Thursday, June 13, 2013

Some final thoughts

Two days from now I'll actually be on a plane crossing the Atlantic, so I just wanted to wrap up some of my thoughts about this extraordinary year.

(here begins the emotional reflection):

The night before I left for Paris I cried myself to sleep in my mom's bed. I was nervous. At the time I did not have plans to go home for 9 months, and that was a terrifying thought. Though I'll never talk about my first 20 minutes in the hell-hole that is Charles de Gaule airport, if I had been able to get a hold of my mother I would have told her to book me the first plane back home. And (those that follow me on twitter know) then I cried myself to sleep for about the first week and a half I was here. It's not that I wasn't having fun - I was, and I was meeting a lot of great people - I just saw 9 long months ahead of me and I was scared to death.

But, it turns out that 9 months isn't all that long after all, and here I am at the end of it. Despite an emotional start, I am not at all prepared to leave this place that I now call home. This may not be true, but I feel as though I have had a unique experience during my study abroad. First of all, I am fortunate enough to have studied here for a year. I did not just live the party/travel experience that I see so often either. I found a job, a routine, people that have looked out for me, making sure I wasn't really alone. I fell completely in love with this city, despite the rain and the everlasting winter. I was enchanted by it, as they say here.

Last night was my send-off party from work and it was amazing, and touching, to see how important I was to others. I wasn't just a passerby, I became a part of people's lives. Even one of the parents yesterday gave me an enormous hug and told me I would be missed.

Despite all that, though, I have not yet had an emotional breakdown about leaving. Besides the fact that leaving doesn't actually feel real, I am absolutely positive that I'll come back. There's also that fact that I'm pretty excited to have my senior year at Ohio State. After that, though, I know I'll be ready to start the life that I have come to love. I'm not sure I'm going to do it yet, but one way or another, I'll make my way back to the city that has stolen my heart.

Thanks for listening this year, everyone. It has been an absolutely pleasure getting to share my extraordinary time in Paris with you. I'll try to get some of my pictures edited (on my 9.5 hours flight) and I'll put them up as soon as I can.

And for now I'll say à bientôt to you and my beautiful Paris.

"America is my country, and Paris is my hometown" - Gertrude Stein.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Countdown

Alright, here we are. Because it is still really early in the States, I've got 11 days to go, but in my mind I've already flipped down to 10.

I've started to pack up the room that I've called home for the past 9 months. When I first got here in September one of the first things I did was put up pictures of family and friends to make it feel more like home, and that is actually what I just took down. Now my room feels empty and like I'm actually preparing to leave.

Things are wrapping up everywhere. Tomorrow, Thursday and Friday I have work and then one more day next week and I'll be finished. We had our farewell for the program and I said goodbye to a lot of friends. Also I need to cancel my phone service and close out my bank account. And pack. Yikes, lots to do.

Luckily enough though, my brother came to visit me this past weekend for 4 days. We did all of Paris in just those days and I am exhausted. So here is a quick run down:

Day 1: Danny got in mid-day and then we headed out to explore the Latin Quarter, do a little Midnight in Paris tour. We walked from Cardinal Lemoine to the Luxembourg Gardens to Montparnasse, hopped the metro to Saint Germain-des-Pres and then again to Cité where we saw the Notre Dame then Ile Saint Louis. (phew) Then we got some Chinese (of course) and went to the Mazet (also of course).

Probably the best part was heading to the Eiffel Tower at midnight to surprise him with how it lights up. Always a winning moment

Day 2: Musées D'Orsay and De l'Orangerie to check out some of my favorite pieces including Monet's Water Lilies. Between these were a walk to the Louvre and through the Tuileries. We then hopped down to Ecole Militaire where we grabbed lunch in a tabac (Danny had a croque madame). Then we climbed the Eiffel Tower (something I hadn't done before, oops). Dinner was at this amazing place called Relais de L'Entrecote - all they serve is Steak Frites. Steak and fries. and they keep coming back with more.

Too. Good.

Day 3: We started with a walk around Montmartre, followed by some lunch and wine on the Seine under the Notre Dame. We did some great souvenir shopping on the Seine and around Saint Michel as well. Then we hit up the Champs-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe. Dinner was at this cute little bar café where we had the most filling and amazing dinner. I also introduced him to kir, an amazing french aperatif. Afterwards we went back to the apartment and watched some Scrubs and ate some cheese and drank some wine.

Day 4: Relaxing day. We went to Chez Ladurée for some macarons, went to Saint Michel again had coffee at a cafe, and went to Shakespeare and Company again.

