A Travellerspoint blog

September 2011

The Journey Continues

sunny 70 °F

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A lot has changed since the last time I wrote last week, so I'll do my best to bring everything up to speed...

Friday was a pretty good day, with my second real class here in International business. The class was on International Management stuff, which is a pretty simple and easy subject, but also pretty interesting to hear taught in an international environment like this. The professor is German, and is very open minded about everything, and I like open thought/questioning type environments, so I think it'll be a good class. Like many of my other classes so far, the grading looks pretty simple and straightforward, and the class is actually scheduled through the end of the semester unlike my law class, so it should make for a good class and allow me to continue to plan out crazy travel adventures. Friday night I packed for Strasbourg for the weekend, which was awesome.

Saturday morning I got up a little bit early to skype with my girl, only to find out things are working out anymore and she won't be coming to visit for Thanksgiving like we originally planned. A little bummed, but I'd be lying if I said it came as a surprise since I've predicted this "relationship" almost start to finish now. And it's not all bad, because it should allow me to travel more freely without as much concern, experience French culture a little bit more, and it means that when my family visits over the same week or so, I'll be able to spend a lot more time with them. I'll be able to act as their translator with what French I do know and get to spend a lot of time with them, which is great. I'm not sure what she'll do with the round trip plane ticket she has to France, but she said she'd figure it out, so I guess that's that. I'm kind of bummed that I won't get to take a girl out for a romantic evening here in France, but it's probably for the best. So much for having a girlfriend while abroad, but I think there are a lot of opportunities for me to pursue that might be better off done single anyways over the next 12 months, so here's to those.

That said, I took my lightly packed Osprey backpack (which continues to be one of the best investments I've made in the last year or two) and headed off for the Dijon train station to meet up with two other American friends and 5 other Filipino friends for Strasbourg for the weekend. We arrived in Strasbourg around 2 in the afternoon, travels were problem free, checked into our hostel, and headed out to explore. We first went to the Notre Dame Cathedral, which is absolutely stunning. The kids from the Philippines said it was more impressive than the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which is the famous one, so I thought that was pretty cool. We paid a small fee to be able to climb to the top of it, where I took a bunch of pictures and a 360 shot. After that we made our way to the area of Strasbourg called Petite France, which is adorable and really looks like old timey France. The houses, cobblestone roads, bridges, rivers, and so on. We ate dinner at a restaurant here, which was pretty good. Then we made our way back to our hostel, hung out for a bit, watched some tv in English on the tv in our room (they had 2 English speaking channels!) and then went to bed.

The next day we got up, checked out of our hostel, and headed out for some more exploring. Sunday was cool because we went to the garden of two rivers which is on the Rhine River and is really pretty, and we had a beautiful day for it. We took the really artistic bridge and crossed the Rhine also and went into Germany, although briefly, for lunch. We explored a little town called Kehl in Germany for a bit, and then headed back to Strasbourg. We wandered around for a bit longer, checked out the Ponts Couverts, and then caught our train home. Strasbourg is a really cool city! It had lots of rivers running through it and around it, and the culture is very interesting because of how much German and French there is there. Although we were only there briefly, it was an awesome trip. Next weekend, some friends and I are headed to the real Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, which should be awesome. I'm super excited to see what it's like, enjoy some good beer, and hopefully not end up too tipsy. The weekend after that the American guys are heading to Paris to visit family in town, but the Filipino kids are all heading to London I think they said, so I may try to tag along with them for that trip. I have no preference in where I travel really, as long as it's somewhere new, different, and interesting. I'm trying to visit as many places over here as I can in a short amount of time, but it also exposes you to an incredible number of different cultures as well, which has been amazing and fascinating. A trip to somewhere in Switzerland is coming sometime soon also, just not positive when. The options are endless over here, it's incredible.

