mes pensées éparpillées

scattered thoughts from a european adventure

Better late than never?

So long story short, I studied my butt off in January in attempt to do anything but fail my 10 courses. Yes, 10 courses. Then I had a week between my last exam and my departure so I spent as much time with friends as possible.  Then I came back and it would have been too hard to write a final blog post because I was so sad to be back in the US.  Then my computer stopped working (and my car needed repairs but that isn’t relevant to this story).  Now I have a new computer and I’m ready to give you all a summary of my last month in Europe.

At the end of December I went to Cannes.  I did some exploring on my own which included the Christmas market, the old city, the port filled with yachts and taking advantage of the after-Christmas discounts!  Then I met up with my friends Anthony and Sam who grew up in Cannes.  We walked along the Boulevard de la Croisette as well as the most impressive street of stores and shops, Rue d’Antibes.  Also I took pictures on the red carpet, naturally.

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New Years. We went to the highest point in Nice to watch the last sunset of 2013 over the ocean.  At midnight we went to the beach to see the fireworks from Monaco and Cannes. That was pretty fabulous. Then we went to a pub with live music and danced and such!  Here’s me with my friends Silvia, Sonia and Giorgia.

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Then I went back to studying until one of my great high school friends (we were in Paris together) came to visit for the weekend! She is living in Mallorca, Spain and teaching English for the year.  We rode the Ferris wheel, walked on the beach, saw the sights and went to Monaco.

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chateauThen…..you guessed it, I studied some more. My record for how many consecutive hours I was in the library was 9.  Finally, on January 22nd I finished my last exam and the following day I got on a plane to Rome.  I knew some of my friends from Hamline would be there for a January term class but I didn’t anticipate getting to spend a lot of time with them because of the demands of the class.  So without a care in the world I got onto an airplane with my backpacking backpack and a guidebook to Rome without much of a plan.  That was when I seriously realized how far I’d come since arriving in Dublin nearly 5 months earlier.  I realized how independent and self-sufficient I’d become.  It was a really empowering feeling.

I really enjoyed the hostel that I stayed at.  I met some great people and bonded with the French speakers the most.  The first thing I did was get out my map and figure out how to get to the legendary Trevia Fountain.  I succeeded and then proceeded to walk back to the hostel that evening on a different route, where I passed a restaurant/pub with live musicians.  Of course that was enticing to me so I did something that I probably would have never envisioned myself doing: I sat at the bar alone and ordered a beer and chatted with the bartender.  Because it seemed like the perfect thing to do on a rainy evening in Rome.  Also it is one of the better ways to receive compliments like, “You’re too pretty to not have a boyfriend!”  Here’s my best selfie at the Trevia fountain.

TreviaDay 2: I went to the Colosseum with a new acquaintance from the hostel.  It was so majestic! Very incredible.  Then I went off on my own to see the Pantheon, Piazza d’Espagne, and just to wander around.  That’s a great thing about Rome.  It’s much less daunting to wander around Rome than a city like Paris or London, because it’s not as big as those cities.  So the density of cool things to see is higher. I think it’s pretty obvious where I’m at in this photo.

ColosseoDay 3: I went to Vatican City with another new friend from the hostel.  We waited in a super long line to see the San Pietro Basilica; there’s a mediocre picture of me there below that doesn’t do that gorgeous place any justice.  We also went into the Vatican museums but really all I wanted to see was the Sistine Chapel.  The museums were cool but the Sistine Chapel really took my breath away.  We stayed there for like 15 minutes I want to say, just staring.  I didn’t want to leave.  On the way back we walked along the river that goes through and then accidentally found the coolest neighborhood that my Italian friends had told me about, Trastevere.  It had the rustic charm that I had always imagined Rome would have. So basically we walked around until our feet hurt.

san pietroMy last day in Rome was really only a half day, and I got on the bus to go to the airport just as it started to pour. So that was fortunate!  Anyway, my last morning I wanted to go to this huge flea market that I’d read about in my guidebook.  It was definitely an interesting and mildly overwhelming cultural experience!  Getting there was a challenge because it was a bit of a hike from the nearest metro station!  It was a great ending to my weekend in Rome.

