Dumplings and goulash and whipped cream, oh my! Thursday, Jul 9 2009 

Wednesday morning Jaclyn and I woke up bright and early to meet Katie, Andres and Sarah to continue on our journey through Europe. Our flight left at 9:20 AM so we needed to be at the airport by 7:20, that was fun. The flight wasn’t too bad, Andres got a little motion sick but not horribly so and we didn’t even have to go through customs when we landed. That made me a little sad because I was wanting another stamp in my passport.

We got transport tickets and found the bus that would take  us into the city to their Metro system to get to our hostel/apartment. On the scale of Metros/underground travel I would rank Prague’s above London’s Tube but a little below the Paris Metro. It must be really deep underground though because the escalators in and out are ridiculous. I’m pretty sure they’re at such a steep grade that no vehicle could make it up and they have to be at least 3 stories and go crazy fast. It was interesting.

When we left the station we found our hostel pretty easily and got checked in. It’s by far the nicest accommodations we’ve had here. It’s more like a small apartment, with two bedrooms with beds for each of us, a bathroom with a shower and a small kitchenette. We were stoked. After unloading our bags we decided to go find lunch and to stop by the small grocery store we noticed along the way to get some food for the rest of the week. Grocery shopping in a foreign country where you have absolutely no grasp on the language is entertaining to say the least. We relied on pictures and basic recognition to make it through but I think we did fine.

By the time we got back to the apartment after shopping, mine and Katie’s friend Keegan, who is studying in Prague for about as long as we were in Paris, was out of class so we gave her a call. She told us she would take us to a traditional Czech pub where we could get good food and then she would show us some fun night activities for the rest of the trip. The dinner was incredible! Keegan doesn’t speak Czech either but way more people here speak English than in Paris so we were fine. We all had goulash, which was really rich gravy with cooked beef, and it came with flour dumplings on the side. The only strange thing was that the beef was topped with whipped cream. I wasn’t so sure about that but it ended up being really really good.

The pub was right down the street from Keegan’s apartment so after eating we went there to meet her roommates. They were super nice too and decided to come out with us for the evening. Keegan and Brooke knew of a really cool club right along the Volga river by the Charles Bridge. This bridge has been around since the 14th century, much like most of the city and the architecture. Even in the dark we could tell just how amazingly beautiful the ancient architecture is. I can’t wait to see more in the daylight!

Keegan ended up showing us two clubs and both were really fun. Between the two we got fried cheese sandwiches, which are apparently a Prague specialty. Just imagine mozzarella sticks on a bun. Catching up with Keegan was a blast, I hadn’t talked to her since school got out and we typically worked together several times a week so we had a lot to chat about. It’s too bad she won’t be around the rest of the week to show us more of the city but she’s taking a trip to Hungary, lucky brat!

So far I’ve got a good internet connection here so I’m going to try to keep up the blog. Because I’m using Sarah’s computer though I can’t upload photos. I promise to get those up once I get home though!

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The wheels on the bus hit every single hole Monday, Jun 22 2009 

Thursday we got up and went into class. The day was pretty mundane, except for everyone being antsy for the end. Our gang was headed to London, another group was going to the French riviera and yet another to Barcelona. Needless to say no one wanted to be in class.

After class we all set off in our separate directions for home because we all had to pack still and most of us had dinner with our families. Jaclyn and I got home and began packing. We knew we needed/wanted to pack light so that made it easier. I’m a speedy packer so when I finished I actually had enough time to check my email and make a few calls home. It was nice to talk to home and have things squared away before heading out.

Dinner was nice. Poor Colombe just got braces on Wednesday so she wasn’t really feeling like eating too much. Over dinner we told the Chalufours our more specific plans and when we’d be back and they told us to have a good trip.

Right after dinner pretty much we had to grab our bags and head out the door. The bus left at 11 so we had to be at the station by 10 so we had to leave our apartment by 9/9:15 because it was on the other side of Paris. Jaclyn and I made it in plenty of time and so did the others.

We waited until they called our route and then boarded. We were all prepared to go to bed as soon as we got onboard. Yeah right.

