09 September 2010
08 September 2010
As most of you know, I have successfully made it to the States, something that has been both exciting and difficult for me this past week. I'm still in the process of setting myself up here in Michigan, but I am eager to begin blogging again once things become a bit less hectic! Don't lose faith, I still have plenty of things to say, haha.
30 August 2010
19 August 2010
This week has presented me with a strange combination of laziness and stress. Did you see that damn ticker on the left of this page? TWELVE DAYS left in Paris. That's it! I figured with two weeks to go I should probably start packing my stuff. I wanted to make sure that everything that I have accumulated in the past year (which is an astonishing amout of affairs) would fit into my four suitcases. Moving is always an unpleasent experience, made twenty times more so when constrained to Air France baggage restrictions. When I checked the Air France website I learned to my dismay that I am only allowed to check two suitcases, which means that my lovely backpack will be hanging out in Paris until I come back to get it.
I read an article in the New York Times today which discussed the newly accepted life stage of "emerging adult", a stage that one goes through during their twenties. Apparently us new millenium twenty somethings like to put of adulthood as long as possible in the self indulgent hope of "finding ourselves"-- or at least that's how someone put it. We don't want to get jobs, spouses, have children, or buy houses. Apparently we just want to move to Europe and have a glorious, soul-searching helluva time. Given my current lifestyle, I had to laugh while reading the article.
Though I can't lie, sometimes I wish I had less choices as far as careers and graduate school programs are concerned because the world of endless possibilites is extremely exhausting, and it's hard to deal with all of these choices from across the Atlantic. Sometimes I think it would be easier to live the traditional way and spend no time figuring out who you are... but then I remember how much I have profited from this year abroad, how much it has changed me, and how boring life would be without more similar experiences.
03 August 2010
I'll update about vacation more when I'm, well, not on vacation. I feel far too lazy right now!
23 July 2010
02 July 2010
The heat. The heat in Paris is an unbearable 90 degrees. If it weren't for the four showers that I take every day I'd probably have already died of heat stroke on the metro. Speaking of which, I feel like I'm descending into the depths of Hell every time I enter the Metro's mysterious underground tunnels. I spend a couple of hours a day trapped inside of the barely ventelated train cars drowning in a pool of my own sweat and smelling the pools of sweat and overpriced perfume coming from other passangers. Welcome to the city of love.
Any freetime I've had I have spent trying to make the most of these past two months and taking naps to catch up on sleep (oh, and avoiding the metro). A couple of nights ago, us Paris leftovers went to a bar on a boat in the river to celebrate our friend Marni's last week in Paris and to say goodbye.
I plan on spending this fourth of July weekend recuperating from a long couple of weeks, watching football, and celebrating the birthdays of two of my close friends, Kelsy and Jen!
Here are a couple of pictures from when I took the girls who I nanny to a park in Boulogne (just outside of Paris) on a beautiful day!
24 June 2010
20 June 2010
I will have a break from the city during the first week of August, when I will go to Britany with one of the mom's I work for and her son (the one who understands English but only speaks French and looks like Dennis the Menace). They are taking me to their country home on the beach for the week. I get to see a part of France that I have never seen all the while being paid to do it. Fabulous!
So I'm happy that I could take a break from my new obsession, World Cup Football, to update my blog. The French team is a complete mess, and the U.S. got robbed by a horrid referee, but I'm having a blast watching!
11 June 2010
But ladies and gentlemen, I have officially taken the plunge. Last weekend I acquired my plane ticket back to the one and only Detroit, Michigan for September 1st (my little brother's 19th birthday). Despite the two-and-a-half months that I have left with this incredibly dynamic adventure, I must say that I'm not entirely sure that it will give me enough time to mentally prepare myself for repatriation. I will, however, have no trouble with seeing those smiling American faces that I miss so dearly! I plan to immediately dive face-first into a plate of greasy Mexican food. I had a dream about nachos and soft tacos a couple of nights ago that still has my mouth watering.
Today, though, marks the beginning of a very special European experience: the opening day of the World Cup. With a new appreciation for "foot" I hope to actually follow the tournament, not because I wish to become a die-hard football fan, but because I fear for my life if I don't know how "Les Bleus" are doing... though no one seems to have much faith in them this year. I'm also afraid I won't be able to carry on a conversation if I have nothing South African-oriented to say.
