Une semaine pour des pensants profond

I wish I could record the conversations I have with my host mom. She says some of the funniest and wisest things. Examples:

1. Over dinner the other night we were talking as normal, and somehow the topic of marriage and children came up. I don’t remember in what order things were said, but I mentioned how I want to maybe have one child of my own but adopt as many as I can from all of the world. She liked that idea because since we have the same name she says that we have pretty much the same character qualities, and thus generous and caring of others, etc. I agree for the most part, I want to adopt because I know there are millions of children in the world who are suffering, and while I can’t help them all try as I might, I can help a few. But then when I mentioned that I may or may not get married she got serious. “You must you must (get married)” she said. “But I’m not really the marrying type!” “No no no, you have to get married. Raising children is hard and you need a companion to help you out!” I tried to argue saying that honestly as much as I would want to get married, I don’t know if I will ever find someone who would want to marry me..and raise a billion kids with me…but those ideas are hard to express in french, so I just said “yes yes that’s true I suppose, I’ll tryto get married.” She was happy after that. But don’t worry, this does not mean I’m going to get married any time soon. Or any time in the distant future. But in case anyone asks, I have to get married. Okay Cathy. (If she knew my american self she would realize just how incredibly awkward I am, and how therefore marriage/ dating is incredibly difficult- but alas, the french don’t understand sarcasm, or awkwardness for that matter, so all I can do is nod my head, say yes, and eat more bread)

2. The french like to talk. They never have silence during conversations. So even if you weren’t previously having a conversation (as in I’m in my room bent over my notes studying for a midterm) a conversation will inevitably start (as in Cathy just comes in and sits down and starts talking deep thoughts). Last nights topic of deep conversation was in regards to relationships (again, I promise we talk about more than that) and how the most important quality in a person is adaptation. More or less how the conversation began. But Cathy proceeded to talk about how important it is to be able to adapt to another person and respect their likes and dislikes and not try to limit the other person from doing the things that matter most to them. When I added how I don’t understand how people can live successfully without adapting, well, that took the conversation to a whole new level (because she knew I understood what was going on, so she was excited). It was a short 5-10 minute conversation, but filled with all sorts of life insights on life and living. Deep down, all humans really are more or less the same. I’m no expert, but there’s must some validity to the argument that all humans are connected and ingrained with similar basic moral values. Or maybe not. Please don’t quote me.

Other tid-bits.

ONE DAY AND A HALF. until vacation. and london. and copenhagen.

I’m only a tinsie bit excited. And a little nervous that I will miss a flight or a train or something. And I can’t allow myself to be nervous about getting lost, since it’s 99% certain. But I can’t wait to see my friends, meet they’re friends, explore two new countries of europe (cause really I’ve only ever been to France), eat different foods, and take a break from french.

I realized last night that I didn’t know how to spell “you’re welcome” in french. 6 years since I first started studying french. A little pathetic. It’s “de rien”, literally translating as “of nothing”.

I just watched a french movie with Cathy about President Obama. Very interesting. And considering how much the French love him, it wasn’t (at least to me) entirely positive- lots of criticism of foreign policy. But I must say that I learned more watching it than I did in high school/ watching american “news”. I will continue to think and process for many days I imagine.

 

Anyways, I have a few pictures. I would apologize, but I’m going to have close to a billion after this next week, and another billion from my weekends in Nice and Paris, so I’m just saving up.

 

I just really like this street. It leads to the Quartier Mazarin which is the nicest, wealthiest, “aristocratic”. And you can tell- all of the doors are way bigger and fancier than everywhere else in Aix. After break I will return and take pictures.

Sunday afternoon I met a friend for coffee at a cafe. Just after I arrived it started raining and thundering, super hard. Pretty much every time there is a thunderstorm it’s on a sunday. The only exception was a saturday, and that’s a weekend, so I think it follows the trend, whatever the trend is.

A tout a l’heure!!

Advertisements

Untitled

I just realized you might be a little confused by my previous post. The beginning somehow got deleted. But, last Sunday when it was super stormy there was actually a tornado just outside of Aix. And I had even found a news clip to share. But apparently the internet is not perfect and it got deleted…my apologies. Maybe there will be another tornado.

This week has flown by but I really don’t have anything super interesting to report. Here’s a recap:

-Monday: it was really cold. I ate pulled pork sandwiches for lunch. (One of my friends real parents visited for the weekend (on their way to spain…) and her dad made pulled pork for us. It was delicious). I did lots of homework.

