Friday, September 27, 2013

Le Petit Suisse



Yes. I am dedicating an entire post to a yogurt/cheese product. And yes- it is THAT important. Le Petit Suisse has changed my life.

In the US we have cheese or yogurt. Not really an in between. In France, they have many variations of "fromage blanc" which is neither a cheese nor a yogurt, but a perfect, mind-blowing combination of both. A dear friend of mine who used to live in Paris told me that I must try Le Petit Suisse. And boy was she right. Rich, creamy, pure perfection in a container. Fromage blanc is typically eaten for dessert with a little sugar sprinkled on top, but it's perfect for breakfast as well! I like having mine with fruit (raspberries or a banana, yum!) Here's how you eat "A Little Swiss."

It began like any other yogurt.




Apologies for the bad jokes. And for the awkward one-handed thing I'm doing here. It's difficult trying to demonstrate and take the pictures!

But here's where it's different!



You dump it out, and it comes out in a perfect little sphere.



Then you unwrap it..







And now it's time to indulge!








I don't know how I'm going to go back to the US without a life long supply of these! It's strange we don't have them because they're made by Dannon ('Danone' in French)..

Anyway, that's what I've been having for breakfast every morning :) And only 135 cals. Good thing too cause even if they were 1000 calories, I couldn't resist!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Frenchy Friday

I've seen on some blogs how certain days have themes. Thanks to my creative sister, I've decided to post a "Frenchy Friday" each week. Even if I don't post anything else that week, I will always post on Friday, and it will always include something interesting I have learned about French culture.

My first Frenchy Friday, I have a list of interesting things I have learned.. Some of this, we have discussed in my French language class- which has turned out to be a French culture class taught in French. It's very very interesting. Shall we begin?

1. The French are much more aware of using electricity and recycling than Americans. My host has a heart attack if I leave a light on when I leave the apartment. Even the most economic person in the US doesn't compare to a French person. At the supermarket, they don't give you plastic bags for your groceries so you either have to bring your own, or purchase them. Of course, we all know how small the cars are here. It's a very integrated part of the French lifestyle.

2. There is a tram system here in Dijon which I began using when my mom was still here. You can buy tram cards at each stop for either a certain number of rides or for a certain length of time. When you get on the tram, there are little sensors where you scan your card, but there is no one watching to make sure everyone is following the rules. We were curious how they go about regulating this. A few days after my mom left, a guy from Dijon showed me around the city and explained that there are men who get on the tram randomly and have little hand held machines that can tell exactly when you used your card and if the card is valid. It's very serious because if they catch you using the tram without paying, they charge you 50 euros on the spot! You even have to pay if you have a valid card in your hand but did not swipe it for that ride. My mom and I are so lucky because we definitely rode the tram a couple of times with expired cards...

3. Yesterday morning I woke up with a sore throat. When I told my host this, she flipped out and immediately opened a cabinet that contained a LEAST 3 times the amount of medicine we have at my house in KY. I thought this may just be a personal thing because, well my host isn't the most "normal" person. But this week we talked about this in my French language class. Our teacher explained that French people are generally obsessed with medicating themselves, for any reason at all. That's why there are so many pharmacies in France (and it's true! on every street corner!) My host pulled out 3 different types of pills for me to take!! I rarely rarely take medicine, so I thanked her and told her I would try to drink water and sleep it off before I take medicine. She looked horrified!

4. If you come to France, do NOT bring Rainbow sandals. I cannot begin to tell you the number of comments I have gotten about my sandals. Everyone says that's how they knew I was American when they first saw me. I knew coming to France that they don't really wear sandals here but I didn't think it was specifically "American" of me to wear them. Unfortunately they are the most comfortable shoes I brought and I have no other choice until I find some others. Oh the jokes.. They are never ending.

That's all for today, folks! I may add a 5th later, but I have overstayed my visit at La Chouette. The owner is too nice to tell me to leave, but he's cleaning up, so I'm going to pack up and go get dinner!

Hope you enjoyed the first of many Frenchy Fridays!

Un week-end à Lyon


Lyon was a dream. 


 An absolute dream. 


We met at the school early Saturday morning where they informed us that we were taking a bus! The trip only took about 2 hours and when we arrived, it was SO warm and sunny ! (Dijon was freezzzing that morning !) We were thrilled to have some good weather.


