Strasbourg Capitale de Noël

The Christmas Season is in full swing, and we were greeted with snow on the 1st day of December making it all the more magical. Since then it has snowed a handful of times but not big snow, however, enough to be beautiful. Unfortunately, unlike back home, classes don’t get cancelled. It was so strange for me to see little kids at recess the day it snowed.

 

 

 

I’m missing home extra right now because everyone is finishing finals and I won’t be done until the 22nd. The exams are EXTREMELY spread out and finals for me started last week and is finishing the week after next. Although I’m not stressing out and cramming, I much prefer to get it over with as soon as possible. Someone told me they don’t feel they’ll do as good because they don’t have any pressure as opposed to if you had a shorter amount time and I think that’s very true!

Along with finals, I also have 2 group projects left.

Reflecting on this semester, If I’ve learned anything it’s how to work on a group project. I’ve become a master of google slides and google docs. Although at times it was frustrating to work in groups, at LSU it is very seldom there are group projects and I think it’s very important to learn how to work with a team. Something else I’ve enjoyed this semester is NO TEXTBOOKS. I can’t tell you how many times either myself or someone in class has asked how a topic would ever be relevant in real life. Here, as opposed to using a text book we learn topics with case studies, aka real-life. I’ve really enjoyed learning how the concepts we study in class are applicable in a real-world scenario. Plus, I’ve learned several cool facts of some of the biggest companies in the world! Also, I’ve gone on 3 field-trips! Two of which were to the European Parliament and one will be next week to the Christmas Market to conduct some marketing research for my experiential marketing class.

I’ve also enjoyed playing on the soccer team at school! We won our first game 6-2 and play again tomorrow! The girls are awesome and it’s great for me to practice my French, and they get practice in English haha. It’s a sight to see I can imagine during our games or practice when I’m yelling at them in English the whole time for runs and calling for the ball.

As for the Marché de Nöel, as much as I love the Christmas market I do feel like it’s a “go once and that’s it experience”, however, it is very pretty. This may be in part because it’s extremely cold out and there is no indoors area. One of the good things is that since there are so many surrounding villages, visiting their Christmas markets there’s always something new to see. They are also much more cozier since they aren’t in the middle of a big city and as opposed to being surrounded by huge buildings it’s little cottages.

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As usual, regardless of all the good things that happen, I feel there’s some rule that it has to be a 2:1 ratio. So the one bad thing that has happened to me the past week was that on my way to work on a group project, mid-peddle crossing the street, my bike chain broke and I couldn’t control my bike anymore and there was a group of about 20 people at the bus stop in front of my house watching the whole scene play out. It wasn’t like I could check why it happened in the middle of the road and I was so embarrassed I didn’t even look back so I had to hop down of the seat straddling my bike and scoot the rest of the way and then I just walked it as quickly as possible to lock it on a rack since I was in a hurry and couldn’t figure out what had happened at first. It wasn’t until I compared my bikes to the others on my way home I realized the whole chain was missing. This will be the 3rd time I bring it to the bike shop. I’m sure they’ll know me by name before I leave!

In order to get in the Christmas Spirit, I bought hot cocoa which may or may not have been a good thing. I make it on a regular basis, in order to a.) get warm, and b.) feel christmasy. Our evenings are usually spent drinking hot cocoa, wine, or tea together and eating bread and cheese or whatever evening treat someone brings home. And lately, we’ve been watching Christmas movies to make it feel more like a Christmas atmosphere.

Today we’re picking up our Christmas tree today and will be having our Christmas dinner next weekend to exchange our Secret Santa gifts since everyone is leaving for the holidays.

 

Finally, this past Thursday Alex, Soundousee, and I visited the Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg in Selestat. It’s so neat that things like this exist so close to us. We took a train from Strasbourg there and poor planning on Alex’s part had us taking an Uber up and not knowing it was the only one in all of Selestat we had to ask for a ride back down to the train station. All-in-all it was a fun afternoon, the weather was beautiful and the view was amazing. I can only imagine having lived during the Middle Ages and looking out at my kingdom. The cool thing is that you can see other castles in the mountains in the distance.

Only a handful of days until Damian gets here! So excited to travel for the New Year !!

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Being 5,090 miles away from home (yes, I looked it up) didn’t stop me from celebrating Thanksgiving! We planned our “Friendsgiving” meal way in advance and everyone was assigned a typical Thanksgiving dish to bring to the table. Mind you, this was everyone’s first time celebrating Thanksgiving in their life…most of them had never even tried the dishes they made, yet, they all turned out AMAZING! Francesca was so confused why she was putting sugar and marshmallows in sweet potatoes, however, her dish turned out to be my favorite!

I assigned everyone a recipe and there were A LOT of substitutions. There are several things you cannot find here in France that make up your favorite thanksgiving dishes: brown sugar and corn syrup for pecan pie; as Tatiana had put it best, “you can’t find ‘corn’ anything here”!

We cooked together all afternoon and it was just like back home everyone running around, getting dressed and taking showers last minute, Abi dropped half of her green beans on the floor, the Thanksgiving chaos made me feel like I was at home!

In the evening we all got together and invited a few other friends to celebrate! We even served everyone the amount a true experienced Thanksgiving veteran would, covering every single square inch of the plate!

I was so proud when in true spirit ; people got up for seconds!!!

This was our menu:

Turkey

Rice Dressing

Green Bean Casserole

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Sweet Potatoe Casserole

Apple Pie

Pecan Pie

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Before digging in we each said what we were thankful for which I know some people were really looking forward to taking part in this tradition *cough* Diana *cough*.

Everyone mentioned how they were thankful for this experience, for being able to experience their first thanksgiving, and having such wonderful roommates! We got a little silly and Francesca ended up having a huge list of things she was thankful for…when we went to continue going around the circle she even said, “Wait! I’m not done yet”…She really embraced the tradition!

Later in the night she even gave me her secret ingredient for her Sweet Potato Casserole. It called for pecans and not knowing the nut she grabbed walnuts… her tactic for getting us to not notice was crushing them up extremely small. It was still delicious!

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Friday we didn’t partake in Black Friday as it’s a much smaller event here, most stores offered 20% off.

Friday evening was the inauguration of the Christmas Market which the oldest most famous one is here in Strasbourg! We weathered the pouring rain to watch the lighting of the Christmas tree. It was similar to New Year’s Rockin’ Eve where they had performers before the lighting and a host with several guest broadcasters from around the country coming in to comment.

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IMG_1725-1.jpgAfter the countdown and the tree was lit we escaped the weather. On the way home, we stopped at McDonald’s as all rough nights go; comfort food when I’m missing home (or being lazy).

Saturday morning Diana and I headed to Colmar for a guided tour of their Christmas Market. The town is so cozy and beautiful; it’s a 25 min train ride from Strasbourg.

The tour took an hour and I learned so many things about Christmas traditions! Apples and Pretzels were used as decorations on the tree. The apples as a sign for original sin and the “bretzels” as they are called here a symbol of god’s eternal love thanks to their shape which resembles an infinity symbol. Also, Godmother’s and Godfather’s would hide a piece of gold inside to give to their godchildren on New Year’s to start of the year (I like this idea; nanny and parrain, take notes!)

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Did you know that St.Nicholas, the man who inspired Santa Claus, was from Turkey! His legend told here in France is that a butcher lodged three boys and killed them and cut them into pieces and St.Nicholas rescued them and brought them back to life.

Also, St.Nicholas passes on the night of December 5th, his feast day is on the 6th. Children receive presents on the 6th. He is followed by Krampuslauf (Krampus) who steals all the naughty children and puts them in his sack never to be seen again.

So, on Christmas Eve it is not Santa Claus who brings presents but Christkind, a female angel modeled after the Angel of the Lord who announced Jesus’ Birth.

Bretzels and Clementines were traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve because of tradition to not eat meat which is where we get staying up till midnight which was when they would then have a feast! Some places eat seven kinds of fish!

Furthermore, I learned that Santa Claus’ red and white suit became widely popularized thanks to  Coca-Cola!

Finally, the last Christmas Tradition I found intriguing was that Christmas Eve is thought to be a magical night because it’s a night when it was believed that animals had the gift to speak!

The tour was very interesting and our guide shared many myths, legends, and traditions of Christmas in Alsace and Europe.

