Thursday, May 30, 2013

Well Paris, I guess this is goodbye.

I honestly don't know what to say. I think I'm still just in shock that this semester is over already. I mean it makes sense. I've done quite a lot of stuff in 4 1/2 months, it just still is hard to believe I'm in Paris, which makes it even harder to believe that I'm actually leaving Paris. But I feel like I should say something since this is probably the last blog post that I will write while actually abroad (since my computer charger is broken and I had to return the replacement one to the Apple store earlier so I don't end up with a charger with a European plug... long story. You'll hear about it eventually.) and I should somehow document this whole leaving thing. Probably. I don't actually know the rules for this whole "blogging abroad" thing so I might be wrong. But it goes...

Paris, I'd be lying if I said every second of these past 5ish months were great. They weren't. Sometimes after one to many rides on the metro or just after too much time together, I started to hate you and everyone associated with you (aka Parisians. blech.) and I would go hide away in my room for quality peace and quiet, some time alone. But let's be realistic, there's not really ever peace and quiet in a big city, at least not the kind that I'm used to. So I'd just tune out the world, curl up by my heater and wish for sunny weather. Which never really came by the way. But you know what? The next day, or even just a few hours later, I'd leave my apartment again, turn the corner and see the Madeleine and just remember where I was and how amazing it is. And somehow the hole in my boot, the puddle I was standing in, the umbrella that just stabbed my eye... none of that mattered anymore. Because I'm in the most beautiful city in the world. No matter how much you may get frustrated with the French and their... quirks... you have to admit that Paris really is the most beautiful city. It's not just the famous monuments like the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe, but the city as a whole. The way it has managed to magically blend together centuries full of beauty, royalty, suffering, war, croissants, you name it, is just magical. And I mean Paris can pull off rain; hell, Paris manages to become even more beautiful in the rain.

So it seems fitting that my last days here were in the rain. I was sick. I got pushed around on the metro. I got stabbed with umbrellas, I got stared for taking pictures. People were rude to me. But it was perfect. This sounds incredibly cliché and you can make fun of me as much as you want (I mean most of you do anyway...) but there really is something about being in Paris, especially realizing you are about to leave Paris, that does make it feel like you're looking at the world through rose colored glasses. Which makes me happy. Even after almost 5 months of living here and seeing what Paris really is like, the magic is still there. I still stare at the Eiffel tower in awe for minutes on end, especially when it lights up and glitters at night, and the view of the Arc de Triomphe at sunset, with pink and blue clouds peeking out behind it, can still almost bring tears to my eyes it's so beautiful. So Paris, I have to say, you've still got it.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the other, more important, aspect of my time here, aside from just Paris being Paris. The people. Not the Parisians on the street I want to get into a baguette-fencing match with (it should totally be a thing here... just saying. I mean fencing with baguettes! Who wouldn't want to see that?!), but the friends who have gone on these adventures with me, and have made them that much more amazing. There's no point being in an amazing place if you don't have amazing people to share it with, and I was lucky enough to meet the greatest people here. So to all of you (because I know you read my blog!) I just want to say thank you! Thank you for making my time here amazing, for making me laugh when I just wanted to stab people with baguettes, for making me actually do work those few times I had stuff to do, and more importantly for distracting me from the studying part of being abroad as much as possible because if you hadn't, I wouldn't have nearly as many wonderful/ridiculous/humiliating/hilarious/overly unforgettable memories! I'm lucky to know each and every one of you. But if you don't come visit me, I will start photoshopping myself into every picture you put on Facebook ever until you do. Consider this fair warning.

So really, all I can say is Paris, it's been real. Actually I'm not sure about that. It stills feels pretty damn unreal. But you know what I mean. Or not. You're just a city. You have no idea what I'm talking about,  but that's probably just because I'm not writing in French. Sorry about that. But anyway, Paris I really will miss you and all the amazing memories (also the bread!), but I'm confident that I'll be back! Until then, au revoir! To everyone out there reading this, and who has been keeping up with me on here, thank you! I really appreciate you taking the time to read about my life and I just hope I haven't bored you too much!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Oh yeah, my parents came to visit!

As many of you most likely know, my parents came to visit me for the part week of my Spring Break. We took a 4 day trip down to Cinque Terre in Italy in the middle (that I'll write about separately) but otherwise just stayed in Paris, visiting the sites and visiting people we haven't seen in ages. Well that's not entirely true... I had seen most of them since coming to France but my parents hadn't. So yeah... I figured I could share some of the fun adventures we went on although I don't have pictures for everything since my mom was the one taking pictures most of the time and I was just standing there sharing glances with passing Parisians, like "oh my god, can you believe these tourists?? Americans..." and such. Well kind of. I might be lying about that part.

But anyway, I won't go into too much detail about what we did every day but I figured I could at least talk about the highlights. The first day we met Véro for coffee at the airport before she had to go to work and then headed into the city. My parents were pretty tired when they got here so I let them take a nap and then we went for a walk around the neighborhood, got some lunch, and walked to Sainte Chapelle over by Notre Dame. Harass my mom to put her pictures on Facebook so you can see how beautiful it is. (Don't actually harass my mom btw. But you can drop not-so-subtle hints, like oh hey your daughter told me via the inter-web to tell you to put your pictures online. That's ok.) We they went to Saint Germain-de-Près for drinks with my friends at the Rhumerie, the most magical place in Paris. It's this Martinique-style cafe that specializes in rum anything and also has great food. You have to go! For dinner we then went to this Brittany-style restaurant for crêpes and it was delicious. Although my mom was falling asleep a little during dinner. I tried not to be too hurt.