The first thing we did was find the hostel so we could drop off our things and begin touring the city! Little did we know, it was located at the tippy top of a mountain! 




And apparently they were preparing for some rollerblading competition which was taking place DOWN this mountain!

The only unexpected part of the trip was that, even though Melting Potes is student-led we still expected SOMEONE over the age of 18 to be with us. But no. The 2 students heading up the entire trip were 18 years old. And they were not very good at hiding how unprepared they were to be in charge of 50 exchange students. Paul and Anaïs. What a strange pair they were. Let's just say Paul showed up sporting a blouse with a neckline lower than any gal on the bus, and his hips! I only dream of having hips that small. To be honest, there was some discrepancy as to what gender Paul was until he had introduced himself. And Anaïs.. Ohh boy. Anaïs definitely made up for Paul's small stature if you know what I mean. The hilarity began as we were approaching the hostel, sweating, starving, and exhausted.. All of the sudden we hear Anaïs curse in French and announce that she left her luggage at the train station- where the bus had dropped us off to walk to the hostel. "Like, on the ground?" I asked. And she replied that yes, she must have set it down and left it. It is all Ioanna and I can do not to BURST OUT laughing. She had walked all the way to the hostel empty-handed and not felt like anything was missing?? So she sets off back down the mountain to fetch her bag, although everyone is doubtful it's still there. Surprisingly enough, she does return with her bag, even more sweaty than before. After everyone dropped off their things, we set off down the mountain again! I'm not kidding when I say, when we reached the bottom of the mountain Anaïs curses in French again and announces again that she has left something back at the hostel. Are you serious!??? Ioanna and I look at each other and I got worried I was going to suffocate with laughter.

It only took a few hours of being in Lyon with Paul and Anaïs to realize that we would get a lot more sight seeing done on our own. So Ioanna and I and a few others took off on our own and managed to see all of the really important "touristy" spots that first day. We spent about 3 hours walking through the biggest park in Lyon. It was incredible!


There is this big Lyon sign that everyone (but mostly just children) climbs on. So obviously we decided join them haha




There were paddle boats you could take, or these cute family bicycle things, but they were a little expensive, so we just walked. 




All of the sudden we walked around a corner and no joke, there were like 10 deer, just hanging out in this green area surrounded by a stone wall for people to watch.


You could get so close!



And next, there were giraffes! How cool is that! We had so much fun walking around, but we were dying for water. Every food stand sold bottles of water but they were 3 euros a piece! We refused. Looking back on it we probably should have just gotten some because we had a good 4 mile walk back to the hostel. That hike up the mountain was not pleasant. I don’t think I have ever been that thirsty. Thank goodness the hostel had FREE water. Ioanna was so happy. Obviously haha


 And it was ice cold- something you just don’t find here. You can't even buy bags of ice in the super markets in France. 

Too much fun.








The following day, there was a huge outdoor market along the Rhône so Ioanna and I bought some cheese and bread and had a picnic on one of the bridges over the river. It didn't feel real. Comté makes everything seem surreal ;) Ask my mom, she sent me a picture yesterday of some Comté she ordered from Amazon because it's so much better than any cheese we have in the US!



Until we meet again Lyon. <3

Friday, September 20, 2013

les courses

TGIF. Seriously. I have been nervously awaiting this day since we found out our class schedules last week! While everyone else started on Monday or Tuesday, I didn't start until today! The reason I have been anxious about starting- I only knew of two other exchange students who were taking their classes in French. On Wednesday I found out that BOTH of them had dropped the French track, and switched to English. Apparently they didn't understand anything that was going on and it was very stressful.. Great. So I woke up early this morning, with thoughts of anything and everything that could go wrong running through my head. As much as I wanted to take my courses in French, if it is just totally over my head, there's nothing I can really do about that..

