Adventures in Yonderland

A log of my adventures, both real and imagined.

Archive for the tag “study abroad”

In the End There’s Only Love

Well my time in France is done for now and I am back home. As we all know, I will never forget my time there and it is so bitter-sweet to be home. I made some pretty fantastic friends. Friends from different countries, different states and all with the most wonderful views and experiences. I think that might be the hardest part about leaving. Leaving all those wonderful, fantastic people.

What isn’t hard is leaving French University. And that’s the last time I complain about it here! Because I will also miss just how jank the Fac des Lettres was. I doubt I’ll go into a building like it again!

I’m also going to miss this. My home street. The place I walked up everyday for a year. Cobblestones, a sketchy shisha place and the strangest lingerie shop I’ve ever come across.


France, I’ll miss you. My friends, I will miss you more.

p.s. culture shock is really gonna suck.


A Quiver of the Ending

Two weeks of classes left before two weeks of break and then two weeks of finals. And then home.

But it’s interesting. “Home,” evasive as it has been for me the past four years of my life, seems never to stop shifting for me.

When my parents came to visit, I noticed that this place has become my home. I’m not a tourist here. I do touristy things sometimes, but even then I return home to Aix. And that’s the thing about study abroad I most definitely didn’t think about or anticipate.

I’m not just a student. Or a bystander. Or “an American.”

I am a resident.


Not really. However, I won’t leave you all behind either.

Today I had 7 hours of class in French starting at 8am with a 1 hour break at noon. During which I did not eat because I had no money on me. Awkward.

Yesterday I ran around between 5 hours of class and my dinner family which while busy, was wonderful.


…A series on “The Fac” and the French education system. Pictures of a most interesting sort to be included.


I’m back to the horror that is the French education system. And before I go any farther, I will say that it probably isn’t a horror for the french. But for me, an English-speaker and an American, oh boy.

The problem is that the philosophies about education are almost fundamentally different. And while I thought “oh, learning is just learning, how could I ever have a problem?” I have quickly come to realize that learning is not just learning. At least as far as grades go. Because if you don’t know what answer is being asked of you, how in the world are you going to answer the question?

It goes like this. The French are ridiculously specific. For example, in a final on Modern History, I received a question somewhere along the lines of “the relation between the king and war in the modern era.” So I dutifully explained everything I could possibly think of about that. I gave several examples for specificity and clarity and in the end my teacher said, “stop giving me examples and be more specific.” I just looked at her and was like, what? She was like, “what do land and power give you?” Still confused, I responded “security…” and she was like “Yes! That’s what I’m looking for!” And then I became really confused.

It’s just a completely different way of going about things. And while it probably works great for the French, I don’t imagine I’m going to figure out this magic code fast enough to actually do well on any of these finals. But I also think that’s okay. Because I’, learning a hell of a lot more than I would be back in America. Where I will never complain about school again.


I’m there. ­čÖé

I’ll have a post on Lyon, finals and all the small little strange quirks I’ve been slowly digging up in the USA soon.

But right now it’s time for family.

Also. There is snow. BEST DAY EVER!

On my Way Home

Well almost. Leaving Aix for the good ol’ United States on Friday. I’m excited, I’m exhausted and I have no idea how I’m getting all the stuff I want to bring home in my suitcase! Still, I am definitely going to miss my soup-in-a-box, cheap local wine and this for two weeks.



Five Lessons

So I’ve only been in France four months. These are five things I’ve learned:

1) Just because I live on a mountain doesn’t mean your beach isn’t awesome. Meaning that just because I’ve taken the “high ground” (let’s just say that according to Wikipedia, “Due to a law dating from 1872, the French Republic prohibits performing census by making distinction between its citizens regarding their race or their beliefs.” Which sounds great, but kind of, you know, hides any possible racism you could cite with statistics) doesn’t make me necessarily better than you. We’re just different. That said, New Orleans floods.

2) Whatever intelligence is, I guarentee you can’t define it. In Cognitive psych we talked about how memory is exponentially cumulative (thank you schemas), so me and my intelligent self won’t get as much as someone who’s studied the subject more for no other reason than they have more experience in the area. Plus, take a test in a different language and you tell me about intelligence.

3) Food is magic. I can’t express to you the power of daily, fresh baguettes and soup. If God gave man soul Nyquil, food would be it. And the best part is, everyone has their own. And we all get to share it.

4) Music is magic. I would go crazy without music here. It’s a home. Like books, but even those are like a cramped little hut when you have to read them in French.

5) If you’re constipated you either: have not consumed enough water, have not been eating enough fruit/vegetables/whole grains, are stressed out and need to chill, or some combination of the three.

So basically, sit back and relax. Accept difference and embrace both it and your own quirks without considering one better than another. Eat good, whole food. And take time to listen, hydrate, eat and relax. ‘Cause too many people die on the toilet.

