Category Archives: France

La vie à Tours

If you haven’t been reading my earlier posts I’ve been staying in Tours, France these past 2 weeks for an orientation of sorts, full of “intensive” French classes *cough*threehoursaday*cough* and well, lots of free time.

I know I mentioned my host family in an earlier post, but since that post, the family size has more than doubled! All five of their kids came back from vacation ranging from age 12 to age 20. I was sitting in my room when all of a sudden I heard them…

They're going to laugh at my French and ignore me and make fun of me.
Mother was right! They’re going to laugh at my French and ignore me and make fun of me.

The parents actually left for a date that evening, leaving us alone with the kids. It started off pretty awkward because they all spoke super fast and only with each other. But then the littlest boy told a joke and I laughed…

Their reaction to my laughter: The American understands us!
Their reaction to my laughter: The American understands us!

I think that was the moment when I won the respect of the eldest boy and he has since made the biggest effort to talk to me. I’m actually surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed talking to the kids. I think it’s because I’m very formal with the parents and choose my words carefully, but with the kids I can talk about everything from French YouTube stars to Mexican food!

So I’m actually kind of sad to be leaving this host family tomorrow because watching them all interact was both amusing and very enlightening and well, I’m going to miss having someone to talk to about “young” French culture.

Tomorrow, the group heads out for Paris, where I will be staying for the rest of the year! But before I go, I wanted to make a list of my favorite things about living in Tours.

1. Having a class in a room with a chandelier and sculpted walls.

..
No big deal.

 

2. Walking by buildings that are hundreds of years old every day and realizing that it’s completely normal for this city.

I think Rapunzel lives up there.
I think Rapunzel lives up there.

3. Switching in between French and English so easily you don’t even notice when you change.

I need this shirt.
This shirt expresses everything. Buy it here.

4. Having this be your walk home:

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5. And well, the tranquility. I’m probably going to miss the relatively laid-back atmosphere of Tours in comparison to Paris. Sometimes it’s just nice to relax 🙂

The next time I post I will finally be in Paris! Oh, and living next to the Arc de Triomphe! ❤

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Châteaux and Historical Fiction

I’m a huge fan of historical fiction and well, books in general. What does this have to do with travelling you ask?

Because when I walk into a castle that was built in the early 13th century my imagination runs a little wild trying to envision all of the kings and queens of old hosting their fancy shindigs and their world of political intrigue of poisoning and murders.

The Château de Blois. Have fun pronouncing that.
The Château de Blois. Have fun pronouncing that.

Saturday, we visited 2 more châteaux including the Château de Blois, which is probably my favorite château so far because it was continuously added onto, resulting in an extraordinary view:

Thank Wikipedia for this panorama!
Thank Wikipedia for this panorama!

And plenty of ample material for anyone’s imagination to run wild!

French royalty used a fire salamander as their symbol.
The fire salamander of French royalty. It’s pretty much a dragon.
Which in Game of Thrones terms it means that the French royalty are descended from dragons.
Which in Game of Thrones terms, means that French royalty are descended from dragons.
Ghost stories around these gargoyles anyone?
Ghost stories around these gargoyles anyone?
This painting is so Game of Thrones. "You're dying? How sad."
This painting is so Game of Thrones. “You’re dying? How sad.”

In the afternoon we visited the Château de Cheverny:

The Château de Cheverny
Built in the 1600’s and has remained, for the most part, in the hands of the same family ever since.

It also contains one of the creepiest bedrooms I’ve ever seen:

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The Chambre du Roi

Unless you look closely, it’s just a normal (really, really ancient looking) bedroom… until you notice the Medusa heads everywhere…

Babies and Medusa heads should not be in the same picture.
Babies and Medusa heads should not be in the same picture.

Literally everywhere. They were even on the ceiling!

I wouldn’t be able to sleep there.

In other news, I’ve been sick! I think I’ve had a fever for the last 24 hours and have been just overall super tired and achy. Last night at dinner my poor host family had to listen to my mangled, feverish French that lacked all grammar. Then class today wasn’t much better, since we were talking about things that bothered us! I was so worked up about refugees and the deportation of the unaccompanied minors from Central America that I left class dizzy and shaky.

But then I found some ramen at the grocery store and my day got a little bit better. 🙂

 

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I’m in France!

