Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chez Moi: Things I missed about America/Things I will miss about France

Bonjour mes amis! I am now chez moi, after my flight yesterday.  It went pretty smoothly, a few bumps in the road, but pas mal.  My host mom bought me two baguettes in the morning to take home.  They were the first baguettes sold that day!  I wasn't sure if I would be able to carry the baguettes through customs, so I decided to but them in one of my bags.  They got a little mangled.....

Greg's caption for this photo: Welcome to America, now speak English.

Ah well, they tasted good!  After stopping by Duckloe Bros to say hi to Daddy and Aunt  Barbara, I finally arrived home! I got to pick where we went for dinner, and I decided to opt for the good old American Diner!  I remember when we took our French Exchange students to one a few years ago, they said, "oh zis is just like in ze films!". 

 Pizza Burger and Onion Rings. Om nom nom.

Greg got cherry pancakes.

So now for the "things I missed/will miss" lists
First, my America list:
-the clothes dryer
because all my socks are crunchy from air drying.  First world problems, I know.
-5 guys burgers and fries
for obvious reasons

-My Babson professors
the French university professors are there to dispense their knowledge to their students, not to get to know them or connect with them. 
I love to drive!
-Peanut Butter and Peanut related candies
My host mom would shudder every time I mentioned peanut butter. 
I can wear comfy(or ugly) pants outside of the house! Yay!
-My closet
You must be thinking, "Oh Allison, you were in the fashion capital of the world!  How could you miss your own closet??"  Well, as I didn't want to completely kill my bank account, I couldn't buy everything.  Also I had a limited amount of space to bring things home.  I got kind of sick of wearing black and grey all the time.
I am so excited to get in the kitchen and try to recreate my macarons and Roman Cooking class!
-The Dollar
The exchange rate was rough.  Thank goodness I wasn't in London where it was worse!  The exchange rate got a bit better once Hollande was elected president of France and once the Greek elections didn't work out....

And Things I will miss about France:
What??? You mean there aren't great bakeries on every corner? And baguettes and croissants are expensive???  What kind of crazy country is this??

My Host Family:
If I had bad host family, I would not have enjoyed my semester abroad.  The Chappedlaines were so kind and welcoming, and helped me with my French and to feel at home in a foreign country.  My friends on the JYF program were joking that we will never have it so easy again.  Our meals are made for us (and Madame was such a good cook!), our laundry is done, the dishes are done, and our rooms are cleaned.  I don't even get all that at home! 
The Metro:
Although I do miss driving, I will miss the convenience of the metro.  It is so well organized and reliable.  However sometimes, it does smell like stale pee.  Ew.
The Seine:
It's a muddy and gross river, but I love it all the same.
Speaking French:
-saying "bah oui!"
-saying "hop-la!"
-saying "oh la la la!"
I will just have to find people to practice with.

Always having a new Museum/Expo/Place to visit:
There is always something to do in Paris! I visited a lot of museums and expositions during my semester, but there are still a lot more I didn't get to see! 
Sitting in a Cafe for as long as I want:
I love sitting in a cafe on the sidewalk watching the world go by...
Being in France:
When I was going through the customs in CDG, the officer asked me "Ca va?" (How are you/how is it going?) and I replied in French that I was good, running a little late, but not too bad.  He said, "Oh vous parlez bien Francais!" (well duh, I've been here for a few months).  We chatted for a moment as he looked at my visa and my passport and I said I would miss France, "J'adore la France".  Then he said, "Bah, il faut que vous rentriez!" (Well, then you need to come back!)  I assured him I would. 
I hope you all enjoyed this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it!  My summer project will be scrap booking the blog.  Then I will get to relive all of it again! 
Grands Bisous,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Bonsoir tout le monde!!  This will be the last blog post I write in France...tellement triste!!  It was warm and sunny today in Paris, almost as if the city wanted to send me off on a high note!  I stopped by La Cuisine Paris one last time to say "au revoir" to everyone, and then I headed over to St. Germain de Pres to meet up with a friend and to have my last lunch at Cafe Flore, another celebrated Parisan Cafe.
Thanks for the pic Google!

 I had a croque madame, it was quite good :) I was hungry, so I did not take the time to snap a pic...

After lunch, I headed over to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, the last thing on my Paris Bucket List (for this trip anyway!)  It's on of the three major cemeteries in Paris, and is the resting place of some very famous people!
Front Gate of the Cemtery

 Everyone is all nice and cozy in their funerary monuments!
Some of them are quite ornate...
Angel statue

 Family Plot
 Gothic Architecture on a mini scale!

I liked the style of this grave



Tomb of Oscar Wilde
People write messages to him on the glass...

 I guess this lady really liked books....

If you can't live in a castle, why not be buried in one??

 Another book lover grave

One of the paths was filled with memorials to those who died during the Nazi Occupation and in the Concentration Camps.  I thought the statues really captured the sadness of that period in France's history.  N'oubliez jamais!

 Memorial for victims of Concentration Camps

 Tomb of Edith Piaf

I think most people would not decide to spend their last day in Paris in a cemetery.  I did not find it depressing though, it reminded me how fleeting life is, and I need to live each day to its fullest.  In the movie Dead Poets Society, Mr. Keating encourages his students to Carpe Diem, seize the day!  I feel that I have seized my semester here in Paris. 

