Monday, May 25, 2009


So many times I will accept an invitation to something in France and then have no idea what I am getting into. It always ends up being just fine-- I'm usually just extremely under-dressed-- but then I comfort myself with the reminder that because I'm American the French have verrrry low expectations for how I look.

Yesterday the French-American Alliance of Caen took me, Daniel, Megan, Rachel, and Ashley to a Memorial Day service at the American Military Cemetery. We didn't know we were going to a ceremony, first of all, and second of all, I had completely forgotten that it was Memorial Day Weekend, but it was a pleasant surprise. The service was very beautiful. A few senators, representatives, and troops from the United States were there (one of our soldiers fainted-- it was pretty hot outside!), as were various leaders from around France.

One veteran who actually fought in D-Day told his story. That was my favorite part, because somehow he managed to be lighthearted in spite of all of the tragedy he was recounting, and it was just an incredible story. I felt awful because it was not translated into French and so the French speakers in the audience must have been bored out of their minds. The old French couple sitting next to Daniel revealed what they had really been paying attention to while he spoke; at the end of the story as we were clapping, they turned to Daniel and said, "Ecoutez les grenouilles!" (Listen to the frogs!) and pointed out the frogs in the lily pond next to them that they had been watching.

After that there was a cocktail reception attended by many of the US and French officers and perhaps even a senator or two, though I'm not sure, and then the French-American Alliance took us out to dinner at this fantastic and very expensive buffet of the best French food... YUM. After a promenade on the beach we went home, collapsed, and nursed our sunburns.

The American Military Cemetery is an incredibly powerful sight to see. Omaha Beach, which is in view as you walk around is so peaceful and beautiful that it's hard to believe that just 65 years ago thousands of soldiers were fighting and dying right where people are now swimming and windsurfing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Things I will miss, and what I look forward to

The things I will miss about France:
--My two favorite French people in the whole world: Mathilde and Emilie
--The town of Caen, and how everything is so close, it's so easy to walk everywhere, and the quaintness.
--Bakeries, creperies, gelato, and open markets
--The ease of travel by train, bus, and plane. I will miss this SO much.
--The relaxed lifestyle
--Bread, cheese, cider, wine
--Walking around, taking naps outside, enjoying the beautiful gardens
--Being a teaching assistant in Vire
--Speaking French

What I will not miss about France

--The excess amount of paper work and hidden fees everywhere
--The strikes, tear gas, etc.
--My dorm room (though I'll miss the people who live in the dorms!)
--The way they use Barack Obama to advertise everything, from strikes, to book fairs, to concerts. Seriously-- the advertisement for the book fair had a picture of Obama talking on the phone. It doesn't even make sense! But, okay, yeah, it's pretty hilarious at times.
--The disorganization of my university and teaching assistant program.

What I am looking forward to in the USA

--My family and friends (of course!)
--My favorite foods, like barbecue, cheesecake, pancakes, Mexican, and Indian food, and being able to cook them in my kitchen with Heidi!
--The relaxed atmosphere of restaurants and their prices (they charge for water in France!). I can't wait to cuddle up on a couch at Common Grounds with a book and just stay there for hours.
--The atmosphere of my university. I'll NEVER complain about White Hall Classroom Building again. I think, very generally speaking, American students have a greater respect for their campuses. You won't find the amount of litter, vandalism, or graffiti on an American campus as you will on a French one. I think the most UK students ever do is sidewalk chalk :D.

As much as I appreciate the USA now that I've been away from it for awhile, I think I had better stop typing this entry now before I start crying. I'm going to miss France! I'll be back in Kansas by May 30 and back in Lexington by June 9. Call me!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My students

Yeah, I'm almost the only one smiling so it looks rather silly, but, what are you gonna do? They are very sweet kids and I'll miss them. Click on the picture to make it bigger.

I've bought a roll of packing tape. The plan for retaliation against Sean has been formed. We'll take pictures.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sean's in Trouble!

Classes are over; tomorrow is my last day of teaching. I'm afraid I'm going to forget to go since I haven't been to Vire in what, two weeks? I have no idea. Anyway, I'm very sad that tomorrow is my last day to see those adorable kids! I might take some pictures to put up here.

Sean... my neighbor... oh Sean. We always tell him that he's never quite left middle school behind. He likes to stand at his window and throw things (usually pickles or bad chocolate) at people walking down below. Since I live next door, I have had tea sloshed on my window, shaving cream spread all over my door and window, and pickles and chocolate thrown onto my window sill or into my window, if it's open! Well, he's really crossed the line now. He threw a chocolate onto my window sill and I didn't see it. It's apparently been there for a long time, because a bunch of ants made it their home. This problem came to my attention yesterday when I woke up to my desk, which is right next to my bed, covered in ants. I managed to get rid of most of them during the course of yesterday, but I still see one from time to time!

So, how do I get him back? What on earth beats infesting someone's bedroom with ants??? I need something good, people!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Paris & Ireland: An awesome weekend!

This weekend I went to Ireland for a couple of days and then stayed a day in Paris. When will I ever be able to say words like that again? Ireland was great. We (Lauren, Daniel, and I) stayed in Limerick with Lauren's extremely hospitable friends Heidi, Rita, and Catherine. We went to a pub where we heard live Irish music (which was maybe my favorite part of the trip), visited Cork (including the Butter Museum and a beautiful, beautiful Hogwarts-esque college campus), and went to Galway. Ireland is beautiful. I wish I had been able to stay longer-- I definitely want to go back some day!

On Sunday Lauren went back to Caen, and Daniel and I met Mathilde in Paris. We went to Sacre Couer and had supper at this not-so-great restaurant where the waiters were very rude. Welcome to Paris! If you're going there any time soon, do research on good restaurants in advance. In the touristy areas it's really, really hit-or-miss with restaurants, and it's usually miss. Anyway, other than the restaurant, Paris was Paris was Paris and it was as lovely as it has ever been. The Vintage Hostel was a great deal.

On Monday, Daniel and I discovered Paris. It was his second time there, and I think it would have been my fourth. We went to Pere Lachaise, a very famous cemetery, where we visited the graves of Abelard & Heloise, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Moliere, La Fontaine, Edith Piaf, and Jim Morrison. While we were visiting Abelard & Heloise, a woman with short, spiky hair approached Daniel and asked him if he knew where Jim Morrison's grave was. For those of you who have read A Year in the Merde, you will know how tickled we were by this. It's very easy to spot the tourists who go to Pere Lachaise just to see Jim Morrison! There was a man there playing Stairway to Heaven on a guitar in front of the grave. I took a picture of him.

After that we took a little self-tour of the famous Opera house. We didn't see the Phantom, but we did see the famous stair case and the chandelier, which was even more beautiful than I had imagined! Had I not had such a hoarse voice I would have tried to sing to bring down the chandelier, but that might have been inconsiderate to other tourists and to the city of Paris.

Museums in Paris are now free for European Union students, and so we went to the Louvre. I finally saw the Venus di Milo, which I wasn't able to find the first time! Very impressive. It seems trite to say that, but really, it was gorgeous. I don't think I had ever really seen the details of her face before. And then we went to the Eiffel Tower, which I hadn't seen by day.

That night we saw my favorite band from the United States who is now on a European tour-- Anathallo. They gave an amazing performance in a suburb of Paris called Saint Ouen. It was so good to see them and to talk to them after the show. They're all very approachable and fascinating people to talk to. I really liked Toy Fight, a French band who opened for them, but I just feel so sad that French bands feel like they need to sing in English to be popular!

Weekends like these are running out! I'll be home in 22 days. I'm clinging to every moment I have left in France!