*The most amazing thing happened in Shakespeare & Co. We were up in the reading room and someone started to play the piano - beautifully. Then Danny nudges me and gestures to the player. She's playing "Let's Fall In Love" by Cole Porter, another Parisian artist of the 20s. I died. It was perfect.*

Our lunch was cheese by the Seine, where we devoured an entire baguette. Afterwards we bought some wine for him to take back and went to the apartment to pack. The last thing we did was head to the Marais, a quarter I'm not in enough and ate falafels and crepes for dinner. We actually ended up stumbling upon the Bastille as well!

All in all it was amazing to share my favorite city with my brother, and a great chance to do all last minute touristy things, that I may have been too lazy to do otherwise.

I'm not going to get all weepy in this post, but expect that next week when the fact that I'm leaving really hits me.

A toute mes amis,

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Nerdiest of Trips


Two weekends ago I went on the nerdiest trip ever, to Edinburgh, Scotland - UNESCO's First City of Literature. Edinburgh was home to Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, J.K. Rowling (still is), and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle among many many others. So here are some of the English major-y things I did.

1. Did a book lover's tour! We saw the old University of Edinburgh Medical School including the building that houses the old surgery hall (which I totally and most definitely did not fan-girl over...). We saw a pub that was once frequented by RLS and Conan Doyle during their time at the university. We saw the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the first few chapters of Harry Potter and Philosopher's Stone. There was a lot more too, those are just some of the highlights for me.

2. The Writer's Museum! It featured exhibitions on Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and poet Sir Robert Burns. Obviously I went there for RLS. Anyone brave enough to ask me how I feel about Jekyll and Hyde? Because there's a lot of incredible history there.

3. Robert Louis Stevenson's house, 17 Heriot Row! There's a family that lives there now and I was really creepy outside taking pictures. I was also the only person doing so. Seriously, why don't more people go for that?

4. Sir Walter Scott Monument. The largest monument erected to an author, living or dead. Ever. This thing is enormous. I wish I had gone up it, but I was literally broke.

5. Tour of the underground vaults! Not a ghost tour, because I'm scared of my own shadow and I went to Edinburgh by myself. But it was really extraordinarily cool to see the historic vaults - an aspect of the city that likely influenced Robert Louis Stevenson in writing... okay I'm done.

6. Deacon Brodie's Pub! Though I'm positive that Deacon Brodie did not inspire Jekyll and Hyde, it was still really cool to go have drink in the pub. It was really touristy, and I met some cool Canadian girls, but I also started reading Sherlock Holmes (nerdy thing #7).

But all in all Edinburgh is an extraordinary city full of a rich and often dark history - from the witch hunt to the torturing to the body snatching. It's gorgeous as well, even (and maybe more) so in the dense fog that rolls in. Take a look at the pictures and see for yourself!
Edinburgh Castle! 

The View down High Street on the Royal Mile. 9am. 

Sir Walter Scott Monument, 9am.

Prince's Garden

Robert Louis Stevenson's House (squeeeee)

To the Old Surgeon's Hall (which has a bunch of construction around it and isn't pretty)
Still fangirling. 

J.K. Rowling wrote the first several chapters of Harry Potter on the first floor of this building. Unfortunately for Americans, in Europe the 1st floor is what we consider the second. So a lot of people go to the wrong cafe. Womp Womp.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle lived here once! Near the university.

A mortsafe! What the rich used to buy for their coffins so their bodies weren't snatched! SO Cool.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Amsterdam, Italy, and Barcelona (Oh my)

Salut mes amis!

I've been pretty busy over the last 4 weeks, since I last wrote a post (sorry!).

Immediately following the stomach virus, I went up to Amsterdam for the weekend with Meagan and Delaney. We took the over night bus up on Friday night and got in around 7 am on Saturday. First we crashed at the hostel and then began our touristing. First on the agenda was the Anne Frank House. We waited in line for about an hour, but it was entirely worth it. It was moving and powerful. That afternoon we rented some bikes and attempted to stay alive as we took to the streets. We unfortunately took to the streets during rush hour, but all of us survived.

The next day we went to Keukenhof, which is a tulip farm about half an hour outside of the city. It was amazing! I think we were a week or two too early for all the blooms, but what we saw was incredible! In the afternoon we went to the Heineken experience and got to drink some beer. It was not as cool as Guinness  but it was worth it.

The next weekend Delaney and I went to Italy. First on our agenda was Rome! We saw everything! First we walked to the Spanish Steps, to the Pantheon, to the Old City and saw everything along the way. The second day we went to the Vatican and saw the Sistine Chapel (after cutting in line...) and to Saint Peter's Basilica (where we also cut in the line. oops). We then went into the colosseum which was amazing, and then to the Palatine hills. After that long day we flew to Venice!

