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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