The moment I got back to Nice I started rehearsing with my friends who performed with me at my going-away party/concert.  I wanted to make sure I could say goodbye to as many people as I could rather than leaving without a goodbye.  A couple weeks before we auditioned for the manager of a pub in the old town and he said we were good enough to perform!  The night of my concert was definitely one of my top 5 moments of all 5 months I was there.  I invited everyone I was facebook friends with in Nice which totaled about 100 people.  And in the end I think about 70 of them came and brought their friends! To see how many people cared about me enough to come see me sing on a Tuesday night when they had 9am class the next day…that is when I started to realize just how blessed I was with all of these incredible people in my life. My friends in the pictures below are Andrea (from Italy), Vinh (from France) & Piotrek (from Poland), and Guillermo (from Spain).

concert2concert1concert3The next day it rained. It’s like Nice was sad to see me go too.  I spent all day packing and then stayed up all night with friends until I left at 5:30 the next morning for the airport.  After flight delays and missed connection flights, I finally landed in Minneapolis 26 hours later.

Now, I’m going to try to  make some overarching statements about my time abroad.  But really I can’t even put how I grew and what I learned into words.  I became more or less fluent in French.  I learned about a bunch of different cultures from the people I met of different nationalities, and even the French that I met from different regions.  I learned that beer is my favorite alcohol and tequila is my liquor of choice (especially with salt and a slice of lime).  I learned to navigate a bunch of subway systems and confusing streets.  I learned to hold back the tears when faced with a really challenging situation, and just push forward until the problem was solved.  I discovered that after a night out, when the buses have stopped working and no one has a bike, 1 hour is considered walking distance.  I learned how much Italians really do love their pizza and pasta.  Sure I learned some things in school too, but that’s not what I will remember the most.  My “study” abroad enriched my life and helped me see what it’s like to separate myself from the comforts, friends and family of home that I hold dear and take my own risks. My experience was more fabulous than I could have dreamed. Thank you to all who have supported me and encouraged me along the way.

Europe, I’ll be back soon.

Alia in Italia!

Hi family and friends,

Let’s pretend this isn’t my first blog post in 3 weeks. But I honestly have to say that the first half of December was nothing special, I was just finishing up classes and hanging out.  But from December 19-24 I was in Italy and then of course life got more interesting!

And now that I said nothing interesting happened in the first half of December…there were a couple singing gigs. But this is natural because Christmas always means singing for me.  The 13th and 14th of December I participated in Christmas choir concerts with my church in Nice.  We sang 12 traditional Christmas carols and invited people from within the church as well as the community. It was a great time!  Then Sunday the 15th I sang a duet with my friend Jill who is a missionary here in Nice and is a formally trained opera singer! You can see the performance below:

Back to Italy. On the 19th I traveled to Torino by train with 2 of my fellow students who are Italians from Torino.  It took a lot of the burden off of me because I don’t have too much experience with trains, and I don’t speak Italian.  My first day in Torino I ate….pasta.  And pizza.  Pasta for lunch, pizza for dinner. It was fabulous and I also got to see the 3 biggest squares (the Italian word piazza is way better) – Vittorio (the biggest in Europe!), San Carlo and Castello.  It was also raining, which eventually turned into snow! I was very excited to see snow because for me, winter has always meant snow.  Here is a picture with me and my friends Stefano and Paolo in Piazza Vittorio.

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The second day in Torino I did not see snow, but more rain.  I met some friends of my friend Stefano who spoke English pretty well so that was exciting! I also went to the Egyptian museum which is only second largest to the museum in Cairo!  I also experienced an Italian jukebox firsthand! (as pictured below)

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Day 3 I took the train to Milan with my friends Thomas and Clara.  Before I heard my Italian friends here talk about Milan, the name was really just a foreign, mystical name and I no idea what the city was like.  The Duomo (cathedral) is absolutely beautiful, especially the façade on the outside (see below).  There are lots and lots of shops including lots of luxury shops, and of course there was a bunch of people there the weekend before Christmas.  We also saw the Castle Sforzeco…that Victoria Beckham wanted to buy.  We also saw another area of Milan with the Navigli (manmade waterways) which is a picturesque area that I would love to see in the summertime (it was raining when we were in Milan as well).  And naturally over the course of the day we had pizza and authentic Italian coffee.  I ended the day by seeing my friend Andrea perform – he lives just outside of Milan.  He gave a vocal jazz concert that was absolutely incredible.

