Friday, February 29, 2008

Les Vacances de Decadence (long)

I left for vacation at 12:00pm on Friday, February 8. My last class ended at 11:15am, and I was very very excited.

Notes from my trip from Ussel to Marseille (not an easy feat!), translated from French:
-the mountains of the Massif Central silhouetted between the haze of the clouds and the brilliance of the sun
-replanted trees in exact columns even better ordered than corn
-bare trees in the foreground become lace through which you see the mountain pines
-cultural differences become less and less distinct
-I sat at a four-seat place with two women - one Canadian and one French - who spoke English the whole way...I love not being noticed as Anglo!
-nausea in the bus from Ussel to Clermont
-a REAL rest and an opportunity for some French

[Friday 2/8] Marseille is huge but the youth hostel is friendly and accommodating. The girl at the desk used the familiar form of "you" with me, and that made me feel comfortable. Tomorrow is serious sight-seeing and maybe meeting up with Ben for lunch or coffee. I needed this vacation.

[Saturday 2/9] Today at breakfast there was an Algerian or Tunisian man, a Quebecoise named Emilie and an Australian named Adam. I kept quiet because I'm a quiet person and also without knowing who I was they made some rather rude comments about the US. AS I was leaving, Adam asked if I was going on the hiking trip to the Calanques. I said no but I'll go ask. I asked the man in charge who said it was cancelled. I asked "Why? There's another guy who wants to go..." So Nabil, the guide, restarted the trip just for me and Adam! About an hour of buses and a trip to a corner market for picnic fixings, we were in pleine nature. Words cannot describe how amazing, beautiful, exciting, and exhilirating this was. sights I'd always wanted to see but never had the guts or desire. But something inside me said why not and despite my very tired feet and body, Iam thrilled I went. Amazing and beautiful sights. So much "oh my goodness" and "oh my gosh" and "wow." An unforgettable and memorable experience. I got to play translator between Nabil and Adam who was not thrilled about me being American but tolerated my weak translation skills well. I am so glad I did this, and tomorrow I'll take it easier. I had dinner, and beer, and now I'm going to bed. Happy happy day.

[Sunday 2/10] Natalie is from Canada and a first grade teacher in England. She moved into my room last night, as did a large and smelly Japanese girl whose English was really weak. Despite numerous and polite requests to sleep on her side, snored and ground her teeth to the point of sleeplessness for me, Natalie, and the other English girl who left. Natalie and I finally had enough and asked the super sweet night watchman Salim with whom she made friends to switch rooms. Yay! So after a good night's sleep, I DID Marseille. Palais Longchamps was a cute park with a neat hanging garden fountain, no giraffes, and the HUGE palace for the Fine Arts Museum and the Natural History Museum. The Natural History Museum was lots of really old stuffed animals (in pretty bad shape) and a thinly researched temporary exhibition on the North Pole. As I left, I passed the Museum of...fancy people's houses or any case it matched the Vacation of Decadence. I mosied down to Vieux Port to do some sight seeing and find a very mediocre lunch of eggplant pizza (and horrible service). Then I braved crazy vacation traffic to climb Fort Saint Nicolas (it belonged to Napoleon) and crossed the street to Jardin des Pharos, a happening park full of families including one celebrating their little boy's first birthday complete with a tricycle! On my way to the other side of Vieux Port I bumped into Adam from yesterday and traded travel tips. Then I tried my darndest to find Le Panier Quartier but shops are hard to find on Sunday! Also the tourism guide's suggested walking path sucked. I found the cathedral which reminded me of Florence. La Vieille Charite accepted my attestation professionnelle (French teacher's ID card) for the world's worst contemporary art exhibition. I have yet to find contemporary art I truly like. By now I'm exhausted by I still have Notre Dame de la Garde to find! So I arrived exactly for mass but also for amazing views of the city that was turning beautiful warm colors in the afternoon sun. Then I caught a bus back to Vieux Port and the metro to the bus for the hostel. And I saw Natalie again! We had dinner and talked the night away. We're both North Americans teaching elementary school in Europe, traveling extensively during vacations, and are maintaining long-distance relationships with boyfriends named Andrew. This hostel has truly shown me the benefits of youth hostel life. I'm actually looking forward to Nice's hostel and seriously considering hostels for Maggie's trip in April.

