Last day in Paris

Wild. Where has the time gone? I can’t believe that I’m taking off for the US tomorrow. Since I didn’t have any classes for my last week or so in Paris, I made sure to “profite bien” as my host mother would say, or just get out there and enjoy yourself. I was very successful with going through my paris bucket list, and as a result i’m not leaving feeling like I left so much of Paris unseen.

So last weekend, I had picnics under the Eiffel Tower. 

Saw Napoleon’s tomb at Invalides

Saw an awesome exhibit at Palais Royale, by Anish Kapoor, Monumenta

Went to Giverny, Monet’s house and gardens in Normandy.

FINALLY got L’as du Falafel, the infamous falafel restaurant in the Marais that I hadn’t been to yet!

Went to the Musee Rodin, saw incredible sculptures and hung out in the gardens all afternoon.

Hit up Musee de l’art moderne AND Palais de Tokyo in one morning, here’s a mural from the modern art museum about electricity.

Went to Angelina’s to get hot chocolate one last time

Got gourmet Pizzas delivered to canal st martin for a picnic lunch. You order the pizza and they give you a balloon, then when it’s ready they ride delivery bikes along to canal until they find you. I got an amazing pizza with thin sliced duck, apples and goat cheese.

And now I’m packing everything up! I can hardly believe it. It probably hasn’t even hit me yet, so I’d advice checking back next week to see how goes my reverse culture shock, along with starting my internship and OMG turning 21.

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Done with Junior Year…what?

There you have it folks. As of 2:30 pm this afternoon, I took my last exam of the semester and now am free and done. It was tough for a while, that’s for sure. I usually like finals week at Bates, because everyone’s in the same situation and the only thing to do is study. But here, in Paris, the rest of the world doesn’t come to a crashing halt for exams– it was really difficult to focus and work hard! BUT, I survived. I took two exams at the Sorbonne, three exams with my program, and wrote an art history paper… which means I’m free!

But… I still have 11 days left in Paris. So what does that mean? Commence bucket list: Paris edition. All of my friends and I have compiled lists of things we want to do before we leave: things that we never got around to, things that sound cool, things that are so quintessentially Paris that it’d be a crime to leave without doing them. We’re comparing notes and putting together an incredibly epic plan for the next week that will keep us busy and happy, no regrets!

Step one, today, after my exam, I went to the Musee de l’Orangerie. Before the Musee D’Orsay opened in the late 80s, the Orangerie, which is at one end of the Tuileries gardens, housed most of the impressionists works. Now, however, it is home to incredible waterlillies painted by Monet and presented in giant white oval rooms with specific lighting that make for a peaceful but powerful experience. The permenant collection was also interesting: my friend Cora and I discussed our feelings on Renoir (both still lifes and portraits) as well as Cezanne and le Douanier Rousseau. The little art history knowledge I’ve gained since being here has certainly come in handy– there’s nothing more satisfying than looking at a painting and being able to say something true and maybe even insightful about it.

Here I am in front of one of Monet’s works!

The Budapest Weekend, or, How I was briefly penniless in Hungary

Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit Budapest, Hungary, where Bates runs a short term class on Central European theater and film. The course description is : A study of Hungarian, Polish, and Czech theater and film, focusing on the impact on these arts of the social and political changes of the last fifty years, from the Polish and Hungarian uprisings of 1956 to the rebuilding of culture in the region following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in 1989. While in Budapest, students view films at the Hungarian National Film Archive and attend performances of central European theater at the International Contemporary Drama Festival and the Hungarian National Theater. Visits to theater and film centers in Prague are also included. Sounds kind of awesome right?

This kind of short term course is a great option for Batesies who don’t want to commit to an entire semester abroad. These students spend 5 weeks, instead of 5 months in a foreign country, but still get exposed to a new language and culture.

