18 December 2007

30 November 2007

Montreuil-sur-Mer


This week Jonathan and I went on a little excursion to Montreuil-sur-Mer, which is about two and half hours west of us by train. On Wednesday morning we got up before the crack of dawn and headed to the train station. We had a rather long layover in a little hole-in-the-wall town where we ate breakfast and wandered arround.
Part of the book Les Miserables takes place in Montreuil-sur-Mer, which is one reason we wanted to go there. Victor Hugo only spent like one day there, but they are very proud that he set his book in their city. There are a bunch of businesses that sport Les Miserables monikers and there are even drinks named Jean Valjean and Cosette.

There also happens to be a big Medieval castle from the 16th century that we were able to explore. It was a lot of fun because we were the only ones there, since it was freezing outside.


video

We had lunch in the cellar of a little brasserie. It was pretty cool because the building was really old, and the cellar had a great atmosphere. We got pizzas, but French pizzas are different. I got one with bacon, green peppers, and blue cheese, and Jonathan got one with shrimp and tuna. They were exceedingly delicious.

The one downside to Montrueil is that is has practically no stores. I have no idea where the people who live there shop.

We did, however, see a rockin' carnival.

Until next time...

25 November 2007

Our Thanksgiving Feast

I hope that everyone had a good Thanksgiving! We had a nice little meal here, just the two of us. It was sort of challenging because we've only got the two burners and we needed to keep more than two things warm, but we managed.



I had fun this week teaching my students about the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. At the end of this week, Jonathan came with me to class and we played American football with some of my classes. It was really fun and some of the kids were really into it, although they called it "Rugby americain" sometimes.

We've already decorated our little apartment with our Christmas tree. Well... we actually put it up like two weeks ago because I couldn't wait. The tree itself is... a little sparse. It was only like 5 euros, so I guess we should have expected as much. We bought some chocolate ornaments to decorate it and have a few of our own ornaments on there, but otherwise, it's still pretty bare. Jonathan made the star out of some cardboard and paper, but it works.


This week we're planning a little excursion here in the North of France, but we've had to put it off several times, so I'm hoping everything will go as planned this time. But otherwise, things are rolling along here. Jonathan found a basketball club that he can go and play with a couple of times a week, so that will help keep him busy. He's also looking to volunteer as an English tutor and will, hopefully, start that soon.

20 November 2007

Ils sont vraiment francais!


Meme les pigeons mangent les baguettes ici. Ils sont vraiment francais.

07 November 2007

Brugge and Sluis


We just returned from our first venture outside of France. Jonathan and I spent a couple of days in Brugge, Belgium. It was a lot of fun. Brugge is a medieval city and it is so picturesque. It is full of cobblestone streets and chocolate shops! It is called (mostly by the people who live there, I think) the "Venice of the North" because it has canals throughout the city. We arrived there on Monday and stayed in a youth hostel.

On Monday we climbed up into the belfry of Brugge. The view from the top was really beautiful. We were up there when the bells rang and it was so loud.

video

We also went on a canal boat ride through the city, which was nice, and stared longingly into the dozens of chocolate shops (we did eventually purchase some, of course.) We also got some famous Belgian fries with the most delicious meat sauce at a restaurant named Pickles. It was awesome. That evening, as it drizzled outside, we wandered around the city and bought some real Belgian waffles. They were soooooooo good...........and chocolatey.

On Tuesday we rented bikes and rode them to the Netherlands. Yes, that's right, we rode bikes to the Netherlands. We did stop briefly in a little town named Damme, a quaint little village with a large and ominous cathedral. With an extremely bizarre head sculpture. It took us about two hours to get from Brugge to Sluis, the town in the Netherlands, but it was worth it. It was a really cute little town and we really enjoyed it. We had some wienerschnitzel and bought a wooden shoe Christmas ornament. We wanted to continue to ride to the North Sea, but we were a little sore and a tempest came upon us soon after we began, so we decided to head back to Brugge.


Once back in Brugge, we spent the afternoon wandering around some more. We went to one of the many, many cathedrals in the city and saw one of the only sculptures by Michaelangelo that is not in Italy. We got our chocolate and some more fries before heading for the train station and home.

04 November 2007

Paris

Well hello. We have just returned from Paris. That's right, I said we. Jonathan is FINALLY here! It is so nice to be reunited. Jonathan arrived Friday morning. Early. His plane was supposed to land at 5:25 am, but actually landed at about 5:00. The only problem is that the metro in Paris (at least where I was staying) doesn't start running until about 5:00. I got on the first metro availiable that day to go and get him at 5:09. Needless to say, he was waiting in the airport for a while. He is still sort of jetlagged, but other than that he arrived in Paris in good condition and we made it back to Lille just fine too.

The trip to Paris was so fun. I was there three days before Jonathan arrived, so I had plenty of time to wonder around and see lots of stuff.

