29 March 2011

SCHOOL

Good news - I have the easiest homework load known to mankind.
Bad news - Five out of seven of my finals have to be done in French
Good news - I have until May 15th to complete one of my finals
Bad news - It's a 7-page paper about a play. That's it. Just talk about it.
Good news - I have my French writing intensive next semester. If I can pull this off, that class will be cake.

And now I'm craving cake.

Here's some pictures from a walk I took recently.




26 March 2011

Updates On Life

My right leg has three bruises, my left elbow has two, and my left foot has one. Sparring with only a chest protector against 20-25 year-olds who have as much control over their kicks as a yellow belt is not a good idea.

The presentation on Friday went well. My professor had seen the movie that one of my video clips came from and said that it was well organized. Huzzah!

Today I've spent three hours taking advantage of the beautiful weather. It's supposed to rain tomorrow. Also, DST hits France at 2AM, so I'll be back to being seven hours ahead of Missouri.

I'm going to spend the rest of the afternoon reading (for fun and for school) and then watching a movie at night. If anyone knows anything about Bollywood film, I could use some suggestions for what to watch.

23 March 2011

A Change of Pace

Today I had my first sit-down-at-a-restaurant-and-socialize meal since I've been in France. My contemporary Indian society class was canceled for the day, so three other women in my class and I decided to head to Bellecour for food. We ended up at Hippopotamus on Rue de la Republique which serves steaks, burgers, and delicious-looking desserts. Of course, all desserts look delicious in France, but that's not the point.

We began our meal by ordering a bottle of white wine, along with some free rolls, fried potato slices, and water. I also ordered a Coke zero as part of my menu. We spent about an hour chatting, people watching, gossiping about some of our drunken escapades (especially of those who participated in St. Patrick's Day festivities). Then our food arrived. I ordered a burger, and it was actually good. They cooked it all the way, it came with normal condiments, and I got a huge side of "frites" (French fries). I know that I ordered American food, but to be fair it was a steak and burger place. Besides, the rolls + glass of wine + Coke + fries + burger cost me 10 euros. Not bad I say.

Tomorrow I have a presentation over a news article in my French language class, then Friday I have a presentation over immigration in my French culture class. Don't worry, I'm prepared for both! I think.

20 March 2011

Videos From Aix

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Aix-En-Provence

So I finally got out of Lyon for a weekend. WHOA! It was amazing.

Friday: Woke up at 6AM. Got to Part-Dieu station at 8AM, picked up my tickets, met my friend, got on the TGV at 9:07 and arrived in Aix by 11AM. We couldn't check into our hotel until 1, so we stopped by the tourist office, got a map and decided to spend some time wondering around the city. We ate lunch at a place called Toran where I had my first tiramisu. Delicious. After checking in around 1:30, we explored some of the major tourist attractions such as: the boulevard Cours Maribeau, la fontaine de Roi Rene, the Musee Granet, and the remains of an ancient thermal bath. Our aimless wondering also led us to a store specializing in making macaroons and a dessert shop where I had nutella-flavored ice cream. We ate dinner at a nice little Italian restaurant. The staff actually spoke Italian! Which makes sense, as southern France used to be part of Italian territory. After all this, I managed to crash in bed around 11PM.

Saturday was full of surprises. We walked through a huge market at Place des Precheurs, where I managed to find my boyfriend a birthday present and find my brother some Magic cards. Now the only people left on my souvenir list are my parents. (Tell me what wine you want already!) Anyway, there was a lot to see. There were many vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables, pastries, and spices. One booth was selling about 8 different types of honey. There were also quite a few clothing booths. Lots of cute things for reasonable prices, but I didn't really have the cash to spend on anything. I don't mind, though. I enjoyed looking through everything and watching others haggle over prices.

Other notable occurrences: a rally for the local communist party, street performances on the main square, young French people vandalizing plastic, high-end window shopping, Musee d'Histoire Naturelle.

I'll be making a separate post for the videos I took over the weekend later today. Hopefully I don't forget.

16 March 2011

Studying: The Reason I Am Here

This week has been dedicated to putting together a presentation on immigration to France for "Initiation a la culture francaise." I decided to research on six different nationalities that have immigrated to France, when they did, and their reasons for doing so. I also decided to include some information on immigration policy. I have all the research, tomorrow I'm going to work on translating it into French. Then next week all I have to do is structure the powerpoint.

I'm getting along great with my new host family. I watch sketch comedy or the news with my host parents after dinner, usually for a half hour to an hour. And my host sister and I watched the French version of Top Chef last night. All of them are willing to answer my questions about their life, France, the language, or whatever. It's fantastic!

Here's a video for your amusement, taken Saturday on Rue de la Republique. Just for fun.

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13 March 2011

Adventure Time

Friday: After class I took a two hour walk from my apartment to the Rhone river.

Here's me by the Rhone river. It was a lovely day out, the first one I've had without my coat. After that I stayed in for the rest of the night. I had to make dinner myself, but I couldn't figure out how to use the stove. I ended up eating some smoked bacon, bread, and cheese.

On Saturday it started to rain. I didn't do all that much during the day, but at 9 I went bar-hopping with a girl I met from Washington state. We went to an Australian bar, one called Cosmopolitan, an Irish bar, and a totally trashy place. I only brought enough money for one drink, but ended up having two full drinks and sips of three others. That got me pretty giggly and nonsensical by the end of the night, and I ended up with a random French guy's phone number.

