Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wellllll that was fun!!

I'm finished with exams!!
Everything is done a bit different here in France....when you have a final exam at ucf you go to the classroom that the class is in and take the exam with your teacher present. The exams here are in the auditoriums and there are multiple classes in there. It was my entire class with a bunch of french students, and none of our professors were there. There is assigned seating and you have to keep your bag/backpack/purse at the front of the room during the exam. Luckily our professor, who is also in charge of our study abroad program, was there for all of our exams to help us fill out papers. There's a special packet that they give you to take your exam and you have to fill it out a certain way.

Yesterday I had Management Accounting....which can be compared to taking an exam in Finnish...it was foreign to me. HORRIBLE! The girls from ucf that came here last year said they all failed the exam, but they ended up passing the unit...(I'm not sure if that was with the help of ucf or not). Oh well, I tried my best, that's all I can do. What will be will be....

Today we had Regional Tourism at 9:00am. The class is taught by the person in charge of the study abroad program. That exam was MUCH better than I thought it would be...thank god!! I felt bad for the students in my class who aren't native english speakers though. It's so much harder for them because they have to first read the question over and over again until they understand what is being asked and then try to provide the correct answer. Speaking english well is completely different from having to take an exam in english. Most of the American's thought it was pretty easy, the non-americans thought it was a bit difficult.

At 2:00pm we had our last exam (for unit 5). We were told that the exam was going to be one of the 4 classes in unit 5. So we needed to study for all 4 classes, but we would only have 1 test for 1 class...it would be a surprise! I love surprisessss
These were the 4 classes:
- The Loire Valley Castles
- Food Culture Management
- Getting to know a destination
- Wine Studies
So yes, we should have prepared for all 4 classes, but who does that?!? We're college students...in France. Considering we only went to the last 3 classes (listed above) maybe 4 times, and didn't learn much AT ALL, we had a feeling that it would be on the castles. The students last year had an exam on Loire Valley Castles, so we assumed that's what our test would be on. WE ASSUMED WRONG! It reminds me of what my 10th grade biology teacher, Mrs. Atria, said: If you assume you make an ass out of u and me.

Sooo we all studied like crazy for Loire Valley Castles. We get to the exam and they pass the paper to the first person. I think Katja was the first person to get the exam and she said "It's food culture management!" We all burst out laughing...you've gotta be kidding me!! Soooo we took an exam that NO ONE studied for! Luckily, it was food culture management so I was able to bs my way through the thing with knowledge from classes i've taken at ucf. Hopefully I did ok....i'm just glad it's over!!!! :)

I have a presentation tomorrow afternoon and then the semester is over!!!!
Heading to Prague and Vienna on Thursday :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Beautiful Barcelona

We took a taxi around 5:30am on Friday to get to the airport...we were greeted by prositutes once again. lol When we looked at the weather for Barcelona it said it would be rainy all weekend and it was the opposite! We were so lucky! We found our hostel and grabbed some lunch nearby before we were able to check-in. After we checked-in at the hostel we went to La Sagrada Familia (by Antonio Gaudi)which is a temple that has been under construction for years, and will continue to be under construction for years to come. I remember visiting it in high school...I forgot that it was (& is always) under construction.

La Sagrada Familia

After La Sagrada Familia we took the metro and then walked to Park Guell. It's crazy because you take 3 or 4 escalators (that are outside in the middle of buildings) up to the top of this hill. Once you get to the top, you have an amazing view of Barcelona.

