Monday, March 31, 2008

What a crazy couple days!

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 cafĂ© 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 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?

A little bit of heaven during a stressful time... yup.

The view from the hill mentioned above...

... me on said hill.

The view at the end of a long quiet time at the beach. I may or may not have stayed just for that.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I arrived

That's all I will put today. I'll put the stuff for the last couple of days down soon.

Friday, March 28, 2008

My journal from France

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…