On Halloween I went to the Paris Catacombs. There were so many bones, it was crazy, but it was definitely a good Halloween activity. First they make you walk down a very long, very creepy, dimly lit hallway. When you actually reach the catacombs there are human bones lining each side of the corridor. Sometimes there were stacked taller than me. After a while, I guess I just got used to it because I wasn't so creeped out anymore but it's strange to think how many people... contributed to this Paris attraction. I was down there for over an hour and I was surrounded by thousands and thousands of bones.


I also went to the ugliest of Paris' landmarks. The Grande Arche de la Defense. No need for a picture here. It's seriously ugly.

On the day Jonathan arrived we went to the Paris Opera House. I hadn't realized you could go into it, but thought that it would be fun. It was so amazing. Seriously, put this on your must see in Paris list. We didn't do a guided tour or anything, so we just went in and wandered around, but it was so beautiful. I took a ton of pictures.

Of course we did other things, but I won't bore you with all of the details. We hit the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and Sacre Coeur. Last night we went to the Eiffel Tower, as the last thing we did in Paris this time. It was so fun watching it sparkle. I know it's cliche, but the Eiffel Tower is probably still my favorite thing to see in Paris.


Tomorrow we are going to go the Belgium for the first time, so that will be a lot of fun. It is so great to have Jonathan here, everything seems more exciting.

27 October 2007

Apartment

So here are a few pictures of my apartment. I thought I should post them before I've been here too long to think about it anymore. It is small, but I really like it.This is my little kitchen. I have two cupboards above and one below, as well as a smallish refridgerator. The only means of cooking I have are the two hot plates in the picture, so that is a new challenge.


This is the bedroom area, I guess. What I sleep on is a called a clic-clac, it's just like a fouton. I never fold it up, though, because it's just me here for now.

Here is the last area int he apartment. The bathroom. It is just the sink, toilet, and bathtub. I like the pink toilet paper, I refuse to buy any white or green toilet paper while I'm here.... There is no shower, just the bathtub, so I'm learning to like taking baths.

There you go. That is the grand tour of my apartment.

26 October 2007

Small Victories

Well, it is already time for my first vacation. I have been in France for a little over one month now and I am now feeling much more comfortable and settled here. Here's a strange tidbit about French primary schools. There is only one bathroom. They boys and the girls use the same bathroom. It is so strange to me. There is a bank of urinals on one wall and a bunch of stalls on the other. I asked one of the teachers I work with about it and she just opened the door and said, "Yeah, the boys go over there and the girls go over there." There was, of course, several boys using the urinals while we had this conversation....


This evening I went to a small market in my neighborhood. It was so cute and I decided to buy some eggs. The vendor was very nice and he could tell that I was an Anglophone. They always assume that I am British, but I told him that I am American and that I am here because I want to learn to speak French. But he told me how good my French already was. It was so nice and made my evening. I am off to Paris on Monday and Jonathan finally arrives on Friday, so that is very exciting!
I had a video that I wanted to post, but it got accidently deleted... Sorry! I'll post some pictures of Paris when I get back!

23 October 2007

Alright!

So, now, I have the internet. Sorry the video below is sort of old, but I wanted to see if it would work. I will try and post a video of my apartment really soon, but at present, it is not cooperating. I am so excited that I can finally communicate with the world!

Whose got the internet?

video

21 October 2007

Still No Internet

Hi,

Sorry I haven't been able to post anything for such a long time. I still don't have the internet on my own computer and I might not for a little while still. Here's a brief update.

I did manage to rent an apartment. It is little, but I really do love it. I only have a bathtub, which is weird. I haven't had a shower, in fact, since I left the States! My apartment is about 16 meters squared, if that gives you an idea of the size. I made a video of it that I will post when I have the internet on my own computer.

I have started teaching. My students are really cute and seem excited to learn English. It is sort of difficult because I am not supposed to write anything or have the, write things because I am supposed to be teaching them how to speak English. I think it's a good idea they have us do this, but it ,akes it difficult for me.

I am liking France more and more everyday and I am learning how to get along. I am not sure how the language is. Sometimes I feel like I can speak and understand pretty well and other times I feel like the only person in the world who could come live in France and get worse at French. Oh well, I guess I just have to keep trying.

As soon as I can I will post some pictures and videos!

02 October 2007

The French don't believe in the internet

Well it seems that way anyway. So I probably won't have regular access to the internet for a couple of weeks, so I will post more about what's been happening then. Sorry! I miss you all and I will post a ton as soon as my internet gets set up.

25 September 2007

Lille- Day Two

September 21, 2007

Today is the first time I’ve turned on my computer and I am so relieved it is in English!

The plane ride here was good. I could not sleep on either flight. Every time I closed my eyes I got very nervous, and I felt like it was better not to think about what I was doing. Luckily, Chantal bought me Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer, and I read the entire book on the way over. It was really good too.

