Archive for January, 2012

Sunday was quite a pleasant day. A bunch of us went and played Loto (the French Bingo equivalent). I am shamelessly in love with Bingo so this was perfect. For a town that only houses 32 people, Loto pulled in 250 people! It was an excellent chance to practice our numbers in French too! The prizes definitely put a smile on my face: ham, duck with liver, duck without liver, wine, etc. The whole thing just made me happy =)

Yesterday, it was into Albi for French class. We wandered around after class and found this really awesome little park but unfortunately there wasn’t any swings but there was a cool little pond with ducks! So we hung out there for a while.

Then, last night, we all have to sit down to watch La Nom de la Rose or The Name of the Rose. And it is a horror film about murders taking place in an abbey. I despite horror films, despite my excitement of going into a crypt this past week =) To start, I do not watch horror films at all; I have an overactive imagination and fueling it with horror is just an awful idea. Secondly, we are in a monastery that I am convinced must have ghosts stories, and it is creepy here at night! I refuse to go downstairs late at night by myself anymore because the lights are out and you have to walk through the darkness to get to the switch (yes, I am a wimp – another reason I do not like horror films). Lastly, we had to watch the movie in the dark! So, I looked up the plot line on Wikipedia so I didn’t get too scared. This is the equivalent of reading the end of a murder mystery before finishing the story but I felt better for doing that. The movie ended around 1030ish and I went to walk into the bathroom and someone went to walk out at the same time, and I jumped. Then, I did the same thing to someone on my way out. I swear even though I don’t remember my dreams from last night, they were awful because I did not sleep well. Horror films are not my thing and will probably make me twitchy for a while now =)

Anyway, we are officially 9 days from Barcelona! Mom’s Traveling Sock currently looks like this:

I want to turn the heel before Barcelona because it will make working on Mom’s Traveling Sock so much easier!

I hope you have an excellent day =)


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It’s Like Riding a Bike

Yesterday felt so jammed packed but thinking back on it, it wasn’t. I think it was just long =)

We started out by watching the movie Cyrano de Bergerac in French in class in preparation for the play that night. It had English subtitles which was good. I was so mad at the end! I won’t ruin it for you but it didn’t end like I wanted it to (for people who know me well, you probably can figure out how it ended). Afterwards, we went down to Nadines for lunch. I had a lovely tartine which was bread with potatoes, bacon, and cheese on top of it. Apparently, tartines can take on all different shapes and forms and this is just one type. After lunch, Nadine informed us that there is Loto which is the equivalent of Bingo on Sunday! I have such a bad addiction to Bingo. The French equivalent of Bingo is a bit different than ours so Nadine got her Loto set out and we played a few games with her which was really enjoyable. From there, it was off to Peter and Margaret’s for a visit and some tea. They are such a lovely couple, and it was so nice to get a chance to hang out with them.

Then, I walked back up to the monastery and started to get ready for the play! It was actually quite fun; all the girls here ended up getting ready together – doing hair and suggesting outfits. Everyone was so excited to dress up, and the guys were even excited to dress up! So we had a quick dinner and off to the theater we went! Our bus was a little one and the bus driver was playing music and we were all dancing and singing and just having, in general, an awesome time. When we got to the theater, we were near the top in ours seats. There was almost no room for your legs, and I felt bad for taller people than I because I was squished and I’m not that tall! The play was 2 hours and 45 minutes and there was no intermission. I was not expecting that. But the play itself was so good and the actors were excellent. Overall, just such an awesome night out at the theater =)

We rolled back in around 1200 and I was so hungry because we had an earlier dinner than normal here and I was still keyed up from being out so I became a cliche with this as my snack

Wine and chocolate – at least it was good chocolate =)

Today I went on a bike ride which we were talking about going on at lunch. I stopped and thought about it; the last time I was on a bike was probably eighth grade so 8 years ago. And I got back and found out where the phrase ‘It’s like riding a bike!’ comes from! The ride was great despite the rain and hail =)

I hope you are having a wonderful day =)

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My Parents Will Be So Proud

There is a really good chance that my parents will read this title and think ‘Colleen, what did you do now?’ Read on!

