Sunday, December 26, 2010

wrapping things up

As I am sitting here in my bedroom typing this blog, I can feel the air circulating around the room thanks to my ceiling fan. Yep, that's right. I am safely back in Texas! Just in case you were wondering, I was able to travel without a problem. My flight was scheduled to leave Wednesday morning and it did (just about an hour late as they tried to juggle passengers who had been stranded from earlier flights/different airlines). So, I have been home in Houston for 4 nights, and am now just finding the time to update this blog.

On my last Sunday in Paris, I was fortunate to be able to attend Hillsong Paris's Spectacle de Noël. Much to my surprise, my cousin Melanie (who had been studying abroad in England this past semester and was spending her last weekend in Europe in Paris) also came to church! Emily and Dustin were also able to join, and after church, we made lunch.Sunday evening I was able to see Harry Potter for a second time (but in English this time) with some friends from the foyer and my study abroad program. Though, the scene where Harry asks Hermoine for his wand was just not as funny as it was in French! Sunday night, Kelly and Emily's last night in Paris, a group of us had dinner together at Caroline's foyer for the last time in Paris. I believe it was that night when it all started to hit me - that the semester was coming to an end and that I would not be seeing these people that I had come to know and love over the past 3 and a half months.

Monday was a day for museums and fun - and the start of my goodbye to Paris. Emily and I packed a lunch for the day and then set off with Roanne for the Louvre. We explored Napoleon's Apartments and enjoyed the indoor sculpture garden (my favorite place in the Louvre!) After our lunch we traversed the garden of Tuileries, making our way to the Orangerie (yep, I had just been there Saturday). We then met up with Martin and Caroline and proceeded to explore the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe and the Marchés de Noël.

On Tuesday, Emily went off to Versailles and I visited the office for the last time - saying my goodbyes to all of the fun that lived in the 6th and 5th arrondissements. Martin and I had lunch at the student restaurant and then walked around the Luxembourg Garden. Upon her return to Paris, Emily and I met up and then also explored the Luxembourg Garden. We then headed down the Blvd St Michel to meet up with Roanne and Sam, but stopped at the Monoprix (sorry Dustin!) one last time. After meeting up with the girls, the four of us ventured to find ice cream from Berthillon on the Isle St. Louis and stopped by Notre Dame on the way. The sorbets and creams were just delicious and even though it was freezing, they were well worth it! The four of us went our separate ways and I ventured down the Blvd St Michel to take a look at all of the bookstores and souvenir shops one last time.

Emily and I had dinner with Roanne at her foyer, and then the three of us met up with Caroline and Martin for Nutella crêpes on Blvd St Michel. (If you are ever in Paris, you must go to this crêpe stand that is just around the corner from the fountain. They have nutella crêpes for only 2.5euros and they will even make you a half nutella, half speculoos crêpe! Ask me for more details if you need!) We met up with Austin later that night and walked alone the Seine - Paris is such a beautiful city at night, with all of the lights and architecture, though Tuesday night, due to heavy fog, the city had a more somber feel. We all parted ways and Emily and I did our final packing back at the foyer. I could hardly sleep on Tuesday night - maybe it was the excitement to be coming home, or maybe it was because I was sad to be leaving.

Wednesday morning, Emily and I left my foyer at 5:45am. My flight was scheduled to leave at 9:25am and hers at 11:40am. Getting through the metro proved to be a little challenging, but thanks to some helpful Parisians, we were able to get to the airport smoothly! Unfortunately, the two of us were leaving Charles de Gaulle from different terminals, so we said our goodbye on the RER B. The flight went by rather quickly, though I did watch two movies, spent some time reading and having a quiet time, listened to music, and attempted to nap (though I only slept for about a half hour).

I called my family right when we landed on Texas soil. They told me that they had already left the house and that we would meet outside of Terminal E. The walk from the airplane to customs seemed to take forever, like I was walking through a never-ending hallway that only lead to more people and long lines. Thankfully though, going through customs took about all of 15 minutes, and when I reached the outside of baggage claim, ran into an old friend from high school! A few minutes later, I saw my mom and Kyle walk through the doors, and could not have been more happy, excited, elated, and relieved. We quickly left the airport to meet my dad and Cameron and then headed home.

