You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2009.
So forgive me if it stops working altogether. I’ll give you the horrors that have been discovered, as well as at the end of the day what makes it all worth it.
I did arrive in France, have no fear… or maybe just a little. I’ll tell you what was pretty cool though- when the plane was landing at the Nice airport, we were coming in so close to the water we were right above some small yachts and sailboats, and then all of the sudden we had landed. The landing strip was that close to the water, right on it actually. So when you looked out, you were surrounded by water on three sides and mountains on the other with pale yellow and orange villas all stacked up on each other on hills and hills and it was rather beautiful.
So a student from CERAM (the business school I will be going to) came to pick me up from the aeroport and he was nice and all but let’s just say that riding with a certain select few of my friends ::cough::cough:: is nothing compared to driving with him. I asked him why there were no solid lines separating sides of traffic and he looked at me, smirked, then proceeded to swerve the car across the dotted line into oncoming traffic, and back again. Then he did it two more times and said “there are no rules here.” And there really aren’t. People will literally drive up on the sidewalks to get around cars in front of them if they want. I know because he did it, and I saw two more cars do it after him. And they all drive really fast. Seriously, do not jaywalk here, you will die. And people on mo-peds (everyone and their little pet dog has one over here, by the way) will drag one foot an inch above the ground and be texting on their phone, even when they are delivering pizzas from a mini hotcart sitting on the back of their scooter (which I will take a picture for you guys once I get my camera battery charger). Oh and for some reason guys feel the need to holler or scream at you from their mopeds and four-wheelers (yes people do in fact drive their four-wheelers on the road here). Poor Sasha (my new roommate) it almost gave her a heart attack upon hearing it. It’s happened more times in the past two days to me than .. in my whole life. Now granted, I don’t live in the city back home. Although I had planned to do my “horrors” section first, I just wanted to say that there are perfectly nice, calm people here too (maybe it’s just that the behavior of wild hormonal male teenagers is sort of a universal thing).
So I arrived at our temporary residence, called Le Parc Vélousine while the gates were still open (which is a good thing because apparently the code that they gave me to use if the gates were closed does not work). And I felt like I was cheating because the woman at the reception spoke in English to me (how did she know? ha.) but I still tried to use French whenever I could, so I am a bit proud that I make some sense anyways. So Sasha arrived before me and it felt like we already knew each other which was pretty cool. She is canadian and there is little difference in the way they talk than from our American English except for a few words, and she definitely calls it “pop” and mocked me for calling it soda, lol. She had actually been in Croatia before she came her, visiting her mother who lives there… and they are actually Croatian. I will be taking a picture of our shoe collection once all of our roommates arrive because it will be a pretty funny sight. I have… a pair of these each: sneakers, sandals, heels, boots, and flats. So Mom, I just wanted to show you proof that even though you thought that I brought too many of them, Sasha has about ten or twelve. I could go inside to count but I might wake her, as it is twenty minutes to midnight here (and twenty minutes to six for you guys). And Hazel, one of my other roommates has said that she is bringing 12 pairs. And they all said that we should share. So I came to the realization that this semester, I might just get that “growing up with sisters” experience that I never got after all.
So we tried to get the WiFi to work, and it didn’t. And basically trying to get it to work outside, inside, in the lobby, we finally got it to work… in a 4×4 foot section on the left side of our balcony. And this is at the end of the second day… after we found out that the only one of the voltage converters that we brought that worked needed to be literally jammed into the only one of the four wall sockets that worked… if that makes sense. Well, it didn’t to us. Oh and Firefox decided it hates me. And so does my computer battery.
We decided to venture out into Antibes, and it is pretty nice… there are literally like 6 or so patisseries and boulangeries within walking distance ( 1 mile or so). So that means freshly baked bread and pastries =) Plus the young French woman who sold us pastries was really sweet herself. The first night we walked to an area just outside of the town centre and ate at an outdoor café – which happened to be Italian food because we had walked pretty far and jet lag was settling in so we ate at the first sit-down restaurant that we saw. It was very nice and I ordered Gnocchi… It has just occured to me that perhaps some of you don’t want to read about the details.. maybe this post is a bit long but believe that my posts probably won’t be as long when I start classes and become busier. But I will post! Anyways! We were just sitting there, after ordering in French that I said “Sasha… we’re in Southern France.” and it seriously just kicked in to us right then.. and then soon after that that it wasn’t just a vacation, we would be here for four months… it was kind of exhilirating.
