annecy and other things

i started classes on wednesday. take a look at what my week looked like:
i'm super stoked for my classes. french linguistics, historical linguistics, french syntax, an art class, and 2 required language/methodology/culture classes. getting to the Bron campus (the one i have been going to, not the initial one) is a nightmare. but worse is the part where you have to get back. it's about 20 minutes from lyon, 30 from the other campus. and there's one tram line that has 2 stops at the university. so, all that said, it's even more of a nightmare getting back. it takes at least an hour because you have to try to sandwich yourself onto the tram, but don't get the chance until the 3rd one to pass has been stuffed with people. and then you spend half an hour in that situation, standing body-to-body with everyone, because no one gets off until the end, typically (where the other, closer, campus is). on the bright side... well, i'm not sure what the bright side is in this case. at any rate, i can still get there no probs!

on friday night, i went with some friends (we're quite the group now) to an anglophone night at a bar. i met a couple very nice french girls :) it was also nice that the drinks were fairly cheap!
saturday was my trip to annecy! tina and i had planned to find a place to stay, but we spent our morning there and decided it was too cold and wet and we had already seen what we wanted to. at any rate, we left super early in the morning, so i immediately fell asleep on the train (my first time too!). the french countryside is so beautiful and so green! i loved seeing it all through the window (reason to not take a plane hmm?). the first thing we did upon arrival was finding a map and getting a coffee/breakfast. and then we got lost in the old streets, seeing all the pretty buildings.
we went to the castle, which is now a museum of stuff that doesn't necessarily pertain to the history of the chateau. nevertheless, it was lovely.

when i got back, i decided to join my friends for a night of conversation, music, and laughs "autour un verre" (around a glass, i.e. and drinks). we had to speak french for quite a bit of it because we have a french guy who doesn't understand us if we speak english (because we talk so fast and poorly articulated).

and then yesterday (sunday) we all met up to go to le parc de la tete d'or because some had never been. we saw the animals and flowers and had a marvelous time. and then we found a place to have dinner in le vieux-lyon. fortunately they had a 10€ menu! again, it was some great company. it feels good to be social again, and consistently.

i don't have classes today (or tomorrow) so i have plenty of free time to make sure i do some homework and relax, and maybe even travel (woot!). there are some people who also don't have class on mondays, so i can hang out with them too :)


a visit from natalie!!

(i wrote this entry probably on the 22 or 23, this last week)
i don't know why, but today was a pretty rough one. perhaps it was the lack of sleep. i'm trying to make it better by sitting down with my dinner of comfort food: ratatouille, bread, a kir cardinal (creme de cassis + bordeaux), and a square of chocolat noir aux noisettes (dark chocolate with hazelnuts). oh, and there's a pretty sunset to cheer me up. today i actually had a moment where i missed corn dogs and mac 'n' cheese even though i eat those like once a year. no, i'm not in kansas anymore (i never was), but i still love this place!

as for the weekend, natalie came to visit! all the way from.... granada, spain. however, i missed her dearly until she got here. i spent the morning making a remarkably delicious ratatouilla, so on saturday afternoon when she arrived, we killed some time at parc de la tête d'or and then headed over to a friend's place for drinks and conversation. it was especially interesting because we had a french speaker, 2 spanish/english speakers, and a bunch of english/french speakers. there was only one girl who knew all three languages, so at times she was explaining stuff to everyone else.

on sunday we got up early to go to the market at croix-rousse (the hill to the north) to see if there were things like clothes and such. but.... sadly there really wasn't anything but soooo much delicious food! (and sizzling rotisserie that was all warm in the cold autumn air.) so from there, we went to hotel de ville and walked to vieux-lyon, perusing an artisan faire on the way. we grabbed lunch for a good 2 hours near st. jean. natalie was in heaven; it was so cute! we did a little shopping (and i got a little tiny purse that fits all my little essentials in it so i don't have to worry when going out to discothèques) and then, as we walked by st. jean again, we got to go inside. i heard some cello music and got really excited, but when i realized it was outside, i ran for the door. there was a guy sitting there playing his heart out on a beautiful instrument. i almost cried. so we sat and listened for probably half an hour before moving on. we walked back to downtown and tried to decide what to do, and that's when we ran into some people from our program. they were going to the tour of hôtel de ville (it's like city hall), which was only open for this weekend as part of "les journées de patrimoine" which is basically a weekend where all these historical and cultural sites throughout europe are open to the public. this is something that the USA should do, i think.

monday we went to the basilica at fourvière (again for me), but it was closed for a while, so we looked at the panorama of lyon and then made our way to the gallo-roman amphitheatre ruins. these things are 2000 years old! it was such a good feeling standing on the same ground that was inhabited by people who were developed enough to leave a mark. i also kind of got that feeling in my bones telling me this is home. i felt so at peace.

we then headed to the "musée des beaux-arts" which is a fine arts museum -- you know, sculpture and paintings and artifacts.


a week in review

this weekend consisted of absolutely nothing on Saturday followed by a day of fun on Sunday. there was a parade called "la vie en rose" that was celebrating la rentree (the new season, the French use this term for anything new in September. it truly is the French new year) of la maison de la danse which is basically a conglomeration of dance schools in Lyon. so this parade was not so much a performance as it was a bunch of people in crazy costumes walking to creepy crazy or classic music. and it was two hours long. and it was awesome. see for yourself!

