Katie' Pau Life En France

Ma vie En France

Pau, c’est fini! June 21, 2010

Filed under: Pau,Travels in France — katiespaulife @ 5:45 am

I ended my adventures in Europe with a USAC trip to Paris. My host mom dropped me off at the school bright in early and just as we were leaving the house I told her, “Je suis prete” with my suitcases in hand. She responded, “Tu es prete?” with a tone that seemed to affirm she knew I was more than ready to go home.


“Oui, je suis prete”.


Leaving Pau on the USAC bus,I seemed to be the only one who wasn’t torn. Girls next to me kept saying how bittersweet this parting was, well not for me. I smiled the whole bus ride out – Adieu Pau!


It was a good stay, but I don’t think I’ll ever return. There are so many other regions of France to explore!


On the way to Paris, we went through the Loire Valley. We toured two castles in the Loire and just before Paris visited Chateau des Versailles!



First Stop: Chateau Chenonceaux! Sitting on a river called: Le Cher – which translates to expensive = )





Coincidentally the same day we visited this place, it’s photo was the Bing photo for the day!


Below is the inside of the hall that straddles the river. The day was perfect. Absolutely perfect.



In addition to being built over the river, the castle had a moat, gardens and a labyrinth! Plus the forest behind the castle was full of lush green trees with the sun shining through….it was like something out of a movie. Vanessa and I almost expected Prince charming to come riding up on his white horse.




DSC03212 DSC03207

DSC03194 DSC03195


The castle has been inhabited by 5 queens, no men allowed!


And in the next picture we have one of the families who lived here. Does anyone else think this child looks demonic?



And to top it all off there were rabbit holes in the forest behind the castle. They were huge – no wonder Alice fell ; )




And there I go getting all picture happy again! I guess I have more than one blog left to write. Ahh well… I’ll get around to Paris eventually….


Homeward Bound April 25, 2010

Filed under: Home,Pau — katiespaulife @ 6:26 pm

Currently sitting in my hotel bed in Paris, France.My bags are packed, my clothes set out. Laptop and Ipod are charged for the airports and plane rides tomorrow. I will wake up at 3:45 AM, head off to the airport and be in Seattle by noon your time.


I felt like typing that out would help me wrap my mind around the fact that I will be home tomorrow. Home with my family, my own bed, fireplace, comfy couches and pets. Europe has been amazing, but being home after four months of travelling will be nice to say the least.


I am exhausted to my core. Mentally and physically drained, but in a good way. I soaked up as much of the culture as I could here in my last few days and although I don’t care too much for Pau (in case you couldn’t tell from my previous blogs), I am head-over-heels in love with Paris. I am already excited for my next trip and have planned out exactly what I want to see.


I can’t wait to write about what I have done here, but I’m too tired to type…and way to lazy to reread this, so please forgive any flaws in my grammar or spelling.  I will say that the highlights of the trip were seeing my friend Charles, going to a ballet at the Opera house and the Catacombs. This trip has been incredible and probably the most significant portion of my study abroad.


I am excited to write all about Paris, but right now I’m just going to put on some soft music, reflect a bit on the past months and fall asleep. It will be a loooong day tomorrow!


A bientot!


Last day in Pau April 20, 2010

Filed under: Pau — katiespaulife @ 9:04 am
Tags: , , ,

Woot! Last day in Pau!


I have been restless this past week, Pau is alright, but I am excited to see Paris again!


I was supposed to go to Nice last Thursday, but when I went to the train station to buy my ticket I waited in line for an hour to be told me there was no way I could get there. No trains are going to Nice, because of…..well you know why.

I was so disappointed. Aside from Paris, La Cote D’Azur was top on my list of places to see. Saved it for April so I could go to the beaches when it was warm outside.  Oh well…..guess I’ll just have to come back  ; )


I decided at the station that even if I couldn’t get to Nice, I had to escape Pau. What would I do here for a week?  I had already seen all of what little there is in this town, aside from a mall and a forest with trails I had yet to explore. So I bought a ticket to Marseille and my train was set to leave at 8:30 am the next morning.