[Monday 2/11] Today was an adventure! I woke up my whole hostel room this morning with my alarm clock. The bus to the metro was late but I made it to the train station with ten minutes to spare. It was a night train from Nantes (north of La Rochelle!) to Nice so my chair reclined a lot. I got to Saint Raphael, bought an expensive bus ticket to Saint Tropez, ate a great little breakfast, and fixed my ticket to Nice. The bus ride to Saint Tropez was awesome - we hugged the coast for most of the way, and it was beautiful. On the other side were resorts and adorable lonely beach towns and beautiful villas. I arrived in Saint Tropez and went to an internet cafe to unload my camera. I wandered around, soaking up the atmosphere and the fact that I'm on the Mediterranean coast. I found lunch at La Tarte Tropezienne - grilled open face pissaladiere and sardine sandwich and salad. Delicious! (Look at the picture.) After lunch, I found my hotel. I couldn't really put my finger on it, but I didn't like it and only decided that after I paid 70E. So I went to the Office de Tourisme and asked for recommendations. The hotel they recommended was actually the next place in my book, and for 8E more a night, I got a beautiful room, flat screen TV with fifteen international and French channels, a minibar (I'll never figure that one out), an immaculate bathroom, and super friendly service. Unfortunately the first hotel only refunded me 20E, so that was a 50E mistake. I consoled myself with a visit to the Musee de l'Annonciation which was Pointillism heaven. Jus really nice and totally worth the 5E. I even bought art postcards! I bought a piece of tarte tropezienne which was delicious. I like being on vacation!

[Tuesday 2/12] Today was fun! I woke up really early because I didn't do a lot of physical activity the day before. I visited the market which was on the plaza where my hotel was - another plus! And I bought some lavender and a towel...I know I'm weird. First on my list of things to do and see was the Citadel, a fortress on a hill. I walked around and kept hearing a loud bird. So I look up, and it's a PEACOCK!! In a tree! I followed him for a bit and then walked the perimeter of the Citadel for some breathtaking views of the bay. I visited the Citadel which was pretty dull but the writeup was helpful. I saw another pretty bird that looked like a finch - red breast, green back - but it was camera-shy. Lots of pretty plants too. As I left, a peacock was at the entrance with his feathers fully displayed as it tried to bully a pigeon. I can't believe I saw a peacock - not in a zoo or a park! After the Citadel, I found the Parish Church. Photos were forbidden which is too bad because it was pretty. Lots of saints' effigies and yellow paint. For lunch I tried to find a place to eat, but every place seemed really uninterested in me. So I grabbed a sandwich from Tarte Tropezienne and some snackies from the minimart next door and watched TV in my hotel room. I got up in time to see a tour boat - and went on! For 9E I got an hour of commentated tour of the bay of Saint Tropez including some famous peoples' houses. the guide asked me personally a lot of questions once it was understood that I'm from New York and not French. That makes me really uncomfortable because it puts my spoken French in the spotlight and I don't like people seeing me immediately as The American After the boat tour, I embarked on an odyssey to find a pair of jeans, as my American pair were dying of crotch holes. Not only did I find ones that fit (American size 12!), but also a cute grey turtleneck. I also bought stamps. Then to Senequier, a famous cafe, for cappuccino and tarte tropezienne - yummy!! By then I had walked around a lot and was bored so I bought some more snackies at the minimart and vegged out in my hotel room. An excellent day.

