Aix était tout que je voulais et tout que j'ai esperé. La taille de la ville était parfait pour moi. Pas trop grande et pas trop petite. J'aimais l'atmosphère comme la jeunesse et la jovialité. Mais aussi, la météo était propice pour tous. Les jours du soleil étaient une bénédiction de Dieu et j'en ai profité. J'aimais entendre la jolie langue s'appelle Français. C'était la musique harmonieuse pour mes oreilles. J'ai eu de la chance de rencontrer beaucoup de personnes et de faire la connaissance avec les Aixois, spécifiquement dans les magasins. J'aimais la culture provençale et la fierté que les Aixois ont exprimé tous les jours. J'aimais regarder les anciens bâtiments et l'histoire qui toujours vie dans les rues. J'aimais la mode et les moeurs des français et des Européens. Bien sûr, la nourriture méditerranée me manque aussi. Les olives, l'huile d'olive, le pain, le fromage, les bettraves, les pêches, les figues et tous étaient phénoménals!! Le plaisir quand on les mange est incroyable. Les cafés, les boulangeries, les magasins quotidiens, les parcs, les gens qui marchent, les marchés, et les étudiants caractérisent cette ville formidable. En y étudiant, j'ai beaucoup appris. Dans mes 3 mois et demi je suis devenue familière avec Aix. J'ai parlé français et j'ai vécu une vie française. Je ne peux pas oublier cette expérience. C'est une expérience inexplicable. J'en ai profité et je suis grâce à ce fait. C'est certain que je reviendrai en France et je me retrouverai à Aix. La prochaine visite ici sera différente mais les sons, les goûts, les vues, et les odeurs iront me rappeler quelque chose de moi-même. Quelque chose que j'ai senti dans un passé inoubliable. 
Merci Prof. Crosé pour cet extrait Le petit morceau de madeleine:

"Mais, quand d'un passé ancien rien ne subsiste, après la mort des êtres, après la destruction des choses, seules, plus frêles mais plus vivaces, plus immatérielles, plus persistantes, plus fidèles, l'odeur et la saveur restent encore longtemps, comme des âmes, à se rappeler, à attendre, à esperer, sur la ruine de tout le rester, à porter sans fléchir, sur leur gouttelette presque impalpable, l'édifice immense du souvenir."
                                                                                           -Marcel Proust 1913

Merci Aix pour tous. Je t'aime sans cesse. 
Les bons souvenirs vont durer longtemps.
France, vous me plaisez.
Aix, je t'aime.

Bisous et je te verrai bientôt,
I miss France SOOO much!!!! I miss hearing FRENCH every single day, I miss walking everywhere, I miss walking by the ancient buildings, I miss my typical breakfast of museli, yogurt and jam, clementine and baguette, I miss my internship, I miss my host family, I miss seeing the well dressed people, I miss the markets, I miss everything!! Please take me back!!
For the past 2 months, I have been in denial of returning home. I had no desire to return even though, I did book a ticket back. I could've stayed in France for at least a year or more. Aix became my second home away from home. When you become attached to a place, it's hard to leave it. My last 2 days in Aix were rough.

On Wednesday, I was completely swamped. I had to work 8 straight hours for my internship. Not what I was expecting since I had so much to do (ie. packing, flight check-in, host family gifts and other important stuff). However, it was nice to see my students one last time and to say farewell to my wonderful co-workers. By 8:2pm0, I finally got home and suddenly felt overwhelmed. I was feeling extremely sentimental at leaving in addition to all the crap I had to get done. But low and behold, I somehow managed to pull through, like I always do. Everything got accomplished, I was only 1 pound over the weight limit and I made all my flights. Wednesday night, I got to give my host family their presents and their letters, I cried because I was so sad to leave and I was going to miss them dearly. They had the utmost positive affect on my experience and I am forever grateful to them.

