Wednesday, September 26, 2012

sweet like Candy.

Life is full of waiting periods.

The last couple days I just did some reading for my classes, stopped by the bakery a few more times to indulge (which I’ve been doing WAY too much of), and just relaxing. I think my summer workload had finally caught up with me so I just wanted to lay there and read. And sleep. I’ll come back to that at the end actually.

This morning we left Paris for good. Soon after our meeting all thirty eight students, the four adults (three professors and one of their wives), the five children of the professors, and our bus driver Peter from ‘de Nederlens’ piled into the BYU labeled Elbobus and took off to Chartres, France. We were dropped off downtown and given a few hours to wander before driving to the hotel.

A group of us wandered through the Cathedral, which we will be getting a professional tour of tomorrow by a world-renowned tour guide. I can’t remember his name right now but apparently he’s been doing these tours for over fifty years. CRAZY! He’ll be awesome, I can feel it.

We walked around the back of the cathedral and there were these gardens that meandered down into the suburban area of housing. It was out of a movie, I swear. There was a small river that ran through the neighborhood, under the cobblestone streets. We came up to a little bridge that was under a weeping willow tree on a little island in the middle of the river. If you didn’t know this fun fact about me, my favorite trees are weeping willows. They are perfect.

We got food at some random 'kebap' place and it was SO GOOD. All this food here is just too good and it's worrying me. Mostly worrying me about my weight...yikes. We eventually made it to the hotel and had the opportunity to get settled in. A few of us girls played some outside games with the two youngest boys of our professors while their mom (our English professor) watched and just laughed. But anyway. We are basically being put into our rooms with different people at every hotel we’re going to. My current roommate and I bonded quickly by talking about boys for a couple hours. Typical, right? Tomorrow night we’ll be at a new hotel, with new roommates, in a new town or city. We’ll be at nine different hotels in the next 15 days. So I’ll be getting to know a lot of the girls in the group pretty well. Hopefully. Of the thirty eight students, three are guys. I’m not sure whether to pity them or consider them lucky.

 There were these cool fountain like things in front of a bunch of shopping streets that I decided I wanted a picture with.
Hide the thimble with these boys was ridiculous. They are too good at it.

Sidenote. Sebastien was so kind as to correct my spelling that the pastry I had the other day was in fact a “beignet”, not however I had spelled it. Just to clarify that.

Okay so my notes about this program is done for this post


I want to go back to the summer job I had and tell you a little bit about that, so either continue reading if you want, or not. I won’t be offended. Anyway, this past summer I had the opportunity to live with my sister in the Portland, Oregon area. She helped me get a job at a corporation that houses and employs developmentally disabled adults. Basically, I was an on-call caregiver.

For the last twelve or so weeks that I was there, I was working about seventy hour weeks—most of the shifts being thirty six hours straight. I did some of the most physically, mentally, and emotionally draining activities that I have ever experienced. I cleaned the houses, the worksites, I cooked meals for five other people, I made sure they were clean and ready for work every day, I made sure they were well fed and drinking enough, I worked my freaking butt off. And I loved every minute of it. I worked with some of the most wonderful people I have ever met. I loved that job—it didn’t even feel like a job anymore. I was helping them live their lives to the best of my ability. I did all I could so they could be happy and every single day I hope that I did enough. I hope that I was able to make their lives better because of what I was able to do for them. Within the past week, one of the clients that I worked with for those last twelve weeks, passed away. I wanted to take these last few sentences to think about her. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to work with that population and with this client. I will forever remember her. Her little hands that were always searching for something new, her laugh that would randomly ring out in the night, and her sweet little smile. Sweet, like Candy.

There ya go.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Life is too short to have negative feelings about anything—get over it.

Today, I did a whole lot of not much. A lot of people went to Disneyland Paris so there weren’t many people to go out and do things with anyway. I’ve seen all that my professors have asked me to see so now I can do more of what I want!

Soo today that consisted of sleeping in, going to the grocery store to pick up a baguette from the bakery, running to the Latin Quarter and picking up last minute souvenirs for my sisters and walking around Notre Dame again, just because I could, look up technical details for my Thanksgiving week trip to Ireland, getting distracted by youtubing (that’s a word right? I feel like it’s used enough that I can get away with it) Celtic Thunder, taking a nap, and in between it all, checking the constantly busy laundry room to use the hotel washing machine for all my clothes (which isn’t saying much because I brought a whole lot of nothing). I find it annoying when people post pictures about what they just ate.