[Wednesday 2/13] *disclaimer* Dad, avert your eyes: I "lost" my MC for a little bit this morning. The hotel concierge was more than patient and helpful and sympathetic. Luckily I had left it on the Post Office counter when I bought my stamps and the clerk kept it for me. I wasted time looking at boats in the port until the bus back to Saint Raphael. The trip from Saint Raphael to Nice was very unpleasant: lots of annoying teens with awful Franco-Italian fashion and haircuts, beggars getting mad at me for not giving them money...eesh. Finally I arrived in NICE! This city is crazy. It reminds me a lot of Italian shops - I know I have something to do if I get bored! I wandered to Vieux Nice and went to the Parc de la Colline du Chateau and saw all sorts of neat things: ruins of a 12th century church, Saddam Hussein's yacht in the port, the coolest jungle gym ever, and a waterfall! I stopped at a neat place for "dinner" but it was only 6:00pm. I had three stuffed sardines and salad witha glass of rose wine. I still have sardine bones in my teeth. I like the hostel so far, especially the in-room showers. This is a great vacation.

[Thursday 2/14] I miss Andy. Valentine's Day sucks away from him. Mom called too. I could hear how much she misses me. I feel bad about that. Today I saw the Fine Arts Museum which was pretty neat, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral which is pretty much tiled in gold and mosaics, the Contemporary Art Museum which explained the plastic men on poles in the main square but is still very uninteresting, the Museum of Prehistory which was NEAT, and Vieux Port. I ate dinner at Quick (Belgian McDonald's), had socca (chickpea flour and olive oil crepe), and walked everywhere. I need to buy a jacket and shoes...too bad French fashion is pretty bad. I love vacation!

[Friday 2/15] Today I saw the Matisse Museum. He was a smart man but I couldn't really appreciate a lot of his art. It was less dramatic than I expected. Next door was the Archaeological Site and Museum - Roman ruins!! Really well laid out and explained. I wish I had more time. These two places were in the neighborhood called Cimiez, which is RICH, like reminded me of Madison Avenue near the French Consulate RICH. Wow. For lunch I mosied back to Vieux Nice and randomly found a busy place to eat. If I don't have a specific place from my guide book, I go to whatever looks edible and busy. I had pissaladiere, which is anchovy, carmelized onion and olive pizza, daube which is beef with I think lavender ravioli, and the world's worst charlotte aux fraises (strawberry shortcake) but they did give me a free kir (wine with fruit syrup) and they were super friendly. Then I went to the Chagall Museum. Marc Chagall was a Jewish artist from the south of France, and this museum focused on his Bibical works which are naturally on the Old Testament. Absolutely breathtaking. And there were benches to sit and just STARE at his paintings, so that was fabulous. I went to the carnival and got a crepe with creme marron (sweet chestnut spread) and got to watch a bitch fight between the crepe girl and a snotty girl who wasn't satisfied with her crepe. For dinner I found a recommended place for a salade nicoise (green salad with tuna, anchovies, and hard boiled eggs), the hottest and least similar lasagna, and chocolate MOUSSE. YUMM. Now to PARIS!