I arrived in front of classroom 204A about 5 minutes early. There was a group of about 15 students waiting in front of the door. I didn't recognize a single face, and they were all obviously French. I thought this definitely couldn't be right. I had assumed that the international students take their classes together, just in French or in English... I asked one of the students who was waiting outside the classroom if this was Statégique Marketing and she replied that yes it was and I am in the right place. So being on the "French Track" means you are taking your classes with native French speakers... I began to panic..What was I thinking!? What am I DOING!? I don't speak fluent French, not even CLOSE! I hate to admit it but I definitely considered just pretending like I had written down the wrong classroom number and BOLTING. Just as the students began filing into the classroom, the girl I was speaking to motioned for me go in and said to just double check with the teacher that I am in the right place. I walked up to the teacher and explained that I am an exchange student, taking my courses in French and wanted to be sure I am in her class. She got this huge smile on her face and said she has never had an American student take her course in French! She told me that she teaches this course in English as well  (for the English track) and would be happy to send me the Power Points anytime I need them. After speaking with her I felt 100 percent more at ease. And the girl I had met before class had even saved me a seat beside her! She was so kind and explained anything I didn't understand. 3 hours later (they have the longest lectures!!) I left my first class of the semester feeling so relieved and happy. I understand how that could have been a terrible experience, but God was totally watching over me with that teacher and the French girl who befriended me.

It has been raining pretty consistently in Dijon this week, but when I left school today, the sun was shining and it was gorgeous outside. I couldn't stop smiling my whole way home.

Good day in Dij ;)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Flambé

Bon Matin! It's a very cloudy day in Dijon today so I decided to put off my morning run for a few hours and work on my blog :)

Before I go into everything that has happened during the last couple of days, I should probably explain why I haven't had school this week. The way classes are set up here is very different that in the US. We were given instructions on how to find our class schedule online, but were told that we must check the schedule every week because they are subject to change. When I signed onto the school website, it said I only have class this week on Friday, and next week only on Monday! What am I going to do with myself! It makes me really thankful I chose to do a homestay this semester because I have so much spare time, and she always has things she wants to do with me. Which brings me to the the last couple of days!

Yesterday morning I woke up to my host knocking on my door. She explained that she had decided to join me on my morning run. I had to fight not to laugh. You see, there's almost a 2 foot difference in our heights, and.. just the thought of going on a run together made me laugh so hard. I already get funny looks when I go running on the street. I can't imagine the reaction if people saw a young girl sporting yoga pants and a Kentucky sweatshirt running with a little lady who would no doubt want to scream in French the entire time. When she started explaining that we may have to stop every now and then due to her asthma I immediately said I had planned on just going on a walk that morning. So we took a walk and on our way home stopped at the bakery to pick up the baguette for the day.




 After the bakery, we hurried home so that Madame could begin preparing lunch- her son, Benoit was coming over. She prepared a delicious feast of Ratatouille, roast beef, and green beans (which she grows in her garden!). Interesting side not- The French eat radishes with a little salt and butter almost everyday. I had seen this exact snack sold at school, but did not know how common it is. We began lunch with this. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did! Radishes have such a powerful flavor, but I think this will become something I crave!



Benoit is such a nice guy, and he speaks a little English so I was able to ask him a million questions. He's a teacher here in Dijon and has 2 children. I really want to meet all of Madame's grandchildren! It's surprising to me that she hasn't seen any of them since I've been here.. My mom can hardly go a day without seeing the babes. ;)

After lunch, Madame and I went to Troison D'or, the big shopping mall in Dijon. It's nice with some really great shops. There is a Carrefour attached to it, a massive supermarket where you can find almost everything. I bought a few notebooks for school.

That evening, Madame was kind enough to let me invite Ioanna and Thomas over for dinner. When they arrived, they had a bottle of wine to give to Madame, which automatically pleased her ;) It was a little bit difficult at communicating at first because Thomas doesn't speak any French, but soon they realized that they both could speak a little Dutch! Madame had mentioned that she had learned a little Dutch in school, but I had not heard her speak much. Ioanna speaks great French, so she and Madame got along great!



That evening we had crêpes - both salty and sweet, and Madame was so excited to show us how to make "Crêpes Flambé."






They were so delicious, I cannot even explain. We had a great time laughing and talking for a few hours, and Ioanna and Thomas loved Madame. 

We decided that Madame and I are going to host a big Thanksgiving feast and invite all of my friends from school :) Cooking a turkey for the first time should be an experience!

I should go, love and miss everyone!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Bon Dimanche!

It's entirely too late for me to be up, but I don't have class tomorrow so I thought I'd take advantage.

