Friday, August 24, 2012

My sweet Gunther :)

It's so weird to think that I've almost been here for two months! I can't believe that in a week I'm going to be saying goodbye to all of the wonderful people that I've met here, and this beautiful city that now feels like my own. I know that  I'll be glad to get back home and see all of the people that I have missed so much, but I'm definitely going to miss Angers.

This was the last full week of school (for some reason we end on a Tuesday this term) and it was full of presentations and tests. I had to do a presentation in my oral practice class, and I did a comparison between Angers and Eugene. They're actually more similar than I had thought.
Next Tuesday is the Fête National (big end of term party/talent show), which should be fun, but it's going to officially be the end of everything which is so weird. Last term it was really fun and I was glad that I had another month here when everyone else was saying goodbye. After the fête this time though, it's really going to be the end. That is so weird.
Crêpes with Nutella, and hard cider!
Sweet Paul et Hugo enjoying their crêpes
Jacques, my host dad making Crêpes. You can't really tell
from this picture,but he looks just like Dustin Hoffman!

On a happier note :) last night after dinner, my host parents brought out their mini crêpe maker to make dessert, and we sat around and talked and enjoyed this delicious part of French culture :)
I'm so glad to still have another week to enjoy my friends, my host family, and delicious French food :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I thought it might be interesting to share some pictures of my host family's house. I posted a picture of the front of their house earlier, but here are some pictures of my little bedroom, and their gorgeous backyard. I want to take some pictures of the FOUR dogs that are staying here right now (one actually lives here), but that will have to be for another day.
I also want to mention (particularly for my dad) that yes I go by the square that is in the picture on the homepage of my blog all the time. It's called "La place Saint-Croix" (Cross) and the statue is of  Monseigneur Freppel (Bishop Freppel) who was important in the Catholic church. France is a very Catholic country, and la place Saint-Croix is just down the street from the Cathedral where my group went on our tour of the city, and where my site director, Sue and I went to church last week. 
The building in that picture is called "La maison d'Adam" (Adam's house, like Adam and Eve) or "L'arbre de vie" (tree of life). It was built around 1500, and is an example of what the early houses in Angers looked like.

My room is called "the Yellow Room" (La chambre jaune) and comes complete with yellow towels for the bathroom. When I first got here the bedspread and pillow were yellow too, but they're in the wash now. There is also "the Blue Room" (La chambre bleu) et "the Red room" (La chambre rouge)

My host family is very much into gardening, and their backyard is just gorgeous. This picture doesn't even do it justice. I'll try to get a better picture later. In case you were wondering, to the right is a dartboard that they bought for their sweet grandsons, Hugo et Paul who are living here for a month. They are from the south of France, and are eleven and eight. It's been fun to have them here, and to see my host parents as grandparents :)

16/8/12 (Happy Birthday, EJ! :)

We finally got to go to London last weekend and it was so fun! A weekend is not (nearly) enough time, but we did get to see a lot of cool sights. Our little hostel was called "The Walrus Waterloo" and it was about a five minute walk from the metro, and from the London Eye! It was perfect. We literally turned the corner, and we had a perfect view of Big Ben!
We wanted to see as much as possible, so we walked over to Big Ben, and then continued to Buckingham Palace, where we wanted to see the Changing of the Guard, but were too late. However, we had a perfect view of the men's speed walking competition :) That was probably the coolest part for me; getting to watch an Olympic event with beautiful Buckingham Palace as the backdrop.

Big Ben and me :)
This was a display that we saw on the way to Buckingham Palace. It's all (or most) of the world flags, and the sign in front says "Peace" :)
After watching the speed walkers for a while (the race takes forEVER!) we headed towards Westminster Abbey. On the way, we passed a park that had lawn chairs and concessions which I'm guessing was a viewing park. Apparently there are more all over London.
After Westminster Abbey, we wanted to try to get in to Olympic park. We heard that it was about ten pounds to get in to the park to view the events on a big screen, and then sometimes people could get cheap tickets for random events. We took a twenty minute metro ride there, and as we were leaving the metro station, there was a policeman telling everyone that there was no more room to even get in to the park! Well, at least we got to see one event up close :)
The weekend was over way too soon, and before we knew it, we were back in Angers. We decided that we have to go back and stay for at least a week :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012


