Monday, January 31, 2011

Cultural Short: Keyboard of Crazy

This is typing of q french keyboqrd: zqtch the crqwy co,,ent: Itms the keyboqrd of crqwyyyyy1
(That was touch-typing American-style on a French keyboard. I can't even tell what some of the intended text was. "This is typing on a French keyboard: watch the..." "the keyboard of crazyyyyyy!")

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Movie Night

I actually have two movie nights in a row.

Last night, in lieu of heading out to a club like the rest of the Central folks, two other girls and myself peeled off for a new tradition: finding American movies! They have French subtitles, so we still feel a little virtuous. Plus, our supervisor tells us that we are supposed to spend a third of our time just having fun, and not worrying about French. So really, we were just following orders.

We found Love and Other Drugs (Love et Autres Drogues), in one of a series of five theatres that surround what I gather to be Montparnasse Square. Between the 5 there are some 26 screens, I believe, showing a combination of American movies in English with French subtitles, American movies dubbed in French, and French movies (sadly, without English subtitles). Very cushy seats.

While we mainly expect to see the movies in English, we also have plans to go see a French Bollywood-esque musical that is coming out in February. I can't for the life of me figure out what it is called and post a link for you, but I will update once I figure it out!

And on the walk home, I learned that one of the girls is, like myself, obsessed with finding good interpretations of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Both of us hold the ShakespeaRetold with Rufus Sewell and Shirley Henderson to be the ranking movie adaptation thus far.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Planning Stages

No pictures for you today, sadly. (Well, not entirely sad for me. I'm having some difficulties with the ethernet internet at my foyer, so right now I'm subsisting on a less-than-stellar wireless connection. This means that every single picture I post on here takes between 10 and 30 minutes to upload. Which is a tad annoying. I'm hoping to finally get it fixed tomorrow, however.)

Got together with several Central folk this evening for an extended Spring Break planning session. Though I have yet to actually buy anything (fares will likely be lowest on Tuesday, which gives us all time to double check everything before committing), it looks like we will hit Greece on Sunday, April 24th en mass, and then do a little island hopping before heading back to Paris as a group. The week prior to that is still up in the air, depending on the schedules and desires of my US friends studying in Europe (Scotland and Spain). Yes, there are two weeks of spring break!! Regardless of who I go with, however, Central folk, US folk, or a combination of the two, the plan for the first week is Italy! I'm trying to decide between a whirlwind tour, which would then be countered by the week of beach lazing in Greece, or a slightly more relaxed trip that only hits a few areas.

But which ones? Possibilities abound: Rome, Milan, Tuscany, Florence, Naples, random countryside/castles, Venice, Riviera, etc.

Decisions, decisions....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On This, The Last Tuesday of January

Today is a Tuesday. Today, I...

Strolled the Luxembourg Garden...

Took a nighttime cruise on the Seine...

Got a crepe in the Latin Quarter...

And ate in it front of Notre Dame.

Et maintenant, bon nuit!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Big Kahuna

Et maintenant, finalement, je vous presente:

Le Tour d'Eiffel

After the Louvre, Kelsey and I were discussing how lovely the night was, and somehow I ended up mentioning my plan to go to the Eiffel Tower that night. She lives in that direction, right off the Champs-Elysee, and was also planning on making the trip, so we decided to go together. 

Neither of us had either been yet (this particular time in Paris), and both of us hadn't quite mentally gotten to the point of "I'm in Paris!!" And so we set off.

Our first view!!

The Metro that goes near the Eiffel Tower actually goes above ground for a time, which is always exciting. Who doesn't want to actually be able to see the city while you commute? When the Tower suddenly came into view, we both started hopping around in excitement and took pictures frantically. 

What, tourists, us? You must be joking. 

You walk up to it and you think, "Huh, that's pretty big." You get closer, right in front of it. "Yup, pretty big." Then, you look under it, and see the size of the people under it. And then you realize, "Holy Mackerel, this thing is HUGE!!" 
Yes indeedy, pretty big. 