Today I got up around 8 and had coffee with Madame before we headed to church. We had decided earlier in the week that we would go to the protestant church together. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. When we walked in, the service had already started. There were about 40 people in the congregation, and a woman was preaching. To be honest, I didn't understand the majority of the message.. It was a lot of vocabulary I had never heard, but that's a good thing! We sang the doxology in French which was really neat. And we also said the Lord's Prayer in French, which made me so thankful for Mrs. Bradshaw. ;) After 4 years I can still recite that. There were three adorable little French children sitting in the row in front of us- two boys and a girl- and the little girl kept turning around and just staring at me.. Like she could tell I wasn't French! She wasn't staring at Madame, just me! It was so funny. When it was time to take communion, the entire congregation got up and formed a circle around the Pastor. And then, I almost laughed out loud- for the bread, the Pastor broke a baguette. A baguette. The crackling echoed through the whole church. Yep, I am definitely in France. That was some of the most delicious (okay, the only delicious) communion bread I have ever had. The lady beside me took the biggest chunk, I thought I was going to lose it.. The French really do take their bread seriously. ;) After communion everyone sat back down and we sang one last hymn. The Pastor made a few announcements and then, all of the sudden Madame started ushering me to stand up. Apparently the Pastor was asking the new comers to stand up and introduce themselves. Despite my objections, I ended up standing up and explaining that my name is Chloe and I am a student at the business school this semester (in French, bien sûr). Et voila! No problem. After that, the little girl really couldn't keep her eyes off of me! Haha It was like I was from another planet. As soon as people started getting up she ran up to me and said, (in the CUTEST little French voice) "Excusez-moi Madame?" And I knelt down and said "Oui?" and she said, "Est-ce que vous êtes Français?" So I was right! She could tell.. And I had even worn all black in hopes of resembling a French girl ;) I explained that I am an American from the state of Kentucky! I might as well have said I was from another planet, she just continued to stare at me with even wider eyes. :) I had to fight the urge to tell the parents that I am a seasoned babysitter and would be more than happy to watch their children whenever they need it/all day everyday for the rest of forever. After that, a lot of people wanted to come say hello to "The American." Madame was so excited to tell everyone I am living with her. An elderly lady who came up to me made sure to mention that the Pastor of the church is a male and that the lady today was just filling in for him. Also, I was able to ask about any choirs in Dijon, and apparently there is a group that meets every Saturday evening, just to get together and socialize and sing. It sounds like a lot of fun. I miss singing so much! They also told me that they have a college get together ever Tuesday night at the church, so I'm definitely going to try that out this week!

After church I met up with Amanda, Ioanna, and Thomas for coffee and then we walked around the city a little. Everything is closed on Sundays so you just walk the streets. That's how it is for most of France. It's really nice actually.

The day ended with a delicious dinner with Madame and then my first (of hopefully many!) official French lesson. :) We have decided to go from the very beginning so that I can teach her a little English as we go.



I am so blessed to have gotten a host who is so happy to teach. She is so excited to help me with my French, it really couldn't have worked out more perfectly.

All in all, a great Sunday in Dijon. Exciting to think I may have found a church family here! :)

I really should get to sleep, I've been typing so slowly so I don't make any noise! Speaking of which, one of the professors at the school gave a talk to the exchange students this week about culture differences, get this- In France, there is a law that if someone in your building calls and complains that you're being too loud between 10pm and 8am, a police officer has the right to show up at your door and demand 70 euros!! Talk about motivation to respect your neighbors!

On that note, I'm going to sleep!

Bonne nuit les amis!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Amazing.

Amazing.

That's really the only word I can think of to describe my first 3 days at L'ecole de Commerce. I hate that I am just now getting a chance to post! This week was so busy. From Wednesday- Friday we had seminars/meetings/tours to attend from 9am- about 7pm. And after that, everyone wanted to go get drinks, and after THAT the school had events planned for the exchange students. They have done a great job providing tons of opportunities for the international students to get acquainted.

