dimanche 6 décembre 2009

6 decembre 2009 - Montpellier

A few awesome things from this week:

1) My history professor sang and danced a Bollywood impersonation in class. The lyrics to his song were these: "Je t'aime. Tu m'aime. On s'aime. Ta mere ne m'aime pas. Je n'aime pas ta mere." He then concluded by saying that the French find Bollywood to be total crap and that ten minutes into any Bollywood film, the French are driven to drink.

2) Moules Frites. Friday, I went to a restaurant of which a member of my friend's visiting family is the proprietor. There, every Friday, is a muscles and fries special. We dominated les moules frites.

3) This morning I had breakfast with my host mom--a first--and this resulted in plusieurs great things. First, I tried to explain pancakes, and I'm not convinced I was tout a fait successful. Also, I learned that her computer is in English because it's expensive to change the language and that "cancel" is always hard for her to remember, because it sounds to her like "conserver" which is basically the opposite of what cancel means. Also, she doesn't get why both "Don't save" and "cancel" would be options and I couldn't remember either until I looked it up just now. Finally, I attempted to explain what I understand to be the difficulties of learning Thai and Japanese and was surprisingly successful.

mardi 1 décembre 2009

1 décembre 2009 – Montpellier

Ça fait longtemps que j’ai écrit quelque chose sur ce blog. Alors, on y va !
La semaine dernière je n’ai pas fait très grandes choses. Je suis allée à la fac pour mes cours, bien sûr. Je commence à faire mes travails finals pour mes cours et étudier pour les examens et les devoirs sur table. J’ai appris des choses intéressantes en classe, notamment :
1) un de mes profs croit vraiment en la psychanalyse et nous a appris des choses sur l’inconscient et les rêves. J’ai appris que les rêves sont compris de choses qu’on a vu ou lu ou entendu pendant les 72 heures précédentes et moi, je me suis amusé bien en cherchant les sources de la matériaux de mes rêves. Par exemple, j’ai eu un rêve dans lequel il y’avait Sting et j’ai rendu compte que ça est venu de Glee où il y avait un mash-up avec une chanson de la Police. C’est vachement drôle de faire ça. Aussi, mon prof croit que « les actes de manquer » ne sont pas les accidents, mais les actions intentionnels de l’inconscient. Mais moi, je ne le crois pas du tout.
2) Le jeu que nous appelons « Telephone » en anglais est appelé « téléphone arabe » en français parce qu’on passe le message de bouche à l’oreille sans téléphone. Les français ne sont pas trop politiquement corrects, eux. Ça m’a fait rigoler.
3) La phrase pour dire « rich kids » en français est « fils-de-papa. » J’aime bien cette expression.
Autrement, j’ai fait un peu de « slack-lining » avec un ami qui vient de Montana, mais je n’ai pas trop réussi. Et mercredi, j’ai passé le soir en jouant aux cartes avec tous mes amis de Montana et leur ami français, Gari.
Le weekend je suis allée en Suisse pour fêter le Thanksgiving avec ma famille suisse ! Ça s’est passé très, très bien ! Quand je suis arrivée vendredi soir, ils m’ont préparé un super repas de fajitas parce que j’avais dit que Chipotle me manque. Le lendemain, j’ai regardé des films et joué avec mes petites cousines jusqu’à Maggie a du partir. Bella et moi, nous avons fait des brownies pour le dessert. L’après-midi, nous sommes allés chez leurs amis pour dîner et fêter le faux Thanksgiving. Le repas était tellement délicieux ! Les amis d’Oncle David et Tante Kim sont très sympathiques et leurs enfants sont aussi très cool. Leur tout petit chien, champion du monde, est si amusant et mignon, même s’il a fait pipi sur la manche de mon chemise. En somme, j’ai passé une très agréable soirée là, en Suisse. Dimanche, je suis partie très tôt et j’ai fini le weekend en travaillant sur mes devoirs.
Aujourd’hui j’ai commencé mon calendrier de l’Avent, parce qu’il est le premier jour du mois de décembre. Ma mère m’a envoyé un calendrier aux chocolats quelques semaines plutôt, mais dans un moment de faiblesse, j’en ai tout mangé. Alors, j’ai acheté un autre parce qu’ils sont très facile de trouver ici en France et on peut choisir parmi des tas de calendriers en thème. J’en ai presque choisi l’un à Scooby Doo ou l’un à Arthur et les Invisibles, mais enfin, j’en ai choisi l’un à Astérix qui me plaît tellement. C’est super, ce calendrier ! Il contient 21 chocolats (plus grands que ceux du calendrier de ma mère) et aussi 3 surprises ! Je dois attendre le 5 décembre pour découvrir la première surprise et je suis tout à fait excitée !
Voilà. Ça suffit pour le moment. Je vous donne un petit challenge cette semaine parce que j’ai tout écrit en français. Bonne chance à le traduire ! Au moins, j’ai tapé les accents cette fois.
Bonne semaine à tous !

