Saturday, July 23, 2005


The streets are cobbled, stony and narrow. Cars will most likely come within inches every day of your ankles.

You get used to dealing with people, your tolerance goes up and you handle lots of situations because you have to--until another girl in your program moves into your house with your family and drives you nuts to the point where you are hiding on your family's computer, checking livejournal, so you don't have to see her.

But for the most part, you're still tolerant.

You find yourself up, willingly, before 8, making coffee and going to the market to buy cheese, wine, homemade honey, melons and baguettes. You carry all this home in a large bag, because that's the way it's done here.

You do it that way too, because you found out the hard way when you stocked up on Nutella, cookies and Orangina: The Monoprix supermarket doesn't give you bags for your groceries.

When told you're going to a "Beach Party" with your French family and their friends, that actually means you're going to a private party on the Mediterranean where you'll drink wine and champagne with your French parents (aged 32 and 26) and their beautiful friends, before you all have a dance party and jump in the water fully clothed.

Getting up the next morning and sharing a hangover with your family might be awkward.

The bars are open until 2, and unlike half the girls in the group, you're not seeking a French man at them.

You get used to walking through tourist traps and roll your eyes when the next big group of American students, German couples or Asian retirees, stops in front of you to take pictures of whatever buildling is in front of them.

Even the arena has blended in as "just" part of the scenery.

In fact, didn't you know, you're an American student here...not an American tourist.

When you run out books, you raid your hosts' bookcases and start the DaVinci Code in French.

When only one week remains, you meet some of the nicest people in your group who you've never hung out with before.

And when only one week remains, you realize you don't have time anymore, to do all the things you've said you'd do.But the south of France has got her grip on you: Why rush? Life's too short to hurry. Put your feet up, have a petit cafe, have a verre de vin, order yourself what you like, and spend the evening tucked into the warm comfort of the lavender-infused air with your friends in deep convesation across golden-colored tablecloths. As they say, que sera sera.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Some Disconnected Thoughts

1. I haven't mentioned it, but I've had a cough since the second week here. I think I'm allergic to France.

2. I can't believe there was ever a point in time where I ran down Sherman Avenue with a boombox iPod with my friends at 6 am post-Dillo Day for Starbucks in the most perfect impression of a music video for "Amsterdam" that I've ever participated in.

3. I want to reconstruct the sentence structure of number 2, but I'm too tired to do that.

4. I saw a play in French today. It was slightly difficult to understand, but fun to schmooze with the actors afterward nonetheless.

5. I'm still reeling from HP6. I cried in front of a train full of French people today.

6. I could really go for some Graeter's Ice Cream. What will I ever do without the famous Cincinnati ice cream?

7. Immediate plans for August: work. go to Kentucky with Katie, preferably to mammoth cave. use up rest of GameZone points with Grant in Cincy. drive to Evanston for a weekend. work. more.

8. Do I just leave this antispyware scan running on my 27-year-old host dad's computer when I go up to bed?

9. I got my host family addicted to Arrested Development. The seed has been sown in France.

10. I'm lucky that my family is friends with my France-friends' families. We've so far had three dinner parties in the last week, mainly involving spaghetti, bread, lots of cheese and lots of wine... oh and lots of yogurt for dessert. One involved watching a French CSI-like drama that is all the rage here. I know I'M hooked.

11. Spring quarter, at times, involved me slamming my head against a wall.

12. I hate walls.

13. I love France. It cleared my head, or at least helped to.

14. Things I will about France?... Cheap wine... Beautiful skies and views... Roman ruins just being part of everyday life... Some of the girls here... Patisseries... Constant supplies of "oohhlahlahs!" and "mais nooooooooooon" and richly blown flabby lips and looks of exasperation... oh, and speaking French.

15. I probably will nod off during my photography lecture tomorrow...I mean, the development of the portrait is as interesting as the next thing, but still...


Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Things are starting to wind up...or down... here in Arles.

By winding up, I mean that I bought Harry Potter and refuse to do work until I finish it. And that I have a despicable amount of work that my profs decided to spring on me. I am unhappy with my classes, and perhaps that is because I spent 9 hours in them today, as compared to my usual 3 twice a week.

I went to Venice to meet up with Jess.(Insert hearts and romantic music here.)

Venice = Disney World, Italiano style, beautiful, lots of food, lots of glass, no cars, lots of scary men, lots of beautiful fireworks, eating cheese and wine and fruit and chocolate in your hotelroom by fancified tables, buying Harry Potter, gossip and girltalk, being alone one day there, meeting John's twin.

