Tag Archives: Tours

Mama I made it!

Welcome to Dreux:

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View over the center of town on a very cloudy day
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The belfry at the center of town–the cafe with the red tents has the cutest little terrace in the back and they have cheap wine!

I’ve tried to condense the last week into a series of bullet points to make it as easy to read as possible. SO much has happened!

  1. I moved in

When I got off the plane I had the most massive customs line ever waiting for me (like seriously it took 45 minutes), but once all of that was over my teacher contact from my high school was waiting for me just on the other side! I’m really lucky that I didn’t have to navigate Paris with two suitcases to get to the train station because then she tucked me into her car and we drove to Dreux.

Then she gave me the low-down on all the gossip of the school the hour drive we had and when we arrived at the school she dragged me inside to meet the Principal (Le Proviseur) and half of the administrative team. Who were all quite nice and tbh I didn’t remember half of their names because I was so jet lagged. And then she brought me to my room.

Basically I’m living in the student dorms. They’ve reserved a couple rooms for teachers. It’s a tiny bit bigger than a dorm room, but not by much, but I have my own bathroom and a communal kitchen I’ll share with another language assistant and the nighttime workers who stay awake to make sure all the kids are in bed and asleep at curfew. All this is fine because it’s free. 

Yes you read that right. I won the jackpot in this town.

2. Welcome dinner

On Thursday my contact from the high school organized a welcome dinner at the Italian restaurant in town & I was able to meet many of the people who work there. (And not just the English teachers) I sat next to the science teacher who also participates in National Novel Writing Month each November so we ended up talking about books quite a lot, the teacher across from me had fun trying to make me say as many French cuss words as possible, and I drank soo much wine.

I was so happy I was able to speak with people, outside of the work context and just have normal conversations *IN FRENCH.* I find there’s always a little “trial” period when new people try to figure out if I actually do speak French before they try to speak to me, but at least I got a lot of that out of the way at dinner!

3. I’ve adopted a café

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Dreux doesn’t have a Starbucks. It’s that tiny, but it does have a cute little coffee shop that I’ve been to… 5 out of the 7 days I’ve been here already. The second day I came in they gave me a rewards card… and I’m over halfway already… oops?

The employees all know me… probably as the American, but well that’s fine.  Plus the food/coffee/wifi is great there.

Oh did I mention that I don’t have wifi where I live?

Yeah, they don’t want the students staying up all night on the internet. I’ve got a little bit of data with my international phone plan, but for now if I need to do any heavy internet use I have to come to this café.

Besides internet surfing I have gotten quite a bit of writing done there too!

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How could I not get writing done in a place like this?

 

4. I still haven’t started work yet.

We had our teacher’s meeting in Orléans yesterday, which was really really boring.

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It might have been useful… If I hadn’t already lived in France before, so I felt a little like Hermione. #beentheredonethat

They didn’t give us any new information or give us any instruction on how to work with students. To me it seemed like a meet and greet more than anything, but at least there was free coffee?

But yeah, I’m not sure when I’ll actually go into the classroom for the first time, so we shall see. Tomorrow maybe?

5.  Phone companies suck.

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I’ll just leave that one as is.

Compared to living in Paris I already love this city more. I don’t feel quite so anonymous here & I’ll be able to get to know people better I think because I see the same people every single day–even walking on the street!

There’s so much more that’s happened that just couldn’t fit into one blog post! If you’re interested in keeping up with me this year, click subscribe!

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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.

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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

 

Don’t miss a single blog post of my entire adventure! Please subscribe (click Follow blog via email in the column on the right!) to receive this blog’s updates via email! Also, I love getting feedback so please comment!