Saturday, March 14, 2009

Waffles, Fast Cars, and Old Olympians

It feels like spring here.

This wednesday our group took a trip to Lausanne to go see the Olympic museum. To begin with, it was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and the birds were chirping. The museum wasn't actually that big, but it did have alot of ancient paraphernalia. It also had each of the final torches from the modern Olympics (starting in 1936). Actually it was alot smaller then I expected, and I wasn't too impressed... I mean I don't get really into the Olympics like others I guess.

We left the museum early and took a walk along the lake instead. It was gorgeous! Lausanne is really pretty, and it has the most amazing views across the turquoise blue lake to the Alps. So it was a good day.

Today I went to the Geneva Car Show. It is huge. I mean, gigantic. Name a car brand, any brand, and they were there. It was pretty awesome if I do say so myself. Then again, I do like cars quite a bit. Other then looking at ridiculously nice (and expensive cars)our favorite thing was looking at the trunks of the hatchbacks. The europeans are crazy with the hatchbacks! Oh, and the three of us sat in alot of Peugeots. Everytime we got in one we felt is if we should drive off. It was fun.

And then tonight we made waffles. But we didn't have a recipe, so they were a little strange, but still tasted good. We got peanut butter and we cooked down some apples, and it reminded me of home. Oh and we had syrup.

Today was a good day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Little Guilty

Haha, it has been soo long since I wrote in this, it's alittle ridiculous. I feel as if I should write in here for hours just to make up for it.

But instead I will give the very briefest of overviews.

So the last time I wrote I finished going into detail about my fall trip in Italy. I have had two vacations since then. Christmas vacation started off by the ACA group visiting Strasbourg and Alsace, which definitely put us in the Christmas spirit with all of the Christmas markets. We also got a large amount of snow which ended up lasting us until January. I spent Christmas vacation with Stephanie, and we did a short tour of middle "eastern europe". Okay, so it wasn't that eastern. We visited Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, Dresden, Leipzig, and Munich (in that order). My favorite city was probably Dresden, because it was a nice break from the really touristy, crowded huge cities. Oh yeah, and we spent New Years in Berlin at their huge New Years party under the Brandenburg Gate. It was crazy.

After Christmas break the weather was pretty dull around here, putting us all in a pretty somber mood. I mean come on, it get's kinda depressing after 10 days of only seeing white and grey and not being able to see past 300 feet. So I filled my time by studying chemistry for next year and doing random little creative things. So January passed. Oh no wait, we did do something. The middle/end of January we went skiing a couple times, and it was amazing. I would have to say that the alps have some pretty amazing snow.

The beginning of February wasn't much different, but it was gladly interrupted by another vacation. Again. But this one was only for a week (it was last week). Since I was wanting to give my account (and my parents account) a rest, I spent this vacation in Switzerland. I still had two days of travel on my pass from Christmas, so I used those two days going to Zurich, Bern, Luzern, and Lausanne. My vacation was amazing. Although it was bitter cold and there was still snow everywhere, I fell in love with Switzerland. It is absolutely gorgeous. The days I wasn't traveling I spent wandering Geneve, because I have realized that I don't really know well yet. But I found some awesome spots and awesome cafes which will be frequented in the future.

So, since I last wrote I've had alot of traveling coupled with sometimes unbearably boring days. I guess it all balances out in the end. I am kind of coming to a paradox though. On the one hand I really can't wait to go home and see my friends again and go back to a place that I truly understand everything about, but on the other hand, I've become quite attached to this city and this way of life... i.e. really easy school with very long meals and lots of free time.

Well spring is coming, and I can't wait for it to be nice out again. I shall write again. I promise.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Finally....Pt.2, condensed.

So. I haven’t told about Italy yet.

Well that could possibly take days… and I don’t feel like typing for days when I am planning my next vacation. That’s right, only 8 more days until my next vacation. We get a lot here.

Anyway. So, We started in Geneva, driving Stephen’s car, and headed out towards Lyon and down in the direction of Marseille. Before we got there we spent the night in Orange and then the nest day in Chateau Neuf de Pape, where we found our own little castle… okay, it was a tower. We also spent an afternoon in Avignon and were impressed by it’s oldness. Then we ventured into Marseille…big mistake in a car. I’m pretty sure it was the worst civilly engineered city in the world. We got very lost, but after a few hours found our destination… which was frustratingly close.