On Saturday (the second day) we hit up the Musée d'Orsay to see the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists mainly but also saw some other cool stuff. Like a polar bear statue my mom became obsessed with. We also somehow ended up in a room full of photography of naked women. Looking at pictures and paintings of vaginas is always somewhat uncomfortable but it's about 100x more so when you are with your parents. I mean luckily I have cool parents so we all we able to act like adults (for the most part...) but I still preferred the Impressionists. Afterwards we had lunch in the Marais (where I got moules frites and ended up with about 5 dozen mussels, I kid you not!), walked to Place de la Bastille so I could show my dad that there was nothing to see and then we head over to Cergy via RER to visit Hervé (my parents' friend from work way back when) and his family.

Sunday we got up fairly early to go over to see Paris VII in all of it's lack of glory and to show my parents the lawsuit bridge.
Paris VII and that evil, sloped bridge
We also got to see the sculpture made from canoes that they had been finishing up the week before so my mom and I took a series of pictures under it including one where we are pretending that it is falling on us. You'll have to ask my dad for that picture. It's a classic. We then crossed the Seine and spent some time in Parc de Bercy, which I've never been to before but it was really nice and secluded-feeling, which is rare in Paris. We were killing time before meeting Alexia and her parents and boyfriend so we just meandered around the park for a while.

Family Selfie in Parc de Bercy

Parc de Bercy
Fluffy was there too. Obviously.
 We then met up with Alexia et al. and had a wonderful lunch in Cour Saint Emillion and then went to Les Invalides to see Napoleon's tomb and visit the Army museum there, which I had been meaning to go to. After Alexia and her parents left to catch their train, we walked up Le Champs Elysée to see the Arc de Triomphe and find some place that was open on a Sunday to eat dinner, which ended up being the Public Drugstore (which is also a restaurant and much more) right on the Champs. Afterwards, my dad and I briefly lost my mom when we went to the bathroom without her knowing but it all worked out fine because we got macarons from the Pierre Hermé there. We then head home and packed for Italy the next day.

We spent Monday-Thursday afternoon in Cinque Terre, which I'll write about separately, and got back around dinner time on Thursday. We ate in Chinatown and then walked over by Hôtel de Ville for crêpes for dessert and saw Notre Dame lit up at night. The headless gargoyles looked even creepier!

Friday we got up super early to try to do Versailles before coffee with my host family in the early afternoon. But despite arriving soon after it opened, the line was too long to go into the actual Chateau so instead we just walked around the gardens, which are amazing by the way.

Standing in front of a tree thing in the gardens
The palace and a very, very small part of the gardens
We then headed back to Paris and got crêpes for lunch at a stand on the way home, then had coffee with my host family. It was super fun because my host dad doesn't speak English, my real dad doesn't speak French, and my mom was sick and not feeling 100%. Luckily my host mom speaks some English so we were still able to have a conversation. Also I translated a lot. Afterwards, I stayed and did laundry while my mom went to go nap and then we met up later to go see Printemps (the giant department store that's super close to me) and take the metro to Montmartre. Getting to the top of Montmartre was rough, but not as rough as realizing that my mother who is still recovering from back surgery and my dad who is still recovering from a lot of things are in better shape than me. Man, I was dying coming up those steps! But that's besides the point.

In Montmartre we walked around the square with all of the artists and then had dinner outside in a cafe where I was served about 2 potatoes worth of French fries. I mean I love fried food but my goodness! Then came the highlight of the night: my dad got a caricature done and it was amazing!

We told him to make it as ridiculous as possible and I think he lived up to the challenge. It's even better in person. I told my dad he has to hang it in the office with some sort of placard saying "President". Because you can only really get away with that type of thing without looking arrogant if it's a caricature. In which case you get to bring so much joy to everyone who sees it. Yeah. That's what I call doing Montmartre right!

We then walked down the hill to see the Moulin Rouge because my mom had never seen it and really wanted to. It was just starting to get dark so it was lit up and all in all worth seeing at least once. From there we went to the Eiffel Tower and got there just as it started sparkling. We didn't go up in it because we've all done it before and we were all getting tired but we walked away from it to the metro to get some good pictures from far away.

You can never have too many pictures of the Eiffel Tower!

On Saturday we got up early to go to the zoo in Jardin des Plantes to go visit my best friends, the red pandas!! They were asleep when we got there but right before we left they woke up, ate, walked around a bit and then went back to sleep so it was pretty awesome that we got to still see all of that. Plus it was early so there was no crowd. We also watched the flamingos chase each other from one side of their exhibit to the other, and my dad tried to wake up a mongoose by making snake noises (it was not effective btw).

Sleepy red pandas
They were actually behaving themselves when I took this picture.
We then met up with Romain, Clémence and the rest of their family for lunch, a walk through Luxembourg Gardens (and past Sweet Briar), and then we later went to the apartment where they were staying for dinner. They made crêpes for us and it was amazing. We then headed back to the hotel and I helped them pack since they were leaving in the morning. So, Sunday morning I got up early with them to walk them to the bus for the airport and to say goodbye. Not gonna lie, I was sad to see them go because we had an amazing time together, but man did they tire me out (although I'm sure they could say the same). I went home and passed out for about 3 more hours before having to get up and start packing for Sardinia since I left that evening. But that's yet another adventure I have to write about!

But anyway, in conclusion (because you are always supposed to have a conclusion or something like that and not end by rambling) my parents are super awesome and I had an amazing time with them and you all wish your parents were this cool! Also I converted them to red panda adoration, so I consider their trip a win.