It seems that I was destined to stay in Pau though, because for the second time in my life I slept through an alarm. I’d gone to bed at 8 pm the night before and set my alarm for 5am so I could finish packing, clean my room and shower before I left for the train station.


I woke up at 7:25!


I packed for a week in Spain in a rushed 10 minutes, but even if I pulled that off again I still wouldn’t have had time for the 10 min walk to the bus stop, the 20 minute ride to downtown and the 15 min walk to the train station. I was so angry at myself. Sleeping through that alarm = 80 euros down the drain.


Realizing I wasn’t going anywhere I skyped Elly and have been hanging out with her all week. It’s reminiscent of being a kid; I have no phone and set up a time and a corner to meet my friend at every day. Not to mention, I haven’t had this much free time since elementary school.


My bus pass expired in Ireland and we’re too cheap to pay for the buses, so we always walk wherever we need to go. I’m glad I got new shoes. I spend at least 3 hours walking each day and one day it had to have been more like 4-5. My legs felt like jelly by the end of it, but it is a good way to walk off the yummy French food. Speaking of which, for my last day here I decided to walk to a bakery to get a pastry for breakfast. Settled on this guy:


pastry 001 


Oh and I feel like I’ve mentioned Elly in every blog lately! I haven’t forgotten my old friends. I walked to the univeristy to have lunch with Ravid and Sarah yesterday. I will miss them! Ravid said if I ever come back to France, to call her, even if we haven’t talked in 10 years. She also gave me a bracelet she bought in Israel! She went back to visit these past 2 weeks.

Pau 2nd Half 002 


These 2 ladies bid me adieu and told me to be young and crazy while I can! I am pretty certain they will be young and crazy their entire lives….they are both 5 years older than me and much crazier!


Last night I went to Kawita’s for dinner. One final delicious Thai meal….


Pau 2nd Half 004


There were 11 people there and afterwards they all went to a goodbye party for another USAC student afterwards.

I thought it would be a but awkward if I tagged along for that so I went home, I needed to ask my host mom for a ride to the school Wednesday morning…something I had been dreading all week. I hate asking for rides, but the walk is an hour, there are no buses and I will have my giant suitcase with me.


The sky was so beautiful last night – so clear!


Pau 2nd Half 019


Today I am going to finish packing, clean and say goodbye to Elly, then Kawita, Rebecca and Hiroka. I leave at 7 am tomorrow for Paris!


Ready to go home April 16, 2010

Filed under: Pau — katiespaulife @ 8:05 am

USAC had a goodbye luncheon yesterday. Not everyone is going on the Paris trip, so this was the last chance for everyone to be together one final time.

Before the lunch there was an optional group viewing of the Picasso exhibit at le Musee des Beaux Arts.  The museum overall was pretty cool, but the Picasso exhibit was really small and the entire thing was sketches of bulls. Were they Picasso’s favorite animal? Or perhaps Pau’s museum wanted some Picassos and got the response, “Okay, we’ll give you some….but only the ones with bulls”. It was kind of strange, but interesting nonetheless and I liked many of the ceramics and sketches more than other Picassos I have seen. In fact to be honest, this was the first time I’ve ever seen a Picasso I liked. Guess it is a good thing I’m not an art major.

I do have the tendency to not take art very seriously though. Elly is the same. We always seem to have some good laughs at serious paintings and we were the first ones out of the USAC group to finish touring the museum. We thought lunch wasn’t until 12:30 so we went to a cafe to pass the time and showed up right as the clock struck.


Unfortunately, lunch had actually started at 12 and we were the jerks who walked in late. The advisors were nice about it, but we still felt really bad! Plus being the last 2 in the room, we had to sit at a table by ourselves. Reminded me of my first week at ECHS!