The next day we headed outside of Marseille and hiked through the mountains, then continued along the coast. After passing through Nice and Cannes, we pulled off into Monaco, which is the cleanest city I have ever seen. You could basically serve food off of those grounds. And one of their public modes of transport was elevators. It was steep. Anyway we accidentally ended up at the Palace courtyard… which we weren’t sure if we could drive in. We watched the sunset on the other side of Monaco, and continued toward Italy.

Once in Italy we camped on a mountain and woke up to an amazing view of the ocean and the valley with the city in it. That morning we enjoyed the beach and then headed further, past Genova, down towards Cinque Terra. We never got there. But we did find a little village and stayed there for a while, until the rain drove us away. We finally just pulled off into some random town. The next day we headed into Pisa. Once we got there it proceeded to rain buckets full. Almost literally. We were soaked up to the knee, but still felt very touristy. After enjoying a good meal we headed to Livorno, on the coast, where we found a place to stay in the country. It was a nice hotel and it had an amazing view.

Once done with Livorno we decided to follow the sun, so we went to Tuscany instead of our planned Rome. It paid off. Tuscany was gorgeous. First off we stopped in San Gimignano, which is cool and has a lot of towers and is where we meet a nice group of tourists from New Jersey and a nice couple from England. After some gelato there, we headed into the country for the night. The next day we headed into Siena, where we spent the day wandering and people watching. That evening we enjoyed a nice long (it ended up being 5 hours… including prep and discussion afterward) in the countryside.

We awoke the next day in a picturesque little town in the middle of Tuscany and enjoyed it so much we spent almost three days there. After enjoying and soaking up the culture we moved on up towards Florence where we were to meet up with Marvin. That we did and spent the next two days exploring Florence with the ACA Italian students. We also went to a huge election night party and stayed up all night watching results come in. Then we hopped in the car and drove back to Geneva via Chamonix and the really long tunnel under Mont Blanc.

So there you have it my vacation in a nutshell. If you would like to hear more specific stories about any of the places you will have to email me with your request.

Once we got back though we immediately started planning our Thanksgiving. We decorated the Cafeteria and helped make the food, and we put on a play about Thanksgiving for our guests. It all went off surprisingly well, and basically without a hitch. A little stressful for some, but I wasn’t too worried. To be honest though I didn’t miss Thanksgiving too much. I do enjoy getting to see family and you know the whole not having school thing but I think it’s ridiculous how much we gorge ourselves.

Anyway, right now I am trying to plan my Christmas vacation trip and that has been interesting so far. So here’s hoping for good deals and easy booking!

PS. Thanks for all the birthday wishes and thanksgivingy wishes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

At Long Last... well Pt. 1

So. Paris Trip.

Okay, we left on Monday morning and went north to the city of Beunne. In Beunne we visited a really old hospital. It was kinda cool, it had a lot of really old tapestries and had a really cool colorful roof. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures there because my batteries were dead. Fortunately that afternoon I got some when we stopped for lunch. That evening we headed west to the city of Blois. It’s right on the Rhone river, and it also has a really cool Chateau. There a group of about nine of us ate at this really small pub that apparently only knew how to cook with mayonnaise and egg. But we had some really good discussion around the table, so it was worth it. After diner we headed back to the hotel and went swimming for a few minutes.

The next morning we went a ways out of the city to the huge Château Chambord. This is the biggest Chateau in the Rhone valley. Unfortunately it was grey and a little drizzly, but we spent a few hours in the Château wandering around. Some rooms were furnished while some were bare. There was a whole entire huge room full of antlers on the walls. We decided that this is probably one of the most fairytale like castles in the world, and some decided that it is where they shot some of the movie Happily Ever After.

