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 :
- I’m not sure how our parents survived all of the winter soccer tournaments
- 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!
Y’all. They have roasted chestnuts in little booths around town you can buy as you walk around… I’m in love!
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.
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!
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!