Well, yesterday was just another busy Wednesday. I woke up at 730, did homework, had Gardening class at 11 to 12, lunch at 1230, French class from 130 to 430, did my French homework from 430 to 5, and had class from 5 to 7. As the day wore on, I tried to speak French when I could to the teachers and such (Mom and Dad, hint hint). I think my French is coming along nicely, and it is either that or I am just getting used to my broken French and having people help me with it. Anyway, consequently, I did my nails last night because I lost the ability to do anything requiring much more thinking power with the exception of … star gazing =) Last night was such a treat. I went to go and close my shutters, and the sky was amazing. The moon was a perfect crescent, the stars were really cool and there are bright ones with a cloud of dimmer stars around them, and the town of Ambialet was a lit up below. I sat in my window for a while and watched it get darker as I sat there (or I was becoming more accustomed to the dark) and, man, what a cool picture God put together last night. It is really moments like that when I am struck by the fact that I am France more so than the buildings, the food, etc – the simple, wonderful moments.

Today was an early one – opened my eyes in the middle of a dream when the alarm went off at 630 (it was an intriguing dream too!). I got out of bed at 645 (I swear I only laid there for a few minutes but I must have fallen back to sleep). Had breakfast, got ready, and was on the bus at 800 to go to Toulouse! Okay, quick lesson: Ambialet is comparable to where I go to school in the US, Loretto, Albi is comparable to Johnstown or Altoona, and Toulouse would be the equivalent of Pittsburgh. We arrived around 10 and today, we saw the Museum of St. Raymond and the Basilica of St. Sernin. The Museum was first.

This museum is known for it’s bust collection. It is the largest known collection of busts of emperors and their family members. They were quite interesting to look at. We also got to go to the basement. Why the basement of the museum?

The City of the Dead! There were stone sarcophagi (maybe that is the plural). And this symbol was everywhere

It is the Chi-Rho with an Alpha and Omega on either side. It is a symbol of Christ found on tombs, and I am just highly intrigued by it.

While we were touring, there was a group of little kids touring too and we were waiting to use the bathrooms and so were they so I decided to talk to them and I think they got a good laugh out of my French but I was able to find out they were around 9 and just adorable. They stood there and used their little bit of English to say ‘How are you?’ So cute!

After this, we wandered away for lunch which was quite good – who wouldn’t enjoy a nutella and banana muffin? Yum! The guy who helped us very nicely spoke English. I had a hard time catching his French because he described his menu first which I wasn’t expecting and then he asked if we spoke English and we went from there.

From there, we went back to the Basilica of St. Sernin.

It was not only beautiful on the outside but beautiful on the inside as well. It is actually a pilgrimage church because St. Sernin was a martyr so once we went in the church, we followed the pilgrim’s path around the church. On this path, I saw this old school confessional! It was soooo cool and I got wayyy over excited about a confessional. I kept with my ‘I’m being odd’ theme by really getting wound up when we got to go into the crypt!

So cool! This church is the second most sacred church after St. Peter’s due to the amount of relics that it holds. One of the relics was a thorn from the crown of thorns – whether or not it is legit is another story but so cool!

After we finished with the church, we had about 40 minutes before we were going to leave Toulouse, and some us needed to exchange money so off we went to the post office! Once we got there, I used my French to ask someone if they spoke English because I was just not up to trying to figure out where to go to exchange money while using my French on a limited amount of time. We were directed to the right line and had to wait for a bit. While we were waiting, an argument broke out in front of us about cutting in line – really? Act your age. But I digress. When it was my turn, I was able to use my French to exchange my money. Then it was time to leave the post office and I couldn’t figure out how to work the doors.