But I can begin working towards that goal another time, because as girls we are, tonight Jen and I are ignoring the football match and sharing some wine on the river bank. Maybe it will be less crowded? Or is that wishful thinking...
No matter... the weather is beautiful and life is good!
04 June 2010
On the other hand, I also love watching people miss the subway completely. In that case, the victory is all mine!!!
31 May 2010
I wrote this blog entry by hand while babysitting. Don’t worry, the baby was asleep and it was 11:00 at night:
Since Lawrence went to sleep I have been spending my time reading one of the thousands of old books sitting in perfectly messy piles around this very chic Parisian flat on boulevard St. Germain. The family who lives here treats me very well. The dad is a Midwestern American just like me, the mom is French. Lawrence, while he understands everything I say to him in English, only responds to me in French. Sandra, the mom, is very laid back and sweet and asked me to come with her and Lawrence to their house in Normandy for a week in August. Nothing is for sure yet, but I hope it all works out!
Apart from my sporadic babysitting gigs, the atmosphere is slowly changing in Paris. The streets are significantly more packed with tourists—none of which seem to know how to use sunscreen, which is evident from their farmer’s tans. Most importantly, the people who have become some of my closest friends over the past eight months have begun their slow repatriation to the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Me, I think I’ve adequately stated that I’m not ready to deal with that yet. Actually, I’m in some serious denial that this whirlwind of a year will ever end, mostly because I haven’t even taken the massive step of buying a plane ticket home. From watching my friends wrapping up their Parisian adventure, I have learned that I must accept the fact that there are things in this city that I won’t be able to do before I leave, but that’s okay because I’ve got three months left and I’m sure I’ll be back someday soon!
The beginning of summer weather and the toll of eight months in a foreign country has also shown me the things that I miss about home (besides family and friends which I hope is obvious). I miss being able to print unlimited amounts of personal documents at GVSU computer labs, having all of my own belongings (which are currently boxed up in my mom’s basement), private transportation (only because of the recent accumulation of unpleasant stenches on hot days in the métro and a lack of ventilation), being around people who know how to play euchre, being able to see stars at night (or any non man-made form of nature for that matter. Sorry Paris, but square-shaped trees and imported farm crops on the Champs Elysées is not going to cut it), and barbeques.
17 May 2010
30 April 2010
22 April 2010
Prepare yourselves for a really stupid metaphor (or simile I suppose):
This week I feel like a hot air balloon whose ropes have been snipped and is merely floating around in the sky without an anchor or a purpose. I'm going where the wind takes me, baby!
I warned you it was bad, but it’s the only way I can find right now to accurately describe my sentiments.
I also find myself using weird terms like “sentiments”. Normally I would refrain from the word sentiment to avoid sounding like I used the “find synonym” button on the word processor, but it’s not my fault! The French language has set-up camp in my brain and has taken my English hostage. AIDEZ-MOI!
So finally, after seven plus months of living in this city, I became self-motivated enough to visit a couple of museums this week. On Sunday, I spent the afternoon writing in a bustling and sunny park at Chatêlet (not a museum, I understand, but definitely some world-class people watching).
On Monday, I took advantage of my age and country of residency (national museums are free for European residents under 26 years-old) and visited Monsieur Napoléon Bonaparte at les Invalides. I learned quite a bit about French military history (by my own choosing, might I add).
On Tuesday, after my first spring trip to the open-air market by my apartment, I went to the musée Carnavalet (also free entry), which stuffed me full of nonsense about the French revolution.
Yestearday, after babysitting two non-English-speaking kids who live in spitting distance from la tour Eiffel, I wandered to the NYU in Paris “campus” because I am interested in applying to their “Teaching French as a Second Language” program. The campus consisted of a townhouse hidden in a garden behind a building and is ridiculously adorable.
On my way to the campus, an 80 year-old Parisian man stopped me on the street, told me I had a nice smile, and then asked me to sit and have a coffee with him. He seemed pretty harmless and so I said “oui, pourquoi pas?” During the next twenty or so minutes I endured his stories about old Paris and about how he used to own a famous café called “L’Ombibus” in Montmartre (the neighborhood where one finds the Moulin Rouge, Sacre Coeur, and all that jazz). He was difficult to understand, but I enjoyed his stories nonetheless.
