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!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Milan!

 Italia! First time in Italy and it was so much fun! Not knowing a single word of Italian was a little stressful but it ended up being fine. As far as Italian men - I only got creeped out by the street performers.. It's difficult to describe but they would make eye contact with you when you walk by and motion for you to come over, but when I didn't, they made the "call me" motion and then made other strange gestures that I won't describe. But other than that, not even remotely as aggressive as I've heard from others who have been to Italy. Overall, it was a very cool trip. McDonald's in Italy is worth mentioning as well.. Best coffee I have ever ever tasted. I got a cappuccino and was literally in shock when I took a sip. It's so interesting how different McDonald's is in every country. Of course, Italian pizza was insane, and super cheap. Definitely a whole new culture than anything I've ever experienced!









There are all these men who stand in the city center with chips and before you know it you've got a hand full of chips and a million birds coming straight towards you. After pretty much all the skin is missing from your arm and you're wondering what exactly just happened, you are then asked to give these men a substantial amount of money for the wonderful Italian memory they just provided for you!



American Advertising ;) You can see this sign from almost anywhere in Milan! 



Gelato <33


Incredible Cathedral in the city center.. wow!! 



This man makes a living from carving carrots into various shapes.. So many things I want to say about this, but hey we're all gifted in different ways!



Italian food Mmmm.. 





Inside the Cathedral. Amazing! 








Roasting Hazelnuts outside, the smell made it impossible not to get some! 




The famous shopping center in Milan. Beautiful! 



Warhol exhibition 








Happened to walk past this statue, had to take a picture.