On the way home (she is coincidentally the only student who lives close), Elly told me that people keep asking her, “You probably aren’t ready to go home yet are you?” and she hates responding, because the answer is, “well actually, I really am”.

I couldn’t agree more. France has been fun, but towards the end, something seems to happen each day to make me miss the US more and more.

It all started with the trip to Ireland. Just being back in a country where they speak my language was so comforting. Then came Spain where I felt even more lost than I do in France. I had a horrible metro experience there that is kind of a long story, but basically some chick pushed me out of the way after I used my metro ticket, thus stealing my entrance and I got in trouble for trying to get through anyway. Of course there was no one around who spoke English and I ended up looking like a thief.

Did this lady just decide she would never pay for the metro again by pushing people out of her way or what?

Now back in France I can’t go anywhere because of the strikes and I’m just sick of the general public. I’ve mentioned before that people stare at me and it has begun to get on my nerves. Old women on the bus constantly glare at me (maybe it’s because I have no style? I don’t know) and I’m often followed around stores as if I’m going to steal something. Today I went to the grocery store and they even made me open my bag to check to make sure I hadn’t taken anything when I walked up to the counter to buy my salad. I am just so ready to be back in a country where I can feel comfortable in public and less like an unwanted tourist. I am excited for Paris, but home can’t come soon enough.


Summer!!! March 23, 2010

Filed under: Pau — katiespaulife @ 5:13 pm
Tags: ,

I had my class this afternoon! All done!!


The way this program works is French classes go for three months and then the other classes (literature, culture, ect) change from occurring once a week to take up the remainder of the schedule.


That is with the exception of business French, which also ends now. Lucky me!


So…I am starting a 5 month summer break off with a trip to Ireland, followed by more travelling around France and Spain and then an awesome internship waiting for me back home.   Damn my life is good.


We celebrated the last day of French with a lunch where everyone brought a food from their culture.





My contribution was rather lazy, but at least I tried to keep things healthy!



Jessica brought homemade Reese’s, which were to-die-for!




It was an awesome last class! Now back to teaching myself French =( Going to start off by reading a book by Voltaire and continue writing my journal in French. Oh yeah, did I mention I filled up my entire journal? Finished it a couple weeks ago:


Bayonne 006



Had to brag, because all though I’ve filled up a few journals in my life I have never diligently kept one. And the last third or so is written almost entirely in French, horrible horrible French, but French nonetheless!

I insert English when I really can’t express myself or am impatient to get a point across, but I feel like keeping this journal definitely helped my writing.


Bayonne 007


Bought a new one to use for my last month or so. My blogs will probably be few and far between from here on out as I don’t know how often I will get internet. Also won’t be on Skype btw the 25th and 3rd of April because of travelling, but I’ll probably post another blog tomorrow or Thursday on Mont St Michel, which I visited last weekend!




~ Katie


Skiing in the Pyrenees!!! March 14, 2010

Filed under: Pau,Travels in France — katiespaulife @ 9:05 pm
Tags: , , , ,


I finally made it to the mountains!!




Beautiful isn’t it?!

I’m actually quite close to several ski stations, I think the drive was about 1.5 hours, but I know there is one just 20 min outside of Pau. Most of the length of the drive to this station was due to the windy roads at the end.





My dad looked up the height of the peak I was on and I guess it is about as high up as the top of Whistler (So guess my estimation was way off on IM yesterday David…)


As you can see, there aren’t any trees on the slopes =( But just off to the side is a little forest at the same elevation as the ski lodge.





The view was absolutely breathtaking! I can’t believe I skied in the Pyrenees!


And, making my Saturday even better, I discovered half my class wanted to go on the same day!


Here I am with Sara (the Australian). I skied with her for most of the afternoon, but I spent the morning solo, because everyone else was taking a lesson.


I felt a bit apprehensive going up this chair alone….


Curiosity overcame that though, because I really wanted to see if the mountain had a backside. Most of the runs on the front were pretty easy and I was hoping to find some challenging slopes like the runs at the top of Alpental.