And here is why my parents will be so proud. They always tell me not to talk to strangers (because I talk to everyone!) and now I find that I can now talk to people in English and French – but I can’t work an automatic door. Amused me to no end.

Have a marvelous one =)

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Sunday night, we watched the movie Roxanne with Steve Martin as a group. There was a purpose to this movie; we are going to see Cyrano de Bergerac in Albi on Friday! Roxanne was a modern day adaptation and in English no less so we started there. I believe we are watching a French version of it this week and then going to see the play on Friday. So, as I told my parents, we will thoroughly know the story by Friday but be bored to tears by it. I’m excited over an excuse to dress up and be fancy for the night!

Yesterday, it was into Albi for class at the University. French class let out a bit early which was lovely seeing as it runs for three hours. We wandered around the city for a bit afterward which was enjoyable. I got to bed early last night which was just beyond exciting – I most definitely know how to live it up!

Okay, so this is not the most exciting post about France so here are the socks I completed!

Quick note: I took that picture by myself. I doubt I could take such a good picture again by hanging the camera in front of my feet.

They almost match too! I really like the way they came out and I have already worn them =)

I hope things are quite lovely for you =)

P.S. Just received projecteuler.net as a tip from a friend for programming problems – I’m all nerdy about it! =D


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This weekend was quite lovely after such an eventful week. Friday night included two hour Skype time with a friend which was beyond awesome. Saturday was some homework, interspersed with a lot of reading. I read the book The Pajama Affair (a typical me book – murder mystery with some romance thrown in, not high quality reading but quite enjoyable) so much yesterday that well, I started it in the morning and finished it at night. I feel like these are my constant companions of books:

The blue book on the left is my Kindle. Now, I was not a big fan of Kindles when they came out. I am that person that likes to open a new book and smell it for a that ‘New Book’ smell. However, I received the Kindle as a birthday present before I came to France, and I must admit, it is quite excellent for this trip. I have a never ending supply of books in something that is quite lightweight and readily transportable. I would never had made it four months without books. The middle book is my journal. I’m not much for journaling, however I find it to be quite a good idea on a trip such as this. My friend actually made me this for my Christmas/birthday gift and in it there are little travel trips and inspirational quotes. Even now, just flipping back through just around 15 days there are little details I have already forgotten. I think the journal will be something I end up appreciating even more when this trip is over. The last book is The Perfect Heresy which is about the Cathars and the Albigensian crusade. This is for my Religious Studies/Pilgrimage class. It’s written by a journalist so the read is not too heavy at all.

Okay, off that tangent and back to what I did yesterday. In the afternoon,  I went to Geant with some others. Geant is kind of the catch all place. To start with the outside, there are all these solar panels which also double as shelter for the cars in the parking lot, really cool. Inside of Geant, from what I walked by without really exploring, was a post office, eyeglasses places, a shoe store, and we all went to the food section. I guess the best way to describe it would be that of a small mall with a mini Walmart thrown into it. We had a really good time running around the food part and trying to find where the granola bar like foods were (by the cereals), snack food (the French are really healthy so all their snack foods, like bags of pretzels and chips, come in smaller bags), and the chocolate (with how healthy the French are, their chocolate aisle is to die for!). We also went to Tatin which is the equivalent of a dollar store. Overall, quite fun. We rocked out to Phil Collins and Prince in the car, which, by the way, being in a car was a bit strange because I have only been in buses since being here so the car felt really small!

Then last night, I skyped with another friend which was so cool to get to chat with her. Then, I was hungry and I had just bought pretzels and I really wanted some cheese to go with them. I can’t remember if I mentioned it but every night at dinner, a cheese plate is put out and the cheese is soooo good! I am thoroughly enjoying one type of cheese and have no idea what it is called! Anyway, on my way downstairs, I met up with a friend and told her I was on a mission for cheese, so she joined me, and then we had pretzels, cheese, and chocolate while just hanging out for a while. Excellent night =)

Today, I went to church and the priest here is named Pere Jammes. He is a wonderful older gentleman and whenever he pronounces my name, it sounds like ‘Colleena’ because of how he accents the syllables, and it makes me smile. Then I did some homework and worked on Mom’s Traveling Sock!