The next day was tough. I only got 3 1/2 hours of sleep and I had to leave the house at 5:30am to catch my 8:45am flight. My host dad was generous enough to drive me all the way to the airport. He even accompanied me to the security gate!  
We said our final good byes and I was about to cry. It was a great moment and a good way to end my experience. I will really miss my host family A LOT. My flight from Marseille to Munich was only 1 1/2 hours. It was smooth and easy going. My flight from Munich to JFK was not bad either. It seemed to pass by quickly even though I was flying back in time...what a weird concept. Anyways, I met this really nice guy from Cali who was doing his medical schooling in Poland for 6 yrs. He was on his 3rd year and was heading back to LA for 2 weeks for Christmas. I was totally envious of him. I too, was returning home but I wasn't coming back unlike him. Talking to him about his story and his travels was a nice relief from my sadness of leaving France. It was therapeutic in a sense because we both shared abroad experiences. After talking to him, I have definitely considered the possibility of studying or working abroad in Europe for a longer period of time. Who knows, I might get my masters somewhere and somehow! Now comes the worst part of my trip back. My flight from JFK to Syracuse wasn't until 10:50pm...the plane from Munich arrived 40min early so I was waiting at the airport for a solid 8 1/2 hours. HOW FUN!..not. When I went to my departure gate around 9, they told me there was a delay and my plane wouldn't leave until midnight. By that time, I was absolutely exhausted and just wanted to be home. I had been traveling for a good 32 hours. I finally got home at 2am on Friday.

All in all my experience abroad was amazing, fantastic, wonderful, phenomenal and positive. I have learned soo much about myself, people and the world. As I reflect now, it seems like I was in some alternative universe, like I never left home. My dream since I was a young girl was finally lived out! I made lifelong connections with my host family, Aix the city itself and my co-workers. I finally made these connections towards the end of my journey (it usually happens like that). 3 1/2 months is NOT enough time to do anything. Sure, it seems like a long time when you sign up for it but when you're actually living it, it seems sooo short and quick. If I had the means to stay for a year, I would have without a doubt. From this experience, I realized I will return to France. That is a definite. I have this intuitive feeling. It will happen by happenstance or by my own will but I know it will happen. At this point in my life, I have no attachment to my home in the US. I have caught the traveling bug and am eager to see the world, whether that's returning to Europe or going elsewhere. I guess that is typical in your twenties behavior and mentality. My home in Syracuse is no longer a sentimental place for me besides my mom. In the near future I wouldn't mind becoming a nomad and traveling the world. I have this hunger within me to discover, meet, learn and help others. It's definitely realistic and it's most likely going to happen. I made my study abroad experience come true, why can't I make this next adventure come true? I am young. It's better to fulfill this next dream now then later. Therefore France, I will see you soon. A bientot!

Seeing as I've finally awoken from my two day slumber, here are my observations of America so far:
1) It's weird to be back here. I don't feel at home, not yet.
2) New York/Long Island from a plane looks so cramped, dull and dead. This is because of the season but still, not the gorgeousness of Europe with its vibrant colors and living history.
3) America is a melting pot, especially in New York, obviously
4) Hearing English is so bizarre! I enjoyed hearing 5 million different languages
5) Americans really are fat...I've seen like 25 obese people already
6) Americans dress terribly. What a pity. I miss the good fashion sense of Europe. I miss the good looking European men.
7) Paying sales tax sucks! I liked how it was included in the price in Europe.

This may seem like a negative perspective of the US. Perhaps it is, but I did just come from a different culture for 3 1/2 months. I am not purposely dissing the US but those were my first thoughts that came to me when I arrived at JFK. I love the US. In fact, I love both countries. Each country is unique and special. Both have its ups and downs. I am loyal to my first country but I am also prideful of my second home away from home.