If you had told me a year ago that I had the chance to go to Paris, but I had to get there by myself, and navigate my way to a hostel to meet up with my friends, I would have been terrified. Probably to the point where I wouldn't have gone.
However, as I was preparing to leave for Paris on Monday, I was surprised to realize that I wasn't scared at all. I knew how to get to the train station in Angers, and how to figure out which train to take, I had my little pocket map of Paris in my purse (thanks Dad, for packing at the last minute. It was a life saver) and I knew that I had plenty of time from when I arrived in Paris, to when I was supposed to meet my friends (who had left early that morning to go to Euro Disney). In fact, the only thing that I felt, was excited!
This whole month in Angers has been such a growing experience for me. I feel like I've gained so much more confidence, and proven to myself that I'm much more capable than I give myself credit for. At first, travelling from Portland to Amsterdam to Paris to Angers seemed so scary, and I was so nervous about it. But I did it. Then, figuring out the bus system, and how to find important things in Angers seemed like a big ordeal, but now it's almost as easy as finding my way around Eugene or Corvallis. So by the time I left Monday morning, Paris seemed like a piece of cake. I acknowledged that I would most likely get lost, but reminded myself that there are much worse things than being lost in such a beautiful city! And so, as I stepped off of the train, I took out my little map, found the general direction of the Eiffel Tower, and took off. 
I did get lost a few times, but because of it, I found a fantastic boulangerie where I bought the most delicious pain au chocolat, so I didn't complain. After walking for a while, I suddenly looked up, and saw the Eiffel Tower right in front of me! 
  I couldn't get there soon enough. I was so excited to really feel like I was in Paris. Finally, after sprinting for the last mile or so, I was standing right in front of it. I found a place in the grass, got out the rest of my pastry and my book and just relaxed and read, with a perfect view. 

 In the evening, I met my friends and we went out for a little picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower while it was lit up in the dark. Starting at ten, on the hour, for five minutes, the Eiffel Tower lights up with sparkly lights. It's so pretty to see. This picture doesn't even begin to do it justice.
The next day, Tenzin and I went shopping in the part of Paris called Montmartre which is where the Moulin Rouge is. We had heard about a little store called Sympa, which had really good sales. However, after wandering around for several hours, we were thoroughly disappointed to find that it  didn't live up to its reputation. It was still fun exploring a new part of town. 
That night was our friend Nambi's last night in Paris, so we all went out to dinner at a very popular cafe. It was loud and super busy, but had the best rosé that I've ever had. We almost died laughing when we saw one of the waiters open and duck into what we thought was just a cabinet, but turned out to be the door to the downstairs storage room. We tried to get a picture, but he was too quick.  It was so fun to get to hangout with our group one more time :)
Les filles waiting for our table
 On our last day in Paris, Tenzin, Christine and I went shopping on the Champs-Elysée, which was lovely. It was beautiful weather, and we knew we couldn't afford to buy anything, but it was so fun to just be there and explore. 
Christine and me in front of the Arc de Triomphe

I was too intimidated to go in :) 
Drinking wine out of a water bottle on the roof of the hostel :)
After a long afternoon of shopping, we went back to our hostel, and broke out some wine. It was a great trip, and we are so excited that in about a week we get to have another adventure in LONDON!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I can't believe that I've almost been here for a month already! It's going by too fast! School is going well. We had to get into groups for a project where we had to interview French people about a cultural subject of our choice. My group chose education in France. It was scary going up to random people at first, but then we got the hang of it and became more confident, and it was actually pretty fun :) 
A group of girls and I are planning a weekend trip to London next month and we're so excited! We found a reasonably priced hostel that's pretty close to where the Olympics are going to be so it should be great. 
My host family had some family over this weekend, and I met them all, which was really fun. They have a bunch of grandkids, and some of them live in the south of France, and some others live in Ireland, and have the coolest accents :)(so I was able to speak English a little bit). Today they're going to have a big party with everyone, but the other day, a few of the Irish and French grandkids who are teenagers came over while their parents and my host parents went out to dinner. They were really fun, and wanted to know about the States, and I asked them about Ireland. We found some pre-Olympic show on TV, and it was fun to watch and talk about it, having three different countries represented :) 
We went on the last two excursions, to visit some Châteaux, and the  one that I was most excited about: Normandy. They were both so interesting, and I felt like I could have spent all day at Normandy. We went to the museum first, and then to the American cemetery, which was really emotional, but so cool to see. Then we went to see some bunkers that the German army made and hid in above Omaha beach, and lastly, to the German cemetery.

