Soul Sacrifice

Well, somebody’s gotta do it, and it might as well be me.

I’m making a huge sacrifice this weekend and taking a trip to Bordeaux. I’ve heard there’s some terrible wine there, and I don’t want anyone else to be subjected to having to drink it. I’m such a good person, really.

Pictures and stories to come when I return on Sunday!


A Blessing And A Curse

A college student’s diet often consists of less-than-healthy packaged meals eaten on the run from one class to another, but an abroad student leads a different sort of life. My diet in France largely consists of pastries, cheese, and bread eaten on the run from one class to another.

First, you wake up and have a larger piece of baguette than usual because dinner was pretty early last night (only about 8:30 PM), and by now you’re really hungry. Pile on that homemade jelly and enjoy your hot tea.
You munch on an apple while running from one school building to another, and chug down a bottle of pepillant (sparkling) water when your stomach starts to growl during the three hour lecture.
You have a little extra time between your second and third classes of the day, so you decide to finally try out the bagel place you’ve been wanting to go to, but you’re still hungry after a cheese and pepper bagel with smoked salmon and spinach, so a caramel gelato cone tops off your lunch.
Your host brother comes home with fresh bread from the bakery, still hot in its paper sack, so of course, you have to have a little bite! And what would a fresh baguette be without a spoonful of Nutella on top?
Thursday nights always mean pizza for dinner since your host dad comes home late from work, so you work your way through a slice of mushroom and pineapple before starting on the tomato and mozzarella salad. The yogurt and cheese course is followed by an orange and a square of rich dark chocolate.

You manage to hoist yourself upstairs, swearing to never eat that much food in one day ever again…
and do it all again the next morning.
Hey, at least I walk a lot.

Nan You’re a Window Shopper

As usual, my Monday off meant wandering around Tours, taking pictures of the crowds, and snacking at every possible location along the way.

My heart wants to buy all the new Spring clothes I see in the beautiful storefront windows, but my wallet and brain tell me to save the money for travel and food. The French have perfected the art of decorating their shops with the most elaborate displays of products I’ve ever seen, but I must stand strong, even though I have to walk through the main shopping district to get to school every day. I have such a rough life.

Simon and I worked on irregular plurals today-an incredibly annoying subject for him and a trying one for me. It’s so hard to explain why the plural of mouse is mice, but the plural of house is houses, and all the other particulars of the labyrinth that is the English language. He’s just going to have to memorize it-because there isn’t a trick to learning such things! Not his favorite English lesson so far, but it was necessary. As he progresses, the lessons get harder for him to comprehend and for me to explain. Pretty soon he’ll surpass what I can teach while speaking French, and then I’ll have to resort to online resources to try to help us both!

Bicycle Race

Who said the French didn’t love sports?

I am pretty proud to say that I biked twenty kilometers in the countryside today. After a yummy lunch of salad, sausages, and Lays chips (you should have seen the look on my face when they pulled out the bag), the family and I hopped on our bikes and headed for the horizon. If I had known we were going to go as far as we did, I would have probably made a quick excuse not to go, but I’m glad I had no idea!
As a generally un-athletic and uncoordinated person, I try to avoid devices with wheels as much as possible. This includes roller skates, bikes, skateboards, motorized scooters, wheely office chairs, and just about anything else that holds the possibility of me falling flat on my face. To sum up, I’m no good on a bike. However, I’m glad to say that this adventure passed without incident. Even though there was quite a bit of rough terrain and not nearly enough cushioning on my bike seat, I made it without too much difficulty. To make it even better, we met lots of furry friends at the farms along the way. Here are a few of the photos I managed to take while rolling along.

We happened upon a man driving a cart with two donkeys-Laurent happily rode alongside to chat for a while.

Martine was a little scared to get too close to this donkey-she kept jerking her hand back!

Simon shares Martine's concerns about being bitten by large animals, but this pony wasn't about to hurt anyone!

We stayed with the pony for a long time, feeding him the grass that really was much better on our side of the fence.

A nice pause from riding. I think I'll go back to visit our pony friend next week.

It was a beautiful day and a lovely ride. When we made it back home, Laurent informed me that the family goes on much longer bike rides nearly every weekend during the Spring and Summer. Bring on those hills-I have a few French pastries to work off!

Day Tripper

Even the most boring of field trips can be made better with a bit of sunshine and a good lunch.
All the international students were invited to take part in a day trip to the château Chinon and the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud-even though I’ve already been to both places, I figured it would be nice to go on an official guided tour and spend the day with friends. It turns out that guided tours rarely make that much of a difference from just reading the regular pamphlet, but it was still fun!

We started out at Chinon, which you can read about in slightly more detail in this earlier post. We walked in and out of the cool, dark towers to blazing sunshine and heat outside-quite an strange feeling. Even though I’d seen the ins and outs of the castle before, it was neat to see it from our teacher’s really excited perspective.

We had a nice long break for lunch, so several of the girls went to a restaurant right by the château for omelettes and french fries. It was a delicious meal, but best of all was the hot sun beating down on our backs. Time to buy some French sunscreen! We lounged around outside until the monster charter bus came back to pick us up and take us to the Abbey (previous post here), where we trudged around in the wake of a tour guide who was convinced that none of us actually spoke French. This led to her repeating everything she said at least twice and then translating it into English. Oh well, at least it was pretty outside.

One bumpy bus ride back to Tours and we were ready for drinks and dessert on the downtown sidewalks. As I enjoyed my glass of red to the sounds of a brass band playing in the streets and Frenchies talking all around me, I decided it was a lovely day, after all.

The usual crowd hanging around the Hotel de Ville.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Tours is teasing me with this lovely Spring weather! I don’t know if I can handle the flip-flopping much more.

It was really nice to walk in the sunshiny weather, though. I ran lots of errands in between classes and even managed to do a little window-shopping before I had to be back. I love that the school campus is right in the middle of the downtown area-it’s easy to find all sorts of shops, restaurants, and more within five minutes of school-so there’s never an annoying gap spent waiting around in the hallways for your next class. Much different from living in a college town with an enclosed campus!

I’m excited to say that I booked tickets for my dad and I to go see the Braves play the Yankees on June 13th! Watching baseball is one of my favorite things to do with my dad, and I can’t wait to see him and watch America’s favorite pastime as soon as I get back from France. Might be a bit of a culture shock seeing all the overweight, hot-dog eating, tshirt-wearing Braves fans, but it’ll be wonderful just the same!

Tour Highlights

Some highlights from today’s adventures:

-Having the time to enjoy some tea at a cozy little shop near school with a friend. I had the “Thé Gourmand”, a combination of a pot of the tea of your choice and three mini tastes of the shop’s most popular desserts. One tiny dish of apple-rhubarb crumble, a shot glass worth of cheesecake-consistency yogurt with raspberry syrup, and a bite-size morsel of rich chocolate cake later, and I was in heaven. I’ll definitely be visiting the place again, and next time I’ll take pictures!

-Hanging out with some classmates to study, drink coffee, and complain about the fact that we have no idea how final exams are supposed to work here, or how we’ll be otherwise assessed at the end of the year. There’s only one month of school left; inquiring minds need to know!

-Seeing a familiar yellow box on the counter at dinner time. As soon as I read “Old El Paso” on the label, I knew that our meal was going to be amazing. Sure enough, French-American-Mexican food as almost as good as the American-Mexican food I’m used to. Albeit, we ate our burritos with a fork and knife, but it was still close enough to stave off the craving for a few more weeks!