mercredi 18 novembre 2009

18 Novembre 2009 - Montpellier

Get ready for a long one! Pret? On y va!

The following is a summary of my venture to the land of the Danes:

Saturday, the fourteenth of November, I awoke early (5h30) to finish labeling the Aigues-Mortes photos, to get ready, and to double check that I had tout ce qu'il faut. I then walked to the gare and got on the 8h26 train to Aeroport CDG. For four hours, I watched Night at the Museum and listened to music on my ipod.

When I got to CDG, I went from the train station to the terminals, checked-in, and went through security. I then killed another three hours. (Note the emphasis on time killing. I realized this trip that it takes all of 20 minutes tops to get from the terminals to the train station and that there is no reason for even the most paranoid about missing connections, comme moi, need not allot more than one hour to accomplish the journey.)

I got on the plane at 15h30, and proceeded to sit in the wrong seat two times--correct row, however I had issue with the letters it seems. The flight took about an hour and a half. It was awesome because we literally flew into darkness. It was midday bright when I left Paris and middle of the night dark when I arrived in Copenhagen. So, I arrived at 17h10 or something and was going to be meeting Rachael there, in the airport, when she got back from her class' Russia trip at 20h. So, again, I killed three hours. In the Copenhagen airport, however, this is not super hard to do because the airport is more or less a high-end shopping mall, already decorated for the holiday season. I simply wandered around for some hours. I had time to note that each stall in the bathroom had its own sharps disposal container which I found to be both comforting (reduced risk of accidental needle prick) and unnerving (I was never before aware there was such a risk. What are people doing in airport bathrooms?). I also got out some kroner during this time. Kroner coins are weird. Some have holes in the middle and hearts appear on many. Also, the 5 kroner coin is larger than both the 10 and 20 kroner coins.

So, I meet up with Rachael at 8pm and we take a metro followed by a train back to her dorm/apartment thing, and despite both being already a little tired from traveling, determine to make the most of my time there. So, we first went a little ways from "kollegium" (that's what her dorm complex was called) to get "shawarma" which is what the French call "kebab" and is basically shredded, greasy meat in a bread pocket with lettuce and tomato. Needless to say, it's delicious. Our dinner was accompanied by a product of Denmark, Somersby apple cider, which tastes exactly like sparkling apple cider from home despite being alcoholic. From there, we took a train back into the city, and though it was 11pm at this point, I was told this was the usual time to start going out on a Saturday in Copenhagen. Apparently, the vast majority of people in my age range do not proscribe to my 10:30pm to 7:00am ideal sleeping pattern, surtout a Copenhague.

