Saturday, August 30, 2008

Two down, one to go

Fromage du jour: Irish Cheddar

My friend, Missy, left for Normandie on Tuesday, and Erin leaves in just a few hours for Paris. Isn't it odd that my two oldest friends will both be in France this semester?

I ordered my train ticket today from It was about $80 including shipping. I guess rail travel in Europe isn't cheap (though that's certainly cheaper than traveling by train in the USA), but I've heard that you can get plane tickets for about 30 Euro. That will be nice for traveling around during my Christmas break. I hope to make it over to Berlin to visit a German friend of mine.

Awhile ago I joined the Universite de Caen Facebook group and just posted a message saying that I will be there in September. Since then about five or six of the French students have messaged me offering advice and giving me tips and encouragement. They've been so friendly and I appreciate them more than I can say! I feel like I might have a couple of built-in friends at Caen and elsewhere in France. Facebook has its vices, but I must say that it's helped me out a great deal in recent months.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Fromage du jour: Gruyere (I've been watching a little too much Pushing Daisies. Excellent show, but beware: it will make you want to hug someone.)

French word du jour: Jumelage-- Twinning. As in, Jumelage de Deauville, the Twinning Committee of Deauville. We'd call this a Sister Cities Committee.

Today I received an e-mail from Caen's "service financier" that confirmed that I am, indeed, departing on the correct date. I am more relieved than I could possibly say!

Emilie, a facebook friend from Caen (who reads this blog!), told me to go to this website to learn more about the city. It looks lovely, doesn't it? I can't wait to be there in 16 days! She, and other students from Caen, have been very helpful in making me as at ease as possible, and I'm not even there yet. I am so thankful for that.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Things are coming together... but keep your fingers crossed.

Fromage du jour: Warm Brie

As today two of my sisters begin their first day of school I can't help but envy the fact that all they have to do in order to get there is swing by Wal-Mart to buy their supplies and then either walk or be dropped off by my dad at the school doors. I've been preparing for my first day of school since February, and I'm still not totally prepared! But things are coming together in a solid wheel of Brie, or so I hope.

+My Dell broke, and so finally, last night, I purchased a shiny new Macbook that I hope will arrive tomorrow or Saturday. It comes with a free iPod touch, about which I am quite excited. Getting new gadgets is ridiculously fun.

+I bought two pairs of walking shoes that I hope will last me the entire year, protect me from rain, and still look stylish enough so that I won't look too garishly américaine. One is a pair of knee-high black boots (Rieker), and the other a Mary Jane-style flat (Privo).

+I bought my plane ticket, but I'm still quite nervous about that, especially since...

+The earliest appointment date at the consulate was September 4. So, my dad and I will be flying into Chicago-Midway (I think) on the afternoon of September 3, perhaps enjoying a free Andrew Bird concert at Millennium Park that evening, and after a night in which I will not be able to sleep we will arrive at the French consulate at 9:00 A.M. and hope and pray that I have everything I need in order to be accepted for a student visa. If I don't, then I probably don't get to go to France-- my plane leaves three days after that, and if I don't have a visa by then, too bad for me.

+I've been talking to a few people from Caen on Facebook, and they've been very friendly and helpful. One told me that there are weekly salsa dancing sessions on campus. That's my kind of school!

I'm so nervous about getting my visa in order and finding my way from Charles de Gaulle to Gare St. Lazare to Caen. I'm trying to remain optimistic, and in this I can use all of the help I can get. Prayers and encouragement are much needed! Phone calls are also appreciated-- during the day, everyone is at work or school, and so it can get quite lonely with just my dog around!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Plane Ticket-- Finally

Fromage du Jour: Fresh Mozzarella served with fresh basil leaves

I'm a little worried. I know that you probably feel that "Suzanne must be a little worried" vibe from most, if not all, of my entries thus far, but I think I have legitimate reasons! Someone from the Twinning Committee of Deauville, France, sent me an e-mail stating that classes begin on September 1st, but the Caen website and my acceptance letter very clearly state that while a Fall session begins September 1st, my session (Winter/Spring) begins September 11. My adviser advised that I just buy my plane ticket for the September 11 start date, and so I did. I will be leaving September 7th and arriving in Paris at 9:30 A.M. on September 8th.

Now, I'm a little nervous, because I bought the plane ticket before the Committee returned my e-mail about the date being wrong. I had to-- the prices were going up by the hundreds each day. I did get a phenomenal discount, though.

There are many websites out there that help traveling students get discounts on plane tickets, rail passes, and more. I went to First, you have to call them and ask for an international student ID card, which will run you about $28. My plane ticket was $615, which was about $300-1000 less than on any other non-student website. If you are between the ages of 12 and 26 and/or you are a full-time student, you're eligible for the International Student Identity Card ( and are therefore eligible for these discounts. Pretty cool, huh?

Anyway, back to Paris... I will get there in the morning and I figure it's fairly easy to get from the airport to the train station by Metro. After that, someone will meet me in Caen and take me to my dorm. The only thing I have left to do to make this happen is get my visa in Chicago, which I've heard is an adventure in and of itself.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Culture shock.

I read the booklet that came with my acceptance letter today, and it said that not only is there not internet access in the dorms, but there are only seven hotspots on campus (as compared to UK where every spot is a wireless hotspot!), but you are permitted only two hours of free internet access per day. I've also heard that the internet on campus shuts off at 7:00 P.M., which is about the time I'd be using Skype to contact my family. What the heck, Caen?

Of course, if this is the worst thing I've heard about campus, I think so far I'm well off! It sounds like a nice school.