Monday, June 2, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
May 19, 2008
So it has been some time since I have sat down to write here. I have been so busy this month that it is already the 19th of May and I’ve only got 11 days left in Grenoble and 23 in France. I’m not really sure how I feel about it. Sometimes I see it as too short and that I’ve got so much to see in a short time, and sometimes I see it as forever! Not that 23 days is much time at all, but I still miss my friends. I look forward to getting to Nantes and Paris and seeing my dad. I don’t know, I’m enjoying it, and that’s what’s important.
This month is much more difficult than last month, and I’m hoping that I can still pull off an A. I saw my grades today, and their not so good; probably a B. Whatever…
As far as May is concerned, I’ve done so much. I don’t know how to even explain it but here goes nothing.
Marseilles was a wonderful city, but anyone who has been there knows it’s very dirty. It gives France a bad image because between Marseilles and Paris, most people don’t see France. The old port was beautiful and walking around gave a good picture of life in the city.
We (my friends from Grenoble and I) went for a walk around the city after getting settled into our Hostel. We got to see a lot of different parts of the city, and eventually came back to the hostel to get ready for dinner. We went back to the old port to get dinner, and it was a very good meal. After that we went back to the hostel to rest. I decided I was in France to speak French, so I got a coke and sat down with the workers at the hostel and talked for an hour or so. It was nice to talk without having to worry about it. I’m kinda self-conscious about my French when I’m talking with people because I hate screwing up.
The next morning we all slept in pretty late, so we got a late start on the day. Two others and I went to a market and got some fruit and walked around eating it. It’s just one of the cool things about France that we could do it. Then we met up with the rest of the group and went to the beach. After the beach we walked through this beautiful park before getting to the famous piece of architecture. I really don’t know much about it but it was cool for the two architects in the group.
That evening we had an awful meal that I’d like to describe, but it’s better that I don’t. The service was terrible, the food wasn’t good, and it was kinda expensive. Oh well, it’s all part of the experience and I’m okay with it. After that three of us went to a bar and got coffee, a beer, and a glass of wine (each took one, not all three [the glass of wine was mine]).
The next day the two South Africans (also the Architects) and I went to the islands that were close to the coast. One of them was actually the Isle If. This probably means nothing to you so I will tell you that there is a Chateau there called the Chateau d’If. Still nothing? The prison from the Count of Monte Cristo. It was a cool museum and a cool experience. After that we went to the other island and had lunch. I had to take the next boat in order to catch my train back to Grenoble, but the others (we met people at the island) stayed because they were able to book the hostel that night and I wasn’t.
That was Thursday through Saturday. Then the following Thursday I went to Munich, Germany. It was a wonderful trip that itself was not without problems. I was able to catch my first two trains with no problem, and after traveling for about 7 hrs, I arrived in Strasbourg, France at 5:50PM. However, the train to Munich had left at 5:45! So I had a chance to walk around Strasbourg for about 2 hours and see the city close to the train station. I then caught the next train and made it to Munich about midnight. It was a long day so I went to bed fairly quickly.
The next day I got up at a reasonable hour and made it down to the Free walking tour of Munich, which was great. I got to see a lot of different places in Munich and hear the story behind the places. After this tour I got to drink my first beer ever. And let me tell you, starting with a Maß of beer is not a great idea. Oh, for you that don’t know, a Mass is a Liter of beer (see photo below). I wasn’t drunk, don’t worry, but it was still not a great idea.
After walking back to the train station, I met Scooter (a friend from UC and back home) and we went to get her settled into the hostel. Then we went to the Hofbräuhaus. We had some amazing food, and of course beer! Since I had a light lager for lunch, I had a dark (half) for dinner. After that we just walked around the city talking and enjoying each other’s company. I think I can speak for the both of us and say it was nice to see a familiar face. I kinda took her to places from the tour and told her what I could remember, which wasn’t always everything, but usually the jest of everything. We went to this park and in a gazebo there were all of these old people ballroom dancing, and I wanted to join in, but I didn’t know how. L
The next morning we again got up early so that we could get to Dachau. I would love to describe it, but it’s impossible. Honestly, there is not way to describe with words what it was like, and Dachau wasn’t even a Death Camp. It makes me wonder about camps like Auschwitz. I’m only going to post a picture or two from Dachau here, but when I stop being lazy, I’ll post them on facebook.
