Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Versailles and Parc Asterix

PICTURES: (in order from top to bottom)
1. Me being bored in the gardens
2. Some of the gardens in the back of the Castle
3. Me frolicking in the meadow!
4. Dolphin show at the amusement park
5. Picture of the Eiffel tower for Dad
6. Me in front of my future home
7. The Hall of Mirrors
8. One of the art pieces by the scuptor mentioned below (its a balloon animal dog. GO AMERICA)
9 & 10. Proof to Dad how big this thing was. It took 2 pictures. AND there are a bunch more parts of it behind these.

This weekend Karen and I went with the school to Versailles. We left Saturday morning and got back Sunday night. We had to be at the school at 5:45AM on Saturday (yea it was rough) and we took a big bus. It took about 4 hours to get there. First, we went to the home of Marie Antoinette but once we walked all the way to the entrance it was not open. A worker guy came with keys so we thought we were going to get in, but then he just emptied the trash and drove off! So we got back on the bus and headed to the chateau. We began with walking through some of the rooms. They were extremely elaborate and ornate, reminding me of the Newport mansions we toured this summer. They were modeled after this Chateau, so I guess that makes sense. However, in this chateau there are 2000 rooms. It’s ridiculously massive. I decided that I want to live there. My favorite room was the Hall of Mirrors. It's exactly what it sounds like with a ton of chandeliers and huge windows looking out into the gardens. It's absolutely beautiful.

As you will see in the pictures there were art pieces on display throughout the chateau done by an American sculptor, Jeff Koons. The only thing is they were all ridiculously tacky and odd, such as the giant balloon animals, the pink panther, vacuum cleaners in boxes, etc. They made the very elaborate rooms somewhat less...elaborate. It was actuallly quite comical. Look through the pictures to see more.

After going through the chateau we went out into the gardens that are again, massive. There are over 50 fountains, a pond/lake thing, and huge tree-mazes that you can get lost in. We first wanted to find the restaurant because we were STARVING. They only problem was that it was located in the middle of one of the mazes and of course I was looking at the map but still went the wrong direction. We finally found it as we were about to pass out from hunger and exhaustion. I got a big greasy cheeseburger and french fries and Karen got a cheese pizza. We are adapting quite well to foreign food, don’t you think? ((Just as a side note, as I seem to have forgotten to mention this previously, they sell beer EVERYWHERE. They sell beer in McDonalds. How crazy is that?? HAHA))

So after we sufficiently stuffed our faces we were pumped and ready for some garden action! We walked around and took pictures, took a snooze on the steps, made friends with a pidgeon and a duck, and watched the “water show” which just happened to be the turning on of all the fountains. It was a beautiful day, warm and not a cloud in the sky. The only problem was Karen and I have very pale skin and therefore wound up with sun burnt faces with white sunglass marks. After a while we were getting pretty bored so we bought some ice cream which was delicious! We also took some random pictures which you can see on PhotoBucket. Then we laid on the grass that you are not allowed to lay on. All in all it was a great day and being in the presence of something so immense was a great experience.

Once we left we went to our hotel and to dinner. The dinner was a “buffet” of all cold food. Every single thing looked totally foreign, not to mention disgusting. I saw something that resembled fish and took a tiny bit of that. I was thinking I would go to bed starving but then they brought out bread and butter and I consumed about 20 pieces and was satisfied.

The next morning we woke up around 8:00am and took off on the bus to Parc Asterix, an amusement park based on a comic book character that is apparently very popular in France. I was talking to the Irish boys and they thought the park was amazing and so much fun, but in reality it was a lot smaller than Kings Island. I found out that they do not have many large amusement parks here so that explains it. Besides starting out really cold, the day ended up being a lot of fun. Karen and I rode the swinging pirate ship, the haunted house ride, a bob sled coaster, a painful version of the scrambler, and the big swings. We also went to a dolphin show, TWICE! They were awesome. There was also a stunt/special effect show we attended, and luckily there was no speaking so I was able to understand it all! ((Dad, just to let you know they had an Eiffel tower make of some stick-like material on top of one of the buildings. That was the closest thing I found to resemble ours at PKI haha))

We got back to Dijon around 11:00pm on Sunday night. We went straight to bed because we had class at 9:45am on Monday. We have early class everyday this week except Friday. I am now sitting in International Money and Finance class on Tuesday as my German teacher rambles on about some chart with a bunch of numbers. We don’t have tests so it’s somewhat hard to pay attention. I guess I should end this before my Dad gets too angry at me! He is pretty interesting, however, because any time he talks about something he uses the example of buying beer. These Europeans are alcoholics!

