…margaret-me and louise-my friend meredith.. we use each other’s middle names for fun

Ok, so I have had a hard time keeping this thing updated. Here is a recap briefly since July 14… I will post pictures for optimum viewing pleasure. If you need the details, I will be glad to share in an email or once I am not running around like a headless chicken.

July 14: Bastille Day, kind of like July 4th but not near as special or understood

 our favorite beignet man at the beach

Went to the beach all day to celebrate and had the same ol same ol good stuff to eat plus a really good white peach (not sure if they exist in the US but they are amazing). Went out on the town for a bit to see fireworks for the holiday and it was one of the best shows I have ever seen-22 minutes of awesome fireworks.. I guess socialist countries can afford things like that? not sure.

July 15: Beach day + worked on a business french project in the morning; same awesome mediterranean food. got to talk with Meredie and my friend Lindsay from school for a little bit and caught up, but makes me miss her more.

July 16: awesome lunch (sea bass with risotto, crazy yummy) Easily stressed my workload in France but it is chugging along nicely. I received a gamma chi email today and that got me really excited to go back to Athens and get cranking again! WAHOO

July 17: voyage to St. Guilhem, SO BEAUTIFUL. Pictures are necessary.

    

July 18: Voyage (all day) to Avignon and Arles– saw Pont d’Avignon, Palais du Papes in Avignon and then Went to Arles for the rest of the day and saw a great market, yummy lunch, found Van Gogh’s garden, wandered along the Rhone River and went in and out of small shops and quaint bookstores, and of course une course camarguaise (kind of like a bull fight with a smaller bull and the guys don’t kill him, super cool!)

July 19:  BEACH DAY and went on a short walk down the beach to collect shells, dinner with Anne Lafon’s hairdresser also who was hysterical with his boyfriend telling  us all kinds of jokes and being the center of attention. Loved it, so funny!

July 20: business french test + lunch then left for the loire valley (SO GORGEOUS) The north of France is the more traditional feel and look, plus it is cleaner and the accent is nicer I think. Plus, it was much cooler there than it has been down here, of course.

July 21-22: breakfast was a pleasant surprise of a variety offered at this hotel, vs. in Paris where there were zero choices. We went to Chenoceau, Chinon, and Usse during the day. Then another Chateau de Blois in the early morning and then off to Leonardo Da Vinci’s house which was cool but I wish we could have stayed longer. Then we rode the train back home. IT WAS SUCH A GREAT WEEKEND!

Only a few more days in France now which is bizarre.

 

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10 juillet mardi

dej: l’assiette au boeuf salade (that is the name of the restaurant, plate of beef?): tuna, salmon and tons of yummy veggies

le diner: soup, salad, beef + zucchini/squash flan (yum) + fromage + abricot et peche

I wish I was better about documenting things: thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. while here and at home. The best things I have learned being in France this summer is how much I love America and am so grateful for so many things. Trust me, there are plenty of differences between France and America, but the best is when I find similarities. It makes me feel at home and connected to these people. I am realizing that family may the largest asset we have or at least one of the most amazing ones. Love comes in a very close second. I am so thankful for all of you who read this and love me. *not necessarily in that order? 🙂

11 juillet mecredi

dej: taboule with shrimp and lots of water

le diner: melon, salad, a macaroni type dish with yummy smoked ham and tons of different cheeses, fromage et abricots

Went to the beach again today and it was so fabulous for me mentally, physically, and emotionally. There is something about salty water and clear blue skies that always put me in a really good mood.

12 juillet jeudi (16 days left in France)

dej: sandwich, apple on the go (hurrying to go to St. Guilhem, then realized once we had gone 30 minutes out of town on the tram that we had missed the bus to St. G. wow.)

So, I went home and napped for 1.5 hours (bliss) and then worked on homework and projects to get ahead which was a great feeling. I wrote a french poem and edited some of my pictures for my project, pretty excited about it.

le diner: cold tomato soup (with basil and squash pureed in it too), salad, croquette with chicken and eggplant (reminded me of chicken parmesan but they were small little things, very yummy) with gorgeously smooth tomato sauce (don’t worry, Mommy yours is still the best), fromage + abricot

Went out with Sophie (my housemate from German Switzerland) to meet up with my american friends at Robin Hood bar (a super English bar), very fun night and we came back home early together which was nice and spoke in french a lot on the tram back and then skyped with Pres once I got home and it was still only 6pm or so at home… ready for the time change to not be an entire day.