For Dad :)

Christine and me at the top of a Chateaux

Fun flavors of lemonade at one of the gift shops


The American cemetery was really emotional

I found two soldiers from Oregon

Omaha Beach

German bunkers

The German cemetery was SO different from the American one
This coming week is the last of school for the first session. On Friday night everyone is getting together at the school for a party, and each country is supposed to sing/dance/act or do something that represents their culture. The American group hasn't come up with anything yet. Suggestions?


Sunday, July 15, 2012


This weekend was filled with so many fun activities and excursions! On Friday we got out of school at noon and went on an excursion to "Anjou Troglodytique"  Which used to be an old underground town. It was pretty cool to see, although it would have been even better had it not been absolutely POURING rain. It consisted of a bunch of caves that used to function as living spaces for the whole town. 

Wine room

Les filles :)


After exploring for a while, and getting completely soaked, we left the little town for a visit to a winery. It was really cool to see how it was all made, and especially fun to get to go tasting after the tour!

Laura and me in front of a huge barrel of wine.

After the winery, our last stop was to an underground (sous-terre) restaurant where we would be eating dinner. Apparently the restaurant is famous for its mushroom dishes (which are not my favorite, but I DID try them),so I instead indulged myself in the fabulous, right-out-of-the-oven pita rolls that they brought us. We also got two bottles of fantastic wine for our table. It was such a great experience!

At dinner underground!
This also happened to be the day before Bastille day, which is when Angers does their big celebration with fireworks and huge sales. The bars are also open almost all night, so we had planned to watch the fireworks when we got back, and then go out. However, due to the rain, all that we could see of the fireworks were brief flashes of light, so we decided to go straight to our favorite bar and drink 2 euro beers instead :) It turned out to be a really fun night.

Monday, July 9, 2012


Yesterday we took a day trip to see Mont Saint Michel and to visit St. Malo. Mont Saint Michel is an old monastery in the middle of the ocean. It is famous partly because for a long time no one was able to invade it and take it over. It was so cool to see, but we didn't have time to take an official tour, which I would have liked to do, so we had to just walk around by ourselves. 

Mont Saint Michel

Tenzin, Jen and me at the top where it was super windy!

Organ in the hall where Mass is held
Inside the church. I really wanted to stay for the Mass that was
about to start, but they made us leave.

Pretty courtyard with a garden

A little garden that I found while I was exploring

After we explored Mont Saint Michel, we met back at the buses to have a picnic lunch. My prepacked vegetarian lunch consisted  of two apples, a bowl of carrot sticks, potato chips, two little cheese rounds, and a water bottle :)Being a vegetarian is foreign to a lot of French people, so they often think that the only things we eat are fruits and vegetables. I'll have to work on them :)
 When we were done eating, we took a scenic ride to St. Malo, which is a little beach town in the region of Bretagne. When we got there it was sunny and perfect beach weather. We had several hours to walk around, and the first thing that we did was visit an old building that had been completely bombed in World War II. It was really cool. We walked all the way around, and got a beautiful view of the ocean.

They built a wall to contain some ocean water to make a little
swimming pool. It was too cold for swimming, or else I would have
been all over it

When we were done looking around the top, we decided that we should take advantage of the fact that  Bretagne is known for crepes ( I don't know how to do the accent on my computer yet, but there should be a little hat over the first e).
On the way to get our dessert, we passed this street sign which means
"Street of the cat who dances" :)

My delicious crepe du Nutella
It was a really fun, but tiring day, and on the way back to school, most of us fell asleep. The next big event is on the 14th which is Bastille Day (French Independence day) where there are festivals and fireworks and everything is open until two or three in the morning(which is a big deal in France, because there's no such thing as 24 hour restaurants or stores here).