This blog shall document my semester abroad, beginning 28 August 2011.
Welcome to Poitiers.
I realize I never properly said goodbye. I’m home now, have been for a little over a week. It was a great semester and it was hard seeing it come to an end. I won’t try to summarize anything or come up with some profound concluding thoughts… I have a ten page report due in a week that will include all of that. So for now I’ll just say thanks for reading. I really have no clue who followed along, besides my mom and dad who mysteriously know certain details of my semester and then I remember I made a blog post about that. But really, merci beaucoup. I hope you had as much fun reading as I had writing.
Sorry long time no update. I’ve had minor issues regarding lost/stolen property, namely iPhones and wallets and the like. No sweat. I’m dealing with everything tomorrow and then heading to Paris on Thursday. SoCal, see you in a few.
The pic above is from the Cabaret tonight. The “Cab” is ESCEM’s version of a talent show, and happens every month. A few friends and I did a little dance, and some other international students sang. The pic above is a bunch of us on stage at some point.
Oh man this is all ending too quickly.
2 weeks …
It’s only the BEST month of the year!
and 30 days til I’m 21+1 :)
… and his name is gelato.
Italy was the last stop on my trip. We arrived in Milan, took a train to Florence, and spent just a few hours in Pisa before our flight home. We didn’t stay in any one city very long, and there were a ton of destinations we missed, obviously. Needless to say, Italy left me wanting more.
Milan was neat. (Did I really just say neat?) It was pretty modern, but I enjoyed the well-dressed people and I’ll repeat, the gelato.
Next was Florence, which was great as well, but different. It reminded me of Poitiers - except there were actually things to do and see. So I take that back. But the narrow cobblestone streets and the walkability of the city, that was reminiscent of my “home.” We hung out on bridges and scaled mountains for a beautiful view of the city at sunset. And we ate gelato. (But it wasn’t as good as Milan.)
And at last, Pisa. We sacrificed a few hours of precious sleep just so we could stop by the tower for a necessary photo session before catching our RyanAir flight back to Paris. Oh, and gelato. Disappointing gelato.
It was a long trip, but tons of fun, and totally worth it. I’m happy just to have had the opportunity to visit as many places as I was able to. My friend Lisa from USC, who was abroad the semester before me, told me she visited all 27 member states of the EU. Seriously, I’m mystified.
Sorry for the curtailed post. I’ve spent way too long on these things, and immediately prior to this I spent 3 hours writing in French about Whole Foods. Don’t ask. It wasn’t for pleasure.
For even more Italy photos, visit my MobileMe gallery.
And this concludes documentation of my trip, which now began almost one month ago HOLY CRAP where has the time gone…..
As I’m waiting for my Italy photos to load to MobileMe, so that I may submit the newest and FINAL installment of this prolonged documentation of my little trip around Europe, I suppose I better give an update on the Thanksgiving dinner that took place in Poitiers this past Sunday.
27 people showed up. That should say a lot about the nature of the evening. It was like a game of tangrams fitting all of us into a room / around a table that can comfortably fit about 12 people. Maximum. So comfort was out of the equation, but this was Thanksgiving, and I bet the pilgrims and indians didn’t turn any hungry soul away from their feast for such petty reasons as comfort. So we made it work, sharing chairs and not being bothered when someone’s elbow inevitably ended up in your mashed potatoes.
The evening’s menu included the world’s tiniest turkey, which apparently turned out quite tasty, despite my inability to affirm this declaration of delectability. (Turkey is not a vegetable, but shhh, don’t tell my Uncle Steve). I prepared a green bean casserole, which required me to make my own French’s (hah) fried onions. There was also dinner rolls, stuffing, brown sugar carrots, mashed potatoes (with and without elbow), creamed corn, tomatoes and mozzarella, rice salad, mac n cheese, prawns, and I’m sure a plethora of other dishes I’m forgetting. For dessert, I made a pumpkin pie with the canned pumpkin Julia had sent me a while back. And a homemade crust! It disappeared in 2 minutes. There was also brownies, fruit salad, three apple tarts, tiramisu, and mousse au chocolat. Almost everything was eaten, and everyone left properly stuffed beyond the limits of their waistbands.