In getting of the train, we made the acquaintance of two guys--both originally from Cameroon, though one now lives in Stockholm and was merely visiting his friend who works at Rachael's school in Copenhagen. As we were still waiting for Drew, another friend of mine from school, to let us know where he was going to be, we accompanied our new friends, Prisco and Jude, to a sort of salsa/hip-hop bar/club. It was actually really fun there and we got to dance some. Jude asked me, en francais, if I spoke french and I responded, "Oui. Un peu," and we proceeded to have part of a conversation in french. He told me he was impressed because "you don't meet to many Americans who speak another language." I found this funny and sadly all too true. I was also happy to speak french a little because I had been fighting the urge to employ the language since my arrival. I knew that the language of Denmark was not English, and this knowledge, combined with the fact that I've habituated myself to speaking French to strangers (cashiers, waiters, etc.), drove me to have to constantly remind myself that the Danes would understand English sooner than French.

We left that bar shortly after 1am to go meet Drew at a place called the Happy Pig. The line to get in, however, was too long and Rachael and I, weary travelers that we were, decided to return to go to bed rather than stay out until 5 or 6 am as evidently it is quite usual to do.

The following morning, we slept in and then leisurely got ready and left, arriving in the city between 10 and 11. Over the course of the day, we climbed the observation tower to look out over Copenhagen, and we visited gardens, buildings, and squares of varying degrees of importance. The city is beautiful, and it's old and modern at the same time. I loved the adorable brightly colored houses! I tried "warm chocolate" (really, it was "varm chokolade" in Danish) which is steamed milk into which you place a stirrer with a chunk of chocolate on one end, and the chocolate melts into the milk. It was the best! We also walked passed a creperie which I would not have noticed had my attention not have been grabbed by who other than Asterix and Obelix painted on the the doors! I was perhaps overly excited about this and may have questioned aloud, "What are you guys doing here?" to a pair of inanimate cartoon renderings. We watched the sun setting by the water for awhile--this was around 3:30pm. Then, we had hot-dog snack because hot-dog vendors are partout and they have cool buns which are simply a cylindrical roll with a hole in one end into which one places the condiment followed by the hot dog itself. We killed time and warmed ourselves between that and dinner time by wandering through "Magasin," Copenhagen's equivalent to New York City's Macy's which was egalement lit on the exterior for the holiday season.

For dinner we went to a restaurant in Nyhavn, a fairly expensive tourist trap, but a beautiful one with great food; typical Danish brightly colored restaurant fronts; Christmas lights and decor; and a view of the canal. It was awesome as well because we ate (salmon steak and Carlsburg--mmm!) outside despite the cold and darkness, grace a patio umbrellas equipped with heat lamps and chairs accompanied by fleece blankets.

After dinner, we were tired from the day, so we went back to Rachael's dorm and pajama-ed up, only to be invited to watch a movie in the common area of her building with a group of about 7 or 8 Polish students. They were really nice and funny, as they joked during all the difficulties they had setting up the computer, projector, and speakers. One of them tried to get a game of charades going every time we had to wait for someone to get something or what not, and when others lacked his enthusiasm, he resorted to puppet theater with the projector screen, recounting the tale of bunny (his hand) and his three parrot friends (the logo of the ViewSonic projector). We ended up watching, with minimal interruptions, Gone Baby Gone which was a good movie (I mean, it had Morgan Freeman, so obviously). The interruptions consisted of a kid tripping over a wire, bringing the laptop crashing to the floor, and resulting in a few minutes spent getting it to work again; and what the shadow-puppets kid, Simon, dubbed an "intercultural experience," c'est-a-dire, polish vodka. In sum, it was a good day and night.

Monday we got up early as Rachael had class. I wandered the city alone for an hour, watching the morning commute on bikes which involved a newspaper man passing out the free paper on the roadside in a Tour de France feeding station manner, and I then met up with Rachael to say goodbye before taking the metro back to the airport. My flight to France fed me delicious pasta salad which was a welcome surprise, and after waiting much longer than necessary in the airport train station, I boarded the train back to Montpellier. I got into Montpellier at 10pm only to find that I was practically hot walking home.

vendredi 13 novembre 2009

13 Novembre 2009 - Montpellier

J'ai passe une tres belle journee, aujourd'hui!

