Thursday, August 29, 2013


1. Don't be afraid to speak the language just because everybody in that town speaks it perfectly.
2. Make friends in class, they will make the trip so worth it.
3. Plan a weekend trip to go out of town. I was stuck in a tiny town for four weeks and did not go on a fun weekend trip that I liked. While in Europe, TRAVEL. I am extremely bummed that we did not get to go to Paris or the beach or Southern France at all.
4. With that being said, make a list of places you want to go before hand. Start making this list the second you know you are studying abroad, or even months or years before you even know you are going.
5. Make sure you have enough time to get places via train and plane. Trains run late and so do flights and it is no fun sprinting through the biggest airport in the country.
6. Also, make sure you don't have 7 hours to burn at the airport like I did. It was awful and there was nothing to do but watch movies.
7. Setting your mind on souvenirs you want to find can be disappointing. All I wanted was a sweatshirt that said France but because I did not travel much outside of my little town, there were no sweatshirts that said France to be found and I was, and still am, very disappointed.
8. Go to as many school activities as you can. I went horseback riding through the French countryside, hiked a volcano, and went to some cute little towns. Even if some excursions weren't that fun, those are the only souvenirs I have and I cherish them.

-Even if you think a windbreaker/rainjacket and a cardigan are good enough to keep you warm, they aren't. BRING A JACKET.
-Bring anti-itch cream. There are bugs even in the prettiest of places.
-If you think you start to like someone either from your school group or from this new country and are in a relationship already, tell your significant other immediately or they will be heartbroken when they find out about it a week after you are "happily" back together.
-Go out and do things. Even if you only have an hour until your host mom's dinner is ready. They know you will be out doing things.
-However, don't be disrespectful and show up late to dinner. I never did show up late and I'm glad I didn't. Don't ruin your relationship with your host family because you are being rude. These are connections that will come in handy if you ever want to couch surf in Europe.
-Get your host family a gift relating to your hometown. I gave me host mom a book about the Grand Canyon and she didn't seem to excited but she just posted a picture on Facebook of Havasupai Falls. :)
-Try new food. And wine. Even if you hate it.
-Be courteous to your teachers, classmates, store owners, and host-family.
-Do everything in your power to stay busy so you don't get homesick.
-If you get homesick like I did, it's okay to cry and let it out. Talk to a friend you are close with and maybe they will be feeling the same way. I was really homesick and home alone one night because my mom and sister were out of town and I could not stop crying so I messaged Siobhan on Facebook and it turns out she went through the same things a couple days before. We went out for dinner together and talked and had a blast and felt much better.

It's a totally different experience and very nerve-wracking but if you stay busy and know of fun things to do, you will be fine. Even if a 30 minute picnic in the park with your friends is all you can do, it's the little things. :)

Musings #1

The last two weeks and the month after France were so busy I couldn't keep my head straight. School became so much easier and I made a lot of friends. Me and my host family went to a concert together and visited some of their friends. The kittens were getting so big already and my host mom started giving them away one by one which made me a little sad. I got a new teacher for my first class, Margot who was really really nice. She made class a lot more comfortable and even convinced me to do a presentation that ended up being a half hour!! I would never have been able to stomach that before I went to France.

My last couple nights in France, my school group and Madame Bauge and I went out for dinner and I had the best seared pork that was medium rare!! I even tried frog legs, escargot, and some other French plates. It is almost necessary to become adventurous while you are abroad and if you aren't willing to try new things, then why are you in a new place?

My last night, Robert and I went to the CAVILAM club downtown where we met up with some of my friends from class. It was so much fun and I was really sad to leave them.

Leaving Vichy was the saddest part. I had to say bye to my host sister, Rosie, a couple days before I left because she went to her grandmothers house in Paris. She started crying and it made me start crying on my walk to school. Even though we weren't able to communicate THAT well, I can honestly say we became very close and it was hard to leave each other.

My host mom and her boyfriend took me to the train station where I met Siobhan and Robert to take the train to Lyon. That was also a very tearful goodbye, and my host mom gave me bisous for the first time. I was tearful on the train but it was a long ride and was able to fall asleep for a little bit.

We reached Lyon and had to figure out how to get to the airport via the shuttle and after waiting a half hour, we got on the shuttle. We got to the airport like 7 hours early which was a TERRIBLE idea. We couldn't check in until 2 hours before and the Lyon airport is so tiny there is nothing to do. There isn't even a souvenir shop. I got lost in London, lost my boarding passes for the next day and became extremely upset in front of the lady at the front desk because I was so overwhelmed with flying. But everything turned out fine, they helped me print out a new boarding pass and I ended up sitting next to Michael and his dumb friend Erika on the plane. When we got back in Arizona, Michael and I broke up because of how close he became with Erika while they were studying abroad in Spain but things are looking up.