-Tuesday: It was really cold again. I went to the market before school. I bought some tomatoes, plums, and a pear. I never got to eat the pear, someone stole it. I was a little upset. We had our third wine class (okay something exciting did happen!). We drank wines from Borgogne. Très bon. Très chère.

Also tuesday I ate dinner at one of my friends homes with her host mom. We ate a meal traditional to Alsace (where it’s cold and snowy a lot) called raclette. It comes with a special contraption to melt squares of raclette cheese to be poured over a boiled potato and eaten with a a variety of meats: ham, Spanish cured ham, sausage, whatever you have. It was super good! I was a little nervous to be a guest in someones home but all went well. I brought a bar of chocolate as a hostess gift and sent a thank you note the next day (which apparently she was “very touched by” so I’m guessing that means I avoided saying anything offensive, phew).

Wednesday: It was a little warmer. I had a vocab test. And my community service. Which was very fun as always. I got to read some trivia questions and one of the other volunteers complimented ( a little backhand-idly as is the french way) on my improved accent. I went home. And Cathy forced me to go on a run. We had discussed earlier in the day that maybe I would work out since I’m not accustomed to napping. But as I walked home I had decided that I just needed to study. But Cathy said “no no! you are atheletic. It’s part of you and I know you haven’t worked out much lately because you’ve been sick, you must you must!” “okay maammmm” I said. Two minutes later she brought in some swiss chocolates “for a morale boost”. She’s funny. I am glad I went on a run, but I don’t think it helped me get over my cold faster.

Thursday: I was exhausted. My lack of sleep tuesday night caught up to me. And my homesick day moved from monday to thursday. After school I took a little nap and when Cathy came home she was quick to encourage me and tell me not to get discouraged, keep working hard, vacation is close, etc. With some more swiss chocolate. Can’t be too unhappy after that.

Friday: Today! Thank goodness. I didn’t have grammar today (thank goodness). So I got to do a little shopping after school. And get pooped on by a bird. Don’t worry, I took a shower as soon as I got home. And now I am going to meet some friends for some dinner. Some much needed mexican food. And then to go see the new movie with Meryl Streep! (My host mom has already seen it twice. In the past week. So apparently it’s good). Oh and it was warm today. Windy, but a little warm! I wish it would stay like that but I’m doubtful.

Saturday: Tomorrow! I am going to the library!! I know it doesn’t sound cool, but honestly, I love working in the library. Normally I spend more time in the library than…pretty much everything, even eating. So my friend and I are going for literally the whole day. We’re excited. We’re nerds.

Sorry I don’t have any photos…I will work on that. Until then, bonsoir! xoxo kath

Tornadoes

 

Yesterday it pretty much rained and thundered and winded all day long- and apparently that is a little unusual- especially the tornado part.

Today is monday, and I think it has been one of the best monday’s since I’ve been here. Nothing spectacular happened, but normally monday’s are my hardest day because I have to get up early, sit in class all day, and by the end normally I’m exhausted and a little homesick. But not today!! I actually participated in a bunch of my classes (more than normal), and got lots of correct answers in my language and grammar classes. I realize that doesn’t sound super impressive, but for me it was a win, I take what I can get.

My big adventure of the weekend was hiking up St. Victoire.

The little tiny mountain in the background. This is more or less where we started

And indeed it was a big adventure. I’ll try to be as brief as possible. Took me about 2 hours searching the internet to even find a bus that would take us there. Then, a friend of my host mom told me before I left that “YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE BLUE ROUTE” like, 20 times. But it wasn’t that simple. The bus let us off in the middle of nowhere- and at a crossroads. We chose the road that seemed to go in the direction of the mountain, wandered the road for a while, then found a trail, wandered the trail to that spot in the photo, turned around, found a different trail, and an hour later, by the grace of God, we found the trail head. Not joking, I had serious doubts we would ever even find the mountain, so I was stoked.

So much closer to the mountain

We crossed that dam, and FOUND THE BLUE ROUTE. 2hr15 to the top. SWEEEET.

Ready. and reppin’ Linfield

THE BLUE
and a very pretty rock
These are the marks we followed. And when there’s a blue X, you turn around and go the other way

The hike was awesome, beautiful views all the way up, and about halfway we reached the first “peak” and found a lovely spot to have our picnic.