As we wandered up to, through, and to the other side, guy after guy after guy tried to sell us these little light-up Eiffel Towers. Every single vendor had the exact same merchandise. At some point, you have to wonder at their thought process: if I made it through the last eleven guys and didn't buy anything, why am I going to buy the exact same thing from you? I guess you have to admire that kind of eternal optimism... eh. Jury's still out on the admiration thing. 

Starting after dark (currently at 18h, or 6pm, I believe), the tower sparkles every hour on the hour until midnight. 

It's unbelievably cold, but it's sparkly! And it's the EIFFEL TOWER!
We knew it was going to sparkle, but we weren't aware of the time, so when it suddenly flashed on, we both let out loud squeaks and started jumping again, taking pictures and videos and really amusing/annoying the nearby vendors. And once it stopped, we hightailed it back to the Metro and went our separate ways, trying desperately to return feeling to our fingers and noses. As we left, we both decided that we were now officially in Paris. 

An excellent day all around. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I lied, the next update is not going to be what was teased. But try not to dispair, I think I still have something pretty exciting for you: the Louvre!

On Thursday afternoon, all of the Central folks went to the Louvre.

Central folks: The group of 16, including myself, 15 of whom are female, who are studying in Paris via Central College. We live in groups of two or 3 in a variety of different foyers (but none as roommates), get together for college sponsored outing (and now also ones of our own making), have the same selection of classes though we are not necessarily taking the same ones, etc. 

We received our student IDs for Catho, our French college, earlier in the week, and beyond having the ability as functional ID, it has one very special function:

It gets us into the Louvre for free.

That's right folks, I can now go to the Louvre whenever I want, at no cost. Which is good, because we were only in it for less than two hours. Our guide made sure we hit all of the highlights, though. 

Inner pyramid

Our guide, in front of some models of the Louvre palace in the middle ages

The Venus de Milo
Can you see the weird guy lying down on the floor taking pictures? It's like he was trying to get a shot up her skirt, not realizing that, being made of stone and permanently attached to her body, it was never going to go anywhere!
Everyone's seen this big picture right? It takes up an entire wall. But have you ever noticed.... 
The puppydog on the table? I think it's a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They're one of my favorite breeds =)

And there she is....
The Mona Lisa
Everyone says the Mona Lisa is surprisingly tiny, so I was expecting something maybe only a foot tall. Lies. It is a standard portrait size. I guess it's just that so many other portraits of the time were significantly larger than life. 

And after we got out, the Paris night was just so beautiful that Kelsey, one of the Central folk, and I decided to take a little side-trip....

Not the L'Arc de Triomph (though I did see that later), but a gorgeous night in front of the Louvre

Friday, January 21, 2011


My first pictures from Paris! Aren't you excited? I'm excited.

Two days ago (Wednesday), I went to Montmartre. It was my randomly assigned Metro stop for the program's scavenger hunt, designed to help familiarize ourselves with the Metro and key areas around Paris. Some people got super-sketchy areas (designed to teach us not to go there at night, I'd imagine), others got more destination-types, such as myself.

The first thing we had to find was the Cabaret Michou:
Le Cabaret Michou dans Montmartre a Paris
Then came the really fun stuff: The Marché St. Pierre and the Funiculaire!

The Marché St. Pierre is simply a large market at the base of Sacre Coeur, the tall church that sits on top of the hill at Montmartre. Lots of touristy items, as well as a huge textiles bazaar. I found the perfect polka dot fabric for a dress I've always wanted, so I might head back....

And then, of course, there is the Funiculaire. This is the odd escalator/elevator/moving platform hybrid that you can use to bypass the extremely large staircase that you would otherwise have to use to get to the top of the hill. Marcy, the girl I was exploring with, and I decided to be economical and take the stairs. I'm proud/glad we did, but OH. MY. WORD. I can understand why the Funiculaire was created!!
Sacre Coeur and the carousel at the base

Renaming this Rue de Stinky worked wonders in keeping me from getting lost

La Funiculaire

And of course, there was the view from the top!
Beaucoup des etages

Sur les etages (obviously near the bottom still, or I wouldn't be so happy)

Nearing the top of the mountain



More Paris

The bride taking her pictures above Paris (smart bride!)