This morning has been another adventure, although a less fun and less exciting one as I continue to try to sort out all of the problems that I'm encountering at this residence here. They have told me now that if I don't pay the remaining balance of 500 Euros (which is their error and I don't think I should owe), they won't replace the two burned out lightbulbs in my flat, so I think I'm going to go replace those on my own later. It's been a rather disappointing experience with this place, and every hostel's shower and bed, hostels not hotels, mind you, have been nicer than what I'm paying for here. But I'm locked into this place for another 12 weeks, so it'll just be an ongoing issue to see what happens next. Other than that, life here has been and continues to be incredible, with each day and week bringing on another new challenge or adventure to explore and allow me to grow as a person. Below I put some links to pictures and a few new 360s from the Strasbourg trip, so be sure to check those out, and look for more to come from future adventures!

Photos of Strasbourg: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2461367895547.2140848.1292672395&l=549a8910f5&type=1

360 on top of Strasbourg Notre Dame: http://360.io/uJjQv9
360 in the Jardin des Deux Rives: http://360.io/6FzKYD

Posted by la vita bella 12:20 Archived in France Tagged beer rivers france travel train trekking germany backpack philippines garden cathedral family tv photos wine europe international housing dijon abroad business american panoramic residence osprey oktoberfest notre dame relationship law jardin petite study iphone strasbourg euros 360 skype girlfriend esc ponts couverts kehl camera+ Comments (0)

France Update

Thoughts on paper.

overcast 65 °F

Milan Train Station in Italy
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No really significant updates in this entry, just felt the need to write. Thoughts on paper. In an odd sort of way it's a great outlet for me, soothing, and just nice to get things out. I'll do my best to get things caught up since returning from Rome to the best of my memory.

Sunday

Sunday was a relatively nice rest and catch up day. Despite how awesome Rome was and all of the unbelievable things we got to see, I was ready for a day to relax and sit for a little bit. I basically spent Sunday on housekeeping related things around here. Still unsure if the bed bugs came from Rome or my studio here, I cleaned the entire place. Swept the whole room, cleaned the kitchenette spotless, etc. I found no signs of them here, but as of today on Thursday I still can't say I know where they came from for sure. Sunday I also wrote some postcards to friends and family back home, wrote the previous blog, skyped with my parents and skyped with my girlfriend, and so on. Lots of little things that just needed to get done, and seeing my family back home and my girl was great too, as always. The letter I received from my girlfriend the night I got home from Rome was a nice little treat also given how much I miss her here. Not a bad day, especially given that everything in France is closed on Sundays. Everything.

Monday

Monday was a very good and productive day. I had received mail from the bank here that my ATM card was available for pick up, so I went to get that, which was a huge relief. Not only did I get it on my first visit to the bank that day (great success), but it worked and I no longer have concerns for running out of money here in Europe. Both great things. That day also I went to the train station with the other American friends of mine to try to book tickets for future trips, but had no luck because I guess these trains fill up early, no matter where you're going according to the first guy we spoke too, so that was a bit frustrating. That evening I attended my first class here in Dijon, French Intermediate, which went pretty smoothly. The professor speaks no English, which might prove to be difficult at some point, but I understood nearly every word she said, and could speak better than some kids in my class while not as well as others, which to me says I'm right where I should be. The grading seemed pretty fair and relatively easy enough, so that's always a plus. Monday I also received my first care package from home, from my mother, which had my scale from home, a razor since I blew mine in the outlet the first time I tried to shave here, a wireless router since wifi is hard to find here in Dijon, and another converter and adapter for outlets. Amazingly, having not weighed myself in two weeks and eaten everything that looked deliciously European, I hadn't gained an ounce. Not bad!

Tuesday

Tuesday was a less than fabulous day here. I didn't end up doing much for most of the day, and when I did finally try to go do something (meet up with another international student from Germany at the gym), the gym was unavailable for use, which was disappointing. My wrist was giving me problems for most of that day, which was also pretty frustrating. I still think that something in there is broken or messed up, more than a sprain, but who really knows at this point. All I can do is hope it heals by the time I'm back in the States and if not, I'll have to get it professionally looked at along with my knee to figure out what's wrong. I also returned to the train station again that day with the other American students, to no luck with booking anything. That afternoon while relaxing in my apartment my bed broke for the second time also, so add that to the growing list of the many reasons why I'm already tired of this residence. Tuesday night I was back from class and realized that my International Law class which has been missing from my schedule and I'm told "isn't scheduled yet but will be shortly" is on my schedule, and is holding a 3 hour class session at 9:30 Wednesday morning! I swear this school sometimes... Anyways, seeing that I went to bed since I knew I couldn't sleep in, and I was frustrated with the day.