The view from our lunch spot of our ultimate destination

Another view on the way up

As we got closer to the top, the trail became more and more crowded. Which was hard to understand since we had seen literally no one else our first few hours when we were lost/starting out. Still don’t know where they came from. But it doesn’t matter. Because this is what we had waiting for us at the top:

 

This is the back side of part of the chapel/ monastery built on the mountain

La Croix which can be seen all the way in Aix

Pretty cool, eh?

 

Looking back from the bus stop- with the sunset reflecting off the mountain- pretty spectacular, and very rewarding

 

This was something I had put on my bucket list once I got here that I HAD TO DO. And now I really really want to go again. Maybe after break, if it isn’t raining too hard. There were also some people rock climbing here too- now that is something for the bucket list…

Another thing I have to do: my homework. Midterms are in one week! And I can almost count on my fingers the days until break! Can’t wait 🙂

A bientôt!

So much time and so little fun…

I mean…so much fun and so little time. For my homework. No, I do my homework. But I am super busy, so my apologies for lack of blogging…I don’t have much interesting to say anyways.

This past weekend we had an excursion to a region west of Aix known as le Camargue. It’s a region known for its rice and salt and is located basically on a delta/ the mediterranean.

Here’s a map (because I had to look at it to figure out where I was)  :

There’s Aix on the right. And Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer towards the left is where we ended up. We first visited that large bulge of water to the north of Saintes-Maries to look at some salt and horses. (My apologies for the terrible construction of that sentence, it’s getting harder and harder to write in english when my thoughts are in french and I have to translate in my head…I’m trying I promise)

Any who, our first stop was to look at the salt.

Not very pretty I realize, but pretty impressive!

This is prettier- and where they harvest the salt! Apparently some of it is red, I didn’t quite catch how or why or who, but something about iron I would assume…

After looking at the salt and the salt trucks we drove to the regional natural park of the Camargue which has a little tourist village with lots and lots of horses and bulls. There was a little tourist train to take you around the park, but we missed it by three minutes…clearly Camargue doesn’t follow the “15 minutes is still on time” ways of Provence..but no big deal we got to walk on the trail and look at the rice fields and cows.

The symbol of Camargue- a combination of the tool used to prod the animals along, and a heart added to make it prettier (but actually)

Horses!

Cows!

Not too shabby

My favorite part of the day was Saintes-Maries, because obviously, LA MER. And the water in this part of the Mediterranean is much warmer than at Cassis. I pretty much just stood in the waves the whole time we were there…may or may not have gotten my shorts wet…but why else would you go to the beach? Saintes-Maries is a cute little tourist town that looked to me more Spanish than French. Which was confirmed by one of my friends who is Spanish and has a Spanish passport. There is evidence of the farming and “cowboy” culture throughout the town and lots of rice and salt for sale. There is also a beautiful 12th century cathedral that you can actually go up on to the roof and look at an amazing view.

Little harbor!

LA MER

only a little happiness…

The roof of the cathedral, and the beautiful bells

the view from the cathedral

We also got really good gelato, but I ate it before I could take a picture.

Sunday was another big day of adventure. The host parents of one of my friends (her host mom is also my advisor for my community service) invited me and another one of our friends to go to Cassis and hike the Calanques. Don’t ask me what a Calanque is. I have pictures, but I’m still not quite sure. But they are very pretty, and make for a very nice hike. It was a lot fun and interesting to see how the french hike. There are paths that are “blocked off” because they are too dangerous, but I wasn’t told that until my friends host dad/ our hike leader had already led us halfway down the path…it really wasn’t that dangerous, more amusing how blatantly he and several other french people disobeyed. There are three Calanques and when we reached the third we stopped for a nice picnic overlooking some people climbing the cliff opposite of us. And we saw the french version of search and rescue- and don’t worry mom, it wasn’t for us because we had wandered onto the illegal paths…and we only thought we were maybe lost once…long story short, my friends host dad likes to joke around, a lot, so he pretended when we got to a fork in the path that he didn’t know which one to take, and maybe we would need to stay the night, ration supplies, etc etc. Glad to meet some french people who can joke around so much.

Calanque #1. Lots of very nice boats. I mean, yachts.

Also Calanque #1

Calanque #2, popular spot for swimming

Calanque #3

Search and Rescue! BIG helicopter

Danger Forbidden
(But not really)

The ladies of our hike!