Monday was the last day of ILP and class until next week. tuesday i did errands and got my student ID card. and I don't remember what I did after that! maybe I was choosing what classes I wanted to take. or writing natalie's cheat sheet for her visit this weekend!! I'm supah stoked!

Wednesday gets its own paragraph. I had planned to go to fourvière with Zoe in the afternoon but i wanted to do something inthe morning. so... I invited Tina to go with me to parc de la tête d'or for the morning. but so sadly i had to burn some time at a cafe before meeting up with her upon arriving we spontaneously decided to try out the velo'v system. there are these bike stations all over the city where you can rent a bike for however long and return it later to any station. of course you have certain time limits and such. however it's super convenient and could save you a cab ride. so Tina and I got our bikes and then spent an hour riding around the park. we returned the bikes and then walked around. apparently weekdays mean that this huge park has next to zero people in it. it felt good to breathe so much fresh air not to mention the smell of fresh cut grass. mmmm :)

after that I ate my picnic lunch that I had made from food I bought from the marché that morning. and then met Zoe in vieux Lyon for our sightseeing adventure. the basilica was built in the 19th century in Byzantine style. I was in such awe that I just didn't take pictures really. because it's on the hill you can see all of Lyon extending out on the land. I had a moment of utter excitement looking out across my new home city. it's so beautiful and accessible. I've only been here a few weeks and i feel as though I could have lived here for months.

in the evening (yes this is still Wednesday) i went to a crêpe party at Zoe and chloe's place. I was so excited for crêpes that I begged to cook them. and they turned out nicely.

I have grown to love plastic cup coffee. because it's ridiculously cheap and it's fairly decent. don't disown me! I haven't had any milk except for a little in coffee sometimes (it really is just a little... it's still on the bottom half of the paint swatch if you know what i mean). I eat some yogurt and some cheese but that's it. I try to eat out once a week but at the same time it's expensive. one meal costs almost as much as the rest of my food for the week. I will admit my diet is pretty cheap but very grain and fat heavy. need veggies! but that's what ratatouille is for :)


my day, en français!

aujourd'hui, je suis allée au marché pour acheter des légumes. c'est très bon-marché à cet bon marché (petite blague) -- j'ai payé environ 7€ et réçu 1kg de pommes de terre, 1.5kg de "ratatouille" (les ingrédients), une très grande "salade" (lettuce), un peu de corriandre (je pense que c'est vraiment corriandre, mais je ne suis pas sûre -- cilantro) et 250g de framboises. ah, les framboises!! (oui, madame utilise les cuillères en argent)

un arc en ciel s'etendait au-dessus l'église à coté de mon immeuble. c'était parfait! Le Bon Dieu garde au cœur ses promesses.

un beau jour, biensûr.


things i didn't get to take pictures of today

the puppy/dog who followed me for blocks in the rain even though i told him to go home.

the rainy streets full of umbrellas.

the prof's sweater/shirt combo.

dripping windows of the tram, all fogged on the inside.

my pain au chocolat, unfortunately not warm.

it's been a good day, but i want to put my feet up and have some hot cocoa. but i don't have any cocoa. and the epicerie is three rainy blocks away. so, i'll have tea i suppose.


things that made my day

i could (and did) eat a whole baguette. just sayin.

so much love lying there at my feet.

this band was outside h&m singing these awesome songs. this one is a traditional irish folk tune. the one before was a little more appealing, but in general they were soooo good. also, i apologize for the bad audio (i'm not savvy enough to know how nor do i have the software to fix it). [NOTE: still waiting on youtube to process the video, so sorry if you can't see it yet, you'll just have to come back]

three other things without pictures: 1) the bartender at the place where i had my cappuccino this morning was humming/singing/whistling along with the radio, especially to "american boy" it was cute! 2) i got brazil nut body butter, which i'm pretty sure i had a sample of when i was like 11 because it smells so deliciously nostalgic. also, it was cheaper than lotion. 3) i got a pair of black skinny jeans and therefore figured out my pants size here, which is very good to know.