As a student who is interested and active in theater at Bates, though not the theater department, I had many friends who were on the program, including one of my favorite professors, Kati Vecsey. So, though it was an expensive plane ticket, I decided that my last weekend trip while abroad would be to visit Hungary. What a great weekend I picked: Kati was able to get me tickets to go along with the class to shows. Friday night we saw Otello at the Opera house, (which was sung in Italian and subtitled in Hungarian) and Saturday we saw an incredible production of Moliere’s Misanthrope (which was also in Hungarian, and I’d never read it, but it was amazing nevertheless).


Travis, Danya, Michelle and I during one of the THREE intermissions at the Opera


Michelle, me, and Danya outside of the Opera (with a few special guests making cameo appearences)


Michelle and me out to dinner after the opera. Budapest was similar to Zagreb in that there were many pedestrian streets filled with restaurants and terraces. YUMMY. I had gnocchi.


The mighty Hotel Budapest: their home and classroom for 5 weeks


Look it’s a castle! Okay, so right nearby here happens to be where Katy Perry shot the final sequence of her music video for “Firework.” True confessions? It was one of my favorite guilty pleasure jams last semester so I FREAKED OUT when I heard it was nearby. Bummer of the century: they were setting up for some weird wine tasting or something so it was all closed. At least I got to take a little peek…


There I am! Solo shot, as per usual, just for you guys. Beautiful view beside some ancient ruins near the castle.


Here Danya acts as proof of where we dined for lunch: on a boat docked on the Danube. So classy, albeit a bit windy.

So I spent a wonderful weekend visiting my friends in Budapest, seeing amazing productions, even had a dinner with Kati (dreams do come true!) ! However, here I will note something that happened while I was away that is a problem that befalls many world travelers, and it was bound to happen at some point: my debit card got cancelled.

Throughout my time in Budapest, I’d been attempting to take money out from ATMs with no luck. I assumed at first it was a problem with the legitimacy of the ATMs, but soon realized something was wrong. So I called the bank (using google voice, duh) and found out that two weeks earlier, my card had been cancelled due to some fraud suspicions or something. Without notifying me. You’re probably thinking, wait, how did you not notice your card not working for 2 weeks? WELL, my parents were visiting me! I was being taken out to incredible meals! For the first time since coming to Paris I wasn’t obsessively counting pennies and taking out more money than I wanted to! So I didn’t notice…until I was penniless in Hungary. But, I was with friends. And they helped me out. And I made it home safely. And had 30 euros to my name for a while, but I called the bank every day and I now have a new card that works! Hooray! So, like I said, unfortunate but inevitable occurrence,  but I feel very lucky that it happened while I was surrounded by people who supported me.

Ok. Finals week in France. Harder than Bates, because the world keeps going on here. There’s PARIS things to do, like have a picnic in the park, or sit by the Seine. I don’t want to study for 4 exams or write my paper! But I must. So here I go…

T-Minus 2 weeks till the US. whew

It’s MAY?

It’s May. Did you know that? It’s already MAY. Which means my time abroad has reached its final month. Its final 26 days?? How is this possible? I have a feeling it has something to do with the month of April and how jam packed it was and how quickly it flew by… So, let us investigate the month of April further.

April 1-7: School. The 4th was my first test in my Sorbonne course on comparative literature, and I did well on it by the way! Most of this week was spent, however, running around in a frantic panic trying to prepare for spring break.

April 8: Leave for Italy– Arrive in Rome in the afternoon and meet my brother, Kevin at the huge train station. We drop our bags off in the hostel and take a whirlwind evening tour of the city. He drops quite a bit of impressive history on me, which is no doubt due to his job working at an abroad program in Tuscany. We hit all the monuments and ruins just as dusk has settled in on Rome and everything is beautiful. We had gelato before dinner, which ended up being pizza sold by the kilo. Perfection.

