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Hello, hello. So the semester has finished and I am back in "Muh-rica." After this semester, I have learned many things. Such as that as much as I enjoyed my intercultural management class (until the case study we had to do), I never want to take another business class again and that I was completely mad for considering going to grad school to get an MBA. I still don't know what I'm doing with my life. Also, as much as I love Ryanair and their cheap flights, you're bound to have at least one semi-stressful experience with them, so ALWAYS get to the airport 2 hours before your flight because the ONE time you don't, you will inevitably have to wait forever to go through security or have the people at the visa check desk stamp the wrong side of your boarding pass and have to wait in line to have them fix it and then barely have enough time to get to the gate before boarding (true story). Let's see, what else, I've been to 7 countries this semester, no biggie. France, Monaco, England, Scotland, Spain, Belgium, and Italy. Although I would have to say that my favorite city was Brussels because of the unique beers, chocolate and of course waffles. Culturally, I think it looks unique too and has a good mix of art and dirty industrial type buildings, and looks a bit more original than all the other pastel colored buildings with ornate trims, native to Spain, southern France, and Italy. Italy doesn't have much to do after being there for a few days, but they have the best food in Europe, in my opinion. I was so excited to finally have REAL pizza and pasta. But I loved Joelle's (my host mom) cooking. The host family living arrangements worked out good and is definitely worth it if your host mom is a good cook. 
Soooooo, in a nutshell, this semester was a growing experience for me because I not only became more independent by planning a lot of trips (some of which going by myself), but also by being away from home for an entire semester. Back home, I go to school an hour or so away from my house so not coming home once a month was difficult to adjust to. But that's why they invented Skype and Facetime, which I fully recommend because it's free, and paying for an international phone plan (or even just a a sim card and minutes) add up no matter what kind of plan you have. Traveling abroad was definitely worth it for me, and getting to live in a new city and eat good French food and cheap good wine were nice too. But it's all good, and to anyone following my blog posts, I bid thee au revoir!



 

12/10/12

12/10/2012

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Hello there! So I just came back from Brussels, Belgium this weekend. My not long enough  weekend consisted of exotic beers, chocolate, waffles (surprise surprise), a music museum, the Grand Place, the Victor Horta Museum (for all you art nerds out there) and that peeing statue that the tourist shops have 4523626 little figurines of. and whatever else I cant remember at the moment. Below is a picture of the old school style bar I went to the first night, and I used the same photo for one of my photography class assignments, which is a really interesting class to take, if anyone reading this is coming for a future semester here. It was a grand ol' time and now I've got to start to do my final projects, and study for finals. Oh and I had my French oral exam today and did good because my random topic was French food, which is the easiest topic in the world to talk about in French for 10 minutes because it's easy to remember the most vocab words. Goodnight!

 
 
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So there is about 2 and a half weeks left in the semester and I am ready to go home. But not before going to Belgium next weekend with get some waffles and chocolate. Last weekend I went to Madrid because France was cancelled on Friday and I only skipped my business class on Thursday once so far, so I'm in the clear. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to pick up on my Spanish of 4 years ago and get by. Also, they speak a decent amount of English there so I was ok. It's very pretty there because there are lots of parks and art museums. To the left is me in front of the Royal Palace, which is basically the Versailles of Spain. I also went to the Prado Museum, and the modern art Reina Sofia Museum. The best part was going to the Templo de Debod (below) , which is a REAL Egyptian temple that Egypt gave to Spain as a thank you gift for some war stuff back in the day. There are palm trees and fountains near it. Best of all, it was free to go inside. It was my gift to myself, now that my interior design presentation is finished. 

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So yeah, my travel plans for the rest of the semester include the olive picking trip on Saturday, the IAU Vaucluse Excursion on Sunday, Belgium, and then Paris/Italy on departure day! Yes, I have caught the travel bug. Bye!

 

11/14/12

11/14/2012

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Hello! It's 10:57pm here and I am rather tired. I have been working my butt off on my interior design project all week because it's due on Monday. And I have been looking up flights to go to Ireland next weekend because my French class is cancelled on Friday. Word of advice to future students here: don't get stuck with a Friday class. I'm in French 101 because they make you take it here if you don't know any French coming in, and of course it's on a Friday. I've had to limit my travel plans because if you skip a class more than twice, they dock points off your grade. My fall break was rather fun; I went to Scotland and England. I did everything Beatles and Charles Rennie Mackintosh (if you're an art nerd, you'll know who I'm talking about). Flights to Ireland are expensive so I'm thinking Madrid. Ryanair, I will forever be grateful for you. My host mom served an epic cheese fondue dinner last night with meats and potatoes. Honestly, my host mom's cooking makes up for the fact that she doesn't speak English. Ah, back to work now. I don't know what else to say tonight. Bon Nuit!
 