On today’s menu: article writing and apartment cleaning. Nothing worth talking about, but the weather is beautiful, I’m in a Bobo café, and the overall mood in Paris is good. I couldn’t ask for more.
16 April 2010
12 April 2010
04 April 2010
01 April 2010
- Excitement that warmer weather is hopefully around the corner. (But seriously, Michigan, what's with the 80 degree weather this week? Is this some cruel "haha you thought you were getting away from the cold by moving to Paris" joke that the Universe is playing on me or what? FYI: It's freakin' cold here!)
- Aggravation that I had to pay a whopping 109 euros for my monthly public transportation card this morning. Bye bye newly deposited paycheck...
- Fear from the sudden realization that I only have two weeks of work left and that I take the GRE in less than two weeks!
30 March 2010
24 March 2010
21 March 2010
17 March 2010
Visiting Munich this past weekend makes more than 12 cities, 5 countries, and 2 continents visited in the past three weeks and I must say that I am fatiguée and very glad to be back in Paris where it is sunny and beautiful (no, I’m not joking). It’s actually warmer here than on the Côte d’Azure. Weird.
I went to Munich for a few days to visit my childhood best friend (and twin), Sarah, who lives there and works as an Au Pair for two little kids. We had fun hanging out, catching up, soaking up the culture, and engaging in both profound and superficial conversations. She’s going to come to Paris at the end of April to visit so that I can share this city with her as she shared Munich with me.
On Sunday we visited Dachau, the first concentration camp in Germany and a model for all other camps during the Thrid Riech. Ever since taking a class entitled “The Holocaust” during my Freshman year at GVSU I have wanted to visit a concentration camp (a weird desire, I know), because I feel that it is a place that everyone should see before they die. While there, it’s difficult to wrap your mind around the significance of the events that transpired only sixty years ago, and it’s amazing how close the camp is to the center of the town of Dachau.
All that remains of the barracks are their foundations. While we walked through the camp I was constantly stunned by how systematic the whole thing appeared to be, from the changing rooms to the gas chambers labeled as “Showers” to the fact that the Nazis had all prisoners write postcards to their family members telling them that all rumors of their disappearance were false and that they were doing “just fine”. To say the least, a place like that really makes one think about the future of the human race, and the uneasy energy in the air doesn’t exactly encourage positive thoughts…
But I’m back in Paris now and ready to finish up my last five weeks as an English Teaching Assistant. This week especially I have taken note of just how much my French has improved since I arrived here in September, and I must say that I am quite proud of myself. I will continue to work hard on that vocabulary, though! I have to profit as much as possible from being here as I can.
Today I trekked to the Musée d’Orsay (for free !) and spent some time walking down the Seine taking in the (somewhat) fresh air and absorbing the sunshine. Spring has finally arrived… I think.
09 March 2010
27 February 2010
- Montresor (a small medieval town with an amazing Chateau and a beautiful view)
- Saint-Emillion (wine making region of Bordeaux for a wine tasting tour and a tour of a 8th century underground church!)
- Biarritz (surfing capitol of Europe)
- San Sebastian, Spain (adorable Spanish city on the Atlantic)
- Toulouse (lively city in the south of France)
- A small town north of Toulouse with prehistoric cave paintings!
19 February 2010
15 February 2010
13 February 2010
I live in what I believe to be one of the most incredible cities in the world. I have an excellent web of friends who I have come to consider my family here. The weather, while it seems cold and miserable, is ten times better than that of Michigan. (I think I’ve just accustomed myself to the winter here and now I don’t know how I’ll ever manage in Michigan again. Hopefully I won’t have to.) Also, I see incredible things on a daily basis. But quite frankly, I am feeling very homesick right now! I have got to cut myself some slack, because five months in a foreign country is quite a remarkable feat, and definitely the longest I have ever gone without seeing my mommy, my doggie, or my house. It’s hard to tell if it’s just the winter blues or something more, but though just last week I was having nightmares about leaving this country, right now I need nothing more than to get out of it. This city is driving me coo coo crazy and I cannot wait for vacation. Everyone seems to be at each other’s throats and the novelty of being in France has definitely worn off. Ugh, I feel like I’m constantly complaining! One day at a time.
