Monday, September 29, 2008

Lyon Weekend

So I just got back from a wonderful weekend in Lyon with my friend Iida, and just posted some pictures, so check it out. Lyon is a great city (the 2nd largest in France) , and our host Arnaud as well as his girlfriend Sandrine were great. We met Arnaud in the city and then rode the metro back to his house in a neighborhood just outside of the city. He's a illustrator for video games and works at home so unfortunatly he had to work that day, so he gave us directions to the Parc de Tete d'Or and we wandered around there for the afternoon. A great park, and soo huge it took us all afternoon to see it. Then that night Sandrine made us some quiche and we ate dinner and watched a funny British sitcom IT Crowd. After dinner Arnaud took us on an awesome tour of Lyon at night. We wandered along the Rhone and saw the beautiful river as well as some drunk teenagers (well it was friday night). Then we went up towards the city center and saw the Opera House, Hotel de Ville and stopped for a quick drink at a bar. We then realized that we had missed the last Metro home so we decided to take the Velovs home.
So the Velovs are these bike stations all around Lyon that have about 20 or so spots for bikes and then a pay station. There are apparently 343 stations in Lyon, and it costs nothing if you return the bike to another station in 30 min or less and just one or 2 euro after that. They are so awesome and while some of the pay stations didn't like our cards, once we found one it was a great way to see the city and a fun alternative to walking. Everyone uses them, not just tourists and we even saw a repairman near the park checking out all the bikes at a station. Apparently Paris is also going to start doing this, and Lyon is kind of like the trial run.
Anyways the next day we woke up late after an exciting night and Iida and I found some lunch at a cute restaurant called 203. Lyon is also the food capital of France and there were restaurants everywhere. Unfortunatley the really good restaurants get full on a Saturday afternoon, but 203 was delicious and even Arnaud had been there and liked it. After lunch we wandered over to old Lyon and climbed the mountain of a hill to the Cathedrale de Fourviere. After that we wandered around the old town for a bit, checked out the Cathedrale de St. Jean and then headed back to Arnaud's.
I found the people of Lyon to be exceptionally friendly and kind, way more than in Chambery or Paris. At one point we were trying to decide where to eat and this guy comes up to us and asked if we needed help. Most French people don't naturally do things like that but the Lyonnais are very nice. We also had someone offer to take our picture, which is something that rarely even happens in Seattle.
That night was a fun party with some of Arnaud and Sandrine's friends including another Couchsurfing friend. We ate lots of wine and cheese and salami and was a very French evening. Unfortunately the next day we had to leave and head back to Chambery but I will definitely be back to Lyon as soon as possible!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Week 2

Eventually I'll think of more interesting names for these posts but now my creativity escapes me. This week has been pretty good, nothing too exciting to report on just lots of fun and some relaxing too. As you can tell from my pictures this weekend, all the sites in Chambery were free so we took advantage of this and went to the market Saturday morning. It was really fun, lots of things to look at and food to buy. We then took a tour of the Palais of Justice and then saw some weird acrobat modern art guys. That night all us Erasmus students met up at Charley's. It's apparently the bar where all the international students hang out so it was a lot of fun. Sunday I woke up bright and early to take some tours of the Castle and it was pretty cool when we got to climb up to the tower, great views of all of Chambery.
This week has been pretty low key, just dealing with lots of formal stuff like getting my residence card and my bank card. But tomorrow my Finish friend Iida and I head off to Lyon for the weekend! I'm super excited for this because we're couch surfing ( so we'll stay with a couple who live just outside the city for the weekend, and hopefully they'll show us around the city and it'll be a fun time. I met another girl through couch surfers yesterday in Aix-les-Bains and she was very nice and welcomed me to the region. It should be a great weekend and a nice break from Chambery. Bonsoir et a bientot!

Friday, September 19, 2008

One week in

So I've officially been living in Chambery France for one week and it's been pretty amazing! I guess the most exciting part is just meeting lots of new people and getting to know the other Erasmus students. For those of you who don't know, Erasmus is it's the study abroad program in Europe and it's the organization everyone has to go through to study abroad.
It's so exciting to meet people from all over the world and it's great that we can all speak French and talk together. The countries range from, Czech Republic and Slovakia to Finland and Italy, Scotland and Poland as well as Brazil and Mexico. There's no one from the US in my program so that's kinda cool and keeps me from speaking English all the time. I've also gotten one high five when my Spanish friend Pepito asked me who I'm voting for in the election :). Everyone here is so different and interesting and I'm looking forward to getting to know each and everyone of them.
We started French classes Wednesday and my teacher is very nice and helpful. She's from Chambery and we've been having interesting discussions on our respective countries. We talked about how France was different from home and what's been a hard adjustment. I shared that the French are very different in that they don't smile or make eye contact you in passing on the street (the word friendly doesn't exist in the French language). They also think it's weird when you say pardon or excuse me in passing. She then explained to me that in the region I'm in Savoie, is very different from any region in France. It's the coldest climate and also the coldest personalities. When one is born into the Savoie region there is a close knit group of friends already there for them, so they don't easly make friends with others. They also don't say hello to strangers, even if you walk into a store and the person says "bonjour" to you, they're not from Savoie because the Savoyards just don't do that. I found this explained a lot and while the French have very different social habits, the Savoyards are in the extreame of this.
On a happier note I have met a lot of French students and people who are very friendly and welcoming to me. The Erasmus students have French buddies and mine buddy is especially helpful. She's from the South of France, a hot climate, and therefore a happy and helpful demeanor. She also studied a year in San Fransico so knows about Americans too. At a party I went to last night I also met a very friendly student, Frank, who was excited to get to know us and we played a guess our nationality game with him :).
I've also gotten to know my roommates a little better and they help me a lot with translations and vocabulary. They also like hearing about America and celebrities. Laura is studying English, French and Italian at her University so we've been helping eachother out in our respective languages, it's pretty handy. I haven't been around a lot so hopefully we'll get to know eachother better as the year goes on.
Other than that things have been moving along. I'm still working on getting my residency card and well as social security and health insurance. Lots of paperwork and red tape so eventually all that will be straightened out. Tomorrow the castle and all the museums are open to the public for free so we're going to head over there and be tourists. The market is also Saturday so hopefully I'll get lots of delicious food. New pictures from my walk this evening will be up soon as well, I have a lot of time before my next French classes start so I think I will take a trip to visit my friend in Bordeaux and maybe a trip up to Geneva. I will write again soon, bonsoir!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I've updated my photos with pictures of my neighborhood and apartment, check it out. We're going to the lake today so I should have more photos up soon!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I made it!

So I survived the journey and made it to Chambery France. I arrived in Geneva on the 11th and then spent the night at Amandine's house (a student and helper for all the international students) near Annecy. Amandine and the other student who picked me up, Camille, showed me around the town of Annecy which was very adorable and nice. Unfortunately I forgot my camera so I don't have any pictures :(. After that we picked up some more international students and arrived in Chambery yesterday around 1:30pm.
I made it to my appartment but unfortunatley my roommates aren't here, so I've been hanging out with some international students, and my french friends, Amandine and Camille. I still have three weeks before my program starts so hopefully I'll do some traveling, and explore the town of Chambery.
A bientot!