I finally made it back! (And this time it’s a little more permanent than a vacation!)

After flying to Paris in a group with the other students going on the Sweet Briar program, we took a bus to Tours, where we are staying for a 2 week orientation. Basically, the whole trip was like this:

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Then when we got to Tours we met our host families. My host parents have like 4 or 5 kids, but they’re all off on vacation somewhere so currently another girl from Rice, a Japanese student and I are their replacement kids for the next 2 weeks. They also have two adorable dogs.

The only problem is they keep trying to feed me nuts.

Just because the hazelnut powder is only at the bottom of the chocolate mousse does not mean I can eat it.
Definitely mentioned I was allergic

 

Just because the hazelnut powder is only at the bottom of the chocolate mousse does not mean I can eat it! Good thing I always have allergy medicine ready!

On the other hand my host mom makes me coffee every morning, so there’s some points in her favor. Have to ward off those caffeine headaches!

Let's be honest. This will never happen.
Let’s be honest. This will never happen.

Saturday we visited the Château de Chenonceau, which is basically the most fairy tale looking French castle I’ve ever seen:

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Complete with pink bedrooms:

Catherine de Medici either really loved pink or must have really hated the person who picked out the furniture.
Catherine de Medici either really loved pink or must have really hated the person who picked out the furniture!

Then we took the bus to Amboise and passed by another gorgeous castle in favor of Leonardo da Vinci’s final resting place.

Definitely geeked out trying to imagine da Vinci walking the same halls!
Definitely geeked out trying to imagine da Vinci walking the same halls!

Then of course being the American college students that we are, we had to find the playground in the garden full of da Vinci’s inventions. Then this happened:

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Don’t worry though, because school started today at the  Institut de Touraine. The first day consisted of 3 hours of almost non-stop French!

Speaking of school… I should probably start that homework right?

Because I'm definitely going to listen to anything Lucifer tells me to do
Because I’m definitely going to listen to anything Lucifer tells me to do

 

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One day left!

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Last night I dreamed about this trip for the first time. My parents had dropped me off at the airport and I was going to meet up with the rest of the group when I realized I had left all of my chargers at home. ALL of them. Not just the simple iPhone charger that can be purchased all over the world, but laptop chargers and camera chargers. I’ve never been so glad to wake up.

I haven't seen this movie in I don't even know, but it's kind of perfect
I haven’t seen this movie in I don’t even know, but it’s kind of perfect

I think the notion that I’m actually leaving for a year is just hitting me.

My suitcase at this moment is only half packed and I still have a giant list of things I need to do.

If you didn’t already know, I will be spending the next year living in Paris, France with the Sweet Briar Junior Year in France program. I chose this program because not only was it the most recommended program at my university, but it also gives me the opportunity to take classes side by side with French students at the Sorbonne while providing me with an extensive support network that other study abroad programs do not provide. Furthermore, since I am going for the entire year Sweet Briar will help me to find an internship in the spring semester.

Traveling to Giverny, Monet's Home, August 2008
Straight off Sweet Briar’s website. This is going to be me. All smiley and French and stuff.

Now if you know me, you’re probably wondering how I’m going to the “JUNIOR” year in France when it’s only my second year in college. Well since I came into college with so many AP credits, academically speaking I am a junior and apparently that’s all that matters. Going my sophomore year, for me, makes the most sense academically. My French speaking level has hit a plateau (or decreased!) since coming to college because all I ever do anymore is read, write, and listen to my professor lecture. Going my sophomore year means I don’t have to worry as much about academic credit since I will have two more years at college to finish my degree.

I’ve been planning running off to France ever since I went the first time, the summer between 4th and 5th grade, so no amount of begging (I’ve heard plenty!) is going to make me change my mind!

Tomorrow morning I will fly off to Washington D.C. where I will meet up with the rest of the Sweet Briar students and then in the evening we will fly to Paris. From Paris we will leave our luggage, except for our puny carry ons and board a bus for Tours, a smaller town in central France where we will have an intensive 2 week orientation. (Probably to make sure we remember how to speak everyday French instead of spouting lines from Candide or Madame Bovary!)

So I’ll try to update as soon as possible when I get there, WiFi permitting.

Wow. I’m nervous now.

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Wish me luck!

 

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Have any suggestions about what you want to see me blog about? Leave me a comment and I’ll be sure to get back to you!