Wednesday

Wednesday turned out to be a much better day. I went to my first real International Business class in the morning for the Law stuff, which turned out to be alright. The professor is from Peru and is fluent in Spanish and French and good at English, although at times he turns to me for help since I'm the only native English speaker in the room. It looks like the majority of our grade in there is going to be based on the team project, which we began on Wednesday without even realizing it. I am in a group with four other students from Germany, Mexico, Pakistan, and China and our task is to find a common natural resources problem in our country and build a treaty around it with the others. Pretty cool to see it from a global perspective like this too, something I definitely wouldn't get in a class at DU. After class I went to try out the school gym, which worked out ok. Not having access to a legitimate bench press free weights machine for the next 3 months is going to be rough, but I was able to find enough things in there that I shouldn't lose too much strength hopefully. No one else was around while I was trying things out too, which was nice for me. I'm definitely sore today, but hoping to go back there tomorrow to give it another try. The last French class of the week last night was good, and not too much homework is given by this professor apparently, so that's always nice. I did it this morning so I won't have to worry about it while traveling this weekend, and it was super easy. Good start to the semester. Yesterday a light bulb burned out in my flat as well, which is not the biggest deal in the world, but mildly frustrating since I've only been here two weeks. You can add that to the list of frustrations I have with this residence also now, as well as still figuring out if I have bugs in my flat. The highlight of yesterday though was probably booking travel for my next two weekends with other students here. I've given that it's own section at the end.

Thursday

Today turned out to be a pretty good day. I was able to sleep in and relax most of the day, and then went to my French culture and societe class this afternoon. It turns out the same professor teaches the class in English and French back to back, which may come in handy. I definitely feel that my comprehension skills are lacking in the class which is in complete French, but it'll force me to pick up the slack and get better at speaking and listening to French, which is good. And I can't take the English version anyways to complete my French minor, so that's not an option. I understand most of what he says, but I'm worried about the key points he makes. Guess we'll find out in coming weeks where I stand. The grading is super simple and easy also, which is again a plus while I'm over here and would rather travel than do homework. After class tonight I met my French "buddy" who ESC set me up with, which was cool. She's really nice and speaks fluent English and French and had offered to be really helpful. She didn't stick around for too long when we met up, but I have her name and number which should come in handy at some point I'm sure. Tomorrow I'm hoping to visit the gym again, I have a class for International Management, and all International students in Dijon are getting to meet the mayor of Dijon tomorrow night, which means I need to find something decent to wear. Also, a friend told me before I left that "everyone in Europe wears leather", and now that it's starting to become cooler at night, it's becoming obvious that it's true. I'm super happy since I brought my real leather jacket over here with me, which weighs a whopping 6 pounds by the way, and I can't wait to wear it out and about soon. So, that brings most things up to speed as of tonight, except travel!

Travel Plans!