Venice day was amazing! We took the time to sleep in because we were exhausted and then we headed over to Murano, a little island that is famous for it's glass blowing! It was extraordinary. That evening we walked around Venice a little. We found a cute little bar and got a drink by the Gran Canal.
Day two we climbed the bell tower in San Marco square. We had an amazing view of Venice and the surrounding islands. Afterwards we walked all the way down to the residential area of Venice. It was probably my favorite city to visit. Also there was a lot of pasta and gelato to be had! So all in all a win.

Finally the next weekend I went to Barcelona with Kenzie. We actually didn't do too many tourist things during the 4 days we were there. We went to the Picasso Museum and walked around the latin quarter. Most we just sat on the beach and drank sangria though. Still overall a successful trip. We got a little burnt, but it was all worth it for some days of sunshine!!!


Now though, I've got less than a month until I'm home. I'm starting to freak out a bit. There's a lot of stuff I have left to do- a lot of souvenirs to buy! Today I went to the catacombs, which equally parts awesome and terrifying. I was just casually walking around in between rows and rows of human skeletons.

This weekend I'll be headed over to Edinburgh for a trip I've been wanting to do since...the 10th grade? When we read Jekyll and Hyde. So, it will be a nerd-filled weekend of tours and museums! After that I have one free weekend, then my brother is here, then another free weekend, then I go home. Wow.

Alright, if I keep talking about it I'm gonna start hyperventilating! So ciao for now!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

2 Months, Spring, and a Stomach Virus

Monday the 15th marked two months until I go back to the U.S. I mean, how crazy is that? I'm pretty excited to go home, but I think that's mostly because I think going home will be a couple weeks of vacation then I can just pop back over here.

Unfortunately that's not how it works. I'll head back to Virginia on June 15th, spend of a couple of weeks at home, then go to Columbus for the rest of the summer and the start of the school year.

Here are the things I look forward to the most:
- Virginia, beautiful Virginia
- seeing my mom!
- Getting back to Columbus!!!
- Touring again
- My apartment with David!
- Senior year (how ridiculous does that sound?)

I still have two months though, and they're going to be pretty packed months. This weekend I head to Amsterdam with Meagan and Delaney (my Wednesday pub buddies), the following weekend is the start of my break! and I do 4 days in Italy - Rome and Venice - with Delaney, the weekend after is 4 days in Barcelona with housemate Kenzie! That already puts me mid way through May, and I'm also working on doing Berlin for a long weekend (we have a Monday holiday at the end of May). My brother Danny is coming to visit me the first weekend of June for 5 days and then I have one weekend left in Paris. Wow that hurts to write.

*Catch your breath here*

Spring finally showed up here in Paris! Kenzie and I did some park lounging close to the apartment. I tried to go to the Luxembourg Gardens but there were SOOOOOOO many people. I couldn't even handle it. It was way more fun to hang out around the local families. That is really the Paris I love.

Today it's actually 24 degrees C (high 70s-ish). Unfortunately I've had a stomach virus for the past couple of days so I'm confined to the apartment eating bites of rice and drinking powerade. Luckily for you, that means a blog post! Unluckily for me that means fluctuating temperature, chills, throwing up, and zero appetite. Woot woot. Also I may be editing pictures from the last...3 months or so. Trying to get a little ahead of myself before I do all this new traveling.

Alright I'm going to eat some more rice and crash in bed.
À toute!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

J'aime plus Paris.

Yesterday in class we listened to a song by that title by a Parisien singer named Thomas Dutronc. It means "I don't like Paris anymore". Technically you're supposed to use the negation "", but it's often left out in modern everyday language.

J'aime Plus Paris - Thomas Dutronc

So, along the same lines, I thought I would outline some of the things I don't like about this city.

- Le gris: So. Much. Gray. The sky is the gray; the trees are gray; the buildings are gray. Okay the last one is an exaggeration, but I really miss sun and green. I could really use a beach.

- Le metro: The metro smells like pee, and it's always packed with people. You always have be on top of your things, so you don't get pick-pocketed. It's exhausting.

- Dog shit: People don't clean up after their dogs. So the game plan is "eyes to the ground". I've only stepped in it once.

- Pigeons: Wow, I hate pigeons. They're gross and annoying and not afraid of anything. Ugh, also sometime they're gimpy (super not politically correct, but they're pigeons...) and they'll be missing a foot and walking around on a stump. Also TOURISTS LOVE THEM AND FEED THEM.