When Mom and Dad picked me up, it was 120 degrees out. Culture shock immediately set in. Vichy was such a small town, going back to Phoenix was overwhelming but also kind of refreshing.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Week Two

C'est la deuxième semaine et c'est plus facile..

This week is much easier than last because not only do I have some more friends, I can understand my teachers better.

My atelier class, my second class, joined with another class so now the class is twelve people as opposed to five. I was really disappointed that we got so many new people because we had a debate and all the new people were much more fluent than we were. However, there are two swiss boys in our class that do no pay attention at all and sit on their phones the whole time. This irritates me because you should be here to want to learn but their school was paying for the program for them because it is necessary they learn French.

Monday it was one of our group member's, Stephanie, birthday. We were going to go to the wine tasting in town so we headed that way just to find out it wasn't wine tasting and it wasn't free. It was just a place to hang out and talk with other CAVILAM students while drinking wine. We headed towards the train station to get a birthday beer for her and then ran into Madame Bauge. After that, we all went down to the Tahiti Bar, right across the street from my apartment, because Madame Bauge wanted to buy her a drink. She ended up buying everybody's drinks which was extremely generous of her. We soon went home because we all had dinner to go to but my host mom was out late that night so I worked on homework until she got home.

So far all the meals have been really good. Nothing too extravagant like the other students, but still good. She has been cooking a lot of Italien food lately for me.

Tuesday I had a lot of homework so after our NAU meeting after school, I went home and did homework and hung out with my family. We ended up playing a game that is like scattegories but in French. Somebody has to say the alphabet in their head, another person tells them to stop, and a letter is chosen. Then there are categories where you must find something that fits with the first letter being the same as the chosen letter. It was hard for me, but good to get my mind thinking. I obviously lost the game.

Wednesday was a half-day excursion to Puy-de-Dome. It is a dormant dome volcano from the volcano chain in Clermont Ferrand. It was quite a hike, and Robert and I were the only ones that made it to the top from our group. Allie and Jessalyn did not. The view from the top was beautiful and everything was so green. We even saw a bunch of paragliders with their backpacks setting up to take off from the mountain. We sat down by them for a while to take pictures and watch them take off. It was way awesome.
Thursday, today, I went to the dégustation, or the food tasting outing. It was right down the street from school at a place called "Club du Monde." If our teacher was not there, we would not have found it because it was downstairs in a weird-looking place.  We tried all kinds of saucissons/sausage, fromages/cheese, and tapenades. It was yummy! However, after trying wine twice here, I'm 100% positive that I will never like it. If I don't like French wine, I'm doomed. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday June 9th

Today was interesting. Robert and Siobhan and I met at the park to do homework and of course I didn't get any homework. We started wandering around town because we had to buy a few things and then I had to pee so bad it was miserable. I used a "water closet" yesterday and I thought I knew where it was but we could not find it anywhere. Eventually we just went to Monoprix, a store kind of like Target because they have clothes and school supplies and home stuff and a grocery store upstairs. However, they did not have any bathrooms either. I was so miserable and I had to pee so bad and of course it started raining right when we started our search. Somebody told us the only bathrooms were at the mall, way down the street. We walked all the way down there and finally found a bathroom and when we left, it was sunny and hot out. It was rather ridiculous. To reward myself, I bought a couple shirts that were on sale at the mall and we all got ice cream at a little stand. We then went to Monoprix so Siobhan could buy some groceries. As we were leaving, we heard a band so we crossed the street to go watch. It was a symphonie group playing in the park.

Last night I went to another symphonie that my sister had a small part in. It was really good and I had a lot of fun because they played some American songs.

Lesson learned: do not drink anything before wandering around Vichy because nobody has public bathrooms and the only water closet we found was closed off with red tape.

Friday, June 7, 2013

La Première Vendredi

La semaine est finie finalement! Les premières deux jours étaient très difficiles pour moi parce que mes parents et mon petit ami me manquent beaucoup. J'ai mangé le dîner avec ma mère et sœur d'accueil chaque nuit et mercredi je suis allées au chateau de Ravel, le chateau où les Choristes étaient filmé...

The week is finally done! The first two days were really difficult because I missed everyone so much but it is definitely better now. This week I ate dinner with my host family each night, even though one day we just had McDonalds because we were out at her friends house.

Wednesday I went to Chateau de Ravel where my favorite French film ever, Les Choristes, was filmed. We got to see where they played, where their classroom was, etc etc. It was really really awesome! The countryside was so pretty, too. Thursday after school I went home and decided to skip the Dégustation, or the food tasting, to go to my sister's jazz dance show. I took lots of pictures and a video for her.

Today after school Allie and I went to the parc and walked around for a few hours and went to "Vichy Beach" which is about a 30 foot long beach on the river bank. We ended up walking back to town to go to a patisserie to buy macarons and tarts. We don't eat dinner until about 9 o'clock and we eat lunch around noon so I'm always hungry and waiting to eat. Tonight, the group wanted to go to the discotecque but I think we are going to go to a little riverside bar instead, right in the park by my apartment.