This weekend, my friends and I were able to reserve tickets to Strasbourg, France. It's a town on the edge of France and Germany, and while I'm not totally sure of everything to see there, we have about a day and a half to wander around and explore, so I'm sure we'll find something. We'll be heading out Saturday mid morning and returning late Sunday night, making a nice little trip. I'll be traveling directly with the two other guys from U of Kentucky, since the two other girls decided to go to Paris instead (mistake!), and a bunch of my friends from the Philippines are going to be there on the same train and same hostel as well. Should make for a fun weekend! And then there's next weekend....the real actual Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Yeah, it's actually happening. I won't go into the details of how we're getting there, since 10 days out was last minute and we're taking about 5 or 6 trains to get there, but it's happening, and we'll be there for about 2 days. I'm pretty excited for Oktoberfest. I've never been drunk in my life, but this may be the time to try on that hat, since rumor has it the event runs 9-5 everyday and is all you can drink beer for 5 euros... Either way, it promises to be an adventure, and what pictures I take will be worth the lifetime of memories they'll create. I'll try to take plenty of pictures in Strasbourg as well, which I've heard has some pretty sweet Gothic architecture around the town. The weekend after that no formal plans have been made yet, but I'm thinking about heading to Switzerland. The other American kids want to head to Amsterdam for a weekend they'll never remember, and I'm not so much into that kind of thing, and Switzerland sounds much more fun and beautiful, so I think I may head there. Regardless, if I've learned one thing here it's that life is an adventure, you just have to go out and live it, so that's what I'm doing my best to do. Traveling the world certainly opens your eyes and teaches you a lot and you never really know what to expect, and every single minute of it has been awesome. I miss home a lot some days, but I wouldn't change anything about where I am and what I'm doing here today. I'm too blessed and lucky to have an opportunity like this, so I'm doing my best to make the most of it. Until next time, thank you to all you awesome people out there who read everything I have to say, and look forward to some awesome pictures and 360s from the travels and journeys that lie ahead!!

Au revoir!

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Posted by la vita bella 11:59 Archived in France Tagged castles cathedrals france history hotel italy rome roman dijon abroad study vail 360 beaune girlfriend esc dieu Comments (0)

When in Rome...

...Do it like Brutus.

sunny 65 °F

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The title of this entry comes from a tshirt that I got in a high school Latin class, and is probably lying around my parent's place in Denver somewhere. It held special significance over these past few days though as I was exploring Rome with 4 other American students.

Wednesday morning,

I got up at the much too early hour of 4am here in Dijon with my bags packed, ready to hike to the Dijon Ville station. The station is about a 40 minute walk at a good pace from my studio here on the other side of the city, so after my shower I headed out the door. I could barely sleep the night before, incredibly excited for Rome, and a little nervous to be walking the city streets by myself at that hour and looking like an obvious non local. I hustled to the station to meet the other four American students at 5:30am, and we all boarded the train. Because we booked it so last minute, we had an epic day of travel going to Rome, as well as our return journey, which I'll get to. First leg was a train from Dijon Ville to Lyon Part Dieu, about a two hour train ride. I slept most of that one because it was so empty and I could use my pack as a pillow. Next leg was from Lyon Part Dieu to Chambery, and we had 10 minutes from our arrival in Lyon to catch the next train to Chambery. I will never worry about close layovers again after that one. I was nervous, but it was seamless and painful, and is definitely the fastest way to travel since the trains in Europe are so spot on with timing. We arrived in Chambery shortly after that, with about a 2 hour layover. While the girls seemed content with sitting, myself and the two other guys took our packs and went out to explore for a bit. We wandered aimlessly around the city for a little bit, took some pictures, saw some pretty cool things, and then headed back to the station. The next leg was Chambery to Milano in Italy. This was an especially cool train ride because it took us through the French Alps and a small town Modano, where I did catch a glimpse of a lone ski lift. Guess where I'll be headed in a month when the snow starts falling? We then arrived in Milano, the fashion capital of the world, and had about an hour there. You could go to that station with 3 full size empty suitcases and come back with them full without ever leaving that station, it was unbelievable. After an hour here, we took our fourth train from Milano to Roma Termini, which had free Wifi and was by far the nicest train we took all trip. Italy knows how to do it right. After all of this, we arrived in ROME at about 7pm and headed to our hostel, which was very close to the station. The little super market in the basement of the train station was very useful as well. After setting our things down at the hostel, we headed out with a 25% off coupon from the hostel for a pizzeria down the street. I had pizza as my first meal in Italy, and it was the best pizza I have EVER eaten. After this, we went back to the hostel, formed a game plan for Rome the next day, and got some rest.