Stay tuned for more about Cinque Terre and Sardinia! Also I guess I should write about Prague at some point. In the meantime, I have links on the right for my pictures so you can see them all online!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

8 Things that Aren't "A Thing" in Paris

Sorry I've been so terrible about keeping up with this lately. I had a final paper to write and then 2 weeks off for spring break so my parents were here and then I was in Sardinia so I haven't had much time to blog, but I will!! In the meantime (until I finish my internship report), here is a post I've been working on for a bit now, while I've been collecting ideas. Some things are most definitely missing, so let me know if there's anything that should be added! Enjoy:

8 Things that Aren't "A Thing" in Paris:
(I was going to say things that aren't "a thing" in Paris but should be, but that's not always entirely true.)
  1. Efficiency: Paris has done better than places like Rome in turns of catching up with the real world but the level of efficiency just leaves something to be desired. It's hard to pinpoint exact things (which makes me an awesome writer, I know) but after waiting in line at the store MUCH longer than I should have, it's clear there are a lot of things not done quite right.
  2. Cleaning up after your dog: Parisians just prefer to leave it in the middle of the sidewalk for people to step in. Lovely.
  3. Lawsuits: I know they still kinda exist here, but not like in the US. It's obvious based on the things that exist, which in the US never would because the are a lawsuit-waiting-to-happen. The French make fun of us for our lawsuits too. Not that I blame them. Also, not "a thing" that I miss while being here. France, in this sense, you can stay just the way you are! Although I still hate that bridge at Paris VII that everyone always falls on in the winter!
  4. Hoodies: Sure you occasionally see people (especially guys) wearing chic looking zip-up hoodies but I miss wearing giant, warm, cozy hoodies out in public especially when it's cold outside. But that's just not something that happens here unless you want to throw on a fashionable zip-up sweatshirt (but that's totally NOT THE SAME THING!)
  5. Bacon: this is the saddest one. The only place I've ever really seen bacon is at Breakfast in America. Sure you see fancy looking bacon bits on salads and whatnot but that isn't nearly the same thing. I think you can buy strip bacon in the grocery store so why is that not a thing?! If anyone has found a place where you can eat bacon please take me there! Now!
  6. To go boxes: Although French portions are definitely smaller than those you find in America, there are still plenty of time when you get way more food than you are capable of eating, and unlike in the US where you can take it home for another meal, in France there are no to go boxes or "doggy bags". You lose whatever you can't eat. And it makes me sad.
  7. Dryers: This is more of a Paris thing, but I've found that most families don't seem to have dryers and often just hang up laundry to dry instead. Most apartments have fancy space saving drying racks for this purpose. While I have no problem hanging up my laundry to dry, I do miss having a dryer. I miss being able to shrink jeans/shirts/etc back to their original size after they stretch out from wearing them. 
  8. Petting other people's dogs: This is something American tourists don't seem to understand. Back in the warm, friendly USA it's totally fine to ask to pet someone's dog if you are out walking, but here it is just not done. People will look at you in horror if you reach down to pet their dog, no matter how cute and fluffy they may be.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Oh hey there friends! Guess what!! I'm finally going to write about Rome. It only took me 3 weeks. A little more than 3 weeks. More like 4. But close enough. Also, be prepared because this is a marathon of a post, and I had to write it over the span of a week. Enjoy!

We left for Rome on Thursday evening, although it was more like Thursday afternoon because we had to take forever and a year to get to the Beauvais airport. There was also a ton of traffic leaving Paris so rather than an hour and 15 minutes on the bus it was more like an hour and 45 minutes. And then some. We then rushed to make it to check-in, ended up in the wrong terminal because the signage at Beauvais is terrible, and ended up waiting in line for about 20 minutes to check-in. With our plane leaving in about 45 minutes. Leaving. Boarding in 15. The line to check in was ridiculous, especially because this family checking a ton of bags managed to take up both check-in desks for about 10 minutes, and the people actually behind the desk were in no rush to get things done. Despite the fact that there was a huge line for a flight about to leave in less than an hour. You could say it was our own fault EXCEPT that we were on the bus designated for our flight time and run by the actual airport so being late was out of our control. We eventually all got checked in, made it through security and then had NO idea which of the 4 gates was ours. It was time the the plane was supposed to be boarding, and yet there was no one boarding. We looked around to ask someone but there was literally no one working for any airline anywhere in the terminal at all. Super helpful.

Eventually we figured out which gate was ours and it turns out the plane didn't start to board until the time it was supposed to take off. Wonderful. And by wonderful, I mean wonderfully annoying because it meant we got into the city of Rome around 11:30. By pure luck we found a place to eat on our way to the hostel that was still open so we got pizza. I love Rome already. Except that tap water in restaurants isn't really a thing, so you have to buy bottled water. Or get dehydrated. You also have to pay around €1 per person to actually sit in a restaurant. But overall, the food situation in Rome is good good; relatively inexpensive but also delicious.

Our hostel was tiny and hidden inside a large apartment building. If we didn't have the address we never would have found it because there was no sign. At all. But our room was decent and it was just us, so no complaints. Yet.


The next morning (Friday) was the Ides of March. So it was pretty awesome that I was in Rome. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to reenact Caesar's murder, or even stab someone, so it really wasn't THAT exciting. Instead we met up with our friend Shannon (from the Ireland trip) who is studying in Rome and she showed us around for the day. Oh! Before I get too far, I need to talk about the hostel breakfast. We got a "croissant" which was filled with the gourmet gross fig/chocolate filling. Also there was coffee. Which my one friend managed to put salt in, instead of sugar because she didn't properly read the labels. I mean the labels weren't THAT legible. But still. I will make fun of her anyway. I then had another friend burn her hand after pouring coffee in a mug that had an invisible crack in it, so it kind of broke more and it was unfortunate. Breakfast was quite the fail.

But lunch was good. Shannon took us to walk around this market and then to get pizza at this place that prices it by weight. I got a lot of pizza for not that much. It was wonderful. After lunch we went to this gelato place right by the Vatican where you can get 3 flavors for €1.50. It is my new favorite place ever, and I'm kinda glad I don't live in Rome because I would eat a lot of gelato.