- Tourists: So many of them, and they walk so absurdly slowly. I have places to go and they take their time walking 4 across down on the tiny sidewalks. So I definitely turn into bitchy Parisienne and push past them, usually while glaring. Sorry that I have places to go and that you're being super inconsiderate. Don't even get me started on giant tour groups.

But J'aime plus Paris, also means "I love Paris more". And, ultimately, you can't help but love this city more and more.

A bientôt mes amis,

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Family Week

I know it's been a while, but I've been busy (watching Doctor Who...). But this past week I was lucky enough to have my parents, my brother, and my sister-in-law come visit me here in Paris. Here's a quick list of what we did.


     My parents got here! They got here pretty early and we went to the apartment they rented for the week. After some hanging out and getting a bag of clothes from home, we walked from the apartment to the Eiffel tower, around Invalides then popped back to Cambronne on the metro. It was beautiful that day, but pretty chilly. We also got our first round (of many) of bread, wine and cheese. From here on out you can just assume that we ate bread, wine, and cheese at some point in the day.


      Guillermo and Diana got here! The metro passes didn't go online until Monday, so we walked everywhere. From Cambronne we went to Montparnasse, through the Luxembourg Gardens,


     We started the day with a makeshift Midnight in Paris tour, going all around the 5th and the 6th arrondissements checking out places used for filming in the movie. We also had some fun stops like Hemingway's apartment at 74 Rue Cardinal Lemoine and Gertrude Stein's apartment (with her partner Alice), which is just around the corner from my school!

     The family got to meet Louise that day too, so they are now aware of how wonderfully crazy she is, and also how incredibly beautiful my apartment is. It's almost unfair that I get to live here, it's so great.


     Tuesday morning I had to go to class (I do actually go to that sometimes), so my family headed up Tour Montparnasse, which is supposed to have an amazing view of the city. I can only assume so, because there is no Tour Montparnasse to ruin the skyline.

     In the afternoon we went up to Montmartre and I gave a tour of the hill ending at Sacre-Coeur. I forgot how much I love love love going up there and all the history that still exists there. Also, Tuesday night we went to my favorite bar, The Mazet, where I know the bartenders. We had some beers and watched the France-Espagne world cup qualifying match, so you can assume that my dad was pretty happy.


     Waking up Wednesday morning was hard, but we headed out to Notre Dame, and were able to go inside and climb to to the top. My legs felt like jello afterwards (after 422 stairs). We did a little shopping and had some snacks around Saint Michel as well. And by snacks I mean crêpes.

Wednesday afternoon I had to work, so the family went out to Opéra and did some shopping at Galleries Lafayette. We also did drinks after dinner at the Mazet, again.


    Museum day! we did Musee d'Orsay in the morning, which was pretty packed with people. I always love seeing my favorite Renoir painting though (Moulin de la Gallette). Afterwards we popped over to Café Deux Magot (a favorite haunt of Hemingway) and had some ridiculously incredible hot chocolate.  Longchamp was just down the road and we bought some beautiful bags! I got the bag I wanted in the beautiful beige! Grabbed a cheap lunch at De Pomme Au Pain on Rue de Rennes, and then we went to Musee de l'Orangerie to see Monet's waterlily paintings. After museum number two we did saint michel again and went around to Ile Saint-Louis.


     Diana and Guillermo left on Friday morning, and then the parents and I went to Shakespeare and Company. The time to get there is seriously just as it opens. It is so quiet and beautiful inside. I hate that it's getting packed with tourists again. I just want to go sit and read upstairs. We got some adorable little bookshop bags, and mom is making me a list of the things she wants from the store.
     I was also feeling pretty miserable by this point. A week of pure touristing does not sit well with my immune system. So we went back to apartment and I took a nap (and a Zicam). At 4 pm we dropped my bag and home and grabbed a bag to things to send back with my parents. Then we went to Trocadero to see the Eiffel Tower and got lunch at this fabulous little greek place on Rue Mouffetard.

Parents left this morning really early and since then I have showered, done some laundry, and pretty much nothing else. Well I took a three hour nap and I started watching Downton Abbey. I am still exhausted and kind of sick. In all honesty, this past week was pretty much what I've done in 5 months. The tourist life is not for me. Time for me to get back to real life, which hopefully means a little more sleep and a lot less walking.

Things I have coming up: the day care I work at is having an eco-friendly fair and inviting all the parents so i'll be there next Saturday, on the 19th I leave for Amsterdam for 2 days and on April 26th I leave for Italy for four days! Oh and hopefully Spring will arrive somewhere in there as well.