Thursday morning,

we got up around 10am, and headed out the door at 11am, ready to explore the city of Rome. One of the other guys in our group, his best friend's uncle is the Archbishop of the Vatican in Rome, so we knew we needed to make it to the Vatican across town by 7pm, and basically just worked our way across the city with the free maps from the Hostel and hit all the highlights along the way. These included: Piazza della Repubblica, Santa Maria degli Angeli, San Carlo Quattro Fontane, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, the Quirinale, the Trevi Fountain, the Trajan Forum, the Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele, the Pantheon, Piazza Novora, the Palazzo di Giustizia, the Castel Sant'Angelo, a few different bridges across the Tiber River, and then finally St. Peter's basilica and the Vatican. I have pictures of all of these things in a Facebook album that I've attached below. It was an incredible day, and seeing some of these things in person is just too good to be true. Standing inside the Pantheon is incredible, and making a wish in the Trevi Fountain was pretty cool too. The things inside the Vatican are impossible to really do justice to with pictures. Really. The paintings, ceilings, memorials to Popes, artifacts, it's all impossible to really show in pictures. And the scale of those things is impossible to show too. After seeing all of this by foot, we had dinner with a very nice man who is the Archbishop of Rome and the Vatican, which was very cool and the view of the Vatican by night were taken from his rooftop. Very cool stuff. He then explained to us how to get back to our hostel by way of the metro in Rome, and we headed home and passed out after having a few drinks and hanging out together.

Friday morning,

we headed out at around the same time, and headed for the one thing everyone knows Rome for: the Colosseum. We also saw the Roman ruins that day, old Roman baths, sculptures, giant arches, the Arch of Titus, Temple of Romulus, House of Augustus, the Palatine Hill, and the Circus Maximus. I haven't been that happy and excited for anything in a long time. Standing inside the Roman ruins, which I took a 360 of for my former Latin teacher, I felt like a kid in a candy store as the saying goes. It was so unreal to finally stand there, after studying Latin for five years through high school and a quarter in college. And standing inside the Colosseum...man, incredible. Words can't even do it justice. That thing is absolutely massive, historic, and iconic, and to finally make it there was amazing. After we finished exploring the Roman stuff, we went back to the hostel for a little bit of rest before heading out to see the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain by night. Both were pretty cool, and the sunset above was taken from the top of the Spanish Steps, looking out over the Vatican nearby. Then we all went and had some gelato, which if you haven't had it in Italy, doesn't count. Best ice cream/frozen yogurt/gelato I have EVER had. Everything really is better in Italy! Then we, at my request, made our way to the Hard Rock Cafe in Rome, since I saw a sign and thought it would be cool to have a drink at the Hard Rock Rome. I knew it'd be pricey, but it was more the fact of having a drink there than how much it cost, so that was pretty cool. Then we walked back to our hostel, and passed out before getting on the train the following morning for Dijon.

Saturday morning,

we got up early to catch a 6:15 train back to France. This journey was easier than the last with only 3 legs, but an adventure nonetheless. The first train took us to Torino, and again had Wifi on the train, which was nice. In Torino, we had a 2 hour layover, so we went out seeking lunch, which was an adventure. Near the Torino station, there isn't much, and absolutely no one speaks English, so, I was our sole translator for lunch at a panini place. Best panini I've ever had? Absolutely. I didn't understand everything he said right away, but I knew enough that I was able to get us all by with food for lunch, which was good. I definitely want to go back there to practice my Italian more, as well as Rome to read all that Latin in the ruins and the Vatican more. Next leg of the trip was a *BUS* from Torino to Lyon Part Dieu, which no one had told us when we purchased our tickets, so we were surprised by that. The bus ride was 4.5 hours surrounded by unfamiliar and smelly people from across Europe, which was an interesting experience. The girl next to me was reading Gomorra in Italian though, which I thought was pretty cool having read part of it for Italian class. I thought about asking about it but figured it'd be safer not to haha. We had our passports checked at the border, where I'm pretty sure a man from Albania was dismissed from the bus as well. Riding on the bus was somewhat cool though, because it allowed us to see the Alps from a different angle and not from the train. I snapped a picture of them as well, but again it's really hard to do those mountain justice in pictures. The color of the rock and how rigid and jagged those peaks are is something special. I also have a new place to explore mountain climbing once I'm done in the States someday. Then we took our train back to Dijon Ville from Lyon Part Dieu, problem free, and after a stop at the super market last night I was ready to crash and relax. I posted pictures from the trip last night on Facebook, so I'll attach the link below as well as links to 360s form Rome. All in all, an incredible trip and one that will need to be repeated, since Italy is too incredible not to go back. No blisters or feet casualties form the trip, despite all the walking, and the only result is a few small spots where I'm pretty sure I got bed bugs from the hostel, but a little neosporin should take care of that soon enough. Can't wait to go back to Rome, but for now, it looks like I'm traveling elsewhere in Europe next weekend following class on Friday! Until next time, enjoy the pictures and views below!

