"When good Americans die, they go to Paris." - Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My French Doctor Told Me I Have Great Boobs

Instead of telling you all the horrible things that happened to me today (getting lost in the French countryside, being run over by a tram, and subsequently breaking my bike), I'll tell you the good things. I went to my medical exam in Nantes today. As I've said before, the French take sadistic pleasure in forcing their immigrants to complete endless amounts of paperwork and interviews (see my first post). In order to validate my visa and receive a carte de séjour, I had to attend a medical exam. I received mine and the French doctor told me I have great boobs - haut! So there.

Monday, May 23, 2011

What Happens in Brussels Stays in Brussels

Unless you own a public blog, of course, and then everything is up for grabs.

This weekend was Ashleigh's "birthday weekend" since we'll be gone by the time her real birthday occurs in June. She, Adrianne, Lien, and I made our last voyage of the semester and headed to Brussels. Though we booked our hostel rooms separately, the four of us ended up in a private four-person suite. The hostel was shitty and told us there was a 1 AM curfew, but we said fuck that and got a night key. Some film students from Amsterdam invited us to a party and we ate Thai food for dinner. Adrianne and Ashleigh were already drunk and Lien and split a bottle of wine. Afterwards, we went to the most highly-rated club in Brussels but the bouncer refused Adrianne and me entrance, saying we were too young. We were pissed because we had paid 22 euros for a taxi here. I cried in the next taxi because I didn't understand. Then we went to Delirium, a famous bar that has 2,000 beers on tap. We drank Stellas until 3 AM and left.

The next morning I felt like shit, but we dragged our asses to Brugge, an adorable nugget of happiness in Belgium. The town is like a fairytale, and we sat outside and café-hopped the entire day. We tried Belgian waffles piled high with fruit and chocolate. We took the evening train back to Brussels and made it to a bar where everyone was dancing on tables. This would have been cool, but the men were dancing on tables too. This is interdit in America. We ordered some beers and joined in the fun for a little while. The music started out alright but got shitty and we left after they played something from a Grease soundtrack.

At the next bar, we met some locals and danced to an American playlist we gave to the DJ. I rapped Kanye's "All Falls Down" and the bartender gave us a round of free shots for Ashleigh's "birthday." We stayed out until 3 AM.

We spent the next day eating Belgian fries (French fries were invented here, not France!) with mayo (questionable, but alright) and more waffles. They were much better in the tourist area by the Manneken Pis. These waffles were piled with bananas and nutella and were hot and gooey. Adrianne and Ashleigh split some strawberries dipped in Godiva chocolate and we sat and had tea in the Grand Place. Then we found a hookah bar and smoked for an hour and drank Moroccan tea. There's nothing to do on Sundays. Finally, we made it back to the train station and Ashleigh's host father brought us home.

I've been sick since I returned from Nice, and now I've lost my voice. It's aggravated after screaming in Belgian bars and smelling cigarette smoke all weekend (smoking is permitted indoors in Brussels). But it's all good. Now it's time to buckle down and study during my last two weeks. Oh, là là.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Dedication

I realize that I've written a lot about what I love about France. I've even written a little about what I miss, but not in detail. Months ago, my brother asked me to mention him in my blog. This one's for you, little bro.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn he even read this. You see, my brother's aloof. He comes and goes from the house. The only evidence of him being empty Zaxby's boxes and the television playing Sportscenter.

At Christmas, our ten-hour drive to Philadelphia is made somewhat bearable by my brother's obsession with Kid Cudi and Lil Wayne. The vulgar lyrics often lead to my dad cursing and wondering aloud, "Who's this Lil Wayne guy and why is he singing about gonorrhea? What is this trash?"

And sometimes my brother makes really stupid mistakes, but who doesn't? He's wrecked his car. He's dropped his laptop in the bathroom (okay, that was stupid.), and he's washed his cellphone in the laundry like three or four times. He's in a fraternity so he can come off as a douche. In fact, it was only right that I bought him a flask engraved DOUCHEBAG for Christmas. I snuck it under the tree and when my dad saw it he asked, "You're gonna put Diet Coke in that right?" Well, we're going to the Bahamas this summer where we're both be 18. Maybe we can split a pack a beer.