There is a student union called "Melting Potes" that's led by a few French students at the school and is specifically for the international students. It's really great: for a small fee the exchange students can join the union and participate in various events and trips throughout their time in Dijon. Registration for this was yesterday and I have already signed up to go to Lyon next weekend with 50 other exchange students! As I was standing in line to pay, I met two students from Greece, some hilarious guys from Canada, a couple girls from Italy, and some of the tallest (and most gorgeous!) girls I've ever seen from Russia! It's just incredible. And the conversations we have are priceless. The Canadians are always giving me a hard time because I'm American, but I just have to remind them they come from the land of Bieber fever, "Eh?" ;)

And ohhh my, the Russians. The clothes they wear! They always look like models. Heels, hand bags, sunglasses. Fantastic. Speaking of which, I have to mention something really interesting I learned this week! I met a very cool French girl who is studying at the ESC as well. We started talking about French fashion and she explained that she used to date the son of the owner of Zara and learned a lot about the company. She said that the Zara collections are exact replicas of the current designer brand collections (Chanel, Burberry, Dior, etc.), and that if you see a piece on the runway, the likelihood that it will be at Zara in the next month or so, is very high. Check this out.. I have been obsessing over this $2,400 Burberry leather jacket.




Now look at this jacket Zara has in store right now for $100





It has less metal detailing, but it's so similar. The arm detailing is almost exactly the same. I'm in love :)

The very first day of school, I met up with a girl named Amanda who also goes to UK. She happens to be studying Accounting as well, but we had never met! It was so nice having someone to speak English with a little bit. Since my mom left, I only had my host to communicate with. For 3 days straight! So good for my French though, I can't complain.  

We didn't have to be at school too early that day so we went to a little café that my mom and I found when she was visiting called La Chouette. It. Is. Heaven. The owner is so kind, and loves meeting foreigners. The restaurant is situated right in front of Notre Dame, so you have the most amazing view if you sit outside. And there's free wifi which is always convenient! I can see myself studying here quite a bit this semester. Here is a picture from the time my mom and I went.



And here is one from two nights ago. A few of us went and sat outside and had some cidre and vin! Mm! That's the view of Notre Dame! So cool.



After Amanda and I got coffee at La Chouette, we walked around in the city center a little bit. It was so cold that day, and I didn't bring any shoes for in between weather, so I got a pair of Chelsea boots from a French shoe store called Eram. They're very comfortable and so in style here.

When we walked into school, we had to find "Amphitheatre Zilla." I don't know why, but that made me laugh so hard. We walked in and were given packets, schedules, and gift bags. Of course I chose to sit in the very front row.. A second later, a guy sat down next to me and we began talking. Super super nice guy, turns out he's from Belgium! He introduced me to his roommates who sat down next to him. One is from Canada, and the other from The Netherlands (pronounced "Dah Ned-ah-lends"). I was so happy when Belgium told me that he is taking all of his classes in French, and that his French is much worse than his English. Just like mine :) After a long day of welcomes from various members of the school faculty and orientations about EVERYTHING, we were finally free to go. The Melting Potes had organized a get together for the international students at a bar in town, so Amanda and I and the 3 guys I sat next to at orientation decided to go. It was great, I met a few other American students, a guy from Sweden, and a girl from FINLAND! The first thing I said was, "Hey hey hey!". She laughed soo hard. She knew exactly what I was quoting. I told her that she had just allowed me to cross something off of my bucket list. I had been wanting to meet someone from Finland ever since I saw Shopaholic. (I dream big, obviously.)

Something that has remained constant, regardless of nationality: When I tell them that I am from Kentucky, the automatic response, from EVERYONE: "AHH KFC!" One French guy I met said "Oh really? I am from KFC." Haha Who would have known that KFC would be the most relatable topic between me and the rest of the world. #sad

As I said before, when I was waiting in line to join the Melting Potes (yesterday), I met two students from Greece. I absolutely ADORE them. The girl's name is Ioanna (pronounced Johanna) and the guy's name is Thomas. They both look very Greek (dark hair, beautiful) and speak very good English- just like everyone here. We spoke a lot while we waited and I could tell that I am going to be really good friends with Ioanna. At first, I thought they were dating, but then Ioanna mentioned her boyfriend in Greece. I told them that I thought all Greek guys were named Costas ;) And they said that is actually pretty accurate. They also said that "My Big Fat Greek" wedding is very realistic. I laughed so hard. That night we agreed to meet at La Chouette for drinks and then maybe stop by another event that the Melting Potes was hosting. This is a perfect time for socializing and building relationships because once classes really begin we will all be so busy. Amanda, Ioanna, Thomas and I sat at La Chouette and talked for a couple hours. It was so nice. I learned that Thomas is a Latin dance instructor in Greece and has been going through major dance withdrawal. You can imagine my reaction.. !!!! We had so much to talk about. He told me that he took a lesson with my favorite dancer of all time.. I almost died! We had both heard that there is a Salsa club in Dijon, so the four of us left to find it. Unfortunately the dancing didn't start until very late so we decided to go meet up with the other exchange students. It was kind of late by the time we left, so Ioanna and Thomas insisted on walking me home. It was so sweet. Such a great night, and such nice people.