Pictures

http://t.co/LbKIJWS0

360s

Standing inside the Roman ruins: http://t.co/0ExqvkaM
Standing inside the Circus Maximus: http://t.co/M3AJtLTl
Standing inside the Vatican in Rome: http://t.co/9I4V3u0B
Piazza della Repubblica: http://t.co/d8x9fLrx
Piazza near the Trevi Fountain: http://t.co/BakF2ioC
Inside the Roman Colosseum: http://t.co/RqOov4sY

Posted by la vita bella 05:03 Archived in France Tagged mountains france travel bus train river italy castle circus rome roman torino greek vatican pantheon pizza pope dijon german republic swiss latin colosseum milano alps forum trevi catholic tiber caesar gelato lyon chambery maximus archbishop trajan brutus augustus Comments (0)

Dijon Aujourd'hui, Roma Domani

The adventure begins.

overcast 65 °F

So much has happened since I wrote last that it's hard to remember where I left off, so I'll start with Saturday. Saturday I went on a pretty cool wine tour of the Burgundy region. Unfortunately, it was more a vines tour sans the wine, but was nonetheless fun and exciting. It was an absolutely beautiful day with nothing but blue skies from start to finish, which made for phenomenal pictures all day. I also realized that 85 degrees, it was the hottest weather I had felt in a full 12 months thanks to Denver fall/winter/spring and summer in Vail. Not a bad way to live. I have attached a few pictures below as well as a link to the full gallery I posted on Facebook to the pictures from the wine tour. It's pretty unbelievable how much wine and vineyards there are here... It was almost as though I had traded a skyline full of mountains for a skyline full of vineyards as far as the eye could see at times. Pretty awesome. I got to see my first two castles here in France, which was AWESOME!! It absolutely blows my mind, still, to think about those. How long they've been around, how long they will probably still be here because of the protection and acknowledgement of their historic significance, how much they've probably seen, from wars to plagues and famine, to drought, harsh winters, etc, the architects that designed them, the fact that they were probably built by HAND over a thousand years ago, the wars they've fought and seen, so on and so on. It just blows my mind. So so cool, and they're everywhere over here! It's awesome. On the tour we also got to visit the Hotel Dieu in Beaune, which you may not know by name, but I'm sure you've seen pictures do to its famous rooftop tiles, and I took a 360 shot from inside the courtyard as well because I thought it was just too cool. We were then given a couple of hours to explore Beaune after visting Hotel Dieu, which is a very cool, cute, small town about 30 mins by train from Dijon. It's definitely on my list of places to day explore and also to take my girlfriend for a day when she comes here to visit in a couple of months.

Sunday was mainly just a lazy day. I didn't realize how much is actually closed around here on Sundays until I tried to find things to do here. I've heard from many that the French have a great appreciation and respect for the family and self time and long lunches and relaxing and so on, so everything was closed on Sunday. The one highlight on Sunday was the 9/11 service held for the handful of Americans who live in the city. The ironic part of it was that 9/11 is also the anniversary of the liberation of Dijon during World War II, so it was really more of a celebration than remembrance for us, full of a full band, soldiers, the mayor of Dijon, and so on. Pretty cool, and we got to see the inside of the town hall here, absolutely gorgeous as you would expect, and we got to be interviewed by a news reporter for TV as American students on our reaction to 9/11 then now. Cool fact related to that also, I have now been in all forms of news media: print, online, radio, and TV. Weird, but cool. No one I know personally can say the same. There are pictures of that as well in my gallery, Daily Life in Dijon, France, link is below.