So just like that, my semester in Paris was over. I have been home for almost 5 full days and am nearly over my jet lag. I have been able to meet up with friends and family, but most importantly, have been catching up on rest! In all honesty, even though December 25th has passed, it does not quite feel like the Christmas season to me. Maybe it's because I left a chilly 20 degree snowglobe for a humid 70 degree greenhouse. But nevertheless, it has been wonderful to celebrate the birth of my Savior with my friends and family! This time last year, I was headed to New Braunfels with a couple of friends to meet up with others from Trinity to drive to St. Louis for Urbana 2009 (the largest missions conference in North America). It's crazy to think that it has already been a year and is even more wild to reflect on what all has changed within me.

Unfortunately, this blog was only meant to keep record of my semester abroad, but who knows what will happen to it in the future! With that, I will leave you with pictures from my final days in Paris - there are definitely more on Facebook, and still others that I would love to show you on my laptop! So, until next time, Thanks for reading!

All my love,

Mel and me. For the first time ever, someone has told us that we look alike!

Our last dinner together (Roanne, Caroline, Courtney, Kelly, Emily, Martin)

Saying goodbye to Dustin and some Paris street decorations

The indoor sculpture garden

 A view from Napoleon's Apartments

Do you know the story behind all of these locks?

Finally found a mini Liberty after 3 months!

Berthillon ice cream!

An accurate description of this past semester.

Oh Paris, you are so much fun!

The strange escalator system of Charles de Gaulle

Back to school in less than 3 weeks! Em - see you soon!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

la dernière nuit

This is it! In less than 6 hours, I will be waking up to catch the RER B for Charles de Gaulle. Unfortunately, this post is not going to be too long, nor will it really involve lots of pictures. It is just to inform you that the day has come! And, for those of you who are worried about the flight situation here in Paris, I would just like to let you know that you should not worry! While it is true that there are several people stuck at the airport, my friends who left Monday from my program have safely made it stateside!

With that, my next post will be from my room in Houston! (Hopefully my parents haven't turned my room into another storage facility . . . . oh the story of my Freshman year at Trinity. . . .)

An update soon to come!

Peace out Paris. It has been great!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

the countdown

3 showers left to take in Paris
2 nights designated for packing
1 full day of winter break, gone.

It's hard for me to believe that there are only 3 full days remaining of my semester here in Paris. Classes ended on Friday (yesterday) and already it seems like it was ages ago! Because this was the last week before vacation, parties were happening all around! Monday night, the Central College Paris Program hosted a little "fête" (party) for all of our professors, directors, and other instructors (some of my friends have had the opportunity to take music lessons at an outside institution). But before that, Cha Cha and I had our last Art History class in the Louvre - a bitter sweet ending to our studies of Renaissance to Classic/Baroque art. As we got out of class just a bit late, Cha Cha and I rushed over to the office, only to find our Art History professor arrive a few minutes after we did!

Tuesday, I had my Art History exam, and after going to the last half of my fashion class, headed back to my foyer for our Christmas party. I always enjoy our foyer gatherings as it is a time of good food, good conversation, and lots of laughter - we even had music (thanks Jenna!) acting, and some singing along with a gift exchange for the holiday season!

On Wednesday, after taking my Language exam, we had another party! Everyone brought food that represented their "country" or something that we might find from there that is similar! Needless to say, I had to save the lunch that I brought for Wednesday and eat it on Thursday. That night, I attended another fête for everyone involved in serving at Hillsong Paris. It was nice to see my church family in a setting other than at church - just a time to eat, have a glass of wine, and fellowship with each other. One of the guys from the choir even played his guitar/sang for us!

I went to the Belleville for the last time on Thursday. It was sad saying goodbye to all of the children, but I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to experience the life of a "benevole" (volunteer). Roanne and I had dinner at her foyer that evening, and then later I returned to the foyer for a quiet and relaxing night.

The sun decided to shine so brightly on Friday! Before lunch, I went for a run in the Luxembourg Garden - there was even a bit of snow on the ground from the night before! In Phonetics we had our last exam, and after class, Dustin and I spent some time looking for books! (I'm taking a French Literature class in the Spring, and have been able to buy a few of the novels here in Paris, they're even cheaper than buying them on Amazon for $0.01 with $3.99 shipping!) Then we met up with Emily, Jenna, Caroline, Meghan, and Kelly for dinner at Dustin and Martin's foyer!

Today, Saturday, I woke up to more sunshine. Though we usually have family "dinner," today we decided on having a family "brunch." It was so nice to cook and eat with my friends that I have come to know and love over the past 3 months, and a great way to end our time together. After lunch, Kelly, Emily, Roanne, and I went to the Musée de l'Orangerie right outside of the Jardin de Tuileries. We then payed a visit to Austin at the wine shop where he works for their weekly wine tasting. Tonight, I met Emily, my friend from Trinity who studied in Grenoble, France (that's in the south!) this past semester at the Gare de Lyon. She will be staying with my in my foyer until Wednesday when we both will catch our flights back home to Texas (which, I am convinced is the Promised Land of the United States).

