Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bienvenue à Grenoble!

This was supposed to be quite a long post, but the outlet converter I bought today doesn't actually allow me to plug anything in to has a half-inch tall lip around the outside and so my plugs can't be flush against the outlet like they need to be! I'll get a new one tomorrow and give y'all a much better update - my computer just doesn't have enough life for me to say all the things I want to say!

Well, after three plane rides, two EXTREMELY SHORT "layovers" (30 min in Minneapolis + 1 hour in Amsterdam), I arrived at the Lyon Saint-Exupéry Aéroport! (some of you may be familiar with Saint-Exupéry's most famous work, Le Petit Prince [The Little Prince])
My very first sighting of France from the plane! And daaaang France, you pretty.
We were met by the wife of our program director, Katie, who is originally from Grenoble (Patrick, our director, is from Michigan; they met when they both worked at a French-American school in Michigan 20+ years ago!). We took a bus from the airport to Grenoble, probably about an hour drive. There are 11 students currently (some leave after June and a few new students will arrive in July, some are here the whole summer, like me), and out of those 11 there are SIX Aggies! I knew two of the girls before the program, but the other two girls and the one boy Aggie (there are 3 boys in our program total) were a surprise! Everyone in our group seems wonderful so far, I'm looking forward to spending the summer with them. 

We were met at the bus station by Patrick and members of our host families (if we have them; about half the students live together in an apartment or dorm) and off we went to our new homes! I wish I could yesterday was wonderful....but honestly, after very, very little sleep (5 hours sleep over 48 hours total) I was exhausted and being thrown into a french-only household was overwhelming. I had a lot of trouble expressing what I wanted to say in French and wondered a few times if I should be here. BUT I went to bed super early and got much-needed 12 hours of sleep and I felt 100 times better today. I didn't actually see my family until this evening, but even after a whole day of walking the streets of Grenoble with the other students and Patrick, I was able to hold my own in conversation for the most part, and I already find myself thinking in French some - not as fluidly as English, but my thoughts are in the same stunted French my speaking is - its a start! And I feel much better overall, and I know this was absolutely the best decision I could make.

Today was wonderful overall. I started the day by getting lost on my way to the CEA office for orientation...and that wasn't fun. While Grenoble has wonderful public transportation, and I got off the tram at the right stop, I turned the complete opposite direction I was supposed to. But I was able to call Patrick and he sent someone to come fetch me, so I wasn't lost for too long, and I wasn't the only one who had become lost. This city seems like a labyrinth to me right now! Hopefully that will change very quickly.
Un tartan de tomate avec une salade. So delicious. 

Un macaron des framboises avec de la
glace au citron et des fruits
We walked around Grenoble for a bit before having lunch together as a group at a restaurant called Le 5 (Le Cinq). The restaurant is situated under Le Musée de Grenoble, which is an art museum similar to the Kimball or the Modern in Fort Worth. We'll visit it later on this summer. Patrick told us that it is impossible to eat at that restaurant without a reservation - even for lunch! And it was very reasonably priced, for being so popular! They were serving Civet de Lapin (a type of rabbit stew), which many of the students ordered, so I got to try it. I actually liked it, though it wasn't my favorite type of viande (meat). It tasted similar to brisket, actually. I enjoyed my tartan de tomate completely, though. Also, the water here is FANTASTIC. Because Grenoble is surrounded by mountains on three sides, all the tap water is basically naturally-clean melted snow. No filters needed and nothing chemical about it - such a lovely change from College Station water. It also means that water is indeed free, which it is not in all European countries when you eat at a restaurant, so this was excellent news. For dessert I had a raspberry macaroon with lemon ice cream and fruit. Oh. My. Goodness. Absolutely incredible. I've never actually had macaroons in the States, but I'm willing to bet this one blew them out of the water.

We walked the streets of Grenoble for the next six hours, and saw so many things. I probably couldn't find anything again right now but I'll learn eventually. So here's a fun fact: Grenoble is two thousand years old. Yeah, it was a city BEFORE the Romans took it over. So its basically oozing history, which I, of course, love. Something that a lot of people don't realize is that la Révolution Française actually started in Grenoble, not with the Storming of the Bastille in Paris. Grenoble has always been a left-leaning/anti-authority city, and in 1788, the citizens of Grenoble began meeting at a church to discuss their thoughts and the need to overthrow the monarchy. Well, somehow l'Etat (the government) found out what they were up to and sent soldiers into the city to stop the talks and any possible coup. 

The now-1000-year-old-church
where the first talks of revolution
took place.
The building that supplied les tuiles that the citizens threw onto the soldiers' heads. And it is said to have rained tiles. I can't even imagine.

The people of Grenoble were so affronted by this act of sending in the army that they went up to the roof of a building, above the street full of soldiers, and pulled the roof tiles off the roof and threw them down onto the soldiers' heads. This day is known as la Journée des Tuiles, or, Day of the Tiles. After this act of violence, the talks of revolution weren't allowed to take place in the church, and a meeting was set up to formally discuss their ideas. After that meeting, also in Grenoble, the Storming of the Bastille took place exactly one month later; thus, the start of Revolution was here! Probably my favorite historical fact about Grenoble thus far. 

Okay, well my computer is about to die, so I will have to stop here. I'm also going to have to work on not trying to retell every moment of my trip...I'll never have time to sleep! Tomorrow we have more touring of Grenoble during the day and us students are going to go out all together for the first time that night. It should be another really exhausting but fun day. I'll write more when I can, hopefully by Sunday evening, probably earlier, and with more pictures!

à bientôt!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Famille de France!

Y'all, I got an email from my HOST FAMILY yesterday!!
Mateo, Clotilde, Eva
And I am beyond excited to meet them. They sent me several pictures including a picture of their cat (though I don't know the cat's name yet BUT GUYS THEY HAVE A CAT). They look fun, silly, happy - all the things I hoped for!

I don't know how old Mateo and Eva are, but I'm guessing he's around 13/14 and she's around 16/17. I just cannot wait to meet them. This time in two weeks I'll be sleeping in my new bed in their home! So exciting.

Well, that's about all I have to update so far. I'm so ready to go but in reality I am far from it. No idea what I'm packing. Haven't done half the things on my to-do list before I go. So its probably a good thing that I actually still have two weeks.


Saturday, May 11, 2013


So this will be the place I talk about all things french (or otherwise european) this summer.

Nothing of note to report yet; I get my housing assignment next week so that should hopefully be worth talking about!

As for now: trying to transition into non-finals-studying mode. I keep thinking there is something else I am supposed to be doing. Turns out, there's not a whole lot of things to do when school isn't in session. Who knew?

I'm still learning how to work this thing...I'll let you know when I figure things like comments out! For now its probably best to just facebook message me. Or call me, or text me, or send me an owl. Any will do.