We then went to the Vatican, which was really cool because it was only 2 days after they chose the new Pope and you could still see where the cameras were set up, and the red curtain was still there and yeah. Unfortunately this meant that the Sistine Chapel was still closed, but we were able to go into St. Peter's Basilica, and oh my god goodness. Words can not describe how beautiful it is! I mean I've been in a LOT of churches recently but I'm pretty sure I actually just stood there in awe for over a minute. Just staring. Pictures can't do it justice, but I'll try:

Pope John Paul II

I really should not have been that surprised, since the rest of the Vatican is absolutely beautiful too. It helped that we were there on a beautiful sunny day!

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter's Basilica
Fluffy chilling on the fountain in St. Peter's Square

Since we couldn't go into the Sistine Chapel and it didn't really make sense to go to the Vatican museums since it was getting late in the afternoon, we decided to climb to the top of the dome on St. Peter's Basilica. It has a special name but remembering it would require me to be attentive and responsible. And apparently I'm not because I forget. But we climbed all 5,000 steps (I made that number up, it was probably more like a few hundred but it felt like 5,000) and it was totally worth it!

The view just part way up
 Half way up we ended up outside on a terrace-like area, which allowed for some good pictures and stuff of the actual architecture and what not of the mini domes and such. That's the official name, they are called mini-domes. I might be lying.

Just a mini-dome

Fluffy was there too. Obviously.

Looking down on the church.
 Actually getting to the very top was somewhat difficult. It involved a lot of slanted corridors and at one point, a crooked spiral staircase with a rope to hold on to. But totally worth it:
The view from the top.

St. Peter's Square from atop St. Peters
When we got back down to the bottom, there was a group of people in front of the basilica going through the rosary to pray for the new Pope and we were invited to join in. I chose not to but some of my more religious friends did and it was just a cool experience to witness. The cool part of about the Vatican is regardless of your religion or level of religious-ness, you get slapped in the face by centuries of Catholicism. In a good way. It's impossible to not take in and appreciate how much history is there and just how significant it all is. The sense of tradition is also kind of amazing. There is no way I can describe it, especially considering how terribly I am writing all of this to begin with.

After the Vatican we went and got a snack and coffee at this random bakery place we stumbled upon near the river and then some of us headed back to the hostel to relax/nap for an hour before dinner. Because the annoying part about Rome being giant and confusing is that you spend the whole day and a ton of energy just doing one thing. But oh well. It also took a lot longer to get back to the hostel because Rome is giant and confusing and has a terrible public transportation system but it all worked out.

For dinner we went out with our Rome acquaintances (well, technically they are American but they study in Rome) to this place where you get an appetizer, two types of pasta, pizza, dessert, and unlimited wine for €15. It was delicious and the fact that it was only €15 made it so much better. Also the unlimited wine was a nice touch terrible idea.

The gang's all here!
But it was a fun evening. Until one of the Rome people accidentally took my coat (although at the time I had no idea who took it) and some of us were left without keys to the hostel. Which wouldn't have been a huge issue except that the rest of everyone had gone back and fallen asleep by then and the hostel doesn't have 24hr reception. I learned that evening just how important this is. We called their "emergency" number and got the ever-so-helpful response "I'm asleep, sorry about your luck" or something like that. But eventually someone came to give us spare keys. Needless to say it was an emotionally draining evening.


I woke up feeling tired. Kinda like I'd been punched in the gut with a bag full of staplers and then run over by a car and shot with a tranquilizer gun. This had less to do with the "unlimited wine" thing as it did with me not getting enough sleep. And also having a mental breakdown in the middle of Rome. Fun memories. But regardless, we went and found breakfast and some random place and everyone else thought it was painfully mediocre but I had THE. BEST. JUICE. EVER. Freshly squeezed blood-red orange juice to be specific. It was magical. Granted it cost more than I'd like to admit but I am such a juice junkie I don't even care. See most people wake up and all they want is coffee, or tea, or meth or something. But for me, all I want is juice. So finding the best juice in the world was really what I needed at the moment. Here's a picture of us at breakfast. I stole this picture from someone else because I didn't have a camera all of Saturday since it was in my coat pocket and I (spoiler alert) didn't get my coat back until that evening. I guess it's not really a spoiler alert. We got a text when we woke up that morning that the other Rome folk had my coat, so the nightmare was pretty much resolved. Yay.

Note that sexy glass of orange juice in front of me.
Also sorry Laura! It's not my fault this is the only picture of my OJ!

After breakfast we meandered our way down to the Colosseum and what not. It was big and stony and such. I stole this picture from one of my friends so you can appreciate how big and stony it is. Stony in a made-of-stone sort of way, not in a hostile-unfriendly-cold kind of way. Although I guess that could work too. Maybe. Probably not. I also probably didn't have to explain that.

The Colosseum

Inside the Colosseum

It's disappointing that my friend Kate has still not put her pictures up on Facebook, because I could show you our awesome picture of us fighting to the death. It was very appropriate, considering the setting, but that did not prevent several people from staring/taking pictures of us. But alas, you will just have to wait until it goes on Facebook.

UPDATE: I have the picture! Behold:

This should win some type of award.

The Colosseum took awhile and we were hungry so we went to this Irish pub-style place for lunch because it was the only cheap-ish thing around. It wasn't the best. I wanted to try a Caesar salad because Rome. Caesar. Also I was craving salad. What I got was not Caesar salad. It was a disappointment that didn't even have dressing. So I split a pizza with someone. The pizza was great. I was also really hungry. By then it too late to go tour the Forums, which was disappointing but I still got to see them from afar. So it's ok. I also would not have been able to appreciate most of what I saw without a guide of some sort. Oh well. Instead we met up with Rome people and I finally got my coat back. Yay! It was warm and I had missed it. I then ate delicious gelato because that's just what you do in Italy.