Goodbye all! More later!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

First Week of Classes

PICTURES: (all random buildings of our school)

So its Thursday September 18th and I just completed the first week of classes. The french school system is a lot different than ours. They have classes for long periods of time and then random days off the rest of the week. We started on Tuesday at 9:45 am with Business systems for 3 hours. Then we had another class for 3 hours. I liked both of our teachers but sitting on hard chairs for that long was painful, not to mention really boring. The classes don't seem too hard, especially considering that most of the people in the class (including the professor) speak English as a SECOND language. Our first teacher told the Americans not to use our extended vocabulary because the rest of the class won't understand HAHA. So far we don't have exams in the classes we've been to. Actually we don't have tests either, just homework assignments, some quizes, and group projects.

We were off on Wednesday. Today we had the ONE class from 8:00am-1:00pm. I woke up dreading it, thinking it was going to be as boring as the others. Luckily it was International Marketing and it was in a computer lab with cushioned chairs! The professor seems really laid back and cool. He didn't talk about the course, syllabus, or anything like that. He just said "OK pick something you miss from home and make a powerpoint presentation on how you would market it in Europe." So I spent the whole time marketing Velveeta shells and cheese (what else?). He came by and saw mine and liked it so I'm good. It only took us like 20 minutes to do the whole thing so they rest felt like free time. The best part was when our professor said, and I quote, "Marketing is ALL about making money. Everything else is bullshit. Marketing is all about making a lot of money." I knew this was the major for me :)

All the professors seem pretty strict about attendance and being on time. The funny part is all the international students seem to be on time while the FRENCH students are the late ones. Ironic. I'm glad they have a school website, email, and class website just like we have at home. The professors put assignments, readings, etc. on it and it makes it a lot easier. The only bad thing is when we use the computers at the school (like for maketing class) the keyboard is ALL jacked up! It's like someone took an American keyboard and shook it like Boogle! The letters are all over the place (Q and A are switched, M is way out in right field). There are crazy symbols and you have to use SHIFT just to get a PERIOD! Talk about ridiculous. Karen, Scott, and I looked like my mom trying to type all during class, using two fingers and poking at it HAHA.

Tonight we are going to Le Chat Noir (the big club). The school organized it so its only 3Euros to get in. Its so weird that our SCHOOL promotes going to clubs and drinking on school nights. That would never happen in America. They even serve us wine.. that's just weird. Tomorrow we have no classes! WOOT!

Karen and I tentatively wrote in our planners places to visit on certain weekends based on our schedule. We are going to start planning them ASAP so we can get in as much as possible. So far we are considering Paris, the south of France (get some beaches in), Germany, Vienna, Prague, and Italy (Florence, Rome, and Milan). Hopefully we can get as much of those as possible. Mary and Melissa also plan on visiting so that will be great to see them!

This weekend we are going to Versailles with the school! I'm so excited! That was the one place I wanted to see in France more than anything else. We get to tour the Chataeu and the gardens on Saturday and then on Sunday we get to visit an amusement park. It should be awesome! I'll put pictures up when I get back.

Random News:
1.I finally got a local French phone. Now I can text all my friends here for cheap.
2.The front desk lady told us we had a noise complaint on a night we weren't even HERE. It had to be the Solvenian boys. They are SO annoying and obnoxious. We don't like them anymore.