So, while this has been a pretty packed week, I know that these next few days will be no exception! And with that, Emily has already gone to bed (it's about 1:30am) so I should probably follow suit. Here are some fun pictures from the week - enjoy!

The group (-Dustin) after Monday's fête!
Jenna, Timea, Vivien and I at our foyer party (with gifts!)

Seagulls (??) walking on the frozen fountain in the Luxembourg Garden

My language class (6 hrs/wk). Can you find the professor?

Metro line 13! (I live at Pernety)

Kelly and I being silly outside l'Orangerie

Even with the cloudy sky, it is beautiful!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

happy 3 months!

Oh, hello there December 11, 2010! Have you arrived already? It's official! I have been in France for 3 months, with only 11 more days to go! (But I really only count it as 10 days, thanks to a relatively early-morning flight.)

Last week was a bit tough, with a paper and a major project due at the beginning of this past week, but this coming week, there are only 3 tests that are keeping me from being free in Paris. (Art History - Wednesday, French Language - Thursday, Phonetics - Friday)

What have I been up to lately? Well . . . with the realization that my time is here in Paris is coming to a close, I have been going through the Luxembourg Garden as much as possible - even when it's misting/"raining", even when it's snowing, and especially when it's sunny! Going to the Louvre (for my Art History class, but also just to look around. Jenna actually had a presentation last Friday night, and a few of us went to see her and cheer her on!) I have been spending time with more friends from my program, and have also been catching up on sleep. But okay, let's get to the most exciting thing that has happened this past week - EURODISNEY!

Last Saturday, the 4th, I had the opportunity to go to Eurodisney with some friends from Hillsong Paris! I was so excited the night before, that I hardly got any sleep!! We met up in the morning at 8am and arrived at the park by 9:30am. It had snowed the night before and the trainride out there was just beautiful! Much to our surprise, despite the frigid temperature and occasional snow flurries, there was still plenty of people. Thankfully, Eurodisney is smart: you have the option of obtaining a "fast pass" though it's not quite what you think - you can scan your ticket at a little machine, and it will print a ticket for the ride with a time period in which you can get in a super short "fast pass" line. The wait for the fast pass ranged from a half hour to an hour and a half - but it sure did beat waiting in line in the cold! One other thing that Eurodisney did was offer a promotion on their hot drinks! If you bought one in the morning, (or sometime before 3pm) you could redeem your coupon on your receipt for another hot drink - for free! Needless to say, once we found that out, we each promptly bought our own hot drinks!

Though we arrived in a group of about 15 people, four of us, Grace, Gabriella, Kevin, and I ended up in a little group. We ended up staying at the park the latest (we left around 6:30pm) and rode the most rides! Interested in what they were? Haha, well I will tell you anyway. The rides that we rode were: Crush's Coaster, Les Tapis Volants, Mad Hatter's Tea Cups, Big Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Space Mountain: Mission 2. Needless to say, we were super tired the next day, and my toes had frozen at least twice while at the park, but it was well worth it!

The rest of this week has gone by pretty quickly. On Tuesday, my professor was sick, so Caroline and I spent our class time watching episodes of Modern Family in her foyer! Wednesday Dustin, Emily and I ventured out to Belleville and had Tapioca! Because of really heavy snow, the metrolines were all crazy! Instead of taking the usual 30-40 minutes to get home, it took almost an hour, with lots of line changes and more walking! Caroline and Jenna even encountered a fire on line 6, stopping traffic for over 45 minutes!

Thursday, I went for a run in the beautifully white Luxembourg Garden (though it was really sunny at the same time!) and then volunteered at the Centre SocialBelleville. Afterward, I met up with Caroline and the two of us had dinner with Dustin and Martin in their foyer! Friday after class I went to the Louvre to study for my Art History exam on Tuesday. And Today, Saturday, my brother comes home from Tulsa! I also will be heading out to the Louvre to study a bit more, but will also relax and have some fun with friends!

Oh, Paris. How the time has flown by. I can't believe it! Look at how much you've changed (me).

Jenna's presentation Friday night at the Louvre

My fellow Houstonian, Kara, and I at Eurodisney!

Guido, my favorite character from CARS

Kevin, me, Gabriella, and Grace!

Back in the garden - look at that snow!!

Caroline loves snow!