After Dachau we just wondered the city and eventually went to the Hofbräuhaus’ beer garden in the English gardens. They were beautiful and the food was amazing. I had another maß and this time it hit me hard. I wasn’t drunk, but I definitely felt the alcohol. It really wasn’t a pleasant feeling, but not bad either.
Scooter and I had some wonderful conversations during our two and a half days together, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I may have talked way too much in the time we had together, and for that I feel really bad. I need to be a better listener, and I am striving for that!
After coming back here, I’ve been in class and not done a lot. I went to Lyon with API on Saturday, and that was cool. Didn’t really do much, but I was able to comprehend about 97% of what the guide was saying in French. I’m happy with that.
Anyhow, I’ve got 11 days in Grenoble and 23 in France. I should go to bed soon so I can get up tomorrow and try to run a few miles.
See you all soon,
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Sorry for the long absence, it’s been kinda busy here. I’ve finished my first month of class, which was good. I got an A+, which here is around an 18/20. Here 16-20 = A+ so 18 is really good. Apparently teachers never give 20s, and I got 2. I’m proud of that. Otherwise, nothing really new to add about last months class.
Last weekend I went to Avignon, which was actually not that great of a city. It’s pretty dirty and a lot of “bad-boys.” The Palais du Pape was quite nice, and I’m glad I went back to see it, but otherwise there wasn’t much to do. If I hadn’t known anyone who was there, I would not have been able to stand it there.
One thing I realized is that despite our faults as a nation, with racism and such, I think we are more open to foreigners. Not that I’ve had any problems, nor am I saying that the French are rude, I’m just saying I think we’re more open to foreigners. Of course they have to speak our language when coming to the US where as most French do speak enough English that foreigners will get by. I suppose that if English wasn’t the “world language” or whatever that we’d know the world language too. However, it is and we do.
I’m watching the Spring Game replay on www.GoBearcats.com and we are looking pretty good. I’m getting pretty excited for football to arrive. I’m looking forward to working with the guys this summer/ fall and I’m planning on going to all 14 games. I’ve got all but Uconn down for sure.
Yesterday night I went to the Grenoble soccer match. It was pretty sweet, a couple of Red cards, a fight, and a 0-0 score. This pleased me because it guaranteed that Nantes moves up to Ligue 1 next season.
So I’ve watched about 20 minutes of the game and the 1st team offense has turned it over twice, to the first team defense. Is it good that the defense is taking it away or bad that the offense is giving it away? Grutza looks good, as does Anderson. Jones hasn’t gotten is as of yet, but I think he’ll be good too! I like to see the competition for the QB role. Personally, I’d like to see Grutza as the starter. Nothing against Jones or Anderson, but I think the experience is important, and I’m not sure that Jones is at 100% yet. Hope remains that we’ll have Mauk, but I don’t know what his shoulder will look like either?
Anyway, I’ll be going to Marseilles on Thursday Morning and spending a couple days just relaxing there. I’m looking forward to the break that Avignon didn’t provide.
Well, it’s almost midnight and I’ll be up around 7 so I should really be heading to bed.
128 days! UC vs. EKU Thursday, August 28
Here are the awesome new Jerseys!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
I swear that it is always raining here, because for the last week or so, everyday we’ve had rain. This constant bad weather, in addition to spending time with friends, has taken all the time I could go run. I’m gaining weight I think. Boo.
Alright, on to my weekend. Friday night my host dad’s mother came to visit for the weekend, so after my relaxing time I went downstairs and got to meet her. She’s a very nice old lady. ☺ So after some conversation time, we went and had dinner.
