Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
My French class is only in the morning which allows afternoons free to explore while my roommates, who are in the other levels, are in class. So far, meeting people has been very amusing. My name is particularly difficult to say in any language other than English. The French have an especially difficult time saying ‘Heather’ because of the first H which is silent in French, and the ‘th’ which doesn’t exist in the French. I’ve been getting a lot of ‘Heater’ – which is a good attempt, but I haven’t been called Heater since the 4th grade when my teacher misspelled my name one day and the nickname stuck! I really don’t mind. In fact, it’s a great conversation starter. I write down my name for them, they write down their name for me, and we both learn how to spell our weird names. And there are a lot of weird names considering the school is the home of international business management programs for students all over the world. Today I met people from
Yesterday a few of the MGIM students and I took a beach trip to Marseille which is about 25 minutes away. We left Aix by bus, arrived at the Marseille train station (gare), then took the metro down to the beach. It should have taken us about 45 minutes to do this, but since there’s a first time for everything, it took about an hour and half. So far it’s been really nice meeting everyone in the program. Most of the students from the
Friday, August 21, 2009
I’ve passed a few of the same people in the streets everyday and have identified who the locals are and who the tourists are…there are a lot of tourists! Everyday I pass the guy with dreadlocks and athletic calves who moves furniture near the church; the drunk in the courtyard near the bar; the guy who starts playing the accordion around 2pm everyday which I can hear from the 4th floor of my building; and the sound of the obnoxious child calling “Papa! Papa!” repeatedly from downstairs leaving me to wonder where in the world that child’s father is and if they could kindly respond so that the child can stop calling.
I’ve also become familiar with the church bell which looks like a picture in a frame at night through our window and rings on the hour and half hour starting at 7am; the motor scooters that zoom through the streets while people dodge them to get by; and the never-ending heat which becomes easy to confuse with a fever! Don’t tell our mothers, but Phillip & I have both just gotten over a fever which we probably acquired during the 8 hour car ride from
And now, we’re waiting for our wonderful landlord, Sylvie, to return with a third set of keys. Sylvie is a very outgoing and friendly lady. She’s French and studied American Literature as a young student, then studied cinematography in Aix, where we are currently living. She is a casting director and just finished choosing the cast for an HBO movie and a FOX show – one of which is Gulliver’s Travels, so let me know if you see it! She should be arriving soon, so catch up on H&P Bilbao & Aviles below while I wait for her!
Ps: my address is 15 Rue
Inside, we weren’t allowed to take pictures (although I snuck one while no one was looking). I had no set expectations from looking at other people’s pictures which made the experience even more unique. You may have experienced this – you have your hopes built up about seeing something but once you see it you’re a little let down because you’ve already seen it a dozen times on the internet. Luckily, that wasn’t the case for this museum and we were impressed with everything. One of the neatest installations was a pack of 80 or so stuffed life-sized wolves in a large room frozen in the action of running, leaping and crashing into a large glass wall before returning to do it again. We spent just over two ours at the museum but could have stayed a lot longer.
We arrived in
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Finding our sleeping arrangements for the night was the first item on our list and it wasn’t too hard. After entering the beach city nestled between two large hills we became easily oriented after driving around for only a short bit and some how managed to stumble upon our pension which was basically an apartment space rented out by a couple for short visits. We were in luck! The couple was incredibly helpful and eager to point us in the right direction. We also arrived on the first night of a week-long celebration, and had four wonderful roommates from
The city is small enough to be easy to get around on foot in a day which was great for us because we only had a day! We followed the beach where about five dozen surfers were waiting to catch a wave, then headed down the river and crossed over to where the festivities were being set up for the night.
After a hike up the hill on the western bank we made our way back down to the streets where the craziness began!! Somehow we managed to find the beginning of a huge parade through the city featuring locals wearing 3 foot tall paper mâché heads and historic costume followed by a drum and flute band – it was awesome! We marched along with the folks into the streets and stopped at a few more bars for some more food and some great conversation with a few French vacationers!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Last night we stayed in Santiago de Compostella on the Northwest tip of Spain. We stayed with a wonderful host named "Dr. Shock", also known as Jon, from Oxford, England. Jon is a brilliant man who works in particle & material science and combines string theory and quantum mechanics = holy moly! Our short stay with him was wonderful because of our amazing science lesson over a steamed veggie and seafood dinner!
On the drive to Santiago from Aviles, Spain, we stopped in Bilbao for an amazing trip to the Guggenheim. We were both blown away by the massive artistic installations on display throughout the museum along with the museum itself!
Before Aviles, we spent our first night in San Sebastian - Spain's Basque Country which harbors a culture apart from the rest of Spain, with a dialect of its own. This particular day was charged with incredible energy as it was the first day of a week long festival as well as a time of demonstrations and protests! The city was literally packed with people from noon until well into the following morning. I took a lot of video of all the craziness that occurred and I'll be posting that soon!
So much to say! In the mean time, things that might interest you to look up (aside from the supplied links above):
1. Read (provided by Dr. Shock) - Work Hard. Be Nice. (How 2 inspired teachers created the most promising schools in the USA) by Jay Mathews
2. Download (also provided by Dr. Shock) - Ted Talk (just search for it online) Brian Cox's 1st Talk on the LHC Particle accelerator.
3. Speak (provided by Leila & Martin) - Learn a language by visiting http://www.livemocha.com/
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
The time has come - holy vache!! It has finally sunk in that I will be leaving for more than a vacation, more than a short stop that skims the surface. 5 months in the grand scheme is brief - but the best thing about being at DAY 1 is that I have no idea what to expect. I'm anticipating a wonderfully long awaited experience that has the potential to change my life in the best of ways!
I hope you'll join me in this experience be it from your computer screen (your comments will make this blog a lot better - hint hint!), through contributed pictures of your travel adventures, or by purchasing a ticket in the fall (when tickets are cheap-er) to come over for a visit!
Either way, expect to read some good stuff. I'll be posting yummy recipes, museum visits, plenty of Pics of the Day, weekend retreats to sizzling locations, phrases in French, and updates on my studies & masters program. Stay updated on your google browser by clicking on Join This Site on the right-hand side (scroll down) where all of my sensational followers are located or by adding TravelString to you favorites. Should be a good time - hope you're along for the ride!
<3 Heather A.