Monday, May 25, 2009


Ack, it's been a while--I know!

This happened a few weeks ago...buttttt Liz and I went to Berlin! and wow, what a downer. The trip was fine, but the city, with so much Nazi history was very depressing.

We took a night train there (12 one was hot too...ew) but finally got there at 9:00 am. The first thing we did was take a walking tour to see all of the city. Neither of us knew much about the city so it was really fun learning all of the history. The tour took us by the monuments and locations like the berlin wall (what's left of it) and Hitler's Bunker/death place. We also saw a really cool memorial to the war too.

The feeling there was interesting. It was like they were trying SO hard to compensate for what they had done that they were just so nice and relaxed. No one cared that we didn't speak any german, and welcomed our english--when most cities just rolled their eyes and then tried english.

The second day we took another tour, but this one was to the Sachenhausen Concentration camp. This was a really hard day and put a big damper in our moods. The camp was preserved just like how it was and taught a lot about what happened. Our tour guide new a lot too which was helpful. I think it was so interesting that it was free--they want as many people to come as possible so they can remember the events that happened there and never let them happen again. The sign on the front gate translates loosely as "Work Will Set You Free" very disturbing.

Like I said, Liz and I were pooped from the days visit (it took all day) and so we were in search of something to uplift our mood. and what did we find?? The Blue Man group! Neither of us had seen it since 7th or 8th grade and it was really cool. We got cheap tickets because of our student discount and it was a good cap to the evening.

We were able to fly home (thank heaven!) and went our seperate ways.

I'm in my last few days here, only 8 days left until I come back! I have three days of exams, todays the first, and then I pack up and head to Clermont-Ferrand to hang out with liz for few days before Paris for my flight.

I went to nice this past weekend, but I'll save that post for a study break tomorrow or so.

xoxo gros bisous a tous!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Spring Break Part 3, Interlaken, Switzerland

First of all, let me say that I LOVE Switzerland! The views are AWESOME!

Liz, Belle, and I met up for a few days in Interlaken, right in the middle of the Swiss Alps. This city isn't for the typical's for the adventurous! Liz and I did just that! the first day, we both got inrather later in the afternoon since it was a pretty long train ride. We walked around for a bit, grabbed some dinner, and hung out at the hostel.

The next morning, early, we went a bit outside of the city, up the side of a mountain, and hikes around for a was rainy/snowy but it was absolutely beautiful none the less. The views form up there were fantastic!

Later that day, Liz and I had a crazy idea...why not go white water rafting! It was terrifying, but SO much fun...the river flowed in the mountains, and with class 3 and 4 rapids. It was such a thrill...I managed to stay afloat..barely! Right in the middle of the trip, it started pouring rain..and since the water is already freezing (because its coming from the snow melting at the top of the alps) it was def. a good thing that we had a ton of layers of wetsuits. It was for sure worth the freezing temperatures!

Sunday we got up early again, and decided to go on a real hike. We hiked the Harder Kulm mountain, about a 3 hour hike, and man! was the view wonderful! I defininatly payed for the work though, and all the next week my body was super sore, again, the experience...just being outside and in the sun, was worth it.

I hope everyone had a wonderful mother's day!

gros bisous!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spring Break Part 2...Rennes, Mont St. Michel, St. Malo, Toulouse, Loudres!

So time for part 2!

So I left the boys in amsterdam and hopped on a train to Rennes (in the Brittany/Normandy region of france...aka the west coast) to meet 3 girls from my program in Dijon. We chose Rennes not because there is much to do, but it's the best hub city for day trips. We couch surfed there (for those of you who don't know what that is...its a program for people like us who can't afford hotels every night but want to travel...pretty much people offer up their couches, extra beds, or floors to people traveling. I know what you're thinking..and don't's really safe! People rate you, you get references and validations, and you can go off of what other people say about their experience there. Well this first place we surfed was not the best to say the least. The guys that lived there (there were five) were awesome, fun to talk to, and super hospitable..but their house was dirtier than a frat house! I guess you can't expect much from 5 guys but seriously. Not to mention they were kinda hippy-esque (there's a fresh hippy type that's hard to explain) so they had a very...different..sense of style. It was funny, but also kind of depressing because we were afraid to use the toilet or shower...oh, thats right...4 days of peeing in cafes before we left dinner and no showers at all. ewww

Besides that though, it was great! The first day we went to le Mont St. Michel. It's a fortress/Abby thing on a mountain that turns into an island when the tide was up. It's on the top 10 things not to miss in france, but honestly I wasn't that impressed. It was cool, but eh.