Yesterday I arrived in Lille at about 10:30 am (France time of course.) I successfully found the home of the lady I’m staying with, but she was not here because I wasn’t supposed to arrive until the afternoon. I debated about what to do for a while, and ended up wandering around for about 40 minutes. When I came back, she was here. She is very nice, her name is Christiane. She speaks some English, so we speak about half and half. After I dropped off my stuff and I took a short nap, I struck out to find an apartment. I wondered around Lille for a while randomly, until buying a map. When I found the street I was looking for, I found a bunch of agencies. I just started walking into them. Because I was nervous about speaking French I would start out by saying, “Je ne parle pas français très bien” “I don’t speak French very well.” Everyone was very nice about it and complemented my French. Sadly, the first few agencies had NOTHING by way of studio apartments. I began to panic, even though Jonathan made me promise him I wouldn’t panic. Finally I found a few with one. I was able to go see one apartment that I liked (even though it didn’t have windows, just a skylight.) It was a little more then I wanted to spend, but I was worried I wouldn’t get anything. I said that I wanted it, but I needed a “garant” or co-signer in France. I began to get very frustrated. I stopped at a few more agencies and one told me to come back today so that I can go see a few apartments. It’s funny because you leave your ID and they give you the keys to the apartment and you go see it by yourself. I went back to Mons-en-Baroeul (where Christiane leaves) very upset and sort of depressed. I also fell asleep at about 8:30. I was exhausted.

I think, because of my lack of sleep, I am already firmly on French time. Jet lag’s not so bad. This morning I woke up at 8:30. Christiane and I had breakfast and then we went to look at some apartments. Oh, I should make note that Christiane only has a bathtub, no shower. That was a little weird for me. So, Christiane offered to go with me for a while this morning to help, for which I was very grateful. We went to an agency near her house, but I wasn’t really impressed. There was one possibility, but it was a little expensive, I am supposed to go back on Monday to see it. Then we went into Lille and down a different street with a bunch of agencies. The problem with these agencies is they advertise rentals in their windows. These apartments aren’t actually for rent. Maybe they used to be, I don’t know. It’s very frustrating. After a while I found an agency with a prospect and I went to see it. It was about 6 feet wide and 15 feet long. And it just didn’t seem very nice. I returned the keys. I went back to the agency from the day before. They had keys to one of the apartments I wanted to see, but for some reason, not the other even though they were in the same building. I decided to go see the one, which entailed a metro ride there and a metro ride back. The apartment was GREAT! It had wood floors, a new refrigerator and a WHOLE bathroom (minus a shower, just a bathtub again,) and pink curtains! It was small, but I loved it. I really wanted to take it. You have to unlock the outside door and then your own door here, but I had a terrible time unlocking the outside door. I put the key in and turned it, but the lock wouldn’t engage. I messed with it for probably 15 minutes before I discovered that you had to pull the handle all the way up and then lock the deadbolt with the key. It was weird. And I would like to mention that I have not seen one door knob here, only handles. I’m going to keep my eyes out for some knobs. So I rode the metro back to the agency. When I got there, they said while I was gone with the keys, someone who had seen it a few days ago came and rented it. I was pretty upset. The lady there said she would go get the keys for the other apartment in the same building and I could go see that one. I waited for her and then took those keys and bought two more metro tickets (I can’t figure out how to buy a pass yet) and went back. I got back to the building. The keys did not work. I tried and I tried, but they would not open the door to the apartment. Yesterday I had purchased a prepaid SIM card for my cell phone, but had quickly used almost all of the minutes calling Jonathan (which was only like 10 minutes for an international call,) but I called the agency. All I could get out was that the keys didn’t work before I got cut off. I trudged back to the agency, mad that I had wasted money buying more metro tickets. When I got there, the agent kept apologizing. We’re going to go tomorrow and she said she’ll bring all of the keys that she has to make sure one works. I hope they do. I think the French must really love the U2 song, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” and the Sinead O’Conner song, “Nothing Compares to You.” Every time I’m in the metro, one of those songs is playing, it is very weird. I haven’t heard any French music playing in any public places, which I think is strange.

Now I am back in Mons-en-Baroeul. Today is September 21, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to post this, and I don’t want to go back through and change all the today’s and yesterday’s, so I wanted to make sure you could tell what I was talking about. There are wireless internet networks here, but, sadly, they’re all secure. I called Brigitte this evening and I am so glad that she is here for me to call if I need her! It was a big relief to talk to her for a little while.


Alright, I think that is all that I have to report right now. I miss America, but I’m trying to push through that.

21 September 2007

I miss America

I cannot write very much right now. I wrote a long post on my computer, but I don not have access to the internet on it yet. Anyway, I arrived safely and am currently searching for an apartment. It is frustrating. I will post my long message as soon as I can.

15 September 2007

Off to France...

Well, the big day is only a few days away now. I will be leaving Spokane on Tuesday and flying to Seattle. I'll spend the day in Seattle and then leave Wednesday morning for my flight to Paris. As the day gets closer and closer I keep flip flopping between excited and scared, but I'm sure everything will be fine.

01 July 2007

Hmmmm.....

Thinking about starting a blog to let people know how we're doing, but I'm not quite sure...