Taro tapioca from Belleville

Thursday, December 2, 2010

baby it's cold outside

With the passing of Thanksgiving, Christmas has already begun to make its grand entrance. (Actually, supermarkets started carrying advent calendars well before November 25th.) These past few days have been spent enjoying a REAL winter with friends and chatting with friends and family back home (and also others studying abroad)! As I type this, it is currently 30 degrees Fahrenheit outside of my window - the warmest it has been all week! What I wouldn't do for some Bing Crosby and warm apple cider . . .

This past Sunday a few friends and I went to see Harry Potter (it was released in Paris one week after all English speaking countries) in FRENCH! This was the first movie that I saw in French that I hadn't already seen in English, but to tell you the truth, it wasn't hard at all to understand! One thing that I will note that I found rather hilarious, is that the French word for "wand" is "baguette" (like the bread)! Every time they said "baguette" I laughed to myself. Especially when Harry would ask Hermoine where his "baguette" was. After the movie we traversed les marchés de noël on the Champs-Elysée! The Christmas lights are so beautiful and there were several little stands with nick-nacks to buy! It was definitely a sight to see.

On Monday, my art history class met at the Louvre for the 3rd time. When, except in Paris, can you say that you have had art history at the Louvre? I still cannot get over how many different pieces are on display in the Louvre - and all EU students under 26 can get in for free, at any time!

Wednesday, I lived in a snowglobe. It started to snow right after lunch, and continued into the wee hours of the morning! Dustin, Emily, and I traversed the Luxembourg Garden after class to enjoy the beautiful blanket of white. That evening, Shelley, my program director planned for us to take a cooking class. We paired up to make different dishes (though some dishes we had to double up to feed all 10 of us) and spent time together as a family - eating, talking, and bonding!

Today, Thursday, has been a rather relaxing day. I washed my clothes, did a bit of homework, and spent time with friends. I have less than 20 days remaining in Paris and I cannot believe just how much I have learned, experienced, and grown in just 12 weeks. Though it may seem like all I have been doing here has been fun and games, the clock is really ticking to wrap up the semester. This means, that I have a paper due this Monday, a paper due this Tuesday, a test the following Monday, another test on Wednesday in two weeks, and a test on Friday (the 17th), my last day of school. And of course, other homework assignments sprinkled in between.

Well, I should probably get to work, so as always, I will leave you with photos! Enjoy!

December, already?

Making our way through the marchés de noël


Playing in the Luxembourg Garden

REAL SNOWFLAKES!! in my hair

learning how to be top chefs

Shelley and I had matching aprons!

Hello Kitty. . . she's everywhere!

Friday, November 26, 2010

in the garden

Thank God it's Friday! Though the beginning of the week always starts off slowly, the days accelerate as soon as Wednesday hits. I have only 3 more full weeks left in Paris, and the rush is now starting to hit me - there is hardly any time left! Where has all the time gone?

Last weekend, my program took us to Avignon, a small town in the South of France! It was nice to get away from Paris for the weekend, to relax from the hustle and bustle and really enjoy a slower, more carefree taste of country(ish) life. Though we were met with rain on the first day of our trip, we were still able to enjoy the beautiful Palais des Papes (did you know that in the 1600s Avignon had a pope? actually, several). There was a really pretty rainstorm Saturday night - it reminded me of home! Because of the Christmas season, France  Sunday, the weather was beautiful. My friend Caroline spent the day walking around the small town, saw the bridge (the Pont d'Avignon) and even bought some souvenirs!

If you recall from last post, one of the things that I want to do is run more in the Luxembourg Garden, or well, spend more time there in general! And this week, I have definitely been able to do that! Out of the 5 week days that have passed by, I have been in the garden every single day (walking through it to get to class/from class, running, having lunch, etc)!

It's amazing to see how the gardens change with the seasons. When I first arrived in Paris, everything was very green and bright. Now, most of the trees are bare, but the grass is still green (I do believe that they replant it . . .  perhaps often) and the flowers have been changed to bring out fall/winter colors! They have also replanted a lot of the shrubbery that surround the fountains.

Since today is Friday, you may be wondering what I did for Thanksgiving - I'm still an American, after all! Well, to answer your question, I did not really celebrate it! (What?!) Thursday I met my friend Austin to have lunch in the Luxembourg Garden and that night, after my volunteering, I met up with my Host Team from Hillsong Paris for a little rendez-vous. (Most of the members are French, so they don't celebrate Thanksgiving. But we did have lots of goodies to eat!) It didn't even feel like Thanksgiving in France. There are no advertisements for Black Friday Sales (their shopping season similar to black friday happens after New Years) and the supermarkets don't change their inventory to carry more stuffing and cranberries. Ah well, this just means that next Thanksgiving, I will have to make up for the missed festivities of this year, no biggie!

