Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Normandy Update!

Time for a video post! Please excuse any awkwardness & the number of times I use the word "interesting." It's really not funny how much my english vocabulary has suffered in the last 7 months..  Anyway, I decided to record ONE time, not watch it and just post it. Because otherwise I knew I'd be re-recording myself over and over haha Hope you enjoy :)


video

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

you know you're living in France when...

1. you can no longer eat a meal without a proper knife and fork (and you would now classify this as "fun")

2.you've caught yourself inhaling an occasional "oui" from time to time in conversation (yes, that's a thing)

3. your walk to class includes a stroll through the courtyards of a castle built by William the Conqueror c. 1060 

4rotisserie chicken flavored chips/cheeses no longer disgust you. In fact, you've fallen in love with rotisserie chicken flavored products and can't imagine life without them

5. the phrase "google it" is now "googaliser it" 

6. you get to educate someone everyday on the joy that is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (I mean really, what kind of childhood did these people endure??)

7. you're now accustomed to coffee cups the size of thimbles


8. You don't even laugh anymore when you're reading Harry Potter in French and they keep calling Harry's wand a "magic baguette" 

9. crème fraîche is appropriate always 

10. Smoking is suddenly not so trashy and disgusting as it once was (just kidding mom....)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Les Alpes | Noël | A French Christmas

It took 6 hours to get from Dijon to the little city of Aussois (including a layover in Lyon). It wasn't hard finding my connection train in Lyon because it was the only one marked with "LES ALPES" in huge letters. Everyone sitting around me was already decked out in their new ski attire. Apparently this train only stops at the big ski stations in the Alps. Between naps I would glance out the window to see snow-capped mountains on every side. Aussois was the very last stop, and what a beautiful sight it was...



I arrived a couple hours before the family was going to get there to pick me up so I walked across the street to a café to kill some time. They happened to have free wifi, which was a little shocking, so I was able to let my family know I had gotten to the mountains safely ;) Even more shocking, however, was their idea of a bathroom...



I'm sure you can imagine the look on my face. Pure horror. I'm not exactly the "roughing it" type of girl. I mean, I own a purse that says "I love not camping." Indeed, I love not camping. And this..this brought back some dark memories from the only camping trip I've ever been on in my life. A camping trip that my family refers to as a "vacation." Haha. A relaxing camping "vacation." That may have been the reason I wore a pink velour sweat suit, and brought the entire Harry Potter series in hardback. THAT sounds like vacation to me. Little did I know we would canoe miles upon miles, portage all of our things (canoes, tents, the entire Harry Potter series in hard back), then canoe many more miles, to finally reach our magnificent destination: a scenic stretch of dirt that happened to look very similar to a scenic stretch of dirt about 15 miles, and 3 portages back. Did anyone else notice that? No? K. I'll just be silently weeping over here in my soiled velour sweat pants. Looking back on it, I'm actually shocked I survived that experience.. 

Anyway. The toilet. Which was not actually a toilet, made me curious about what my living conditions would be like here in Aussois.. 

The family arrived a few hours later and it was so fun getting to see them! Antoine is well above 6 foot now and even has some facial scruff! It seems impossible. As we got into the car I realized that there was literally not an empty square inch in this tiny French car.. It was seriously packed to the max. So 10 minutes later, there we were: Mathilde, Antoine, and I squished in the back with my huge suitcase squished over top of us. Comical doesn't even begin to describe it. 

When we drove up to the lodge it was after dark, so I couldn't see the mountains at all. The apartment where we were staying turned out to be so so cute! And even had a real toilet;) We went to sleep early that night. The next morning, I immediately ran downstairs to peer out the window... I lost my breath. 



That was my view for the week:) 

That morning we went to pick up our ski gear and I signed up for some ski lessons. When the lady asked me what level I am I told her intermediate.. For some reason I was sure that I was a good skier. Looking back on it, I'm not sure exactly what made me think that seeing as how I had only been skiing one other time and it was when I was really young. My first lesson was in a couple hours so I got geared up and headed towards the bunny slope to warm up. We got in line for the ski lift, the type where it's just the pole that you hang on to and it pulls you up the slope. You're supposed to hang on until the very last second, but I got nervous and let go early, thinking that I had enough momentum to fling me over the bump. When I let go I started to slide backwards down the slope, colliding with the next 2 people coming up behind me. I was a star you guys! A skiing rock star. 