April 9: We checked out a museum of Roman history that was between our hostel and the train station to kill time before our train to Arezzo, the town in Tuscany where Kevin lives and works at the Academia Dell Arte.  It just so happens that one of my best friends from high school, Lucy, is studying dance there this semester. We arrived in the afternoon after a beautiful train ride through the Italian countryside and met Lucy and some other students in a ruin of an amphitheater, which is apparently very standard in those parts. That evening, we had an amazing dinner where I ate gnocchi with sage butter sauce and panna cotta and all sorts of other delicious things. I stayed up all night and watched the sun rise from the villa over the beautiful Tuscan landscape.

April 10: A lazy Sunday is the same thing  worldwide it seems. We lounged and eventually got supplies to cook a delicious dinner with Lucy and a few of her friends as well as my brother. Then we promptly passed out.

April 11: While everyone else had to go to class or work, I took a solo journey into Florence in the morning. One of my friends from elementary school, who lived down the street from me my entire life, happened to be studying there, so we met for lunch after I’d taken in the city. Amazing food. Amazing duomo. But, it was my last day, so I headed back to Arezzo to prepare to leave. It was really sad saying goodbye to my brother! I got a train back to Rome, and stayed in a hostel for the night before an early flight to Portugal!

April 12-15 Discovered that I’m in love with Portugal. Stayed at an incredible hostel, with dinners and free city tours and incredible staff. We saw the sights, went to the beach in Cascais, checked out the modern Oriente neighborhood. We were all really bummed out to leave to go to Spain, but headed to Madrid regardless, hoping to get back to Lisbon some day soon.

April 15-16: The afternoon in Lisbon was hot and beautiful; we went to the most lovely park and passed the afternoon sitting lake-side as Spanish people paddled around in boats in front of us. We were all feeling so great! Dinner was difficult as we ran into some language barriers– my friend Katy ended up receiving a plate full of raw salmon– definitely not what she expected. After dinner, disaster struck. We’d planned to buy our train tickets to Alicante the next day, but when we went to check the times online, everything was completely sold out. So were the buses. We spent 4 hours trying to figure something out but finally at 3 am we gave up, with the plan to wake up at 5 and get to the bus station when it opened, to try to get the last 4 spots on a 7am bus. Well, the bus was sold out, so we had to stick around until noon in the bus station, but we did eventually make it to our beach-side destination– though once we got there, it was cold. And windy.

April 17: Beach day, which was incredibly cold and windy but we made it work. We all ended up getting silly sunburns though, accidentally. We checked out the castle at the top of a hill in the center of the city and the views were incredible.

April 18-20: BARCELONA! The train to Barcelona was peaceful but we were all excited to get to what we’d heard was the most fun destination in Europe. Our hostel was very lively. We took a bike tour one day that was really fun; not what I was expecting seeing as I haven’t ridden a bike in years. It was a great way to see all the sights of the city quickly but thoroughly. I also ran into 6 different Batesies while I was in Barcelona– madness! Made me really excited for senior year!

April 21-22: Back in Paris, and my friend Liane from Bates happens to be visiting with her mom for April break. Liane and I went abroad opposite semesters so I hadn’t seen her in almost a year. We lounged in parks and had picnics and all sorts of other lovely french things.

April 23-27: PARENTS IN PARIS! My parents arrived and the weather was beautiful and we saw all sorts of sights and sat in cafes and ate THE MOST AMAZING FOOD! Since I’ve been here, I haven’t been eating out frequently because it’s so expensive, but with my parents I dined at all the most incredible restaurants. Lets just say I’ve never eaten so much “foie” or animal liver in my life..

.April 28-May 1: PROVENCE with my parents. We stayed in a beautiful “mas” or farmhouse in St Saturnin les Apt, in the Luberon region of Southern France. We spent the weekend exploring little towns with medieval ruins and old churches, and of course eating more incredible food. It was kind of stressful though, as I had to act as translator for all these people and that certainly put the pressure on. All in all, though, it was an incredible weekend.

See? Didn’t April go fast?? I hope May isn’t the same. Other than exams, the only thing on my calendar currently is a trip to BUDAPEST this weekend to visit the Bates short-term abroad class. Check back for a post on that!