13 juillet vendredi

weird, i come home in two weeks.

dej: at a hole in the wall place that was super excellent near the St. Denis church with ringing bells at noon, so picturesque. best lunch so far. i’ll include pictures for your viewing pleasure.

this will be great:

Lessons Learned on the tram today– there was a very large woman/she-man type person talking to her son/lover (couldn’t tell, sketchy thing #1, she called him her ‘cherie’) and was speaking very loudly (#2) and being extremely awkward in body language and facial expressions. (i was having a hard time not laughing out loud at her and meanwhile i’m just trying to listen to my ipod and get home). then, the good part. she started scratching around her ear and digging around inside, then she would get something and flick it into the air and on to the ground (i’m cracking up just thinking about it)… the people around her are inching away and completely wigged out. then after me watching this for far too long, she starts digging around in her purse and I’m thinking ok she is finished being gross. wrong, she pulls out a key on a long neck keychain and proceeds to dig around in her ear with the smaller end of the key. (trying not to gag now) and meanwhile she is speaking very loudly to this guy beside her and they are just the most awkward two people I have ever experienced. and proceeds to flick the chunks of ear wax from the key to the tram in general. i thought i was going to have to make an emergency exit, plus the whole time i’m moving away from them as much as possible to escape soon. YUCK.

Apparently, I’m sensitive to cleanliness or something. The tram is probably a landing dock for germs and straight-up diseases, so I have hand sanitizer and had to look high and low for it here, but darn it I found some. I guess this is my impression of everything and everyone, how clean they are… toe nails, bathrooms (if available), food, trams, buses, homeless people just laying on the ground in the tram…

le diner: melon avec le sel, salade, fish with a tomato/onion sauce, de pois chiches (garbanzo beans), fromage + abricot

Also, I feel like it is so important to learn languages. It is such a cool thing to be able to talk to people differently but about the same topics. It is such an asset and such a gift to be able to communicate in other languages as well as your own. In Europe, because there are so many countries in a small amount of space, language is very important. Of course in the US, it is not as crucial because English is the international language and also because we don’t have 12 other countries within a day of traveling. I think I need Rosetta Stone: Spanish for Christmas, listening Santa?

Other great things Europe for the summer has taught me:

I am very talented at polishing off entire bottles of water at a time (you thought I was going to say wine didn’t  you?), taking naps with my awesome shades (exactly like The Holiday shades, be jealous) and wonderful wonderful olive oil. I am convinced that olive oil is now part of my cardiovascular system and I will not be able to cook with anything else, ever again. 

After dinner, Anne took Sophie, Daniela and me to the dance party where we go to the beach and that was fun, but I was the only one dancing and it was too loud to talk so it was kind of awkward. Then we went to a different place that was close to the port and we danced with a DJ, then an older man came up to me and asked me to dance in french and swung me around for a song or two. It was so great, missing my real dance partner!

 

6 juillet vendredi

first day of business french (le francais des affaires) class, standard day but was super tired after paris and traveling back yesterday

dejeuner: quick sandwich of a type of chicken salad with too much mayo…eek

le diner: la soupe et la salade, poulet avec un type de ratatouille (tomato/veggie stew thang), fromage et abricots

class, lunch, beach, dinner, uploaded almost 600 paris pictures, bed. 

TIP: Mme. Lafon told me that the best way to peel a tomato is to soak it in cold water first then hot water and the skin will peel right off, awesome. 

 

7 juillet samedi

Sophie and I (the new suiss-allemande exchange student) went to the fresh market with the Lafons Saturday morning early early (7:15, so we woke up at 6:20 I think. wow. It was gorgeous and exactly what I expected and the vendors were so sweet and wanted to know all about us and gave us tastes of their products. Went to the beach today again (so great, but I did get a little burned) 

dejeuner: le fromage comme brie + crackers + une peche (yes, apparently I eat peaches now, thanks france.)

le diner: melon, salade, jambon + le type de ratatouille (tomatoes, onions, celery stew), fromage et abricots

Loved skyping with my fam and pres tonight, but wow I hate the time difference. 

