Study Abroad

Christmas Spirit

As this semester is coming to a close with my last final being tomorrow I can only be thankful for the experiences and people I’ve met these past few months.

Although things have been tough, difficult, and frustrating I’ve also experienced some pretty great things too.

We did a Secret Santa gift exchange with the flat and it was perfect. Despite not following directions for the rules of the gift exchange, despite being gifted a hunk of cheese, and despite Virgil dropping wine on our carpet for the umpteenth time; I love these people!

Snapchat-629169954.jpg

We had this little exchange on Sunday before hosting a Christmas dinner for friends, several of which will be leaving this semester.

Alex peeking behind me in the picture below will be going home to California, Anel posing in denim will be heading back to Vienna, Mason is heading home to Louisiana to graduate in the Spring, and our sweet Francesca is going to be leaving us to go back to Genoa, Italy. These people (along with others who couldn’t make it) have contributed to some of my favorite memories of my experience that I’m going to cherish forever! Notably, all of the meals we’ve shared. I’ve tested out ALL of my recipes on them. My first Gumbo, my first time making rice and gravy for a crowd, my first red beans and rice on my own, my first thanksgiving dishes, not to mention trying to bake goodies for them with a toaster oven (cue the tears when my lemon bars didn’t work)!

We’ve cooked so many times together and it’s been great. As Tatiana put it, it was a true family Sunday. We had Christmas music blaring, yummy smells coming from all corners of our flat as we prepared dishes, and great company. I even got away with a few country songs. I never realized how much country music makes me think of home. The lyrics make me think of Louisiana: my nanny’s house, my best friends, singing in the car, LSU, the awesome food, my family. The best is when I play Chicken Fried by the Zac Brown Band most of them know the words and sing-along now!

 

IMG_7247.JPGIMG_1506.JPG

Snapchat-150178799.jpg

Things I’ve looked forward to the past semester include:

Damian coming which I can’t believe how fast time has passed, I get to see him in 7 days!

Also, shout out to my person for –

1). Coming all the way across the ocean to see me

2). Coming back after he leaves to study abroad in Italy for the Spring semester!

1:30 PM. Why? Because 1:30 PM is 6:30 AM Louisiana time. I’ve actually counted down the minutes til I can call my mom as soon as she wakes up! When ya girl is desperate for advice on how to wash something, cook something, or edit something it takes everything in me not to call hear any earlier. **Sometimes I can get away with an emergency text a little earlier than this.

Bus 2 heading to Elmerfrost and Jardin des Deux Rives.

Monday….only insane people say this. However, this is what Strasbourg has done to me, I starve on Sundays or have to ration toilet paper until Monday because no stores are open. 

The 3rd person… So many times I’ve spent waiting in the library for the 3rd person to show up part of the group in order to get the key to the team room to work on a project!

My clothes to dry….the further into Winter we get the quicker my clothes dry! I’m loving it!

Soccer Practice! Since joining the time I’ve become friends with the most wonderful group of girls. After finishing my club and high school soccer career never would I have imagined it would be continued during my year abroad in France. Calling for the ball and cheering on my teammates in French is still a work in progress but I get to vent to these girls about teachers, the struggles of adapting to France, and French grammar. We’ve played 2 games thus far and have one at the end of break in January! I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and the upcoming tournaments. Plus my flatmates and friends are so awesome they came to watch me play at my last game (against Paris it was 1-2, but still a great time)

P.S. We are the Storkettes not the Hurric’EMS

received_10213294515631001.jpeg

Finally, this past weekend I finally made it to mass in the Cathedral! It’s a gorgeous church and I found it so comforting that I could follow mass and that mass occurrences are universal. There are still misbehaved kids who’s parents try to silently discipline them, still sweet old ladies who sing louder than the rest of us, the same Christmas songs, and the same joy when it’s time to give peace. The only difference was that this mass was a mixture of French, German, and Latin!

Although I’m not with my family this holiday season I feel like the people I’ve been surrounded with have truly embodied the spirit of Christmas and brought it to life for me. We all come from different backgrounds and cultures. Some of us are religious, some of us aren’t, some of us don’t even typically celebrate Christmas. Some of believe in Santa Claus. Some of us believe in Christkind. Some of us get presents on Dec. 6 and the 25th. We also eat different dishes around Christmas time. This has definitely made my Christmas season much more rich.

We may not be blood but we have become a family! I feel so lucky that the world has become such a smaller place thanks to all the people I’ve met. I’m looking forward to my future travels visiting my international friends! Before this trip Europe seemed like a once in a lifetime experience but I know I’ll definitely be coming back after I leave.

Cheers to another semester, the adventure continues!

Study Abroad

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.

22117748_10211589232261277_1147601862_o

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.

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "russian borscht"
***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.

IMG_4636 2

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!

IMG_4657

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!