Escalator going up to Park GuellThe girls at the top of Park Guell

Park Guell
Jazmin recommended a tapas restaurant called Inopia for dinner so we decided to try it out. It was AMAZING! It was worth every euro cent! Everything we ate was delicious! After dinner we walked around the city and down by the water for awhile. With no luck finding a bar we wanted to stay at, we decided to call it a night.
Saturday was Henna's birthday!! We had to check out of the hostel that morning, so we left all of our luggage in their luggage room. The weather was perfect so we headed to the beach!
Katie and I at the beach
We didn't realize the weather would be so perfect so no one brought their bathing suits, but we just laid on the beach in our clothes. We decided to lay out on the sand....for 2 hours! ...with no sunscreen! All that wine we've been drinking in France must have taken all of our braincells from us. I have NO idea how, but out of the 6 of us I think I was the one who was the least burnt...and I have the fairest skin. I don't know how it happened, but I'm so thankful! We all got sunburnt though! The last 20 minutes or so we were on the beach Amy and I went for a walk. We couldn't get over the fact that we were hanging out on the beach in Barcelona...we loved it! Henna, Anna, & Megan and I grabbed some lunch by the beach...pasta and?! you guessed it! Sangria! When In Rome.... After lunch we walked along the beach and then took the metro to the Picasso museum. It was awesome! There was a section of the museum that had Picasso's interpretation of the painting Las Meninas by Velazquez. I thought it was cool because we saw Las Meninas at the Prado in Madrid. :) After Picasso we headed back to the hostel to change clothes and get ready for a LONG night! Since we already checked out of our hostel we had no room to get ready...so we got ready in the public bathroom in the lobby of the hostel. All 6 of us.
The whole time we were laughing at everyone's stupid sunburn's and the horrible tan lines we would have. It was actually a lot of fun, and only person walked in to use the bathroom. After everyone was ready we went to put all of our bags in lockers by the bus station because we had to take a bus at 3:45am to get to the airport to leave. Like I said...it was going to be a long night! Megan's friend has been studying in Barcelona and he recommended a place for us to go to dinner. We attempted to go there, but didn't know you needed a reservation so we found a place down the street. Dinner was a lot of fun! We surprised Henna with a cake :)

Henna's birthday dinner!

After dinner we met Megan's friend and he took us to a shot bar called Chupitos. They have the craziest shots! The place is VERY small and VERY crowded, but once you get a spot at the bar it's a lot of fun. We took a shot called Boy Scout....They place the shots on the bar and start a fire directly on the bar. They give you a marshmallow that you roast until the fire is out. Then you dip the marshmallow in the shot (to help it cool) put it in your mouth, then take the shot! All of the shots are crazy like that, and usually involve fire.
Boy Scout Shot After Chupitos they took us to a club. We stayed in the club for an hour or so until 3am when we had to leave to go to the bus station. Katie, Henna, and Anna and I were waiting at the entrance of the club for Megan and Amy...but they didn't come. We weren't going to miss the bus (and our flight) because of them so we just left. We cut it really close on time! We got on the last metro to get to the bus stop at 3:40am. When we got off the metro we literally sprinted our way out of the metro, across the street, and to the bus. Katie said she would go first to make sure the bus wasn't leaving, while the 3 of us got our bags out of our lockers. Luckily we made it just in time....without Megan and Amy. The funny thing was that Henna and I shared a locker with Megan and Amy, so we had all of their stuff with us. There was nothing else to do but take their stuff. We could have put it in the locker again, but I would have still had the key. When we got to the airport we weren't even sure if our flight would be going to Paris because the flight to Paris that evening had been cancelled. Luckily our flight was scheduled to depart! One problem...we still had the girls bags. I was trying to figure out what we were going to do with their stuff, when they walked into the airport! They were very lucky because they were able to take a bus at 4:10, which we didn't even know about. The schedule that we had from the bus station said that the next bus (After 3:45am) left at 5am...which would have probably made them late to the airport. I travel with a bunch of monkey's! haha
Soooo luckily we all made it to the airport, now we just had to make sure we didn't kill each other lol. We got on the plane and made it to Paris. We had to take a bus into the city, which took about an hour. Then took the metro to the train station where we had about 4 hours until our train left to go to Angers. We all napped in the train station. Then we napped some more on the train! When we got to Angers we were all exhausted, gross from going out and not showering, and ready to be back in our rooms. Overall it was a wonderful trip and we all had a blast! I will definitely have amazing memories from my London & Spain trip! :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Madrid, Spain :)

We arrived in Madrid late Tuesday night and took a taxi to our hostel. We had a warm welcome by a million prostitutes lining the road that our hostel was on...awesomeee.
Wednesday we had breakfast at our hostel and then made our way to the Royal Palace to see the changing of the guards.

Royal Palace

It only happens on the first Wednesday of every month, so we went on the perfect day! It was cool to watch, but we were watching from the outside of the palace so we missed some of it. They start the whole thing on the outside and work their way to the inside of the palace for a performance...we probably would have watched from inside if we would have known. After the changing of the guards we went inside the Almudena Cathedral right next to the royal palace. We then walked by Plaza de la Villa to get to Plaza Mayor.