Thoughts on a Wednesday

This morning I woke up, sweating, with my headphones tangled around my waist. Iron and Wine was still playing on my iPod. I could tell my fever had broken and I was feeling better than I had yesterday, having spent the entire day in bed.

Yesterday my dad called to tell me they have a new line of Range Rovers available. This is typical of my father and only made me more homesick. I miss him a lot. It's funny. I'm more homesick knowing that I'll be coming back in three weeks. The days are so slow. But I know as soon as I'm at home, bored, I'll reminisce about drinking beers in Southern France, traveling every weekend, and eating baguettes and cheese with my host family.

But the first thing I'm doing when I get home? I'm going to demand my family take me to Lusara's Mexican restaurant for some nachos. Then I'm gonna go home and sleep soundly next to my boyfriend in my purple room with the Eiffel Tower mural. We've both seen it now.

I still can't believe I'm going home so soon. 19 days? It seems incorrect. That can't possibly be right. But the calendar isn't lying. Holy shit. How do I say goodbye?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monaco's So Rich They Use Louis Vuittons for Trash Bags

This weekend I visited Cannes, Nice, Monaco, and Cap d'Ail. I never have faith in my ability to retell these sorts of things. I'm still dizzy from my 13-hour train ride. And I think I might have caught a cold. Damn you, public transportation.

Ashleigh, Lien, and I left Angers Thursday and took an overnight train to Nice. This was horrible and I barely slept. Nonetheless, we were all giddy to be in Southern France during the CANNES FILM FESTIVAL! We got to our hostel and quickly realized that everyone there spoke English because the owners were Australian and Canadian. Literally, no one made the effort to speak French. This made me feel like I was partying in the U.S. again.

We went to Monaco for the day and I have never felt so underprivileged in my life. Monaco, a separate country from France, is inhabited only by the rich. Each passing car was either a Range Rover, an Aston Martin, a Ferrari, or a Maserati. If a Ford drove by it was a tourist. Indeed, when Americans want to feel poor, they visit Monaco.

Of course, you can't visit Monaco without visiting Monte Carlo, the world-famous casino. We gambled on the slot machines and Ashleigh won 100 euros off of a 1 euro bet. We all grabbed each other and screamed in the middle of the casino. After a half-hour, I started getting the gambler's itch so I left with my depressing 5.60 and Ashleigh promised to buy our drinks for the weekend.

That night, we partied at the hostel. My friends and I now tell people we're Canadian so we can party like rockstars without further tainting the U.S.A.'s shiny reputation. You're welcome. Unfortunately everyone at the hostel was from Canada. We didn't want to be found out so Lien Googled Canada facts on her Blackberry at the bar. We learned that their prime minister is Steve Harper and made toasts to him all night (much to the chagrin of the true Canadians).

The next day we attended the Cannes Film Festival. The energy was incredible. Girls dressed to the nines, hoping to receive an extra ticket to a showing. People held up signs saying, "Un billet, s'il vous plaît!" Some lucky by-standers got their tickets. The girls and I lined up for the premiere of Pirates. We pressed our bodies against the gate and leaned over to watch Renaults and Mercedes discard American and French celebrities. Uma Thurman and Jude Law walked three feet in front of us and we all screamed. Lien told Uma she was beautiful and she turned to say, "Thanks." I can't explain the thrill of seeing these people, only reachable on a television screen, walking in front of me. Later, we saw Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, de Niro, and Jane Fonda.

We had planned to stay out partying but we were exhausted and headed back to Nice for the night. The next morning we visited Cap d'Ail, a little-known beach surrounded by wealthy landowners. It was stunning, so we drank Coronas in the sun. But it soon began to rain, so we hauled our asses back to the train station for another sleepless night. We arrived in beautiful Angers this morning and now I feel like shit. I must say that I'm glad my last trip (to Brussels) is this weekend, because all of this traveling is making me weak. But would I do it all over again? Absolutely.

Friday, May 6, 2011

All I Do is Win in Europe

Cinco de Mayo is another foreign holiday the Americans have stolen for an excuse to drink and party. But who's complaining?