After we finished hiking the Calanques we drove up to around the bay of Cassis and up to a lookout point. I don’t think I can say it enough, it was BEAUTIFUL. Honestly, I could probably live in Cassis. It was breathtaking.

I mean really, nothing more can be said for that

Me and my new home

It’s already friday evening (no idea what happened to the week), and believe it or not, I’m doing grammar homework. I’ll be meeting up with some friends later for dinner and maybe a movie, but I don’t want to stay out late because hopefully, if all goes well, we will be climbing a mountain tomorrow. St. Victoire is one of the symbols of Provence and Aix and I am very excited for the hike. I will try to write more frequently, but no promises. I do promise to drink lots of coffee and eat a few chocolate eclairs though! Vous pensez que je blague, mais je suis seriouse. 🙂

A tout a l’heure!

Ch 2: Degustation

Bonsoir!

All is well here in Aix, other than I caught the cold that’s been going around the AUCP :/ Mais, c’est pas mal.

After many a difficulty with the bank and my credit card, I have successfully purchased all my tickets for my week of vacation!! My train tickets to return to Aix from Copenhagen arrived today, and all 8 other of my tickets have been purchased (planes trains and automobiles, I’ve got it covered- hopefully I can throw in a boat, or even a rocket ship just for kicks and giggles). AND I AM SO EXCITED. But not just for vacation. This afternoon I also booked my train and hostel for a weekend in Nice with some classmates the weekend after we return from break. And the weekend after that (aka the day after I turn 21) I am going to Paris to meet a friend for the weekend. I don’t know if I could find a better way to celebrate my birthday than at the Eiffel Tower with one of my best friends. I am so excited. Nice and Paris are two of my favorite cities in France (mainly cause they are two of the few that I have visited) and I am beyond excited to be returning. 4 weekends of travel will be exhausting, but so so worth it (as my host mom keeps saying- “you have to live it, experience while you are here!”). Or as some would say YOLO (I don’t particularly like that phrase, but it is fitting…but please don’t hold my usage of it against me).

Also, a quick remark that actually relates to something I learned in class (believe it or not I do still go to school). The French age remarkably well. REMARKABLY. We read an article about how France has the highest number of people over age 100 in all of Europe. Accredited mostly to their diet, wine, exercise, and the high value they place on spending time with one another. I’ve seen two living examples in the past two days. Yesterday at my community service at the nursing home there was a new lady who was 104. 104! I was shocked. She could pass for 87 probably. At the most. She was one of the sassiest, funniest, and smartest at the table, and with one of the quickest minds. I’m still amazed by her. I hope I’m that cool when I’m 104. And this morning on the bus an old man gave up his seat for a woman younger than him but not like super young, and the woman thanked him excessively because it was very nice of him. And he proceeded to tell the bus how he will be 90 the 4th of december (I realize that’s not over 100, but it’s a good illustration). And all about his family and grand kids etc. It was pretty adorable. But he too could pass for probably 80/85. Women age better everywhere I guess.

And a note for my sister. I WATCHED A FRENCH MOVIE THAT WASN’T SAD. So there. No, I don’t remember what it was called, but the man and the woman fell in love and stayed in love until the end. It was magical.

And two more reasons why my host mom is perfect:

1. The keys she gave me for the apartment have a Winnie the Pooh key chain. I mean really, what’s better than that?

2. She made crepes for dinner sunday night, so we had them for dessert, and we both put nutella in them because we are professed chocoholics, but Cathy then proceeded to put more nutella on her crepe after one bite because she wasn’t satisfied with the amount inside. Parfait!

 

As far as the title, this week we had our second wine tasting class with the wines of Bordeaux. I like the wines of Bordeaux. Very much.  Some of them are too expensive for my budget, but there’s one thats only 26 euro that I may have to buy at the end of the course. For your information, it is a Pessac- Leognan from Chateau de France 2001 (a very good year for the white wines). Did you know of the 500 appellations in France, over 50 are from Bordeaux?! Me neither, but Bordeaux is definitely well known for it’s wines. I’m getting a little bit better at pretending to decipher the different scents and tastes in the wine, but I am far from a wine snob- but that’s probably fine.

Because everyone is happy when they have wine.
Our adorable professor, and his awesome shirt. Trop mignon.

I will end with a picture of a cat (just as my favorite business professor/advisor does). I literally had to stop walking to take a picture of this cat, it was amazingly acrobatic.

Out one second story window and into another…

C’est tout pour maintentant! (That’s all for now!)

Bises!

Kath