Here we are again, time for another blog post! These weeks really do seem like they are flying past. There is just so much to do and experience. I don’t want to come home with regrets, so right now it is full speed ahead. This past week kind of turned into the week of going out. Which wasn’t good for my wallet or sleep schedule, but was good in the socializing department.
Wednesday night I hung out with some of the other exchange guys and two direct girls. We started with some card games here and then went to O’Pogues, which is swiftly becoming my new favorite hang out joint. There was a football (soccer) game playing, Barcelona vs. Madrid, so we didn’t really interact with the locals very much. But it was nice to just have American time, comparing our schools back home and swapping stories.
On Thursday morning I had a Shakespeare class, in English, but I wasn’t really a fan of it. We are only reading one play for the entire semester, so I decided not to return this week. Plus there was another class at the same time that will be more my style anyway. In the afternoon two of us decided to hop on over to the grocery store. This time I went to one called Le Clerc, which is less expensive than the one right down the street from me. We can save that one for emergencies! It was nice to stock up again because I had been getting down to the scraps. Pasta with butter is only good so many times. The only downside is that Le Clerc is kind of far away, so the heavy bags on the way back were annoying. I bought a backpack on sale for 3 euro to carry the heavy stuff. haha. That night I was invited to a mutual friend’s birthday party. It happened to be at good ole O’Pogues again! I got to meet some other international students, so that was nice. Some of us went to another bar after that called Charley’s. It was crowded, but fun because they were playing some current music. Plus it was a Thursday, which is student night here, so there were a lot of specials going on.
Friday, I didn’t have class until 1:30, which is always a plus. The class is kind of a mix between art history and philosophy. It was in a huge amphitheater, but there were only about 15 students in the whole class, which was pretty comical looking. The professor was really young too, which you don’t usually see in America. It was interesting, but a little over my head. I am interested to see what we talk about tomorrow. Oh, another plus about this class is that half of us were international students. Mostly American and one Canadian, who was here first semester as well. She gave us some tips and walked with us after class to pick up a quick bite. I had another croquet-monsieur with goat cheese…it is starting to become a problem. Friday night I met up with my Finnish friend to have a couple of drinks. We ended up going to O’Cardinals and having a really great conversation. I love the opportunities that I have had so far to meet such interesting people from all over. Some of the direct girls just happened to show up just as we were about to leave, so I ended up staying behind and hanging out with them.
Saturday I got invited on a day trip to Lyon for one of the direct girl’s birthdays. The train ticket was around 24 euro round trip. The ride there started off kind of tricky due to the train being packed with people. Half of us found seats and the others had to stand the entire hour twenty minute ride. I got a seat, but it was in the middle of a 40+ group of elementary school children who were on some kind of school outing. What I learned from this is that kids will be kids no matter what country you are in. Tray tables up down up down. Grr. It wasn’t the worst train ride ever, but lets cross our fingers for no kids on the next train I take. When we got to Lyon there wasn’t really a game plan, so we just walked around for a while. Eventually we ran across this park that one of the girls had read about. It was really beautiful and huge. They had everything there from carousels to rose gardens to an entire zoo! It was called the Parc de la Tête d’Or, or literally Park of the Golden Head. haha. It was really beautiful and we probably didn’t even explore half of it.
The entrance to the park.
We wanted to ride, but felt like we were above the height limit.
Still not really sure what exact animal of the deer variety we have here?
After that we did some more walking around, Lyon being the second biggest city in France. Half of us wanted to find a café and the other half wanted to find Chinatown (lol) so we split up. I was with the café group seeing as I had not eaten much that day. On our journey we found a beautiful cathedral with a Joan of Arc statue in front of it. I still haven’t figured out the significance of Joan of Arc and Lyon, but maybe her statue was there just due to her sainthood? After that we continued our search for food, which was becoming more and more ridiculous as we went. For some reason every thing was closed and then when we would find something open it was a little too fancy for our budget. Finally we found a kebab place, which was a little sketch, but that is what you get with kebabs. I guess I should take a moment to describe the kebab. Here instead of fast food they have small sandwich and kebab shops. And by kebab I don’t mean meat on a stick. They just put the meat in a sandwich type holder whether that is a pita or baguette as well as lettuce and tomato. They usually have various other types of sandwiches too, like hamburgers or even pizza. Anywho I got my first real kebab, which wasn’t bad. The funniest thing that happened was that the owner of the restaurant asked if we were Italian, then an older woman outside asked if we were Russian. So, I guess I don’t look as American as I think I do?