We then walked around and several of us made our way to Piazza d'Espagne where the Spanish steps are. It was really pretty, especially since it was starting to get dark out and there were lights and everything. Even though I technically had my camera I did not take pictures. Probably because the battery was dead. Or because I didn't feel like it. Also it was nice to just sit on the steps and take it all in. It was also nice to have my coat since it was starting to get pretty chilly.

Since we were getting hungry, we walked across the river to this neighborhood with a bunch of little restaurants. Unfortunately since it was already 9pm and thus prime dinner time on a Saturday evening we have to split up but it all worked out. I had some amazing pasta. And split a tiramisu with someone. After dinner we went to this bar/chocolatier/bookstore for these things calls chocolate shots. It's a shot glass made of dark chocolate filled with the liquor of your choice and a bit of chocolate syrup, then topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. You then put the whole thing in your mouth at once. It was as magical as it sounds. Also only €3, which is impossible to believe because if you go to a bar in Paris you could easily pay that much for a regular, crappy shot. I like prices in Rome. Also chocolate.

That was pretty much the end of the trip. We fought for a taxi home since we were on the completely opposite side of the city from our hostel and packed and went to sleep. Then we got up a little before 4 to catch the shuttle for the airport to catch our ridiculously early flight Sunday morning. Only to get to Paris and have to take a hour fifteen minute bus and a metro home. I don't think I have ever been so tired in my entire life. I thus spent my St. Patrick's Day in a mostly comatose state of sleep, but at least I wore my 'Irish Drinking Socks" that I bought in Ireland. So it wasn't entirely lame.

Well that's it. Mostly. I left out some small stuff that isn't really important because otherwise this would be even longer and it's already a kajillion pages long. Granted it doesn't actually show up as pages but whatever. Thank you for taking the time to read this. High Five!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Oh yeah, I was in Angoulême

Oh hi! It's been a long time! I've been really busy the past week with tests and papers and what not and I still have a lot to do before my parents get here next Friday. But that's ok, it will get done. Probably. If I ever start my econ. paper and also my internship paper. Which I don't want to do. This post is also just me procrastinating. Yay!

So this weekend I went to Angoulême to visit Romain, Clémence, and their family. I got to see their new house which is great and the weather was actually gorgeous for once! On Sunday when we were walking around the city it was over 80° and I was dying in jeans and a t-shirt. Spring is here!! The city itself is really cool because it's known for cartoons (it hosts conference every year) so there are cartoon characters and scenes and whatnot painted on buildings and walls and it is very cool. Unfortunately I didn't get a lot of pictures because my camera battery was dead. But it's not my fault! Last time I used it, it still had half battery left so I didn't charge it. Okay, so it's kind of my fault. But whatever. I convinced Clem to take a few pictures on her phone for me! 

One of the many painted walls
It really is a beautiful city, although pretty small. I thought about looking up pictures of it on Google to share on here and just pretend I'm a really good photographer but I decided not to because I'm lazy and that sounded like work that would be immoral. Also because all of you clearly have access to the internet and can look them up yourself.

But it was a great and relaxing weekend, and it was nice to see everyone! Also I got to hang out with their cat who reminds me a lot of Fluffy because she is also super furry and slept with me at night. I miss cats.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A blog about me not blogging

Oh hey there friends! I was going to write about Rome tonight but then I realized that I have to pack for Prague tomorrow, choose a topic for my Econ final paper, and learn Czech so unfortunately that whole blogging thing is probably not going to happen. Well except for what I'm doing right now.

Eventually you will hear about Rome. Probably some time next year. Prague you won't hear about until I retire. Provence may never happen. Just kidding. It will. It just might not be until after I turn in these two final papers. At the end of April. Which is way too soon! Ah!!! Where does time go???

Also, just letting you know I will be in Prague tomorrow afternoon through Monday evening so I will be out of reach except my cell phone.

Ok, well that's all I had to say... I was going to show you a picture of Fluffy on the roof of St. Peter's Basilica looking out over Rome but it won't load, so that will have to wait until my actual Rome blog. Guess you have to read it now! I've added that magical air of intrigue! Or something...

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fluffy's been Globetrotting!!

I woke up this morning feeling homesick for my cat, because for some reason I was expecting her to be sleeping on my bed. It was sad. But I decided to do something productive about my sadness, and since Photoshop and I have reconciled, the real Fluffy the Globetrotter pictures are back! Hope you enjoy!

Just chilling in front of Dublin Castle

Bet you didn't know Fluffy was at the Cliffs of Moher

Bet you didn't know she was there WITH ME!

Sitting gracefully on the Mini Cliffs

Fluffy at the Vatican

Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, March 29, 2013

So this was my day

I feel like I owe all of you an apology. I haven't had time to sit down and write these long posts about my trips, so I've been avoiding writing anything! If I keep not writing about anything it'll all pile up and then my head will just explode. And that isn't good. So I figured I would write about my day, since a lot of you probably have no idea what my days are really like here. For all you know I wake up at 4am, fight crime for a few hours, go to class and then go work in my own poker ring. Ridiculous, I know, because everyone knows I NEVER get up at 4am. Not even to fight crime.

So what do i do? I've thought about doing a whole series of what each day of the week is like, because they are all different but that takes WAY too much effort. So I'm going to start small. With just today. I mean today isn't a typical day for me because I usually don't have class and my internship, but I had to change my schedule around a bit because no one was at the office on Wednesday so I had the day off. Which was nice. I got the chance to walk around Paris and had gyros for lunch in the Latin Quarter. I even went to the post office! But that was Wednesday, I'm trying to write about today. God, I have terrible focus! Sorry!

