Katie' Pau Life En France

Ma vie En France

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

Filed under: Pau — katiespaulife @ 10:00 pm
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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!

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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!

 

Sushi January 30, 2010

Filed under: Pau — katiespaulife @ 12:30 pm

I had a blast with my classmates last night, making sushi is so much fun. If anyone ever wants me to make it for them just let me know!
Aside from sushi, there was a huge variety of other food at the party to try and it was all so different! I watched one girl make a Japanese omelette, which has eggs, lots of sugar, soy sauce and salt in it. Not very healthy, but tastes amazing! Also tried this cake an English girl baked…I think it was a Victorian Sponge Cake…that was bomb and she is going to send me the recipe on FB.
We decided that every week one of us should make a meal from our culture. To start it off this Monday Kawita is going to make Thai food, which is my favorite!!!!! After that Ravid will make hummus and then Rebecca will make a Swedish dish. When it is my turn what will I do? They told me to make hamburgers, but I’ve never actually made hamburgers, and they suggested southern food, which I have only eaten once and also never prepared. Maybe I should make an American take on another cultures food, like Tex-Mex or American Chinese food. Any of you have ideas? It has to be relatively easy, because I don’t have measuring cups and plan on cooking by eye.

After last night I am so envious of Hirokah! Her house is gigantic and she lives there with 4 other exchange students who speak French. She lives downtown and near all the nightlife, plus she pays about 100 US dollars less than I do for rent. I wish I had been savvy enough before I came here to figure out a way to study without a program. The tuition is only 500 Euros a trimester for the other exchange students. Even though it was the cheapest program in France, USAC has ripped me off big time!

 

Nothing is exciting here in Pau, I was going to go on a plane ride over the Pyrenees today and then go to Lourdes to stay with my friend Ravid, but both were postponed until next weekend, so I’m not sure what I will do now.

 

GRANDMA MARILEE – If you are reading this could you send me your email address? my email is kmlane20@yahoo.com and I was wondering if you have a good recipe for macaroni and cheese, because my host family wants me to make them some. Love you!

 

* P.S. Sorry for the last blog’s cheesiness. They asked me to talk about my emotions and feelings. I don’t write well enough to do that without being syrupy. Also, I apologize for the grammar. Got home last night and finally proofread it…oops. After a pint of Kilkenny and half a pint of peach, I’m going to assume that even then I overlooked a lot and will try to go back over it if I have time today.

 

WSU Blog Squad January 29, 2010

Filed under: Pau — katiespaulife @ 3:59 pm

Shortly before I left WSU I signed up for on the “Cougs Abroad Blog Squad”. They have sent out the first 2 of 8 prompts that we will need to write during our stay here. The first prompt is about preparing to leave and since I received it about a week ago, I cannot accurately answer that one, so I will start with Prompt #2, which states:

****Prompt #2 What’s Happening?

You’re abroad, settled in, and attending classes. So… how’s it going?
Choose a picture to post on your blog and describe in some detail why it best describes your experience in-country to date. Think about how it portrays the emotions, feelings and thoughts that you are having as you settle into your overseas experience

…After pasting the prompt, I sat at this computer for about 15 minutes trying to come up with something interesting to write. I’m afraid my experience abroad has been pretty standard. It’s definitely different from how I imagined it would be, but I also expected the unexpected. Frankyl, I’m not in culture shock or bedazzled by anything I have encountered thus far.

My classes are enjoyable, but I actually wish they moved at a faster pace. So far we have learned exactly what I taught myself over the summer and was then taught again last semester. I am ready to stop reviewing and tackle new material. I may be the worst in my class, but that is only because I have the weakest vocab and pronounciation, not because of the tenses we are studying. I’m definitely improving my French, but I still want more of a challenge.
My favorite part about my classes here are interacting with the other foreign exchange students. Tonight we are all going to have sushi at Hiroka’s house! I actually hate sushi, but I love to make it and cannot wait to speak French with my friends. It will be a nice change from my daily routine of going home to a lonely and cold room. Speaking of which, the loneliness has been about what I expected; some days I feel fine, others I don’t. I just try my best not to daydream of everything I miss back home and focus on the opportunities at hand.

I chose this as the picture to represent my time here. This was taken on one of my first days in France, when the anticipation of Pau and that feeling of being on the brink of a new time in one’s life was still fresh in my mind.

I wanted a picture with Sarah in it, to exemplify that even though I am miles away, I still think about my family and friends every day. Although Europe is great, I feel that I truly belong in the Pacific Northwest and for me, there really is no place like home.
I also like the fact that I am rather insignificant in this picture and the Sacre Coeur is the dominant part. Before coming to Europe I felt the primary purpose of studying abroad was to have a journey of self discovery, I now feel it is more impactful as a humbling experience. I feel out-of-place here, but oddly enough, I like being an observer and outsider instead of a citizen.
The buildings and streets are rich with culture and history. There is something new to see and learn from everywhere I go. Even the interactions of the USAC kids dealing with their lives here has taught me a lot about human nature. Surprisingly, there are many Americans in USAC who I really don’t care for. I can’t tell if I am just a pessimist, if I got put in a group I don’t fare well with or if the journey abroad has put things in a different light, but I could write an entire blog on my observations of fellow exchange students. From the long distance relationship problems, to the to whispers in the halls and dirty looks, these students have their fair share of drama.