Something traditional at the Christmas market is “Vin Chaud” or “Hot Wine” which I was not a fan of; it’s very thick and syrupy. It’s traditionally red wine which historically; it was the bad wine that was left over and it was heated up and flavored with spices. It ALMOST tastes good but not my favorite. White wine, apple juice, and orange juice with spices are now offered for different preferences. IMG_7455 2.JPG

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~FRANÇAIS~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Le fait que j’étais 8,191 km de chez moi (oui j’ai recherché la distance) ne m’a pas empêchée de célébrer Thanksgiving! On a organisé, en avance, notre repas de « Friendsgiving » et tout le monde devait préparer un plat pour ce repas. Il faut savoir, que c’était la première fois que tout le monde a célébré Thanksgiving. De plus, plusieurs d’entre eux n’ont jamais essayé les plats qu’ils ont préparés, mais quand même ils étaient réussis. Francesca n’a pas compris pourquoi elle a ajouté du sucre et des guimauves aux patates douces, néanmoins, son plat était mon préféré !

J’ai donné à tout le monde une recette et beaucoup d’ingrédients étaient remplacés. Il y a plusieurs choses nécessaires pour les plats, surtout pour les desserts traditionnels de Thanksgiving, qu’on ne peut pas trouver ici en France.  Par exemple, du sucre brun ou du sirop de maïs pour la tarte de pecan. Comme Tatiana l’avait dit, « tu ne peux pas trouver des choses avec du maïs ici » !

Nous avons cuisiné ensemble tout l’après-midi et c’était comme si j’étais chez moi. Tout le monde courrait par tous, en train de s’habiller à la dernière minute et prendre des douches.

Abi a laissé tomber la moitié de ses haricots verts par terre : le chaos de Thanksgiving m’a donné l’impression d’être à la maison.

Le soir nous nous sommes réunis tous ensemble et on a invité quelques amis pour faire la fête. On a servi tout le monde de portions équivalents à celles d’un vrai « expert » de Thanksgiving, couvrant chaque centimètre carré du plat.

J’étais très fière quand tout le monde s’est levé pour du rab.

Voici notre menu :

Dinde

Rice dressing

Casserole de Haricot Vert

Purée

Casserole de Patates Douces

Tarte aux Pommes

Tartes aux Pecans

Haricots Verts

Avant de manger on a tous partagé quelques mots afin de remercier les bonnes choses dans nos vies. Je sais que certaines personnes avaient hâte de participer à cette tradition @Diana.

Tout le monde était reconnaissant de cette expérience : de célébrer leur premier Thanksgiving, et d’avoir de merveilleux collocs. Nous sommes devenus un peu ridicules et Francesca avait beaucoup des choses pour lesquelles elle était reconnaissant (i.e. Pizza)…quand on a essayé de continuer à la prochaine personne elle a exclamé qu’elle n’avait pas fini ! Elle a vraiment comprit cette tradition.

Plus tard, le soir, Francesca m’a donnée son ingrédient secret pour sa délicieuse casserole de patates douces. Des pecans étaient nécessaires pour la recette mais comme elle ne savait pas ce qu’étaient des pecans, elle a acheté des noix. Pour que l’on ne se rende pas compte de son erreur, elle les a émincés très fins. Quand même c’était incroyable !

Vendredi nous ne sommes pas allés au Black Friday comme c’est un évènement beaucoup moins sérieux ici, beaucoup des magasins avaient des réductions à 20%.

Vendredi soir était l’inauguration du Marché de Noël ici à Strasbourg où se trouve un des plus vieux et plus grands en France. On a supporté la pluie pour observer l’illumination du sapin de noël en centre-ville. C’était comme New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, il y avait des artistes qui ont joué pendant le spectacle.  Il y avait aussi un présentateur avec des messages d’autres présentateurs venus d’autres régions du pays partagés avec les spectateurs.

Après le compte à rebours et l’illumination du sapin, nous sommes partis. Sur le chemin du retour, on s’est arrêtées manger à McDonald’s ; de la nourriture qui me rappelle chez moi (ou quand je suis paresseuse) !

Samedi matin Diana et moi sommes allées à Colmar pour un tour guidé du Marche de Noël. La ville est très mignonne ; c’est à 25 min par train de Strasbourg.

Le tour a duré une heure et j’ai appris plusieurs choses sur les traditions de noël. Les pommes et bretzels sont utilisés comme décorations pour les sapins. Les pommes étaient des symboles pour le péché originel et les bretzels sont des symboles de l’amour éternel de Dieu représenté par leur forme qui ressemble à un signe de l’infini. De plus, les marraines et parrains auront caché une petite pièce d’or dans le bretzel pour le donner à leurs filleuls pour commencer la nouvelle année. (J’aime bien cette idée ; nanny et parrain, notez cette idée !)

Est-ce que vous savez que, St.Nicolas, l’homme qui est derrière l’inspiration de Père Noël vient de la Turquie. La légende racontée ici en France c’est qu’un boucher a accueilli 3 petit garçons et il les a tués et découpés en petit morceaux. St. Nicholas les a sauvés et les a ressuscités.

Aussi, St.Nicholas passe pendant la nuit du 5 décembre, parce que sa fête religieuse est le 6 décembre. Les enfants reçoivent des cadeaux le 6. Il est suivi par Krampuslauf (Krampus) qui kidnappe tous les enfants désobéissants. Donc, la veille de noël, ce n’est pas le Père Noël qui amène des cadeaux mais Christkind, un ange féminin modelé d’après l’Ange de Dieu qui a annoncé la naissance de Jésus.

Des bretzels et clémentines étaient traditionnellement mangés pendant la Veille de Noël à cause de la tradition religieuse qui prohibait de manger de la viande jusqu’au 25 décembre. Dans quelques régions, 7 différents types de poisson étaient manges !

En outre, j’ai appris que le costume rouge et blanc du Père Noël est devenu popularisé grâce au Coca-Cola !

Finalement, la dernière tradition de Noël que j’ai trouvé intéressante c’est qu’il y a une croyance populaire par laquelle les animaux seraient magiquement dotés de parole.

Le tour était vraiment intéressant et notre guide a partagé beaucoup de mythes, légendes, et traditions de Noël en Alsace et en Europe.

Quelque chose traditionnelle au Marché c’est du Vin Chaud de laquelle je n’ai pas aimer ; c’est très épais et comme de sirop. C’est traditionnellement du vin rouge parce que historiquement c’était du mauvais vin qui était cuit et parfumé aux épices. Ça a presque un bon goût mais je n’aime pas trop. Du vin blanc, jus de pommes, et jus d’orange avec des épices sont aujourd’hui utilisés pour différentes préparations.

Authentic American Pancake Syrup

I’ve been busy pretty with the semester wrapping up and the holiday season approaching. So many things to do.

What I’ve been up to the past few weeks has been everything and anything.

Winter is in full-swing here in Strasbourg the average for the past two weeks has been steady between 0-5 degrees C (32-40 F). All of the winter “accessories” we put on for show in Louisiana have an actual use! Gloves are an absolute MUST! I’ve forgotten mine a few times leaving the house, and definitely felt the repercussions…biking with the wind turning your fingers purple because it’s so cold outside is miserable!

Regardless, the cold is what makes the holiday season so magical… I will die if I have a white Christmas! My roommates and I have already started listening to Christmas music and making plans! We’ve already ordered the Turkey for next Thursday and everyone was assigned a dish to bring to our Friendsgiving!

We’ve also organized a secret Christmas gift exchange!

To bring you up to date on what was happening the past two weeks here are the big things!

Last week Tatiana made Russian Dumplings with Russian Salad and a divine sauce…..she is quite the cook, it was love at first bite!

 

I visited a supermarket near me and would you believe they carried peanut butter and red beans (they’re a hit here)! Those were commodities categorized in the world food section! I had been limiting myself to the selection of the one super market I usually frequent and hadn’t really explored elsewhere.

I was very surprised at how hard it is to find red beans but now that I know where to look it’s a game changer.  The cold makes you want comfy food aka red beans and rice, however, one of the things I miss most about home is the rice cooker… I detest cooking rice on the stove.

One of the more interesting things I’ve done these past few days is visit the parliament with my Intro to European Economic Policy class! We got to meet with some of the members and sit in for the plenary session and watch the debate. It was so official; red carpet, lights, staff wearing special uniform, medals and gloves, reporters and interviews being conducted everywhere.

Coming back to the topic of winter though, one of the things that comes about in the winter season is soccer! I’m sure my soccer moms back home will appreciate a trick I learned from them! I attended one of our university club games for the boys team and as a spectator and it being freezing :

  1. I’m not sure how our parents survived all of the winter soccer tournaments
  2. I packed hot cocoa in a thermos and it gave me life!

