Saturday, August 30, 2008

Catch Up

Okay, I’ve missed a couple days of updates, so let me catch you up. On Thursday, Dominique and Jean-Pierre helped me with a lot of errands I wanted to accomplish as soon as possible, which I appreciated so much, because there is no way (at this point in my French) I would have been able to figure out cell phone plans and train passes on my own. They also opened my eyes to many new discoveries, the most important of course, being a store called Picard. Picard is the maker of those amazing frozen food products, and at the Picard store you can find frozen vegetables, fruit, frozen meals for one, frozen meals for two, desserts, and other wonders. See Mumsy, you don’t have to worry about me going hungry in France due to my lack of cooking skills. There is a wonderful, magical place called Picard.
After the day’s errands Dominque and Jean-Pierre helped me set up the cell phone that they gave me (they are amazing people) and we sat down to another wonderful dinner where I greatly enjoyed some white wine, and stuffed myself on foie gras. Here is a picture of the table:



I went to bed around 10:30, but found myself awake at 2:00 am (thanks a lot jet lag), then slept on and off until 6:00 am. Dominique took me to the train station in Paris, where I took my first TGV trip (the super fast train) to Poitiers. At Poitiers, Sylvie, the director of the Centre Oregon met me at the train station, along with Aerika, another Oregon study abroad student. They helped me get settled in to the Espace Kennedy, an international students housing unit, where I will stay for about 15 days. I’m quite glad I have a small bathroom to myself in my room, but it is definitely peculiar because it is just a tiny space, so when I take a shower, the sink and the toilet get absolutely soaked. Also, once you push on the button that starts the shower, the water only lasts for about thirty seconds. Then you have to push the button again. It’s sort of like those sinks at highway rest stops. But no matter.

During the fifteen days, I must find myself an apartment. This prospect terrifies me a little, mainly because I don’t know where anything is. If I knew where the Rue Rabelais was, it would be easy to go there to take a look at the apartments for rent. But since I don’t know my way around yet, every errand becomes a major procedure.

So, after I got myself set up in my room, I took the bus to Poitiers’ Centre Ville. It’s beautiful.



Tons of little cafés and restaurants surrounding the main square, adorable shops, and everyone is so nice and helpful. My first requirement was food, so I stopped at a café and ordered a menthe à l’eau ( a favorite of mine when I visited France in 2000) and a jambon beurre avec fromage (a ham and butter sandwich with cheese, also a favorite).




Then I began my errands, such as buying basics like soap, face wash, towels, flip flops (for the shower), scissors, et cetera. Eventually, sheer exhaustion overcame me. I stopped for an orangina at a café, (which I downed in about three gulps) and then took the bus out of Centre Ville. Of course it was the wrong bus, so it took me about an hour to return to the Espace Kennedy. The bus driver was so nice though, and I think he might have taken a different route in order to drop me off where I needed to go. When I got back to my room I was so hot and tired and all I really wanted was a cold glass of water. The sink water never really gets cold though, and there are few things I hate more than drinking luke warm water. I was too hot and exhausted to go out and buy water somewhere, so I stripped down to my underwear and sprawled on the bed in an effort to cool off. Of course I fell asleep (it was only about 5:30 pm) and slept until about 4:00 am. Then, I took a shower, got dressed for the day, and went downstairs to the WiFi area of the building at about 6:30 am. Apparently I need a personal password to connect to the network, and the man who organizes the passwords is still on vacation (all the French go on vacation in August). Oh, well. Today I will attempt to find an internet café. Also on my agenda today:
-buy a ten month bus pass
-BUY BOTTLED WATER
-start researching apartments?
-continue exploring the city

I think once I get settled into an apartment, and figure out the bus system a little better, I will really be able to relax. I miss everyone, but I am having a great time.


UPDATE: I think I found an apartment today! It's so cute. It's furnished and there's a sink in the room. There's a communal kitchen, toilet, and bath, but I think there will only be about four other students there, so it's perfect!

Also: My luggage came in Thursday, which was quite a relief.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Touchdown!

I landed in France today. Right now I am staying in Paris with Dominique and Jean-Pierre, dear friends of my family. I am already having an amazing time. Of course, my checked luggage didn't make it into France with me, but that is only one unfortunate thing that is overshadowed by my personal travel accomplishments such as holding my bladder for 13 hours or so, and not falling off the stairs, escalators, subways, et cetera while lugging my computer, carry-on suitcase, and a million important documents. We had a wonderful dinner in Dominique and Jean-Pierre's lovely backyard tonight consisting of mellon, prosciutto, cured meat, pasta, small marinated onions, salad, and of course cheese. For dessert we had raspberries and strawberries (fruit is a traditional French dessert), and these amazing chocolate cakes with hot liquid chocolate in the middle. The cakes are actually sold frozen in the store. The brand that makes them specializes in all sorts of frozen dinner items. Apparently they're like TV dinners but really really good. Ah, simple and elegant as only the French can do. And when I get an apartment in Poitiers, I can make delicious meals and pretend like I cooked them! Here is a picture of Jean-Pierre and Dominique and our dessert:


And now I desperately need to sleep. It's 11:20 pm here and I don't even know how long I've been awake. This is what jetlag looks like:


Goodnight for now, mes amis.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Au Revoir!

Tomorrow, I set off on my travels. I'm pretty hyped up. Today consisted of lunch with Elena at the Wild Pear, four dollar manicures with Elena at the beauty school, saying goodbye to grandmère and grandpère, saying goodbye to Cheryl and Mike, and trying desperately to get my suitcase under the fifty pound mark. I had to remove a lot of clothes and about three pairs of shoes in order to do this. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to replenish my wardrobe in France. *sigh*.

My flight takes off around 4 pm tomorrow, and we'll probably leave Salem and head up to PDX around 12:30. I'm not looking forward to saying goodbye to my parents at the airport. Goodbyes are always terrible. And I'm going to miss them a lot.

I will try to post more about my adventures when possible. Au revoir mes amis!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I am France-Bound

In two weeks, I will leave for one year. I will be studying in Poitiers, France.




Two weeks is not a long time. Here is a list of things I have done and things I have yet to do between now and August 26:

Done
-received my long-stay student visa
-registered for an absentee ballot
-notified bank
-obtained immunization records
-called insurance company about prescriptions
-asked Dominique and Jean-Pierre if I could stay with them in Paris for two days before taking the train to Poitiers
-checked luggage regulations
-endless paperwork and photocopying of documents


To Do
-figure out how to pack a year's worth of stuff into one suitcase
-buy calling cards
-change luggage tags to address in France
-figure out the most economical and practical way to pack a year's worth of my preferred brand of tampons in my suitcase
-make three copies of all important documents
-attempt to make myself presentable by getting eyebrows waxed, hair trimmed, et cetera
-write to Dominique and Jean-Pierre about the cell phone issue
-mentally prepare myself for turblulence during my flights
-buy converters, adaptors
-actually practice my French?

I am going to France in two weeks. I am leaving in two weeks to live in France for a year. In two weeks I will finally be able to live my fantasy of drinking wine while wearing a silk slip in a French apartment.

Also: Leaving in two weeks means seeing Jess and Alex in three weeks, and seeing Jeremy in about two months. I am so excited.