During this time my host family decided to go to Switzerland, as you may already have read. So that’s what we did.
On Saturday morning, we got into the car for a 2 hour drive to Geneva and got there around noon. After arriving in Geneva, we walked to the awesome fountain in the lake in Geneva. After this we went and had lunch, the up to the Huge Protestant church. After that we walked around Geneva and then came back to Grenoble. I was exhausted!
So today, I woke up at 8:30 and went to an English speaking church about 5 minutes on the bus from my house (probably a 10-15 minute walk)[Sorry Scooter, if you read this ☹]. It was pretty sweet and afterwards the pastor invited me to join him for lunch, if I stayed for the French church that followed. I did and it was good. I stayed at the pastor’s house until around 4, when I felt that I had no idea how long I should stay and decided to come back. I was able to talk about a lot of interesting things with him, and definitely learned a lot from him!
That’s really about it, other than that the Reds won in the bottom of the 10th on back to back jacks by Edwin (who made the costly error to give up 2 runs in the 10th) and Bako to tie the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the 10th. Gagne who didn’t record an out, left after a walk of Hatteberg. Then Freel came in to pinch run and got to second via a infield single by Brandon Phillips. Then Griffey singled to right field to win the game 4-3!
Well, I’ll talk at you all lata. If you want me to post more pictures on here (they’re all on Facebook) let me know.
Friday, April 18, 2008
So, I realized today that I only had 5 days of class this month (well 4 now since today is done) and then I’ll be done with my first class! Geez the time has flown by. But that’s good because it means that I’m not focusing too much on home and how long I still have, though I still have a long time here. I think it’s like 55 days, though only 43 or so here in Grenoble. I do have 2 days in April, the 29th and 30th, before a possible trip to Marseilles. The next week I’ll have 3 days before another long weekend and a trip to Munich and I’m hoping to go to Dachau!
Then 2 weeks of classes, though I’ll probably skip that last Friday to get to Rome a bit earlier, then a final week of classes. After that I go to Nantes and then Paris to meet my dad.
April 18, 2008
I kinda got sidetracked last night and could not finish my post, so here it is.
Week 3 down, 6 to go! And after I’ll be traveling with my Dad.
So while I was doing this yesterday I started looking into traveling and I think I’m going to go to Poland on April 30 and go to Auschwitz. There is another camp close to Warsaw, so I may go there too. I think that’d be something that wouldn’t necessarily be “cool” but interesting. I know it sounds awful, but there is a lot of history there, whether good or bad.
Tomorrow my family and I are going to Geneva! I’m pumped for the opportunity to go to Switzerland! Heck Yeah! Hopefully I’ll have time to go shopping and pick up a few souvenirs.
I’ll write more after tomorrow.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
April 13, 2008
So it’s been a few days since I’ve written, and I suppose it’s about time that I send out another update.
Another week of classes has finished and it really is getting more routine. However, my sleep schedule is still pretty crazy! It’s leaving me exhausted most of the time, and I slept through church today. ☹ I’m kinda upset about that because I could use the fellowship. The good news is that I was able to hook up with a Canadian who is here for ministry working with an organization called FEU which is an on campus ministry similar, but not the same as, CRU. It’ll be interesting to get involved. I’m having lunch with Rich, the Canadian, on Tuesday and I’m hoping that it will be a good time to get to know him, and see what we can to together. I’m hoping he’s down with some on-campus sharing when the students get back from vacation.
Some awesome news came in today. My dad is meeting me in Paris on June 5th for a week of traveling in Normandy, Paris, and potentially to Benelux (see the post about my trip I planned to take after April). So I’m pretty excited about that!
I’m also planning on going to the soccer game here on Tuesday night if I can get some friends to go with me.
Well, that’s all I’ve got today, I’ll try to update everyday with some shorter messages instead of longer messages once a week or so.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
That song doesn't really apply totally, and only one person should understand the meaning...