I am very sad to leave, but I am looking forward to returning to the good old United States of America.  I met some amazing people on this program, and had some amazing experiences.  I am so glad I decided to study abroad, and to come to Paris.  I had a great last dinner with my host family, I will miss them.  They were so welcoming and kind, and they made my semester that much better.  My host mom even made crepes for dessert tonight because she knows how much I like them :).  

Thank you all for reading my blog and following my adventures!  I will write another post or two after I return to the US about "reverse culture shock".  I am sure I will try to speak French to people when I get home. 

And to conclude the post, a quote from Ernest Hemingway:
"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast."

I think that applies to young women too!!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rodin Museum

I have certainly been "profiter bien-ing" for my last few days in Paris!  Last night my friends and I went to hang out at the Eiffel Tower....

just another one of those moments that takes my breath away and reminds me how lucky I am to be here....

Then today I went to the Rodin Museum!  I was saving that for a nice day because a lot of the sculptures are outside in the gardens. 

 Les Invalides is super close to the museum!

 The other part of the collection is housed in an old mansion.

Beautiful Roses

 Gates of Hell

 Auguste Rodin's signature


 I think this is a tribute to Victor Hugo

 I loved the settings for all the large statues.  It was so different and refreshing from a normal museum!

 View of the gardens

 Le Penseur
(The Thinker)
 They filmed here in Midnight in Paris as well!!! I walked on the same path Carla Bruni, Owen Wilson, and Rachel McAdams did!

Always amazing to see a masterpiece in person....
 A school group was almost always one or 2 statues ahead of me during my visit.  Here are the kids "thinking".  When the teacher told them it was time to go, one kid said "Ne me derangez pas! Je pense..." Translates to "Don't disturb me! I'm thinking..."  French kids can be so sassy...

After touring the garden, I went inside to view the rest of the collection.  A lot of the large sculptures from the garden were also on display inside, on a smaller scale or in different materials such as plaster or clay.
 Most of the sculptures are in bronze.

La Bise
The Kiss

 Bust of Victor Hugo

 The Gossips

Master Rodin

 Les Mains

 Iris, messenger to the gods
looks more like a ninja to me...

As I was strolling through Paris on this hot and sunny afternoon, I came across this store....
If only I wasn't "ruinee" (broke)....


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Profiter Bien: Tuileries, Le Camion Qui Fume, and Musee Marmottan

Bonjour mes amis!
I finished my exams yesterday!! I guess this means I'm a senior in college now, I have no idea how that happened so fast....Anyway, now I have a few days left to finish my Parisian bucket list!!  After my exam yesterday, I walked from the Sweetbriar office to Place de la Concorde to catch metro line 1.  It was kind of grey, but all the colors in the Tuilieries Gardens made the day a little brighter.....

 So different from how they looked in February!!

It was kind of hazy yesterday, but you can see the Obelisk at Place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe, and La Defence in the distance.

 Des jolies fleurs

 Modern jolies fleurs!
When I first saw this "Will you marry me" sign, I was all excited about the beautiful romantic gesture in the City of Love, but then I looked around and saw I was on a movie set.  Still cute!

 Le Camion Qui Fume
"The truck that smokes"
I met up with Ellen this afternoon to try the other Paris Food Truck!  Le Camion also does burgers and fries, but more classic ones than Cantine Califournia .  Ellen got some french fries, and I ordered a Barbeque Burger.  We got to Porte Maillot in the middle of the lunch rush, and the guy taking orders asked Ellen if she would like her "frites tout de suite", or fries right away.  I thought that phrase was adorable.  I tried a few of her classic fries and I have to say they were delicious.  
 Waiting for my BBQ burger

Finally, after about half an hour, I got my burger!  I was starving...It was juicy and well done, just the way I like it! The bun was fresh and delicious as well as the onion ring in the middle.  I only wish their process could have been faster...ah well that's the supply chain concentration in me!

After digesting the delicousness, I headed over to the 16th arrondissment to check out Musee Marmottan, another item on my Paris bucket list.  
On my way I saw a cool statue of a guy in 18th century clothes with a raven and a fox...


 Outside Musee Marmottan
The museum is in an old Parisian townhouse, and the building itself is a work of art.  The collection is filled with stunning Monet Water Lilies, Renoir paintings, furniture, medival art and other impressionist art.
Once again, no pictures allowed BUT I TOOK SOME ANYWAY.  The worst they can do is kick me out of the country, and I'm leaving in a few days anyway...
The picture above that little rant is MONET'S PAINT PALET. Can you imagine all the masterpieces he created useing that thing?  Mind blowing....

Sneaky pic of one of the rooms. 

There was also a temporary exposition of Berthe Morisot paintings.  She (that's right folks, a woman painter!! I honestly have not seen many paintings in the museums I have visited that were painted by a woman) painted at the same time as Monet, Cezanne, Pisarro, and Renoir.  Apparantly they were all friends! She also was the sister-in-law of Edouard Manet.  What a talented bunch!
Portrait of Berthe by Manet
Painting of Eugene and Julie(Morisot's husband and daughter)

Interior of the Cottage

I had never heard of Berthe Morisot and now I love her work!  The exposition was really well done and the paintings were stunning.  I do love impressionism!  I will keep profiter bien-ing for my last few days!!