24 April 2011

Joyeuse Paques

Today is Easter. Pretty much all I've done today is watch mass on TV and have a three hour lunch. That and get ready for my vacation. I've got everything packed, a list of major sites, a list of decent bars, and all of our train times recorded in the official travel notebook. I won't be around until the first of May. I'll definitely have a lot of exciting train stories and pictures to post. See you in a week!

22 April 2011

My First French Exam

Duration: 20 minutes
Number of questions: Four
Confusion Level: High

I get to room 134. It's me, another international student, and three French women. We go in, sign off on our names, take a white sheet of paper and a pink sheet of paper. There are three questions on the white sheet of paper. Our professor tells us to write however much we can in ten minutes about Italian cinema. I do not write in complete sentences. Then he tells us to stop because he will show us an excerpt from a film. What comes on the screen is the beginning of an NYPD Blue episode. Lucky for me, not so lucky for the Japanese guy. He stops the clip and tells us to write. One of the French women asks "What do you want us to say?" He responds "Just tell me about the cinematic aspects." Hmmm. Ok.

19 April 2011

C'est rigolo!

Every Tuesday night, one of the French channels has sketch comedy featuring three couples. One in their 20s, one in their 40s, and one after retirement. Most nights I just smile whenever my host family laughs to give the impression that I know what's going on. Tonight I actually laughed! I may still have issues communicating my personal thoughts, but my listening abilities have vastly improved. Here are the two scenarios I understood fully.

The first was the man and wife in their 40s. The man comes home with a present for his wife. She opens it, finds out it's a vibrator, giggles about it while her husband explains "It's for washing your face." And after realizing that his wife is right "Oh shit, I have to go. I bought one for my mother."

The second was the young couple playing poker. The man bluffs, then wins the hand. Then they have dinner. The woman says she has an apple tarte, but she made it. He doesn't know whether she's bluffing or not. Then he says something to make her leave the kitchen, tries the tarte, and while spitting out the tarte says "You weren't bluffing. You made this!"

I love it.

17 April 2011

Must Do List

So this weekend I've been thinking of starting a list of everything an international student has to do while they are in Lyon.

1) Attend a party on the steps of Guillotiere
2) Take a day trip (no more than an hour and a half train/bus ride away)
3) Tan at Parc de la Tete d'Or
4) Eat chocolate from Voisin
5) Get fries at McDonald's (especially if you're American, not joking, the "pommes frites" sauce is worth it)
6) Attend at least one cultural event, such as: a theatre production, a night at the opera, a festival/special market

These are all I have so far. As for my weekend, I'm working on plans for my upcoming trip as well as stressing over exams. I'm used to my professors telling me where and when exactly my exams are and, if I forget there's always a syllabus. Well, in France there is no syllabus. The professors don't even know when the exams are scheduled. For example, my cinema professor thought our exam would be the 27th of April. When all Jean Moulin students are on Easter break. At the moment, I find it more amusing than most of my peers as the hours and credits I receive here won't impact when I graduate. However, it does take an attitude adjustment. C'est la vie francaise.

Saturday I took time to relax a little. I went to read one of my books by the Rhone river. The steps between Bellecour and the Rhone is my favorite spot in the entire city. In the late afternoon with the sun shining, the view is absolutely breathtaking. Most of the time, I was just staring at the water. That's one thing I know I'll miss when I come back home.

13 April 2011

Life is Lovely

Today I finished the last assignment I had before I take all of my finals. I have a few more lectures, but pretty much everything is over. So what to do in between studying? Plan my Easter break trip, of course!

Last break, I basically hung out at home and traveled around Lyon. I definitely am not going to do that again! So me and another American student are planning a train expedition of Germany and the Czech Republic. We each have one travel goal. Mine is to go to a music festival in Brno and see Boyce Avenue (with the bonus of listening to Czech bands I'll never get to hear in the US). My friend's is to see the castle in Germany after which the Disney castle was modeled. We'll also be sampling some authentic German beer. I like to think of it as an education opportunity. Don't want to embarrass myself when I turn 21.

The point is I'm really excited. I've never planned anything this involved before, but now that I have my Eurail Pass and concert tickets, everything's coming together. The next step is to book trains and hostels. I'm a little nervous, but I know that this will be one week to remember.

11 April 2011

Running Out of Time

Spring has been in Lyon for a couple of weeks now. The weather is beautiful; I don't have to wear pants or sweaters anymore! All but one of my lectures ended last week or will end this week. It means I'm on the downhill slide of my time in Europe.

While I don't necessarily have as many close friends as some of the other Erasmus students, and haven't traveled around as much, I have definitely gained a lot from coming to France. Lyon feels like a home. I know my way around the major areas and can even offer lost travelers directions and advice. I can understand the radio and news programs and hold my own in conversations with native speakers. I've taken the TGV to southern France, seen some of the mountains in the north. I've met people from all over the world who are just as serious about learning about other cultures as I am.

I still have 39 days left here. Six of those will be spent gallivanting across Germany and the Czech Republic. About half of those nights will be devoted to studying for my finals. My days? Still unsure. But great things have happened when I've least expected it. I have a feeling that my last month in France will be well spent.

10 April 2011

My Dog Jake Who Lives In France

Photography project! I took my stuffed dog for an afternoon in Lyon. Pretty sure I looked insane, but it was all in good fun.

06 April 2011

Le Grand Journal

So Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Phillipe were on the French news program "Le Grand Jouranal" promoting their upcoming film. The anchors asked their questions in French, but both of the actors responded in English. Where are their translators?! I really want to know, because I didn't see them with any ear pieces. But then again, maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention.

Side note, Matthew McConaughey looked super ridiculous wearing a beret.

03 April 2011

Juste Une Illusion

Last night I went to the Theatre de la Croix-Rousse to see a production of "La Vraie Fiancee", or "The True Bride", or the most bizarre adaptation of the Cinderella story I've ever seen in my life.

So imagine you're staring into the sun. One second goes by. Ow. Another second goes by. Burning. Another second goes by. You need to close your eyes immediately.

The director had set up the stage with three flats of all tiny yellow lightbulbs, that could be extremely bright or dimmed. Most of the play was spent at the "burning your eyes" level. In addition, there was a large three part mirror panel that was dragged out during two of the scenes. Did not help at all.

The actual story is as follows. Mother is dead, dad is getting married, stepmother comes into the picture with her daughter (who is a doll played by a doll), main character is downtrodden. Main character meets Prince Charming, he promises never to forget her. Stepmother intervenes, Prince forgets main character then falls in love with the doll. Main character concocts a plan with some imprisoned actors to make Prince remember that they're engaged. It works. The end.

There actors were all fairly talented. I was especially amused by the man who played as the stepmother. However, besides having my eyes tortured, the director decided to break the fourth wall as many times as he possibly could. So instead of actually paying attention to how main character's father is led astray by the drag queen, I'm wondering why there are two people in black moving the flats and messing with the curtains. And then there was the scene where the Prince made out with the doll (believe me, I wish I was exaggerating).

It was an interesting experience.