But look what I had for breakfast! I couldn’t resist. That pastry is a begniot, I believe it's spelled. Basically a doughnut with raspberry filling. Soo good.

Seeing as that is basically all I did today, I will inform you of what is about to happen just in case I don’t have a whole lot of time to keep this page going for the next two weeks.

This Wednesday, we will begin the travelling portion of our program. We will be in a bus for a looong time. Can you tell I’m just so excited for it? It’ll be a party. Anyway, Wednesday, the 26th, we will be heading to Chartres, France just for one night and a tour of the area. Thursday, the 27th, we will be headed to Amboise, France for three nights where we will go on a tour of the Loire Valley and either Chateau d’Amboise or Leonardo da Vinci’s home depending on what we as students individually choose. Sunday, the 30th, we will head through Mont St. Michel for one night to Bayeux for two nights where we will have a tour of the Normandy beaches and visit a tapestry museum. That next Wednesday, October 3rd, we will travel to Rouen to see the Claude Monet Gardens and another site related to Monet that I’m not sure about. Later that day we will arrive in Abbeville for the night.
Salt and pepper shakers at a souvenir shop! I thought they were adorable, in a kind of extremely creepy way.

Getting bored yet? Sorry, it’s almost done! October 4th we will be visiting the battlefields of the Battle of the Somme and then travelling to Kortrijk, Belgium for the night. Try pronouncing that place, that’ll be entertaining for the next five minutes. It was for me at least. The 6th, we will be making our way to Ghent to see the Duke’s Castle, Cathedral, and a Van Eyck painting. That night we will have made our way to Leiderdorp, in the Netherlands to stay for three nights. Now you’re going to be saying that one out loud to entertain yourself for even longer.
During these days, we will be visiting museums in Amsterdam and seeing other sites in the area. On the 9th, we’re going to be travelling to Antwerp (also fun to say), visiting the Hague and Delft along the way. October 10th we will visit Brussels and on the 11th we will make the last stretch to LONDON!

Via Eurostar, in case you were curious. We will be residing at the BYU London Center, at 27 Palace Court. After using Googlemaps earlier today, I found that it is within blocks of Hyde Park and Portabello Road, which is going to be so awesome!

Anyway…that was really exciting, I know. I haven’t been having much luck in uploading videos on this thing so…here are some more random pictures that have been taken while in Paris.
Being serenaded on the metro. This happens more often than you'd think.

At the Opera house with Handel. We go way back.

Showing off how buff I am at La Conciergerie, with the lovely prison cell windows behind me.
 Just another room in Chateau de Versailles. Really though, there were probably seven rooms in a row just like this one.
Crowns and other headdresses in the Opera House.
Did I tell the story about the Lock bridge? I don't know exactly what it's called but that is what tour guide Sam called it. Couples come and put a lock of some sort on the bridge, usually with initials or something cute written on it and throw the key into the river underneath, symbolizing commitment or whatever. Cute, yeah? Except that the state has a job just for someone to come every two months to cut all the locks off. Some commitment, right?
There ya go.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

a professional ballerina.

Life is full of simplicities that we tend to either complicate or take for granted.

Saturday, the 21st, was a very random day. Another girl in the program and I went to a few of the last places we hadn’t seen yet that were “required” (as if we’d pass up seeing a lot of these places anyway…) to see. We found Les Deux Magots which is a café famous for being a Modernist poet haunt,

 rue de St. Antoine where the French Revolution kind of started, the Bastille which is at the end of St. Antoine and famous for the same reason,

the Salon de la Princesse which is just a room where a Princess lived—so it’s ridiculous. It had an ante-chamber, a card playing room, a room where she slept, a room where she just had her friends over to hang out and all of these rooms could fit half of my entire house in it. Like I said, RIDICULOUS. I couldn’t take pictures there though, as it was one of those places that don’t allow cameras.

We stopped for lunch at Le Bonaparte Café, which I didn’t get any pictures of, of course. My apologies. We went back to Musee Rodin (the picture above) and La Conciergarie because she hadn’t been to those places yet. But, as fun as all that walking and sightseeing was, which that was surprisingly not a sarcastic comment because I did enjoy it quite a bit, the highlight of my September 21, 2012 was meeting up with Sebastien Auget!