The second day we went to the small city of St. Malo (a suggestion from our guide book) and it was so adorable! It was a cute old city on the coast of the Channel. It was a beautiful day and we spend it having a picnic and hanging out on the beach.

After Rennes we took a lonnng train ride to toulouse via paris. Toulouse is close to spain, very warm and very friendly. We also couch surfed there with an american teacher from PA. She teaches English through the french government. We met some of her friends too and that was a lot of fun. The first day there we explored the city.

The second we went to Lourdes (the site of a catholic miracle) and it was so neat to see all of the Catholics there believing so strongly in the pilgrimage they were making. I even drank some holy water. yumm. (oh by the way, I was with 3 very strong Catholics so I learned a lot!)

We got back to toulouse and it was pouring rain...and it didn't stop! the following day we just hung out with Jamie (our host) and watched a french movie because it was too wet to go outside and do anything...mainly it was just a day for bumming around.

I said good bye to the girls and headed back to Dijon for a few days to recoup before I met Liz in Switzerland...which will have to wait until a later date because I have to go to my Expression Oral class!

grand bisous..

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spring Break Part One...Brussels and Holland

So I have a little bit while I wait for my mom to get on skype, so I figured I might as well start blogging from my spring break!

Friday, Alex, Josiah, Brandon and I left early for a train to Brussels, the capital of the EU. They speak a combination of French and Dutch there so it was pretty easy to get around. The first day, we walked around a bit, grabbed a kebab (the European version of a Gyro) and saw some of the major sights. The "absolute musts" were to see the "Manneken Pis" which is pretty much a statue of a kid peeing, get a waffle, and eat some french fries. The "Manneken Pis" had been hyped up, talked about, and mentioned at least 5 times of things to do in Brussels...but what a let down! it's only about a foot tall, and there were so many people taking pictures that I didn't even get a good photo. Brussels in general however was a lot of fun, and probably one of my more favorite cities. People are just so nice there!"We met some friends at the super nice hostel we were staying at and joined them for a night out. I tasted one of the boy's world famous Trappist Beers and ...ew. it was gross. and Even though Belle and I were "missing out" we were perfectly content with our Cocalight.
The next day we were up bright and early to walk around for abit more...we walked for a few miles to find the parliment building--so big! and goofed off a bit before getting on our next train.

We had bought tickets to Turnhout, Belgium--an 1 hour trip-- and were going to meet Wim at the trainstation and he was going to drive us over the border and to his house. However, we get to the train station and are looking for our platform but couldn't find it! Luckily we had gotten there rather early (thanks to "train trelawny"--a not so cute nick name the boys have given me because of my freak out tendancys when we travel) and when I asked the information we were told that this train doesn't run on saturdays. Whoops! he told us to get on the train to Anvers (antwerp) and change trains there and go Tournhout. But the train for Anvers was leaving in two minutes. So after a full scramble to the platform, we were on the train when I started second guessing my french skills and whether I had understood him correctly. Fortunatly I had, and we changed trains in Anvers for Turnhout where we were met by Wim and his (very cute) brother.

After a 30 min drive into Holland we arrived at Wim's parents house where there was a huge meal and his parents welcoming us. It was so nice to play football in a backyard, sit around and watch some TV, and talk with his family! It made me feel just like home! After several hours and a several course meal, we met up with some of Wims highschool friends to hang out. Everyone in Holland speaks English because unlike Germany or France, they don't dub their TV shows or Movies, they just add subtitles. Since a majority of their programs are Americain, you can imagine how they would be so fluent. We went to bed, and were woken up by Wim's mom calling us for breakfast.

Fresh fruit, eggs from the chicken coup in the backyard, jam, bread, and cheese. yummm oh! this chicken coup thing was incredible..They live in what looks like an american subberb with what we call a normal backyard but tucked in the back are 6 egg laying chickens! so funny! After breakfast we got on the train to Amsterdam where Wim's brother and 2 roommates live for school. They live in a super nice apartment big enough to hold all of us, and were so sweet and such good hosts! We did the tourist thing for a bit, seeing some museums and seeing the major sights. We took a free tour that taught us a lot about the history. We went back to Ruud's apt, ate some dinner, and hung out for a bit. The next day we slept in, walked around some more, played some board games, and had an early night.