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Day 4, I returned to Torino to see the Torino Football Club take on Chievo.  I was with my friend Stefano, his friend Stefano, brother Federico and cousin Annalisa in the section of the stadium with the most engaged and excited fans.  All of the cheering worked because Torino won by a little bit of a landslide, 4-1.  That night I saw more of the piazzas of Torino with my friend Thomas; Torino is really beautiful at night!  I also ate delicious gelato.IMG_0899

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Day 5 was my last real day in Torino.  I wandered around the city some more with my friends Fabio, Enrico and Paolo, including going to the Caffè Baratti & Milano which is a fancy fancy café (photographic evidence below).  I also went to the museum of cinema, located inside the city’s most well-known landmark, the Mole Antonelliana.  Then I took the elevator alone to the panoramic view at the top.  I highlight ALONE because there is a superstition that if a student takes the elevator to the top they will never finish their studies, so none of my Italian friends came with.  I, however tested fate, because why not?  That night I met a lot of friends of my friends at a welcome home party for one of their friends who was studying abroad in Maastricht this semester.  It’s always interesting to say to someone at their own party, Hi you don’t know me. And oh, I’m American.  I was switching between English and French a lot that night.

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Day 6, I left my friend Paolo’s house at 8am and did not get back to my dorm room until 2:30pm.  4 trains, a tram and a bus.  And it was raining again.  A few hours later I hopped in my friend Marie’s car to celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with her family just outside of Grasse.  Santa even brought me chocolate! I was so blessed by her family’s hospitality and welcoming me as their own daughter for two nights.  I even sang some Christmas carols for them while playing Marie’s guitar, because again, Christmas for me is always associated with music.  Here is a picture of most of us at Christmas! From left to right: Pierre, me, Marie, Camille (son of sister Sarah who isn’t pictured), Samuel and Pascale.

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Right now I’m studying, memorizing, studying for exams in January. But I will still trying to pack as many fun experiences into January as I can :)

A bientôt,
Alia

Thanksgiving, performing, and lots of sunshine

Hi everyone!

It’s December now…but what’s difficult to comprehend is the fact that I’m listening to Christmas songs saying “the weather outside is frightful” which I’m so used to…when I spent Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on the beach!  I’m enjoying the mild weather and the sunshine while my friends from home post snowy photos on Facebook.

But back to one of my highlights of November: Thanksgiving dinner! I think I ate the most that I’ve ever eaten at Thanksgiving, I was a little overzealous.  The dinner was hosted by two American missionaries from the church I attend. The other nationalities represented that evening were friends from France, Lebanon, Portugal and Columbia! Unfortunately this photo is missing one of the hostesses because she was taking the picture.

IMG_0718Next exciting thing: my dear friend Kyrie from home came from Dublin to visit me for the weekend! I got to be a tourist in Nice all over again, it was fantastic :) Since she doesn’t speak French and I talk with my friends in French 90% of the time, I got to hear their English that I’ve never heard before. It was entertaining :) They were great sports.  We also went to the Marché de Noël (Christmas Market) in Nice which has a Ferris Wheel, ice skating rink, crêpes, mulled wine and lots of lights!  Before she left we spent the 1st of December soaking up the sun on the beach. Incredible!

62351_10202766112098979_1028879572_nIMG_0742857000_574117125994904_1637680258_oThen I went to some classes, wrote some papers, and finally received my food stipend! Getting 1000 euros at one time is very overwhelming. Naturally I treated myself with a trip to H&M.

One of my favorite memories so far was last night, when I got to perform at a concert with some great guys from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Poland and Vietnam.  The capacity that music has to bring people together is absolutely amazing. Unfortunately I didn’t give my camera to anyone to take pictures, but I do have some pictures of us rehearsing and a friend posted a picture from the concert to Facebook already.

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A bientôt,
Alia

Wow my blog is close to 1000 hits!