Well, another day down, and a little more French learned. I do think I’m starting to get the hang of everything here, though it still stinks for everyone around me to be talking and I don’t understand much at all. But the longer I’m here, the more I realize you just have to be thrown into the fire to learn how to deal with it. I know that in the end I’ll be the better for it if I succeed.
One thing I haven’t been doing is exercise. I spend a lot of time in my room doing stuff, and I don’t hardly get out and do much. I played tennis Saturday, Sunday, and tonight, so that was good, but I think I’ll get up tomorrow, run 3 miles, and do a boatload of push-ups and abs stuff. I’m sure it will wear me out, but make me feel great!
Last night was really good! I was able to talk to a friend and discuss some big things that have been on my mind recently. It was nice to talk with a friend from home. Though I’ve done it a few times, this was extra good for the day!
The rest of this week will be pretty boring, so I don’t know if I’ll update or not. I’ll see what I have to talk about.
Now playing: UC Band - Cheer Cincinnati
^ Does that surprise anyone?
Sunday, April 6, 2008
I guess you could say I finally realized how truly important my friends are to me, and how deeply connected I am with my friends. Not having them around is probably the biggest struggle right now, and when (and if) I can get past that, I’ll start to do better here. We shall see.
Anyways… the first week of classes was both good and challenging. The classes are really challenging, but I suppose it is better than if the classes were a breeze and I wasn’t really learning anything, no? The toughest part is the rigorous schedule or four straight hours per day. It really does take a lot out of me.
After class, my friends that I’ve made through API, which is the program I went through to get here, usually go into to town and just spend some time together; it really helps me to get past my homesickness and to start enjoying Grenoble. I only have one picture so far, and it is stuck on my camera because I don’t have a cable for it!
I should probably tell you I placed into A2.8, which is the highest beginner level French course that the offer here. The best way for me to explain it would be to say it’s a lot like French 106 at UC or the second half of French 103, but only 100% French in class and absolutely no English. I should move up to the next level in May, so we shall see. I have no idea what I will or will not get credit for.
On a side note, I figured out my schedule for the fall, assuming I take a couple summer classes. I’ve planned to take French 300 and 310 (Grammar, and literature), English 340 which is another intro to linguistics course that I need to take, Anthropology 230 I believe (it’s a class on the languages of the world), and the social history of baseball. I assume that when I make a final decision about the Army, I’ll change this around to either allow for those classes or to appeal me to my interests in learning. I’m also waiting to see which teacher will teach when so I can take a class with Lorman.
I have also been looking at my schedule for the next two months, and I have a couple breaks where I am totally going to travel! At the end of this Month, I have about 5 days off in which I will travel to Luxembourg, Belgium, and either the Netherlands or Germany. I suppose if I do all of that, I’ll come back the 28. The following weekend I have Thursday through Sunday off (Meaning I have class on Monday) so I’ll probably try to go to Berlin that weekend. I don’t know yet, but luckily I’ll have some time to figure it out.
Well, I suppose that is about all I have right now. If you could, be praying that I can get past my need for my friends so that I could start to enjoy my time here more.
I’ll post sooner next time.
Monday, March 31, 2008
March 29, 2008
Well, today was a little different than yesterday. I woke up late again, about 1 I think, and got up and went to monoprix, which is a French grocery store. I bought some ham, bread, PowerAde, orange juice, and apple granola bars. It was like €10. Not too bad I thought. It should cover my meals tomorrow, unless my family makes something for my arrival, or I eat when I meet Matthieu, if I meet him, tomorrow.
After I got back here, and changed (I was dressed as if it were cold, and it ended up being a very nice day) and finished my subway from last night, I decided that I’d like to do a little more exploring. I went to this park on a hill overlooking Nice with a few wonderful views! It was well worth the trouble of climbing up the hill. I kinda wish that I had not been alone. It actually is no fun at all to travel by yourself!
Oh well. After I got back down from the top, I found a quiet, or so I thought, place to sit and read. I must have read there for 2 hours. It was nice, with the exception of the drunk guy trying to attack a bird… poor guy.
