Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Redux

I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!! As for me, I'm at the end of the first week of my two week winter break. Last Sunday, my family took me to see Bordeaux.

We ate lunch at a teashop, saw the Christmas market,

Went shopping, which is the real attraction of Bordeaux,

and visited some of the major historical places like la Place de la Bourse.

In the evening we had a crepe at the Christmas market.


So, on to Christmas. We dressed up...

We went to Benedicte's parents house for a Christmas dinner of hors d'oeuvres, seafood soup, turkey, chestnuts, green beans with bacon, potato galettes, salad, and cheese. We went to mass at a church with a really high tech nativity scene,

and then went back to the house for yule log and presents.

I finally crashed around 3 in the morning, only to get up at 10 to open the presents sent to me and my host family by my parents and friends.

Thank you all!!! <3

So, the next few days of my vacation have passed in a haze of family time, homework, a relapse into a more violent cold than the original, and watching movies and TV shows with my family. For the New Year I'm going to Michela's house with Alice and another AFS friend--should be fun!!! In the meantime, happy New Year to all!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Finally a post...

Hi people,

So first off let me present my apologies for the long delay between posts. I was feeling too down last weekend to post anything, and of course during the week it's very hard to find the time. Please accept this plate of virtual homemade cookies as an apology?

No? Well, it was worth a try, anyway...

So, what have I been up to? Last Sunday was Saint Alice day, so we went to the cinema and saw "Populaire"--I would highly recommend, if it comes out in theaters in the states. Then we went to Alice's grandparents' house for St. Alice day crepes and some little presents.

And speaking of presents, I'm finally all sorted out for my host family for Christmas. The presents are all wrapped and hidden away.

I also made and ate cookies :)

So...this was the last week of school before the holidays. I had a nice lunch the other day with some of my lovely international friends and two French people (one of whom was taking the photo).

Today was the last day of school before the break. Special features included a flashmob featuring my host sister Alice (third from the left) with choreography by this ninth grader dance prodigy kid (first from the left) who apparently is on TV in dancing competitions and stuff.

We also had a fancy Christmas lunch, finished off by a slice of "buche de Noel"

Sadly, after the holidays we will be two less in number--Julia is transferring to a different region and Julietta is headed back to Argentina after a year here. We had lunch all together today, and then watched a video that Moani had made with lots of our photos all together--many tears were shed.

We'll miss our friends!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Birthdays, Thanksgiving, and AFS Christmas

Hi All,

So I have quite a lot to tell you all about! We'll start with where I left off: the week after my trip to Paris. Two Thursdays ago, we celebrated Stephane's birthday. Alice made him a cake with dried fruit, his favorite. I made a yogurt cake with chocolate chips because Alice doesn't like cake with dried fruit.

So then on Saturday I spent the day cooking cornbread, stuffing, green bean casserole, gravy, mashed potatoes, turkey, and pumpkin pie. Sounds familiar? That's because I was making a Thanksgiving dinner!

I cooked all day, and in the evening Elizabete and Michela came with their host families--a real multicultural Thanksgiving meal.

So I explained to everyone what Thanksgiving is all about (although every American kid learns about it in school, the Europeans know no more about the holiday than that we eat lots of turkey)...

...and everyone tried a bit of everything:

For dessert, in addition to pumpkin pie, Michela made us a tiramisu and Elizabete brought a Latvian honey cake. YUMMMM!

So once Thanksgiving was out of the way, we could start thinking about Christmas. On Sunday, Stephane and Alice told me it was time to put up the Christmas tree. So Stephane went into his shed and brought out this:

So for the first time in my life, I helped construct a Christmas tree.

Still, it came out pretty well, I think!

So this Saturday I took the train to Poitiers for the AFS Christmas party. We spent the day preparing a Christmas show for the hostparents. It's so cool to have twenty-some friends from so many different countries. I now know people from Germany, Italy, Brazil, Norway, Sweden, Argentina, Denmark, and Latvia!

So in the evening the host families came bringing a potluck dinner. Throughout the evening we exchange students introduced ourselves, and many of us presented something about ourselves our our country. We even learned a Swedish folk dance!

We also did some dances/songs as a group, and at the end we had a special guest!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

PARIS! (3)

Guess what guys! You get a break from my tantalizingly delicious photos of food, and in exchange you get to look at amazingly awesome photos of my trip to Paris. Yay!!!

Well, actually first you get to look at pictures of Chatellerault, where the four AFSers living in Angouleme were hosted overnight because we live too far from the train station to be there at 6 in the morning. Julia and I, the two Americans, were hosted by Shaolin (another American)'s host family.

So we walked around Chatellerault...

And helped the host family with a small "Thanksgiving" dinner (for me, a precursor of this weekend).

Isn't he cute?!?

In the evening we played MarioKart with the family and went to bed a bit too late (11:00) to be getting up at 5 to catch our train to Paris!

We were 23 AFSers from all over the world, 4 AFS volunteers/employees, and 2 visiting AFS alums. First stop: la musee D'Orsay.

And with a special exhibition on impressionism and fashion! So French! We spent an hour or so exploring the museum.

Our AFS guides gave us a bit of a tour, including the Bridge of Art (here's it's called the bridge of lovers) where couples come to attach a lock and throw the key into the Seine.

Since we had all gotten up early, we were all hungry, so we had an early lunch at the Jardin de Tuilleries in the sunshine.

We passed by the Louvre,

and took the metro to see the Christmas displays in the windows of the Gallerie Lafayette.

Then we took the subway to visit Montmartre.

It's a really fun area, touristic but very lively. There's of course the beautiful basilique de Sacre-Coeur, and also lots and lots of street artists.

And a beautiful view!!

So then we took the metro back towards Paris and stopped by the Moulin Rouge.

In the evening we enjoyed the Christmas decorations on the Champs Elysees...

...and arrived just in time to see the Eiffel Tower light up at 6:00!

All in all, a lovely weekend! :)