Some stuff

Well, as the Egypt* collapses around one of my best friends, I can proudly the other has possibly come to my aid. Let me just briefly say that one of the most difficult things about studying abroad is what happens when you get back. In this case, housing. Because I can’t a) go find a place to live (although thanks to the internet I can help a bit), b) meet a possible roommate or c) negotiate with people I was hoping to room with so everyone’s hunky-dory. Anyway, that’s all I really have to say about that.

ALSO of note, scheduling round two. Oh yes. It’s just as much of a nightmare as round one. Except this semester the classes are better! AND I will not be taking clinical psychology because now I know what I’d be getting into and no thank you.

For those of you who don’t know anything about John Green or Crash Course World History, I’m currently obsessed. Not just because the man is hilarious, but because it’s really good History. Really. Remember all the stuff you learned about how awesome China or the Middle East was once? No? Yeah, exactly. You should check it out.

Oh look! I even made it easy!

Another obsession y’all may be interested in is this beautiful gem:

I should mention I didn’t start with #1 because you can see the title which has a curse word in it and being an open internet forum of sorts, I thought I’d make a toss at responsibility despite the fact that I’ve just posted a video of drunkenness…my priorities my be slightly out of order, but I do what I can.

And lastly, it is my favorite time of year. A time that only beats Thanksgiving because I can play the theme-song for a whole month and not be considered strange or out of place: Christmas. And props to my family for helping me feel a little more at home. Love you guys.

*This is a drastically oversimplified statement with many complicated aspects I’ve chosen not to delve into, partly because I’ve been told that media sources aren’t very accurate in the reporting of the current events in Egypt and partly because to assume I know what’s even remotely going on in Egypt is really arrogant and Western of me and I’d rather not.

Thanksgiving: Round Two

So last night I went to a great program called “La Cave” which is an international exchange program hosted by a catholic church and which takes place…wait for it…in an old olive cave. And when I say “cave” I do mean “cave.” This thing is really tight. It’s artificially made, but the place has to be hundreds of years old. I’m pretty sure there’s some gypsum seeping out of the walls. Wow. Tangent.

ANYWAY, they had their Thanksgiving dinner last night and as part of it they did two special things: 1) A friend of mine and I were asked to present on Thanksgiving to kind of explain what it’s all about. Because, as I said before, people outside the US really don’t understand. 2) Everyone was asked to write something they were thankful for on a post-it and then put it on the wall around a nicely-made turkey decoration.

And I was really struck by something. The girl I was siting next to wasn’t “croyant” which is a much more beautiful way of saying that she doesn’t really do the whole God/religion thing. And this is actually pretty common in France. Two world wars on your home turf really doesn’t help your faith in God. But what I found interesting was that she was like “I don’t know what to say on my post it.” And I just looked at her. Because for me, giving thanks is about as easy as breathing. I mean. Right now I’m awake, alive, have access to food and water, am in France, have a loving and largely healthy family…the list goes on. But it made me wonder if maybe there are a few things in religion that people miss out on when they skip it. Being thankful sounds strange to a “non-believer” because, well, who are you thanking? But being appreciative of what you have and recognizing what is truly wonderful in your life. That’s a wonder I don’t think people should skip on.

Having a “Ball”

So yesterday I went to a ball.

Okay, it wasn’t quite a “ball” in the traditional sense. Actually, it was like a club. Except it was spread out over the campus of a school. I think there were six rooms with different music? Live Rock, “Disco,” traditional “club” music, salsa and honestly that’s as far as I got. BECAUSE, the live rock was TOO COOL. I’m not sure I can express how much fun it was to listen to French people playing “Sweet Child of Mine.”

Which leads me to my next tidbit: The weirdest stuff that happened to me last night (least to greatest, of course).

1) Old people. Yeah. So there were a lot of like, adults there. Like A LOT. I saw a gray-haired man in the Club room. Which was just kind of like, “Um…okay.” It’s France. Go figure.

2) Peeing in public. Yeah, so before y’all freak out let me just say that this is what happened. They had like this bathroom hut with tarps in the back of it that were pretty open. But you’d just walk to the back, walk up to this wall of falling water and, well you get the idea. So strange.

3) The nipple guy. So we were dancing in the Disco room and this guy just comes through and on his way past, twists my nipple and tells me I’m cute. I will say it took me a good five minutes to replay what he said to figure out that he said “mignon,” so much confusion. One minute I’m being polite, the next there’s a man touching my chest. I still have no idea how he was that accurate.

4) The french girls I was dancing with started making out with each other. I was just kind of like…well this is awkward. Now what am I supposed to do? I should also mention at this point in the night our group had gotten separated. So I was just like…um…and left to go find some friends to dance with haha.

5) And my favorite one of the night: French people singing “Stand By Me.” Wins the competition for both weirdest and best. So much great.

And that was my night. Spent dancing away with some really cool people. It was a lot of fun. I even made a friend just waiting in line to get in. Oh. And I got to dress up.

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