After studying abroad, I have considered these options:
1) Changing from a french minor to a french major
2) Taking the TOEFL exam
3) Senior year, J-term traveling France, Spain and Morocco
4) Living in France for a year or more
5) Doing a masters in Europe or somewhere abroad

One last thing, my host family has an open bed for me whenever I come back. That is the best thing ever. Good luck to them with their new house!
Tonight was a good night with my host family. I think this will be one of the things I'll miss the most about France, eating dinner with my host family. Tonight's dinner was extremely funny. Eliott as usual made us all laugh. The first thing was him scolding me for not being polite. I typically say "non merci" when I don't want something so a few nights ago when I said this he asked "C'est quoi non merci?' (what is no thank you?). My host mom and dad said its a polite way to say no thank you to something someone doesn't want. This kid is smart and picks up on things very quickly. So tonight, I forgot to add the merci part after no and all of a sudden Eliott decided to scold me and say "tu dois dire non merci" (you have to say no thank). Mind you, this came out of nowhere and I had no idea that he heard me. He definitely put me in my place and it was hilarious. We all laughed at this. Usually he is the one being scolded at not me! haha

My host dad and Eliott were being adorable as usual. Whenever Eliott was laughing he would open his mouth real wide for a good 15 seconds without making any noise. At first, I was wondering what he was doing and if he was about to cry or if he was pooping. He was indeed laughing. It was the strangest thing to see his mouth open and no noise coming out. That made everyone laugh even harder and that gave me hiccups. It was very funny.

To end the night, I decided to watch a movie with my host family. It was a french comedy called Didier. After having watched it, it was the weirdest and stupidest movie ever but it was funny nonetheless. It's one of those upbeat really bizarre movies that you can't hate. Anyways, it was about a soccer coach babysitting his friend's Labrador dog named Didier. Didier ends up turning into a human but still possesses his dog-like mannerisms. Didier is then recruited as a soccer player for a professional team. Throughout the movie, funny events take place one after another. It was ridiculousness. I found it funnier that my host family was cracking up. What kind of comedies are they into?

These are the moments I will miss. They have positively impacted my study abroad experience. I am grateful that I ended up with such a great host family. I will really miss them when I leave in a week.
I can't believe I am leaving in exactly one week! Time has seriously flown by. So far my experience here has been incredible. I have learned a lot about everything. As I reflect during my last week, I have to admit this was a much more personal journey than I initially expected. A lot of elements have played a part in my study abroad experience. Take for example, the courses I took, the school I attended, the program I applied to, the host family I was given, where I lived in town, the french and international people I've met, the internship I was given, my co-workers I've met, the places I've traveled, the stories and events that occurred during these travels, the nights I went out, the food I ate and in general the choices I've made. As you can see, the list could go on forever. I don't know if I can say I have made some lifelong friends from this experience. I've certainly met a lot of people and have had fun with people I've interacted with but I guess my personal connection is tied to Aix itself and my host family. In these past couple of months, I have grown to adore Aix. It has become a part of who I am. Others, in my program say that Aix is too small or there isn't enough to do but I take Aix in its entirety. It's an adorable, small and ancient city that dates back before the Romans. The narrow roads, the roman influence, the history in its buildings and monuments, the bread, the markets, the people, the culture, the attitude, the youthful and international environment, the parks, the bakeries and pastry shops, the smell of Aix, the weather and everything else. Aix has become a home away from home and I take that very seriously. Every time I traveled else where, I was relieved to be back in Aix. I like familiarity, comfort, a sense of belonging and of course warmer weather! I am extremely sad to be leaving Aix but I know I will be returning soon. I have that intuitive feeling that it's going to happen, whether I make it happen or it occurs by happenstance. Either way, I will be returning to my home away from home.

I never really experienced culture shock when I first came here. Sure I was overwhelmed when I first arrived because everything was new, I was exhausted and I had to adjust to the language barrier. Other than that, I wasn'toverwhelmed by the cultural differences between the US and France. Believe it or not, there are a lot of cultural differences, taboos and faux pas between these two countries and when I think about these differences, it makes me admire and appreciate each country by itself. I think I will be forever loyal to the US and now France. I could definitely see myself living in France in the future. 