Needing some love from home to keep me going...
08 February 2010
The Super Bowl. The first things that come to mind when I think of this cultural phenomenon are greasy food, beer, commercials, lots of yelling, and above all, a great game of football. While I wouldn’t even begin to describe myself as a fan of professional football (I tend to prefer college football, but even then I wouldn’t consider myself a connoisseur), as an American I have been raised to appreciate the importance of Super Bowl Sunday.
So, it was quite interesting to experience (or not experience) Super Bowl Sunday from inside my Parisian apartment. Honestly, I hadn’t really realized it was Super Bowl Sunday until about 11pm when I checked my Facebook before going to bed and saw a flood of status updates about the game. “Oh yeah!” I wandered to my living room at midnight when the game started here and saw my roommates, J-C and François, attempting to sing along to the National Anthem. (Let’s just put it this way, they begin the song by singing “How far can you see?”).
François was wearing his Reggie Bush jersey (I hope it’s obvious why all French people watching the bowl rooted for the Saints) with his trendy pajama pants. When the game started he started eating his Super Bowl snack: Toast pieces with Nutella. The cultural warp caught me so off guard that I had to take a picture.
06 February 2010
30 January 2010
25 January 2010
16 January 2010
09 January 2010
For quite some time I haven’t felt like “myself”. Okay, so I’ve been through a TON of life changes in the past year or so. I don’t know, maybe graduating from college and moving to a foreign country can perturb one’s fundamental life balance? But regardless, I’ve put on my detective hat in an attempt to discover why I feel so different.
The Courtney I’ve always known has felt anxious for something to happen. I always felt uneasy if I had nothing to do, and I always had eighty-seven things planned a year in advance. I used to worry constantly about the future, trying to picture myself in some clear cut lifestyle.
Then… something happened. Perhaps it was one of those shocking life changes or maybe the French have infiltrated my brain with their “everything in life is for pleasure” attitude, but when I first sat down with my 2010 planner to mark down all of the exciting/mundane things I’d have to do this year (as an organizational freak it is one of my favorite things to do), I realized as I was flipping through the pages that I have not a damn thing planned.
And it’s not that I have nothing planned for 9 months in the future that’s strange, it’s that I don’t even have any plans for February, March, April, May, June, July, or August. Nothing. People ask me when I’m coming back to the U.S. I can’t even tell you a month let alone a day. I mean it people, I HAVE NO PLANS FOR MY FUTURE.
So I tried to sit down and make a list of "life goals". I couldn't even do that. I don't really want anything right now. Miss never satisfied doesn't want anything? Blasphemy!
But… here’s the really scary thing: I don’t care! I'm 22 and I have all doors open for me. Not a bad situation to be in.
After a few weeks with this inexplicable feeling, I found a word to describe my situation. It’s called complacency.
Herein lies the problem. I feel completely A-O-K with the fact that I have no future plans. But then I worry that I should be worrying more about my future. I’m worried that I’m not worried? Are you serious? Will the worrying ever cease? Don’t people search a lifetime for complacency? Or is that different from happiness? I worry that my complacency indicates a lack of inspiration and motivation. Of course I would be the one to move all the way to France to become uninspired and complacent.
So my question to you:
Is complacency a good or bad thing?
01 January 2010
Last night's reveillant (awakening of the new year) followed a rough day. Wasn't feeling so hot at all yesterday, but I managed to sleep it off before the celebrations...
The greatest part of NYE was finding that there was a THIRD layer of chocolates in my fancy box of French chocolates. I thought they were gone and I was going to throw them away until I picked up the box and realized it was unusually heavy. It can't possibly be true, can it? And indeed it was! God bless the French and their sneaky 3rd layer of chocolate!
We ended up celebrating the first moments of 2010 in a stairwell in a line. Can't say I've ever done that before! But I had a great time celebrating the new year with Julie, Alexis, and Emily. We danced to a lot of 80's music and then ate Pizza at 5am in a little pizza shack where we encountered a lot of hungry drunk Frenchies who were overly delighted to practice their English with us. Perhaps a New Year's resolution of theirs? If so, they're off to a great start!
Tonight Mel and I are going to see the Mozart Opéra Rock! Great way to kick off the year, no?
Meilleurs voeux for 2010!