 

8 juillet dimanche (20 days left in france, weird)

went to the flea market in mosson today (that was a bit odd because it was more like a giant yard sale that was sort of organized), I purchased 3 gold knobs that are pretty and I want to do some kind of project with them when I return. I would love to go back to the market before I leave. 

le diner: a bit awkward due to the fact that we got another exchange student, Daniela (she is super sweet and from colombia, but she doesn’t know a lot of french so it was difficult to incorporate her and her father into the conversation plus my french teacher, Mme. Bell and Anne… lots of talking in english, spanish and french)

cold tomato soup and basil, salade, poulet + stewed legumes (tomatoes, onions, etc.), fromage et un gateau sans gluten pour Mme. Bell avec les peches

 

9 juillet lundi

dej: un sandwich bio (salami) et une pamplemousse plus tard (a grapefruit later)

le diner: melon, salade, porc avec une pomme de terre et haricots verts, fromage, gateau de ceries pour l’anniversaire de Sophie (pork with potatoes, green beans)

Good day, went shopping with meredith thornhill and found some fun things for gifts 🙂 when I got home, I did a little stretching and yoga poses for about 45 minutes and it was perfect

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le 30 juin a le 5 juillet 2012, samedi a jeudi

le 30 juin

The train ride on Saturday was wonderful. We didn’t have to leave too early, we enjoyed all being together and loved the views of France out our windows. Got to Paris and had to carry lots of heavy bags in the metros and walking and then to the hotel: Claude Bernard on Rue de l’Ecole in the Latin Quarter, a seven minute walk from Notre Dame and the Seine River. so amazing. Greyson helped carry my cheetah bag most of the way since I brought enough stuff for two weeks instead of six days. typical. We got settled in room twelve with Meredith, Olivia, Angeline and Jaleen. After we unpacked, the group headed to Pere Lachaise, a massive cemetery where we saw Edith Piaf’s grave, Oscar Wilde and tons of others obviously. so beautiful. We happened to arrive in Paris on their gay pride day, so traveling was a bit concerning and we saw quite some sites. The Parisians definitely know how to have a great time. lunch-sandwich on the train + a peachy (a messy choice) and dinner-melon, jambon cru salade + vin blanc bien sur. Went to bed early and felt great for our walk the next morning with Dr. Bell.

le 1 juillet (hard to believe its finally july!)

we had five girls sharing a bed room + one shower… eeek. I tried french yogurt and could swallow it but would prefer not to. First walk: with Dr. Bell around the Latin Quarter. We were split into groups of six students and I had : Julia, Stan, Kevin, Cody, and Angeline with me. We saw lots of gorgeous cathedrals and beautiful streets, stopped in Laudree and apparently the best chocolate shop in Paris later where they had carved a giant HIPPO out of chocolate. My hands had to be tied behind my back so I wouldn’t snarf on the hippo’s ear. It was a beautiful day with lots of wind and a bit chilly, needed a gilet (sweater). lunch- Tunisian restaurant-coucous + veggies + chicken and this crazy good hot sauce (preston, you would have freaked out).

le 2 juillet  HAPPY BIRFDAY TO JUILA WOODSIDE!

Montmartre Walk today with Dr. Krell + Danielle (TA) and group! SO GREAT. I want to move there, but not really I just love it. I will put pictures of the Sacre Coeur because I am obsessed with it. I even found some lavender and snagged it.. its in my journal now. lunch-salade nordique (salmon, shrimp, avocados, lemon = YUM) amazing weather again too!

le 3 juillet BEST DAY IN PARIS EVER

champs elysees, Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Musee d’Orsay (my obsession). lunch- ham/cheese omelet with salad. dinner-at le Petit Prince (snazzy authentic french resto!) : Escargots + noodles = super yummy appetizer, beef+potatoes+crazy cream sauce = salty wonderfulness then no big deal, chocolate fondue with fresh fruit. hey. We have been all about the fun times around here and really enjoyed ourselves a lot. I love the group so much!

le 4 juillet SECOND BEST DAY IN PARIS

HAPPY BIRFDAY AMERICA! I wore snazzy American flag sunglasses plus carried my little American flag around with me every where. love it. we walked millions of miles today all over shopping and seeing Paris with Meredith and Danielle (this was our free day). le Bon Marche, Au Printemps, Galeries Lafayette = amazing department stores from the 1800s that were beyond gorgeous. Ate lunch in the Jardins des Tulieries at a little cafe where the waiter called me his finance and offered massages… to my disdain, none of  us received massages; I had a quiche and salad- so fab. Then we had a picnic dinner of a sandwich in the Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower and the Military School where Napoleon attended. Then we had a boat ride down the Seine which was fabulous. I rocked my American flag everywhere and an older Marine Veteran sat behind us and was thrilled to see me waving it up a storm at everybody and everything. He and his wife were precious.