 

The cold however isn’t all negative. One positive thing about the cold is that since I have to hang my clothes on a rack because of dryers not being too common… the winter air makes them dry SO MUCH FASTER! It’s amazing!

As for the city preparing for the winter season the start of the Christmas Market is next Friday! It’s a wonderland in the town centre! There is a huge Christmas tree, decorations, buildings with lights strung up, and more people out in the streets!

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Y’all. They have roasted chestnuts in little booths around town you can buy as you walk around… I’m in love!

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The city is becoming cozier as I learn my way around, it was a big change for me but now I can successfully get to and fro and don’t have to use google maps! (2.5 months later)

Fast forward to this past weekend now that I described a little of last week, Diana and I ran 5 kilometers Saturday morning went shopping and had the best cheesecake and coffee at Cafe Bretelles.

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There are so many quaint little shops and cafés it’s fun to try a new one and seek them out.

We then went grocery shopping. A common vegetable used here in cooking is Leek. It’s extremely common here….. like on the scale of onions and garlic for Louisiana. I wouldn’t have even known what it was had it not been for the British woman in front of me at the grocery overhearing my conversation with Diana telling her how I had no idea what it was in English! ***If this is commonly used in your household; family and friends, you have failed me, why have I never seen this before??

Today we went to the last day of the Jazz Festival for a free concert and then had pesto for dinner à la Francesca!

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It’s been so fun making new friends as all my flatmates constantly have visitors! I also get to learn new things from them. Francesca has Francesca visiting her from Vienna and Tatiana has a friend from Belgium visiting, Badoin.

I find it so difficult to follow a conversation and make connections in geography and nationality. When there are different ways to call a place depending on the language you speak it becomes really complicated.

Anvers and Antwerp are the same place. Just like Netherlands and Holland, or Deutschland and Germany. Not to mention Deutsch and Dutch are not the same thing.

And if you’re Flemish you’re a Dutch speaking Belgian.

The more you know.

Lastly, a few things to note as far as being unavailable in Europe… brown sugar and corn syrup. Y’all, any common American item is in the World Food Section (that’s still funny to me, but since we’re in Europe, America is considered Ethnic/World food). It’ll usually have a super obnoxious label with America on the front and very cheesy names like “Authentic American Pancake Syrup”….. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that one or these wonderful people!

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FALL BREAK

Not that I needed a break from school but it was good to have a chance to catch my breath and just enjoy my city. I have been so focused on travelling Europe as much as possible since I’ve arrived I had pushed my beloved Strasbourg to the side. Fortunately, travel plans fell through and I spent my fall break here in Strasbourg, boy, am I glad I did.

Throughout my fall break I’ve had the opportunity to travel my city and enjoy several of the experiences it has to offer.

Last weekend, I went to a cupping event (mentioned in my last post), and I enjoyed an amazing concert in the evening at Le PréO for Leyla McCalla‘s last show here in Europe before her return to New Orleans. I was very much looking forward to a taste of back home and she did not disappoint with her beautiful vocals, and créole songs, plus, she killed it on the cello. Diana and I ventured out to Oberhausbergen together for the event and she was equally as impressed. It was a great evening and time well spent with my sweet flatmate!

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Monday I enjoyed costume shopping for Halloween, and we celebrated the much commercialized American holiday in spooky fashion and all got into the spirit of dressing up!

Tuesday, my French friend, Victor, who I was paired with through a buddy program at uni drove a group of our friends to Europa Park! This is the largest amusement park in Europe. I felt a little protective of Disney as several ideas, rides, and the design of the park seemed oddly familiar. However, if you have the chance I highly recommend. You even get to wait 90 minutes in line, just like in Disney!!

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Halloween night we hosted a party and as mentioned everyone showed up in spirit!

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Wednesday, Diana and I ventured out on another outing and despite a mild cold she still joined me on a boat tour through Strasbourg. It was great to hear about the history of the city, from Medieval times, to when it was under German occupation, to now. Afterwards, we enjoyed a wonderful cup of coffee from Coffee Stub Cafe before heading home.

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Thursday, I went ice-skating with my housemate Saito, we’ve become new friends! She’s from Osaka, Japan studying here to become a pâtissier (pastry chef).  There’s an ice-rink here in Strasbourg called, IceBerg, it’s very nice but somewhat out of the way (considering everything is 10-15 minutes distance and this was 30; I’m in for a rude awakening once I’m back home). Regardless of the travel time, it was great. The rink is 2 rinks connected together, and the music being played was electro; it brought me back to my time as a figure-skater at the HockeyPlex in Lafayette. Our visit was cut short due to a skate malfunction, however, I plan to go back!

 

Friday, Victor and I went hiking at Mont St.Odile. I enjoy being able to leave the city (and ride in a car), mostly because of the views I get to see of wide out open fields, it reminds me of home. I returned home still speaking French because I had exercised my brain so much throughout the day buy constantly maintaining our conversation in French. Once we reached the peak of our hike we had lunch at the Abbye and beat the cold on the way down. It ended up getting rather chilly as we were leaving.

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Finally, this weekend I plan to relax and hangout. Several of the roomies have fallen sick and being constantly on the go all week has me drained!

November is full of new plans, our next holiday to celebrate is Thanksgiving! I can’t wait to share this tradition with the “flat family”.

***Heater still not on……it was in the 30s the other day.

***We’ve been using our common room a lot more and the light is a sensor light so we constantly have to move around or flail our arms so we aren’t caught in the dark mid-conversation.

I couldn’t leave everyone thinking it’s been all peaches and cream, especially my ice-cold shower yesterday evening, that didn’t leave me too happy either.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Les vacances n’étaient pas nécessaires, mais tout de même, c’était une bonne chance à faire une pause et m’amuser dans la ville. Depuis que je suis arrivé ici, j’étais tout concentre de voyager l’Europe ; j’avais oublié mon cher Strasbourg. Heureusement, mes plans de voyages pendant ces vacances ne se sont pas réalisés donc j’ai passé mes vacances ici et je suis content de ça.

Pendant ces vacances j’ai eu la possibilité de découvrir ma ville et de profiter de tout ce qu’elle a à offrir.

Ce weekend dernier, je suis allé à un évènement de cupping (mentionné dans mon dernier post), et je me suis bien amusée à un concert incroyable au PréO pour le dernier spectacle de Leyla McCalla en Europe avant son retour à la Nouvelle-Orléans.

J’étais excitée à l’avance de retrouver un bout de chez moi ici, et je dois dire que sa voie et son inspiration créoles ne m’ont pas déçues. De plus, elle était incroyable au violoncelle. Diana et moi, nous sommes aventurées à Oberhausbergen pour le spectacle et elle était également impressionnée. C’était un beau soir et avec ma chère coloc on s’est bien amusé.

Lundi, j’ai passé un bon moment en faisant du shopping pour mon costume d’Halloween. On a célébré la très commerciale fête américaine comme il se doit : tous déguisaient et terrifiants.

Mardi, mon ami français, Victor, avec qui m’a été assigné comme buddy par le programme de mon université, nous a emmené en voiture à Europa Park ! C’est le plus grand parc de manège en Europe ! J’étais un peu sceptique et sur la défensive parce qu’on aurait dit une copie de Disney. Bref, tout cela était un peu trop familier. Néanmoins, si t’as l’opportunité d’y aller je le recommande fortement. Tu peux même attendre les 90 minutes de queue, comme ‘à Disney !

Le soir d’Halloween on a organisé une fête et comme j’ai déjà mentionné tout le monde est arrivé dans l’esprit de la fête.

Mercredi, Diana et moi sommes sorties encore une fois pour aller faire un tour de Strasbourg en bateau, même qu’elle avait un petit rhume.

C’était bien d’écouter l’histoire de la ville, des temps médiévaux, à l’occupation allemande, jusqu’à aujourd’hui. Après, on a dégusté une merveilleuse tasse de café de Coffee Stub avant de retourner chez nous.

Jeudi, je suis allée faire du patinage avec ma coloc Saito, nous sommes devenues des nouvelles amies ! Elle est de Osaka, Japon faisant d’études ici pour devenir pâtissière. Il y a une patinoire ici à Strasbourg qui s’appelle IceBerg, c’est très sympa, mais un peu loin (considérant que tout ici et dans une distance entre 10 et 15 minutes et cela était à 30 ; un réveil difficile m’attend à mon retour au pays !). Même avec le temps de voyage, c’était bien. La patinoire est deux patinoires conjoint et la musique était Electro ; ça me rappelle au temps quand je faisais du patinage artistique au HockeyPlex à Lafayette. Notre visite était rendue un peu courte à cause d’un patin défectueux, même, je compte bien y retourner.

