Wednesday, January 21, 2009

L'Hiver en Chambery

Bonsoir tout le monde!
Sorry I haven't updated in awhile, been pretty busy and just haven't gotten around to it... till well now :). I guess I'll start with the most recent news and work my way back, that being of course our new president Barack Obama! My American friends Grace and Max came over as well as a local Chambery radio reporter to record our reactions. Grace and Max are both pretty moderate, and don't follow politics too much, but they we were definitely all excited about Obama which was awesome. My roommates even let us watch on their big screen on CNN (until they kicked out about an hour later, sigh) so that was nice to watch it without french dubbing too. Overall an amazing historic moment and I was glad I could share it with some Americans and French. I'm anxious to see how the next couple months pan out and I hope all goes smoothly for Obama.

I've also started some French business classes in the past month and that has also been interesting and much harder than my French classes. I'm taking international economy and international relations both in French. The economy class is pretty straight forward, and the teacher uses powerpoints so it's reasonably easy to follow along and take notes. My international relations class is a bit different. The teacher talks with a lisp and way too fast so by the time I can write something down he's moved onto a completely different topic. He also hates America (welcome to Europe right) and isn't afraid to say it. He also isn't a big fan of Israel, which has also angered my jewish/french friend, Elodie, who came up to me one day in a huff, complaining about him. So it's a very different experience but I find the material of interesting when I understand because I like history, and he's obviously knowledgable on the subject. Oh funny story, the other day we were doing a little geography quiz and he called us up one by one to point out a random country in the world. I was called and he asked where Venezuala was and I knew that one (I would not say i'm good at geography) and he proceeds with "well people say Americans are bad at geography and Europeans are the smart ones but it seems to be the opposite in this class". That drew some groans and well, noise from my classmates, to say the least.

I will say though that French classes are waaayy too long. Most classes are three hours, in the morning or afternoon and a lot of the time people have a full six our day. Three hours a day in one class is too much and it shows. By the end of the day most people around me are chatting online or to their neighbors paying very little attention to what's going on in the class. Which is another obstacle for me trying to understand the professor. I have encountered some very nice people though, who have been willing to offer me their notes or just answer my questions so that's really good. I think I will need that next semester with a full load of French classes.

Last thing I want to tell you about is my first ski experience in my life!! It was probably one of the most exhausting things I've ever done, but a lot of fun and I definitely want to go back. I was with another first timer, my brasilien friend Luciana so it was nice to have a beginner buddy. Also a french friend came with and he was probably mine and Luciana's savior because he is/was a ski instructor and helped us out soo much. I don't know what we would've done without him there. Skiing is a lot harder than I imagined and definitely takes a lot out of you. By the end Luciana and I were pooped! But it was definitely awesome to say I've now skiied in the Alpes, and man was it beautiful. I decided not to take a lot of pictures for fear I would destroy my camera, but I got a couple and I'll hopefully steal some off friends soon.

Well that's pretty much all for now. I start all my finance courses the second week of February and I have a feeling it's gonna be intense so I'll update about that when I have the time. My friend Emily who's in Bordeaux and I are meeting up in Montpellier this weekend so I'm excited about that, getting out of Chambé will be nice. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, à plus!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bonne Annee!

Salut tout le monde,
Happy new year to all, hope everyone had a happy and healthy vacation, and I hope the snow wasn't too much of a bummer. It just started snowing again in Chambery too, but it's not too bad, just very cold.
Winter break was amazing. It was great to see Tyler and my parents and I wish it could have lasted much longer. Tyler and I started out break in Paris where we stayed 4 nights with some great couchsufers. The first guy wasn't there very much as he was packing for his vacation and working, but our 2nd hosts were very nice and cool young students so that was fun. They spent most of the time while we were there working on a homemade twister board for the boy's niece so that was pretty cute, I hope she enjoys it. Paris was great as always, the weather wasn't too bad, it was a little warmer the first couple days and then got sunnier and colder the last but Paris is always amazing for me. We visited the Pere Lachaise cemetary for my first time which was great, soo huge and pretty (sounds weird but it was!). Also went to the Musee D'Orsay again which was great as well.

From Paris we came back to Chambery for two nights, including Christmas and just chilled out and slept. We then headed off to Cannes on the 26th to meet up with my parents and drove from there to Menton, a coastal town close to Italy, and stayed in a gorgeous condo right on the beach. It was pretty cool being able to hear the waves laping up on the beach from our appartment. Menton was very pretty and we also made day trips from there to Monaco and Cannes. I have actually visited both of those cities before in high school but very briefly, and the weather was horrible, so it was nice to spend a whole day in each. That squinty picture there is Tyler and I in Menton, it was really sunny and windy, not a good picture taking combo but I think it's a funny picture.

After the south of France it was off to Florence for us and my dad rented a car so we didn't have to deal with long train rides. On the way we stopped in the Cinque Terre, and while the turning rodes made me a little sick, it was gorgeous and we even stopped in an adorable town called Vernazza and had delicious pizza. It was cool cause they don't allow cars in the little beach towns so it's very quite and beautiful. We finally arrived in Florence at our cute hotel in the center of town. Florence was also beautiful with ancient buildings and amazing art. We saw the Uffizi Museum with lots of Jesus and Mary paintings as well as the Birth of Venus and lots of old scuptures. We also saw David at the Academia which was pretty cool and quite large as well. We probably ate too much Tuscan food though, and by the end of the trip we where Italian fooded out. It was all delicous though, just too much. We also spent New Years there which was definitely and experiance with fireworks everywhere and these loud bomb like things people lit off in garbage cans, it sounded more like a war zone than new years eve. Florence was a great place to visit with all the culture and history it's pretty amazing to think about all the important people that have walked its streets.

Then it was back to good ol' Chambery where my parents got a chance to see a little of the Savoie region and my town. It was back to school for my on Monday, where I started my first business class in French and it doesn't seem too hard yet so we'll see how it goes. Only one more month of my French program then I'm going full force into the finance courses so that should be pretty exciting. I think I may venture out to ski this weekend, and my friend Iida and I are planning a trip for Febuary to Spain, Madrid and Barcelona, so I'm pretty excited for that! I've definitely been missing home more since Tyler and my parents left, but hopefully I get back into the swing of things soon and have a good end of the first semester. Hope everyone had a good week and good luck to all for getting back to Pullman, miss you lots, gros bisous!