I'm very excited to come home. The most excited I've felt in a long, long time happened the other day in Venice when the image of me sitting, waiting for take-off in Marseille came to mind... going home. What a nice feeling.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

More from France

General update of what has happened to me recently:

-experienced the infamous night bus for the first time ever

-decision made that i never will experience the night bus again-saw Barcelona for three days

-saw Barcelona by night (note: different than seeing it by day)

-experienced night bus again, this time less sketchy-arrived home at 6:30 am...home being Arles

-slept for an hour-went to class

-made plans to go to Venice

-attended a party for my host mom's birthday

-host mom's mom insisted I drink more wine...and more wine...and more wine...and...

-bought train tickets to Venice

-went out for dinner with a genuine French gentleman

-finalized Venice plans


I can't believe I'm leaving here again to go somewhere else in Europe. Even Chakan (genuine French gentleman) thinks I'm crazy but doing the right thing... I mean, how often am I across the ocean in Europe? Not that often.

Perhaps one of the things I've learned in Europe and really fascinates me is the way people meet one another here. Everything is so open, with cafes on the streets and people cramming into them's inevitable that you'll meet tons of people. I've met all sorts of individuals on my trip, who perhaps I'll never meet again. Chakan is only one of two whose names I've gotten, and the only one I've made a point of seeing again. The only other name I got was Emmanuel, a Parisian who I met at Notre Dame at night. There have been Australians in Barcelona. There have been Frenchmen who speak no English on trains. There have been French college girls at museums. There have been Aix-en-Provence French students on buses. There have been Marylanders on buses. How many faces will I always remember and connect with places, without knowing their names?...

By the way, I'm crazy about French people. I love them. Specifically Claire, my host mom, and her mom. I love girl-talk in French.

I have to get ready for bed. Or go out with my new French friends. or the other. (This is the way Europe works: Barcelona, Strasbourg or Venice this weekend guys? Meh, we'll see...)


Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Salut, Europe!

Am I studying here?
I think so.

Yesterday was very educational, I think. I mean: I went to two different photography exhibits, a photography music/photo projection thing, a museum about the Avignon theatre festival and an art exhibit. But I also had an amazingly fun dinner with my friends, cracking up completely sober and talking in French, going to a bar and meeting an Arlesian whose birthday is today and then having him introduce me to the ins and outs of breaking into Roman ruins in Arles. The old Roman theatre by night, with only stars and NOOO tourists???

I have a cold though. And a cough. And I hard core miss my friends and family. I called my parents at 3:30 am last night, which was the first phone call I've made since I don't know when.

Jess and I are frantically trying to make plans to get Arles, France and Graz, Austria to become one, somewhere in the middle of the two. It might happen in Venice...or Strasbourg...or Geneva... who knows?

Meanwhile, this weekend, it was just decided I'm either going to Montpellier (really close by, cute city); Barcelona, Spain; Lausanne, Switzerland; or Strasbourg, France.

You know, the usual up-in-the-air weekend plans, uhh, right?

I'm about to have my first auberge experience this weekend too. That shall be interesting...Oh, and apparently I sound like a young French girl who can't quite speak correctly yet and is just learning her own language. Good, even if I can't communicate, at least that's, uh, cute?


Saturday, July 2, 2005

Things of Note, Bullet-Point Form:

-i'm sunburned
-because i spent the weekend in marseille
-on the beach
-and eating gourmet duck and gateau chocolat, prepared by hotsy totsy cooks
-who like to get american girls drunk with rhum avec lime, which we'll take more of... like maybe 13 shot glassfuls over one dinner
-and wandering the streets of marseille
-sitting at bars and watching fist fights and motobike accidents along the boulevard de rive niveau, the main drag in marseille
-to end up at underground discotheques
-...really, a discotheque..
.-...really, underground: in roman arched ruins, with multiple djs in multiple rooms with multiple bars, in the dark, damp and smoky halls of the old fortifications underneath the city
-oh, and the beach again...
-all day...
-and the chateau d'if (hello, eduard dantes)
-and also old german embankments along the coast of the barren, beautiful island, which was only found by me and two other friends
-with more beach, in a cove, and no other tourists
-and good looking men in marseille...a lot of them... who were good dancers, actually

so i spent my weekend on the beach, in the streets, underground, drinking, eating, dancing and exploring. i am only writing this out because i can't quite believe it myself.