 
Today I am beginning my fall break! I walked 45 minutes all the way to the bus station the go to the Marseilles airport to go to London. I will never doubt the importance of packing light in times like these because I am carrying a carry on bag and a checked bag. I ended up getting to the airport really early, but when it comes to having a $300 roundtrip flight on the line, I wasn't taking any chances. Not to mention RyanAir is notorius for being understaffed and charging fees left and right. So much for being a budget airline. 
    Anyways, this is the second flight that I have been on alone, the first being when I flew here at the beginning of the semester, so i am still a bit nervous. I can't believe that the semester is already halfway over already. I am homesick, I miss my bed, the fact that people speak English everywhere, and my life back at college. But the positives of being here are the travelling, and that my host mom is a great cook, even though she doesn't speak any English. 
    Last weekend I was in Paris, so I am still in the travel mode.It was fun, even though it rained most of the time. I went up the Eiffel Tower again, walked around the Latin Quarters and Moulin Rouge neighborhoods,went to Verseilles, and Notre Dame. Our hotel was near Sacre Coure; walking there at night and seeing Paris from atop the hill was a quaint new experience that i didn't get to do when I was here two years ago. The most unexpected part of the trip was having my black flats that were sort of already on the way out give out officially. So here I am, checked into the hotel on last Thursday afternoon; it's pouring rain out, and I'm going into every shoe store on teh block, to find a suitable replacement that i can actually walk in that is stylish and not over 80 euro. Things are so ridiculously overpriced here. But alas, Scott and Kris and I ended up getting upgraded to a 3 person corner room with a balcony because the other people in the 6 person room never showed up. Drinking 3 euro bottles of wine and listening to Billy Joel while relaxing on the balcony with the Parisian nightlife down below was quite pleasant I must say
 
 
.....and midterms are approaching next week! Today I stayed in and played catch up on homework, since yesterday I went on George's trip to La Ciotat and Cassis. For those reading this post who are looking to apply to IAU, George is a French guy in the area who organizes day trips for students for around 25 euro apiece. They are a great way to see parts of Provence that you normally might not know about or how to get to on your own. The water at the beach in Cassis is a wee bit cold to swim in, but it's definitely nicer than most American beaches.  The only downside was having to get up at 7:30am to get ready and walk 30 minutes to the Cezzanne Statue at the end of the Cours Mirabeau. But all in all, it was worth it.  


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Cassis! 
......Anyways to the next order of business, I'm going to Paris next weekend with my friends Scott and Kris. SO excited! After a bit of research, we were able to book a decent hostel and TGV train tickets to get there.  But before then, I have an assignment for my interior design class due. We're designing a library, and had to do a bunch of site research, site sketching, observe how people act in different social environments, etc etc. Next, we started to compile all our findings and photos into a book using Adobe Indesign. I've been working all day on it. It's kind of therapeutic in a way, since I essentially work in Photoshop, format text and images, and have my music on. 
So that's that. It's after midnight and I have a 9am clas

 
 
Today is Thursday September 20th. Currently in the library at I.A.U., frustrated that I haven’t been able get Internet anywhere on campus.  I just finished my French homework, which wasn’t too hard or time consuming, considering I can barely even make out the directions.  I guess I’ll have to wait to do my case study homework for interior design once I get home.  Anyways, so other than technological fails, I’ve had a pretty good time during the past few days. Tuesday night, I was the guest of honor when everyone went bar-hopping, because Grant and Jake wanted to celebrate my birthday (again).    I was able to find Abby and Scott and talked a bunch. Abby was nice and bought me a beer. She’s nice; I totally owe her one.                                                                                                                                                                              Fast forward Wednesday morning…… when I got to Interior Design studio and went out to go sketching the Cathedral Square, where I talked with McClain about laundry and what its like being an english major.  Finally, I walked home, where Joelle served an ah-mazing keesh with ham and fromage. I normally don’t like keesh, but almost everything Joelle has made so far has been delicious.  The night before, she had made duck, which I dipped in the hot sauce, along with her tomato and cucumber salad in that amazing balsamic vinegar mixed concoction dressing that she made from scratch.  Everyone was going to a party hosted by the French college locals, but I grew tired just thinking of the 30 minute walk it would take me to get to the carousel on the Cours Mirabeau. 
          Thursday morning……I. am. So. Tired. I woke up 5 times last night yet am surprisingly awake for running on 6 hours of sleep.  I ended up speed walking to Intercultural management but still made it there on time LIKE A BOSS.  I knew immediately that today was gonna be an awesome lesson because the other professor, Hillary, was teaching today and started talking about how she went to school for interior design and architecture but ended up teaching management.  I am definitely going to email her and ask if we can meet to discuss her experience in the field, and how she was able to make the transition into pursuing management.  The rest of the lesson was really fascinating; learning about the management structure from a sociological point of view was a breath of fresh air from the design heavy environment that I had been in for way too long.  It’s a relief to finally have “normal” textbook courses that don’t entirely take over my life like design did.  
                    After class, I ended up getting lunch with this girl Melissa who just joined our class, and told her my whole career confusion as to what I'm doing with my life.  She seems really cool and nice, and we were able to get to know each other over sandwiches from my favorite Boulanger down the street.  Turns out the lady ended up giving me an extra croissant in addition to my regular chocolate one. Maybe she likes me because I’ve already been in there twice this week. LOL. Yay for nice people in the world. Then Kristoffer came by and talked to us about hiking up Mt. St. Victoire tomorrow, which I am pumped for because not only does everyone here climb it at some point, but it’s also a fun way to get in shape.