Hi everyone!
A week ago I returned from a great but chilly weekend in Geneva with some of my American friends :)  Truth be told, there is a lot to see in Geneva but finding those places is the tricky part.  Everything is quite spread out, compared to Nice where most of the touristy activities are near each other.  The first day Kyrie and I explored and mastered the public transportation system.  That night we went to this cool area of town called Carouge and saw a concert with some incredible Quebecois musicians.  The picture below is one of the bands that performed.  The woman was singing (Jorane, by name) and playing cello at the same time. It was incredible!

ImageSaturday morning we saw some markets and meandered along the Lake, which is a beautiful color of aqua blue.  We went to the Cathedrale de Saint-Pierre which holds a lot of history of the Protestant Reformation and John Calvin in Geneva.  Also, its tower is the highest point in the city, so we paid 5 francs to climb a mountain of stairs and get a beautiful view of the city. Unfortunately Saturday and Sunday were very cloudy so we could barely see the Alps. Next we went to Maison Tavel, the oldest house in Geneva which has been converted into a free museum.  We also saw the longest bench in the world and took a detour to the park.  Later that evening we cooked some pasta in the microwave of our hostel (there was no stove or oven!) to curb our hunger because eating in Geneva is super expensive! (Thank you Kyrie for bringing the pasta! I did my part by bringing the chocolate.)  Then we went to this restaurant out on a pier on the lake and ate some very tasty cheese fondue.  Then we checked out a few pubs in the Old Town as well as this British pub near our hostel which had a live band playing oldies music. Kristina and I were entertained…Kyrie not so much.

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Sunday, I finally got to see the Jet d’Eau on the lake so that was fantastic! Then Kyrie and I made the rounds to see the United Nations building as well as a human rights museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.  Then we explored the Botanical Garden which was incredible! We saw a lot of exotic animals, plants and…rocks. That was one of my favorite parts of Geneva.  One other cool part about Geneva is that there are small boats that cross the lake as part of the city’s public transport system so that was great! Almost like being back home in Minnesota.

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Since Geneva I have continued to have a grand time in Nice. Contrary to what I thought, brisk autumn weather does exist here, and at night the temperature is usually in the low 40s.  But that’s nothing compared to the freezing temperatures I see in the Minnesota forecasts! That’s all for now.

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A bientôt,
Alia

Alia is in another airport…

Hey everyone!
Sorry there won’t be any photos because I’m quickly blogging while waiting to board my flight to Geneva for the weekend!
But first, last weekend. Last weekend I was in Aix en Provence for a retreat with other university students from the region. It was a wonderful time, and definitely demanded more brainpower than a normal weekend because I was constantly surrounded by french and speaking french all day. I made a number of new friends as well and by the end of the weekend I was regarded as the singing American girl. Which is accurate! Aix is a charming city with lots and lots of luxury shops and fountains. I enjoyed the pedestrian streets and the mild weather :) November in the south of France is like heaven compared to Minnesota!
Another thing to note: this week I ate American fast food for the first time since coming to Europe. I ate KFC with my French friends; I ate a “spicy” chicken sandwich that wasn’t spicy at all!
Well the plane will begin boarding in approximately 4 minutes so that’s all for now. I promise there will be pictures next time! Most people are probably friends with me on facebook, and there are 300some pictures so far on there. Wish me luck as I try to not go broke in Switzerland :)
A bientôt,
Alia

“Paris is always a good idea.” Audrey Hepburn

Hey everyone!
I recently returned from a whole week in Paris, a city that really is as magical as I always imagined. Here is the abridged play-by-play with a photo for each day :)

Day 1 (Samedi):
I took a bus to Aix-en-Provence in order to join my friend Nicole on the TGV train to Paris. Upon arriving the first thing we saw was Disneyland Paris. Honestly I still don’t know what to think of Disneyland Paris. Then we waited in a line for an hour to buy a ticket to get out of Zone 5 and into Zone 1 of Paris where our hostel was. We finally made it to the hostel around 7pm and found my friend Patty fast asleep in our room in the hostel (to be fair, she had been exploring since 8am that morning). We then successfully found dinner for under 10 euros and proceeded to the Eiffel Tower (and met my friend Jesse there) after studying the metro map for a while. Apparently this is the only picture I got with the Eiffel Tower:

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Day 2 (Dimanche):
So Sunday was Daylight Savings but all of us (us = Patty, Nicole & I) completely forgot and my very cheap phone didn’t set itself back on its own. So we all got an extra hour in Paris! But the metro line we were planning to take wasn’t open yet so we had to take a detour to the next convenient metro stop.  We did some wandering along the Seine that day where there is always junk to purchase along with more enticing things like antique novels and affordable artwork.  We made it to Notre Dame, the main bridge covered in love locks and the Moulin Rouge before returning to the Eiffel Tower to climb 600 steps (it costs 3.50 euros).  This only gets you about halfway to the top, when you must pay 6 more euros to take a lift to the very top if you desire. We didn’t end up doing that and honestly I am not that dazzled by the Parisian skyline without the Eiffel Tower in it.  After our descent, we walked in the rain on the Champs-Élysées and saw the Arc de Triomph.  We bought cheap but delicious falafel sandwiches and delicious macaroons.  Then, since it was Patty’s last night in Paris we figured we had to have a glass of wine.  We found a charming area in the 6th arrondissement near Notre Dame. Here’s me and Patty en route to the 2nd level of the Eiffel Tower:

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Day 3 (Lundi):
This was Louvre day. Because honestly getting to the Louvre, waiting in line, realizing you better eat because you have no idea how long you will stay, and then marveling at all the artwork definitely takes the better part of a day.  Nicole and I split up at the Louvre in order to see what we wanted on our own time.  We were both there for about 6 hours!  After that I met up with my friend of 10+ years, Kaitlyn who is studying in Paris this semester. She ate dinner and I ate crème brûlée in the Bastille area.  I fully intended to take advantage of that evening to explore Paris but I returned to the hostel at about 9:30pm and didn’t leave until the morning.

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Day 4 (Mardi):
Well Tuesday morning could have been considered a waste of time but I got over it. I wanted to go to the Centre Pompidou (I did a research project on it for 7th grade French class) but first I was looking for it in the wrong place.  Then I called Nicole to help me find the real place because I didn’t have a great map. Then I took the metro to the Pompidou only to find that it is closed on Tuesdays. Meanwhile Nicole was in the Jardin de Tulleries having a grand time.  By the time we met up again it was lunchtime so we again found lunch for under 10 euros and free WiFi! (Our first hostel didn’t have WiFi.)  We enjoyed a relaxed lunch and then went to the Musée D’Orsay which was definitely worth the trip.  (Also I forgot to mention before that with our student visas we got to enter all of the museums for free! Holla! It’s nice when things can begin to pay for themselves.)  Also we discovered that there is a great view of Paris from the top of the D’Orsay. The museum itself has really cool architecture because it was converted from a train station that was almost demolished in 1970.  That evening Nicole and I went out with Kaitlyn to one of the areas of the city that is popular for students.  We found a piano bar with a very animated singer who loved interacting with the audience.  Then Kaitlyn had to go home so naturally Nicole and I decided to buy some more macaroons before returning to the hostel.

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Day 5 (Mercredi):
We were only allowed to stay a maximum of 4 nights in our first hostel in an ideal location, so Wednesday morning we packed up our things and moved on after a sad breakfast of mediocre coffee and pain au chocolat from a vending machine. (I’m not kidding. I should have taken a picture.)  Wednesday morning I finally made it to the Pompidou so that was great :) It’s a museum of contemporary art separated inside the museum into 3 sections within the 20th century.  It is interesting to see the progression of art becoming more abstract with each decade.  I even found a Lebanese artist whose last name is Abboud! Here is one of my favorites from the Pompidou – an Andy Warhol piece (the face is Elizabeth Taylor)

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Nicole and I met up after that to check into our new hostel.  The two hostels were honestly like night and day.  Our second one was furnished a lot better but it was also like stepping into Australia/American because it was full of Anglo-Saxons. It was a much more social atmosphere and it was in a quaint location on the Canal Saint-Martin in the 19th arrondissement.  After checking in and meeting our Australian roommates Nicole and I went to the infamous Marché aux Puces (flea market).  Unfortunately after 5pm it is more of a ghost town than a flea market but I still bought some boots for 15 euros! We spent the rest of the evening at the hostel relaxing and getting to know new people, which included being coerced into a pub quiz.  But our team won so it was ok. Also my American friend Derek who I’m studying with in Nice arrived on this day but he was exploring all day and didn’t get to the hostel until later.