And luckily it did!


The back was awesome! The fresh powder was hiding here, but unfortunately a cloud settled right in the bowl in the afternoon – the air became thick, cold fog and my lovely powder got scrapped down to ice.


The front was very icy too! I hate going over moguls when I can feel a ski slipping, it is so unnerving!


Face of the mountain:



And the backside:



Plus I haven’t skied much since high school – so my form is horrible! I tried to keep your voice in the back of my head dad = ) Thanks for all the years of patiently re-teaching me how to keep in form.


Here is the very top:




And a couple of my favorite pictures are from my very first run, which I later figured out was out-of bounds, but many people went down it anyway. They don’t mark the “out-of-bounds” areas as well here in France, but after skiing Alpental I’ve learned to be wary when I don’t know the slope.





Oh and last, but not least, I saw “une source de l’eau chaude” for the first time! The chair went over the crest of a hill and it just popped out of nowhere!





Heard the skiing back home in the Cascades was good too! The Pyrenees were beautiful and so different than what I’m used to! I noticed the French have some amusing ski habits. One being if you fall under a chair, every French person who sees you from the lift will yell, “Woah!!!” as they pass over you. And if you are standing in line for a lift while another lift goes over you, the skiers will tap their skis as they pass overhead to give you a nice snow shower.

I skied all day and returned home completely exhausted last night. Had a nice bowl of soup for dinner with my host mom and I could barely speak French. I went to bed at 9:30 and woke up hurting, especially my neck, caused by a rather painful, but amusing fall. Felt great to get some exercise other than walking. Spent all day skiing in the sun =) Oh yeah, I’m sunburned too – judging from the facebook news feed, my classmates feel the same. This has been an excellent weekend!


WSU Blog Squad Post 3 March 4, 2010

Filed under: Pau,Random Story — katiespaulife @ 9:24 am

#3     Lens Shifting & Comparative Thinking

Now that you have been abroad for some time, pick an aspect of your life
in your host culture and compare it to that same aspect in the U.S.  Some
examples of possible topics might include daily transportation, dining
out, relating to one’s instructors, communicating with family members,
playing sports, and so on.
Even with globalization, and even in other cultures in which English is
the official language, there are cultural differences. Obvious differences
might be dress and food. More nuanced differences might be things such as
gender relationships, attitudes toward work or family, attitudes about
time, or methods of worship.
Describe a more nuanced cultural difference that stands out for you, and
then write about what you think this difference might represent in terms
of values and beliefs.



One difference which I really despise is the French work ethic. I’ve noticed in the service industry especially that people here are downright rude. They seem to have these rules of politeness they follow, but leave it to the French to be as polite as their social rules dictate and a complete jerk at the same time. When you enter a store you will always be greeted with a “Bonjour” or “Bon Soir” and when you leave, always an “Au Revoir,” but in the meantime they will often ignore or treat you like crap. This of course is not true for every store and restaurant, but the overall attitude towards making the customer happy is much less ambitious than the US. I think that job is viewed as more of a necessary evil in France and not something that contributes to the balance of life as  in America.


In fact, in class the other day we had a discussion about the max of 35 hours for a work week in France. I was surprised to learn my other classmates Cooper and Kim are against it. Personally I find 35 hours much more agreeable, but to each his own. I think the most I’ve ever worked in one week was 55 – 60 hours, which I loved or despised depending on my job.  Anyway I suppose the French don’t value service as much as Americans, but I kind of miss the approachable staff you find in the US =(



For more cultural differences see the “culture shock” tab on the blog. It lists all the differences I’ve noticed.


D’ou viens-tu Cotton Eyed Joe? February 15, 2010

Filed under: Pau — katiespaulife @ 10:00 pm
Tags: , , ,

There is a 2 week long carnival taking place in Pau right now. It’s actually almost over and I only saw a small sample of it, but my goodness the French are crazy!