He stayed with my family years ago as an exchange student and had come back two years afterwards. It was the first time I was alone walking around in Paris yet I didn’t feel unsafe or anything of the sort. Besides, who’d mess with this? Let’s be real–I’d win in a fight. Anyway, we met up at the Jardin du Luxombourg and walked around, stopping at a cute little bar he likes, a restaurant for dinner, and a bookstore along the way.

We caught up on life, what we’ve been up to, future plans, just the usual. His English has kept up very well—he’s been reading a lot of books in English as to make sure he doesn’t get too rusty. His vocabulary is fantastic! His accent was a little thick at first but once we got going, it mellowed out, even though I could understand him for the most part anyway. And there he was, all worried about it. Sebastien, if you’re reading this, your English is superb. Keep up the good work! And if anything I say in the next few paragraphs doesn’t seem right to you, let me know so I can correct it. J

The bookstore we went to was SO COOL! It was just like Shakespeare and Company but smaller and had just as many books. It was run by a guy from Canada and so the majority of the books were in English. Except a copy of the Hobbit that was in Latin. It was tempting…but I didn’t buy it. The owner isreally kind and knows a LOT about books. I’ve been actually looking for a particular book for a few years now that I haven’t been able to locate and when I asked him about it, he said he’s never even seen a copy of it before. I felt really cool because I stumped him. Don’t tell him that though, he was kind of intimidating.

As we ate dinner (penne al salmon avec tomates, avec une coca et pour desserte, yaourt avec fruits—that was as intense as my French gets, and I’m not even sure if that’s right. Good luck with Google translate) we discussed ethical issues brought up in literature, the confinement of a personality by its language, general human behavior, and compared American vs. French education, just to name a few topics. Did I feel super cool eating outside at this fancy restaurant with a French man discussing all these philosophical ideas?

It was interesting talking about language with him, as he’s been to the United States a couple times now and this has been my first time out of the country and in an environment where English is not the dominant language. The idea of languages has been talked about within the group of students I’m with throughout the past week we’ve been here. Just that we basically are just giving noises and sounds meaning, making marks and giving them meanings to match up with the sounds we make verbally. Sebastien and I talked about the idea that we can only express ourselves within the spectrum given to us by our language—our ability to illustrate our emotions and thoughts is restricted, or opened up, by our language. He was saying that if you were to learn a language, say, of Tibet, your personality would be directly affected by your vocabulary. If you were to follow a stereotype in this example, you would have a tendency to be more peaceful and feel more ‘one of the whole’. I just thought that was worth sharing.

Hey look, random side of a building.

Another thing that was brought up, that seems redundant to say, but I found interesting anyway, was brought up through the topic of marriage. I was asking about the whole ‘five levels of marriage’ thing that Tour Guide Sam told us about (if I didn’t mention that before, he was saying that there are 5 levels of marriage in France, basically depending on the level of commitment and legality of the union) and that kind of blurred over into religion. He was saying that the majority of French people, obviously this being a generalization, don’t really believe in much of anything religious-wise, which is fairly inclusive of marriage. He said that if you don’t believe in something, it’s not going to mean anything to you. So then, for a French person who doesn't believe in it, why get married? (Fun Fact from Tour Guide Sam: Paris, the city of love or whatever, is 80% single/unmarried and the city with the highest rate of infidelity…followed by good old NYC). I just thought that was interesting to think about. That seems like such an obvious statement but I really liked it. Anyway.

Today, the 23rd of September, we had stake conference. Those reading who are not of the LDS religion, I’ll try and break it down for you. Members in the same area are put into a ward, which is a term we use for a congregation, and wards in the same area are a stake. It’s more organized than that, but hopefully you get the idea. Stake conference happens every so often and today was one of those times. Instead of meeting at the building we were at last week, we were to meet in Versailles. I hope your face was like, “Whaaa?” because that was my initial reaction. “Oh yeah, I’m just on my way to church in Versailles today. No big deal”. I’m the one that’s doing all this and I still want to slap myself across the face.

So a group of us followed a guy in the program who said he knew where he was going…well. He had gone to the Versailles ward last week and was just following those directions. That got us on the side of Versailles opposite of where we wanted to be. It was quite the adventure and I really enjoyed it actually. We were about forty five minutes late but I wasn’t too concerned. The walking around was lovely, the leaves are falling and it smells like autumn, my favorite, and the whole area is just gorgeous anyway.