Spring Break in pictures

Where have  I been? Well..

Rome

Arezzo

Florence

Lisbon

Cascais

Madrid

Alicante

Barcelona

Too many adventures to count! Now my parents are here and that is also a blast. Time is flying these days!

Normandy Photos

As promised, here are some photos from my weekend in Normandy. Also I might be a little absent next week– I’m leaving for spring break tomorrow! 12 days, three countries. HERE WE GO!


The view from our lunch spot in Bayeux, home of the Bayeux Tapestry.


Sitting at lunch, waiting for crepes!


Cathedral in Bayeux


SOLO SHOT! Me in front of the Cathedral doors


The US cemetery in Normandy


On the beach with Caroline


Above the beach with Caroline


War torn fields near the Point du Hoc


Mont St-Michel behind me. This was taken at 9 am on the side of the road.

There you have it– a sampling of pictures from normandy! Now I must PACK and DECIDE WHAT I AM WRITING MY THESIS ON and DO HOMEWORK and FINALIZE PLANS FOR VACATION. AH!!!

Taking Tests (en Francais)

Yikes. What I can only assume is midterm season in the french semester is upon me. This… is cause for alarm. Because frankly, taking these tests is HARD. Harder then Bates midterms, but only for one reason: that I’m not familiar with the system. At Bates, I am a meticulous planner. I do so many things (clubs, plays, classes, etc) that every minute must be planned out perfectly. And I thrive because of it! Being able to plan out exactly when I’ll brainstorm for a paper, when I’ll outline it, when I’ll draft it, when I’ll submit it for notes from the professor, and when I’ll pass in a final copy helps me live day to day without worry, knowing that I’ve planned and I’ll be able to complete my work satisfactorily and on time.

Things are different here. Mostly due to my unfamiliarity to their system, their way of thought, testing process, I feel helpless at times to ensure my success. Last Tuesday I took my first devoir sur table, which was a three hour in-class essay. All we knew before getting there was it would be on Diderot’s La Religieuse; even when another student asked the professor if it would be about the story, the author, or the political climate at the time of writing, he just laughed and told us it could be on anything! I read the book, in English and French. So in my studying I wasn’t focused on memorizing each happening in the story of a young woman and the terrors she faces while being shuffled from convent to convent. What I instead directed my attentions towards was the structure.

The professor had taken a lot of time to detail the “plan” — an outline/draft that French students write before recopying everything onto a final draft. This plan has a fully written out intro and conclusion, three large sections (a statement in favor of the thesis, a problematic against it, and a resolve) and within each, smaller subsections outlined out with examples. I took this very seriously; I worked hard on my plan because I assumed we had to pass it in, otherwise why would it be so specifically taught? If it was just a rough draft, couldn’t it be done any old way that worked? Next thing I know, there is only 15 minutes left and I’m barely recopying my second paragraph. I start to freak out. I’ve never had trouble with time management before. I barely could understand what had happened– I was convinced that the clock hadn’t been adjusted for daylight savings time and I had, in fact, an hour and 15 minutes to go. No dice. Frantically cutting and scribbling my conclusion, I was the last to pass in my pile of papers. My professor came up to me, and with a laugh said “All you American students do the same thing! You don’t need to pass in the plan…” I must have at this point been so entirely dumbfounded and sad looking, because he asked me, with kindness, if I’d finished. When I stammered “kind of” he looked at me for a few more seconds and then (THANK GOODNESS) said “you know what, why don’t I just take the plan too, just to see.” ***these conversations all happened in French, but I translated for you, dear readers.

I just really messed up. I didn’t manage my time well. I wasn’t used to that type of test. The time snuck up on me. I’m not upset– I’ll get what I get. But at least I know how to better manage my time (ie don’t put so much effort into the plan) for the next one!

Next up: tomorrow morning I have a reading quiz on all of the books for my comparative lit class. Spent my day today doing a lot of reading. Bring it on, Sorbonne!