program. They know (from many years of analyzation) that there were certain colors used. Unfortunately, they didn't have John the Baptist's skull out while we were there. They say that's why this cathedral was built because a canon found the relics of John the Baptist's head! I did see the weeping angel in the cathedral...made famous by the soliders from America and all over who took pictures of it home because it reminded them of the times during the first World War when people didn't know when they would die or they could die at any moment. The angel has one hand on a skull and the other on an hourglass.

After the cathedral, I went to lunch with the Tulsa students at a Picardie Restaurant where I had le pate canard (duck patte), la ficelle picarde (the gastronomic specialty of Picardie) and la mousse du chocolat (chocolate mousse). I didn't like the duck patte. The ficelle picarde was alright; it was a type of cheese crepe filled with ham, cheese sauce and mushrooms. It was a bit bland, though. The chocolate mousse was exquisite!! After that I went to look at my potential apartment after I leave this temporary one. Although Therese told me it was close to where I live now, I had a hard time finding it. When I did find it I felt like hitting myself because it was so close! The girls I will most likely be living with are both French and speak little to no English. I'm taking a Spanish exchange student's place at the beginning of February named Caroline...very nice girl...she was the only one who has greeted me with kisses on the cheeks...the traditional French greeting...a little ironic that a Spanish exchange student was the one to do it. I thanked her for it. The French girls' names are Marie-Laure and Noemie. They're very nice. The room I'll be moving into is rather large, too!! After looking at the apartment, Marie-Laure and I went to the bank where I asked them if I could have an appointment to open an account. Also, Marie-Laure helped me get a card to be able to use a local computer lab. After checking my e-mail, I went to my apartment. There, Dominique was eating a very scrumptious dinner consisting of wine, cheese, une baguette (bread) and small fresh radishes. He invited me to join him. I did. I ended up skipping that party Tara invited me to (Anika's birthday party) because I was enjoying Dominique's company (and cheese, bread...and especially the wine) very much! I think he was flirting with me a bit...just a little though...but we talked a lot. We would switch between French and English and correct each other. Anyway, he's visiting Paris this weekend with his brother and best friend. But he offered to go to Paris with me next weekend if I want. I said it depends on whether I got with the Tulsa students on Thursday. But, I think I would actually enjoy myself more if I went with him...for one we talk very well together, two he's been there before so he may know his way around better and he speaks French much better than me. I figured out he's 34-years-old. He's pursuing a PhD in Entymology - the study of bugs.

Ok...switching pens here...the other one kept running out of ink in the middle of writing words. Very annoying to say the least.

Today was a rather uneventful day as compared to my other days here. I did finally talk to Mommy & Daddy on the phone; that was nice. :) Mommy kept asking me questions about the French and France. Oh...and I found out that I'll probably have to wash my clothes by hand because that's what Eva does. I tried finding a laundromat close by but was unsuccessful. Tara said there's one near where she lives but that might be a little too ridiculous to cart all my dirty laundry over there (near the cathedral) just to wash clothes. So, I just might suck it up (my pride that is) and buy some laundry detergent and wash my stuff by hand, although I probably can't buy any tomorrow because mostly everything is closed on Sundays. I did do some grocery shopping today (before I found out I needed detergent) and bought myself some orange juice, a couple of pears, some Camembert cheese (don't really like it too much though...I do like Brebie...have to remember to buy that later...Tara reminded me of the name tonight) some bread and a lot of yogurt. It's so much cheaper to get food from the supermarket than to eat out. I'll have to get in the habit of only eating at my apartment because I'm spending too much money already for eating out. I (stupidly) ate at McDonald's for dinner (again), although I did get a student discount. Something really cool they had in town tonight was a HUGE sidewalk I still did not buy a scarf...but I want to find a really good one along with a really nice black purse...heck I want the whole French look...I need the shoes, too. I did get part of "the look" tonight by buying a black French-looking coat that has a belt around the middle. But it was a bit cheap because one of the buttons already came off. Luckily I had my trusty sewing kit with me and sewed it back on! One thing I did forget was my bathing suit...there is a really nice coliseum nearby with a pool. Oh well...maybe I'll buy one later. We'll see. Tara and I hung out tonight from about 10:00 p.m. until midnight. She called me to see if I wanted to hang out and she also asked me where I was last night (because I didn't show up to the party). I told her; she was find with it...not mad or anything. She said she did have a hangover from yesterday, though, because she drank a lot of mixed drinks of Absolut Mandarin with Sprite. Tara and I went looking for a bar to hang out at...we ended up at Chez Froc...a popular spot in Amiens (or at least according to the map it is...). But, it didn't really remind me of the "traditional" bar because it was very lit up. We both ordered salads and afterwards had dessert of chocolate mousse for me and a type of icecream for her. Then, we went our separate ways to go to our apartments to go to bed, which I'm going to do now. Goodnight!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