After a while we boarded the bus again and headed north to Chartes. There we stopped for lunch and for general wandering. A group of six of us ate lunch and then walked to Chartes Cathedral, which has the pretty stained glass in the world. It was beautiful. The colors are so vibrant, and it is a huge building. We spent a while in there wandering around, looking at the glass, and then we headed outside and wandered down some little back alleys. Finally we boarded the bus again to head into Paris. Once we got to our hotel we were a little surprised; it was a bit lower quality then our first hotel, but we decided that it wasn’t too bad because at least we were in Paris and close to the Metro. That evening a group of us went into downtown, near Notre Dame, and five of us girls ended up going out to eat at a cute little restaurant. It ended up being kinda expensive, but it was really good and filling. I had tomato and basil and mozzarella appetizer and then vegetable lasagna. Then we hung around this little English bookstore called Shakespeare & Co for a while.

Our second day in Paris, the third day of the trip we left early for Versailles. Once there we took a guided tour through the palace. Our tour guide was hilarious. She was in her early 60s and had this red dyed hair and was wearing this bright fuchsia lipstick, and this eighties teal and blue shirt and high waisted khaki pants. Needless to say Versailles is huge and it took us a long time to get through. It is ridiculously ornate, and a lot of the rooms are refurbished according to how it looked the last time it was occupied. Pretty cool, but in my opinion it was a little to over the top. After our tour of the building, Sarah, Leah and I wandered around the garden and the back area and then ate lunch. After lunch we boarded the bus again and headed back into Paris, where we had a bus tour with the same guide all over Paris. We stopped at Les Invalides, a huge cathedral dedicated to soldiers, and where Napoleon is buried, or I guess enshrined.

After Les Invalides we went over to Notre Dame, where we were supposed to have a guided tour, but unfortunately they were having a funeral. And apparently this wasn’t just any funeral, I guess the French equivalent of Mother Theresea died, and so they were having a funeral for her in Notre Dame. Outside it was packed with hundreds of bystanders and inside were a huge amount of State officials ad foreign diplomats, including the French President Sarkozy, who we saw leave. So that was kinda cool, but we didn’t get to see Notre Dame inside. Then late that afternoon we were dropped off in Montmarte and had some free time around there until supper where we ate together as a group. We had French Onion Soup and we had Pasta with mushroom sauce.

On Thursday we had the day free to ourselves. Sarah, Leah, and I headed down to the Arc de Triumph and walked to the Louvre where we meet up with a lot of other people from our group. Once at the Louvre we split up and wandered around the Louvre. Everyone else ended up spending a couple of hours in the Louvre, but I ended up spending the whole day in the Louvre, and by whole day I mean I spent seven hours in the Louvre from eleven to five. Once I left I realized that I hadn’t eaten lunch and I ended up getting coffee and a muffin and headed over to the Eiffel Tower to meet up with everyone else.

We all met under the Eiffel Tower at six and went to the top to see the view. It took forever to get to the very top level, but once we were up there the view at night was really pretty, a little windy, but really pretty. It helps that they light up the main attractions at night too, like Notre Dame, the Arc, etc. Once we got down from there, we took a boat tour down the river. It was also pretty, but most of us were really too tired from our busy day to truly enjoy it.

On Friday we all got up early and packed and headed to Fontainebleau. Quite honestly I wasn’t too impressed, but it was still pretty cool to be at the place where Napoleon lived and surrendered his command. We all wandered around there with the little personal hand held tour guides. Then we left a most of the students at the train station and headed back to Collonges.

So, that was the Paris Trip. I think my favorite part would have to be the time I spent in the Louvre, and I actually didn’t get to every part of the Louvre because the whole wing with the Dutch and Flemish schools (which are my favorite) was closed. I was really disappointed, but that does give me an incentive to go back someday. Oh and I saw the Mona Lisa, but quite frankly I think it is a little overrated.

Well, Italy is still to come, so, you have that to look forward to.

Au revoir!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Well, a lot has happened.

Lets see… I guess the fun began a week ago today.

So we decided a couple days before that we should have a Crepe night, where we made and ate crepes. We invited everyone and Stephen picked up most of the supplies, and we gathered that night at 7 and started making crepes. It was amazing. In all about 20 people came and we had the music on loud, and two crepe pans going, and everyone helping make different things to go on the crepes. The toppings ended up being Nutella, fried bananas, cooked apples and cinnamon, lemon, whipped cream, raspberries, blueberries, tons of strawberries, and walnuts.

I became a pro crepe flipper, so now I can share my skills when I get home. We sat around and ate and talked and cleaned up for a while, but it turned out to be a really fun bonding experience with all the ACA students.