 This was my only non-alcoholic beverage of the night.

I also went to see a movie Saturday afternoon called "Les Femmes du 6eme Etage." It was about a group of Spanish maids working for middle-class French people in the 1960s. One of the men falls in love with his new maid. Of course. It was a good film, even if I didn't understand all of the dialogue.

Today I made lunch for my host family. Scrambled eggs with red peppers and mushrooms and a side of mashed potatoes. It turned out delicious!

10 March 2011

French Film (And Other Confusing Experiences)

Today I watched a movie called Les Effroyables Jardins. It's set during WWII, and the main action centers around four men who are kidnapped by German soldiers and who are entertained during their imprisonment by a former Parisian clown. What I didn't understand until the end of the film was that the beginning and the end take place at least 15 years after the events of the middle of the movie. Confusing at first, but I did enjoy that aspect. Overall, the film was excellent, despite not having the luxury of sub-titles.

I also spent three minutes trying to unlock the door to the apartment.

My final for my cinema course is supposed to be oral. Our professor is putting us in groups, then having each group watch one of the excerpts from the films we watch in class, and then the group discusses the film or era/country associated with the film. And then my professor will know I'm not a French student. Huzzah!

Watching the news here tends to give me a headache. Sometimes the people they interview speak English, but the voiceover is in French. And, of course, I'm trying to listen to both. Bad idea.

My weekend plans are up in the air. They could involve travel, cooking, lots of pictures, and/or lots of rain. We shall see.

07 March 2011

Feels Like Home (Almost)

Today was a fairly normal day. Woke up, talked to my boyfriend, spent time on facebook, went to class, did homework, ate dinner, and now I'm here.

However, I am now beginning my reading of the first six volumes of the Sailor Moon manga series in French. Turns out my host family's son was a huge anime fan which is lucky for me, as my host mother told me I could read whatever manga and watch whatever anime I could find. She wishes he would come clean it all out anyway. They even have Spirited Away! In France it's called "Le voyage de Chihiro."

Dinner also ended up being a pretty fun time. It was just me and my host father for dinner tonight, so we ate in the kitchen and watched what I highly suspect is the French version of The View. The best part wasn't the food, but the fact that we had an actual, substantial conversation. We talked a bit about wine and how it's hard to get used to if you don't have the habit. Then we started talking about cultural differences between Americans and the French. Mostly why the US has such a huge problem with obesity, as his daughter spent a year and a half in Atlanta and was shocked by how large people are in the states. Apparently, French people have the image that all Americans eat giant hamburgers and drink three liters of Coke each day. While this obviously isn't true, obesity and related health problems are an issue for Americans.

There are a lot of reasons why these issues are so prevalent in the US, and my host father admitted that a few of them exist in France. For example, junk food is really cheap to buy or easy to make, so one sees the lower classes as having a higher rate of obesity than people who have a larger disposable income. It exists in the US, in France, and my host father said that he noticed it in Australia as well. There are cultural differences as to the causes of health issues in each country, but what I find interesting is that we were able to find similarities as well.

I also managed to be productive today. Finished all of my workbook exercises for my French as a foreign language class on Thursday. Also, I read all of Macbeth, which should have me covered for the next two weeks giving me plenty of time to pick up a copy of Midsummer Night's Dream.

I was also complimented on my good vocabulary and handle on the French language. All in all, it's a good day.

05 March 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different

Friday night meant party time! Yes folks, Jordan finally spent a night out on the town. Well, really only three hours because I needed to catch the last metro at midnight. That's not the point. What should be the focus is that I met up with two other American girls, one I'd never met and the other I hadn't talked to, at a random bar and had good drinks and a fun time. We went to Johnny's Kitchen and Hot Club, both of which I will be visiting again. Here's a video of Eric, the guitar player at Johnny's Kitchen, doing a cover of Outkast's "Hey Ya."

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Today I went out for a walk because I was feeling a little homesick. It was about 52F here and the sun was shining, refreshing weather for clearing my head. There was a little carnival for kids going on at the plaza area on Avenue Freres Lumieres as well as three groups of old men playing the game boules. I went home, ate pizza for dinner, and watched 27 Dresses. A very relaxing night.

02 March 2011

"That Bridge Looks Oddly Familiar"

So far I have spent my break wondering around Lyon. Yesterday I walked down Avenue des Freres Lumieres, who are famous French filmmakers. They have their own museum! However, I kind of forgot where it is. Maybe I'll find it at some point before Sunday and check it out. The avenue itself had lots of shops, much like Rue Victor Hugo where I used to live. I went inside a small market and chocolate shop and took pictures of the surrounding area. Here's one from the plaza like area at the end of the avenue.

My post title today comes from my thoughts while visiting the Musee des Beaux-Arts. For those of you familiar with the KC area, it's actually structured a lot like the Nelson. Each hallway or floor contains artwork from a different location and the flow of the museum is chronological, for the most part. One room held coins and medallions specifically discovered from the Lyon area and the bottom floor was dedicated to neo-classical sculptures.



Now, about the title. There was a painting I was looking at and as I was doing so I thought that the bridge it depicted looked very familiar. Although the painting was done in the early 1900s, it was a depiction of "la pont de la guillotiere" which I have crossed many times during my walks around the Rhone river. It was pretty awesome.