Most of the feast’s attendees were neither American nor Canadian, and so we attempted to explain the history of Turkey Day and what the holiday is like back home. But to be honest, I think everyone was less interested in listening to us try to remember what B.S. we were taught back in the 5th grade, and more concerned with working out how to shove the greatest quantity of food possible down their throats.
Aw shucks, they make me proud.
Voilà, my pumpkin pie, which for some reason has a striking resemblance to Jupiter….
Our Poitiers Thanksgiving starts in 2 hours. Now I must wash up, put on my Sunday best and scrounge around to make our dining room table look somewhat presentable. Oh and whip up a green bean casserole! Why am I blogging when I have so much to do.
One thing you never want to hear the captain say onboard a plane is anything involving the words “engine” and “not working.” The bad news: such was the case for me aboard the November 8th EasyJet flight from London Stansted to Barcelona. The good news: the plane was still on the ground at the time of the announcement. We just did a little airplane shuffle, like cattle being herded back into the terminal and then onto a “spare” plane, delaying our departure by only about one hour. So at around 9:00pm I found myself in Spain, where, once again, the streets have no name - no name that’s clearly marked, at least - and by 10:00pm I was all checked-in to my hostel. Jilly and Elaine arrived just thirty minutes after me, and we headed out for tapas and sangria for our first night.
I really loved Barcelona. Some highlights for me included the warm(ish) weather and clear blue skies, the mountains, the sea, the palm trees! …..Interesting….. sounds kinda like LA……
Of course everything Gaudi was beautiful and truly astonishing. If you have been to Barcelona or know Antoni Gaudi and his work, then I need not go on. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, well, you can check out some of my pics. Basically, Antoni Gaudi was an architect and the godfather of Catalan Modernism. It is clear upon seeing his work that he drew influence from forms found in nature. There is rarely a straight line to be found, and instead one notices beautifully organic shapes reminiscent of waves, or flower stalks, or bones. It makes strolling through his Casa Batllo or marveling at the spires of his Sagrada Familia quite fun. His magnum opus, the church Sagrada Familia, is still in the process of being built and has been for over 100 years. In 1926, when Gaudi was 73 years old, he was hit by a tram not far from the Sagrada Familia. But poor Gaudi, who had so wholeheartedly dedicated himself and his life to his craft that he looked like a common bum, did not receive immediate care. By the time the hospital realized who he was it was too late, and he died three days later. It is estimated that the Sagrada Familia will be completed in about 15-20 years. I’ll be back.
It was about this point in my trip - one week in - that I began to feel the effects of minimal sleep, days filled with walking and schlepping 15kg of stuff around on my back. I tried not to let it slow me down too much, but I wasn’t the same eager traveler I had been on day one. Jilly and Elaine were wide-eyed and ready, having just arrived from Poitiers. Nonetheless, we had fun wandering the city (there’s that wandering again), hopping on buses and not knowing where to get off, shopping, tasting, graTHias-ing, oohing and ahhing at anything and everything Gaudi… basically soaking in Barcelona in all it’s semi-grungy grandeur. After three days we were sad to say adios to Spain, but with Italy on deck, this feeling was only temporary.
For an abundance of Barcelona photographs, check out the album on my MobileMe gallery, HERE. Otherwise, some randomly selected favorites are below:
I took this photo today on my way back from class. I must have passed this scene hundreds of times (it’s just up the street from my place), but today I realized how different it looks than when I arrived. The ivy was vibrant and green a couple months ago; now it’s beautifully autumnally hued.
Less than one month til I’m home. There, the plants will still be green.
I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and stays safely un-trampled this Black Friday.
Unfortunately, my day involved no stuffing and no drunken relatives. It did, however, include 6 hours of class, an ordinary dinner, and a couple games of King’s.
But Sunday, we feast! My mouth is watering already.
"Tunas come and tunas go…." wait that’s not right (@ChrisMelzer)
jack queen king