Then nothing fun happened Thursday. We went to class and then I don’t know…. Did something.

Friday started out kinda cloudy, but after lunch it cleared up, so Leah and I decided that we might as well go into Carouge to a thrift store, so that we at least did something. (Carouge is a suburb of Geneva) So We caught the bus down, and went to Emmaus (the thrift store, it’s like goodwill, but more antique with more furniture). Emmaus is amazing, they have a ton of random stuff. And racks full of old fur coats… kina gross. But they have a whole section of books, some of which are in English, so I ended up getting two books for 1 swiss franc (less then a dollar), one is a classic by the French author Zola, and the other is history book about the 18th century. I know random, but I need something to keep me occupied on these long afternoons when we have no class, and we really don’t ever have much homework.
Then we found what I had really been wanting from there – pots. I have really wanted a plant in our room and I decided that if I got a pot then I would be more likely to get a plant. So we found two matching stripy pots and Leah and I got them. When we were ready to pay for them though, we couldn’t figure out where to go, so we went back to the cloths room, but they told us to go somewhere else… so we wandered around for a while until this man spots us and starts telling us how much that it will cost, but we were confused because he had just been sitting there and we weren’t sure if he actually worked there, but we finally found out that he did, and then everything was fine.

So we headed back up the mountain. After we got off the bus we were walking through Collonges when we found a field of flowers, so we stopped and took pictures, while Leah picked some. They were pretty.

That was fun. Then further up the hill I found a plant that I thought would be nice in my pot, so I dug it up. And then Leah found one at the campus, and she dug it up. So now we have matching plants in our room. They are cute, but not as cool as my old plants….

So, then there was Sabbath. Friday night we convinced Stephen and Marvin that we should make a nice substantial breakfast for Sabbath instead of the cereal that we get from the caf. So Sabbath morning the four of us made breakfast in the guys dorm. We had crepes, pain chocolat (like chocolate crepes), bananas, eggs (well, they had eggs) and oranges. It was the best breakfast I’ve had here. We sat around and talked, and then cleaned up, but we ended up being late to church. When we got there though, there was standing room only and there we chairs set up in the lobby as well. So we decided to go have church for ourselves, because lets face it wew don’t know what’s going on at church anyway.

We started walking away and found one of the other students sitting at a picnic table and joined her. Soon a few others joined us, and the 8 of us sat around and talked about everything. Then church got out, and we knew there was going to be potluck, but we had no idea where. So we stood there until someone walking by finally told us where to go. We ended up going to the gym. What ensued thereafter was the best and most chaotic potluck I have ever been to.

Basically there are four tables set up throughout the gym and once the pastor has prayer and says “bon apetit” everyone floods the tables. The gym is packed with people and everyone is just maneuvering their way towards whatever food they want, giving no thought whatsoever to any semblance of a line or any such organization. Once the four of us finally made it to every table, all the seating was taken, so we headed outside, where we sat on the curb and enjoyed our loot. Then it was time for dessert, and a similar scene greeted us, but with a little more intensity this time. The French are pretty serious about their desserts.

After eating we felt pretty lazy, so we decided to head into a park in Geneva and laze around and read. So we wandered around for a while, picked up some bread and cheese for later, and ended up behind the University library.

There we layed on our blanket and napped, read, ate, etc. until about 10 at night. By then it had gotten pretty cold, so we head back towards Carouge, where we stopped and got coffee, and caught the last bus back to Collonges.

That was a good, relaxing day. But we had to get up early the next day, so we were a little tired.

On Sunday, ACA took a trip to Chamonix/Mont Blanc.

Chamonix is kinda like the Whistler of Europe. Is is really cute and quant, and in the ery bottom of this really steep valley. We got there and were like, cool we get to ride this little gondola up the hill. And then we got on the gondola, and went up the hill, and then onto another gondola, and went up the mountain.

It was freezing. The coldest I have been in probably years. But the views were gorgeous.

We spent most of the day at the top, where we ate lunch and took tons of pictures. Then we headed back down into Chamonix to look around, and found a place with pretty good ice cream.

Then we all passed out on the hour trip back to school.

