Sunday, June 27, 2010

I took this picture this morning--it's my view from my window.

It’s a lazy Sunday here in Avignon. The sun is hot and there’s barely a breeze so here I am inside, taking a break from reading Milan Kundera’s La Valse des Adieux. This morning I went to the local contemporary art museum with my host mother to see an exhibit of Spanish artist Miquel Barcelo’s work. Barcelo is well-known in Europe and his paintings and sculptures are something to see!
His scultpure "Elefant Deft" is installed right now in front of the Palais des Papes

I am still acclimating myself to life in Avignon and life in France. I’m constantly comparing my experiences here to those in the U.S. I live with the nicest family, a mother and her 14-year old daughter, and they are incredibly sweet and patient with me and my French. I eat my breakfasts and dinners with them and we usually end up talking politics, education, or about the differences and similarities between the US and Europe. Mme’s daughter is so cute and very smart. We practice our foreign languages together. She asks me a question in her best English, I respond in French and vice versa. She loves Gossip Girl and so do I so one night this past week we watched an episode together! I never realized how quickly the characters spoke until I watched it dubbed in French—mon Dieu! It’s fast!
School is going swimmingly. I’m taking an Archeology/Architecture class that focuses on the architectural history of Avignon and the surrounding areas in the Rhone river valley. So far it’s been really interesting! This past Thursday we travelled to Vaison-la-Romaine to study Roman architecture in situ—I studied remnants of a Roman street, complete with stores and a large house, where we spent most of our time. I’m also in an African literature class, which I love. We discuss colonialism and travel and personal identity as it pertains to colonized and de-colonized countries—good stuff!
Here's a view from the highest point in Vaison-la-Romaine. This city is so beautiful.

Perhaps my favorite part of life here is the fact that I’m speaking French nearly all the time. My classes are in French, I speak to my classmates in French, and of course, I speak French with my host family (they know very little English so I can’t cheat). I’m constantly correcting myself or being corrected, but I love it. I’m even reading for pleasure and writing in my journal in French! It’s marvelous.
Yesterday, Saturday, we went as a group to the beach! It was fun and relaxing. I swam in the Mediterranean Sea and sun-bathed for a few hours with mes amies.

Le sigh. It was perfect.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

All Day Day Light

My voyage to Paris was long and tiring and overall--extremely pleasant! I got off the plane, said au revoir to my new friends, an older Scottish couple from Vancouver, and made my way to the train station. I bought a ticket, hopped on RER B to Paris, and hoped for the best.
Paris is surprisingly easy to get around. I clung to my directions to my hostel and as I ascended the stairs from my last stop I felt a weight lift off my shoulders.
Paris is so beautiful and ugly and new and old. It's like the movies but it's also like a history class. My hostel was in Montmartre (the red-light district!) one block away from la Sacre Coeur.

I visited la Basilique de Sacre Coeur while I waited for my check-in at the hostel. It was a beautiful day, breezy and sunny, and there were lots of people, Parisians and tourists, out and about. I walked around the church twice to get a feel for it--it's huge and very ornate.
When I checked in, I met my three other roommates, all girls--one from Brazil, one from Canada, and one from Marseille (France). Brazil and Canada invited me to visit the Eiffel Tower with them that night, so I went!

The tower was magnificently gigantic! It was funny--most everyone I eavesdropped upon spoke English while I was there. The view from it is beautiful and it lit up right as we arrived. C'etait tres jolie.
The next day I took a free walking tour of Paris, which was so wonderful. It was in English but I jsut really wanted someone to show me around to all the sights. We went to le Champs Elysees, le Jardin des Tuileries, l'Arc de Triomphe, we saw le Louvre et le Pont Neuf and le Pont des Beaux Arts. I had a great time--I hardly believed I was walking around Paris.
That night I slept like a baby and woke up early the next day to catch my train to....Avignon!

This is Henry IV holding a light saber. Yes, it's supposed to be there.

Avignon, City of cobblestones: Caitlin's Host Family and Life in Avignon

Saturday, June 12, 2010

She's Leaving Home

Salut tout le monde!
I've been daydreaming about living in France for a few years now and it's finally happening. I'm leaving for Paris, France in approximately, um, 18 hours, and I thought to myself "Even though I haven't packed yet, now would be a great time to start a blog so my favorite people can keep track of all the adventures I have in France!" Genius, no?

Here are the basics of my trip:
I leave tomorrow for Paris. I'll spend two days there before taking a train to Avignon on Wednesday. Where is Avignon, you ask?

Right there in the Southeast of France!
I am spending six long weeks in Avingon with a French family while I take classes at the local university (l'Univeriste d'Avignon). Then! AFter the six weeks are over, I'm taking it to the streets and exlporing as much of France and the surrounding countries as I can. My plans aren't set in stone yet, but I hope to visit Nice, Lyon, Arles, Barcelona, Paris, and maybe even Germany.

This site will be a spot for stories about my trip, including what I eat, where I go, who I see and the things I do. Oh, what baguettes I'll have! My goals are to eat as much delicious French food as possible, speak as much French as possible, and learn to live life the French way, if only for a summer. Wish me luck (bonne chance)!

Up next on Voyage Collage:
THE PLANE RIDE, or: How I survived the longest plane ride of my life without jumping out a window or breathing into a paper bag for 13 hours--Caitlin's Story.