Today: aka Friday March 29

Today I woke up at 8am to go to my 9:30 European Economy C.M. at Paris VII - luckily my only French university class. French classes are split in two, a T.D. or travail dirigé which is like a seminar, and a C.M. or cours m...something which is a big lecture-hall style class. I had my TD yesterday, which was just about as much fun as getting an root canal without novocain because my professor (just a T.A.) is terrible, he mumbles, he doesn't follow any sort of structure which makes it impossible to know what he is talking about at any given moment, he asks questions without anyone realizing he's asking them (or if so, what he is actually asking), and it's basically just a waste of my time. And after 5 hours of Sweet Briar classes beforehand, I NEVER EVER want to be there. EVER. Just in case you didn't get the idea after the whole "root canal" comment. But what was I talking about again... I was rambling again... oh yeah, waking up! (Wow I really didn't make it that far without getting distracted, did I? This is gonna be a fun blog!)

I struggle to get out of bed because I was out last night at an American-themed evening at this Irish pub/bar, then came home around 12:30 and decided it made sense to watch tv and eat Goldfish (almost an entire bag btw) for another 45 min. Regardless of whether I go out or not, it's usually the same story by the time "bedtime" roles around. Past Mallory (after getting up that morning) say's "I'm going to go to bed early tonight!" Present Mallory decides "HA! No I'm not! I'm not tired!" and Future Mallory (aka waking up Mallory) usually uses a lot of profanity towards Present Mallory (who is now and past Mallory version) and says "Well, I'm definitely going to bed early tonight!" Lather, rinse, repeat. (aka the cycle repeats itself). And then I go to write about it and get super confused about the past/present/future Mallory idea and everyone just ends up needing a glass of wine! Also I just went from talking about myself to including all of you, I think. Now I'm more confused! Make it two glasses of wine...

Long story short, (but not really, it's more like short story drawn out to be very, very long) I got up. brushed my teeth, put in my contacts, washed my face (except reverse order... don't know why I don't just change it but I'm to lazy to go back so you can all just reverse that order in your head). I then realize I'm running out of clean clothes and make a mental note to do laundry soon. Somehow that mental note eventually gets morphed into "Buy more Goldfish" instead of "Do Laundry" but close enough. For breakfast I have orange juice, une brioche (which is just slightly sweet, breadish roll-like things) with raspberry jam, although today I had it with apple butter because my mom sent me some and also we are out of raspberry jam. I also had cereal and yogurt. And more juice. Because juice is a wise person's coffee. I run on sugar instead of caffeine.

I then realize I have to leave, well, now so I run back to my room to put on my boots and coat and scarf and pack up my bag and grab my iPod and say goodbye to my host mom, and head out the door. It's only a 3 min walk to Madeleine (where the metro is) and I hop on line 14 which takes me all the way to Paris 7. Paris 7 isn't that bad but there is this one bridge that I swear could never exist in the USA because it's a lawsuit waiting to happen! It's pretty small and doesn't really go over much of anything, but it leads right into the Paris 7 "campus" (aka like 3 buildings). It's sloped down and the steps are sloped and there is always gravel that you slip on and in the winter there is ALWAYS ice and I have fallen twice even though I am always super careful. People fall all the time. It's funny until it happens to you, especially when you fall on the very last step! I was sooo close! But anyway, I think go up to the 3rd floor and into one of the lecture hall rooms designed for about 200 people. We only have about 80-100 in our class and only about 30 come to the lecture so it's always easy to find a seat. There are even other Americans, here with a different program, that I sit with. So it's not too bad



I hate technology.

So summary:

  • Class from 9:30-11:30
  • Learned that I get to write a paper on any topic from the semester instead of taking the final exam. Also turn it in end of April instead of the exam mid-May so I'm done by May. Yay! 
  • But that makes me not want to go to class anymore. Well the CM is ok because it's genuinely interesting but the TD not so much
  • I hate my TD
  • I go home, get a sandwich on the way and eat in my room
  • Walk to my internship
  • Weather was nice. Cold but sunny. Need a coat but not hat or gloves, which is good b/c I still haven't found my green hat. You know, the one in all the pictures
  • It was my last day at my internship. Which is weird. 8 weeks went really fast.
  • I will miss it, it was interesting. I also really don't want to start writing my paper on it.
  • For my last day, I just finished up things and started translating a document they just got today, for the last 2 hours (got 4 pages done btw so not too bad).
  • They gave me a chocolate Easter egg as a going-away present, which was super nice
When I got home I realized it was rattling and it turns out there are chocolate pieces inside too!! I was so excited, I took a picture!

You can kinda see the chocolate pieces inside.
Also I had eaten some already by this point.
But before getting home and realizing this, I stopped at Monoprix to do some responsible grocery shopping like an adult buy more Goldfish. I got four bags since they were buy one, get one 1/2 off so I basically got a whole bag for free. I came home and wasn't going to eat any but then I had some, which turned into the whole bag. I have a problem. They're just so much better here because they are almost like those Flavor-Blasted Goldfish back home, in that they have extra flavoring/sodium. It makes them addicting. You can't stop. You just can't.

But besides the whole Goldfish thing, I also got a Monoprix card (like a BonusCard, ya know those loyalty cards where you get discounts and points and stuff) so I'm officially a real Parisian now. Most people don't realize it, but it's secretly the only qualification to being accepted into the Parisian culture. Ha! I wish!

But I came home, ate a bag of Goldfish. Ate dinner (my host parents had horse, I had beef. Totally normal, horse is a thing here - just not for me.) and then tried to figure out what to do tonight. I didn't try to make plans earlier because I figured I would be to tired, but I've actually had a ton of energy, which was a bummer because everyone was off with friends/family who are in town. So instead I uploaded pictures to Facebook and wrote this. The end.

That was my day. It was magical. 