Plaza Mayor

It was crazy seeing Plaza Mayor again and remembering my last trip there. (The summer before my senior year of high school I went on a trip with Mrs. Journey and two of the cities we visited were Madrid and Barcelona). I definitely enjoyed my trip in high school, but since I've gotten older I have a greater appreciation for everything! We had lunch in Plaza Mayor. Sangria and sandwiches.
Enjoying lunch in Plaza Mayor

After lunch we strolled the city and worked our way to the Prado that evening. A lot of the museums are free for students after 6pm. A lot of the art in the Prado is different then what I am used to. I think it's much darker and gloomier, but I'm definitely glad we went. We had sangria and paella for dinner in a plaza not far from our hostel.


It was deliciousssss :) We were all SO full after dinner that we went back to the hostel to rest...and we ended up sleeping for a couple hours lol. We had all planned to go out that night, but Anna and Amy weren't up for it after the nap. Katie and Megan wanted to go out and they somehow convinced Henna and I to go too. Bad ideaaaa...the amount of creepers in Madrid is RIDICULOUS! We went to two different clubs (we got in free thank god!) and were constantly being approached by guys. We weren't having that much fun so we decided to head back to the hostel. We were able to walk by the prostitutes once more on our way back...we actually saw them doing their job when we woke up to have breakfast, when we would take a break in the middle of the day, and when we would go out at night...sad, but true.
Thursday we headed to the Parque del Retiro. It was so nice! We each got an ice cream and walked around the park. We walked around the lake and sat on the steps of the Alfonso XII monument for awhile enjoying the amazing weather. Then we decided to take a ride in the paddle boats...it was a lot of fun! :)

After the 45 minute boat ride we walked through the park making our way to the botanical gardens.

Palacio de Cristal All the girls :) We walked through the Botanical Gardens, which was very pretty! We all agreed that park was just as beautiful though..and the park was free! After the botanical gardens we split up for a little while to eat dinner, do some shopping, etc. and then met back up around 8:30pm. On the tourist info map it said that the Templo de Debod was the best place to watch the sunset so we decided to check it. It was BEAUTIFUL! It was the perfect way to spend our last night in Madrid!

View of Madrid as the sun was setting

Templo de Debod

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hello London!!

I left on April 30th for a 10 day trip to London, Madrid, & Barcelona! It was SO much fun!

Friday we left Angers in the morning and made it to London in the late afternoon. Once we got to the airport we all went our separate ways because Anna was staying with friends, a few of the girls were staying with Amy's family, and Henna and I were staying in a hostel with 3 other girls who were on a different flight. We took a bus from the London-Stansted aiport to London which took a little over an hour. We walked for quite awhile along Hyde Park to find our hostel, checked in, and went to dinner at a Thai restaurant down the road. We thought the whole situation was kind of funny considering that an American girl and a Finnish girl (who have been studying in France) were visiting London, and eating Thai food. I love it! After dinner we took the tube (aka metro)to Notting Hill and walked around for a little while. We headed back to the hostel to meet Charlotte, Kim, and Shannon who had taken the later flight to London. We talked for awhile about our journey's to London and then went to sleep to get ready for the next day.

Saturday we had the free breakfast at the hostel which usually means cornflakes and white bread with jam lol then headed to Starbucks to energize ourselves. Some of you may be thinking that I shouldn't have had Starbucks, but it's literally on every corner in London. It was a cultural experience haha! We took the tube towards the Tower Bridge! We walked past the Tower of London Castle and right around the corner was the bridge.
The Tower of London Castle

The Tower Bridge

We crossed over the bridge and walked along the River Thames to St. Paul's Cathedral. We took the infamous phone booth pictures there.

St. Paul's Cathedral

In a phone booth outside of St. Paul's!