Lets see, Monday was boring, I uploaded pictures…
No wait! It was Sandra’s birthday! Sandra is a French language student from Germany, and she’s incredibly nice, and we had a little party for her in the Guys dorm lounge. We had snacks and watched Madagascar. There was a large group of us and it was fun. Then once the movie ended we started dancing. And we danced for quite a while, Marvin kinda led out, and it was the funniest thing ever.

Then Tuesday we literally lounged in one spot for four hours and read and slept, between lunch and supper. Then after supper the four of us decided that we should make muffins, so we hiked down the hill to the little grocery store and then hiked back up and made one giant flat muffin (they have no muffin tins, obviously) and did homework… and ended up drawing.

Now, yesterday, classes were really amusing yesterday… no, no, they’re amusing everyday with Marvin in class. But then in the afternoon Leah and Stephen decided that we needed to play football, so they found a football and rounded up eight people, and we played American football for a while, until someone got hurt. Not me, surprisingly. Then for supper we ate in the dorm, the deans cooked for us. It was nice.

Well, that is a lot of info… I should try to get to it more often, that way it doesn’t take so long to write, and so long to read.

Oh and I tried to put pictures in, but I got confused, so just visit my Picasa Album. The link is up above.

Oh and I just now figured out to read comments... yeah.


Monday, September 22, 2008

The Longest Night Ever.

no joke. I'm dead serious.

So. On Friday, the 19th, some friends went into Genève and found this little outdoor weekend concert at the university that was honor of International Peace Day. They loved it and on Saturday morning they told the rest of us how awesome it had been, and that the concert was Saturday night as well. So we all decided to go in that evening.

A group of about 10 of us meet up at five and headed in towards Genève, with another group of about 5 following in about another hour. The first group of us hiked down the hill/mountain to the village of Collonges-sous-Salève and crossed the border to the bus stop, only to find that we had missed the bus by 3 minutes and the next bus, because it was the weekend, wasn't coming for another hour. So we looked at the distance to Carouge (a suburb where we catch the tram) which was about 4-5 Kilometers away, and determined that it would probably take us about 45 minutes to walk there, thus saving us about 20 minutes. So we started walking.

The walk seemed alot longer, but we did end up getting there in 45 minutes. We hopped on the tram and headed to the university. We ended up taking one tram too soon though, and ended up walking a couple blocks to the university. When we got there a group was already up on stage playing some world music, kindof a reggae/blues infused folk... They were pretty chill and we sat and listened to them. After they were done the next band came on. They were the favorite bqnd of the people that had been there the night before and they had ended up meeting them and becoming friends with them, so they came and said hi to us.

We stood up and got up to the front of the stage while more people gathered, but for a while it was mostmy our group that was rocking out to the music. Soon the rest of our group showed up and we danced around to the band - called The Danglers. They have members from Cali, Britain, turkey, and vietnam, and they rocked it. So they finished and our group gets the sound guys to put on some salsa and samba while one of the girls tries to teach everyone to salsa. Four of us left them to go get a bite to eat at the surrounding little food stands. The boys ended up getting tacos, Leah had a candy apple, and I had a chocolate crêpe. is was delicious. Oh and a Fanta.

After we finished our food we headed back to the stage where another group was starting. This group was from Iraq and they were basically a boy band. It was hilarious, and awesome all at the same time. Oh and all of us girls fell in love with the guy who stood in the middle. But yeah they were awesome, and taught us how to dance. By this time the crowd had gotten quite big and everyone was rockin out and dancin to the music, it was really tiring. Once they were done we all went and got our picture with them and then they concert organizers handed out all these balloons, symbolizing peace, and we all let them fly into the air.

Then the last group came on. This group was the group of Emmanuel Fol who was a child soldier in Africa (Sudan) until he was thirteen, and then he was rescued, and now he sings about it and tries to raise awareness. His story was awesome and his music was pretty good. It was kindof a reggae/hip hop thing. We all really liked him, and the crowd by then had gotten huge. Oh and we were still dancing. So he finally finishes and we looked at our watches and realize that it is 11:15.

The last bus from Carouge to the border leaves at 11:32.

We got on the tram and got off in Carouge, only to find out that we had missed the last bus by 2 minutes.

2 minutes.

So we decide that if we're going to have to walk, then we might as well get something to eat firs, because we are all starving.

But nothing was open.