I absolutely loved getting the real side of amsterdam and when the locals do. It's so funny how much they avoid the tourists and how easy it actually is to do so. And they are just SO nice! When Wim visits the states this summer, I'm going to have to take as good care of him as he showed me! I left Holland about 12:30 in the afternoon to meet up with some friends from St. Marys (sister to Notre Dame...Cathy have you heard of it?) back in Rennes, France. But that is going to have to wait until the next post, because even though my mom never showed up on skype, I have laundry to do before I go to switzerland to meet Liz tomorrow!

gros bisous a tous! xox

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Quick hello

Just a quick update...I'm in Eersel, Holland with Wim's family...his mom made us this HUGE home cooked's so nice to be in a small town and be staying in a house...but it makes me miss home! Brussels was awesome..but you're going to have to wait a bit to hear about it :) We're off to amsterdam tomorrow morning to stay with wim's brother for a few days.

hope all is well with everyone....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Sorry it has taken me so long to get this post up...but after we get back from our trips I have to tell everyone in Dijon how my weekend was and then by that time i am sick of telling the story over and over again :)

BUT...this past weekend, the boys and I spent a few days in Barcelona. It was really cool to get out of the country..but a rather big hassle. We left at 8h30 in the morning from Dijon and arrived in Barcelona about 10 pm aafter a lonnnng train ride with lots of transfers. The police got on our train for a control ( when they come around and check our passports) Normally when traveling within the European union they won't check passports...I am very lucky I thought I would bring mine just in case! We were all separated on the train, and the guy next to me was giving the police trouble and was hitting on me the whole ride down...going as far to wake me up because he was 'lonely and needed to talk to someone' he was almost kicked off the train for giving the french police trouble and caused us to have to stop AGAIN across the border so that the Spanish police could check his luggage and frisk I said...a very pleasant ride down.

We didn't really do all that much in Spain...we walked around and saw a bunch of the Gaudi architecture..the coolest thing we saw was the sagrada familia...Guadi was so extravagant that he started the church in 1909 and it still isn't finished. not even close! (see photo!)...and went to the museum of contemporary art (such a let down!) but we did a LOT of walking around and seeing things. it rained for most of the trip (except the last day) so that was kind of icky too. Lots of picnics in the parks (there are sooo many in Barcelona)

oh! On Sunday we did a Spanish cooking class where we learned how to make sangria, tapas, and paella..we met some other Americans and also some dutch. yayy new friends

I think that's about it..the train ride back was overnight and this time much easier..only one transfer.

Spring break starts on Thursday..looks like I'll be in Holland, Belgium, France Switzerland and maybe Spain again in Madrid..we will see!


Monday, April 6, 2009

Les Cheateax de la Loire

So Belle and I packed up and headed over to the Loire Valley this weekend on a CEIF excursion to see all of the Chateaux. We visited 5 different Chateaus..some better than others :) It was so neat because the history was so intense! its so weird to know that exactly where I was standing years and year ago Kings and Queens of France were going about their daily business.

The prettiest one that we saw was Chambord. It was just like the castles you see in disney movies. We were allowed to go up on the terrices..what amazing views!

2 of the castles had amazing Gardens (with labryinths!) and although it's still rather chilly and grey..the flowers were just starting to bloom and the gardens were still very impressive.

The hotel we stayed in was incredible! It was so refreshing to take a real shower and actually feel clean after it. oh! and there was a pool too so we were able to swim :)

The last chateau was Chenonceau (one of the most famous chateaus in the world)..It's also known as le Chateau des Dames (castle of the ladies) because of it's sweet history with Catherine de Medici, Diane de Poitiers, and Henry II. And who did I run into? Liz! She was doing a tour there as well with her friend Amanda (from the states) I only said goodbye to her a week ago and I got to see her again so soon!

This week is going to be long...I'm trying to finalize my spring break plans (so far we're going to Berlin, Holland, Brussels, Zurich, and Venice) but I head off to Barcelona with the boys for the long Easter weekend....I've never been to spain before!

grand bisous! xox