le parc de la tête d'or, and other things

as for my weekend, i've taken on a bit of sightseeing and leisure. we don't really have any "devoirs" (homework) yet so this is perfectly fine! so, on saturday, i decided to go see le parc de la tête d'or, and i did it alone just to get some quiet time and do the things that i wanted to do at the park. you know sometimes being with other people means giving up your freedom to choose, at least to a degree, because you have to consider the desires and sentiments of others. all that said, it was very nice getting lost (yes, lost) in this HUGE park full of flowers and grass and trees and water. here is a glimpse of it, but it doesn't come anywhere near doing it justice.

as i found my way so i could leave and walk home (it's like 5 blocks away! can anyone see this is my new favorite place?) but not 10 yards from the gate i heard my name -- it was a couple girls from the program. i joined them, sat for a while as they waited for their group to arrive. and then we all went to see some animals in the zoo; yes, there's a zoo in the park! upon making plans for the evening, we parted ways and i showed them how to get to the metro. i took a fat long nap that felt so luxurious and upon waking up, i got a text and was invited to dinner with some friends. so i went! i got "lost" 4 times in a row even though i knew where i was going -- i just couldn't figure out which way was north upon exiting the metro! but i got there, it was a salmon restaurant. i got the salmon lasagne, which was surprisingly good :) after spending quite a few hours eating, i got in touch with the group from the park about where and when they were; i walked to their metro stop 5 minutes before they arrived to meet up. and then we went off into la croix rousse, which is a hill, but also a very lively and cute quarter. we went to this bar which was so fantastic! it was tiny, but the music was all the 80s top 100, and the dj -- oh, she was hysterical, dancing wildly and lip syncing passionately to every single song, even acting out some of the lyrics. she had this huge blonde wig, too, which just made her into this delightful character! -- i danced for a while, got a "demi" guinness (i don't know if they say that in the states, but it means it's small), and shortly after left with a few girls. we were tired, wanted fresh air, and needed sleep. fortunately, the place we stopped to rest was a 15 minute walk from my home, so it was by no means unmanageable without public transit. the other girls split a cab back to their place.

as for today (sunday, dimanche) i slept in, spent the morning doing mundane things, had lunch, took a catnap. and then i was just itching to get out into the fresh air, so i decided i would go to the river and people watch or read a book. unfortunately, i forgot my book. and my ipod. so i had nothing to do but browse.... the book marché by the river!! i saw an antique version of a book i wanted (les fleurs du mal by beaudelaire) but it was pricey. then i saw a paperback 1€ version and contemplated buying it but couldn't find the vendor. so then i just explored the quai (road by the river) and sat watching the sun glint off the waves. after texting a friend i felt i had an hour to burn, so i went back to buy that book, but the vendor had packed up his booth. just as i was thinking i was so bummed and should have just gone for it and how simple it would have been, i saw a book reflect the sun briefly; it was kind of alone on the table, standing out whispering my name. i will admit i hesitated thinking it was probably some book i didn't care about, but as i went to pass curiosity grabbed me and there, in front of me, was the book i wanted. the front is gilded (no, it's not antique, but it's gorgeous and smells like a book ought to). i asked how much and the vendor said however much, so i offered 5€. he said "you can give me five and that's great, or six and i'll give you any other you want, or seven, or you can give me your heart if you want to give me your heart" it was so cute i decided i'd just give him 6€ for the heck of it. it's less than i would pay anywhere else, anyway! he was blessed, surprised, grateful. and i walked away with a lilt in my gait and this lovely book in my hand. i went to starbucks for coffee because i knew it would be open on a sunday. as i burned the hour, i was invited to dinner again! since my other plans fell through, i took the 2 minute walk to the place they were and we had a delightful dinner. i had the "menu lyonnais" which includes the local specialties: a salad that has like bacon and croutons and an egg over easy; andouillette, which is a sausage tastes wonderful despite what it is, in mustard sauce (so good!!) and potatoes; and desert du jour (i chose tiramisu). the chef also gave us granita on the house when we had finished eating. we all had great conversation, so it was a lovely evening spent with lovely people. je suis contente.


to bed and hitting the books

After this point, i’ve lost track of the days, except for some anchors I have for this last week.

Monday we had a meeting in the afternoon about how the French academic system works. while I was waiting for it to start, I made some phone calls to people who had open apartments and made rendez-vous with them. the one I saw that night was PERFECT, but the lady wouldn’t let me say yes until I called her in the morning after talking with my parents. so, the next morning I called and told her I wanted it and she said I could move in right away. fortunately, it’s all no-nonsense; I pay the rent with all charges included. the only paperwork we did was me getting a signed paper saying I do indeed live here, and I gave her a copy of my ID.

Tuesday, I started to move in; that is, I took my big suitcase over in the evening and picked up my keys. earlier in the morning, we had a rendez-vous to get our “timbres fiscaux” for the carte de séjour (residence permit, I think) allowing us to stay for more than 3 months in france. I think after that i hung out with zoe, juan, and Samantha for a lovely, long, and very Lyonnais lunch. then it was off to two h&m’s, rue de la Ré (short for république) for printemps (the macy’s/bloomingdale’s of france but better) and public restrooms. plus, it was pretty. just being out in the nice weather was enough to get me all relaxed and excited.