3. I watched a soccer game on TV. I actually started CHEERING (Yea, I'm THAT sports deprived). I think the score was something like 2-0 (shocker).
4. Karen and I worked out yesterday. We did some legs, butt, and ab exercises. I'm REALLY sore today. It's been a while haha.
5. My straightener doesn't work!!!!!!!!!!!! It's seriously a tragedy! I guess I have to buy a new one here. UGH! Sorry Daddy it's a necessity.
6. It's really cold here, basically already winter weather. It's about 60 degrees all day.

That's all folks!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Week of Relaxation

PICTURES: (from top to bottom)
-me in the entrance to the Palais de ducs (town hall welcome)
-most famous Chateau in Burgundy
-a close up of the billions of grapes we saw on our tour
-the mini Arc de Triomph in Dijon
-the flea market down the street
** To see all of my pictures so far you can go to this website:
-click on the first picture and then you will be able to browse through them all!
So the week of fun before school starts is coming to an end. I am happy because school will give me something to do all day and not make me feel totally worthless. However, I can't help being sad because it means my dream life of sleep, fun, and no worries is over. Oh well. Nothing that good can last long.

For the past week I have not woken up before 1:00 pm. I do nothing all day, unless I feel like going shopping or leaving the room to eat. Around 8 or 9 we all start to ready to go out. Each night the school organizes a bar/club for us to go to that has discounts on entry and alcohol prices. When we get back I do it all over again! Talk about a sweet life. Thanks for paying for it Daddy! ;-)

To make things even better one day this week I woke up to a knock on the door and it was the hotel maid! I watched her change my sheets and make my bed! I went to the store and when I came back she had vacuumed, given us fresh towels and trash bags, and cleaned our shower and entire bathroom! I think I love her.

I'm trying to think of something interesting I did this week to write about but like I said I basically just confirmed the European stereotype of all Americans: LAZY. Somehow I have no problem with that though HAHA!

One thing we did this week that was really cool was a bus tour of the Burgundy wine region. It was 6 hours (bad) but we saw many beautiful sights. There were miles and miles of grapes as we drove through tiny towns in the country. Each town had its own chateau which was really cool. My camera died halfway through the trip but I still got some awesome pictures. Once we got to Beaune we toured a medieval hospital for the poor. It was interesting but my camera had died by then. I bought some postcards though!

We went to the Irish people's house one night and just hung around. One of the guys, Shane told me something, however, that shocked the CRAP out of me. He has never, in his entire life, eaten.. MACARONI AND CHEESE.

I'll give you a second to wrap your head around that.

I know.

I almost cried when he told me. The poor thing. He has been missing out on God's edible gift for 20 years. I told mom to send me Velveeta ASAP so I can save the poor boy.

We went to a club called Colors one night. I happens to be our favorite one so far. They played Shania Twain- "Man, I feel like a woman." HAHA Totally random for a club but when it came on all the American girls went crazy. Partly because it was a song we actually knew and partly because it was country and we are deprived of that here! I asked Martin if he understood the words because he and the other french boys were singing along but he said no lol. All the boys in France actually dance, quite a change from American boys. Although since they dress REALLY nice and sometimes dance with eachother, it's often very difficult to distinguish between the gay and straight ones.

Yesterday morning there was a huge flea market on the main street right by us. Karen and I walked up and down it (even though it was kind of raining). I got a french scarf and a really cool top. Karen got some pants and a purse. We also bought some cheap nail polish. It was pretty cool and there were a TON of people. We are thinking it might be a monthly thing so we'll see.

I keep trying to buy the French phone that Scotty and Karen have already purchased, but of course when I went to get mine they were conveniently out of stock. The place is directly next to us so we keep going back in to check and the mean French guy KEEPS saying they'll get more the next day, the next day, the next day. How OBNOXIOUS. He might as well just order it because I'm going to go in there and bother him EVERYday until I get my phone! He should be catching on by now, I will not give up haha.

Well I guess that is all I have for this week!

Shout out to my good friend MARY from Ohio National! It was her birthday this week! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY!!! Sorry I couldn't be there for it! I hope they all spoiled you!!