Yesterday was another adventure, although stressful at times. It was a combination of more exploring, which led to more pictures of Cathedrals since they're everywhere and super photogenic and a new 360. I haven't fully explored it yet, but from the campus tour, the ESC gym is tiny. It makes me respect, appreciate, and miss the Ritchie Center SO much. I'll be looking forward to coming home to that, both for fitness and job's sake. As a result, I looked up a bunch of "home gym" body weight exercises and made a long list before going to work. I worked out for about two hours since it's been almost 10 days since the gym at home, doing everything from dips with a chair and my bed, to pull ups on the back of the door, to push ups, sit ups, and a variety of other things. It's going to be interesting for sure, but another kid I met from Germany wants to explore the gym too since he works out a lot at home, so maybe next week I'll give that a go with him. Monday was also a bunch of running around trying to figure out my bank situation. Long story short and many hours of walking later, I've been to the bank five times in the last two days, and I finally have money here. Just in time before my last meal was eaten too. Also yesterday, my girlfriend bought a ticket to come visit for a week over Thanksgiving break in the States. I am too excited and can't wait to have her over here. This has been a bit of a roller coaster ride and an adventure to say the least, but she and I are taking it step by step and week by week, and I couldn't be happier with that right now. I'll have to work out the timing while my family is here part of that week also, but I'm sure we'll find a way.

That brings things up to the present for now! Tomorrow morning I am leaving with the four kids from Kentucky and we're all going to go explore Rome for a few days before coming back on Saturday since "class" starts on Monday evening I think. I can't even begin to express my excitement to spend the next few days in Rome. Five years of Latin in high school and having just finished up 3 years of classes for my Italian minor, I am going to explode. Literally. My Osprey backpack I bought way back in April for 14ers is turning into an amazing travel pack also, and I couldn't be more satisfied with that also. I probably won't update again until I get back from Rome, full of pictures of every Roman place and artifact I studied about through high school, or at least as many as I can find while we're there! I'm hoping to get a 360 from inside the Colosseum also...so stay tuned for that!

Until next time, au revoir, arrivederci, et merci beaucoup for reading!

PICTURES:

Daily Life in Dijon (ever growing, so bookmark it!): http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2394979315874.2138738.1292672395&l=e693c79b73&type=1
Burgundy Wine Tour: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2405930389644.2139035.1292672395&l=b843accb82&type=1

360s

(these look better if opened on an iPhone, by the way)

Palais des Ducs et des Etats de Bourgogne: http://t.co/lCij9eq
My flat in Dijon: http://360.io/Q2hnRe
Chateu Vougeot: http://360.io/PXeLpv
Hotel Dieu: http://360.io/aQWhxd

And the highlights!

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I am taking my girlfriend here first thing for a date night out, and I can't wait.
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Au revoir!

Posted by la vita bella 11:00 Archived in France Tagged castles cathedrals france history hotel italy rome roman dijon abroad study vail 360 beaune girlfriend esc dieu Comments (0)

Dijon!

Exploration of France's hidden gem

I know it's only been a few days since my last post and I normally write less frequently than that, but so much has transpired in the last few days I felt compelled to write and put some thoughts to paper and to rest.