I think I was the most home sick during the month of October. A lot was going on back home that I had to deal with and manage from an ocean away. October was probably my worst month here in Aix. However, I came to realize that I can't control everything especially since I am an ocean away. I had to let some things take their course and manage what was in my control. That's one of the valuable lessons I have become more conscious of. I am not saying I learned from this lesson because I am still learning. Not everything is in my control, some circumstances are truly uncontrollable and unforeseen. This is also relative to the saying that "life isn't fair". I think life is made of chances, uncontrollable circumstances and personal decisions. Of course, personal decisions are big factors in a person's life. You do have a lot of control over your life and your decisions do affect other decisions and of course other people, but those chances and uncontrollable circumstances can affect your personal decisions too. Basically, everything affects everything. 

There's always this question about whether a person can change. Are they changes in attitudes, morals, beliefs, perspective or personality? To what degree are these changes? Are they modifications or a complete 180? What factors cause these changes? These are questions that have been asked for forever it seems and there's no definite answer. In my opinion, I believe it depends on the person and circumstance on whether they can change or want to change. Thus this leads me to ask myself if I have changed as a person. I think my morals and beliefs are still the same. I haven't had a revelation or a radical change in my thinking towards religion, morals and values. I think my personality is still the same. I do think my attitude on life has been altered though. I can definitely say I have become wiser. I can definitely say I know what kind of people I want to surround myself with. I can definitely say I look at life with a more open mind. I can say I have been enlightened by traveling through out Europe and meeting people. I can definitely say I have learned a lot from the courses I took. I know how to manage my money better while abroad. I know not to visit as many countries in a weekend or a fall break. I know that communication is an essential part of a relationship, a job and duh life! I know you must try something new or always try something new. 

Life is complicated, everyone knows that. I have had my ups and downs while studying abroad. I have felt lonely, sad, self-conscious, nervous, anxious, stupid, stubborn, bitchy, frustrated and angry but I have also felt extremely happy, thankful, satisfied, excited, grateful, youthful, helpful, intelligent, enlightened, privileged, relaxed, embarrassed, strong and independent. 

I still don't know what I want to do with my life but everything I've learned from this experience will most certainly play a part in where I end up in the future. The skills I've learned and everything I've observed and noticed are now a part of me. I can say I am more confident in myself. I am most certainly more independent. I realized that being by yourself and having alone time isn't a bad thing. BUT having people around you that you enjoy is very important. For me, I still need to find the balance of spending time with people I enjoy and spending time by myself. I am after all only 20...I don't know everything and I will not know everything. Yes mom, I JUST admitted that I don't know everything. 

One last thing I want to add. As I said, life is complicated and personal decisions are influential factors in Life. There is a lot of tragedy, hurt, sadness, anger, violence and insanity. Personal decisions can cause all this chaos, disaster and inhumane acts but personal decisions can also change these negative aspects. The power a human holds in their life and others lives is astronomical. In my optimistic outlook, change is very possible for a better Life.

I plan to write another reflection on my study abroad experience once I return to the US. I am so glad I decided to study abroad.

A plus,
In case you didn't know. I decided to try an internship while abroad. So far the experience has been wonderful despite a few hiccups in the beginning. I am an English conversation teacher at the British American Institute. I work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In addition to teaching classes, I help around the office doing various administrative duties. 

My classes have been going really well. Most of my students are receptive and want to participate. The energy is usually high and they always want to learn. I co-teach with another American named Tyler. He is 2 years older than me and is staying in Aix until April. Some of our lesson plans have included a rhyming game, role play, telling jokes, learning about idioms, 20 questions, what are you afraid of and etc. Our students range from my age to 80. I teach all levels from beginner to advanced. Some of our students have made a lot of improvements while others are taking a little longer. Either way, I really hope I can help improve their English. My end goal of this internship is to really help a student in their English. I want them to be confident and continue practicing English. I hope they have had fun and learned some new material in my classes.

Overall my students are very nice and patient with me, especially when I talk too fast for them. Each of them has a story and each of them is interesting to me. Some may be cocky, too talkative, shy, arrogant, friendly, outgoing, confident, too strong, or really upbeat. No matter which personality I'm up against, all of them have affected me in a different way. I wish I could stay here longer and continue working at this institute to meet more people.