Fast forward to my first class! As I said before, I was convinced I was a decent skier so I was placed in a pretty high level class. The instructor started us out on the bunny slope and this time I made it through the ski lift phase beautifully. However, the descent was not so graceful. I fell approximately 5938 times and as I approached the group, fell one last time, sliding the rest of the way on my face. The instructor just looked at me. Then looked at another group that was coming down the slope behind us. He motioned to their instructor and explained that I would be a perfect fit for his level 1 group. Youch. I guess one ski trip about 15 years back doesn't cut it for the intermediate level.. Hahah Ahh but I was so happy to be with other skiers as bad (and worse!) than I was. There were 8 of us, all girls. I was the youngest, and I'm pretty sure the only one not married with children. And all we did was laugh. Our instructor had to have been so annoyed by the end of the week.. But we had so much fun! And we really did improve! By the last day we skied a red slope at normal speed without anyone wiping out! 
Obviously taking things super seriously hahaha



It was sunny like this almost everyday! 




One day was absolutely gorgeous so I spent the afternoon just taking pictures. 










Is it just me or do these look absolutely fake? And this last one was taken with my iphone!
Le Montana! The restaurant with the best view. And the best vin chaud ;)









Enough about the mountains! Let's talk about how the French celebrate Christmas. The first thing you should know is that for about a week, nearly all conversation centers around food. Delicious, rich, heavenly French cuisine. And it is a serious decision-making process in which every member of the family participates.

The Tartiflette is a dish they typically make in the winter. A mixture of potatoes, cheese, and cream, and sometimes meat. It's heavy, delicious, comfort food, so perfect after a long day of skiing! You can find a million Tartiflette recipes on Pinterest :) 



Another food they always have in the winter is Raclette. It requires a Raclette machine, which almost every French family has. I actually sent one to my family for Christmas! :) It's basically just a round stove for grilling cheese. Raclette is a type of cheese that's cut into thick square slabs. Each person takes a little personal tray (which comes with the Raclette machine), puts a piece of cheese in their tray, then sets it on the Raclette stove. While the cheese is heating up, everyone peels a boiled potato and takes whatever charcuterie they want to eat with their Raclette. Hot cheese over potatoes :) It's pretty delicious. Apparently my sister found Raclette at Trader Joe's so that's good to know!

At midnight the night before Christmas, La Bûche de Noël is served. It's a specific type of cake that is apparently really difficult to make. This is the one we ate :)



Foie Gras is always always eaten on Christmas day, it's a French tradition. And always served with a bottle of super sweet white wine. 

OK! Enough about food! I feel like that's all I post about! But honestly, that's 80 percent of the experience here, I don't really have a choice. 

Presents are done on Christmas eve after La Bûche is served. It's so sweet, everyone opens their presents one at a time and each time you bise (the 2 cheek kiss) the person who gave you the gift. It was so sweet, Mathilde and her mom had stamps made for me using pictures of me and my family! It made me cry! 

I was soo excited to open my gifts from home :) They laughed so hard when I opened my stocking. Apparently that is only an American thing. I never would have known! 

I loved everything, but I have to say, my favorite had to be opening this hahahaha My very own monogrammed Christmas pickle. 



A Christmas I will never forget. 



Friday, December 20, 2013

Au revoir Dijon..

It is the eve of my departure from this lovely little city I've grown to love so much. Where the last three months have gone, I could not tell you.

My first semester in France is over. It seems like just last week I had my first class of the semester, and was totally caught off guard when I walked in and everyone else was French! I was mortified. After countless moments of embarrassment-- including but not limited to: audible giggling during my in-class presentations, the teacher reading my exam score to the entire class (yes, that is a thing in France. And, yes the teacher does snicker when you insist that that is a violation of student privacy)-- But as I walked I walked out of my final exam, I realized that all of it it was so worth it. Exam period here was exhausting on a whole other level. For one, there is no Starbucks in Dijon. I tried explaining to my classmates that if the students at the University of Kentucky were deprived of Starbucks (let alone during FINALS WEEK), there would be chaos. So imagine me, attempting to prepare for my Human Resource Management final IN FRENCH. WITH NO ACCESS TO STARBUCKS. I know you're wondering how I pulled through, and I really have to credit that to my sister and her dedication to my Coffee Times Gingerbread blend needs. So S/O to you Chels, you helped me pass my exams in the most hopeless of situations. 