le 5 juillet

23 days left in France

We left today and it was so sad, raining even. Loved Loved Loved Paris but glad to be back to the routine in Montpellier. My bags were kind of a nightmare to carry so I’m hoping I can check all of my heavy stuff…. fingers crossed that works out when I have to head home. oh dear. We had a great time on the train: I danced, caused a bit of scene, laughed a ton, and we all slept off and on for the 3.5 hour long train ride. I promise I was not annoying, just fun, I promise. I listened to James Taylor and the Remember the Titans soundtrack the whole way back and it was wonderful. I missed the olive oil from the south for sure and hate butter + cream. Plus, big surprise when I returned “home,” we got a new shower head at the Lafon’s home and it is awesome pressure. It is the small things, ya know. Also, Sophie (our new exchange student) is Suiss-Allemande also and  precious!

lessons: So grateful for familiarity, bathrooms, wifi + good internet connections, rain/thunderstorms at night, floss, good pressure in shower heads, vaseline for cracked heels from walking, laughing, dancing, being myself with a bunch of different kinds of people = falling in love with the study abroad group, getting excited for Georgia football, Athens, pretty things, olive oil, sunshine + beach and sweet friends checking in with me

 

week of craziness:

le 26 a 29 juin, felt like a really long time. I had two final exams (Accent Francais and the Literature/history course), had to pack for Paris and get ready for that, plus we went to a little wine tasting festival Friday and that was really fun! Then Saturday morning, we loaded our way to heavy and over-packed bags on the TGV for Paris at 9:24 am.

le 26 juin mardi:

lunch- organic sandwich of walnuts, brie and lettuce on fabulous baguette plus too many figs. problems. I’ll learn one day.  dinner- melon, salad, tomatoes with the ground beef with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese-yummo, cheese and cherries… pretty standard day, but the tram home didn’t have any AC and I was dying in a strapless sundress… SO HOT. hottest day of my life, I didn’t quit sweating for like 48 hours.

le 27 juin mecredi:

31 days left in France. really hot again today, but not as bad and was a gorgeous day! I asked about the whole not having AC here and apparently, AC is bad for your health because of the microscopic germs in the unit that blow the same air circulating through the room, or so Mme. Lafon explained to me at dinner (also, it is very expensive to install in the older buildings, which everything here lasts a long time so most all of the buildings are 100 years old, crazy.) We have had lots of funny little things happen that make us miss America… we heard “its a small world after all” playing. We love it here, but we are realizing how grateful we are are for where we came from and how we grew up

lunch- tried a new place called Mango Art (je pense) et I got  a great salade with salmon, shrimp, dill and a great vinaigrette + a glass of white wine all for 10 euros. sweet.  SO EXCITED FOR PARIS SOON. dinner-BEST MEAL YET: veggie soup, salad, italian pasta with smooth/creamy (not cream) tomato sauce, shredded  gyre cheese, zucchini and the most amazing sausage ever, then cheese and apricots. SO GREAT.

 

le 28 juin jeudi:

Dr. Bell’s exam today, very hard but hopefully I did fine. Went shopping today and found the greatest wallet and a jacket that is to die for, all on sale because France has les soldes–giant sales all summer long where the percentage decreases each week but the stuff goes fast… a great game to play to watch fun stuff go on major sale. lunch- salad with eggs, carrots, ham, cheese, corn, etc., dinner- veggie soup, salad, tomato/eggplant/onion stew type thing-so great with pork, cheese and apricots

 

le 29 vendredi:

Accent Francais exam! FINISHED! went to Les Estivales (a wine tasting festival every friday night through September)-so fun and lively! lunch-chef salad at yummy pizza place, dinner-melon, omelet + salad, cheese and apricots PARIS IN THE MORNING

 

 

today was full of great discussion for some reason

in class talked about some similarities of the concept of being a southerner in the states and in france, we talked about preserving culture vs. celebrating culture, learned lots of great things about my study abroad buddies when we shared a bottle of red wine after class while we sipped and studied our homework, then chatted about the school system in france vs. the states with my host grandparents (the Lafons) and that was super interesting (in french of course)

 

dejeuner: rice, tuna, basil, tomatoes, green peas and other veggies + coke light (thank goodness, mondays kill me)

diner: same soup as last night, salade, omelet and shredded squash/tomatoes/cheese casserole, fromage and cherries and ONE apricot

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missing Marseille already