So we caught about the last half of conference, which was in French so we didn’t get it too much anyway but still could definitely feel the Spirit, and then went to the palace to see a few of the places we had left on our list of things to see for classes. Like the Hall of Mirrors?

Way cool.

As a whole, the entire place was just like the other places we’ve been to—awesome.

This evening, a few people went to Notre Dame to attend Mass. Listening to the singing of the choir reverberating throughout the cathedral was so calming yet at the same time had an exciting invigoration about it all. I even sang along at some of the congregational parts (is it called a congregation? That was just me assuming—pardon my ignorance). I can say I’ve sung in the Notre Dame! Yeah, I can’t get over how beautiful Notre Dame is though. I hope you’re not sick of the pictures of her.

I’m obviously NOT.

AND THEN!! I got to Skype with my mommy, daddy, almost-but-not-quite 3-year-old niece, and sister-in-law. Except that my mom couldn’t figure out her video, so I really just ended up talking to them while my niece flicked my face on the screen. She loves me so much.

So, seeing as it is Sunday I thought it would be fitting to share a little thought. So yesterday as we walked all over Paris, my friend and I were getting to know each other a little better. She was telling me a story about how until about a year ago, she was going to be a professional ballerina. She had done ballet for years, was an exceptional dancer, and had already declared that as her major. As it would happen, Heavenly Father had other plans for her. Now she is no longer taking that route but feels good about the way she is going—better, even, than she did before with the ballerina thing.

That made me think of an experience I had earlier this year. Stick with me on this one. So a little background information; a common tendency for members of the church is to marry at a younger age. Somewhat unrelated until that trend, I have always planned on serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints when I become old enough, at age twenty-one. Basically I would avoid the dating scene until after I got back. Well, earlier this year I ended up dating, what felt somewhat seriously, an RM (Returned Missionary, the guys you should look out for so you don’t get hitched freshman year) and I kind of got freaked out. I wasn’t thinking “Oh, I’m going to marry this kid” but it was just the possibility that life could get very serious very quickly. And at first, that scared me. But soon after that anxiety set in, I was reading in my scriptures and came across a verse that of course I can’t remember now, but basically I took it as Heavenly Father has a plan for me. And it’s better than anything that I could come up with and it will make me the happiest. It was the way that I needed to learn that, shoot, maybe I won’t serve a mission, but whatever happens is what will make me the most happy in my life and that, with Heavenly Father's help, I can do it all. So no, I don’t think I will be getting married terribly soon, and I certainly haven’t ruled out serving a mission, but I know that I am open to alternatives. We’ll just have to see what the next few years have coming for me. Bring it.

There ya go.



Friday, September 21, 2012

gold leafing.

Life is in need of a few more fairy tales.

Today is the first day it has rained since we got here. It feels so good! It has been another full day of walking and metro stops. We headed out after our morning meeting to the Paris Opera house. Yes, please read that again.
The Paris Opera house.
Put together Beauty & the Beast, Anastasia, Phantom of the Opera, and a museum for theatre, and there you have it. There were costumes in the downstairs area from older performances, more extravagant than you can imagine. They had them on display, along with crowns and headdresses that were used as well. There was a hallway of pictures from people that had to do with the Opera and theatre and an area where the entire walls were shelves of books. And I don’t say that lightly—these walls were probably 2-3 stories tall. I think nearly all the older places we’ve been to have those monstrously tall ceilings.
            My favorite room in the place seriously felt like it was taken out of Beauty and the Beast. The ballroom—you know exactly the scene I’m talking about, where they dance and Mrs. Potts sings? You think it’s ridiculous that I’m referencing this right now but you are totally picturing it. And that’s what it reminded me of. This room was just smaller but I imagine they are very similar in how they look. The walls stretched up for forever up to the ceiling, the chandeliers were about four times the size as me and sparkled any time you moved your head, and nearly everything had gold leafing, making the entire room glow. Mirrors lined the walls, giving the illusion that the room was bigger than it actually was and a lot lighter.These pictures do not do it justice but they can pretend.

 Main entrance hall.
 Sorry about the extra skin bad.
My lovely roommate and me, showin' some sass with the statues.

We walked around there for a while just to take in the pure awesomeness. From there we went to the Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise, a famous cemetery that has the graves of Chopin, Wilde, Delacrioix, and many others. We walked around there, which took a while anyway because of its sheer size. It was just a beautiful place to be, especially since it is fall and the leaves are changing and falling. Heloise and Abelard are actually buried there as well, but since the whole place was so big we couldn’t find their graves.