I better go, Madame is taking me around Dijon today to visit some monuments. Apparently today and tomorrow, every public monument and building in France is open to the public, free of charge. Pretty cool! I'll post again this evening :)

Au revoir! Miss everyone!

Monday, September 9, 2013

La Maison de Campagne

My first morning in Dijon, I woke to the smell of apples, butter, and sugar. Madame was making a tart!




She told my mom and I that she grows apples at her country home and loves to cook with them. Madame is from a tiny village (of only 100 people) located about 45 minutes from Dijon. Her husband is also from this town (so sweet, they met when they were kids!) and his grandparent's house was passed down to her and her husband. Madame and her husband had two sons who now have families and she said that her grandchildren love visiting the country home! She goes almost every week and each time brings home enough fruits and vegetables to last her weeks! We told her that we live in the country in Kentucky and love it. She was so thrilled and immediately decided that we must take a trip that afternoon to see it!

Visiting this country home was one of the most amazing experiences! We drove through gorgeous countryside, and passed sunflower fields, corn fields, you name it. When we pulled up to the village, she pointed out where she was born, and baptized (she's a practicing Catholic). She waved to her brother who was on a tractor, and pointed to her sister's home. She is the oldest of SIX! And then we arrived.. This house. Ohh this house! When we arrived, there were two people there to greet us. One was the sister of Madame's husband and the other, a sweet old Frenchman, who is just a family friend. They were both visiting from Grenoble. When the three of them were together, you could tell they have been friends forever.

Madame took us inside and explained that the house was built in the 17th century. She gave us a ton of other history, but I'm afraid I couldn't translate the majority of it. After we saw the house it was time for fruit and vegetable picking! As we walked to the garden she told us that she loves to grow something called a "mirabelle" which we don't have in the US, but they are to die for! They're similar to plums but smaller and vibrant yellow and red. Very sweet, and perfumey. As soon as we got to the first mirabelle tree, the Frenchman grabbed the trunk and just started shaking the tree. My mom who was directly under the tree, started getting absolutely PELTED with mirabelles. I thought I was going to die laughing. The scene was movie material.



Aren't they pretty! We picked some apples as well.



It was a wonderful day. On our way back to Dijon, I had to take a picture of the sunset.







Dijon: Day 1

I am FINALLY posting from my very own room! I've been dying to post about Dijon since I arrived, but getting wifi here has been extremely difficult. I took my computer to the Apple store here, and met with a computer technician to see if he could help me. He tried, but it didn't work. When I told my host what was going on, she informed me that her son is a computer engineer! He came by this morning and fixed it! I am so relieved. Having to study somewhere else all semester would have been so complicated. So here I am! On my computer, in my very own room in Dijon, France. It's still feeling like a dream. I have SO MUCH to fill you in on. I really do not even know where to begin. 

We left off at the train station, where my host-we're going to call her Madame- had finally shown up to load us into her car et ALLER! The next few hours were a blur. She zoomed out of the little parking lot in front of La Gare de Dijon, speaking a mile a minute. I had been curious to find out if she speaks any English at all. And I got my answer in the first 30 seconds: not a single word. I seriously have never heard French spoken so continuously and so fast. Oh. My. And every other second my mom would ask me what she was saying. The funniest part was that she didn't understand that my mom doesn't speak any French so she would look at my mom and go on and on and meanwhile, my mom is trying her hardest not to smile. Also, Madame is a very intense person so just shouting with enthusiasm isn't enough, she must be at least 3 inches from your face, and nudging you every five seconds. If you're picturing chaos- that's exactly what it was. Between the constant flow of incomprehensible sounds coming out of Madame's mouth, my mom's confusion, and the speed at which we were flying down these tiny cobblestone streets, I thought my brain was going to explode. We turned down a tiny street and before I knew it, Madame had managed to squeeze her bite-sized car into half of a parking spot. However, I had a sneaking suspicion she was actually in contact with the car parked in front of us. My suspicion was confirmed when she got out and began motioning angrily that they had room to pull up. Expecting her to get back in the car to at least make it LOOK like she didn't bump the car in front of her, you can imagine my surprise when she just LEAVES US IN THE CAR. My mom and I just look at each other for a good 30 seconds, taking in the last 2 minutes with this manic little elf-woman. 

