Wednesday, May 29, 2013

La Côte d'Azur

Sarah and I recently traveled to Nice together for a long weekend. It was a ton a fun and very beautiful. We met some fabulous friends and I actually ran into two fellow Chippewas! They were studying in the business program in Nice and we found them at a bar. That was really cool and we ended up spending the whole evening with them and their group of friends. Sarah and I were excited to be able to go out and stay out for the night because in Angers it is difficult for us to go out at night. There we have to take taxis, which gets expensive after awhile, but in Nice everything was within walking distance.

We also visited the set up for the Grand Prix in Monaco, which was scheduled for the following Thursday. It was way cool to get to walk on the track and see the different team crews, although it did take away from the beauty of Monaco. I would like to go back one day when that's not there. For the most part, we just "beached it" and met some really cool people to hang out with. I absolutely loved Nice and would love to go back and spend two weeks there exploring. The only thing I will say is, women beware because certain men there can be extremely disrespectful and will kiss and hoot at you if any skin is showing whatsoever and you aren't on the beach. It is sad and annoying but true.

Coming home to rainy Angers was difficult but we only have exam week after this one, and then Caitie and I are off to Croatia! We will be there three days, then it's Paris and home!

Getting Down to the Wire

As the days go by I become more and more emotionally conflicted. I am extremely excited to go home and see my family and friends, start working again (and working out...) and just begin the next chapter in my life. But as it gets closer to that time, I also become a little sadder. I am realizing more and more each day that I really am leaving and will no longer be living with Caitie, having "chocolat heure" with Sarah, laughing in class with Zhenlong, dancing at the bar with Ana, or discussing life and love with Jesse. Everyone at CIDEF has become a sort of family together and it will be really hard leaving that, especially not knowing when or if we will see each other again. I have met and been touched by so many wonderful people here, it is hard for me to imagine going back to my life at home without them. Thanks to Facebook, I will be able to keep in touch with most everyone, but even then it will be difficult. We have already started making plans to visit each other, which among Americans is easier, but for people from around the world it might be years before I see them again. Despite the disappointment in having to leave all my new friends, I would not take back meeting them for the world. We will always be connected through CIDEF and our experiences here. So here is to everyone at CIDEF and all the wonderful memories and friendships that formed here this semester.

Then there is French. I am really going to miss speaking French and hearing it around me day in and day out. I have fallen in and out of love with the language several times since I got here, but I am now at the point where I feel that it has become a part of me and I fear losing that. Caitie, Sarah, and I plan to Skype for practice (and catching up) and then I will be keeping in touch with others from CIDEF with whom I can speak French, although it isn't the same as being surrounded by it.

Therefore, it is a bittersweet ending but a wonderful entree to the rest of my adventures to come, at home and abroad.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Part 3 of a 3 Part Series: Live, Learn, and Travel

Now for the last installation of my spring break excursions...


I love Lyon. Paris I loved to visit and it was a great time, but I think I could live in Lyon. It is clean and beautiful, lively and fun. I got in late the first night and found my hostel a little out of town. At first I was a little wary of it, but hostels almost always look a little sketch on the outside. I went in and it actually ended up being one of my favorites. It was clean and artsy and everyone there was extremely friendly and happy to be there. The sights were amazing and I came across four big markets along the river, selling food, books, art, and crafts. The weather was gorgeous and it was a good city to just walk around and take in. The first night I met a Canadian school teacher who was traveling the world on her own for a year-- a very inspiring woman to talk to. She had been all over the lower half of the Asian continent, Africa and Australia and is now traveling around France and Europe. The second night, I met a French guy named Thomas who was also backpacking around the country. We had a nice evening talking and in the morning I went to walk around with him and see more of the town. I probably could have stayed in Lyon for several more days.


I was surprised by Geneva. There really wasn't much to do there for tourists. Mostly it was just a place of business. Most people were dressed up in suits and business attire, attending meetings, conferences, and seminars. It definitely was not what I expected. I ran out of things to do my first day there. The one museum I really wanted to go see, the Red Cross Red Crescent Museum was closed for remodeling, so that was a major bummer. Also in Geneva and Switzerland in general everything is super expensive. In the afternoon I went back to my hostel and met a German guy who was interning in Zurich and had just come to Geneva for a few days to explore. He was just as disappointed as I was, so that night we each bought a Swiss beer and sat out on the pier to talk. It was very relaxing just sitting and admiring the city, because although there was nothing to do, Geneva is still a beautiful place, especially all lit up at night.


The next morning I set out for Munich, which took me nearly all day. When I got there, I found a hostel, got dinner, and went to bed. In the morning I took the free walking tour, which was super interesting because they talked all about WWII history and showed us places where Hitler had actually walked and schemed, and memorials commemorating the people of Munich who acted against Hitler. It was so interesting to hear the history of it from the German point of view. After that, I met up with my friend Sarah, her boyfriend Eric, and Eric's German family. They were the nicest people who took me in for the day. We went to visit a couple cool places and then they took us to the best beer garden in Munich. It was super cool, with a live band and tons of people just drinking beer, eating Bavarian food and being happy. Eric's family bought us all beer and pretzels and shared the food they had brought along. It was all a lot of fun and I was glad to see a familiar face again.

 After the beer garden I was on my own again because Sarah and Eric were leaving that night for Paris. I met up with some people I had met that morning and we had a good time walking around the city at night together. The next day I saw Olympia Park where the Olympic Games had been in 1972 and the BMW museum, then I took a beer tour where I met even more great people. However, the most important thing that I did during my stay was visit the Dachau concentration camp. It was a very heart wrenching experience that I will never forget. I can't really describe the effect of seeing the actual place where such horrors occurred, but that it is powerful and moving. My last night I was on my own and felt like doing something normal so I went to see Iron Man 3 at an English theater. I almost felt home again! I met a nice Canadian family who then took me to dinner after the film which was really nice. In the morning I left for Angers and it took me the whole day to get back.

Coming to the End...

Since the last time I posted I went to Nice in the south of France, but I will make that a different post. This weekend I just hung around Angers, which was nice after traveling so much before. I can't believe that this is our last week of classes starting tomorrow! After that it's exams and I am very nervous because they are all worth a  huge part of my grade and are sure to be difficult. This week  I will be focusing on studying for those and getting ready to go back to the States! The closer I get to going home the more excited and sad I become. I am very much going to miss all my friends here and just life in general, but at the same time I am so ready to go home and see my family and get on with yet another new chapter of my life. It's bittersweet, but I intend to keep in close contact with all the wonderful people I have met here and plan on visiting again within the next five years. Vive la France!