Katie' Pau Life En France

Ma vie En France

May 11, 2010

Filed under: Home — katiespaulife @ 5:09 pm

#7 Incorporating your Studying Abroad Experience into your Career

Brainstorm and jot down all the skills and knowledge that you are gaining
from being abroad. Your list might include working effectively on a team
with people from other cultures, considering multiple viewpoints when
dealing with challenges, the ability the synthesize new ideas, or the
ability to communicate in a second language.
Then imagine that you are interviewing for your dream job, and the search
committee asks you this question: “How did studying abroad while at WSU
prepare you to be a better [insert your dream job here – doctor, lawyer,
teacher, scientist, journalist, engineer, etc.]? Describe how you would
answer that question. (Don’t forget to tell us what the dream job is that
you’ve chosen!)

My ultimate dream job would be to start my own Dude Ranch (kind of a western themed resort), in which case I would be my own boss….but a more applicable dream job is an event coordinator of a hotel. If I’m really honest with myself, I don’t think studying abroad helped me very much when it comes to a future career. It was a great adventure and the experience gained definitely added some new philosophies and great stories to my personal life, but the values I appreciate most in a co-worker aren’t traits gained by travelling. I obviously couldn’t say that to an employer though so I would probably spit something out about how it helped me learn to make tough decisions in very stressful situations (using my travelling mishaps as evidence), increased my sensitivity to other cultures, made me more confident and of course I now have the added bonus of a second language on resumes.

Okay, after writing that I’ll admit it may have helped a little…


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!


Brussels and Bilbao April 18, 2010

Filed under: Spain — katiespaulife @ 5:42 pm

I realized I never wrote about Brussels. I stayed for one day and one night in Brussels on the way home from Ireland. We had to go through the airport, so I figured I might as well see the city and eat some of their famous chocolate and waffles. It is a very good thing we were only there for one day. There is nothing to do, but eat! At the end of the day…actually more like the end of the afternoon (ran out of cool sites to see) we returned to our hostel room with belly aches. This hostel was kind of strange, because they put us in a room set in a seperate building. It reminded me of girl scout cabins, because there was a loft with 2 wooden beds up top and 2 below. It was kind of fun, but the front was made entirely out of glass and there was no heat. I spent a very restless night trying to keep warm!

Let me back the story of Brussels up a bit, to what few sites we actually saw. Elly and I got this tourist map of “sites to see” from the hostel. It was obvious the tourist office is getting desperate for “sites to see” when they tell you to go to the top of a parking garage for a cool view. It also advised bringing a bottle of wine to drink.

“Drinking wine on the top of a parking garage,” Elly thought aloud, “….that would basically make us homeless…”


We saw a good portion of the sites on the map and did hit up the parking garage (saw a wine cork on the ground). The view was pretty awesome and I wish I had photos, but I left my camera in the hostel.

I have no evidence of visiting Brussels. My taste buds will never forget it though- the chocolate was sooo yummy, the Belgian waffle so light and crispy! Never had one quite like that.


Another interesting aspect to this city is the comics painted all over random walls. It is very strange, but kind of awesome. There are also lots of statues of creatures peeing. We saw one of a little boy peeing and a dog peeing. According to the tourist map there was one of a girl peeing too. We missed that one, which could have been the most interesting….and disturbing.


There is weird art in Brussels. A lot of weird art. The city is pretty tacky being full of sketchy industrial sections dotted with an occasional old, beautiful monument or building, as well as randomly placed modern art. We were already baffled by the city’s oddities when we wandered into a cathedral that was cluttered looking on the inside, with really out of place crap lying everywhere and cheesy 70’s music playing.


Brussels was strange. I’m glad I went. The capital of Europe is so bizarre it made the trip worth it.


I also ended my trip to Spain with an ugly city: Bilbao.


Bilbao isn’t far from San Sebastian….I think I mentioned it in my blog where I whined about my feet hurting. That was the last straw for my poor feet, I bought new shoes as soon as I got home.

The city was alright to see, but I was so worn out by the end of my trip I really should have just gone home to Pau.




I took a lot of pictures of the pretty parts of the city. It had an old section of town that was quite nice – a lot like San Sebastian. The most impressive part of all is the museum. The name of it is really long…and I cannot remember it, but I didn’t actually go in. It costs 13 euros and I was tired, sore and sick of spending money by the time I got there. I walked around the outside of it though – so interesting!






Love the cat made of flowers!


Anyways you are now up to date on my travels = ) I haven’t been able to leave since my trip to Spain because of the strikes and in 3 days I leave for Paris and then home!