France: January 10, 2002

Well, Forum was just a glorified college fair...LOL!! I wonder if I've confused Therese because while we were there she looked for the stand for International Relations. I'm going to try to see Therese tomorrow about my courses or at least set up a meeting with someone about them. Also, I'm going to get a student card for the University. I don't think I need to get une carte de sejour because my passport is a 6-month long-stay visa. Tara thought the same thing. After the Forum, Therese told me that I have two choices for housing now...the luxury of being here early. :) Tomorrow I'm going to see that first apartment I was told about in the afternoon sometime. But, before that I'm taking in an English-guided tour of the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens with the other American (Tulsa, OK) students and the Tulsa professor, Madame Zita Alca. I happened to run into her at the tourism office today while I was wandering around Amiens. That reminds me. I must go to a bank to set up an account sometime...another thing to add to my "Things to do" list! I bought a one-month bus pass today; I kinda lied and said that I already lived at that apartment I'm looking at tomorrow because they needed an address from me. I'm pretty sure that card works for all the buses and not just the Number 4 (because that's the bus she told me runs near "my apartment" - the semi-false address I gave her to get the card). I have to admit it...I'm jealous of how easily Tara speaks and gets to know people. She's only a French minor for goodness sake! But, I know what my major problem is...I try to think too long before I speak so it all comes out slowly whereas she just talks, fumbling all along, but talks rather quickly and nobody cares. I need to be more like her. After checking and sending out some e-mails from the university, I took the bus back to my (temporary) apartment and watched some T.V. Well, during that time I met a new apartment-mate named Dominique; he is a Canadian exchange student studying entymology (study of insects...I think I spelled it right!). He looks older, like in his 30's. He's not very good-looking but he's really nice. He began speaking English with me after he found out I am an American. I (finally) talked to Eva tonight and she laughed when I told her that Dominique is from Canada because she said she's outnumbered by people from North America. Hehehe :) Tara called me at 5 p.m. from the University. I told her a landmark for her to look for to get off at the bus stop near my apartment. I showed her the apartment and afterwards we went in search of dinner. We ended up eating at a place called "Au bureau" - a Pizza Pub with cool rave-type music and lots of things American (that was strictly coincidence, though!). I had a Coca-Cola light with une Margaret Salade while she had une carafe de l'eau with une salade Jersey. We talked there for a long time (in English most of the time). I can see my French slowly progressing forward. I'm happy!! After dinner, we went to her place for a bit then we went to her International friends' apartment. There were a couple Finnish (from Finland) students, Scottish or British guy (named Olly, short for Oliver), a Mauritian (another one...he couldn't believe me when I told him I met a different guy from Mauritius at l'Universite de Picardie Jules Verne...or "Jules Verne" for short...) and a German girl named Anika. Anika is having a birthday party tomorrow night at 9 p.m. and I've been invited thanks to Tara! I'm so very excited about going...a party in France! It's funny speaking with those international students because they prefer to speak in English, not French. But Dina and the other Finnish girl (I can't remember her name at the moment) would tell everyone to switch to French for a while for us (more for Tara...but oh well...I was there, too). I was a little too quiet. And, when I did talk people interrupted...I hate that. Oh well...I'll find my voice with people. Eva said it's good I'm here early because it'll help me improve my French-speaking skills before I begin my classes. I don't know how to take that...just a statement or an easy cut...oh well. C'est la vie! A demain! Bonne nuit. :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