Au Revior!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Our First Weekend

It's Moday at 4:00pm but it feels so much earlier. I just woke up from a nap because I didn't
sleep at all last night. I figured I would recount the events of the weekend. Friday night we were planning on going to what is probably the most well known clubs here called Le Chat Noir (translation: The Black Cat). When we got there they said they didn't open for another 15 minutes so we saw a small place across the street that we went to while we waited. When we got into Le Chat Noir it was not that crowded but soon filled up. The place was big and really nice. The only bad thing was that they play techno music constantly so headaches are typical. We keep telling the people over here that American music is way better but most of them think we listen to hillbilly country.

We met some French people there so it was a good time. Martin (a french boy) keeps trying to speak to me in French hoping I will learn but I just stare at him and say I don't understand! His english is pretty bad too so it's funny having a conversation with him. He says I talk much faster than other Americans so apparently its harder to understand me than Karen and the others.

Saturday I slept most of the day. The other girls went to the eqivalent of Walmart and got a bunch of stuff. They bought a shower rod and curtain because our shower only has half a glass wall in front of it and water was getting everywhere. It took us quite a while to figure out the rod. Karen finally pulled it out with all her strength and voila! We finally got some food from a nearby market so we don't have to eat out for every meal. We got cold cuts, bread, pasta, cereal, snacks, etc. They actually have fairly normal food! The butter doesn't taste as fattening but I guess that's a good thing.

Saturday night Scott's dad was in town for business and he took us all out to eat! I got steak and potatoes (shocker) and Scott ordered kangaroo!!!! :( I still tried it though. It was actually pretty good. It tasted like tender beef, somewhat salty. We also order our first bottle of French wine! (Not going to lie it tasted just as bad as all other wine in America) But I would never tell the French that! They are very proud people! I got bold enough to tell Martin that American football was better than their football because we actually SCORE points. He laughed and told me not to tell that to any other French people.

Later on that night we went to a club called Colors. It was a lot of fun. We met a couple more French people and a guy from England named Joe. He's lived here for a LONG time and speaks French but still has an English accent. So that's pretty cool. Karen likes him and I believe is going to dinner with him tonight :)

Oh! We also hung out with some girls from Hong Kong. It was actually really interesting talking to them about their city/country. Apparently Hong Kong is a lot more tolerant than the rest of China. They were saying how they are so glad to live there because the rest of China is so strict about everything. I told them we could say just about anything we wanted about our government and not get in trouble. They were surprised and said in China you would be jailed. Talk about crazy! Hopefully I can talk with them more.

Sunday I didn't really do anything. I wasn't feeling well for most of the day so I just bummed around the room. We had a meeting this morning for the school to check our student files and collect more papers from us. There was a movie showing at 2:00 in one of the lecture halls but we all came back to the room and slept right through it! When we told Martin that we were napping he was shocked. Apparently they don't take naps here and think it's very strange to sleep during the day. Talk about CRAZY!!!! They obviously don't know what they're missing!

It's pretty hard adjusting to the language barrier. For the most part Karen just speaks to people and then translates for us. At least most of our friends and the staff at school speak English to us. But in stores and restaurants people will come up to me and say something and I just shake my head and say sorry. Oh well, hopefully I'll get better as the time progresses.
Pictures: (in order Top to Bottom)
-Dinner with Scott's dad at Le Petit Roi de la Lune
-Girls from Hong Kong, Alex from Canada, and boy from Slovenia
-Joe from England
-Martin from France
-Christie from Oklahoma

Well I'm going to go make myself a sandwich so goodbye for now!
I miss everyone!!!
Au revoir!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Oh The Joys of France

WOW!! So much has happened that I don't even know where to start! It's Friday evening right now, about 6:52pm France time. Or as they would write it, 18:52. Yea, they go by military time. LAME! So the plane ride here sucked. It was SOOO long and there was a baby screaming in the row next to me the entire time. I couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep so I was up for over 36 hours around Tuesday/Wednesday. I feel like I've been here for a week because so much has happened and I've been so busy!