Fast forward to exam numero uno: Management Information Systems. Last years exam (and the year before) was composed of 30 multiple choice and 3 short answer. I thought, this is totally doable. You can imagine my reaction when I get the exam and it is 8 LONG ANSWER and NO multiple choice. The reason I was so stressed is because they don't allow you to bring anything, no dictionaries, DEFINITELY no Starbucks, and they hand you a packet with 6 blank pages for you to write on. 6!! And before I had filled one, there were people asking for more paper! 

Despite my extremely dramatic recount of finals week in France, everything ended up going very well. I finished the semester by handing in my Strategic Analysis final which consisted of 8 pages of answers in French! I could not have done that 3 months ago.

The goodbyes started last night, Fleur invited me to her apartment for a goodbye glass of wine. She really is so French. Haha And again, we found ourselves sitting outside on her balcony having French conversation. (and maybe one more French cigarette..) We reminisced about the semester and how fun it was getting to know each other. We talked about our weekend in Paris and made plans of another one before I go back to America. I gave her her Christmas gift- A UK Wildcats tee-shirt :) And she immediately put it on. I laughed so hard. My friend from Paris wearing a UK basketball tee. Too much. We had tears in our eyes saying goodbye, but it was a great last rendez-vous. ;)

And then I had to say goodbye to friends I'm not sure I'll ever see again. My best friends here turned out to be from Greece, Russia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Tokyo. The goodbyes were a little less heartbreaking since I'm staying in France for the year, and some of them are in Dijon for the year, but it's so sad to think that the whole group probably won't be all together again. 

Tonight was perfect. Ioanna, Aya and I went to dinner at an amazing (seriously a.maz.ing.) Japanese restaurant that Aya has been telling us about the whole semester, but 3 months somehow slipped away and we still hadn't been. So tonight, the 3 of us got super dressed up, bundled up in our huge scarves and coats, and walked arm in arm through the little cobblestone streets of Dijon until we arrived at Masami. We peered in at the tiny restaurant: Only 5 small tables, all of which were occupied by Japanese people. Ioanna and I looked at each other, we knew this was going to be good. And let me tell you, all I could think was, my father would die. It was absolute. sushi. heaven. We ate fish, vegetable tempura, sushi, and more sushi.. And we laughed. The entire night. Mostly at the expense of Ioanna and I because we had chopstick difficulties.. And my dear friend Tito joined us later as well to say goodbye! Oh, such a wonderful night. 

Haha perfect action shot of us trying to use our chopsticks


I'm going to miss them so so much. 

But on the other hand.. :) I've been filling out the last of my documents for Caen and I am getting so so so excited! I miss my family so much, but I'm not ready to leave France yet. :) 

Tomorrow I'm taking a train at 6am to the French Alps for Christmas! The sweetest French family from Versailles invited me to go skiing in the Alps with them for Christmas! The daughter is my age and we became friends when she visited Kentucky in high school. Since then, her brother has come to Kentucky to stay with my family a few times, and Jack and I have been to France to visit them as well! I'm looking so forward to having a true French Christmas;) 

I'll hopefully be able to update you from the Alps! à tout!

bisous!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Finals Week

Doesn't get much more accurate than this. Happy finals week everyone!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Londres

Guys. I leave Dijon in 9 days!

Where did the last 3 months go!? We're having a Christmas/goodbye dinner on Friday evening and I don't even want to think about it. My group of friends is almost evenly split as far as people staying for one semester and people staying for the year. I think I'd be a lot more sad to be leaving if everyone else was staying. Next semester will be fun because a lot of my friends in Dijon are going to come visit me in Normandy, and then we're planning a weekend when Thomas and Ioanna and I will visit everyone in Dijon. I can already tell you, those reunions will be so sweet.

Today I want to post some pictures from my wonderful trip to London and Oxford! It was a dream. I got to see my friend Sarah who is studying in England this semester, and then we met up with a friend in Oxford. I took the Eurostar for the first time which was a cool experience. It's crazy to think you can take a train under the English Channel!

I'm pretty sure the weather we had in London defied every stereotype.. It was sunny like this everyday! Green Park was wonderful!



So fun getting to see this pretty face!



love..






Buckingham Palace!



We lucked out with the timing of our trip because they had just put up all the Christmas decorations! It was incredible!!









We went to an adorable tea room called SoHo's Secret Tea Room. It's located above a pub so you have to go in and ask a sketchy looking guy if this is the entrance to the tea room, and he takes you behind the bar and up this tiny staircase and all the sudden you're standing in the most adorable, 40's inspired tea room with all these big windows so you can look out onto the street. It was such a fun experience!