Yesterday I mentioned that some stereotypes were smashed when I got to France. Well today, one was confirmed. I was on my way to the park on the hill, when I encountered a guy wearing aThe North Face jacket (like a fleece I guess) and I was like… “He thinks he’s a Miami student”, and sure enough, when he turned his head, there was the so infamous “M”. I definitely got a kick out of this. I suppose that I am easily amused.
Now it’s around 8 o’clock, and I’ve just finished my dinner, which consisted of a baguette and ham, one of the apple bars, and some OJ. I think I may head back to the beach, this time with my jacket as it’s cool off, and find some gelato. I also found a nice little restaurant that I may go to for a cup of tea or something. It’s right on the beach and seems like a nice place to go.
Tomorrow I’ll catch a bus around 11 and go to Cannes to catch my train to Grenoble. When I get there, I’ll finally meet my family and get settled in. I’m not sure when I’ll have a chance to be online between now and then, so you may be reading this after I have settled in.
Well, I think I’ll be heading out now…
March 30, 2008
So, I’m on the train from Cannes to Valence TGV, where I will catch a bus to Grenoble. However, this is not the ticket that I had purchased back home. I was supposed to go from Cannes to Lyon, and Lyon to Grenoble all by train. Oh, and it was supposed to leave at 1:55, not 6 like it is now! Ahhh, the fun of traveling!
So what happened, you may ask? Well, I’m not sure if today was the day when we change our clocks back home, but I think we already did. Today in France however is the day the set their clocks ahead an hour. No one thought this would be valueable information for me to know, so when I woke up at 10:10, it was actually 11:10 and my bus had already left me! “Don’t worry” says the guy at the hostel, “there are trains to Cannes every 20 minutes.” After checking, he tells me that there is a train to Cannes at 11:48. Unfortunately by the time I get everything down to the first floor and to the train station, it is too late. The man working tells me that I can take the 12:43 to Antibes, so I wait.
When the train arrived in Antibes, we found out that it would not be continuing on to Cannes due to some issues with construction; we would have to go by bus. The problem with buses is that they cannot hold the number of people that a train can, so I had to wait for the third bus. By the time I arrived in Cannes, my train had long since departed (it may have even left by the time that I had caught my bus.) Thus, I would have to find someone who could help me make my way.
So after a few minutes waiting in line, I had been given the ticket to Valence and Grenoble. Then I realized that I didn’t have the number of the Resident Coordinator in Grenoble! How can I call he to let her know what has happened? Well, I suppose I could call the contact in the US and then have her forward the info to the RC. But I don’t have her number either, because it’s on my cell phone and my cell phone is dead. Crap. I’m in a sticky situation, and unlike the US, free wifi is not everywhere.
Anyway, after finding a internet café and looking online and at my emails, I didn’t have her number there either. Finally I called the family I will be staying with and they had my RC call me and work out the details. Thank goodness the French speak English!
So, what was I to do with a couple hours and 70lbs (or so) worth of luggage? Sit in the train station and wait for my train. You can see below some subtle relief that I found in the train station. Definitely worth the €2 that I paid for it!
I thought that a little reading might do the trick to propel time faster, which it did. However, each time I would start to get into my book, I would be interrupted. First by a group of very young girls (14, 14, 18?) and we talked some French and some English. When they left, I made my way onto the platform to wait for my train. Again, I started to read only to be found by a Student from Audencia in Nantes, Fr. who had studied at Miami! How crazy is that? He saw my UC Bearcats sweatshirt and decided to talk to me. It made the last 20 minutes pass so much faster.
March 31, 2008
So last night I arrived safely at my host family’s house, and was able to access the Internet for a few minutes, but that’s about it.
After I got up and shaved this morning, I went down for breakfast. It was like a normal day for me, and a normal breakfast. Except that I’m on the other side of the world! So after eating and brushing my teeth, I went out and caught the bus to school.
