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!

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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!

 

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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

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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

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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