We walked back across the river and walked by the Tate Modern Museum. We were going to go inside, but decided to save it for another day when the weather wasn't so nice. We never ended up making it back there which is a little disappointing, but I'll just put it on my list of things to do on my next visit to London! :) We went to a place called Eat. and grabbed a sandwich and some snacks to eat outside. The weather was beautiful! After lunch we continued to walk along the river towards the London Eye. There were a lot of street performers which was fun to watch. There was a group of hiphop/break dancers, people playing music with aluminum trash lids, a woman with over 1,000 peircings(..gross!), and the typical people who are dressed up as mickey mouse, a mime, and other characters. After reaching the London Eye we headed back across the river towards Westminster Abbey and Big Ben! There was a protest going on right outside of Westminster Abbey. It was crazy and awesome! lol
The London Eye

Westminster Abbey

Big Ben

Protest outside of Westminster Abbey

We walked to St. James Park and took a short nap in the sun and then walked through the park. We saw Buckingham Palace from a distance, but were saving that for another morning so we could watch the changing of the guards. We walked from St. James Park to Picadilly Circus, which slightly resembles Time's Square, but on a much smaller level. Anna met us there and we went on a search for a place to eat. We found a local pub and I had fish & chips which was delicious!! :) We then attempted to find a place to go out for drinks, which was relatively unsuccessful. It was raining outside, we were exhausted from walking all day and every place we went to was either really crowded or the wrong age group. We ended up staying at a bar that wasn't too crowded so we could sit down inside and have a London ale. We met a guy whose dad lives in Tennessee and one of his favorite bands is Sister Hazel..small world! We hung out at the bar for a little while then decided to call it a night when an old creeper spilled a beer on Charlotte.
Sunday we met Charlotte's friend Priscilla in the Liverpool area and she took us to a couple markets. The markets were huge and amazing! Henna and I wanted everything we saw!

We walked around there for a little while and then had a late lunch at an Indian restaurant. After lunch we went to another market which was just as amazing! After a couple hours at that market, Priscilla left, and the 5 of us (me, Kim, Shannon, Charlotte, & Henna) walked around for a little while longer. We were heading back to the tube when we spotted these amazing looking drinks in the window of a bar called B @ 1. There was a sign that said they have 2 for 1 happy hour on Sundays until 12am soooo we decided to go inside and see how it was. We were sitting at a table and my camera fell off my lap onto the ground and dieddd! :( And we had just ordered our first drink so NO it was not caused by drunken debauchery...just stupidity! My camera was 4 years old and was missing 5 out of the 11 screws that held it in place, so its not shocking that it died. The bar was so much fun though! They played great music, the drinks were amazing, and the bartenders were a lot of fun! Six hours later, with no money left in our wallets, we decided to call it a night.
Me and Henna...last picture taken with my camera :(

Monday we headed to Abbey Road to take the infamous Beatles picture walking on the crosswalk. I was suprised that nothing has been done with that crosswalk because there were at least 40 people there trying to take pictures while cars were driving by. The whole thing was a little bit chaotic, but it was fun! There was a guy there that would take a polaroid pic for you for 5 pounds. I bought it so we could all get in a picture, and so we didn't have to deal with stopping traffic again lol We then attempted to go to Kings Cross Station which is where platform 9 and 3/4's is from Harry Potter. We ended up not going in because we would have had to pay for a metro ticket..not worth it! Kim, and Henna & I walked around and did some shopping while Shannon and Charlotte went back to Westminster Abbey to see a choir performance. We all met back at Picadilly Circus and went to dinner at a Chinese restaruant with Priscilla (Charlotte's friend). It was a lot of fun going with Charlotte! We told Priscilla and Charlotte to order for us, so they ordered around 6 dishes for all of us to share. It was fun listening to them speak Chinese to each other and to the servers. The food was delicious! Charlotte said that it was real authentic food that she would have in Hong Kong, which made her miss home a little. She told us about a couple dishes that were popular just in Hong Kong and others that were popular in China. We walked around Soho after dinner and enjoyed the city.

Tuesday we checked out of our hostel and headed to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards. It was awesome! There were so many people there! After the changing of the guards Shannon, Kim, and Charlotte left to catch their flight to Ireland. Henna and I headed back towards the hostel to do some shopping and pick up our bags at the hostel. We mostly window shopped because we had already packed our bags and knew we didn't have room for anything else. We met up with Anna and took a train to Gatwick-Airport to head to Madrid! We met up with Megan, Katie, and Amy at the airport and shared stories from our trips. It was weird seeing them in the airport because we had expected to hang out with each other in London. We ended up not seeing them at all because we had no way of communicating with each other.
Overall London was AMAZING!! I fell in love with the city! I didn't want to leave and I want to go back already!