I didn't keep my journal in Paris as Paris is exhausting. It was so good to see Kathy and Liz. They're family, really. I've known Liz since she was born, and Kathy has known my parents for longer than I've been alive. I am not the best travel buddy but they were as patient as they could be. It was neat to see Paris, France, and Europe with fresh eyes as so much of what I see is colored with my perspective and studies. Jet lag was not kind to Liz the first couple of hours, but she muscled through it. Kathy discovered that Paris is mostly built on spiral staircases much to her dismay. We did a lot of fun stuff, but there's still a huge list of things to do and see in Paris both for me and for them. Things we did see:
The Louvre! Kathy wanted to see the medieval part which is super cool and more interesting than the Old Lady. Liz wanted to see the Winged Victory of S...(how do you say that again?), and Kathy could have done a day entirely in the sculpture gardens.
Musee d'Orsay. So cool we had to go back another morning.
Eiffel Tower. We went on a sunny afternoon, only for it to close for an evacuation exercise. LAMECORE. So we went back on a cloudy afternoon and were rewarded with surprisingly excellent views of Paris. We went to the top floor, something I've never done, Liz went to the bathroom, we had hot chocolate, and we sent postcards. Excellent!
Bateaux Mouches. A guided boat tour of Paris on the Seine. Freezing but bright and very fun.
Sacre Coeur! This was in our neighborhood and where Kathy discovered Paris' love for spiral staircases. I love Sacre Coeur.
Notre Dame. The first afternoon we were too late to climb up, but we did go inside. It's so pretty but smaller than it looks inside. The second time Liz and I climbed to the top, followed closely by a British couple of which the wife was deathly afraid of heights. SOOO much fun!
Berthillion, or as Kathy and Liz put it, Mansion Ice Cream. Delicious gourmet ice cream on the ritzy Ile de Saint-Louis. I got caramel ice cream on a hot waffle.
Pantheon so Liz could find Voltaire's tomb. It is SO cold in there.
Museum of the Middle Ages. My favorite place ever.
Versaiies! I've never been there and to be honest, it reminded me of those Decorative Arts museums I avoid because it's just rich peoples' furniture and household items. I liked the paintings and tapestries better. Unfortunately it's February and the gardens were less than pretty. Marie Antoinette had a French village recreated so she could play peasant, and that was absolutely beautiful. I think I'd like Versailles if you could live like French royalty for a weekend - complete with the clothes.
Our neighborhood was awesome. Montmartre is really touristy but it's busy, friendly, and you can find Real Paris there. Breakfast was at this adorable and super busy bakery with excellent value menus. We ate in a number of nights for dinner, as Liz discovered the magic of baguette and jam and Nutella. We had a lot of Greek food from a great deli, a cheese platter one night, and all around deliciousness. One lunch we found an Antillaise place - French island food that was beyond delicious. Another night we went to a restaurant in our neighborhood. In Versailles we went to a recommended place that was excellent value and delicious. Lots of crepes, coffees, and sandwiches. Lots of metro rides. The weather was very good the entire time. Only two grey days - Versailles and the Eiffel Tower, unfortunately. Liz had some serious shopping to do, so she bought a swimsuit and a jacket. I bought the same one, but she looks much better in it. In any case, I finally have a good quality and cute spring jacket.

So that was the vacation. Two weeks is a LONG time, and I enjoyed it. I really needed it too. I hope you got my postcards. It was a real vacation, and totally worth the (hundreds) of euros and dollars I overspent.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fun times in silly France.

1. I owe an enormous update about the Vacation of Decadence.

2. Pictures from the Vacation of Decadence are due.

3. I owe many many emails and phone calls home.

4. I went to a primary English teachers' workshop today. It was very refreshing.

5. Other things on my to-do list include wrapping up evaluations, marking period grades, and penpal letters.

6. I have officially passed the halfway point. Day 157.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

University of Minnesota

So less than a week after the Graduate Admissions office sent my application to the Education and Curriculum department for review, a decision has been reached. I have not been accepted to the University of Minnesota. I'm kinda bummed about this. I mean, I have a stellar GPA, very modest GRE scores, an impressive resume, and my recommendations were from my most respected mentors and teachers. What else did they want?? Is this going to hurt my chances when I (a) reapply to the Master's program or (b) apply to the PhD program?? The Second Language and Culture Education program there is just about perfect for what I'm interested in...I'm second-guessing myself now. Ahhh at least I don't feel as awful about this as when Midd rejected me. I wonder why. But still. What else did they want?? Pooey.

At least UWisc-Mad liked me. That phone call just about made my evening.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

100 Things

This is a popular thing for bloggers to do, so here are 100 things about me that you may or may not know and may or may not want to know.

