30 March 2010

Corsica: the short version

Back from a sunny and extremely lazy weekend in Corsica! We didn't have much time there to enjoy the landscape, but here is what we did see in Ajaccio:

A cathedral facing the Mediterranean. I might actually go to church if I could walk out and see such a fantastic view.

The birth home of Napoleon Bonaparte. One of the coolest places I have ever visited. The house is beautiful and I learned more about the Bonaparte family than I ever intended on knowing.

Some chick enjoying the sunshine. Unfortunately she is still too pale to allow this picture to be shown in it's color version.

Other important parts of our trip included eating scrumptious pizza, drinking wine from Ajaccio, and learning how eggs are created inside of a chicken. I'm pretty sure I won't be eating any for a while!

24 March 2010

Parisians in the Sun... and the Kitchen

The weather in Paris (and from what I've heard, in the rest of the world, too) has been absolutely stellar. I have spent so much time outside-- even if it means leaning out of my bedroom window (remember, no screens)-- because I want to soak it all up. The Parisians really come out of the woodwork when the sun starts to shine. They are no longer stuck in their ridiculously small apartments. The cafe terraces are all bustling with chain-smoking, coffee-drinking Frenchies. Everyone seems to be in much better spirits... ENFIN!

Today I attended a cooking class with a few friends. I really want to learn how to cook (as of right now my cooking skills are limited to adding fresh vegetables to a frozen dish), and taking a cooking class in Paris was one thing I have had on my to-do list for quite some time. We spent a half-an-hour cooking the meal, and then spent about an hour eating our creation with the two other ladies in our class. It was SO much fun and I learned several useful cooking tricks from the chef.

This weekend: La Corse! Julie, Alexis, and I will be leaving for Corsica on Saturday morning and are returning on Monday evening. I look forward to sharing the experience with you all..

21 March 2010

I'm not using facebook for the time being so please contact me through my blog (by leaving comments) or by sending me an email at johnstco@gmail.com if you would like to get in touch. I would love to hear from you!

Munich, March 2010

17 March 2010

Munich and back to Paris

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

Bienvenue en France take two

All I have to say is that I couldn't be happier to be back in Paris after two weeks of traveling all over the world (4 countries on 2 continents). I was skipping with joy when I got off of the plane at "Chuckie-D".

Vive la France!!!!! I never want to leave.


There's just something about life here that makes me feel more... alive. Super corny, I know. But what can I say? My life has been super corny lately. I'm an American girl living Paris for crying out loud.

Visiting home was, uh, *thinking of an appropriate adjective*...I don't know. I definitely had fun, but everything there just felt so dreadfully normal. Sometimes I feel that I could spend all day doing absolutely nothing in Paris and still feel a sense of accomplishment, though this feeling had started to dissipate towards the end of February. I mustn't forget the bad moments that I have experienced here. There have been some really bad moments, moments in which I haven't even been able to recognize myself. It's been a painfully wonderful experience, though, and I wouldn't change any of it. Not one bit. And if anything, my trip home gave me a renewed passion for my life in France. It all feels fresh and novel like it did back in September.

It's so easy to fall back into old habits when at home for one week even after six months of living abroad. I hate that. I've spent a lot of time changing myself and I don't want to be dragged back into life before France. I'm never so proud to be American as when I'm not actually in America. Weird, isn't it? Thinking about living in the United States after this program ends scares me to death, but living in Paris forever is about as possible as socialized healthcare in the United States (sorry for the political comment but it seemed outrageously appropriate).

But I think it's important to take notice of the moments when you feel really, REALLY happy, and to try to figure out why those moments made you feel that ecstatic. And let me just say that I felt really, really, REALLY happy when I stepped off of that airplane at Charles DeGaulle and said "Merci, bonne journee!" to the flight crew. I nearly cried with joy. This inefficient, judgmental, bureaucratic nightmare of a country makes me so, so happy, and I am more than ready to take on my last three months here. So I'm sorry, France, for hating on you so much a few weeks ago. I suppose I just needed a break from you. Everything in moderation, right?

Stay tuned...