Vendredi, Victor et moi avons fait une randonnée au Mont St. Odile. J’aime bien avoir l’occasion de quitter la ville (et faire une balade en voiture), surtout pour les paysages de champs à perte de vue, ça me rappelle chez moi. Je suis retournée à la maison en parlant français parce que avais dû faire un effort pour tenir la conversation en français toute la journée. Quand nous sommes arrivés au sommet on a fait une pause pour manger le soir à l’abbaye et pendant la descente on a pressé le pas pour devancer le froid qui commençait déjà à frapper et durement à notre départ.

Finalement, ce weekend, je compte seulement me reposer. Mes deux colocs sont tombées malades et d’être constamment en train de faire quelque chose m’a fatigué.

Novembre est plein de nouveaux projets, notre prochaine fête a célébré c’est Thanksgiving. J’ai hâte de partager cette tradition avec ma petite famille colocataire.

****Le chauffage encore ne marche pas…il faisait 7 degrés l’autre jour

****On commence à utiliser notre salle commune de plus en plus où la lumière marche par détection de mouvement. On devient fou chaque fois nous sommes dans le milieu d’une conversation y qu’elle s’éteint, il faut agiter les bras jusqu’à ce qu’elle se rallume.

Je ne pouvais pas vous laisser pensez que tout était parfait… spécialement ma douche hier soir à l’eau glaciale, ça ne m’a pas rendue très jouasse.

 

Swiss Extravagance

This past weekend I took a short bus (1h30) ride to visit my cousin Ingrid in Basel, Switzerland. We left Strasbourg early Saturday morning and arrived in the station to leave, yet again, for another short trip to Lauterbrunnen. We had a beautiful hike in exactly what you would think Switzerland would look like. Small mountain town, snow capped mountains, Swiss flags everywhere, cute little cabins, and farms.

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I took pictures THE WHOLE TIME. Ingrid mentioned how now that she’s accustomed to Switzerland, the little things don’t really impact her anymore (so she wasn’t fangirling and oooing and ahhing about the landscape), and I couldn’t agree more. Given, she’s been here a few years, but in my own experience the past month and a half it’s reflected in my decrease of posts. I started off so strong and now I’ve begun to notice less and less of the little things of my experience. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it leads to a lack of content when trying to describe what I’ve been up to.

Concerning travel, CHEAPEST WAY IS FLIXBUS. The only downfall is that it’s still ground transport and a bus, not a train, so some voyages take a while. However, they’re comfortable and clean. If time isn’t an issue I’d 100% sacrifice that and take a longer trip for how much of a bargain it is. In addition, great websites for flights in Europe are Momondo, Ryanair,  and Easyjet.

Let’s talk about Switzerland.

It’s EXPENSIVE AS HECK.

Switzerland is not part of the EU, and has their own currency (Swiss Franc). The exchange compared to the dollar is pretty equal but the prices are outrageous! 20 Swiss Francs is considered a cheap meal, McDonald’s can cost between 14-16 Francs!

**I didn’t eat McDonald’s in Switzerland. However, I’ve had my fair share of chicken nuggets and McFlurry’s here in Strasbourg.

In addition, future exchange students reading this, because it is not part of the EU, remember to turn off your phone service once you arrive. I can travel in and around Europe and not get charged because of an agreement with phone companies to regulate services across borders. However, PASSING, through Switzerland, I had no idea and was charged 54 euros. Considering my provider is called FREE, how ironic was that.

Lauterbrunnen was gorgeous! We had a coffee upon arrival then took the lift up to the top to do a short walk and had lunch with the most amazing view. Out of curiosity we began discussing which direction we were facing and based off of “the sun rises in the east and sets in the west” the iPhone compass was failing us. I insisted after not being able to come to any reasonable conclusions, that maybe it was because we were in Europe (nope, that wasn’t it).

We were right near the border with Germany so it was mostly the language spoken was mostly “regular” German if I remember correctly, however in some reasons Swiss-german is spoken along with several other national languages. Anyway, where we were obviously all signs and signals were in German. On our way back from Lauterbrunnen to Basel, Abi and I were trying to figure out how many stops we had left before getting off and the sign said this, “Nachaster Halt” and then underneath that “Olten”……at the moment we were trying to figure this out we were arriving at a stop. So Abi asks Ingrid if we have 2 stops left, Nachaster Halt and Olten. There was a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. It was finally clarified, one more stop. “Nachaster Halt” MEANS next stop, it wasn’t the NEXT stop.

Since I’ve last posted I’ve had 2 exams and 2 presentations at school. A difference to note in the education system here……dates are of HUGE importance. At least in my experience, in history class back home dates weren’t emphasized so much as the occurence of what happened during each event studied.

We are now in Fall Break and I’ll be spending it here in Strasbourg. I’m looking forward to this week and a half of being a tourist in my own city!

This morning I attended a cupping workshop with Mokxa Coffee. They had some coffee from Honduras and I got to share how my family is involved in the business. In addition, I’m so excited for a taste of back home. This evening I’ll be attending a concert where Leyla McCalla will be performing, she’s performed at Festival International and has roots from Haiti and lives in NOLA (New Orleans)!

Also, I mentioned last post I was going to Budapest, due to logistic issues I had to cancel my trip. However, this just opens up the door to another opportunity for an adventure somewhere else.

**My Current Struggle: Hard Water in France – at least in Strasbourg (lots of calcium and minerals in the water).

Effects: hair loss, residue build-up on the scalp, split ends, dry-hair…….AKA Hot-mess.

Y’all I can literally tug on my ponytail and my hair just falls out, it’s all over my floor, in my drain, I’m shedding everywhere! It’s horrible.

Concerning your adjustment when arriving, some people will receive it differently, I feel like my complexion is much better here but I think it’s a mixture of the climate and water perhaps. However, I’ve done research and for my hair issue it looks like I’m gonna have a science experiment going on the next few days during break.

That’s the latest. Missing my friends and family back home! Missing the Halloween vibes, and missing my boo! 2 months ’til Damian comes to visit!

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Ce weekend j’ai fait un petit voyage pour rendre visite à ma cousine à Basel, Suisse. Nous sommes parties de Strasbourg très tôt le samedi matin et on est arrivées pour partir de nouveau pour un autre petit voyage à Lauterbrunnen. C’était une belle randonnée dans un endroit qui ressemble exactement à l’image qu’on se fait de la Suisse. C’était une petite ville dans les montagnes avec des sommet enneigés dans le paysage, des petits drapeaux suisses partout, des cabanes mignonnes, et des fermes.

J’ai pris des photos pendant TOUTE la randonnée. Ingrid m’a dit que comme elle vit là depuis longtemps, ça n’a plus le goût de la nouveauté donc elle n’a pas pris beaucoup de photos. Comme elle, je remarque que je suis moins étonnée plus le temps passe. Elle habite en Suisse depuis quelques années, et avec ma petite expérience d’un mois et demi je commence à noter la même chose. Vous l’avez peut-être remarqué dans la baisse de publications dernièrement. Ce n’est pas nécessairement une mauvaise chose, mais du coup j’ai l’impression d’avoir moins d’anecdotes à partager.

A propos des voyages, le moins cher c’est par FLIXBUS. Le seul aspect négatif c’est que comme c’est toujours par bus ça prend beaucoup de temps. Néanmoins, les bus sont très propres et confortables. Si le temps n’est pas important, je recommande 100% de voyage par cette méthode. De plus, les bons sites pour les voyages en avion sont Ryanair, Momondo, et EasyJet.

Alors on parle de la Suisse.

C’est super cher !

La Suisse n’est pas membre de l’UE, et ils ont leur propre monnaie. Le taux de change avec le dollar est presque le même, mais les prix sont inimaginables ! 20 francs est considéré comme un prix bon marché pour un repas, McDonald’s peut coûter au moins 14 Francs – 16 Francs.

*** Je n’ai pas manger McDonald’s en Suisse. Néanmoins, j’ai ma ration régulière de chicken nuggets et McFlurry’s à Strasbourg.

Futur.e Etudiant.e en Echange (ici il y a un grand débat sur ‘l’écriture inclusive’), attention, comme c’est hors UE, il faut éteindre votre mobile en entrant en Suisse. Je peux voyager en Europe sans peur pour mon forfait mais en Suisse, ils n’appliquent pas les mêmes lois sur le service téléphonique. Résultat : j’ai dû payer 54 euros !!  Vu que mon opérateur s’appelle “FREE”, c’est un peu ironique.