Not only are my classes great, but my co-workers are awesome. I have met some amazing people so far all of them being teachers. Two are from Ireland, two are from England and one is French. Everyone is nice, helpful, friendly and funny. It is a great atmosphere to be in and I feel very comfortable with my co-workers.

On a more serious note, I would have to say communication with the administrative is a little more difficult than my previous employers. It is mostly likely due to the language barrier and the ways of running a business. I am very used to organization, and strong communication. At BAI, I have to work harder to reach those end goals which is not necessarily a bad thing. It has required me to be patient and to accept the differences between two different businesses. So far, I have enjoyed my time at British American Institute. It has been a big part of my experience here studying abroad and I am extremely happy I decided to do an internship. 
In case you didn't get the message, food is very important here. The french live to eat, not the other way around. To put it more eloquently this is their motto "les français vivent pour manger pas mangent pour vivre". 

Therefore this leads me to talking about food. Tried FOIE GRAS (duck liver) tonight. Hmmm, what to say about it...well, it was kind of gross. I can't describe the taste but the texture was paste-like and it was a pale ugly looking pink color. Not my cup of tea. At least I tried. What's next, brain? No thanks...

Learned something new today: another word for intestines in french is les fraises. Yes, fraises but most certainly not the fruit. You know, the small sweet red fruit with tiny black seeds? Yup, not that one.

Anyways, here are some french idioms that involve food. Some of them are quite funny:(there's a literal translation but also its meaning):
1) Il y a une couille dans le potage: there's a testicle in the soup: there's a major problem
2) Elle casse les bonbons: she's breaking the candy: she is a pain in the ass, she gets on my nerves
3) Manger son pain blanc: to eat white bread: everything's going well
4) Les carottes sont cuites: the carots are cooked: game's over
5) Raconter des salades: to tell salads: you're telling lies
6) Quand les poules auront des dents: When chickens will have teeth: It will never happen (chicken don't have teeth, get it?)
7) Il ne faut pas bedre le peau de l'ours avant de l'avoir tué: It's not necessary to sell the skin of a bear before you kill it: Don't get ahead of yourself. 
8) Passer du coq à l'âne: to jump over a rooster to a donkey: to change from one subkect to another
9) Mettez les doigts dans le nez: Putting your fingers in your nose: being a jack of all trades

The last ones aren't food related but I thought they were entertaining nonetheless. I guess you can say french and american idioms are one of a kind. 

Anyways, going back to food I made dinner for my host family tonight. The main meal was quiche with broccoli, mushrooms and bacon. Then there was an accompanying walnut and apple salad. Yumm! Finally for dessert, I made Mexican wedding cakes or Russian Tea cakes. Everything turned out great and my family seemed to enjoy it! Even the little one seemed to enjoy my endeavors, as evidenced by the crumbs on his face.

I think I am slowly gaining the approval from the french with my cooking well, more so baking skills. Question of the semester: Will I earn the respect of those who belong to a country that is known for its world renowned, 5-star cuisine? We shall see, won't we?

Lately, I've been in a random baking mood and thus far I have made date bars, banana nut bread, Russian tea cakes, no bakes and chocolate thumb print cookies. Next, I plan to make a coffee cake, some sort of pie and lastly christmas cut-out cookies! If you have any baked goods suggestions comment below! Baking in France is a science experience and a wild bet. You never know what you're going to get in the end. The conversions are crazy and the ingredients are different or don't exist here...for example, tightly packed brown sugar. Impossible to find. Luckily, everything has turned out good so far, no complete fails unless you count my sad mac and cheese :( Although, I have claimed redemption with my baked goods!

Today (12/6/12), we had a bake sale for hurricane sandy. FYI bake sales do not exist in Europe. They are a foreign concept. Our stand was in front of the political science school and cathedral. We were hoping to catch some susceptible customers that looked hungry. We had a few french people stop by which was nice but other than that it was mostly American students and the faculty at IAU. Nonetheless, we made around 75 euro which wasn't too bad! 

