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.

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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.

 

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Yesterday was a very stressful day. It wasn’t anything in particular. It is just that trying to get acclimated to a new place, that is completely different is stressful.

Let’s talk about how the day started. It started, looking up, then just went barreling downhill.

**Reason why I couldn’t post yesterday.
So yesterday, I was finally able to get some sleep and woke up extremely late. I was well rested and had an appointment at the bank to open up my account—success!
If you’re curious about items you may need to open up a bank account, here is a complete list of the things you need. (Because trying to look stuff up and find information on websites in France is a JOKE people.)

  • Passport
  • Lease Contract or some other proof of residence (utility bill, etc.)
  • Birth Certificate (copy)
  • Proof of Enrollment at your school

In order to do anything here you need a bank account, so I’ve been on standby for getting a phone and renting a bike. Also—as I hope I’ve been able to portray—momma is not about this walking stuff.

After the bank appointment it was the same ole’ no meal routine: starve half the day, try to find a sandwich shop and eat a piece of bread.
Y’all, that’s probably the most frustrating thing. You can’t get a meal just anytime. If you missed the time window, that’s just really unfortunate.
Anyway, once my account was open, Abi and I decided to head to the city center so I could open up a phone service.
Let’s just pause real quick for me to express just how much Apple Maps sucks. Back home in America (in all conversations, we now refer to “back home” as America and each time I say it I always find it amusing, it seems very patriotic and majestic) it works just fine. However, here, it’s another story. You’re trying to walk and look at your phone, and Siri gets confused and turned around every 5 seconds. It’s very difficult to navigate like this when you’re also trying not to step in dog poop, get run over by bicyclists, and pay attention when you cross the street to not get hit by the cars. Even when pedestrians have a green light to cross, the cars don’t stop. Also, when you’re crossing, there is NO WARNING that the light is about to turn red. In the middle of crossing the street, the light will just turn red and you freak out trying to run across because you weren’t prepared for cars to just start coming again.
Anyway, so we’re trying to get to the phone shop, Maps brings us to BFE (sorry mom & dad), and then we get to this abandoned building with socks hanging on the fence and sleeping bags at the entrance and Siri is trying to tell us we’ve arrived. Abi begins to point out how 30 minutes ago she mentioned we weren’t going the right way, but because MAPS is supposed to always be right, I insisted we continue.
Now we’ve been walking, are completely lost, and still haven’t gotten anywhere we need to be and are all the way across the world, AND we’re starting to get irritated with the situation and, in turn, each other.
Well, we started heading back and the frustration is building. After trying to get oriented and walking another 20 minutes or so we’re both so angry and snapping at each other that we end up “cheating” and ordering an Uber.
I say cheating because we’re trying to do as the locals do and get around on foot or via public transportation, but you can only take so many turn-arounds and being lost for so long while walking around aimlessly before someone snaps…so, we called an Uber.
Our Uber driver arrives, and I’ve never been happier to just sit and let someone else drive. We start a conversation, and he asks where we’re heading. We explain how we’re American students trying to set up a phone blah blah blah…
I am still worked up and trying to figure out how to get to the phone place and I curse. He asks what’s wrong and says how he doesn’t speak English, but he knows THAT word.
We break down, and now it’s become a therapy session—with the Uber driver. We start to tell him all the problems we’ve been having, and he’s laughing so hard that he’s almost crying. He starts apologizing because he’s trying to stay professional. We say it’s okay. Our moods are starting to lighten up, and we start laughing, too. It’s contagious.
Now, that we’re feeling better and more comfortable, all of our struggles start pouring out because he seems very sympathetic. So, I end the story explaining how—on top of everything that’s been happening the past 4 DAYS—we haven’t had a meal and have been surviving off of baguettes and cheese!
He starts laughing so hard again, and when he finally composes himself he says he’s going to stop the meter, bring us to the phone place, and help us get somewhere to eat. He then asks if we have money. We tell him it’s very generous but it’s okay, (we’re feeling much more relaxed at this point) and we’ll figure it out. He drops us off, and we start heading to the phone place, FINALLY.
In retrospect, stating that we’ve only been eating baguettes and the fact that he asked if we had money,  I think he thought we were poor which was why he wanted to turn off his meter and wanted to find us somewhere cheap to eat.
Anyway, now we’ve arrived at the phone place.
This place was not like AT&T. It was packed, had two workers, and neither person acknowledged that we had walked in, despite the fact that we were looking at phones.

***I just want to apologize for all the times I’ve shooed away reps wanting to help me because I walked in to this place, ready to hand them some cash for a new phone and service line but that did not happen.

We waited a bit, and then a line started to form. Next thing I know, I hadn’t got in line, and now it’s out the door, maybe 30 people deep.
I start thinking to myself, this guy is jumping around helping people around the store as well as the line, so hopefully he’ll have noticed when I walked in and tend to me shortly…..nope. Then I start to realize that no one in the line is there to open anything; they’re just there to COMPLAIN.
Literally, every person walked up handing their phone to this guy asking how an app worked, or how to do something, or that their internet at home wasn’t working, etc.
I decide to go to the register and ask that guy. Well, I wait behind this lady like 20 minutes, and once I finally get there I say that I just have a quick question. He responds with, “I only take people who have a ticket”.
I swear smoke was coming out of my ears. I walked 30 minutes in the wrong direction, haven’t eaten at all today, and had a breakdown in the back of an Uber to get here. So, I just walk out.
We get dinner (finally), and then head home (in another Uber).
We’re content.

Our 3rd “flatmate” Tatiana arrived yesterday. She’s from Russia. And Francesca’s (our downstairs housemate) roommate, Sarah from France, arrived as well.