After a previous failed attempt, Sami, Megan, and I successfully figured out the bus and went to Aigues-Mortes for the day. It's a beautiful, medieval, walled city not about an hour from Montpellier. We basically spent the entire day walking the ramparts and climbing the tower and taking millions and millions of photos. At one point, my camera got angry and stopped working for about a half hour, and I was scared it would be broken for Denmark tomorrow. Happily, I got it working again during the part of the day where the sun was out from behind the clouds. Chouette!

There were very few people there, as it is a weekday in November, so we did not hesitate to go all over, to dawdle, and to set-up ridiculous pictures. I even climbed into a sort of medieval oven/furnace thing. I probably wasn't supposed to do that, but nowhere did it say I couldn't. The pictures will be up soon, quand meme, for all to see.

Other interesting events of the day include: seeing the second probably-homeless, potentially-drunk man I've seen asleep/passed out on the floor of the tram; and listening to a woman tell and elderly man (one half of an elderly couple, exiting the tram), "go f*** yourself, jacka**!" after some sort of altercation in the entering and exiting the tram process of which I missed the beginning. So, at least my french is coming along well enough that I understood that.

I will conclude this post with a fourth DFCF tip: Sandwiches and other food items may include ingredients not explicitly said to be in them. Therefore, take preventative measures and order things without tomates, cornichons, ou sauce, d'apres your liking.

jeudi 12 novembre 2009

12 Novembre 2009 - Montpellier

En fait, je ne fais pas grandes choses, depuis mon dernier message. Mais, quand meme, je vais adjouter un autre.

On Monday, I went to see the film, "Le Petit Nicolas" with my host mom. It was a really cute film. Having read a bajillion (actual figure) Petit Nicolas stories, I didn't find it too difficult to follow except when some of the kids spoke over each other, quickly. I have determined that my favorite "copain" is Clotaire--celui qui est dernier de la classe et qui veut devenir champion du Tour de France quand il est grand--followed closely by Alceste, who eats constantly and takes his food very seriously. Also, there was an Asterix reference which I loved!

I had no class on Wednesday because it was veterans' day here in France as well. That was great. Also, my class Friday is canceled because the teacher has to be somewhere else. He rescheduled it for Saturday morning, but said he understood if people couldn't make it; we had only to email him. As I am going to Copenhagen on Saturday, I did just that. The response he sent back was awesome and a great example of why I like this teacher a lot. He wrote:

"Chère Mademoiselle,
Je vous envie et vous souhaite une belle visite. Pensez à me ramener une sirène, c'est très bon avec des pommes de terre à la vapeur.
Bien cordialement,
PS Pensez à récupérer le cours (polycopiés et photocopies)"

That's right, he asked me to bring him back a mermaid because mermaid is great with steamed potatoes, and only in the post-script did he mention what I should do for the class! This is my history professor who pretty much just makes fun of us all the time--but, in a very egalitarian manner--and jokes about drinking too much when he's late to class (at 9:15am) or there are typos in the hand-outs. He's great.

Delicious foods I've eaten chez Audigier recently include: chili con carne (so not french) with red beans that were not from a can and consequently really good, and fruit salad that was made particularly delicious by the addition of apricot jam as une espece de salad dressing.

So, now, I have to get ready for Denmark this weekend, start working on my expose and travil d'ecriture pour histoire du theatre, and study for phonetics. But before I conclude...