Lauterbrunnen était incroyable. Quand nous sommes arrivées, on a bu un café et après on a pris la remontée mécanique jusqu’au sommet et on a fait une petite randonnée jusqu’à un restaurant trop mignon avec une vue majestueuse. On a commencé à discuter l’orientation et selon le fait que le soleil se lève à l’Est et se couche dans l’Ouest. On n’a pas pu trouver avec notre portable le nord avec la boussole de nos Ifones (french style). Après avoir réfléchi un peu, on n’a toujours pas réussi à le trouver. J’ai alors émis l’idée que nos Ifones étaient désorientés parce qu’on était en Europe (ce n’était pas ça et ne le répétez pas svp).

On était tout à côté de la frontière avec l’Allemagne donc c’était majoritairement de l’allemand “normal” si je me souviens correctement. Donc, évidemment tous les panneaux étaient en allemand. Alors, pendant le voyage du retour de Basel à Lauterbrunnen, Abi et moi étaient en train de calculer combien d’arrêts restaient jusqu’à Bâle.  Le panneau sur le train disait, “Nachaster Halt” et en-dessous “Olten”. Au moment nous étions à un arrêt donc Abi a demandé à Ingrid si c’était les 2 arrêts qui restaient. Après pas mal de confusion et du mal à comprendre, ca s’est clarifié. Il n’en restait qu’un. “Nachaster Halt” veut simplement dire : prochain arrêt. Nachaster Halt n’était donc pas un arrêt en-soi.

Depuis la dernière fois que j’ai fait une publication j’ai eu deux examens et deux présentations. En Europe ils se concentrent beaucoup sur les dates, comparé à mon expérience aux États-Unis où l’important est la compréhension de l’évènement.

Maintenant on est en vacances. Je suis ravie de les passer ici á Strasbourg et d’être un peu touriste dans ma ville (bien que pour mon coloc français je reste une touriste tous les jours).

Ce matin je suis allé à un atelier de « cupping » à Cafe Mokxa. Ils avaient du café d’Honduras !

J’ai pu partager avec eux des histoires sur la participation active et répétée de ma famille dans la culture du café au Honduras.

De plus, je suis contente de retrouver un goût de chez moi. Ce soir je vais à un concert de Leyla McCalla. Elle est une musicienne avec un héritage haïtien et elle habite à la Nouvelle-Orléans. Elle a joué au Festival International de Louisiane.

Aussi, j’avais parlé dans ma dernière publication que j’allais à Budapest. Mais, à cause de problèmes logistique le voyage est annulé. Néanmoins, c’est une opportunité de plus pour une autre aventure ailleurs.

*** Mon combat du moment : la qualité de l’eau en France (beaucoup de calcaire et autres…).

Symptômes : perte de cheveux, accumulation de résidus sur le cuir chevelu, pointes fourchues, cheveux secs… Bref, une galère.

Je vous jure, il suffit de tirer sur ma queue de cheval pour que je perde 2 kg de cheveux. J’en ai partout par terre et dans la douche. C’est horrible.

A ce propos, l’adaptation à l’arrivée diffère selon les personnes. Je l’impression que mon teint et meilleure ici, mais peut-être c’est grâce au climat additionné à l’eau. Pour me cheveux je fais de recherche et visiblement je vais faire des expériences pendant les prochains jours.

Voilà, c’est tout. Mes amis, ma famille, l’atmosphère d’Halloween et mon copain me manquent. Plus que deux mois avant qu’il arrive.

Getting up to Speed

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve got around to a post. That’s a good thing, it means I’ve been super busy. Fall is in full swing here in Strasbourg, leaves are changing color, filling my bike basket, getting stuck in my hair. It’s great!

Seriously though, it’s quite beautiful.

I mentioned in my last post I was doing a presentation in my French class on the Acadians……nailed it! My teacher was thoroughly impressed with my presentation; he even complimented all Americans as a whole on presentation skills.

Another observation that I’ve made about how the college experience here differs is that there is a larger focus on the real world aspect of business, not so much theory as back home (both are important).

My classes are 3 hours long as opposed to my normal 50 minutes or an hour and a half. Yet, I pay more attention here in class than back home! In class we use real world examples and most of my teachers double as professionals in their field. In class I learn a limited amount of theory but we study a lot of businesses as examples. We do case studies on actual corporations, and after learning a concept it’s always related to an actual practice.

**There are pros and cons to both styles of class.

Aside from school, I’ve also been getting more and more accustomed to my city.

I went to the mall the other day. Most of the stores I typically shop at are on a strip down a street. I had no clue we had an ACTUAL MALL! I definitely missed being able to shop hop and the convenience of having everything in one place!

Another cool thing about my city is I get to recycle here! It’s honestly the cutest thing ever. We have a recycling bin not too far from our apartment on the way to school. When my bag is full I load it into my bike basket and drop it off there.

Speaking of my bike, I find it hysterical that I have a GPS talking to me as I bike places. I can imagine what people think as I bike past them and my British Siri says, “In 200m turn left on to Boulevard de la Marne”.

Another bike-related happening was this past week. I was riding my bike near the main station in the centre of town, “Homme de Fer” and trying to dodge the loads of people, I crashed into a pole. Everyone around me sucked in their breath and just stared at me. I quickly got off and walked my bike the remainder of the time……quelle honte.

As for the food I’ve been eating….quick lesson for you guys! Francesca made some Carbonara (I believe I’ve mentioned this, if not it was bomb)….and did you know that carbonara is bacon bits and noodles with an egg to make them sticky with parmesan. I had no idea. If that was common knowledge then just disregard that. And about that Parmesan….we eat the real deal here, I’m talking grating it straight from the block! And have you ever wondered how much spaghetti to cook for guests, well Francesca’s Italian secret is that a box of 500g of spaghetti is good for 5 people.

The fact that everything here is measured with the metric system is a huge adjustment, cooking, walking somewhere, trying to figure out if I need to wear a jacket. I’ve changed my weather app to celsius so I can start learning what the measurement correlates to with the weather!

Concerning school we gave a presentation on LSU for their study abroad fair. We then had a meet and greet and one of the student’s question was , “Is it true that it’s difficult to eat healthy in the U.S.?” There is this constant mention that the U.S. population is obese, and all we eat is junk food. I told this girl that yes, fresh foods are more expensive, however, it shouldn’t be a problem considering it’s custom here to prepare meals as opposed to back home where convenience takes priority.

A friend of mine from Scotland was talking about food with me as well, and she says, “You’re dinners must be amazing…..Fried Chicken!”. I burst out laughing……..I could not believe she thought we actually eat fried chicken all the time in Louisiana. I shared my love for Popeyes, but explained that at least in my experience, that was the extent of my fried chicken dinners.

I even get strange responses when talking about peanut butter and jelly! This combination is a foreign concept to Europeans apparently, and one girl responded expressing how many calories that must be and how unhealthy that was…& to think this was what my mom considered a healthy snack….

I’ve been making tons of great memories here, and meeting loads of cool people. So many new friends that at first I was always looking for things to do, and now I oftentimes have to make a choice because everyone wants to make plans (not just with me, I’m not that cool; the respective friend groups).

I also joined the college soccer team! I found out we’ll be playing in a tournament cup and will play other colleges, and even travel to Paris and Lyon! In addition, we practice at the F.C. Kronenbourg fields and their women’s coach asked myself and 2 other players to play with them. It’s still undecided but I think it’s pretty cool that this opportunity even exists. I think it’d be so neat to say I played for a club soccer team in Europe! This just happened on Monday, so no decisions made yet. However, I think it’d be a great experience, and a chance to practice my French considering at soccer practice thats the only thing everyone speaks with each other. There are only 2 exchange students on the team! Myself, and a girl from Switzerland.

Concerning my travels, this weekend I went to Rome, Italy! It was a 14 hour bus ride from Strasbourg and we went with a group from school. Shutting out the never-ending bus ride,  it was well worth it! I saw all the typical sites!

As for the experience and what I thought….I cried when I saw the Pope, I felt super underdressed in the club, everything is super close and squished (Trevi Fountain is right in the middle of a very small square in the middle of the city!), the School of Athens in the Vatican Museum is amazing, and Creation of Adam not so much (It’s a small panel amongst an extremely detailed ceiling in the Sistine Chapel), you can’t compare true Italian cuisine with Italian from back home (pasta with any type of meat is not a thing, it’s mostly just different types of sauce….also Alfredo is American…this doesn’t exist in Italy @francesca).