We finally see Madame emerge carrying a massive baguette. How stereotypical of her I think. "Pour le dîner," she tells us. For dinner. We finally make it to her house. Madame lives in a gated apartment complex about half a mile from my school. It's very nice and most of the residents are older. Madame told us that she lives alone now because her husband died two years ago from pulmonary cancer. :( He was only 58. It was very sad to hear about. Madame recently had her 60th birthday. Her apartment is very cute, clean, and organized. She showed us her living room/dining room area, the kitchen, and finally I got to see my room! It's adorable and so cozy, with a big window that looks out onto the street my school is on. Madame let my mom sleep in her room which was so kind.

After getting settled in, Madame took us on a walk to see my school, which is called the ESC. I kind of freaked out over it. It has a really cool atmosphere because they built onto one of the original buildings in the city, so it's modern and old at the same time. The funniest part was when I walked in, the first thing I saw was a bar. In the school. Madame saw my surprised look and said, "You don't have bars in your school in the US?." Hahaha no. 

After walking around the ESC a little bit, we explored the area around the school. It's incredibly beautiful. We slept very well our first night in Dijon :) 


Thursday, September 5, 2013

#wifiprobs


My mom and I are currently sitting in an Asian café located in a French supermarket. It's the only place we've been able to find wifi in the city of Dijon. My host had her son write down her wifi information but apparently he wrote something incorrectly. So we're here! 

It has seriously been a whirlwind since the last time I posted.. Catching the train to Dijon was just comical. Meeting my host- more comical. I am living with the single most enthusiastic, talkative, and ridiculously hilarious person I've ever met. And that is no exaggeration- ask my mom. 

When my mom and I arrived at the Gare de Lyon (a train station in Paris), we had to first print off our tickets. For some reason only one of our tickets printed so we were sent to the back of a very long line of angry-looking people who also had a problem acquiring their tickets. When we finally got to the front of the line to speak with someone, it soon became clear that, due to the malfunction of the ticket kiosk, my mom was going to have to pay (a second time) for the ticket that did not print. You can imagine my mom's reaction. Thankfully the woman helping us didn't speak a word of English, so I just told her my mom was having a rough day and that we didn't blame her for the inconvenience. :) Long story short, we made it onto the correct train at the correct time. 

When we arrived in Dijon, we had to carry our luggage down about 30 steps... Keep in mind I was carrying a 60 pound suitcase, my LongChamp, and my camera bag.. And wearing my boots (they're too large to pack). Most of you know about a certain incident involving said boots, a flight of stairs, and a terrible ankle injury.. So you can imagine my concern. Enter my mom. I have never been so thankful for my mother. I'm pretty sure I'd still be at the top of that flight of stairs had she not come to my rescue. That or in the hospital with two broken legs. Together we successfully lugged my enormous suitcase down the stairs. 

Now to find my host. For this to make sense, you must hear about the phone conversation we had to discuss the details of my arrival in Dijon. I was able to call her from my hotel in Paris.. "Bonjour?," she said. I replied that it was "Chloé" and let me tell you, I have never heard French spoken that quickly.. I told her that I had made it to Paris and would be arriving in Dijon the following day at "douze heure". "Douze" in French is the number 12. So obviously I assume that the number 12 would be sufficient to convey my arrival time.. Of 12. Before saying goodbye she described herself a little bit so that I would know what to look for at the train station. I didn't understand all of it, but I definitely heard "tall" and "brown hair." Now fast forward to 12 o'clock the following day. My mom and I are patiently waiting at the arrival entrance for a tall lady with brown hair. We wait. And we wait. Uh oh.. By 1:30 I know something is wrong. There is no way to contact her and we can't just take a cab to her house and show up unannounced! I begin to wonder about the time I had given her. I walk over to a woman working at the café next to us and ask what time "douze heure" is and she replies "in 30 minutes." Ahhhh then I understood. And vaguely remembered learning that "midi" means noon. Wish I had remembered that on the phone.. At 2, my mom and I are eagerly standing at the entrance again. 2:15.. Uh oh.. Then I begin to question the DAY I gave her! I walk back over to the lady at the café and as I begin to speak to her I see a woman approach my mom with a piece of paper. She was short (more than a foot shorter than me) with a flaming (flaming!) red pixie haircut and holding a piece of paper. I assumed she was probably asking my mom for some change or something so I turn back around. Then I hear my mom say "CHLOE!" And low and behold- my host had found us! There it was, my name written on her piece of paper! She gave me a huge hug and immediately went into this story about everyone at the train station telling her that no train arrived at 2 that day! "How strange!" I kept saying. Hahaha Well there was no need to tell her, she would have just felt bad.. 