...DFCF tip #3: If it is raining or has just rained in Montpellier, IL FAUT wear shoes with traction or else you will probably eat it, repeatedly.

samedi 7 novembre 2009

7 Novembre 2009 - Montpellier

Bon d'accord. So, interesting things that happened this week: First, on Thursday night, I had to go to this presentation thing for my histoire du theatre class (Literally, my teacher told us in English, "You have to do it."). Literally, no one in the class knew exactly what it was or--for that matter--where it was. Once we all found the appropriate building (our teacher's directions had made finding it forty times more difficult than need be. It was literally facing the tram stop.), we waited inside until ushered into a smallish theater. This is the point at which I discovered the presentation was actually to be a short-ish play, some forty minutes in length, presque sans paroles, entitled "Duelle," followed by a question and answer session. Essentially, the play involved five guys acting out one form of duel after another, starting with western and including a sort of kung-fu style that morphed into a dance battle. It was actually really funny and interesting. My favorite question during the session that followed was whether or not the beards of the actors were a scripted part of the play because it worked well with the motif of the play. The answer was that they were simply bearded men. Then one of the hairier among them added, "But I, for instance, have more beard than usual." It was funnier in french.

Yesterday, I turned in a paper and did an oral presentation (c'est-a-dire, un expose) in my history class. It was on the why and how France entered the first world conflict, c'est-a-dire la Premiere Guerre mondiale ou la Grande Guerre. J'ai tellement peur de faire des expose toujours, mais surtout en francais. My teacher said I did okay though, and I didn't spell anything wrong on the board which was also good. He did say that in general the answers to the questions for the presentations were becoming too broad. Apparently in France, unlike at home, when they ask why and how a nation became involved in a conflict, they mean more immediate causes. In the United States, at least it seems to me, teachers want you to discuss anything and everything that contributed at all to the involvement. But, at least it's done, and I don't have to do work in that class again until the final exam.

I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the awesome things my teachers say in English. So, all the teachers of RI (relations internationals) courses, which are only for American students, speak English pretty well. However, sometimes they make mistakes or say things awesomely. Some examples include: My history professor saying "You joker" in a perfect American accent; my history professor saying "annihilation" in a pretty good British accent, only to have half the class not understand, then asking how it is said in American and ranting in French about how he spent twenty years learning English and how now he has to learn American; my theater professor saying the word "puppets" multiple times in one class, but mispronouncing the "u" like that of the word "pugilist;" my theater professor quoting star wars saying "you are my son" only to learn that in English it is "I am your father;" my history professor trying to think of the English word for "betterave," coming up with "turnpike," realizing that was completely wrong and asking what the English word is (it is, en fait, "beets." I think he was thinking "turnip" when he said "turnpike" and that's not to far off); and my history professor trying to say "barbed wire"--when you are French, this is very very difficult.

Also, yesterday night, I went to see a movie, "MicMacs a Tire-Larigot." It was actually really enjoyable, so when it comes out I suggest renting it and subtitling it (as it is in French). It is from the same director as "Le Fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulain" or "Amelie," as it's called in the U.S. It was similar in that it was quirky and brightly colored. Anyway, I liked it. I also discovered while there that the french M&Ms have weird voices.

I think that is all for now. Some more DFCF tips: The Mediterranean is not hot in the winter, it is in fact a lot like the weather at home, minus snow.

lundi 2 novembre 2009

2 Novembre 2009 - Montpellier

I decided to have a blog. Pourquoi pas? Also, I feel like Mom will like it because I can never remember anything to tell the parents when I Skype them car j'oublie toujours ce que je fais. (I also think it will be beneficial for those attendees of DFCF [Delcher Family Christmas in France] to try to read the franglais I will be using.)

I just got back from Paris with Rachael. She came to visit me in Montpellier on Thursday evening. Thursday all we did was roam around Montpellier in the evening to look at the important Montpellier sites--Place de la Comedie, l'Esplanade, la Tour de Pine (could be Pin?), la Cathedral St. Pierre, la Faculte de Medicine, l'Arc de Triomphe, Peyrou, and the Aqueduc. Also, we went to look at my favorite store window which contains a series of decorated, bejeweled dress-forms, one of which has Madonna-esque cone shaped "seins" with the phrase "Je...je suis...confuse" bejeweled above them. It is funny.
Then we had dinner a la maison with Mme Audigier (Mme Pommes Frites to Meg) which was essentially an exercise in translation for me as Mme does not speak English and Rachael ne parle pas francais. ("Pas du tout?" asks Mme. "Pas du tout," I answer. "Pas du tout, du tout, du tout?" she responds.) But, it was actually less difficult and awkward then it sounds like it'd be. And we concluded the night by going to sleep early, as I had class the next morning and am at heart an old man who goes to bed before 10 and wakes up at 6.