Oh yeah, I'm guessing some of you might be confused about why I had stuff today since it is Good Friday back home but in France you get the Monday after Easter off instead of the Friday before. It's less religiously symbolic I guess, but much nicer because who wants to worry about homework and having to do stuff on Easter. Granted I'm not doing much for Easter this year, nor will I have anything on Mondays ever anymore now that my internship is over, but you get the idea!

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Fighting Scot in Scotland: Adventures in Edinburgh

Hi there! It's been quite a bit, hasn't it? I know my last post doesn't actually qualify as a travel post (apparently...) so I should probably keep you informed on my life. Plus the sooner I get these big trips covered, the sooner I can go back to rambling on about my daily happenings in Paris. Like... um... how all of my socks have holes in them! Oh wait... I already did that one. Shoot. Also, the title is supposed to be clever because Wooster is the "Fighting Scots" and I was in Scotland so it's funny. But you would  have to know our mascot which most of you probably didn't. But now you do!

But anyway, let us travel back to the days of Ireland. It was the beginning of March. The air was fresh. The land was green. The days were full of Guinness and Paddywagons. You remember it, right? So I guess I can continue my story (btw, I realize that was the worst transition ever. I'm in France, I don't remember how to speak English anymore):

Ireland Day 5: We're not in Ireland anymore.... EDINBURGH DAY 1

 Technically we were still in Dublin when we woke up at 3am to catch the shuttle to the airport. It was super fun. I woke up and basically went straight to the bathroom to throw up. Which prompted everyone to ask "OMG, how much did you drink last night???", to which I sadly responded "nothing". This is just my life. Turns out my stomach was even more upset than I was about getting dragged out of bed at 3am. But with the exception of the muscle I think I pulled in my throat while throwing up (which I'm sure you wanted to know. In fact I guarantee you didn't want to know anything in this paragraph. I probably could have just said "we got up at 3am" but where's the fun/excitement in that? Because everyone knows talking about vomit is the best way to have fun! No wonder people don't want to be around me... haha just kidding... What was I talking about again? Oh yeah! Vomit!) I didn't get sick again and felt pretty much better by the time we got to Edinburgh.

The flight was RyanAir. Which means while I tried to sleep at 6am they turned on the fluorescent lights to reflect off the highlighter yellow seat backs while they tried to sell us lottery scratch cards. In other words, in was luxurious travel at its finest. When we got to Edinburgh we stopped at an ATM to get pounds and headed over to the hostel by bus. It was in the old part of the city, pretty much right next to (or pretty darn close to) Edinburgh Castle.

The view from right outside our hostel

I really wanted to go inside the castle but it was like £15 which seemed like a lot considering we wouldn't spend toooo much time there. I wanted to see other stuff and also take a nap later, and I was only there for one day so we decided to do a 4 hour walking tour of the Old Town to get a look at a bit of everything. We had some time to kill so we went to get breakfast at this cute little diner where I tried haggis for the first time. It was offal. Ha. Get it! Also I stole that joke from Kate. I should probably say that now before she holds it against me forever. But breakfast was wonderful and although she got the traditional Scottish breakfast, I just got French toast, because, as the saying goes, "when in Scotland!" That made no sense so if you were confused... A +!

My bacon and french toast.
The pictures of me get progressively weirder
throughout the trip. I blame sleep deprivation.
I have no shame. Apparently.
The point is to look at my food. Not my face. I know it's hard!
I guess I should mention for all of my geographically challenged friends/readers/pets who can secretly read/etc that Edinburgh (pronounced Edinburah or Edinburo) is in Scotland which is part of the UK. But yeah, breakfast! Yummy! It was one of the only meals where I left 10 pounds lighter!! Ha ha get it! (this one I actually came up with although Shannon was kind of a part of it too. I have no original ideas). Also it wasn't a full £10 because I'm not insane. But ten just seemed like a nice number to round up to.

After breakfast we went on our walking tour which was just lovely and highly educational. I would write all about it here but I already spent so much time talking about vomit and bad jokes that I'm getting tired of rambling on, so i will just highlight my favorite parts rather than do an entire play-by-play. I'm sorry. Or you're welcome. I don't really know how you feel...

So in the square of the Old Town there is this small tower (that has a name that I forget) where they would make town announcements, including when there would be a new king. Although it used to take 3 days for the news to reach Ireland, so now they still wait 3 days before doing all of the ceremonial celebrations. Also, the tower is right by where the market would be. So whenever someone was caught trying to steal something, it was the perfect place to take them and for punishment they would have their ear nailed to the door for 24 hours. During which time people would throw all kinds of things at them. If they didn't want to wait that long and go through all of that, they could rip their ear free but then the ragged ear marked them as a thief AND a coward so they would have trouble finding a job.

See the door is made of wood! Perfect for nails!
Right near the tower, also along the main street in Old Town known as the Royal Mile, is St. Giles' Cathedral. Which I find awesome because apparently there is a carving of an angel playing the bagpipes in there. I never had time to go in and see, but my friends did the next day (after I had to leave) and took pictures and I'm jealous. But since I didn't get to see it, you don't get to see pictures! But here is the cathedral:

St. Giles Cathedral
Later, after seeing some other really interesting stuff (like the oldest building in Old Town that's still around) and hearing where the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde came from (I'm not telling you now so you will be forced to talk to me and ask questions when I come home, and everyone will be all "what's the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story?? And I'll be all "like hell I remember" and I'll laugh and laugh... just kidding. I won't swear in person. Or forget the story. Probably.), we ended up in Greyfriar's cemetery. Which sounds creepy but it wasn't (too creepy). J.K. Rowling used to walk around in it while she was writing the first Harry Potter book and people think it's where she got some of the names. Like McGonagall (after William McGonagall... quite possibly the worst poet ever! Look up his stuff it's hilarious how bad it is!) and Thomas Riddle. But more important, it's the site of a wall supposedly made from witches! When they were building it, apparently they needed carbon to make the mortar and trees were kind of scarce at the time, and they had an excess of dead witches (because that's what happens when you can blame anything on witchcraft) so they burnt the witches down to create carbon for the wall. Supposedly (aka that's totally what happened!)