First off, the seats were incredibly uncomfortable. More uncomfortable than typical bus seats in my opinion but whatever. Then we would up right in front of a group of American law students heading to London as well. One guy in particular was super chatty. I think he kept us up for a good 3 hours.

Eventually we made it to customs and boy was that fun. Before they could check our passports we had to fill out a piece of paper saying where we were staying and where we were from because we were coming from a place with known cases of swine flu. I’m really getting sick of doing that.

After the questionnaire was done (finally) we got to go through a mini-interrogation by the board control. They wanted to know how long we were staying, where we were students, what we were studying, what we planned on doing in London, when we were going back to the States, what airline we were flying. It was awesome. Eventually we got through and headed off on the last leg to London, it was about 4 am. Hurray London.

So close I can smell the baguettes Monday, May 25 2009 

Okay, so I’m writing this post from the basement at Katie’s house as she finishes her packing and as I kick myself for forgetting my pajamas. Yes, that’s right, I forgot my pajamas in Belton. I suppose as things go, forgetting pajamas are probably the best possible thing to forget and at least I realized it here at Katie’s instead of in Paris.

Anyway, this time tomorrow I will be airborn. I’ll (hopefully) be asleep in my seat so I won’t be super jet-lagged when I arrive in Paris at 7:35 in the morning. From there I’ll be sharing a cab with Katie and Jaclyn to our respective host homes.

I don’t really have a whole lot else to say so I guess I’ll just sign off this post and hope I can get some sleep tonight despite my excitement!

The last days Friday, May 22 2009 

So with the days in the U.S. dwindling down I’ve been doing my best to say good-bye to everyone I can. I went back to my hometown earlier this week to see some family and some friends that I won’t be seeing again until July. It was really great to see them all, the only one I didn’t get to see was my newest niece…because she still hasn’t been born!!! I’ve been really hoping my sister would have the baby before I left but sadly that just isn’t going to happen. She’s soo close but still so far, I have a sneaky suspiscion she’ll go into labor on Monday around 2 pm (my flight time). I did get to see my 4 year-old niece graduate from pre-school though and I’m getting to spend a lot of time with my 3 year-old nephew and my nine month-old niece before I go.

Another exciting thing that’s happened in the past few days was the email I received from my host mother. Now I have a much better idea of what the family I’ll be living with for the next 8 weeks is like, the Chalufours have four children and live in a very “dynamic” neighborhood with lots of shopping. The coolest thing about M. et Mme. Chalufour, in my opinion, is the fact that both are editors! After Googling the company on Mme. Chalufour’s signature line I think she and her husband must be children’s book editors. I can’t wait to see what that’s like!

48 hours until I head to StL to meet Katie and Jaclyn and 72 until we all board the plane for Paris!

Une semaine Monday, May 18 2009 

The official, one-week countdown has begun. Although I don’t leave for Paris until Monday, May 25th, I head over to St. Louis next Sunday. My French class buddy Katie and I will be flying out of StL together.

Since my last post I have received my host family assignment.  For 8 weeks I will be living on Rue Bayen with la famille Chalufour. I haven’t been in contact with them yet, but according to IES, my host program, they are a married couple with children and a dog. While I love kids I’m not always the biggest fan of dogs so I guess time will just have to tell how that’s going to work out.

This last week is all about tying up loose ends before I head out. I’m sure it’ll be full of last minute runs to Wal*Mart to buy shampoo and triple checking my suitcase to make sure I packed my swimsuit and things of that nature. I’m also crossing my fingers that my oldest sister will have her baby before I leave so I can at least meet my new niece before I cross the Atlantic. As usual, I welcome any words of advice about Paris specifically or studying abroad in general.

Bonjour mes amis! Tuesday, May 12 2009 

As I am preparing to leave on my first trip abroad and beginning to get things around I realized this trip deserved a blog.

Here are the basics: the title of this blog, “Un poisson de l’eau” translates to mean “A fish out of water.” Which is how I’m expecting to feel upon arriving in France. I’m leaving on May 25th for Paris, where I’ll be living for just under 8 weeks as I participate in an advanced French language program. The credits from the program will complete my minor just be an all-around amazing experience!