As I’m sure most of you know, the amazing architecture here is also humbling in a manner of it’s own. The Sacre Couer (in the pic) may be the most impressive building I have yet to see in Europe.
Finally, I choose this picture because the Sacre Coeur is a famous Cathedral on the top of a hill overlooking Paris. One of my goals here is to see as many Cathedrals as I can and learn more about the history of Catholicism and the European traditions that are not present in the states. I’m a terrible excuse for a Catholic and not even certain my faith aligns enough with the church to go through my confirmation. Before I decide anything I need to do more research and Europe is the perfect place for that.

Finally the fact that this church overlooks the city made me choose this picture because I want to see as much as I can here. Waking up to the same skyline everyday is a shameful thing to do when there are so many breathtaking views just waiting for our eyes…

 

Faire Une Promenade January 26, 2010

Filed under: Pau — katiespaulife @ 7:53 pm

Sunday and Monday were spent locked in my dark room, zombie shutters closed and heat blasted; alternating my time between a few hours of French homework and a few hours of sleep. I did depart briefly on Monday to go to the mall and get lunch, since it is only a 10 minute walk and I had been living off of fruit and bread since Saturday.

Then at about 5pm I finally grew restless, decided a bad cold did not justify staying in bed all day and went for a walk. I explored more of the trails by my house and followed one along the river till it ended. At the end there was a fallen tree lying across the water and it wasn’t difficult at all to walk across a branch to the main trunk. Fortunately, I’d brought my book with me just in case I found a good spot to read = )

I sat on the tree with one leg hanging off above the water, book in hand, looking over a view of a dirt road with an old French farm on the other side. I had a forest behind me and a green field peeking out around the bend in the road. Picture Perfect. Plus, the book I’m reading is one I cannot put down and is a fantasy/romantic comedy set in the forest of a strange land (hope you don’t mind I brought “Stardust” with me to France Hanna!). The only downer to the situation was my constant sniffling and coughing.

After a chapter or two I realized it would get dark soon and I wanted to explore a bit more before going home. I found a trail across the river with some paths through the words. None of them went anywhere, but I did find a bench on one side of the river that I laid on and read for another 20 minutes or so before it grew cold and the sun was nearly set.

The next time it is a nice day I plan on going downtown to take pictures of the Pyrenees or wandering back along the trails to take some pictures of the woods and small river/large creek…whatever it is.Now I have to get back to French, I have a stressful night of lots of homework ahead of me and have to give a 10 minute speech in class tomorrow…eek!

 

My Week January 22, 2010

Filed under: Pau — katiespaulife @ 9:09 pm
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I wrote about Monday last night, so I thought I would fill you in on the rest of the week before I go to Bordeaux today!

 

Tuesday I had my first day of Business French. The class itself is alright, but by the time I get to it at 5:15 I am mentally drained from my other French classes and just want to go home and relax. I’m not used to having school from 9 or 11-7:15.

 

Wednesday I went by myself to this rehearsal of “Mamma Mia” by a group called the DramaFreaks solely to meet French people. My acting skills are mediocre, I cannot carry a tune at all and I was hoping to work on stage crew. However, the cast itself has 7 ppl, only 2 of which are men, at this point they can’t even put on a play. I was pretty useless to them and just watched them dance and sing and then told them which parts of the dance were the worst. I’m going to keep going to the rehearsals to meet French people, but I’m bummed it wasn’t a bigger group. 

The DramaFreaks ended at 8 and I had 2.5 hours to kill before I met Vanessa at the bar for Karaoke. I was planning on doing hw at the library, but I found it closed (closes at 6? crazy!) and the entire campus was deserted! It was really sketchy; felt eerily empty and dark.

I finally decided the only thing there was to do in this part of Pau was go to the movie theater. So I went to see Avatar in 3D (and French of course)! Unfortunately the French have more previews than we do, as well as an intermission in their movies.11 pm rolled around it still wasn’t over! I told Vanessa I would meet her around 10:30, so I gave up on finishing the movie and left to go walk to the bar (with pepper spray in hand mom!)

The bar was only a  10- 15 minute walk and when I arrived Vanessa was outside, smoking and talking to a French guy named Thomas. I said “Bon Soir Vanessa! Ca va?” and then he said, “She’s French! Tu es Francais non?”

“Non, je suis Americaine”

“Oh well you speak French really well”

“haha no I don’t! Just wait until you hear me talk more!”

He didn’t comment on my French skills for the rest of the evening =)

Vanessa speaks less than I do, but I’ve met quite a few French people through her and her host sister Helene. I’m pretty excited for Karaoke every week because of this. I want French friends to parler avec!

Karaoke itself was insane. I actually sang a song with three of my friends there. Never again.

Afterwards, the girls and I went to a nightclub which was alright, but I cannot dance at all! We were there for quite a while and I was happy to finally crash at Vanessa’s at 2:30 am.

 

Thursday nothing significant happened. Crashed as soon as I got home from my business French class. Brain just couldn’t function anymore.

 

Friday I went to the soldes one last time and bought 3 shirts as well as a very warm scarf for 31 euros! Bon Marche? I think so! Then I came home and had dinner with my host mom and met my host brother who is home from school for the weekend. Tried caviar for the first time! Wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be – but I don’t think I’ll be buying it myself anytime soon!

My mom made pasta for dinner, but all they put on it is cheese. No olive oil, sauce or anything. I suppose that is healthier, depending on the amount of cheese you use. And yogurt is just a dessert here….which I have no qualms with! Love yogurt!

 

Now I am off to Bordeaux with my program! When I get home tonight I’m going to Vanessa’s for the birthday party of her host sister Helene. So today should be a good opportunity to taste some awesome wine and meet more French people!