Perfect weather.
I almost look like a student with that journal in my hand. Don't let it fool you, I'm not that studious.

[Funny story from today--one of the girls was eating one of those red wax cheeses, the round ones? I told her if she ate the wax too, I'd give her two euros. She is now two euros richer because of that. She'll be the go-to girl if I can think of any dares while we're out and about in London. Buckingham guards? I think yes.]
Two other girls and I then split off and went to the aquarium! It was actually really cool because it was a tropical aquarium and had fish from all over the world. It ended up being more fun than I thought it would be. I guess going to the aquarium every summer in Seattle helped me appreciate the one here.

It's like he was posing for me.

I feel like more happened today but I think that’s just because a lot of our time was spent walking, walking, more walking, and taking the metro. And a little bit more walking, but I think you get the idea. That was basically my day today.
 The actual concert hall.
If only, if only.

A group of people are planning on going to EuroDisney on Monday but seeing as that costs money and I’m not a theme park fanatic, I think I will be passing that up. Apologies to all who might find offense in that, but it is what it is. Besides, I’m holding out to save my money for Thanksgiving week where we have the whole week off, not just part of it. I plan on taking that week to travel to Ireland, whether or not anyone else wants to come with me. It is happening. I’ve already decided that. Now you can look forward to reading about that too! Get excited. I certainly am.

There ya go.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

with powdered sugar.

Life is full of opportunities we must take, regardless of the opinion of others.
I’ll get right down to it. We started this morning going through Notre Dame. We didn’t even have to wait in line because we got there right when it opened. It is MASSIVE! It’s not even that they ask you to be quiet while you’re in there, as to be respectful and such, but you can’t talk anyway. You’re soaking in every detail of every statue, of every pillar, of every fraction of light coming through the stained glass. Words can’t describe how it feels and pictures don’t do much better but I’m sure you want to see some anyway.

After that, our group of seven girls got in line as to go up to the top of Notre Dame. We split up and took turns waiting in line for when it opened. Two girls and I went and got ourselves crepes. Nutella and banana with powdered sugar—thinking about it makes my mouth water a little bit. One of my roommates and I walked over to the Latin District and looked at more souvenir shops. On our way back, we stopped by the front of the church to feed these small little birds that just hang out in the trees. I felt very Mary Poppins.

Well as we came back to get in line, the other girls had already gone up! So four of us had to go back to the end of the line and wait another 45 minutes to go up. It was so worth it though. There were over 400 steps and it was all narrow, steep, confined spiral staircases. The view was so breathtaking and we even got to see one of the original bells! They don’t use the bells anymore because they started to do structural damage to the church when they were rung. Apparently they have a recording that they play of the bells. Quasimodo would not appreciate that, I’m sure.

Heights are not my thing but it was definitely worth the view.

From there we made our way to Saint Chapelle, a nearby church with a LOT of stained glass. It was beautiful, like all the other buildings in the area.

We continued on our way to La Conciergerie, a government building that once was used partially as a prison. Marie-Antoinette was actually held there for a while when she was on trial. From there, we got lunch in the Latin District and ate in the park by Shakespeare and Company where the last performance of Dadaism was.

This evening two girls and I went back to the Latin Quarter with the intentions of getting a fancy dinner, but since we actually ate a full lunch (that had been the first time I had meat since the airplane last Friday) none of us wanted to get real food. So we went to Amarino’s to get gelato again!

But the actual shop instead of just a little stand in the middle of a park. We walked around for a couple hours and people watched. The night life here, even on a Thursday, is extremely entertaining. There was this really gangly, really old man eating lit matches and pulling razor blades from his mouth. Also, there was this guy;

 I tried to follow him to see him perform because every time we saw him, he was just talking into his microphone. He walks really quickly for having so much awkward equipment on him. It was actually quite impressive.

We also hit up Shakespeare and Company again! I got pictures of the inside of it this time.

This would be my "I don't get a lot of sleep so I have crazy eyes but I'm overly excited about all this poetry so I'm going to smile really big anyway" face.

One thing I do not like about Paris, which is saying something because I am enjoying it immensely, is the amount of smokers. You can’t go anywhere without inhaling a bunch of cigarette smoke and the butts are all over the place. Oh well, I’ll get over it.


Oh and we walked by this place. Again.

There ya go.