Finally, I spoke Spanish with the Italians when trying to get my point across and for the most part it worked out okay!

This weekend I’m going to Switzerland, and then in November I’ll be heading to Budapest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Brings People Together

So the past week and a half has been quite eventful! I’m not sure if I had mentioned this but our new flatmate from Portugal arrived! Her name is Diana, she is from Portugal and came to Strasbourg to work at the Portuguese Consulate (She even has a special passport, so it’s legit).

As I had mentioned in my last post being a tourist in your own city often gets overlooked, however, Diana and I made the trip to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame here in Strasbourg. It’s huge…. 332 steps later and here was the view.

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We gazed out on to our city from the top and since she speaks Portuguese we discussed our languages as well as cultural differences. Diana loves to talk about people’s point of view and is always asking me about Louisiana and the South because of the many stereotypes and assumptions of the people and mindset. In this conversation I told her pretty much the only thing I know about Portugal is that it’s where Christopher Columbus was from. It then dawned on me if he was Portuguese that could not possibly be his name, so ladies and gents after investigating I would like to inform you all the man’s name is actually……

Cristóvão de Colombo

that ending is pronounced like “oww”

Later in the week, Tatiana cooked some Russian soup for us called, Borscht. It was red because it’s made with beets, it was a pretty interesting dish. We ate it with egg cucumber, carrot, fresh cream, and parsley.

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***this is just to show what it looked like, this picture isn’t mine. 

I love how diverse our apartment is, and anytime I mention to the people who I live with they’re always super intrigued and asking how I got this arrangement. Despite all of the inconveniences with Marie-Anne (our landlord), it’s turned out to be an awesome house to live in!

During class this week, we had a meeting for the study abroad fair we will be presenting our universities at and Abi and I met this guy names Alex there from California. He’s French and Mexican. He came to study here for a semester to get more in touch with his French culture considering his grandparents and mother’s side of his family lives here and he’s never had a chance to experience that.

*I thought I had it hard with Damian being far away, but our situation is temporary….his girlfriend lives in Marseille!*

He said he wanted to visit Louisiana more than any of the other states because of it’s heritage and so he passed the friendship test…@Abi usually dogs Louisiana so she’s constantly losing brownie points.

Alex mentioned that there was a bus going to Oktoberfest that evening and so spur of the moment I bought a ticket and at 1:00am I was on the bus with other ERASMUS students about to experience Oktoberfest in Munich,Germany!

Oktoberfest was fun, though in all honestly (and I’m sorry for any German friend who may read this) Louisiana does it better.

When we got to Munich it was 6:45…..there were people standing in line to get in to the festival already drinking beers, dressed in Lederhosen. They take their traditional costume seriously. After dismounting from the bus, more festival-goers began to arrive and it became a sea of dresses, cleavage, leather shorts, and high socks.

The security took their jobs very seriously and it was actually quite terrifying to hear people screaming at you in German…..it is a very angry language, and it didn’t help that he was actually angry.

In line I became friends with some Australian guys who were part of our group; Tom and Myles. We stuck together with Alex the whole day. So, Come 9am we got to enter and the way Oktoberfest works is that you don’t walk around with beer on the grounds. There are about 10 tents and you have to be seated at a table in order to be served which is why people arrive so early. Well, when they unleashed the crowd it was a free for all and everyone just started running to get a spot.

Schützen-Festzelt is the tent we went to; it’s the very first one and one of the most popular because of the younger crowd.

At 10am all of the waiters and waitresses began bringing beers to the table. They carry out maybe 10 at a time and whoever wants one pays for it and the table slides it down. This continues throughout the day and they just keep it coming. Each mug is a liter of beer. (almost 3 – 12 oz. bottles)

Traditional German music plays in the tents and everyone stands on the tables to dance and sing along.

Lastly, for those of you who know me, let me just say the bathroom line was outrageous and there were some close ones. Considering how many people go, at Mardi Gras they have port-o-potties. Here, it was actual bathrooms with a janitor on staff cleaning throughout the day. It was similar to a conveyor belt and they shuffled us in and directed us to which stalls were open to keep the line moving.

Outside of the tents the grounds are set up like a state fair and they have rides.

At some point my phone screen was cracked. I had it in my jacket pocket to prevent it from getting lost, and I didn’t end up losing it but amidst all the commotion and me taking my jacket off it got cracked, and lucky me it was the 2nd screen….the one that makes the phone actually work.

So despite it being a great experience Oktoberfest turned out to be quite expensive.

The beer is 11 euros + tip, and burgers and pretzels are 4-8 euros

Phone Replacement – 139 euros.

Regardless, I don’t regret going, Oktoberfest is one of the biggest festivals in the world. However, I can say no one does it better than Mardi Gras in South Louisiana. Germans would have a field day at an LSU tailgate.

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On Sunday to finish the weekend my housemates and I all went to Parc d’Orangerie and had a picnic. Abi made snickerdoodles and I made chicken pasta. We played heads up and got plenty of looks but were enjoying ourselves. Also, the weather was absolutely beautiful, we couldn’t have had a better end to the weekend!

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This week Tatiana had a friend from Russia come, we had a little wine and cheese night and we had caviar……I dont understand the hype, it’s extremely fishy.

Yesterday, I cooked Gumbo and we had dinner with our housemates, and a few other friends. It was a hit and everyone loved it! I don’t think it lived up to my standards but for my first time it was okay! The weather has been getting colder so it’s perfect for some gumbo for the rest of the week!

**I’ve turned everyone into spice lovers because I always bring my tony’s and Louisiana hot sauce….they’ve even started asking for it!

Also, speaking of cooking let me just say how difficult it is when everything is in the metric system. A must if you like to cook is “normal” measuring cups from back home!

Anytime someone tells me the temperature in celsius, no idea, any time someone tells me how many ml…no idea, grams, no clue.

Finally, I brought the PB&J to Europe… it’s not a very common snack here so after a few too many beers for my friends yesterday at our dinner, I made them a PB&J and it was declared the best thing ever.

My laughable moment of the past 10 days was when I was coming home and it was getting dark, I couldn’t remember how to turn my bike light on (I’m pretty sure a piece was stolen). I stopped and sat there fumbling with it and then proceeded to flip it upside down to figure it out on the sidewalk and then decided to just peddle fast to get home before it was too dark. People walking past were quite perplexed why I was fumbling with my bike.

In all, loving my time here and all the new friends I’ve made, and all the meals we share!

 

 

 

 

Je Parle Anglais en France.

Depuis mon enfance, j’ai étudié la langue française.

Je parle français grâce à l’héritage Cajun dans ma région et à l’immersion française dans la ville de Cecilia. C’est un honneur et je suis fière de cette compétence. Cette année je suis venue à Strasbourg en France pour étudier le commerce à l’EM Strasbourg. Je serai ici jusqu’en avril. C’est un rêve d’être ici car je suis fière de pouvoir parler français et maintenant que je suis en France, c’est incroyable.

J’étais motivée de faire une publication en français  parce que je n’ai pas l’occasion de parler français avec mes camarades étrangers qui parlent anglais.

Quand je me suis rendue compte que toutes les personnes autour de moi me parlaient anglais, j’étais un peu déçue. Cependant, il y a toujours des occasions pour moi de parler français par exemple dans les banques, la rue, quand je me déplace, quand je fais mes achats et quand je commande au restaurant.

C’est pour cela que je vais essayer de commencer a écrire des publications en français pour pratiquer et j’espère, améliorer ma grammaire. Mon objectif est d’écrire français pendant toute l’année. Je vais essayer de traduire toutes mes publications.

Après le commencement de mon cours de français, j’espère avoir plus de connaissances qui peuvent parler français.

***Mise à jour: Depuis le début de cette publication j’ai commencé mon cours de français. C’est intéressant parce que je note toujours les mêmes choses. Ma capacité d’écrire en français est moins bonne que celle de parler. J’ai eu une conversation avec Diana (ma coloc du Portugal) hier soir et elle était étonne que mes cours a l’école en français ne se focalisaient pas sur la grammaire. Je l’ai explique que mes cours étaient en français mais je n’ai jamais suivi un cours formel de grammaire française jusqu’a l’université. Elle a dit que pour la plupart des cours des langues étrangères, ils enseignent d’abord  la grammaire puis l’expression orale. Pour moi, c’était le contraire.

***Hier soir, Diana et moi sommes montées jusqu’au sommet de la Cathédrale de Notre Dame à Strasbourg! C’était trop beau!