Friday, I went to my history class while Rachael posted up in an empty classroom to finish some papers for her classes. I really like my history class. The prof is awesome and he told me on Friday that I take really good notes.
Then, Friday afternoon, we borrowed William's ATC and harness for Rachael and went climbing at the gym where we sort of made friends with these two french brothers who are there all the time and climb like 7a or 7b (5.12b ish?) even though the younger one is like 12 years old. By sort of made friends, I mean they laughed at us and tried to help Rachael by giving her beta in French which was fairly unhelpful until I translated it.
Then, we went to the Geant Casino--the biggest, newest, most absurd grocery store/everything store I have ever seen--where we discovered in the internation aisle wherein we were seeking peanut butter in the Angleterre section DR. PEPPER! Ninety-six centimes per can which is imported from some germanophone country, but it was heavenly!
We spent our evening after dinner in the parc de Payrou, savoring the Dr. Pepper, until we got cold and so went to the bar I go to for football on Sundays in order to get warm and experience the majesty that is chicken chips--or I should really say "Lays saveur poulet roti et thym" which are the most accurately flavored chips in the world. It is like actually eating chicken.

On Saturday, we went shopping because Rachael wanted to and we needed a few small things--namely leggings--to make costumes for Halloween. I am a strong proponent of dressing up for holidays (all of them) and when we were told in leaving the pub on Friday that there was to be a Halloween soiree complete with costume contest, how could we not partake? So after acquiring leggings, tape, and aluminum foil, we returned to do work. We crafted eyes and eyebrows from the cardboard boxes and as Rachael was working on her trash can lid hat (I had already finished my cookie and eyeball headband) I picked up a spare ring of cardboard, tried it on and said, "Rachael, why don't we use this to make your can instead of just wrapping you in aluminum (the original plan)?" From there it got really intensely crafty, but the end result was FORMIDABLE! And Rachael even won us free drinks, tying for first with seven others in the costume contest, though being referred to as "the American chick in the back in the tin foil skirt." All in all, it was an awesome Halloween with Rachael and William (who came out with us as well) and the Monster Mash and Time Warp which were both played near the end of the night.

Sunday, we got on a train to Paris ridiculously early, 6:52am. After napping and watching Bolt on Rachael's computer (I highly recommend this film solely because of the hamster, Rhino), we arrived in CDG where we were going to get the bus to Parc Asterix. But, because it was raining, the bus stop was hard to find, we wanted to put our stuff in the hotel, and Rachael had never been to Paris, we decided to just go to the hotel and spend the day roaming Paris. We did a pretty substantial trek from our hotel by gare du nord to the main part of the city, and then a solid tour of the outsides of the important things in Paris (outsides and insides of churches only because these things are free). As a result I got completely soaked through, but had fun quand meme.
A note about our hotel: our room had a bathroom--tiny bathroom of course because the hotel was super cheap--with a toilet that we did not use because there was no mechanism to flush it. There was water in it and it was clean and we searched thoroughly, pressing and jiggling and twisting things, but nothing was the flusher. The only possibility left untried was either of two valves attached near to the ceiling on pipes. I was not willing to accidentally shut the water off for the entirety of the hotel.
After a very delicious, very french, two hour dinner in the evening, we crashed.

This morning we had traditional French breakfast (as I normally do anyway chez Mme Audigier [Mme PF - Meg])--coffee, bread, butter, jam, and juice. Then, we walked once more to the Seine after which I said goodbye and started heading back home.

Things to think about for DFCF: Long lines at the train ticket offices can be avoided if one possesses either a Visa/European Credit Card or large amounts of money in coinage so one can use the automatic ticket machines.

A la prochaine fois!