That's all for now...I'll post more pictures from London (after I steal pics from the girls) and blog about Spain soon.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I wasn’t planning on blogging about the last couple weeks, but then I realized that I’m writing this blog almost entirely for me (and for those of you who are reading too!). I know when I’m reading my blog in 5 or 10 or 20 years I’ll be glad I wrote it...

My Grandmother got very sick in the last couple months and I flew back to the United States on April 8th in hopes of spending a day or two with her before she passed away. Unfortunately she passed away on April 6th. When she got really sick I knew there was a possibility that I wouldn’t get to see her, but I wanted to fly home either way so I could spend time with my family.

The journey home is a story in itself:

The French train stations decided it would be a fabulous idea to go on strike the week I was flying to the US! I woke up at 4:30am on the 8th (that’s 10:30pm on the 7th in the U.S.) to take a taxi to the train station in Angers. I wanted to get there early just in case my train wasn’t running. Luckily I did because, guess what?! My train wasn’t running! My original train ticket would have left Angers at 6:45am and taken me straight to the airport…that would have been too easy. There was a nice woman that worked at the train station who gave me a ticket for the 6:08am train (I’m so glad I was early!). It took me to a different train station in Paris. Once I got to the train station I took the Metro and then I got on the RER (the city train) which took me to the airport. It was a long journey (much longer than anticipated!) carrying my luggage around! I finally made it to the airport in Paris and had to take an airport shuttle to the main terminal. Luckily, I made it to the gate with time to spare to grab a bite to eat…of course with the way my day had been going I didn’t eat the 1st sandwich I bought because it fell on the ground, but I enjoyed the 2nd sandwich I bought! Lol I flew from Paris to Amsterdam to Atlanta with hardly any problems. I landed in Atlanta at 5:30pm (US time) and my flight was leaving for Tampa at 7pm. I was very anxious because I had to go through border patrol & customs, wait for my bag at the baggage claim, re-check it, go through security, take the airport shuttle to my terminal (AND get Chickfila haha). I was sweating when I arrived at my gate, but I made it! I made it just in time to hear the announcement that my flight was delayed 2 hours!! As if the 10 hour flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta wasn’t long enough! lol! My cell phone didn’t work in the U.S. because my plan is suspended until I get back in June. I attempted to call my mom collect to let her know it was late and have her tell Monica because she was picking me up at the airport. I attempted to call about 4 times and failed. I could hear my mom say “hello” on the other end and press all the buttons the automated voice asked, but it never worked. I went and bought Chickfila 1) because I wanted it 2) It would give me change to make a phone call. So I tried to pay to make a phone call and it said that her number had been disconnected. Noo! Actually it hasn’t because I just called and heard her say hello on the other end! I also tried calling my sisters number and that didn’t work either! I was so frustrated so I decided to take a break and eat the chicken sandwich and waffle fries..delicioussss! I decided to try the pay phones at a different gate and it worked! I have no idea how! The pay phone was a different model so maybe that’s why…I’ll never know. If you’re ever at gate A10 in the Atlanta airport don’t use the payphones!!! The time went by quickly in the airport because I spent most of the time trying to make phone calls lol…no but really it was nice (and strange) to hear ENGLISH everywhere around me. I bought a couple gossip magazines (to catch up on news only American's care about..like Kate Gosselin ha!), and a big inexpensive bottle of water! I felt spoiled! When I walked back to A10 I noticed that the gate for my flight had been moved to E17…thank you Atlanta! There were many cranky people at the gate complaining about the changes. I obviously never wanted to have my flight delayed, but there was no point in getting mad at anyone. It wouldn’t have made anything better. One woman sitting by me at the gate was complaining because she got to the airport too early and she could have taken a nap…she lives in Atlanta. I wanted to hit her! At that point it had been 24 hours since I got up to start this journey…and she’s mad she got to the airport a couple hours early!?!? I finally got on the plane and made it to Tampa. I was SO excited to see Monica!! It was so nice! She was such a cute big sister! She had a “Welcome Back” balloon and a bag of goodies…Starbucks gift certificate, D’lites (frozen yogurt) gift certificate, some more delightful gossip magazines, and Bumble & Bumble hair products that I couldn’t bring to France with me. I loved it! We stayed the night at Uncle Phil’s house. I think I went to bed 27 or 28 hours after I started my journey. The next day we went to a Mexican restaurant (my choice!) for lunch with Aunt Sally, and Sam and Paula. After lunch we went to my Grandmother’s house to watch a slideshow of pictures from her 80th birthday party; I knew I would cry. Monica and I got on the road shortly after so we could get to Gainesville and have dinner with our Mom. Thank god we rushed because we got a flat tire as soon as we got on the interstate in Tampa...AWESOME! I usually don’t say this, but I just have the BEST luck! We stopped at a gas station and a nice man helped us put the spare tire on. It was a “donut” (? I act as if I know anything about cars) so we weren’t sure if we could drive all the way to Gainesville on it. The guy who switched our tire thought we would make it, but I’m sure he didn’t want to be responsible if something happened so he never gave us a definite answer. The owner of the gas station told us he called a guy that was coming to look at our tire and give us a used one to make it back home. He told us to sit in the cafĂ© next to the gas station while we waited. While we were in the cafe Brad called us and he told us that we would be fine to make it back to Gainesville. As soon as he said that we immediately relaxed. Even though we had gotten opinions from other people, we had complete trust in him. Thank God he didn’t tell us to drive off a cliff because we may have done it! Haha! As we were leaving the gas station trying to come up with a lie to tell the owner on why we were leaving, the guy who was going to give us a new tire pulled up. When we came out he said “I knew you must have been cute because he usually doesn’t go out of his way to help people.” Oh yes! Please help us! NOT! He was in jeans and a t-shirt and drove a van that looked like one of the kidnapping vans in movies. No chance in hell I was going to let him do anything with my car! Lol