I guess I'll start from the beginning. After I got off the plane Scott and I were trying to find eachother. We need to work on communication because we thought we were in the same building but we were like 5 buildings apart. So I took the shuttle to his terminal. Seeing a familiar face after 24 hours by myself was definitely refreshing. Karen was on the opposite side of the aiport too, so after I tracked her down we went and found our bus that would take us to the train. The bus driver was chatting with a friend for a while and there was traffic so as we RAN to our train we watched it leave the station! We missed our freakin train! Not to mention I'm trying to RUN down the street and up STAIRS with two 50 pounds suitcases, a backpack, a computer bag, and a purse. It was horrible. I'm no where near strong enough to handle both bags at the same time. Thank God for Scott! He's been lifting my suitcases on trains, busses, up and down stairs.

So since we missed our train and for some reason our ticket WASN'T allowed to be exchanged, we had to buy a new one for 50 Euros (about $75). I know. I was pissed. At this time it was about 5:00pm on Wednesday and I had been awake/traveling since 6:00am Tuesday morning. Finally we took the train to Dijon where we met some girls from the school who drove us to our apartment.

So the apartment. Yea. It was kind of cute I guess, and perhaps acceptable for gross college boys but not for me haha. Allow me to list the things wrong with the apartment:
>dust on all the floors and tables
>stains and dirt on all the furniture/sheets
>other people's possesions there (books, clothes, boxes, mail, shaving gel)
>a parking cone in the closet
>bathroom wall falling apart
>drawer handles missing
>fridge didn't work
>all outlets didn't work
>no internet
We all decided to make the best of it cause it was all we had. So after going to a nearby pizzeria for food we went right to sleep. In the morning we had to go to orientation so we rode the bus to school. The school is really cute, but small. It's only about 6 buildings with 1,400 students (Compared to 30,000 at UK). When we walked in the big glass foyer all of the international students were wandering around. We have a bunch of friends already! The Irish people are really cool. I love the accents! And the stereotype about being big drinkers is definitely true! We partied with them last night. But anyways we also made friends with a girl from Oklahoma, one from Canada, and boys from England and Czech Republic.

Anyways, we met with the advisor's assistant to get help with all the stuff we needed for the apartment. She was about ZERO help. She just told us to walk to the electricity place which was closed. On our way back we saw this hotel that some other people said they were staying at. So we went in and it turned out we could get a huge room and stay all semester. So we have 3 beds, a kitchen, and bathroom. Being the intelligent people that we are, we rearranged all the furniture to turn it into 2 bedrooms and a dinning room. We're awesome! We have free internet and electricity, and we get clean sheets and towels every week. It's also located right in the middle of the town and about a 7 minute walk to school! It's SO much better. I feel so relieved that we aren't in the other place. OH! And guess what's RIGHT next door?!?!?!? H&M!!!!!!!!!! What are the odds of that! Must be fate! Our advisor lady was pretty mad that we switched (for no reason) but we got it all worked out and we are all so much happier!

(I know this is really long.. Sorry!)

Now on to the important issues... We can drink over here! It somewhat takes away from the excitement that they don't card you and they would probably serve 12 year olds. They don't really care haha. We saw old men drinking wine with lunch around noon today. Last night we went to a salsa bar nearby. It was cool, everyone was dancing, well maybe not what we would call dancing, but moving to the music in some fashion. We got lost on the way home. We walked in circles for about in hour before just gong back to the club and having them call us a taxi.

Today we just had a meeting with an advisor to pick what classes we wanted. Apparently the times of them change weekly so we never really know when we are going to have them. If you miss ONE class you have to take the make up exams in May. Seeing as I won't BE here for that I can't miss a class. That SUCKS.

I'll write more tomorrow about what it's like living somewhere that doesn't speak Kali. I don't like when people around me can't understand the important things I have to say :)

We are going out now so I'll write more later!!!


PICTURES: (in order from top to bottom)
-Our new place!! (messy I know) Karen and Christie in the picture
-Our nasty old apartment
-Bathroom in our new place. We added the shower curtain!
-Karen, Scott, and I before going out
-The outside of our hotel
-What you see when you enter the school. Its the original wall from 1900
-Picture from the plane (duh)