The Witch Wall

Also in the cemetery is a headstone for a dog named Bobby (aka Greyfriar's Bobby). Apparently back in the day, when grave robbing was a serious problem (there was a medical university there and people could make a decent chunk of change selling bodies), guards were told to get dogs to take with them. Well this one guard, who was well-known and well-liked as being an genuinely friendly person, got a Skye terrier. For several years they worked happily together until the guard got old and died. Bobby, being a very loyal breed, stayed by his master's grave for the rest of his life. People would bring him food and kids came to play with him but he never would leave. He became a local celebrity and was even given the keys to the city. Funny thing is that this honor technically came with the ability to vote, and since this was before the suffrage movement, a dog got the right to vote before women did. Unfortunately he wasn't actually allowed to be buried on consecrated ground and was probably buried right outside the cemetery, as close to his master as possible.

Bobby's Statue

See, some history is heart-warming! I'm almost done, I just have one more good story from the tour to tell. So this woman named Maggie Dickson lived in Edinburgh way back when, and one day her husband left. For years she waited for him, and couldn't really have much of a life without her husband in those days, but he never returned. She eventually met another man at the market and they became involved. Well one day she discovered she was pregnant so once she could no longer hide it, she disappeared to the country until she had the baby. Afterwards, she had no choice but to get rid of her child but while she was about to put it in the river, she was caught. They weren't concerned that she was trying to kill her infant as much as they were that she hid her pregnancy, which was a crime punishable by death. So Maggie was tried, hanged, and declared dead. Turns out, the man driving the coffins from the hangings out to be buried got quite a surprise when he heard knocking in the back of his wagon, coming from her coffin. He freaked out and drove back to the town where they discovered she had not actually died and was very much alive. Well they went to re-hang her when someone in the crowd yelled out that they couldn't hang her again because she had already served her punishment for that crime. Technically she had been hanged until dead before, since she was declared dead, and it's not her fault they did it wrong. So she was free to go. Also she she had technically been declared dead, her marriage was no longer valid (as it said 'til death do us part) and she was free to marry the man she had fallen in love with. Happy ending. Mostly. I guess.

Anyway, these are the awesome stories that our tour guide told us and I wish I had the energy/time to write all of them but it's just not possible; this would be 20 pages long! He was a great tour guide though and I learned a lot about Scotland and Edinburgh and history and such things, especially considering I knew nothing before.

After the tour we stopped by this vintage store briefly and then got pie because pie is awesome. And then I went back and took a nap. And by took a nap I mean I passed out and didn't even hear my alarm, and I have the most annoying alarm (as the 8 other people in the room with me now know). After a nap we went to dinner at this place called Mum's, which was just so much fun. We got Mac and Cheese and burgers and milkshakes and "Mum" who owns it was our waitress and she is hilarious and awesome and gave us candy necklaces. I wish I were doing a better job explaining it but it was just a laid-back but fun and delicious meal and a great last dinner of my trip.
I was struggling with the tomato-shaped ketchup bottle

Happy with our Mum's food! I realize I look a little deranged,
but traveling cheap-student-budget style for 5 days will do
that to you! No one looks perfect all the time. If they do,
they are probably an alien. Beware!
After dinner we went to a bar called Frankenstein's which was probably one of the coolest night-life places I've been too. Especially for a theme bar. It had quotes from the book on a few walls and TVs with rolling footage from the movies or similar kinds of movies. I'm doing a terrible job of explaining it! We had been there briefly (but on a different floor... it was pretty big) during the tour for a break in the middle, which is why we decided to come back at night. Obviously it wasn't super hopping on a Tuesday night but based on my hoodie attire, you can tell I probably wasn't it the mood to hit the clubs, it was just nice to hang out in a place with a cool atmosphere. Unfortunately the only picture I could really find (okay there were others, but I just really love this picture) was this one:
Wish I could say were we at least slightly intoxicated.
We weren't. This is our normal. Our sleep-deprieved normal.
But still. Super cool. (Also, sorry Kate!)
Also just our luck that the only other two people there
(for the most part), are standing right behind us.
Anyway, like the super cool person I am I was in bed by midnight! I got up at 5 to catch the bus back to the airport and head back to Paris. Got back around noon and went straight to my internship. it was a long day, but totally worth it to have a day in Edinburgh!

So this concludes my big 5 day trip at the beginning of March. I can honestly say it was one of my favorite trips of all time and I would love to go back to Ireland and Scotland! I have so many great stories and memories and I'm extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to go. Thanks for taking the time to read about it and feel free to check out all of my pictures or leave a comment! I like comments, they make me happy and I think you just need a Google account to do it.

Soon to come: Tales from Rome last weekend and Provence this past weekend. (I'm really looking forward to a weekend in Paris for once!!)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ode to My Socks

All of my socks have holes in them,

It really is quite bad,

Sometimes it makes me so upset,

I cry cuz I'm so sad

This is what I did instead of anything productive. Like my Edinburgh blog. Or Rome. But oh well. I'm heading off to the south of France tomorrow with Sweet Briar. I get to go back to Arles and Avignon, and also will get to visit Uzès, which I've never been to before. But then after this trip I'll be in Paris for a while. Well, two weeks that is. And I'll have time to catch up on travel blogs. But for now, you just get to look at my sexy gross feet. But at least you can enjoy my failed attempts in front of the camera:

The making of "Ode to My Socks":


I give up on the formatting. I keep fixing that one picture and it just goes back to that corner. Same goes for the funky spacing. So I give up. If it wants to be there then who am I to tell it that it can't be? The OCD part of me is only going a little crazy...