Thanks to Brad (and Monica for driving!) we got on the road and made it safely to Gainesville. We went to Dragonfly Sushi with Mom and it was better than I remembered! I spent the next several days in Gainesville…seeing some friends, renewing my license, doing my taxes, sleeping and eating food I missed. My dad and Kirsten came back from France on Monday the 12th. I was able to see him while he was in France and we had a wonderful time. I met them in Paris the weekend before I left and they came to Angers during the week. I know it was hard for him not being by my Grandmothers side when she died, but I hope in 10 years he’s glad he made the trip to France.

Grandmother’s funeral was on the Saturday the 17th, and Dad and I went to Dunedin on the 15th. It was really nice to spend time with my family. We laughed, we cried, we reminisced, and cried some more. It was just weird. That word was said a lot. We all knew it would eventually happen, but we didn’t think it would. We spent most of the time in her house which also made it strange. Her house was the center of every family occasion. We always spent time there. Grandmother is really what kept our family so close. Throughout the weekend people said things like “I feel like she should just walk around the corner.” “I feel like she’s just on vacation and this isn’t really happening.” “It was weird not having her greet us at her door.” The funeral was really nice. My dad spoke and it was perfect. I heard him read the eulogy about 7 times before the funeral and I cried every time. It described her perfectly...it made us laugh and cry...she would have loved it!

I was heartbroken to know that I wasn’t able to see her before she died, but in a way I feel lucky that the last memories I have with her are when she was happy and healthy. I know she didn't want me to fly home to see her in her state, and maybe I wasn't suppossed to. Now the last memories I have with Grandmother are from Christmas. The whole family was together. There were little kids running around the whole time, which she loved! It was such a wonderful holiday and everyone enjoyed it. She was the PERFECT Grandmother. She was beautiful on the inside and out. She had the biggest heart; she was warm and kind, gentle and loving, funny and witty. She loved to know what we (her grandchildren) were doing in our lives. She loved hearing stories and I never felt judged about anything I was said. I’ve spent weeks at her house and I could talk to her about so much. When I worked in Atlanta for the summer she was excited to hear all about it. If there was any drama with work or roommates, she always listened to me vent about it. When I got my first tattoo she wanted to see it, and (although I’m not sure if she was telling the truth or not) she said she liked it. I’m not sure when, but she bought strawberries on one of my visits and I told her I loved them. From that point on there were strawberries in the house every time I was there. I remember when I was younger and we would go out shopping. She always wanted me to pick something out that she could pay for. She would get mad because I usually didn't pick anything out. I didn't want her to spend money on me, the time we spent together was what mattered to me the most. Fortunately, I have been able to spend a lot of the past 22 years with her and I will always cherish the memories I have. I know when I’m older and I have kids, and grandkids…I won’t be nearly as “Grand”, but I hope I’m a fraction of the Grandmother she was!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This whole school thing is getting in the way of my life...