I am in the B1+ level which is basically like 300 level classes at NAU and my first class is going much better now. My second class which was a culture class, or "civilisation" was a little too hard so I switched to an oral class so I can get more comfortable with talking. So far we have been talking about animals and pets to at least get us talking. I have had homework every night so far and on Monday I have to present about my favorite book.

I'm talking more with my host mom but I still don't have too much to say. I'm just not that comfortable speaking it.

The only problem I have had today was with a girl from Botswana. She is so nice and is in two of my classes but she does not understand much that either teacher says so she always asks me and distracts me and it is really annoying for me. She also took my notebook to copy something, which really bothers me when people do that. If she does it again next week I'm going to try and sit across from her instead of next to her.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The First Day of School

Hier j’ai rencontré ma famille et ma mère, Cathie, est venue me chercher à la gare. Elle à une fille de douze ans qui aime la danse beaucoup. C’est un peu maladroit et difficile de communiquer mais c’est mieux aujourd’hui. Aujourd’hui a été mon premièr jour de classe à CAVILAM et j’ai pris un examen pour me placer dans une groupe..

Yesterday I met my family and host-mom Cathie who came to get my from the train station. Her daughter is 12 and really likes dance. We even played "Just Dance 4"on the Wii. It's a little awkward and hard to communicate (especially yesterday) but it's better today. Yesterday we went for a walk in the park across the street and played ping pong with her daughter and her daughters friends and then went back and I took a nap. Whenever I felt awkward I would just come over to the couch because her cat just had four babies and they are so cute. They break the ice a lot. 

Today was my first day of class at CAVILAM and I had to take a placement test this morning. After the placement test we went to our first class and I don't even know what level I'm in. We had to talk to a bunch of different people in groups and I was extremely nervous at first but when we kept switching groups it was better. Then we had a lunch break so I met the other people in my group in the lobby and we found a place for lunch. After lunch we went back to school because we had our "ateliers" or extra curricular type class. I chose a culture class and we had to read about sites protected by UNESCO, which was interesting, but my teacher called on my first to talk about what I thought and I didn't know what to say and probably said something that didn't make any sense. Everybody in that class had already been taking it for a while so they all know each other and understand each other and the teacher perfectly so I was really embarrassed. I finally got wi-fi today, I thought she didn't have any but I just asked and she actually did have it. 

After school we went for a walk around Vichy with the cultural director and saw a bunch of historical plaques and statues. This town was home to Napoleon III and was where the French Regime was located during World War II so it is interesting. There's also a natural mineral water spring that we got to drink out of today. It's so pretty and was like drinking Perrier out of a well, but not as bubbly. I really like the kids in my group, they are all so nice and funny.

I'm nervous about tomorrow because we will have our morning class for three hours instead of one but hopefully it will be okay. 

In addition, I really miss Michael and my family and cat but these kitties make me feel so much better. :)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Les premiers deux jours de voyage

Hier après-midi je suis partie pour la France. J’ai eu trois vols avec peu de temps entre eux. J’ai voyagé avec deux autres filles dans le program alors il était plus facile de trouver les terminaux, les portes et les bus. Notre premier vol a été retardé alors quand nous avons arrivés à notre porte pour notre deuxième vol, tout le monde a été sur l’avion déjà! Mais nous avons pu monter dans l’avion. L’aéroport à London est très, très grande et nous avons eu moins de temps de trouvé l’autre terminal mais nous avons arrivés à la porte quand nos sièges ont été appelés. Quand nous avons arrivés à Lyon, nous avons eu des difficultés à trouver le tram mais nous l’avons trouvé et après, nôtre hôtel.

Yesterday afternoon I began my France trip. I had three flights with little time in between them. I flew with two other girls from the program, making it easier to find the terminals, gates, and busses. Our first flight was a little late so when we arrived at the gate for our second flight, everybody was already on the plane ! However we were still able to board. The airport at London is extremely large and we had even less time to connect flights and when we arrived at the terminal for our last flight, the agents were just calling our seat numbers. When we arrived in Lyon, we had other difficulties finding the tram but we eventually found it and our hotel.

My advice and lesson learned is to make sure there is at least two hours in between flights because an hour and a half was not nearly enough to get to the connecting flights comfortably. I am staying with the other girls at the Campanile Hotel right outside the Gare Part Dieu in Lyon, right across the street from the train station, so when we got dinner (un sandwich avec jambon, parmesan et pesto mm) we were able to check out the machines that we will have to use tomorrow to check in for our train ride to Vichy. 

I didn't sleep that much on the plane and it's finally 8 o'clock pm and I can't keep my eyes open so hopefully I'll get a good nights sleep. :)