After meeting the API contact, I made my way to get signed in and take the tests. I did fairly well I think, but I have no idea where I’ll place into; the higher the better so that I can get credit for what I need at UC. So tomorrow morning I’ll go at like 8 o’clock and check to see which class I’m in.
After that I grabbed a sandwich at the cafeteria (the caf) and I met back up with Anna (girl from API) and checked out the API office. Turns out I’m the only intensive student through API this month, and one other comes next month… yay. There is another girl from UC here, but I don’t really know her all that well. I talked to her a little bit before the exam.
While in the office, I met a bunch of the yearlong study people, and I was able to hang out and get to know them. Kinda makes me wish they weren’t all leaving me at the start of May. We walked around downtown and went to a couple places they needed to go to. I still feel lost and out of place, though having some people to be with sure helps. I definitely miss my friends and wish they were here.
After that I met up with another friend from Grenoble and we walked around and she talked French to me, and I looked like an idiot! Oh well… I will get better at French.
We said goodbye at the tramway, and I made my way home. I talked, all in French, with my host mom for about 45 minutes to an hour, and that was nice. She’s definitely trying to make me feel at home, which is nice.
We sat around the living room talking for maybe, another hour. I got my computer out to charge it and to show them a few things. After which we ate dinner. It was good. Potatoes au gratin (something I never, ever eat at home.)
After dinner, I tried to catch the Reds game, but MLB.com was having problems, and being overseas didn’t help I don’t think. I hope to see the final score either before I go to bed, or tomorrow on campus.
Anyway… I should really head upstairs, unpack my stuff and try to get to bed soon. It’ll be a long day tomorrow.
It’d be nice to hear from anyone who is reading this. It is somewhat lonely on the other side of the world.
oh, maybe i'll get a couple pictures of my family and post them tomorrow?
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
So it’s 4:30 PM (or 11:30 in the US) and I’m in Nice, France. I’ve been here almost a whole day, and have done relatively nothing. But the coolest part of my journey here has been the people I’ve met and the stereotypes that were destroyed.
I suppose I must explain that one. While in the air between Chicago and Paris, I asked the French man that I had switched if he could direct me to the Gare SNCF (Train station) that I would be leaving from to come to Nice. Not only was he helpful in getting me direction to there, but also help me navigate my way through the airport up until that point. French people = rude… not so much.
So after a couple hours at the airport, my train finally left for Nice. It was a quiet 6-hour journey through the heart of France. I saw a lot of cool places on the way. When we were approaching our stop in Nice, I asked a woman sitting by me if she knew where my hostel was. She did not, but she offered to help me find it because she had parked around there. After walking around and asking a bunch of people, we finally arrived at my hostel. Thus French people 2, stereotype 0.
After lugging my stuff upstairs (to what would be the 3rd floor in the US) and into the office, I was able to get checked in. I went into my room, only to find two English girls also in there. That was a bit of a shock, but I figured that I should expect it because they were listed as mixed. We ended up going out around 8 for tea, dinner, and a drink (a small joint for a tea, and restaurant for dinner, and a pub for a drink). I love France. I honestly loved that I could have a glass of wine, and that there wasn’t a lot of drunkenness around me. It was a good night.
So onto today, I got to bed around midnight (probably a little before) and slept (with a 5 minute or so interruption) until almost 3. It was a very, very good sleep! After finishing this, I think I’m going to walk down to the beach and to the bus station to figure out my bus for Sunday. I will probably grab a quick bite to eat somewhere also. Seeing as it is almost 6, I think I’ll head down that way now. I don’t want to waste my entire day up in my room!
Until later or tomorrow, adieu!
Okay, now it’s 9:10, and I’m sitting in Subway, because they allow people who eat here to access the internet. I’ve called a few people, though nobody answered! I’m in the process of making on final call. I think that after I get off the phone I’ll take my stuff back and maybe walk to a bar and have a glass of wine. I don’t know… I figure I’ll get another good night sleep and explore more tomorrow.
Until I write again…