I've been asked multiple questions about what I miss from home. I miss convenience. In the US we practically have everything at the tip of our fingers. What I have discovered is, I need to buy certain items at many different places. I can't find all my baking goods or cooking supplies in one grocery store. It becomes a pain and of course takes up time. This is a typical american attitude and way of thinking. Convenience and efficiency. Food wise, I miss spicy foods soooo much. The french lack spices!! Such a shame since their food is the crème de la crème (pun intended). I feel like french food in some ways lacks variety in tastes and spices. The way they cook their food and dress their food is phenomenal. I will have to give them that. However, my taste buds are lacking variety :( I also miss chili, tacos, good spaghetti (not italian good but your typical american homemade spaghetti), a hearty breakfast that includes pancakes, eggs, bacon, fruit etc. I miss peanut butter...especially peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!! What I'll miss from france is the fresh produce (aka delicious to-die for peaches), vegetable oil, the olives, the different arrangements of food, and of course the cheese!! I guess I can't have the best of both worlds unless I miraculously gain a superpower that allows me to be in two places at once. 
Sorry for being MIA these past few weeks. Will update on fall break shortly! Been busy with traveling the world and work. Any who, today was a great day. I woke up in a fantastic mood! It was gorgeous outside. Sunny and mid 60's!!

Today, I had a moment of insane nostalgia and it was very refreshing. I walked ALL over Aix, north, south, east, west and everything in between. Went to the market bought some fresh produce. I gave the vender the exact change and he was very content. We exchanged smiles and seemed to make each other's day. It's true that a genuine smile really does goes a long way. Next, I  looked around at the clothing sales and couldn't help but smile to myself. It felt like my first week all over again. It was an amazing feeling to rediscover and renew an experience. I was becoming too complacent and fortunately today revitalized all the feelings I felt the first week! My curiosity and appreciation towards Aix returned, all my problems and worries temporarily froze and were forgotten.  

In addition to this beautiful day, I literally laughed out loud because I saw some dude trip on the stairs. He wasn't very graceful and the good thing is he started laughing too. I couldn't help but laugh. I appreciate those small funny moments. 

At dinner tonight, my host brother was a devil and an angel. As the french say, "il faisait des betises". He was causing all sorts of havoc, getting into everything. First it started with throwing  his toys, then pulling the curtains, then splashing water all over the place, then putting food in his water. It never stops. After dinner, he was an angel and his charming little self. He began singing this song called "les poissons dans l'eau". Of course, he sang the chorus but then sung these random tunes and unrecognizable french sounds. I now know he can sing the vocal scales as evidenced by tonight. The cutest part was when he started doing the motions to his made up words! To end this great day, Elliot called me "Bet ta num", he said "bonne soirée be ta num". Both my host family and laughed at that! 

As I said, what a great day. Nostalgia is a good thing and I hope I can continue to feel these same sentiments for my last month here. What an unbelievable experience I've had so far. Despite the bad, good, ugly, sad, happy and everything in between. Je t'adore Aix. You're my home away from home.
In case you haven't noticed, I haven't been upgrading my blog that consistently. My apologies. I've just been so busy. School is a big pain in the ass but I need to graduate so I have no other choice.

Anyways, I have been in France for one month and two weeks! Where has the time gone?? I'm running out of time and money wahhh :(

I love Aix. This has become my home away from home even though it's so dang expensive to live here. I'm already feeling nostalgic about this area and I don't want to leave!!

In regards to my french, I think I am slowly improving. My comprehension has improved by ten fold!! Speaking is still average but it may be better than I think. If you don't know me, you should know I am hard on myself. So my ultimate goal is to become fluent and work on my accent. I have 2 months left to give it my all.

No more English for me, sorry beginner frenchies.  It is not helping anyone unless I'm at my internship. I'm going to be fully devoted to living french 24/7. No hablo inglès, je parle pas anglais. 