Like a good American girl I went out Thursday night to celebrate. I met Ashleigh and Lien at André Leroy, and as I crossed the street they started quickly in my direction.

"What are you-"

"Just go. There's a homeless person following us. This is such bullshit." Lien said.

Dressed in miniskirts and heels, we walked to a parc where we met some of our other friends. We drank Desperado Reds and watched some crazy homeless woman beat her dog. Then we walked to a bowling alley and met up with the Hispanic students and some French kids. They bought us drinks. Some rich guy bought everyone a round of tequila shots (1, 2, 3 shots...okay, I have an exam at 8 AM). Fuck it, Alex knew some French girl and she invited us to her apartment on Bressigny, which was crowded with people.

At the apartment, the Hispanic kids ate kebabs and sang in Spanish. Adrianne and I felt left out so we talked with the French kids in a tiny hallway. We sat, drank wine, and talked to Simon, a new friend. Adrianne and I spoke French the entire night, and it felt so natural. I didn't notice we were doing it until Simon switched to English and I got confused. I felt so accomplished to communicate without difficulty in another language. I even used some French slang to describe an ex-boyfriend.

At 3:15 Simon walked us downstairs and Ashleigh, barefoot, Adrianne, and I split a cab. I took a shower and got to bed at 4 AM, woke up at 6:40 for my exam, which I aced. All I do is win in Europe.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Home Abroad and Home Home

Today I wasted a beautiful day in Angers by taking a four-hour nap riddled with nightmares. It was so nice to sleep though, so I'm not complaining.

I cannot believe I only have a month left. I don't believe it. It seems that there is still so much to see and do before I leave, but I check the calendar and it doesn't lie. Five weeks. It feels like yesterday when I arrived in France and worried about conducting daily activities (like grocery shopping and going to the post office) in French. It all seems so surreal to think about a month from now, I will be back in the mountains of East Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina. Something I dreamed of for so long will be coming to a close. It's been a lot of work up to this point, applying for my visa, buying my tickets, packing, and saying my goodbyes...it's been a journey but it's not over yet.

In other news, I was in Paris this weekend when I heard about the tornadoes in the US. Though I'm so far, it felt incredibly close to home. The tornadoes occurred in my hometown in Greeneville and actually traveled through my neighborhood. Several people were killed, and there was no internet, phone service, or power in the city. Thankfully my family and my house was left untouched (save for no electricity, phone, or internet) but my dad told me he couldn't get to work and that he'd never seen destruction like that. There were phone poles impaling people's homes and the streets were covered in trees. It's times like this when I wish I could be at home to bring comfort to the people I love.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Break in a Paragraph

I can't tell you about Spring Break. I can't tell you how happy I am to not be riding ill-fated ferries in the Mediterranean or how I loved jumping the turn-styles in the Paris metro with my boyfriend. I can't tell you how friendly the Greeks were, how delicious the food was, but how sick it made me feel. I can't describe how beautiful Santorini was, how every sight sucked the breath from my lungs. I can't express the awe I felt attending late-night mass on Easter in Greece, how the city lit up with candles and dynamite exploded in the street. How comforting it was to sit on a heated porch and drink the most incredible wine and eat roasted lamb, potatoes, salad, and feta until 3 AM. I can't explain the exhilaration of riding on the back of a moped through Athens. But let me say how happy I am to be out of that dirty city, where protesters followed us with spray paint and scrawled FUCK USA on the sides of buildings. I can't tell you how my trip to Paris with Dylan was the best time of my life or how I loved seeing him run toward me in the CDG airport. I can't tell you how much I missed my mother's voice or her enthusiasm. I can't say how I cried on the train from Paris because I missed Dylan so much and I couldn't fathom another month away from him. I can't tell you how much I loved being back in Angers, to ride my bike under blue skies after leaving the Parisian rain. I can't say how excited I was to eat dinner with my host sister, to go to class with the internationals, and to drink coffee with my friends and our favorite café. I can't tell you. Oh, wait...I just did.

Oia in Santorini, Greece