1. When I first got to college, I swore up and down I'd never teach.
2. I also said I'd never learn Spanish.
3. I have a really bad sweet tooth.
4. I stress-bake. The night before I left for my study abroad in France, I baked a chocolate cake. My parents were perplexed.
5. I have had seven roommates in my life. I still speak to all of them.
6. I was so addicted to Solitaire in college that I finally deleted it off my computer.
7. I have a very sensitive nose; most smells bother me.
8. I rarely recognize the people in my dreams.
9. I was a hostess at Friendly's for three weeks.
10. I firmly believe that I have no hair color. It's sort of light brown but it used to be blonde. I think it's brownish greyish blondish.
11. My feet are very narrow.
12. I play piano and violin, a constant source of simultaneous stress and relief.
13. I had braces in elementary school.
14. I have a slight case of scoliosis which naturally is worsened when I gain weight.
15. I totalled my parents' car when I was 19. "Dad, a really bad thing happened..."
16. I really should have been a child of the 70's.
17. I am not a party girl.
18. I'm a closet Trekkie. Now not closet, but yes. Within two minutes of any TNG episode, I can tell you which one it is. I wish DS9 didn't go to pot after the first couple of seasons. Voyager could have been better, and the most recent edition was painful. I hear there's a new TNG movie in the works...
19. For my high school graduation, my aunt offered me a trip to visit her in New York City, complete with a Broadway show. We saw "Mamma Mia" and she was understandably confused.
20. The same aunt also came to visit me in France when I studied abroad. She came for a weekend. We saw some WWII sites and the Bayeux tapestry in Normandy, not Paris. Her friends were understandably confused.
21. The group of people I hung out with in high school are super-over-achievers. "We're AP" was our motto.
22. I still do the finger trick to remember left and right.
23. However I am phenomenal with maps.
24. It would take a lot of convincing and ideal conditions for me to try Tequila again.
25. My favorite summer memories include Cape Cod, Harbormess, and grilling outside.
26. If she can shovel out the snow, my mother will still grill. We have run out of propane on more than one wintery evening as a result.
27. I'm very high-strung.
28. Horror movies make me cry more than scare me.
29. My dad apparently wanted to name me Gina.
30. My grandmother went sky-diving for her 83rd birthday.
31. I have twin brothers. They are very very smart men.
32. I have never babysat.
33. I love blankets and own quite a few in about three different places.
34. My favorite colors are pink and yellow. In college, I did four loads of laundry: permanent press, darks, whites, and yellow.
35. When I have children, I already have the girls' names picked out but I have no idea what to name the boys.
36. I am 5'6". I've always been disappointed that I didn't end up taller.
37. My favorite artists are Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, Marc Chagall and Raoul Dufy.
38. I was not raised with organized religion.
39. All of my Catholic knowledge has been derived from religious art.
40. I love (and miss!) the Food Network, the Travel Channel, and the History Channel.
41. I find Cary Grant very attractive. He also strongly resembles my grandfather.
42. I can be very inflexible.
43. New York Times crossword puzzles are the best.
44. I never played sports as a kid, but I was always at my brothers' games and usually had an administrative role.
45. I'm terrible at chess.
46. My brothers tried to teach me how to play pitch and gave up about thirty minutes through because I was so abysmal.
47. I have traveled extensively throughout New York State as part of my mother's personal quest to learn more about it for her fourth grade social studies curriculum.
48. I was eliminated from a spelling bee for misspelling "pennant."
49. My mother is a very good seamstress and has made some of the best Halloween costumes ever.
50. My brothers and I were Legomaniacs and created an entire city. It was incredible.
51. I went to my first symphony concert when I was seven and my first rock concert when I was 12.
52. I am not an animal person.
53. My boyfriend wants a cat.
54. I've told him: it's me or the cat.
55. He's a smart man.
56. When I was in high school, I diagnosed myself with pica. I eat paper, wood, and rubber. This is apparently linked to a neurophysiological deficiency.
57. Which makes sense, as I am often emotionally and physically constipated.
58. I hate cutting my nails. Even when I was a kid and my mom would cut them, I put up such a fuss.
59. When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a cartographer.
60. I memorized the state capitals when I was in third grade, and my classmates would quiz me at lunch.
61. I got glasses in third grade to match my best friend's. When she got a new style, I did too. And then she got contacts.
62. I can't even do eye drops.
63. I love stand-up comedy.
64. My parents are really smart. They're also funny people.
65. When I was 10, I got a wart on my left knee. It's still there.
66. I grind my teeth at night.
67. I have a naturally low body temperature. But I'm rarely cold.
68. I rarely get sick, and when I do, it's usually not for more than a few days.
69. I HATE rain.
70. I know enough Italian to buy stamps and gelato. (Is any more really necessary?)
71. I had no idea that my high school classmates had parties with beer until I got to college.
72. My brothers throw awesome parties.
73. Everyone in my immediate family with a college degree is a teacher.
74. I'm really bossy.
75. Places outside of Europe I want to visit: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand, India, an African safari, Argentina, Mexico, Hawaii, the Dominican Republic, Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, aaand basically the entire US.
76. I like Yuengling, dry red wines, Bailey's, and Irish whiskey.
77. An important thing that living abroad has helped me to realize is that I don't really like being away from my home.
78. Most of the computers in my family have names: George, Henry, Frederick, Dwight, Ralph, and Cosette. It helps keep track of them.
79. I can count the number of days I was absent from school on two hands.
80. I also didn't skip classes in college for the first two years.
81. My first kiss was when I was nineteen.
82. For about a year in high school, I was really into astrology.
83. The first place I go in a bookstore is to the dictionaries.
84. Cleaning bathrooms is really therapeutic.
85. I didn't wear nail polish until I was nineteen, and then only on my toes.
86. I have adorable toes.
87. Yellow roses make me very happy.
88. I enjoy grocery shopping.
89. Despite nearly 2000 pictures, I am not such a good photographer.
90. I am fifteen months older than my brothers. Because I was so young, my parents didn't actually tell me outright that I was going to be a big sister. So my mom "gave" them to me as a present when we went to pick her up at the hospital.
91. They're still mine.
92. McDonald's is my weakness.
93. My dream car is an automatic Peugeot 206 imported to the States. Hey, it's a dream.
94. I handwrite all first drafts. Typing is only for revisions and final drafts. Lesson plans are always handwritten because let's face it - everything in that changes within the first five minutes of a class.
95. I don't have a very good memory. One of my best posts from my college years blogs was about a two-hour period on a Thursday morning I could not remember at all.
96. Which is odd considering my trilingual vocabulary.
97. I do not appreciate most interior design things, like highly stylized rooms and houses, TV shows, and stores.
98. When I graduated high school, my French teacher gave me a stuffed animal fox so I would always have a friend. It's supposed to be the fox from the book The Little Prince. Most people mistake it for a beaver because it's pretty much two-dimensional.
99. I love used book sales because sometimes you can find a book in another language.
100. I am really going to miss grenadine syrup for two Euros when I go back to the States.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My feet feel like they're in mud...