Wednesday was the day of the placement test. I don’t remember what I did afterward, but it probably involved bread. i think i moved in all the way, making two metro trips to my place. see pictures. i live with a lady and two french boys who are in lycée (kinda like junior college i think?).

the room :)

the view from my balcony:

On thusday, we had to show up at 8am to find out what level we placed in. I placed in level 7, which is the best. I have no idea how I did it unless I’m just very strong in writing despite my inability to understand and reply to what people say to me (I almost always ask them to repeat themselves). my classes start at 10am for the next week and a half, thankfully. however, it is still 6 straight hours of class with one or two 15-minute breaks. that means I have to buy my lunch ahead of time. at least the classes are stimulating and the instructors are energetic and innovative. on my way back, I went to the mall thing by where I live, but it was an absolute nightmare trying to find what I was looking for in the madness of everyone getting off work. I did walk out with some food and a notebook, so that’s enough of an accomplishment, I think.

and alas, Friday, today. I found that my commute is much shorter than I originally thought because I was doing it wrong. I was walking 5 minutes north to the only metro station I knew instead of walking 5 to the giant has-everything-including-a-mall station. madame kindly showed me how to get around this morning :) my writing instructor is rather monotone for being French, and he talked about syntax; talk about instant turn-offs. I do get to write a piece on a city I know well, so I think I might write it on Arlington. or maybe redding because I have to focus on positive aspects.

I’ve been to 3 h&m’s here and they’re all awesome! I got a dress and a skirt today because they looked amazing on me and they were pretty cheap. I’ve had a hard time with sizing, but it seems that I’m a size 40 (US10), not a size up like I thought. I still don’t know my pants size because I tried on the equivalent today and they didn’t fit so well. however, it could have just been the cut or that they were meant to be tight. no, I have not actually lost weight, but I’m at a different latitude so gravity is different here (just kidding! but really..) what I mean to say is that I’ve been bloaty so I may be packing a few pounds of water weight and therefore have lost 3-5 pounds. however, I’m still EXACTLY at my set-weight, even though I’m reading it in kilos. the body is an amazing machine. so much bread, yet so much walking.

tours of lyon

day 4 CISL

zoe and I went to la musée de tissus (textiles) just because we wanted something to do. the happened to have a special exposee happening with pieces from spain. the textiles industry had quite the heyday in lyon, with brilliant minds at the helm. this was back when it wasn’t a computer program, yet these pieces were so intricately woven and embroidered, they were truly art. every piece was like looking at the minutes of someone’s life in each strand, pulled together to paint the picture of their time here on earth. there were so many priest’s robes and altar decorations that had threads entwined with gold and silver in the collection. there was even one that looked 3D, like the depictions of saints and jesus stood out from the velvet and looked very lifelike. toward the end of the museum, there were pieces from 4th and 5th century Egypt and the like, and those were mostly fragments. however, it was remarkable that people have known how to weave beautifully for millennia. I was sad to not be able to take pictures, but I spent a good and long time at each display to absorb all the beauty.

day 5 CISL

because it was Sunday, we decided to go explore vieux-lyon, which has a lot of churches and cool secrets. while it was a little on the touristy side, it was beautiful. all it took was walking to a side street where there were no people (they’re truly weren’t very many though because it was Sunday) and you’d find little interesting things. we had a map that told us where the traboules were; these are pathways between streets where you can see the buildings of the Italian, german, and French bourgeoisie of the renaissance. we went through quite a few and were taken by awe every time.


a road without people/tourists:

there wasn’t really any order to the places we saw, but I’ll summarize them; also, I know you don’t know what these places are, just know that they are. we visited la cathédrale de st. jean, which is huge and marvelously decorated to the last inch. there were some ruins behind the church where one of the oldest baptismals in gaul stood. we also saw st. georges, which was right next to the Saône river. Then there was st. paul, which was quaint but still very pretty. we then crossed the river to the presqu’île and ended up at place des terraux next to Hotel de Ville. We popped into la musée des Beaux-Arts and looked at the garden just to see some statues and relax for a bit. after that we walked down la rue de la république, which is one of the biggest ones (they use it for parades), and saw all the later architecture (we’re talking turn of the century Victorian style, at least that’s my guess). there, next to h&m and monoprix (a hypermarché), we visited the church of st. nizier. I do believe we headed back after that, what we estimate to have been 7 or 8 miles of walking.

inside la cathédrale st. jean:
and outside:

st. georges:

st. paul:
inside st. paul:
hôtel de ville:

a statue in the musée des beaux-arts:
st. nizier