Donc, je vais écrire le reste de ce message en français et si vous voulez savoir ce que je dis, demandez à quelqu'un ou utilisez "google translate". Bonne chance!

D'accord, voici mes plans pour voyager. J'ai des vacances de l'automne donc je vais visiter Londres, Prague, Budapest, Milan et Barcelone. Après ça, je vais voyager à Paris, Berlin, Bruxelles et Londres encore. Mon dernier weekend à Aix sera triste mais le plus amusant que possible!! Cela sera la fête de noel et j'ai entendu qu'il y aurai de bons soldes. Je ne peux pas attendre!

Par la fin de mon séjour, je serai fauché :( mais je suis en France alors, Carpé Diem ou Yolo (je vraiement déteste cette phrase) ? J'suis si contente que j'étudie à Aix. J'vais vraiment me profiter de tous! Je toujours garderai un esprit ouvert!

En ce moment, j'avais beaucoup appris de moi-même et bien sûr les autres. Je devais ajuster d'enivronnement, économiser, balancer l'école et mes loisirs, faire un stage et beaucoup d'autres choses. Donc ça prend de travail et de la discipline. 

S'il y a quelqu'un qui a envie d'étudier à l'étranger, faites-le sans hésitation! Vous ne regrettez-rien. Je vous promets. 

Je dois admettre que les Etats-Unis me manque un petit peu mais je vais retourner un de ces jours.

Alors, bonsoir tout le monde. Je vais me coucher.




Lyon is probably my favorite city I've visited so far. It was gorgeous, historic and eventful to say the least. Let me start off with the very beginning...

Actually, let me first say this. I had no idea what to expect of Lyon. To be honest, I didn't do my research beforehand and I've never heard that much about Lyon. I was pleasantly surprised though :)
Now, I'll recount my adventures .

Our train to Lyon was at 6:30am. I woke up at 4:30am. Not fun. We decided to meet at the Rotonde (big fountain) to catch the bus to the TGV station. As I was waiting for my friend, I get harassed twice by this weirdo.  Luckily, there was a big group of older adults who came to my safety. I am forever grateful to them! I think he was mentally ill but he was fucking weird. Lesson learned. 

Want to know how to say fuck off? Vas-y, casse-toi.

My friend finally arrives and we head to the TGV. We see a sign that says 6:24 Gare de Lyon and we assume that's our train which came 5 minutes early. NOPE!! Boy were we wrong. Once we're on the train, we realize it's a train to Paris and not Lyon. Merde. 3 hours later we arrive at Paris-Gare de Lyon. It was kind of funny at the moment but not after buying a ticket back to Lyon.

2 hours later we're finally in LYON!! Phew.Not gonna lie, I was kinda disappointed when I first saw the city. It was super modern, similar to a US city. Wasn't what I expected at all. I expected narrow streets, a city full of rich history, beautiful architecture, cafes and restaurants etc.  When we got to our hostel called the Cool & Bed, I was a little bummed. It wasn't the greatest area and I had no idea where the people were. It seemed deserted. The hostel itself was really nice and it was clean! The people who worked there were friendly and extremely helpful. 

Don't worry, it only gets better from here. Once we drop our stuff off, we decide to go to Old Lyon to eat. We find this cute little cafe and I order a delicious Quiche Lorraine and my friend orders a galette. We then walk through Vieux Lyon and it is gorgeous!! Take a look at my fb album. This was what I was expecting! The narrow streets, cobblestone, ancient buildings, delicious odors, quaint boutiques, lively restaurants, and an energetic atmosphere! We somehow meander uphill in a private neighborhood. There's a school, french children and private houses. There was a gorgeous view of Lyon from above. In this location I have to make 2 observations: 1) these people are skinny because they walk up this enormous hill everyday 2) these 12 yr girls look like they're 18...everyone is gorgeous, older looking and skinny. It made me feel super self-conscious. 