France: January 9, 2002

Did I mention I have a skeleton key to my room in my apartment? It's very old-style here in Amiens. I saw the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens for the first time tonight from the outside with a new American friend I made today whose name is Tara. She's from New Jersey. We instantly bonded...most likely because we're both Americans but oh well! We did use some of our French-speaking skills while we ate at Le Bistro du Carlton en centre ville (in the middle of town). It was a little pricey (the bill came to 47.50 Euros) but very worth it. We had white Reisling wine - a bottle for us to share - and une caraffe de l'eau (a carafe of water). I got the salmon (of course...creature of habit that I am) and she got l'escalopes which she thought would be scallops but didn't turn out that way, although what she did get was very scrumptious. We still don't know what they are, though. I'll have to look it up later in my bilingual French to English dictionary. The dinner was delicious but the dessert...ohh!! Tres bien...Tres, tres bien (very good). We asked the waiter what his favorite dessert was and he told us that "les profiteroles avec le chocolat" were very good. We both tried them. They are small pastry balls filled with a frozen type of cream cheese with chocolate covering everything!! We tipped the waiter very well...10 Euros. I got to see the Cathedrale tonight because I hung out with Tara at her apartment for a while...she lives near the cathedral. I love the cobblestone streets. Tara said the canals are nearby where she lives. I'll have to check them out sometime...the canals are why some people call Amiens "the Venice of the North". Apparently people can take boats out on the canals like they do in Venice. Tara's lucky...she's going on a skiing trip in the Alps. It cost her 300 Euros though. I don't exactly have that much right now, although Therese did give me half of this month's stipend to me for food. It is about $167 dollars! Not too shabby! Earlier today I was supposed to meet that French girl, Stephanie, at 12 noon. Well, she never showed up...I hope she didn't mean 2 p.m. because they sound a lot alike in French. No. I'm pretty sure she meant noon because I asked her a couple of times to make certain. I nearly didn't make it there on time for our rendezvous because I didn't actually get out of bed until 11 a.m. even though I had set my alarm for 9 a.m.! I learned tonight that I'm not very far from the cathedral (thus Tara's place)  or centre ville (center of town). It's within walking distance. I still need to buy a bus pass. Therese needs to help me get une carte de sejour...but I have a good 3 weeks for that. Thanks to Tara's question/answer session with Therese today while I was there, I now know that my first day of classes begin on January 28th. Tara already has an appointment set up to get a bank account and her courses set up. But, she has a lot more help than I did because she lives with some (very helpful) other international students who know what to do. I think that cultivating a friendship with Tara is definitely a good idea. She's definitely got her act together. She's from New Jersey, but attends the University of South Carolina. Oh, before I forget, remember that guy Olivier who works in the International Office? A.) He said "Bonjour" to me (yay!) and B.) He wears the same sweater every day (unless he ust has like 3 of the same sweater! LOL). Anyway...I know I'm jumping around here...but oh well. Did I mention that e-mail is my lifeblood here? That's the same for all the other international students, too, apparently because someone always has to wait for a free computer. There's a time limit of 20 minutes if there are people waiting but no one really adheres to that. I ate lunch on campus today at the cafeteria. I had a ham & cheese croissant and "les fruits" (of course, the strawberries, again...when I find something I like, I stick with it!). Ya know what? It felt very relaxing for me to practice my french with Tara because we didn't mind correcting each other. We got into some pretty deep conversation tonight, too. She asked me if I am afraid right now. Yes...And, she is too because everything changes from one day to the next. She asked me if I get lonely...Yes, of you could see from my last couple of entries. She also asked if I felt like I was trying to run away or escape from life by coming here (because she said she had to evaluate her reasons for coming here). I said that I had asked myself the same question. To a point, I do feel like it's an escape...but not a bad one. It's made me re-evaluate what's truly important to me...that's my family & friends. We both said it's nice to visit here but it's better to live in the be an American...we truly do have a lot of freedom there. Tara and I talked about the French stereotype of men being rude & obnoxious. She explained to me that a lot of that comes from the Parisians (she's been to Paris before). She said there are guys like that there. She agreed with me that the men here are very good-looking. Oh well, I better hit the sack now. Therese is picking me up tomorrow at 9 a.m. to go to the Forum at the event celebrating students moving from high school to college.

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