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! :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

10 weeks in

Yep. It's true. I've been here for 10 weeks. To commemorate, here is a lovely contemplative photo that I took walking from school to my bus stop.

So, what have I been up to in the last week? you ask. Well, I bought myself a pair of pants. Yay!

And I passed fun times of silliness with my hostfamily.

On Saturday I was on my own in the morning, with a very important task. My mission, and I chose to accept it: lunch for my host family. So I made a ham and mushroom and cheese tart that Benedicte had made once before. It's a fantastic recipe--very easy and it came out great both times. For dessert I made the closest version of a carrot cake that I could manage with the French ingredients that I had on hand. The cake came out well, the frosting a bit less so due to the lack of cream cheese and powdered sugar.

Saturday afternoon I spent doing homework and studying for my THREE ENORMOUS TERRIFYING TESTS on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. AAAHH! On Saturday evening we watched Danse avec les stars as usual (we finally got rid of Gerard Vives, the clown).

This morning I started planning for Thanksgiving. It's going to be a challenge to cook Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd in metric with foreign ingredients. On the other hand, as Benedicte reminds me, they've never had a Thanksgiving dinner so if it isn't perfect, they won't know the difference. However it turns out, I'll be sure to take lots of photos!

This afternoon I worked on Thanksgiving, started my poster about my life for school, and wrote to my parents while Alice made lasagne for her Italian class.

She also made us waffles!

Although I think perhaps some of the waffle batter got lost in transit.

Well, tomorrow it's back to work with 2 hours of French test. Fortunately I have free periods in the morning...although of course I wouldn't think of cramming...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

End of Vacations :(

Hello everyone,

Well, today is officially my last day of relaxation. School starts up again tomorrow after two lovely weeks of mental rest.

Since my return from Paris I've pretty much been chilling at home, doing homework, and cooking. I got my hair cut nice and short. I've been for several bike rides, including one with my lovely hostsister Alice.

On Thursday I met up in town with the other internationals of Angouleme.

It was my first real tour of the town, as my hostfamily still hasn't got around to taking me for a real visit. We had sandwiches for lunch, walked around the city, and found a creperie!

So, it's been a fairly relaxing vacation. While I've enjoyed the break, I'll also enjoy having a schedule again. And of course, coming up is Thanksgiving, which I'm planning on celebrating with my hostfamily. Speaking of Thanksgiving, I made a pumpkin pie yesterday as a test run.

Receiving an email the other day with my departure details was a bit of a shock. I'm not even halfway through my stay yet, but I guess time keeps pushing ahead. Thinking back on my first days here--so many emotions all at once that it was completely overwhelming--it's clear that a lot has changed already. I remember how scared I was for the first day of school, how awkward I could feel around my's pretty amazing how quickly we can adjust.

As of today, I've been living in Charente for 9 weeks. Reflection and self-examination has been and is a huge part of this experience. Because my time here is limited, I ask myself often what my goals are, what I'm hoping to get out of this, if I'm making the most of my five short months. I think about everything that I've done since arriving and everything that I still want to do, and what parts of my life here I want to bring home with me.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Dear devoted followers,

First of all, I hope that everyone currently living on the east coast of America has successfully weathered the SandStorm. Good luck to you all!

Well, while you guys were enjoying your vacation, I was enjoying mine as well--in the lovely city of Paris!!

SO, let me give you the breakdown, interspersed with some of the pictures I took. We arrived midafternoon on Sunday, and the first stop was the Palais de Sport at the Port de Versailles, where we saw the musical 1789: Les Amants de la Bastille. I didn't understand a lot of it, but it was still really fun! The French way of handling musicals is a lot different from ours. They only play one or two at a time, and each one is a really big affair with elaborate sets and costumes. Also, they run two or three songs from the musical on the radio for a few months before hand, and you can buy the album, so my host sister already knew lots of the songs from the musical.

Day two--main event: L'arc de Triomphe.

And I remembered my goal of a family photo.

For lunch, we had pizza in a restaurant on the Champs Elysees.

And after lunch, my family took me to see some of the big Paris sites.

In the evening they took me to discover the Bon Marche, where I was forced to concede that maybe a gold-tipped fountain pen at 8,000 euros was a bit out of my price range.

The next morning it was time for SHOPPING with Alice and Benedicte. I found the choices at the Gallerie Lafayette-- Prada, Dior, etc. a bit out of my price range. When we moved on to other more budget-friendly options, I found a scarf--very important here, as it happens.

In the afternoon, we took a tour of the breathtaking and fascinating Opera Garnier--commissioned by Napoleon III and designed with incredible attention to detail. As a bonus, our tour guide was awesome.

In the evening we waited for 45 minutes to get into the only Abercrombie and Fitch in France. I didn't buy anything--once again the price tags turned me away--but I did take a picture with a shirtless model, so I suppose that counts for something.

Our Wednesday agenda: Versailles. We took a guided tour of the palace--the biggest in France--including the reception rooms and bedrooms of the king and queen.

After lunch we took a short walk through the closest part of the very expansive gardens.

And I didn't forget to get some Australians to take our photo!