We agreed to all meet up and go out together.
Our day ended socializing and laughing at our struggles on a boat on the river. It was a great end to the day!
Now, I’m about to leave my house to try again to get a phone. It’s a new day and different time, and I’ve eaten breakfast and had some coffee.

Check out my new apparatus for making coffee! No more spillage 🤗 (2€)

American Convenience

So today was much more calm than yesterday. However, I “went to sleep” planning to not set an alarm and wake up whenever I wanted.

I “went to sleep” close to 4am, woke up around 8 and decided I needed a little more time. I ended up getting out of bed shortly after.

The jet lag has been REAL. I usually never get jet lag, but I’ll feel okay in the day then mid-afternoon start feeling super exhausted and then be full of energy in the evenings! I’m hoping this evening will be an earlier one than yesterday.

Today I woke up, and made coffee…..it was pathetic! I called my dad yesterday asking how it was possible to do this without a coffee pot. He told me a story of how my grandpa used to use a sock and I started to get really worried of what these next 8 months were going to be like if I was going to be making “sock coffee”. He then suggested to just buy filters and place it over the cup. Well, obviously they filter coffee but not fast enough so I over flowed my filter in my cup. Hot water and coffee grounds were making a mess all over the counter, mind you my “kitchen” is in my room, so any time I cook or handle food, I need to clean up really well, and that would have been horrible to have coffee and coffee grounds everywhere.

Long story short, that was the hardest I ever worked for a cup of coffee.

HOWEVER, it turned out great and wasn’t a bad coffee!

Then I boiled some eggs on my little plug in burner and life was good. I was feeling put together and got inspired to do a little more cleaning. Y’all….this apartment was soooooo dirty, I usually cringe when I see my mom wiping down walls, because who does that? But this place needs to be sterilized, and that it was. I wiped down the walls…twice. Once for the layer of grime and then again to actually clean. It’s amazing how much happier and satisfied you feel once a place is clean. So now things are looking up, not that I was having a bad day, but after the coffee mishap, I was feeling in control again.

Abi and I decided to get dressed and try to open our bank accounts and phone service…that didn’t happen. We’re going back tomorrow with a group from our school.

The times we have  had to interact with people here, everyone becomes terrified because they’re not sure what language to use/speak, and we don’t know the customs here for businesses and services so an exchange usually begins with an awkward stare-off and then slow mumbling in “Franglais”. It’s very frustrating coming somewhere when you’re trying to learn the language and people automatically begin speaking to you in English, when honestly (this is not meant to be offensive) it would be much easier to understand in French, because most English is very broken or with a thick accent.

Anyway, we then decided to venture out to centre-ville, the heart of the city, to explore. We went with our Italian housemate, Francesca!

Being that I’m not from a walking city this is a huge change for me, and Francesca’s version of a short walk away was not the same as mine….we’re going to have to get used to this.

Abi and I still haven’t gotten a great meal schedule down so our meal times are very random. We set out around 2pm looking for food and unfortunately for us, finding a place to eat between the times of around 2-6 in France is nearly impossible except for sandwich shops, which we were needing something a little heartier than that. I can’t go from eating rice and gravy, and chicken à la king, to one sandwich a day, not happening.

Sadly, we had to settle for a sandwich because after trying a few places, no kitchens were open.

Americans are lucky that we can stop to eat pretty much anytime of the day at our convenience.

*Point for America.

Also, options….

Y’all I’m pretty sure I mentioned this in my last post, but I never realized how much of a luxury having options is. There may be 5 versions of 1 item available at the store as opposed to you’re 50 different options of volumizing shampoo back home.

However, not to worry, I can confirm that they do have dry shampoo here, and it’s Batiste (fun fact that’s a brand form the UK, I never knew). That’s all a girl really needs anyway so I was VERY thankful for this discovery.

Also side note, they have Sephora and McDonald’s almost next to each other, I would say walking distance, but I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone, the phrase “walking distance” has been nothing but false hope lately.

When I’m feeling homesick I know where to go.

All in all there are pros and cons.

Pros:

  • I’m in Freaking Europe
  • I’m living the city life
  • The food is bomb

Cons

  • This involves a lot more walking than what I was prepared for
  • Opening Hours here are SOOOOO INCONVENIENT
  • I need more options at the store, the selection is struggling.

City-life is very new to me,though Strasbourg is nothing compared to say, Paris or New York. However it’s still a big change. I accidentally ALWAYS walk in the bike lane, actually wait for the crossing sign to turn green (apparently that’s not necessary according to some people @Abi), and don’t know how I’ll ever get used to walking ALL DAY.

I was worried before of gaining weight on this trip but that won’t be a problem. Between the 4 flights upstairs and having to walk all the time, I should be beach-body ready come Spring!

This evening, Francesca invited us downstairs to her room for Authentic Italian Spaghetti with a ragu (I thought that was just a brand but apparently that’s the word for meat sauce) her mom made for her to bring here.

It was delicious and we had so much fun visiting with her. She expressed how much she liked American culture, and that “America is a dream”. It was very neat to talk about the American high school experience that according to Francesca young Italians envy such as prom, graduation ceremony, riding the school bus, high school athletics, and basically everything we think is completely traditional to find in a high school. It was pretty amazing. She explained how Europeans grow up and perfect their English by watching American TV shows and dreaming about all of the things they see about life here in America.

I look forward to these discussions as I meet more students and begin classes. Furthermore, I can’t wait ’til I can walk a mile in my docs, because so far those boots haven’t proved they’re made for walking (cheesy joke). Seriously though, I’ve been wearing them every day to break them in but tomorrow I may opt for some tennis shoes just to see if I can get in a couple more miles of exploring before I tire out.

A couple candles, pictures on the wall, cup of tea, and blog post later, I’m starting to feel more at home here.

Next thing I’m looking forward to is Saturday Market!

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