After a rougher than anticipated transition, things are beginning to settle and are looking up. I met a really awesome group of kids from the Philippines, who I've spent most of my time hanging out with lately since they speak English and are very outgoing and fun to be around. I had dinner the other night as well with a girl who apparently knows me on Facebook even though I'm not totally sure I know her, and she's from Brazil. Two girls form South Korea joined us as well along with a girl from London. This has truly been a pretty eye opening experience for me to get to meet people form around the world, literally, and to hear their thoughts and views and hear about their cultures. It's pretty fascinating to me, really. Speaking of different views, this morning myself and two other American students from Kentucky were interviewed by a French radio reporter about our thoughts and reactions to 9/11. He was very curious to know about where we were, what we were doing, what we thought then and now, and if we thought the 10th anniversary of it posed a threat at all. Afterwards, I asked him what he thought and what the general French reaction was to the incident when it happened, and it was very interesting to hear. World views fascinate me, so it's been really cool to hear. Many of the people I've met flew west to east to get here, instead of east to west, so it's been interesting to hear about their journeys as well. It's weird to me how few Americans are here also. Four from Kentucky, one from Dallas, and myself. That's it. I'm hoping to meet a few more when we all go to the event that the city of Dijon is hosting on Sunday morning for all Americans in the city in honor of 9/11 and make some more connections there.

The orientation stuff has been going very well so far also. Sanaa has been very helpful, and I find it funny that when we pass in the halls she knows my face, even though I've had very little interaction with her here in France. Not surprising, but slightly funny given how much trouble we had with housing. Things in the flat are starting to get settled and the only thing left here is to sort out electricity with EDF. There are still a few cultural differences in the flat that I'm getting used to I think, but so far everything has been nice here and I'm happy to call it my home for four months, if I actually spend that much time in here.

Other bizarre things:

My brain has started to function in French half the time I think. If I know how to say it in French, construct the sentence in French, know the voacb word in French, etc, I'll generally think it in French and I've had to stop myself a few times when writing emails or messages to friends and home to write something in English. It's very very weird to me, but very cool too, and hopefully when I leave in four months I'll be able to speak much better. I don't expect to become fluent, but almost no one here speaks English, which is good for me.

My class schedule: I don't yet how much outside class work is expected, but most of my classes only require 15 hours of in class time, spread across the entire semester. Lots and lots and lots of free time it seems and time for travel. No class is on a set schedule, it changes every week. And, at least one maybe two of my classes haven't been scheduled yet. They're happening, they just simply haven't been "scheduled" yet. Seems odd to me, but I'm just trying to roll with the punches as best I can and learning as much as I can from everything. I'll find out more in the coming weeks i guess, but it all seems odd. And, I have no classes the week of my birthday! I hope that stays true, because I want to be traveling on my birthday if I can!

Other odds and ends:

I opened a French bank account this week with BNP, but I'm out of euros until Monday it seems unless the wire transfer miraculously appears tomorrow when I think banks here are closed. I bought a French mobicarte phone yesterday. I spoke nothing but French from the minute I walked into the Orange store to the minute I walked out with the phone because the lady spoke no English, so I was excited about that. There were times where it was awkward, difficult, and I'm sure she didn't fully understand my French, but nonetheless, mission accomplished. I fried my electric razor. Totally fried. I forgot to use the converter one morning I think, and killed it. So, I'm waiting on another one from the States (as we say here) and doing my best to get by until then. I haven't worked out since arriving, and it's driving me crazy (although probably good for my STILL sprained wrist...) and hopefully I can give the tiny school gym a try next week on Monday. Wifi is impossible to find over here. I've only found one place across the city in my wandering so far that has had free Wifi, which means their business is probably about to increase also. The girlfriend situation is working out well so far, and we've managed to skype a fair amount. It's hard, it's tough, and at times it sucks, but we're working it out day by day, and working on a plane ticket for her to come out and visit for a week, which should be fun especially if I have very few if any classes.

Last but not least... PICTURES!! All of these, the 360s included, have been taken with my iPhone 4 while out wandering the streets of Dijon using the 360 and Camera+ apps. Can't say enough good things about either of them.

360 of Square Darcy today: http://t.co/sLRdObc
360 of Square Grangier: http://t.co/F7QRCGJ
Facebook photo album (and growing): http://t.co/loFDirB

And a few of my favorite highlights!

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Posted by la vita bella 13:35 Archived in France Comments (0)

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