My mom and I are leaving the café now but I'll keep the posts coming anytime we have wifi. 

À bientôt!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Paris: Le premier jour

Well we've spent two days in Paris, and there is so much to tell! Before I begin, I realized I never explained that my mom and I left about 10 days before my classes begin so that we could travel a little bit. We decided to spend the first two days in Paris and then take the train to Dijon (tomorrow!!) where we will spend a week getting to know the city and the surrounding area. I told my host about this a couple of months ago and she immediately offered to meet my mom and I at the train station, and insisted that we stay with her. Until today, I had only been in correspondence with my host through email. I was able to call her this morning however, and that is a story in itself! But first, let's go back to yesterday morning.

My mom and I landed in Paris around 8am France time (2am our time!). I had my first French conversation in the cab from the airport to our hotel! It was so exciting. And slow haha. We are staying in an area of Paris we don't know very well called Saint Germain. It's on the left bank and is just gorgeous. After getting checked in, we immediately got dressed to go explore the city. We began with getting lunch at a café my mom was dying to try. It's apparently one of Ina Garten's favorite places to eat in Paris, called Café de Flore. 




It was really nice, and we got to sit outside and people watch- which is our favorite thing. But wait, enter almost-toothless sketchy waiter man. Before we left, I decided to ask our waiter for directions to a market we wanted to visit. As I was speaking he started to.. stroke my hand? And I'm pretty sure by the time I was finished talking he was actually holding my hand! Let's just say I could NOT make eye contact with my mom or I was going to burst out laughing. So he gives us directions and we thank him and as we begin to walk away he starts to speak really rapidly under his breath and goes "It was very nice to meet you I hope to see you again very soon I love you" just like that. Excuse me!?? French. MEN. That is all I'm saying. He HAD to have seen my mom and I come to a complete stop in the street to get all of our laughter out. So that was our first meal experience! And within the first 3 hours of being in France.. jet lagged out of my mind, it's too soon for that! 

We spent the rest of the early afternoon exploring the Saint Germain area. We stopped at a Foucher chocolate shop called "Chocolat" and had some delicious expresso (and chocolate, of course). Yum!





That evening we took a long walk to the Eiffel Tower. It doesn't matter how many times I stand in front of that monument, it will always shock me. Something that enormous is so hard to even fathom. All you want to do is stare! Of course we had to take an Eiffel Selfie! Elfie? Selfel? That needs a name. It's so epic!



Around 7, we were getting too tired to think but we knew we should try to stay up a little longer. We walked to the Louvre, another one of my favorites. We sat outside and ate at a café called Le Café Marly which overlooks the Louvre. It was so picturesque and the food was phenomenal. My mom got croque madame, a traditional French sandwich that has a fried egg on top. I got smoked salmon, Mmm. 



When we got back to the hotel, we went straight to sleep. I slept for a solid 10 hours that night. And it felt amazinggg. :)

Unfortunately it is entirely too late for me to be up and I don't have time to post about what we did today. Tomorrow morning, we are taking the train to Dijon where I will (finally!!) meet my host and see where I'll be living this semester! I've heard such great things about Dijon and I am so ready to call it my home. I'll work on my final post about Paris while I'm on the train to Dijon. Until then! À bientôt!



Bon Matin de Paris!

Good morning from Paris! We finally made it and it is lovely. This morning it is crisp and sunny, in the mid 50s. Absolutely gorgeous! Here is the view from our hotel. 




Is that not breathtaking!? That's Notre Dame! And I'm mildly obsessed with window sill plants.. They are everywhere here! Unfortunately I don't have much time to write, but I'll update you on our first couple of days in Paris later today. 

Au revoir!