So to kind of sum this up, we spent the day realizing that Europe works on a different time schedule than us, which is: we don’t hurry. ever. Which means most everything is closed on Sunday, and that most places are closed from noon to three (including our residence which is how we found out that our code doesn’t work when the gates are locked), people take a good long time when dining out (which I have always appreciated) and most people seem to float at a cloud’s pace – whereas we often create tornadoes. So we went to Juan les Pins, which is a sort of section of Antibes, right were the water is and we looked at the beach, which is nice and small. We then looked around the town and got a towel, because towels do not come with the rooms at the residence we are staying at, they are only rented out for 6,50€ which converts to $9.75 each. And I am lucky I brought shampoo etc. because on Sunday, nothing is open… So after we stopped to look at the ads for apartments for rent in several agency’s windows, we headed back on one of the several confusing bus lines, got off on the one we knew as closest, walked in the hot heat for two miles to find out that like most everything else, the supermarché (supermarket) is closed on Sundays. So there went half the list we worked of things to get today. Anyhow. Good news is that we arrived back at the residence, showered, drank lots of orangina and had some pastries, got our internet to work, read through French books, discovered that Sasha and I had a common affection for Scrubs, but have yet to watch the 8th season. I also figured out that it costs more than a dollar to text anyone and the same per minute to call anyone. But my incoming calls and texts are free I think (for me anyways). I will have to check up on that…
So I am writing to you now past midnight on the balcony of our residence, looking out into the villas and the park illuminated by the warm soft glow from the globe lamps and the cool night sea breeze barely masking the sounds of sprinklers watering the gardens. You can hear the lively laughter and quiet French conversations at a late-night dinner party nearby and the smell of something fragrantly robust with tomato and herbs lingers in the air. It makes my heart smile a bit, and now I sleep. Bon nuit.
Yes. For all you out there that had any doubts, British people are very British. I know this is my first post of me supposedly in Southern France, but I will get to that later. I figure that because this was my first real encounter overseas it ought to be my first post. So I arrived in Great Britain (Heathrow airport) and it was pretty crazy as far as airports go. To keep this part of this post short, here were a few interesting things:
-Every high-end designer you’ve every heard of has a shoppe in this airport and people actually walk in the shoppes and come out of them clutching a bag or two (very confidently so, I might add) containing what they have just purchased, and quite frequently too! I would know because I waited at a cafe called “pret” (kind of like a eco-friendly, fresh foods cafe) for an hour waiting for my next plane, and so I observed… people. Which not to sound creepy, but is actually an activity that I enjoy. And where best to observe than an airport? That and I didn’t want to carry my suitcase of a carry-on plus my laptop everywhere so it felt good to rest. Well anyways.
-They of course have many candy and confectioner shoppes, with many tea gifts (and pretty interesting tea flavors!) and many tea cookies. And they had a giant liquor shoppe. Make that several liquor shoppes… And no, Collin I did not inquire further. But none of those items surprised me. What did catch my attention were the chile-chips! Well, I mean they had more than a few different assortments and they were like our doritios, but in my opinion, better… and probably most definitely a difference in the level of heat.
– They are so British. Maybe it’s because I am used to many people mocking the British, imitating the British peoples, or the fact that whenever I meet someone with a true British accent it is rare occasion, that I don’t know how to handle myself surrounded by them. As in… I laugh. I mean, they are quite hilarious! They have such an off-the-wall sort of humor I got to see and hear in person, and then coupled with the accent… I don’t know, I didn’t even mind that I was being searched in customs and it took a half hour to look through my bags because the woman found my little cotton stuffed turtle, picked him up surprised, and said something to the effect of “well oh! And this little guy, well he’s rather cute in’t he? And just squeezed in like this to the bottom compartment. We ought to find ‘im a better home. Here, you pack the rest of your bag right up and I’ll find a suitable place to put ‘im in your other one.” And then she started talking to a Jason Statham double(just add a diamond stud on his left ear) about him and let me tell you. To see Jason Statham holding a tiny cotton turtle and say “well that’s right cute” is… well now you see why I didn’t know how to handle myself. But the thing that made me laugh the most was when I was waiting to board the plane, and the announcer called for the flight crew for British Airways to board the plane. I looked over and literally laughed out loud. These men and women were walking side-byside in that epic walk/strut that you see the Astronauts do in movies (think Armageddon) but with these goofy grins, just chatting away very loudly in their accents with their very sleek flight attendant dress attire and mini suitcases, like they were the shiz. Our pilot said right before take-off, “I am very excited to be flying this Boeing 777 for you all today!” in a way that made me think this may have been his first time… or he was just really cocky. And then the flight crew .. they were all very bubbly… yet professional. I felt like I was aboard the party plane. I also took a look at their “shop!” magazine and there was a sonar mosquito repeller to “keep the mozzies away” as it said. I might actually get it later on. By the way they have the best airplane food for non-first class fliers, it is so cute and everything is individually packaged and it actually tastes good. I had basil-mozzerella balls in my side salad. One flight attendant asked me if I would like some tea and I said no thank you and he just stood there with the look in his eye like “that wasn’t a question.” So he asked again(comically) and I said “of course.”