The carnival here takes place right before Lent and it is basically an excuse for everyone to be sinful before the fast. The king of the Carnival is a jolly, huge fat man who eats and drinks excessively. He has a doppelganger mistress and a very thin, unhappy wife who is basically his opposite. There are a many other characters, but when I went to the carnival none of them were present.

I heard the most interesting stories about the Carnival from my bus buddy Angie who went the weekend before. While she was talking on her phone at a parade, some men put a burlap sack on her head, kidnapped her and set her on the kings throne where she was screamed at in French by the king’s wife. She also was spanked by a man dressed as a priest with a cross and the poor girl definitely left  a little traumatized.


If you are wondering about the sacrilegious aspect of it, the priest was there because everything is inversed for the carnival. Good becomes evil and everything sinful is good. Also men dress as women and vice versa; it is quite the spectacle. There is one other element/celebration that is even more disturbing than this, but I’m not going to share on my blog since everyone in my family reads this. It is very very disgusting, but if you’re curious as to what could be worse than a priest spanking a tourist with a sacred symbol, ask me on FB and I’ll tell you

There have been many celebrations, but unfortunately I have only been to one of the three balls, which took place Friday night. So many people were dressed as freaks – I loved it!! I went with my classmates and we danced for 2 hours to the live band there (which played way too much American music).  I saw an old guy dressed as a bloody butcher, a nun, priest, 2 trannys (maybe 3…wasn’t sure) and a ton of unidentifiable freaks. One guy had a backpack that was a stuffed animal raccoon- coolest accessory ever!

While we were dancing poor Jessica had a random French guy sneak up behind her and cover her eyes. She flipped out, but he moved on to creep on other girls and was later attacked by the “maybe tranny”. He took a lot of kicks where it hurts and slaps to the face before that was broken up. Considering his alcohol intake in addition to this, that man probably had a terrible Saturday!

That fight in itself was worth going to the carnival to see, but the real highlight of the night occurred just as we were about to walk out the door. Everyone had just put their coats on when “Cotton-Eyed Joe” came on. Cooper and Jessica were the only other Americans there and we all threw are stuff down and ran back out to the floor. I don’t think I have danced the “Cotton-Eyed Joe” since 6th grade, but Cooper has it mastered! A few French people tried to copy us and this one nasty wasted guy got way to close to Jessica and I. I think he was trying to do the dance, but all he did was stumble and get in the way of my lasso space!


As soon as our American line dance was over, we called it a night and went home. I had a 3 hour test the next day, so I was relieved to get to bed at a decent hour. I’m going to the Carnival again tomorrow…stay tuned for more craziness!


A few things…. February 3, 2010

Filed under: Pau — katiespaulife @ 10:41 pm

So I have a couple of brief updates to post on here:

1) If you’ve seen that “contact me” section…it used to ask not to have care packages sent, because I heard the taxes I could have to pay are high.
After seeing about 7 people in the last week open care packages I’ve changed my mind. Feel free to send me a care package if you want….(cough*mom*cough)

2) I’ve been having a blast with my classmates, especially Kawita! Gone out with her, her boyfriend and some other classmates to the bars 3 times in the last week. Even Saturday, after I gave up on having a life that weekend and crawled into bed, she called me and said, “Want to come to le garage? I’ll pick you up in 10 minutes”. I jumped out of bed, changed, put on some mascara and drank a red bull with vodka at the bar to keep me going!
Kawita is also extremely sweet! She won’t even accept gas money from me when I try to pay her and she is always so patient with my French, I love hanging out with her!
She wanted to go out tonight, but I didn’t, or at least my body doesn’t and neither did Rebecca (Swedish classmate) or Hirokah, but we promised her we’d go out tomorrow night. After making this promise I found out my friend Kim broke up with her boyfriend back home. He wouldn’t let her go to the bars here and then he went to one at home and almost cheated on her, so she ended that and wants me to take her out tomorrow night! I usually solve boy issues with Jessie Engler buying me ice cream and bringing a chick flic over, but I am going to do my best to comfort Kim tomorrow and make sure she has a fun night!