Well yesterday morning I had my French oral exam. I had to speak in French for 10 minutes! Ahhh! I was shaking I was so nervous! But I made it out alive without throwing up or passing out so that's good! I had to spell my first and last name, tell her what the date was yesterday, talk about myself and my family, and talk about the United States (she gave us a list of possible things she would ask us) Let me just remind you though that she's asking me all of this in French so it wasn't that simple. I've definitely learned French since I've been here, but since all of my classes are taught in English and I speak English to all of my friends I haven't learned as much as I thought I would. I wish I knew more French, but I definitely wouldn't trade it for the friendships I've made with Anna (from Sweden) and the Finnish girls :)

Our afternoon class was International Tourism and it was the first day of our presentations. Each group was given a specific destination to research and we had to write a paper and make a powerpoint presentation about the tourism within the destination. Luckily I did not have to present yesterday (I'll be presenting on Tuesday) because the professor (who doesn't even deserve the title!) was SO rude to all of the groups that presented. She interrupted people while they were in the middle of talking to criticize them. Our class has more or less become a family since we've been here so were were all getting really mad and defending each other.
We are not required to dress up for our presentations, so most people don't dress up. One of the guys, however, did dress up in a suit and tie. She called a girl out in front of the entire class (who was in the suit & tie's group) and said she was dressed poorly, had bad posture, and wasn't presenting the work correctly. She was dressed the same as everyone else who presented besides the guy standing next to her. Regardless of what the teacher thought, she shouldn't have said it in front of the entire class. When she interrupts a person to criticize them it throws them off track of what they were talking about, which makes them more nervous. Our presentation is only supposed to be 20 minutes long and if a group went over 20 minutes she would get mad and act as if they were wrong for going over the time. All of the groups went over 20 minutes because SHE continued to interrupt them while they were talking!! The entire class had their jaws dropped for the majority of the class. She only gave one compliment the entire class (which lasted 3 hours) and that was to the girl who she made cry! And the girl who cried was not the girl who was called out in front of the entire class. Most professors will let you present and will give comments AFTER you're done. The Finnish girls said this and Charlotte from Hong-Kong agreed too. And this isn't a French thing either because we've already had 2 presentations and neither of the professors interrupted or criticized while a group was presenting.

Stiina told me that in her classes in Finland they follow the "hamburger method" for comment/critique.
Bun-positive remark
Beef-critique/negative remark
Bun-positive remark

This woman needs to add a little more bun in her life!
I don't know how she calls herself a teacher either! She's given us about 60 sheets of paper that is all in French. The reason she gives it to us is so we can look at 2 small graphs that are so hard to read because the copy machines at school are awful! And half of her powerpoints are also in French which is ALSO useless to us! We are in the English course! But according to her she knows everything!

I'm just going to have to breathe on Tuesday because I would love to tell her how I feel! The whole class was on the verge of telling her that yesterday. One of the girls suggested (in a much nicer way than I would have been able to) that she leave her comments to the end of the presentation because that makes the person presenting lose focus of what they were talking about. Other people asked her if our 20 minute limit for presenting included her interrupting us. I think she realized how heated we were because she had to ask us to be quite and calm down lol and she said she would try to be better on Tuesday. Good god! She's ridiculous! I wish I could have recorded it just to show you how awful the class was!

Ok I hope you enjoyed my ranting! lol I think I could have written it all in caps to show how mad I was! Wish me luck on Tuesday! haha

On a happy note: My Dad and Kirsten are coming to France on Friday! I will be meeting them, and the Killians in Paris on Saturday! :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hanging out in the police station is awesome!

This past weekend we went to Amsterdam and Brussels!! Originally we were planning on spending Friday & Saturday night in Amsterdam and Sunday & Monday in Brussels (yes, we were going to miss school!) But after we bought the tickets we found out that we had to be in class on Monday...so we ended up only being in Brussels for the day, but it was still fun!