This week is DRAGGING.

1. I'm sorry B*, but I can't give you the answers when I explain five times in French what the directions say and your answer is "So what do I put?" You put down a sentence or four that describes yourself using two physical and two personal adjectives. I am happy. I am dumb. Whatever you want. EEESH. I could not believe how little this one particular class understood. And to top it off, Catherine's in the back giving me weird looks. Makes me feel sooo stupid. Which I'm not, her students just didn't study.

2. Is vacation here yet?

3. My private tutoring lesson didn't go well. I tried to branch out from straight economic articles to an article on corporate social responsibility. From her body language alone she didn't like it. Oh my goodness girl, you have exhausted my economic knowledge. Let's not ressurect the pain that was Mr. Marks' P&Q graphs, ok?

4. My trains leave on Friday at noon. That is the start of my vacation.

5. Wine and cheese farewell for Ben tomorrow. Silly boy.

6. I'm going to Marseille and Saint-Tropez and NICE and Paris for vacation. Is that decadent or what?

7. I was invited to School Two's Chandeleur party on Friday afternoon - but that's when my trains leave! Awww thanks Sylvie and Christophe! They're awesome people.

8. I had a really good talk with the director of the Wisconsin program. He's very friendly and realistic. Definitely cleared up some of my questions. Good talk.


10. I miss being hugged and getting hugs. I hope Kathy and Liz can help me out with that in a week!

Monday, February 4, 2008


I know he's only nine, but I'm really sick and tired of one of my student's excuses. "But I didn't take English last year!" You have nothing in your notebook, you don't pay attention in class, you don't participate, and you spend half of class facing the other direction. There are PLENTY of other students who didn't do English last year, and they're doing fine. The problem is your attitude, sir, and it had better shape up. I expect more out of you. But he is only nine.