So, at 12:15 we started walking back. All 6-7 kilometers uphill to the campus.

We walked for what seemed forever, but finally got to the border and through Collonges. As we walked up the final part to the campus, we passed a corn field. At this point all of us are starving, because the last real meal we had had been 12 hours before. So we saw that the corn was ripe and the guys decide to pick some, so I did too. I ate one of mine raw, because I was soooo parched, I don't think I've ever been thirstier.

We got to the campus at around 1:15 and decide to go to the guys dorm and have a cornfeed. So we did. THe corn was amazing.

Oh and the biggest part of the story - I was wearing flats... and had been wearin them for 12 hours of which about 10 minutes were spent sitting on the grass, about 20 minutes were spent standing still. The rest of those twelve hours were spent walking, jumping, or dancing...

So I literally could almost not walk. I walked part of the way back barefoot... and my feet still hurt.

I finally crawled in bed about 2:30 and didn't wake up until 11 the next morning.

It was an awesome night.

Oh I was totally going to start posting pictures with these, but I have yet to coordinate that... so we'll see..

Friday, September 12, 2008


So, I am in France!


I’m pretty excited. About my trip here; Well I took of from Dulles Intl. on Sunday the 7th on a airplane bound for Munich. The flight lasted for 8 hours. I didn’t sleep at all, but that was okay because it wasn’t too boring of a flight. The meal was surprisingly good, and the seats were pretty comfy. The coolest part was the guy sitting next to me though. At first I really didn’t notice him because he was just some middle age businessman sitting next to me, but then he opened his computer. I glanced over a little while later to find that he was working on a presentation for NATO. Well that was pretty cool, but I kinda forgot about it for a while. Anyway he put his computer away (I think for supper) and then he got it back out a while later and turned it on. Only then did I notice that to log in he actually had to scan his finger on this little scanner thingy on the laptop! The top of his screen did say unclassified, but I was still pretty intrigued, because by stealing glances at his screen I learned that he worked for NATO in their health department and he was a Doctor (the MD kind).

So we got to Munich at 5:30 am local time, and unloaded, at which point I had to walk from one end of the terminal to the other end, go through security again, and go down to the lower level. And then I sat. And sat. And sat, for six hours, none of which I slept. I was pretty much alone for quite awhile, but ever hour and a half or so a lot of people would show up, sit down, and then leave 15-20 minutes later. I mad four assumptions during that time. One; they are very clean. Two; they are very quite and organized. Three; they are all businessmen. Four; they apparently become businessmen when they are 15, because about half of the business people I saw were under thirty.

I then got on a plane for Geneva, and the flight only took one hour. It is probably my second favorite flight of all time. The whole time it was pretty clean, and we were flying low enough to see all the little houses in all the little towns! I arrived in Geneva, and the rest was pretty simple (baggage claim and customs… they didn’t care).

We drove up to the campus and unload all of our stuff up three flights of stairs to our rooms. After a little bit of unpacking a group of us went back down into the little town of Collonges-sous-Saleve which is about a 5-10 minute walk away… well downhill at least. It is pretty much one of the steepest hills I’ve seen a road on (going stratight) Anyway Collonges is the cutest, most bucolic town I have ever seen. It is a perfect little French town with it’s old buildings full of shuttered windows with overflowing flower boxes and tiny little stores and bakeries. Il est tres mignon! But the only downside of going into town (be it Collonges or Geneve) is that you have to walk back up the hill of death. It is exhausting and strenuous after a whole day of walking!

The next two days were spent going to meetings, taking entrance placement exams, and registering. The exam was pretty hard, but it went okay. The registration however, took about four hours. The longest part was when we had to fill out an application form for a residency permit and then make sure we had every document we needed for it. Awesome. It was confusing, and almost everone was missing a “correct” document from their bank.

The campus is pretty amazing… gorgeous. It is literally right up against this huge rock face of the Saleve, and all the buildings are really cool, and the grounds are kept up really nicely. The view from our room is stunning. We look directly at the rock face of the Saleve. Oh and my roommate is Leah Robinson, who is from Walla Walla, and whom I share a mutual friend with. She’s pretty awesome.

Well I am going to go nap now, because we have the whole afternoon off and it’s cloudy.
And I’m tired.