3) Lots of cultural conflicts in my classroom. The most interesting moments have happened with Ravid and two of them were so uncomfortable I had to share them on here:

The first happened in class when the subject of concentration camps came up. Ravid is Jewish and mentioned she visited one, then paused and said, my grandmother did too and started laughing hysterically. I think I was the only other person in the room who laughed at her joke and I was mainly laughing at how uncomfortable everyone else looked. Kim’s eyes widened past the size of quarters and I could tell she was extremely offended by the statement. Everyone else tried to remain as expressionless as possible, but I don’t think Ravid even noticed. The teacher quickly changed subjects.

Then yesterday we had all finished lunch and were working on homework when Cooper pulled a giant ‘chocolate mousse’ Lindt bar out from his backpack. Cooper and Jessica are both Americans who eat lots of candy and cookies during our class breaks, but never offer any to anyone else. The other foreign students always share anything they are eating. Even if they only get one square, they are completely fine with giving the rest of a chocolate bar away. Ravid and I were both staring enviously at Cooper when she caught my eye from across the table and said, “Do Americans never share anything?” Cooper’s mouth was full and he was helpless to defend himself, so I replied that some do, but it isn’t rude not to share something in the US if you paid for it. Throughout the awkward tension I tried my best to remain neutral. Cooper then put the candy bar away, said it was expensive and he didnt have enough to share with everyone. Ravid said she feels you should share something or eat it away from people.
It was an awkward situation for everone present. Cooper left to go eat it elsewhere. I think I might buy a candy bar for the class next week so Ravid’s impression of us isn’t that we are greedy pigs, because this is one of several times she’s been turned down when trying to mooch off the Americans.

The last interesting moment with Ravid was her telling me, Kawita and Rebecca about being present at a terrorist attack. She had to find cover because a guy set off a grenade! That one wasn’t uncomfortable, just fascinating.

4) Met my speaking partner Estelle today. She is a French student at the University who had lunch with me. Some awkward silences, but overall the lunch went well and I’m going to meet up with her again next week!


Japanese Afternoon January 31, 2010

Filed under: Pau — katiespaulife @ 6:13 pm

I took the bus downtown this afternoon to find the cinema with good student discounts and many foreign films. Unfortunately my map proved itself very inaccurate and finding it in the maze of downtown streets was quite a challenge. Nonetheless I arrived 45 minutes before the movie started (the buses only run on Sundays once every hour or two). The theater was deserted and I suddenly realized how hungry I was so I went back to a tea joint I had found when lost. “Le Salon de The” was very cool! It had a Chinese room and a Japanese room with huge tins of tea lining the wall (oh how I miss Teavana). I didn’t know what to get, but the owner helped me choose a floral, black tea that was really good. Miso soup paired well and made for an excellent lunch.



Pau 010


Afterwards, I arrived at the Theater just in time to purchase the 2nd to last ticket. The movie, by coincidence, was also Japanese. Unlike most theaters, this one uses subtitles instead of dubbing, which of course is much easier to understand. In fact, I understood almost everything that was said! The dialogue was pretty simple and the acting was fantastic! It was a movie about a young girl whose Dad drops her off at an orphanage completely out of the blue. The title was, “Une Vie Toute Neuve” ….the best translation would probably be  “A Brand New Life” in English.


By pure luck the film finished 10 minutes before my bus was due. Any later and I would have had to wait an hour and a half for it! I took the bus home and walked through a new park I found near my house. Just got back and found out my host mom is making quail for dinner and fois gras (or quail fois gras…not sure which). I’m very opposed to eating fois gras,plus I tried it on accident once and it tastes awful. I don’t want to be rude though…hate these damn ethical dilemmas…hopefully I can get away with just eating a teeny bit!