Penultimate Day 6 (Jeudi):
The new us (Nicole, Derek and I) explored the Parc de Vilette on Thursday while looking for the Cité de la musique (a museum).  Unfortunately the museum didn’t open until noon but it was worth the wait! There were instruments exhibited from the baroque period all the way to the 20th century and there was so much to learn about.  After that Nicole and I wanted to see the catacombs, since it was Halloween and everything (even though I don’t like Halloween) but the line was so long when we got there that we were told we wouldn’t make it to the last entrance at 4 pm.  My question was why was the last entrance so early? Nicole was heartbroken but I was ready for some coffee so we found a café where the espresso wasn’t too overpriced.  Then we met up with Derek at the Luxembourg Garden which was fabulous (see picture below)! But chilly…Paris was chilly.  That evening the 3 of us went to the Sacre-Coeur Basilica on the hill of Montmartre which was definitely one of my top 3 moments in Paris.  The view is beautiful and the Basilica is picturesque.  Although a man tried to sell me a Heineken on the steps of the Basilica and I was not having any of it.  We then wandered some more and ended up chatting with an owner of one of those souvenir shops who heard me speaking too loudly in French with an American accent.  Then that night we experienced the Pitchfork festival! Good times.

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Day 7 (Vendredi):
Well nothing much happened on this day because I left on a train at 10:45am.  I remember it was raining, because it’s Paris.  I had an umbrella, though. Unfortunately instead of arriving back in Nice in under 6 hours it was an 8 hour trip so that was a bummer. The only compromise was that there was an adorable French toddler and his dad in the seats in front of me.

So yeah that’s the summary of my week in Paris! I’m not even going to reread it to catch my spelling/grammar mistakes so I’m honored if you read it all.

A bientôt,
Alia

Desolée for being an absent blogger

Sorry everyone, last week my homework caught up with me and I didn’t get the chance to write about my trip to Marseille. In short, I had a great time with my friends enjoying the balmy weather but I wish we could have explored the city more. For lunch some of my Italian friends ate bagels for the first time!
Now, I’m in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Paris! So far I have climbed the Eiffel tower, gone to Notre Dame, walked on the Champs-Elysées and under the Arc de Triomph, drank wine in a café on the Left Bank, wandered the Louvre and nearly mastered the metro. I am loving the city more each day :) Since I’m blogging from my smartphone I can’t include many pictures, but here is one with my high school friend Patty who was here with me for a couple days.
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A bientôt,
Alia

Each day I fall more in love with this city, except on the bad days…

Hi Everyone!

Every day here is truly an adventure.  I had a fairly exhausting week because I got sick at the end of last weekend and I’m not recovering as quickly as I expected.  I experienced a little homesickness this week but I am really trying to value each precious day I have here.

Being a student here takes a lot of stamina. In a normal week I have approximately 30 hours of class, compared to the 20 hours a week I am used to at Hamline.  Sitting in 3 hour classes in French is becoming more natural and there is always a vending machine nearby where I can buy an espresso for 35 cents.  I’m becoming more confident in my French and I don’t have the same fear of talking with my French peers.  However, if a French person kindly says to me, “you can talk in English,” I’m very grateful.

This past weekend my friend Nicole who is studying nearby in Aix-en-Provence came to Nice for a weekend trip so we got to eat lunch and share our “Americans immersed in the south of France” stories. I went to the old Chateau on a hill which has the most beautiful view of the city and the sea. I’ve included some pictures below.

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In this country it is extremely easy to make baguettes, nutella and apples the staples of one’s diet.  Therefore, one of my biggest accomplishments of the week was truly cooking a meal for myself…twice! Here is the photographic evidence of my the first meal I cooked:

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The next big thing: I’m going on a daytrip this Saturday with other international students to Marseille, France’s second largest city!  I’m excited to explore a new place and spend time with some great people. Please continue to send good thoughts and prayers my way! 