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C’est un peu frustrant d’être venue en France et de parler seulement en anglais. En même temps je sais que c’est à moi de faire l’effort de parler en français.

Au sujet des Cajuns, j’étais un peu étonnée du nombre important de personnes qui les connaissent. J’ai montré la vidéo sur ma page d’accueil et honnêtement ce n’était pas la réaction que j’aurais prévue. Peut-etre c’est parce que j’aime la Louisiane donc pour moi c’est le top, mais mes colocs m’ont dit que c’est du français paysans (@virgil) (vieux français selon @Sarah) et ils se sont moqués du français cajun. C’était pas pour être méchant. Sarah m’a dit qu’elle ne savait pas qu’il y avait une communauté qui parle français aux États-Unis. Après qu’elle a vu la vidéo elle a même dit que c’est incroyable et que cela était le vrai français (@Virgil) (il n’a pas évolué depuis que les Cajuns ont immigré).

Je vais faire mon exposé dans mon cours de culture et civilisation sur les Cajuns dans la Louisiane. Je pense que je vais comparer les cultures et montrer les choses qu’on a gardées, et celles qui ont changées!

J’aime le français et la culture enracinée en Louisiane ainsi que son influence sur ma vie.

**Collaboration: Sarah Damoun**

A Great Big World

So this past week, I officially started my semester. I’ve been in France almost 3 weeks and as some of you have read it hasn’t been all smooth sailing.

Just another experience to add to my mishaps, I have a cold. I remember when leaving for LSU, I had the fear of getting sick. I thought of how I would manage without my mom to take care of me. However, “adulting” makes you realize how dramatic you are. I can’t lay in bed all day, and if I need to get medicine I need to get it myself and cook my own soup. I know this seems laughable to most adults because this is normal, but for someone still young, starting out in the world on their own, this is new for me.

**PSA: The pharmacies close at night, you have to search the designated 24 hour pharmacy of your city. Also, to get medicine you have to explain your symptoms to the pharmacist and they give you what you need. You can’t buy medicine at the supermarket.

Luckily, it’s not terrible and I have housemates who are super concerned for me. Francesca heard me coughing and her “Italian” came out and she quickly prepared a tea for me and instructed me on everything I should be doing to get better. Abi has also been making me use this vapor rub stuff, and EVERYONE is insisting I wear a scarf to cover my throat. All of the things your grandma told you to do when you got sick, apparently Italian grandma’s do the same; the home remedy medical field is universal!

I know I’ll be okay, I have several moms away from home! And yes, if it’s get worse, mom I’ll go to the doctor (and I’m sure I’ll write about that experience when the time comes as well). In addition, Abi and I both have different schedules but she barges in my room every morning when she knows I have class to make sure I’m awake; she’s a true friend.

As for class, I’m studying European Management at École de Management Strasbourg (EM Strasbourg). I will be taking a total of 12 classes through the year, 6 per semester; this equates to an 18 hour course load per semester. My program is a Bachelor Program so I’ll be receiving a degree at the end of the year! The reason being is that I’ve been enrolled here as a 3rd year student and met all their requirements with my past curriculum at my host university (LSU). In France, a Bachelor’s is only 3 years (années) of college, so I’m in my senior year here! The outline below gives an outline of the higher education system here. ECTS is comparable to hours here, and 1 class = 5 ECTS.

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My classes this semester are the following:

  • Cases in International Marketing
  • Introduction to European Economic Policy
  • Business Negotiation
  • Culture & Civilisation Françaises
  • Basics in Supply Chain Management
  • Experiential Marketing

Despite this awesome advantage of receiving a degree when I finish my year here, I will still be finishing school at LSU and receiving my bachelor’s there as well.

Though I have had few classes so far (the rest of my classes begin next week), I can say my favorite thing is that since my curriculum is International Focus, it allows for some really need discussion in class since so many nationalities are represented. The majority are Mexican, German, and Chinese. However, there are also people from Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, the Philippines, Ireland, and Greece just to name a few.

Class is 3 hours long and we meet once a week, it’s up to the teacher’s discretion what day works best so it changes every week too. We get a 10 minute break halfway between class. There is no homework however, in several of my classes there are lots of group projects, and a final. Only a few have quizzes throughout the semester.

As for the classroom itself, there are chalkboards as opposed to a white board, but there are also projectors to present their slideshows.

Another difference is that English is not the native language of our professors (all of my classes are in English except for my French class). I know this will take some getting used to but it’s part of the experience!

Concerning culture shock, there is a lot of focus in Europe on politics and I’ll be the first to say I’m politically ignorant. I don’t watch the news, and frankly I don’t know much of what’s going on in the world. Considering what my major is, this needs to change.

In my Intro to European Economic Policy class we started off by learning what the EU was exactly, and what it means, and what the reason was for it being created and it’s values.

This was a VERY HARD 1st class for me. I kept trying to compare how this worked with the way America does and it really can’t be compared at all. Furthermore, there are huge differences in values between Europe and America and I had never realized how big of a deal this was.

**For those of you that are educated about world politics don’t be to harsh on me for just having this realization now in my 3rd year of college!

Ultimately, I was pretty shocked at how big of a difference this is and the fact that, despite this, we can have a world economy and things can flow from a producer to a consumer all around the world! It makes me appreciate the convenience of the internet so much more! I can order something from anywhere in the world on Amazon, and there are so many regulations, agreements, and processes that happen for that product to first be manufactured and eventually get to me. It’s really incredible!

So aside from class, and how awesome the world I’ll disclose a little about my social experiences this past week.

First, I want to applaud my mother. Why? Well…if you know Nancy, you know how vacations go with her. My mother is a planner…. any vacation, trip, or soccer tournament has been planned down to the smallest detail. There is a schedule we follow, a meal plan, and anytime we were on a trip we made the most of our whole day. This meant waking up early and going to sleep really late. I can remember one time we were in San Antonio and had been walking all day touring different museums and attractions in the area and I sat on a rock and told her to leave me there because I wasn’t walking another step. She’s a tough one when it comes to traveling.

Then I think about backpackers, they deserve applause too. How is it that I can read about all these people who go to Europe for a month and have been to 20 different countries and were able to do so much in so little time?!

Well, for starters I don’t think they slept until noon everyday….

I’ve really had to adjust to where I live and the minor differences that really make a huge impact on daily life. I’ve said this a million times and I’ll say it again, but walking and having to take public transportation…y’all.

Heck, I want to also applaud the people who live in big cities…. I don’t know how you guys do this everyday and aren’t exhausted and then wake up in the morning to work out, eat breakfast, AND get to work on time! If you have a kid on top of that, well, you’re a freaking super human.

So this leads me to my point… I have no excuses.

I’m studying abroad in Europe, an opportunity that many people would do anything for! Yes, there are some adjustments but I know my time here will go by faster than I want and I don’t want to realize that I have a week left and didn’t take advantage of the fact that I was here to do all the things I wanted to do. I can take a train and in 2 hours be in Germany, or Switzerland, or Paris, and so on!

After getting a pep talk from Damian (thanks babe), I have been reminded of the reasons I wanted this experience so bad in the first place!

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Although it’s so much easier to just stay home all day, I need to go out, I need to socialize and meet people, and I need to adventure in my city. There are so many things to see, and after almost 3 weeks of being here you’d think I’d have seen more than I have. Maybe it’s because I know I’ll be living here for the year there isn’t any pressure to go out and about. I also feel this way back home. For example, you can pass a statue or a museum a million times in your city and maybe have no idea what it’s even for or ever visit. I love when I meet people who have visited Louisiana and tell me all the things they saw and visited. And I’m always amazed when I say “Wow, I’m a local and I haven’t even been there, but that’s soooo cool!”

I think this is a prime example of forgetting the beauties around you just because they seem so normal, you don’t appreciate them. Like Parisians, I’m sure they don’t even notice the Eiffel Tower anymore (well, maybe so, it’s kind of big)…but I can bet they don’t cry when they see it light up at night (I did).