I've long said that I have a different personality in French. My word choices, the way I express myself, the times I choose to involve myself in conversation and how, all make me a different person than my normal American self. I can say normal because France has only been nine months of my life so far. Maybe it's because it's different, or maybe I genuinely dislike this other person. I don't really know how to change it either externally or internally. It's really putting a bad flavor in my mouth. I'm also incredibly homesick and people-sick and America-sick. I have a right to these feelings. It's part of living abroad. I won't give up on this job, despite brief moments of feedback from my colleagues and students. It's just so emotionally draining. I have become a pragmatic and practical person to a fault; to the point where I just do NOT feel or express my emotions. And when the slightest thing gets to me, I break down. All I think about all day are my classes, my bank account, and the best vacation arrangements. I do a good job of pushing out images of Mom and Dad and Peter and Nicholas and Andy and the rest of my family and friends out of my head. It just makes me sad that I'm SO alone here. Everyone else has a family and a real life. I'm here temporarily. After vacation, I won't even have my roommates: Ben is leaving and Rocio and I are rubbing each other the wrong way. So I focus on the practical. I've become a different person and I don't like it, and then I resent France and the French language. It's awful. I don't care about getting words or grammar or my accent right; I don't even want to talk at the end of the day in any language. English is frustrating because NO one understands it, not even my students who were supposed to have studied for their evaluations (why do I bother, honestly...). I just feel so so so alone and self-centered and lost. I have got to find a way out of this.

Also, is good French internet radio, broadcast from the region where La Rochelle is. Keeps me from going entirely insane.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

February Vacations!

Here it is as promised: the itinerary for my upcoming February vacation. I am off officially from Saturday, February 9 to Sunday, February 24.

Friday, February 8: Ussel -> Marseille
Marseille is the second- or third-largest city in France, depending on which statistic you go by. It is on the Mediterranean, large, multicultural, and known for a fish stew called bouillabaisse. I plan on visiting the Archaeological Museum, the African, Oceanic and American Indian Art Museum, the History of Marseille Museum, the Fashion Museum, the Santon Museum, the Fine Arts Museum if it's open, the Basilica, see if I can't scope out some of the Calanques, and eat and eat and eat.
I will be staying at the Bonneveine Youth Hostel.

Monday, February 11: Marseille -> Saint-Tropez
Saint-Tropez is a resort town in the south of France known for celebrities' houses (like Elton John...!), Tropezienne sandals, and hoity-toity-ness. Most of the adventure here will be trying to get there as I'm not entirely convinced that my tickets will get me there, but I've researched it a lot and am excited! There aren't a ton of sites here, but many sights and I'm looking forward to this city a lot.
I will be staying at Hotel La Mediterranee, which has so far deserved its glowing review in my guide book.

Wednesday, February 13: Saint-Tropez -> Nice
Nice, pronounced "Neece", is a Riviera resort town known for The Good Life. I plan on visiting the old town, a museum named in honor of one of my favorite artists Marc Chagall, the Matisse Museum, the Roman ruins, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Fine Arts Museum, and soaking up some serious good life.
I will be staying at Las Camelias Youth Hostel.

Saturday, February 16: Nice -> Paris
PARIS!! I will be meeting up with Dad's friend's daughter Liz and wife Kathy for a week-long whirlwind tour of Paris. We will be doing the Big Five: Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre-Dame, Arc de Triomphe, and Musee d'Orsay. (Everyone has different Big Fives.) They'd also like to do a day-trip, and I suggested Reims (pronounced "Rance") to see the cathedral where most French kings were crowned and a champagne cellar tour.
We will be staying at the Hotel Bonsejour Montmartre in the middle of Montmartre, the neighborhood known for the Moulin Rouge, Sacre Coeur, and Amelie.

I return to Ussel the afternoon of Sunday, February 24. After that, six grueling weeks of children asking me "Teacher, what does that mean?". Easter and it's associated Holy Days are in this marking period so I haven't mapped out exactly what's happening every day, but I do know what topics my classes are going to cover.

I have been in France for 132 complete days. I still have five whole months left. This is incredibly emotionally exhausting.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Is Puxatawney Phil's prediction global, or does it just apply to northeastern United States?

It tried to snow here on Thursday and Friday but it seemed like the weather was confused. It snowed/rained/sleeted, but it all melted by noon. Now it's sunny.