Barcelona!! April 17, 2010

Filed under: Spain — katiespaulife @ 7:56 am
Tags: , , ,

Okay, back to the subject of Spain, since I only mentioned San Sebastian….

In Barcelona I met up with fellow cougs Ashley and Lauren (who are also keeping blogs which I added to my blogroll). It was nice to see some familiar faces after a long bus ride where I couldn’t understand anything or talk to anyone. I like travelling alone, but I think in the future I probably won’t go to countries where I don’t speak the language without another person.



Barcelona was a cool city. One and a half days there was not enough, but sadly I don’t think I will ever return – there are too many other places in the world to see. I was fascinated by all of Gaudi’s architecture, but I think Paris is a much prettier city overall (sorry Goonting!).




Our first night there we went out for some awesome Spanish cuisine! Ashley got regular Sangria, but Lauren and I ordered the Sangria Cava Blanc. I’ve had my fair share of regular red Sangria in France, but this drink was incomparable.So delicious and very large!


And some yummy yummy Paella! (Mom – your paella is still the best = )


The waiter tried to convince us that this wouldn’t be big enough for 2 people – haha, I’m glad I stuck to my intuition and told Lauren it would be.


The next day I went to Park Guell, which was amazing!


The best of Gaudi is of course the Sagrada Familia.



This church has been under construction for 150 years and won’t be finished for60. Seeing other USAC student’s pictures of this place is what made me decide Barcelona was a must-see.




For my second (and last) night here, we went down to this fountain for an awesome show (complete with cheesy American music) and saw the remnants of the Olympic games!








Thanks to Lauren and Ashley for being great travelling companions and have a safe trip home next week!


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.


Sous Le Soleil D’Espagne! April 15, 2010

Filed under: Spain — katiespaulife @ 6:47 am
Tags: , , , ,



I LOVE San Sebastian! Just look how blue that water is! What a beautiful place!


My trip to Spain was rather complicated, but it started off with 2 nights in San Seabass on the northern coast. You might recall a blog I wrote when I went here way back in January on my first weekend in Pau. The weather was so stormy (and snowy!!) that I couldn’t do anything but the bars. This time I did everything else!


My first night there I met a girl from Quebec who I practiced French with and had a nice dinner of fruit, bread and cheese on the beach after dark. The bay was equally beautiful at night, with all the buildings lit up, but my pictures didn’t turn out well, so here is one in daylight:



It felt so relaxing to just sit in my shorts at 9 pm with my toes in the sand as the Atlantic ocean washed up on this quiet shore. Not to mention I was eating the freshest strawberries from Portugal and had a great dinner companion! Sadly my dinner company was extremely homesick that night. We spoke of Quebec and the hunting trips she would take with her dad when she was younger, her big family back home and her tiny country village where no one speaks English. And of course there is a boy in the picture to add to the homesickness. She told me every place she has visited in Europe is so romantic (San Sebastian really was!) and she has a boy in Montreal she won’t see again for a long, long time. My heart really went out to her, because she is so nostalgic for Canada and won’t return until the end of July. However, it is true that there is no place like home, but I also think there is no place quite like San Sebastian!


The photos above and below were taken from the top of a funicular that led up to an amusement park for kids! There was a hotel up there as well, with views like this one:




I wonder how much a night here would cost??



Unfortunately the weather wasn’t this perfect for the entire trip. The first day it started off with pouring rain and winds. I tried to keep dry by going to the aquarium – which was awesome. It had one of those tanks with a tunnel where you can see sharks swim right over your head! Oh and the aquarium was at the end of all the docks so I got to see a lot of Basque fishing boats on the way.



In the afternoon the skies cleared up a bit so I reunited with my Canadian friend and we climbed Mt. Urgull. Actually, “climb” is kind of a misleading word, we walked up a paved path – nothing too extreme for my flip flops.


Here are my only shots of the mountain and the Jesus statue on top!

DSC02807 xDSC02865


The horizon that evening was amazing! Never looks as awesome on camera, but it was a once in a lifetime kind of sunset – great to see from the top of Urgull! And across the way you can see that hotel.



Another great thing about San Sebastian was the hostel I stayed in. The owner spoke only Spanish, but he still gave me advice on where to go, was kind-hearted and genuinely hospitable. After the freezing rain he gave the Canadian and I tea with lemon and when I returned from Barcelona he had seen that I gave him a 100% review on hostelworld so he grabbed my face and kissed me on both cheeks. That was a bit awkward for me…I feel like I’ve had so many random ppl kiss me on the cheeks here.


Anyway, I’m too tired to write more, but here are a few more pictures of San Sebastian. If you ever go to Spain you must visit!

DSC02792 DSC02806 DSC02845DSC03013

DSC02857 DSC02849

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