I was very sneaky in capturing this photo, but there were easily 8 people completely unaffiliated with the happy couple blatantly taking pictures

And here's just a quick teaser picture for my next update:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jet Laaaaaggggg

When you start to hear the birds sing, you must finally break down and acknowledge that perhaps jet lag has hit you after all.

I couldn't understand what my program supervisor, Mme Shelley, was talking about this afternoon when she spoke of the jet lag insomnia she suspected we would be suffering throughout the week. Why would we have insomnia? The whole point was that we all wanted to go to sleep as soon as possible. And besides, I had taken care of mine. I'd managed to stay up until my customary midnight on my first day in Paris, and woke up around 9, and was thus on a regular schedule for me.

FAIL. It's 4:27am and I'm wide awake. And Paris is a city that sleeps, at least between 1 and 6 am.

I got my French bank account and my French cell phone today/yesterday. The phone is pretty basic- a blue flip phone, and I splurged an extra 10 euro so that it would have a camera. I want to take every precaution to not ever be caught in Paris without a camera!

Learning the subway a little more today. Also learning that North and South from my foyer (dorm) are completely opposite of what I assumed they were. Good to know!!

Monday, January 17, 2011


I think the title of this post pretty much says it all. I'm here, in France, in Paris. Things going well so far, but I am incredibly tired, so I'm going to go to sleep and post about it tomorrow, perhaps after I have taken some pictures. If we count Seattle time, which of course I am still running on, it is almost 4pm, and I have slept for less than two hours since yesterday at 8am. I've actually done surprisingly well, but nonetheless, it's really time for bed.

So I'm going to go to sleep in Paris now =)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Little Steps

Taking a few more steps towards leaving this weekend (!!!!!). Dad and I are working on setting up things like health insurance and banking in France, and I finally finally took my language placement exam. Definitely have been putting that off for somewhere in the vicinity of 2-3 months. Tested exactly where I wanted to, as well: Intermediate. Out of Beginner, Elementary, Intermediate, Advanced (I think there might be one more for Expert or something), I think Intermediate does the best to accomodate both my 4.5 years of study and the fact that it has been three.

Starting preliminary lists of what to pack, as well. And the mail had a gift this morning- the workout DVDs I'm planning on using while I'm there so all of the people at my gym don't laugh at me when I return in the summer and can't do a single push-up!

Less than a week!

Monday, January 3, 2011

China Recount, Part II

Alright, I left off with Beijing, correct? That means we move onto Xi'an. To move between all of the cities in China, we travelled by plane.

I had never heard of Xi'an prior to scheduling my trip, but it turns out to be the home of the famous Terra Cotta Warriors. The dig is pretty impressive. The unearthing and restoration of the statues is still undergoing- there are currently three separate digs on the premises. I got separated from my group at one point and explored one of the digs by myself. I had another Photo Experience while there- a group of extremely uptight businessmen. I rather suspect that one or two of them were locals, who were taking around the other guys as part of a schmoozing mission. I have no concept of why they want pictures with me, but clearly it's a big deal.

I do remember once being told by a Chinese exchange student who lived with us, Yuyu, that green eyes and blond hair are lucky. Perhaps green eyes and red hair are luckier, so by getting a picture with me they have a lucky picture that beats all of their friends? Like collecting Pokemon, and I'm a rare one. I don't know. It was amusing, regardless. 

You may notice that I have pictures of myself and my group of friends (the Party Room group, for the most part), posing in relatively epic model manners, with sunglasses on. This evolved over the course of the trip, and we starting doing "Sunglasses Pictures" in as many cool locations as possible. I believe the picture above was from a tea shop we went to in another temple (they tend to be large campuses w/ multiple buildings) in Xi'an.

The actual city of Xi'an is rather young and hip. There were many wonderful failed attempts at English translation everywhere, like this sign on a checkout stand:

and our favorite, the Friends-Making Clubhouse at Half Past 8. I was never able to get a good picture of it as we went past in our bus, sadly. We think it was a dance club. We also drove past a Seven-Twelve!

Xi'an was a pretty short stop, but I really loved the feel of the city. I would like to go back, should I get the chance. Not really dying to get back to Beijing, it must be said. Up next, we will go to Shanghai!