Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rennes with Irennes :D

Bonjour to all,
I'm been neglecting this guy a little so I'll try to get you all up to date on what's going on here in France. Chambery had gotten really sunny the past couple of weeks so my friends and I enjoyed every bit of it with walks in the park, bike rides to a nearby lake, and snowshoing (which is much harder than i had imagined). My friend from the states, Irene came to visit me for a week and it was lots of fun seeing her and we took a trip to Rennes as well. Luckily the weather stuck out for her too and we took a hike in the mountains, ate tartiflette and gorged ourselves at the market, before making a delicious quiche.

Tuesday morning we truged to the train station in the pouring down rain (ya sun's gone back to cloudy gray skies) and headed to Rennes. We couchsurfed and our host met with us before she had to go babysit. She told us her roommate needed models for a photography shoot so we headed to the park with her and dressed up as clowns for her photo. I'll try to show you guys the final product if I can get a hold of it, but we saw a preliminary picture but unfortunately Irene's face was cut off by the confetti we were throwing, so hopefully she's gonna fix it so we can see her lovely face :D. Couchsurfing is always a good time, hehehe. That evening Auriane, our host gave us dinner and we headed out to explore Rennes at night. Auriane is an English major and was so nice and welcoming, and unfortunately she was on her last day of "vacation" after her university's six week strike! Ya six weeks can you believe it? I understand the french's need to show their governement when they're mad or don't agree with something but six weeks of no school seems a little too much. Apparently Sarkozy wants to make a lot of changes to the system because right now it's pretty easy and there's too many students and not enough teachers. He wants to make it easier masters students to teach, but also wants to make it harder to become a masters student. There seem to be lots of other requests too, that I need to research into more.

Rennes is basically a big collage party town, 200 000 residents with 60 000 students and Auriane told us many people come to university here, just for the party atmosphere. There's a street in the center of town called the Rue de la Soif, street of thrist, that is just bars and kebab stands. It was pretty quiet during the week but Thursday nights are when it gets insane with college students. Unfortunately I wasn't feeling too great during our nights out there (just a little cold that's passed now), but it was still crazy to see so many students in one little area.

We also took a day trip Wednesday to Mont Saint Michel, which was pretty incredible. The weather wasn't perfect, but no rain so it was fine. We took a tour through the abbey and the tour guide was this bitter man who basically told us that no one really knows the history of the Mont because most of the documents were destroyed while it was a prison during the French Revolution. Either way it was really cool and amazing to see such an old and sacred place. The views of the bay were also incredible and we enjoyed looking at all the stupid souvenirs :D.

Back in Chambery now with Irene back in the states. Had a calm weekend just recovering from my cold and doing some research on zero based budgeting (facinating I know). This week (and next) is back to the crazyness of "majors" so not really looking forward to that but I just have to take it day by day and remember to breath :). With Irene here I'm really getting excited about moving back to the states. I was talking with another American friend, Grace, the other day about our experiances and both agreed that while Chambery will always be with us, our lives are back in the states. I could definitely see myself living in France one day but not in Chambery, and maybe when I find a job that can bring me back here.

Still no idea yet when I'm coming home, but it's looking like either June or July so hopefully I figure that out soon. I'm meeting with someone Tuesday about an internship so hopefully that works out, and I can have a project to do for May and June and then travel with my sister and her boyfriend in July. I'll keep you guys updated and can't wait to see you all back in the states!
Gros bisous,

They basically turned their union building into a squat.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hola! Stories from Spain and how 7 hours of class a day is going...

Salut tout le monde! Hope all is well with everyone and sorry for the late update, I've been a tad busy with classes and an amazing trip to Spain with my friend Iida. I'll start with Spain first, it was fabulous! We flew into Madrid first and met up with my best bud Fiona, who showed us a fun couple of days. We couchsurfed but they were very busy and we didn't have a lot of time for interation but they were very nice and cooked us a yummy dinner one night. So Madrid is gorgeous I have to say. I think it often gets passed over because of Barcelona but it's really a nice, huge city with lots to offer. We saw the Palace and all the beautiful Plazas, ate plenty of yummy jamon (ham, the spainards are crazy for it), churros and hot chocolate and walked a lot.
Fortunatley the weather was beautiful and Fiona informed me that Madrid has the more trees then London and Paris combined so we definitely explored all the big parks. My favorite was probably Parc Retiro, which was enormous and full of life, and just overall a great place to spend the afternoon.We also checked out Museum Prado which had a lot of famous Goya and other Spanish artists I can't remember their names now :D. It was nice having a spanish speaker with us a lot of the time, because even madrilenos (citizens of madrid) don't speak english that well. Sometimes it was a bit tough on the language front but for the most part we got by with miming :). Madrid is one of those cities that doesn't have a lot of tourists or big tourist attractions but it's very lively and just had a nice vibe.

After Madrid we headed to the infamous Barcelona where we arrived chez Miguel a Peruvian couchsurfer. Again couchsurfing on this trip wasn't too fantastic, we were there during the week most of the time, so they were busy working but still very kind and had some intersting conversations all the same. Barcelona is fantastic, I loved it a lot, we started the first day at Las Ramblas, the main street in the city filled with somewhat obnoxious mimes, and a great market, La Boqueria, where we got some fresh fruit and fruit juice. I think we were able to hit up all the Gaudi architecture in center of town and it sure is cool! Spain has pretty crazy architecture, in Madrid too, every building almost is from a different era, with a different style. Nothing like France where it's all pretty much the same. We visited an architecture museum, Poble Espanyol, which was just a big outdoor city with all the architecture from each region. It was pretty interesting, and I hope one day I can return and check out more of the little towns in Spain.Anyways back to Gaudi, we decided to pay the 13 euros to enter into his Casa Batillo and it was pretty awesome. They say there are no straight lines in his architecture and I believe it now. We were told that on the facade of the building he didn't have any plans for the builders, just drawings so basically he was just shouting out orders until it looked right to him. Pretty crazy guy. We also visited Parc Guell, which was also quite magical and beautiful, all the mosaics are so gorgeous and the park offered great views of Barcelona.
Finally we visited Sagra Familia the crazy church but decided it wasn't worth it to go in since they're still building it. Iida and I also met up with my Bordeaux friend Emily and her friend and it was nice to have some new faces with us and we enjoyed delicious paella together. Barcelona is definitely one of those must visit places, it's just soo culturally rich and a beautiful place. I wanna go back ASAP :).

Well Spain was wonderful and I've now decided I must start learning Spanish, but before that gotta get through these business courses. The week we got back was "core courses" as they call them and I'm only taking one so it was a pretty relaxed week, but now for 2 weeks we have our majors, which is 8h30-16h45 (with a lunch break) for two weeks straight everyday. It's really exhausting and I'm getting a little discouraged, but I'm trying to keep in touch with my professors and asking for extra books, problems, whatever they can give me. I hope it all works out but right now it's just a little ridiculous, and finance overload!

Well that's about it for me, I went skiing again last week and I seem to be improving little by little but we'll see if I'll have the time or money to go again, need to start getting serious about these business courses. Irene, my highschool friend at UW is coming end of March and we're gonna head off to Rennes for a couple of days and see Mont Saint Michel so that should be a nice break from the maddness right now. For more pictures check out my picasa account, I've got loads on there. Ok until next time!
Gros Bisous,