Something exciting though, today we had our first snow in Paris!!!!! It was wonderful!!!

Well, with 3 weeks left of school, I have lots of work to submit! This weekend will be spent working on projects and doing more homework, but I will take a break on Sunday to watch Harry Potter with some friends from school! Yes, most of you have already seen it (if you are reading this from the US or England, the film was released one week before it debuted in France), but that's okay! Until next blog . . . . we will discuss Harry Potter! (haha . . . probably not)

p.s. It was so hard for me to pick which pictures to put up. There were just so many fun ones from spending time in the garden and from Avignon! But, enjoy!

While walking home from school, one of the flower shops had these pretty flowers for sale!  

Elephant sculpture outside of the Palais des Papes in Avignon

Dessert in Avignon (Meghan, Emily, Courtney)

Lights from the Avignon Christmas Market
Walking through the Luxembourg Garden after class
Check out these colors in the middle of November!

Caught in the act of replanting the Luxembourg Garden!

Wahoooo! After our Thanksgiving Picnic!!

Walking around Paris: Pinecones on a stick!

First snow of Winter! It was Beautiful!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


First of all, let me preface this entry with "Yes, I realize that it has been two weeks since my last update." And for that, I do apologize. Second of all, I would like to apologize to Christine for accidentally naming her Catherine in my last update. I know who you are! Really, I DO!!!!

These past couple of weeks have been marked by midterms and meetings, and more of everything inbetween! In all honesty though, not too much has happened since my last update. I have successfully registered for my Spring 2011 semester back at Trinity, met lots of new people that are involved with Hillsong Paris, taken an Art History Exam, went for a run in the Luxembourg Garden, attended Leadership Vision Night (with Hillsong Sydney's Robert Ferguson), volunteered for the second time at my benevolat (Centre Social Belleville), and will have taken a Phonetics Exam by the end of class tomorrow (Friday).

It's amazing for me to think that I have less than 5 weeks remaining in Paris. Where has the time gone? I remember my first day arriving, leaving Heidi at the airport and getting lost in what I now refer to the neighborhood as "home." I have sent more than 40 pieces of mail. I have been to Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, the musée Fragonard, the Musée d'Orsay two times, the Champs Elysée two times, the Arc de Triomphe three times (climbed up to the top once), the Eiffel Tower five times (and up to the very top one time), and the Louvre six times! And those are just the "major" places in Paris, not even including all of the gardens and parks!

The thing that I appreciate most about Paris is that it is so easy to get around the city! Whether by metro, bus, or even walking - nothing is ever "too far" away. I have mastered the route to walk to school, and can make it there in less then 30 minutes if need be (taking the metro to school only saves me about 5 minutes)! Wednesdays and Saturdays are market days, and they have not disappointed! Also, the gardeners take very good care of the plants and flowers in all of the parks and gardens - the weather in Paris is changing (my first real FALL!) and so are the plants in the gardens!

The things that seemed so strange to me when I first arrived in France - what? Stores are closed on Sundays? what? The store closes at 9pm on the weekday? what? Nothing is open 24 hours? - have now become an accepted occurence (though I do know of one grocery store that is opened on Sundays in my neighborhood). I have also come to have a greater appreciation for dried fruits (namely strawberries) and nuts, and have become quite skilled at making soups that come from a package taste rather delicious!

So what are some things that I would like to do before I leave Paris? Well, in case you were wondering, here they are!
  • be more rested (not necessarily sleep more, but take it easy)
  • run in the Luxembourg Garden at least 3 more times
  • run along the Seine
  • take more pictures
  • visit the Monet exhibit at the Grand Palais (online reservations are booked until January)
  • finish the jar of Nutella in my cubby (though I don't think that will be a problem)
  • come back with only 1 bit suitcase and (if need be, a maximum of) 2 carry-ons

I think those are some obtainable goals. I will hopefully update again (sooner than 2 weeks) with a status check. But until then, enjoy some more pictures from Paris!

Fall in the Luxembourg Garden

A really funny t-shirt I found at a sportswear store

The Louvre - crowded like I have never seen it before

Caroline and me, Tuesday before our fashion class
(we are, quite obviously dressed like we take a fashion class)

A French board game that I played today with some of the kids
(it was fun! we turned into ghosts)
Holiday decorations in my arrondissement!
Christmas is on its way!