À bientôt,
Alia

 

I’m not dreaming in French yet…

ImageWell honestly, I never know how much in depth to go into with these blog posts. I haven’t blogged for over a week (sorry about that) but I hope you assumed it’s because I’m having a good time!  It turns out that I am enrolled in a combination of first year, second year and Master’s level classes.  Context: in France there is only three years at the university.  Every two credits here counts for only one credit at home, therefore I am enrolled in 10 courses (6 in French and 4 in English) and it’s kind of insane.  I go to each class once a week.  The first year courses are in a big lecture hall with approximately 500 seats, though they’re not all full.  Part of the teaching style in these courses is the professor dictating sentence after sentence for the students to write down.  There are some important things on the PowerPoint but I guess this is part of the way to motivate students to go to class?! I don’t really know. There’s a lot that I still don’t know.

But fear not, folks, one thing I do know is that I’m making friends.  I have met some great people in my dorm as well as in my classes.  I’m still far more timid than my normal self because my French is quite sub-par but I can also sense my improvement.  I also have a few different friends whose English is better or equal to their French so from time to time we speak in English.  I have only met one other American besides the three Americans who are studying here through the same exchange program.  I don’t mind that at all because at least I have a few people to relate with on that level but I’m still getting to know French people and other international students. On a similar note, it shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise that I’ve met a bazillion and one Italians here.  Nice is very close to the border of Italy and I guess this is a popular place for them to come study!

Since arriving I have been looked after by some wonderful Americans, Ann and Al.  I met them because Ann has endowed a scholarship in honor of her parents (Hamline alumni) for Hamline business students studying abroad.  They are vacationing in Nice for 5 weeks, and this is the 7th year in a row that they have spent an extended vacation here. The list of what they have done for me goes on and on and on, including: washing and ironing my laundry, lending me money when my ATM card wouldn’t work, taking me out to eat, showing me the best stores and introducing me to their friends. I’ve included pictures below with both of them.  I also included a picture of my 20€ sandals that I’m am extremely proud of.Image

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À bientôt,
Alia

 

It has already been a week in my new home!

Hi friends,

I’m not going to lie, my first week in Nice was a roller coaster.  It has been very frustrating and ironic that Wells Fargo suspended my account this week and thought that my ATM transactions were fraud, yet previously they did not notify me of a $915 suspicious purchase, which has been a thorn in my flesh for 3 weeks now without being resolved.  So money problems have caused most of my anxieties.  Otherwise, Nice is paradise. This is the view out my dorm window:

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One thing I have experienced since arriving in France is administrative organization that is polar opposite to what I’m used to.  Here I have been expected to figure out a lot on my own, like where and when my classes take place and where to find things when there is no Target in sight.  I know that it’s good for me; sometimes I just have to eat some chocolate and say, “I’m in France now” and take it one day at a time.

Thank God in heaven that I haven’t been alone in this process.  There are 3 other Americans who are doing what I’m doing and the Université de Nice is 20% international students.  I have been meeting people every day, and it’s always nice to meet friends who want to speak English, HOWEVER I have gotten to practice French every day too.  It’s also my excuse to listen to people’s conversations on the bus, because I’m just working on my French vocabulary and sentence structure!  That’s another thing, I figured out how to navigate this town within the first few days so that was encouraging and a pleasant surprise.  I walk a lot more here than I’m used to at Hamline, walking 5 minutes to class.  Since I am taking a few classes at the “Faculté de Lettres” (School for Humanities) and most of my classes at the “Institut d’Administration des Entreprises” (Business Management school) 45 minutes away via public transportation, I will be getting used to taking everything at a little slower pace, which is really a blessing.

This weekend my friend Kaitlyn of many many years (we went to elementary-high school together) who is studying in Paris came to visit me in Nice.  We went to the beach, shopped on the “main street” of Nice, Jean Medicin, explored the Vielle Ville “old town” Nice, went to the Marc Chagall museum and went to the 2nd game in the brand new Nice football (soccer) stadium!  They even pulled off a win. It was a great time.

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This week I actually start classes…which is really a bummer because I’ve just been having so much fun!

À bientôt,
Alia

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