We then descend this enormous hill and take a long needed break along the Rhone River. It was very peaceful and relaxing. A moment I will remember for a longgg time. After that, we head back to our hostel to take a nap, unwind and get ready for the night. We had no idea what to do so I decided to ask the people at the hostel where the "hip" places were. He suggested going to Old Lyon since it has a lot of bars, pubs and restaurants. So that's what we did. We went to an Irish pub. Note to self, it's not fun when it's just the two of you and you have no other friends. I really wish we had french friends at that moment. 45 minutes later we left to go back to the hostel in order to get up early tomorrow for the next day.

Day 2 lots of funnnn
So Steph and I, decide to buy a student pass for 17€ which allowed us free entry in all museums and free transportation! Whatta dealll. We came up with a list of places we wanted to visit. We first went to the Beaux Arts museum which had amazing paintings and sculptures. It was huge but great! I recognized some impressionist artists. I can't wait for the Louvre in Paris! This museum was located in the section between the two rivers. This area was fantastic and later that night we would return to it. 

Next we went to a Cinema and miniature museum. This had real life props from Hollywood movies like Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, CSI, any space movie and any horror movie. It was really cool!! They also had these miniature real life replicas. There was a scene from the 1950s, a street scene, a barbershop, a library etc. So much detail and everything looked real except in miniature form. I give those artists a lot of credit! 

Then we attempted to find "China Town" and yes the quotations are necessary because when we finally found it, it was one lonely street. I didn't see any crazy crowds of asians. I did not see any hanging ducks in the windows. Basically, it was a complete FAIL! Such a disappointment. I was expecting something grandiose like the one in NYC or in Philly. Apparently, Lyon has the 3rd biggest Chinatown in France...that's complete bullshit.

After that, we decided to head across town to the La Musée de Lumière or in other words the museum of cinematography! In fact, cinema was started in France in the late 1880's and it originated in Lyon! How cool is that? Anyways, there was this big hype about this museum. Everyone said it was exceptional and a must see. I'm not disagreeing with them but it wasn't AS exceptional as they said. It was pretty cool but a little bland. I guess I didn't appreciate it enough, but those of you interested in Cinema should check it out sometime! 

Our last tourist place we went to was on top of The hill. When we went to Old Lyon we saw a gorgeous church on a hill and that's exactly where we went. We took the funiculaire like the one in Quebec. The church on the outside was absolutely gorgeous but not so great in the inside. They were doing construction which tainted its beauty. However, there was a really cool clock structure with all this detail and mechanical animation. It was pretty nifty. Next, we saw a great site! It was a Gallo-Roman amphitheater! It was awesome, beautiful and history filled!! The theater was almost completely preserved, there was an amazing view of Lyon from the top. I don't know how else to describe it but it was fantastic! I would definitely go back!
After that, we decided to walk down that enormous hill we came up. Took us about 15 min not too bad considering the hill was practically vertical and windy. Anyways, we went back to our hotel-a different place than the hostel. The hotel was called Hotel de Normandie and it was in this rinky dink section of town. Luckily, it was near the metro so easy access to transportation. We head back to the area by Hotel de Ville and decide to eat at this quaint cafe/restaurant right in front of the beaux art museum. It was a beautiful night but chilly. Our waiter was very fun and cute too ;). He tried to speak English with us and definitely mocked our American mannerisms. He was a lot of fun. The food was just as good too. I had this Mexican salad and it was the spiciest salad I've had in my entire life, no joke. My mouth was on fire!! My friend got penné au thon (tuna pasta) and it was scrumptious. We then decided to ask our lovely waiter a good place to go out. He suggested Ayer's Rock which is an Australian Bar. He bluntly said "you Americans will like it" and guess what, we did! It was a great atmosphere. I had some exotic colored shot and some cider. And of course I danced my butt off! Unfortunately, we had to leave early in order to catch the last train because apparently the metro in france does not run 24/7. We were not going to walk 30 min in the cold. All in all the day and night was fantastic and eventful! I would call it a grand success!

I loved Lyon and will definitely return one day. If you study abroad in France or any where in Europe, I suggest visiting this wodnerful city. It's definitely underrated compared to Paris.