Excuse my thumbnail..





And of course we had to do the typical things.. Like eat fish and chips.



Pose in a red phone booth..



And make a quick trip to Hogwarts..




Ok, I actually have to stop and explain this picture. This was one of the most fun things we did in London. If you're a crazy Harry Potter fan like I am then you know that Platform 9 3/4 is located at King's Cross train station which is conveniently located in London. Platform 9 3/4 is the only way to get to Hogwarts (unless you've got access to a flying car) and in order to successfully make it to your gate, it's absolutely necessary to take a running start through this brick wall. Of course, after the book came out King's Cross installed this picture perfect Platform 9 3/4.. The best part is that when you arrive, there's a guy standing there with all the scarves from the different houses around his neck and he asks you which house you're in (I said Griffindor, of course) and then he puts the scarf on you, tells you exactly how to pose, and then stands back, holds one end of the scarf and just as you're getting your picture taken, he throws the scarf to make it look like you're actually running! It is truly magical.

Hope your enjoyed my post about London!

bisous!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

La Dinde

I'm sitting here curled up in a big cozy sweater, listening to Frank (his Christmas album, of course), while my new Anthropologie candle burns. It's called "fireside" and, you'll be surprised to hear that it smells like you're sitting beside a fire;) and it makes me feel just like I'm at the lake house. Which is where my family is right now. (sob*) I'm only partially serious about the sobbing. It's such a first world problem, "I'm in France on Thanksgiving." Haha Hardly something to complain about. But of course, I miss my family and the lake and Kentucky during this time of the year. Fall and winter are so wonderful in the Bluegrass. I also miss the easy accessibility we have to certain necessities this time of year.. For example, la dinde.

All of my friends here are very curious about the famous Thanksgiving feast, but more specifically about the Thanksgiving Turkey! They've all seen pictures of the big, gorgeous bird we prepare on the last Thursday of November. So of course, we decided to have a dinner where I would prepare the traditional Thanksgiving turkey. We have seriously been talking about this turkey for months! Fast forward to today. The day before Thanksgiving (we all know how good I am at doing things in advance..)

I had planned on going to the market about 10am, picking up my beautiful turkey along with the ingredients for Pioneer Woman's brine recipe, returning home and having a wonderful afternoon preparing for the big feast.

Haha. Dijon had other plans.. I spent the ENTIRE day searching every square inch of Dijon for "une dinde"- a turkey! Every answer was the same: "en novembre??!" UHM. YES in November! That's the ONLY time I need a turkey. Call me crazy! And that's exactly how they treated me, as if I was crazy for requesting a turkey in the month of November. Apparently the French only eat la dinde one time a year- and that's on Noël. (Christmas) Finally coming to the realization that there may not actually be a single turkey in the city of Dijon- and you'd be surprised at how sad that made me- I stared, bleary-eyed at my friend Aya, who reluctantly but loyally followed me around to each and every market, butcher shop, you name it- to find my Amazing Thanksgiving Turkey. I explained that it's just not Thanksgiving without a turkey. It's just not. But we had looked everywhere, and I had class this evening. A chicken it is, I decided.

When I walked into class, I was all but cheerful. I really adore this professor and we always chat before class, so when she noticed my expression, she asked what was wrong. I told her about my Turkey Problem and she said that indeed, it's pretty much impossible to find a turkey at any of the markets in France before Christmas. I just looked at her pitifully, cause that's how I felt. I just want a real Thanksgiving meal, that's ALL. I want turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes and stuffing. I'm American, I realize this. Some things will never change.

But. Wait. All of the sudden my professor looks at me and says "Chloe! Actually, I bought a frozen turkey this time last year at a shop called Picard! I can't make any promises, but that's probably your best bet." Frozen or not, I'll take it if it's a turkey! My class didn't finish until 7:45, and the typical French business closes hours before this, so I immediately sent a text to Aya explaining the news, and begging her to please please run to Picard to get my Thanksgiving Turkey! Haha Poor Aya, I can imagine her face when she got my message. But it was crucial!! Low and behold, half and hour later I get a text saying: "I bought 3" YES! YES! YES! YES! was all I could think!

My Thanksgiving turkeys may be small and frozen but, you know what? It's going to be a real Thanksgiving in Dijon.




Post about the actually dinner soon to come!

Miss everyone! And Happy Thanksgiving!

Bis!