In addition, as I’ve often said, city life is fast paced….would you believe that a Chinese student in class said it was slow here?!?!?! Apparently even the escalators are too slow (I’ve never even heard of that as a complaint). However, our teacher told a story of how when she visited, she got on the escalator and almost fell because she didn’t get on fast enough and it was going so quickly. I would love to see that! (not her falling, but a super speed escalator)

Aside from this, friends is another topic I’d like to say some things about. I consider myself a very friendly person! Now I realize it’s because I have so many friends, who I’ve known for a while and who I’m comfortable with. Let me just say though, it’s tough having to make NEW friends. It takes effort, more than I ever realized. I’ve never been in this situation, and I realize how much I take my friends for granted just because I know they’re always there. Here, I have to actively make plans with people, message them, etc. I’m learning lots of lessons as you can see. I’m very lucky that I came with people from back home and knew at least a few people before arriving! I can only imagine having come by myself! This means you have to be super outgoing and make an even bigger effort to have people want to include you and it takes even more energy getting to know someone and starting a friendship that I ever realized. I notice how much I don’t listen sometimes, thinks I do that could be taken the wrong way, etc. I’m awkward and need way better practice at holding a conversation.

I made a friend from Sweden, Mimie, and she always talks about how she isn’t a typical Swede. Apparently, the stereotype is they’re cold, and introverted. She’s super awesome and outgoing!

We decided to go and get our nails done, and heads up…..in Strasbourg (I’m not sure about the rest of France, so I won’t generalize) almost every salon is appointment only, a walk-in nail salon is extremely rare. Long story short, we found one and ended up having a not so great experience. The manicure process there was way different than back home…

 

It’s exciting and overwhelming of all the things I’m experiencing and learning, but I can see myself becoming more aware of my own tendencies and the way I perceive “norms”. It’s a little overwhelming to realize that a “norm” doesn’t actually exist, because there are so many different lifestyles due to where you are, the language you speak, the types of products available to you, and the weather where you live. It’s cold here, and I wear pants all the time and haven’t shaved my legs since I got here. Partially because of the pants, partially because of my capsule shower. I think the stereotype of the French not shaving may be pretty logical and not poor hygiene; I think I’ll need this extra layer for the winter!

I am so thankful for this experience despite the facts that it is a little cold, I have to make coffee “manually”, and I have to walk 30 minutes to get to the city center.

A few tips for future exchange students:

CTS is the public transportation company here. To ride any bus or tram you can get a Badgeo Card and not pay for a ticket each time. A ticket is 2 euros on the bus, but for 26 euros a month you can have unlimited rides on any means of transportation. When we first arrived I thought we had to go to the office to get ours but you don’t! You can make an account online and have yours mailed to you! It was so easy!

In addition, it is also required to get French Health Insurance here to be registered in school. I chose MGEL because it’s closer to campus and to finalize the process you have to visit the office and drop off a form (don’t worry they explain what you need to do at school). The other insurance company is LMDE, they both offer the same benefits.

In addition to health insurance you also need housing insurance for your apartment or dorm. You can get this at a bank or MGEL for a quick comparison, at my bank it’s 50 euros for the year and at MGEL it’s 35 euros.

Finally, a lot of people wondered why you would need a French Bank account because, despite being told you needed this to open a phone account, they never asked. However, in order to get health insurance you need a French phone number and a French bank account to be reimbursed. You also need one to receive the French Housing Aid “CAF”, they’ll deposit the amount you are awarded to your account or you can agree to have it sent to your landlord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain Rain Go Away

This past week has been quite eventful. I do more things here in a couple of days than a month back home. I feel like this is a form of culture shock I’m experiencing. Since arriving ,there have been lots of social experiences we’ve participated in. And, not that I don’t want to tag along, I just don’t understand how everyone always has soooo much energy… and I’m a pretty energetic person.

On top of all of this, it’s been going out to meet people…in the rain.

It sucks when it’s raining and you have to walk everywhere, and the cultural norm is to be more dressed up than back home when out and about. So I’m walking around with my stockings sagging because they won’t stay up and trying to make sure my dress is down with my backpack, adjusting it every 5 seconds, and trying not to poke people in the eye with my umbrella (@abi). It’s a struggle.

When we hang out with friends it’s lots of fun, but there’s a pattern. Back home hanging out means going over to each other’s apartment, working out together, partaking in an activity, etc. In Europe, hanging out means going to a cafe or a restaurant and just sitting around talking. Not that I’m complaining but this girl is on a budget.

From the moment I step out my door I have to spend money. Whether it’s my bus ticket, going to the grocery almost everyday because my fridge is so tiny, buying something to hydrate myself because of all this walking, etc.

This past weekend, I went to Colmar a town not too far from Strasbourg with a group of German friends that we met from school, and we weathered the cold, a train ride, and walked around in the drizzle, to get hot chocolate at a cafe, and tarte flambée, aka Pizza!!!

Also, speaking of restaurants and cafes. Something that I’m thankful for in America is the no smoking laws in different places. I don’t really care if people smoke, but I HATE when it drifts towards me and subconsciously I just can’t help it and I start swatting it away. This makes me look rude and I always apologize, but when I’m suffocating from smoke and I’m eating its unbearable.

Especially when you’re crammed into a little patio area and you have to bump into 10 other people to get out of the corner you’re in I feel trapped and it’s been awful.

However, Colmar was very picturesque and beautiful, it was a change of scenery from Strasbourg.

According to one of the people we were with we passed the house where the first cake was ever made! I’m not sure how accurate this is, but still a pretty cool fact! In addition, Colmar is where Gustav Eiffel is from, Architect of the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty. There’s even a Statue of Liberty in Colmar, although we didn’t get a chance to see it.

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Abi and I had gone unprepared so while our friends had on fur coats and what not, I had on a tank with a denim button-up shirt on top.

Ironically, when we were talking with our German friends, we began to discuss stereotypes and an American one they mentioned was that we wear jackets and flip flops in the winter. Given the situation we were in with our unpreparedness, I could definitely relate.

This also made me reflect on winter time when I was in high school, or playing sports. I would always wear shorts, and then have on a sweatshirt and my letterman! I’m living up to the American stereotype.

 

Update*** : It takes 2 days for clothes to dry on a rack!

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I had mentioned in one of my previous posts one of the first outings we had was going out to drinks on a boat.

This boat also happens to have a club in the hull? (I’m not sure if that’s the correct terminology, but just for clarification not on the top part, on the inside)

Y’all….this was like being in a movie. People were sort of break dancing, and having dance offs, and the music was the strangest I had ever heard, a form of old hip hop. The DJ was ACTUALLY spinning records, and was extremely stereotypical with an oversized hoodie, and a flat bill hat, with his head tilted and earphones half on.

For an idea of the music and atmosphere….Abi’s opinion was that it was a “1990s Hip-Hop Party Gone Wrong”.

I attempted searching a visual representation and the closest I found for the music was Boys II Men, but the dancing for them was wayyyy better and so was the music, but a similar beat, and the people on the boat were wannabe dancers of that kind.

On another note, as I have said, it is beginning to get extremely cold out! We can’t start using the heater until October at our apartment so I just enviously gaze out the window at the smoke coming out of every other houses’s chimney, EXCEPT ours!

Anyway, we’ve been having house dinners lately, and so far I’ve cooked red beans and rice, rice and gravy, and Sopa de Pollo.

Our apartment is extremely small as opposed to downstairs, yet we had all of our housemates plus a visitor upstairs and it was a group effort to cook, clean, and serve the food.

It’s been a lot of fun having these house dinners, and we always have a good time visiting and eating together!

There’s always a lot of laughter and one of the best parts is that since all of our housemates speak English as a second language, they try to be sarcastic all the time! And though it makes sense what they are saying, it’s a type of sarcasm that’s never used because the context is different despite use of the right word. I can’t provide examples but it’s always extremely amusing.

Currently I’m trying to schedule my electives and French Classes and the whole website is shut down because of over use I’m assuming. Chaos as usual for the organization here in France.

Get this, if our classes overlap….we just have to choose the one most important, or the least amount of absences. It’s not like back home, we are pre-assigned to groups with the core courses.

Essentially, it’s been a big mess.

Also, yesterday during orientation, I REALLY needed to go to the bathroom!

So school has no signs directing you to the bathroom anywhere!

Only at the entrance is there a layout of the building and those tiny emergency one’s scattered throughout the building that you can’t even read.

Well I finally find a bathroom and would you believe it has one stall.

This is a UNIVERSITY for SEVERAL THOUSAND students, and the bathroom is a ONE STALL BATHROOM.

Furthermore, this is how to distinguish the women’s room. This isn’t the exact one from our school but it’s something similar to the pictures below. I’m all for modern bathroom signs and interior decor but, when there’s only a women’s bathroom on this side of the building I would not have identified the symbol at all had someone else not walked in.

One of those looks like the hunchback of Notre Dame, and someone with a coat on, the other looks like a deer track….

 

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Anyway, that’s been my week so far!