Our train left early Friday morning from Angers. We had to take the 6:03am bus to get to the train station and one of the girls missed the bus. Long story short-she had to take a later train to Paris and a different one to Amsterdam, but she ended up making it to Amsterdam 45 minutes after the rest of the group. Kim and I got Starbucks at the train station in Amsterdam! It was the first time I've had it since I've been here and it was delicious!! :)

Kim and I decided to get IAmsterdam cards because we wanted to go to the Van Gogh Museum and do a couple things the other girls didn't want to do. For the price of the card you get free transportation, free entrance to a ton of museums, a free canal cruise, and discounts on a lot of places. We checked into our hostel which was a very cozy suite with three bunkbeds! lol We were lucky enough to walk past some "red lights." The hostel wasn't in the redlight district, but that night we realized there were about 6 buildings on our street with red lights in the windows haha. After checking into the hotel we went to the Heineken Factory. (Kim & I got 25% off our tickets!) I wasn't really sure what to expect, but it ended up being a lot of fun (and beer was included!) On the way there we found the infamous IAmsterdam sign so of course we had to take some pics...

After the Heineken tour we grabbed a bite to eat for dinner and then went on a canal cruise. It was so pretty going at night and seeing all of the buildings lit up! I loved it!
Saturday we all got up early and headed to the Anne Frank House. It was surreal being there...I just couldn't believe I was actually there. I'm so glad I went though, it was really neat. Kim & I separated from the group and went to the Van Gogh museum. The line was really long to buy tickets, but we had our IAmsterdam cards so we got to pass the line! The museum was awesome, it was fun seeing so many of his paintings in one building! We grabbed lunch at this cute place called Bagel & Beans. There are no bagels in France, so it was exciting having a bagel lol...but it was this cute little coffee shop (not the "coffee shops" where you can smoke) that was really tasty! I got a fresh juice smoothie and a bagel with cream cheese, sundried tomatoes, tampenade, pesto, and pine nuts..delicous! After lunch we went to the Rijksmuseum. It's a collection of Dutch artwork, dollhouses, silverware, statues, etc...it was actually really cool! Of course I don't have any pics from it though since camera's aren't allowed in the museum. Kim and I then went on a search for some type of birthday cake for Katie. Her 22nd birthday was on Sunday, but we celebrated Saturday night. We ended up getting what looked like a huge twinkie from this candy shop..it was the best we could find! It actually was pretty good though! We sang happy birthday to her in the hostel room and made a toast with some champagne...but since we are SO classy we drank the champagne out of plastic water bottles. haha it's all we had, and it worked out just fine!
We went to dinner at this pancake house. We heard about these pancakes that we had to try while we were there. They had sweet and savory options and it was about a foot in diameter. Kim and I shared the Italian pancake and the Tropical pancake (they were both savory). The food was great, but the service was horrible..the woman running the place was so rude! We headed back to the hostel after dinner, before heading out to the redlight district for Katie's birthday.

These are the red lights that inform you of the street you're about to walk on...and to let you know that you can't take any pictures past it! lol
Sunday (after a couple hours of sleep) we headed to Brussels! We were all exhausted when we got on the train and fell asleep immediately. When I woke up I looked up at the luggage rack above us and noticed my backpack was missing. I did a double-take and then didn't really know what to do. I told Kim that my backpack was gone and once the other girls realized what had happened they immediately took their luggage off the racks and put it on their seats. lol Luckily I was holding my purse while I was sleeping which had everything that I needed (passport, credit cards, id's, money, camera, flip camera, and ipod) I was just in shock that someone took my bag, but luckily Kim was there! A woman who worked on the train walked by and once Kim told her what happened she directed us to the front of the train to talk to someone else. He told me to file a police report when we got to Brussels. He also said that that would be the only time I got my stuff stolen..."it only happens once." I believe him! I went from shocked-->upset-->mad-->oh well! shit happens! I could have easily let it ruin my day, but I was in Brussels! I wanted to have fun! Kim came with me to the train station to file a report. I know I won't get it back, but at least I did something about it. I joked about it a couple times during the day. The girls were complaining that their backs hurt from carrying their backpacks and I said "you must be so jealous of me!" haha :)

Brussels was fun :) We had waffles, bought way too much chocolate, and enjoyed the beautiful city for several short hours.
Grand' Place

Manneken-Pis: naked little boy peeing (the statue is literally 1 ft tall)
It's supposed to be very symbolic to Brussels.
There were many tourists there taking pictures!