Jeanne d’Arc and all of her glory.
The pulpit of sorts.
Beautiful stained glass, I think this should be my new hobby.
On our way back to the train station we did a little shopping. Right now everything is on sale here. Like I am talking crazy sales everywhere and it only happens twice a year, so people go a little crazy for it. I got a white infinity scarf and a sweater dress for 23 euro, which isn’t the best deal, but I loved the sweater, so I paid a little more for it. After that we made a pit stop at the mail. OH MY GOD. This mall was insane. There were so many people and they were walking so fast every which way. It looked like Black Friday in there, seriously. I have never been in a mall like that before. After leaving that awful mall we caught our train home, which was a much better experience than the first leg. We all had our own seats and even had room to stretch out, which is what I needed after a kind of stressful day. Once we got back we freshened up and then all met at O’Pogues to celebrate our friend’s birthday. After they closed we ended the night at the discotheque, L’Opera, for some much needed stress relieving dancing.
Sunday was spent in recovery mode and preparing for the full week of classes I had ahead. Monday morning began with Cinema et Lecture de l’image. In this class we basically watch movie clips and the professor discusses them. It wasn’t bad, but the professor spoke kind of too slowly, so all of his words ran together. Thankfully I had it with some other international students, so we can all help each other out. In the afternoon I had Patrimonie medievale, which is a history class of the Savoie region in the middle ages. This will probably be one of my hardest classes to keep up in, but there is a Canadian girl in there with whom I made friends, so I can’t abandon her. Also, the professor said we could do our end of the semester presentation together, so that will be nice. For dinner me and two of the other exchange students got together and made a stir fry of sorts. It was fun to just hang out, drink wine, and get to know each other better.
Tuesday began with probably one of my favorite classes. It is called Theme Erasmus and it is basically a translation class from French to English for international students. We simply translate a news article she gives us, then go over it in class. I think it will be really helpful for my French. Just in the first class I learned around ten new words, plus the class is all international students, so I hope I can make some new friends in there. For lunch I had a mystery sandwich of which I do not yet feel like speaking of. haha. I thought it had pickles on it, but then it wasn’t a pickle, so I’m not really sure what it was. In the afternoon I was supposed to have Anthropologie, but it was cancelled. So far my luck on cancelled classes has been great! For dinner there was a Soirée Bretonne at O’Cardinals which was put on by the school. They had crepes, cider, and music from the Brittany region of France. I had a crepe with jambon and fromage as well as one with nutella. Truly delicious! I forget how good crepes are. We also got to meet some more students: French, South Korean, and Lithuanian. So many great opportunites for exchange of language and ideas!
Wednesday was my favorite day school wise. First I had Litterature du 18eme Siecle, which is a 18th century literature class focusing on all forms of writing non-book or theater. The professor is German, so he didn’t speak too fast like most of the other French professors do. After class he talked some of us foreigners and he was really warm and helpful. Turns out he has been to Arkansas! He loves the blues, so him and his wife did a tour of the South this past summer. He said Mississippi was his favorite, which is kind of funny. For lunch we were running late, so we had to eat in the quick fried food line. It wasn’t bad by any means. I had fries and chicken cordon bleu. In the afternoon I went to another Theme class, but this one is for French students learning English. It was the same concept as the other one though. We prepare the translation and the professor calls on students give theirs. Once again I learned a lot of new idioms just in that one class. Usually I will have a civilization class after this, but it doesn’t start until next week. For dinner I got adventurous and made chicken fried rice. Not to brag, but that stuff was delish, so delish that I ate entirely too much. It’s good to know that if I start missing asian food, it is pretty easy to make it right here in my own little kitchen!
Nom nom nom.
Today I didn’t have any classes, my morning class will start next week and my afternoon class doesn’t start until week 10. Tonight there is a Fiesta Espanola at O’Pogues being put on by some of the Spanish exchange students, so that should be fun! I’m slowly getting the courage to speak more in French, but for some reason I am having issues with it. I know the words are in my head, but when I go to retrieve them, they just won’t come out. It is probably just intimidation and shyness and embarrassment all wrapped up into one. I just need to realize that mistakes are ok and that it is better to try and fail than to never try at all. And that the people here aren’t going to laugh at me or judge me. I know I can do it, it just might take baby steps to get me out of my comfort zone! A plus dans le bus!