I love knitting striped yarn – it’s quite a surprise what is coming next =) And in 17 days Mom’s Traveling Sock will be in Barcelona! Craziness! (I did finish the other pair of socks I made but I am waiting for a slow day to show you those.)

I hope your weekend was as lazy and as marvelous as mine =)

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Best … Birthday … EVER!

Yesterday started off by getting an extra 50 minutes of sleep. This was completely unplanned; I had set my alarm for 7:15 … pm. Whoops! But it actually started off the day a lot better. We took a bus from Ambialet to Albi around 930. Our destination was the Cathedral of Saint Cecilia. Once we arrived, we walked around the outside of the cathedral and discussed it. It is unbelievable (76 meters tall which translates roughly to 249 feet!).

From there, we headed inside which did not match the outside and was even more incredible.

Some of the most interesting things I learned was that 1. it was built in 1282, 2. the missing fresco depicted the scene of judgment where Christ had scales at his feet along with a demon for those that did not pass judgment – this is completely an Egyptian reference to the weighing of the heart by Anbuis with the Devourer near him! so cool, and 3. the frescoes have not been touched for 500 years, and they still look amazing.

Our tour inside was very brief because it was about to close down during the lunch hour. When people eat here, it is a big deal. Everyone takes time to relax, eat with friends, and just stop to enjoy life. The mentality is quite different from America where if you took a 2 hour lunch you would be considered wasteful; I can’t count the number of times I have tried to see how much work I could do while eating or ate fast to get back to my work. But here, the majority of the shops close down, and people just stop to relax which is something I am beginning to appreciate very much.

Three friends and I went to find lunch. After much wandering around in circles to find what was there, we ended up right back near the church at a sandwich place. My friends had me go first because I knew French so I told the lady that I only spoke a little and she smile and everything worked out well. The four of us all were able to get delicious lunches – some type of sandwich, a drink, and dessert. The bread on which I had my sandwich was fantastic and for dessert I had a chocolate eclair which was so rich and decadent!

After that, we wandered around Albi for a bit and found a few shops to enter into and explore. The clothes are really cool here but nothing so awesome that I would be willing to spend money yet. Next, we headed back into the Cathedral for a more detailed tour. One of the best phrases was when my teacher was describing how the one saint was meditating even though it looked like she was ‘away with the fairies.’ This is definitely going to be a phrase that I am going to use.

We finished around 3 and went to wait for the bus. And it was cold and raining and the bus simply wasn’t coming. We found out that we thought we were being picked up at 245 but the bus company thought we wanted to be picked up at 345. So while they were sending another bus, we went and bought crepes! It was my first time buying crepes from a vendor off the streets, and my friends very sweetly treated me because it was my birthday. The Nutella crepe was all that was wonderful. It was warm, light, and chocolatey – what more could one ask for?

At dinner that night, the one girl here made chocolate cake and everyone sang to me which was perfectly lovely. The cake was divine – it looks like brownies but it is more dense and o, so good! So with three chocolate desserts, I completely had my chocolate fix for the day. Then, I got my 2 shorts of Jameson’s for my birthday, and my day was complete =)

All during the day, I had been receiving emails, ecards, and Facebook messages from family and friends wishing me a happy birthday. This was truly one of the most memorable and best birthdays ever =)

Today was also a ton of fun. Because it is Friday, it is the day we go to eat lunch at Nadine’s. My friend, Jen, and I went down early to sit and do homework because we wanted a change of scenery. We talked to Nadine for a little bit, and she very nicely agreed to hold Mom’s Traveling Sock! Not only did she hold it for a picture, she knitted on it!

And here is Nadine’s cafe!

After lunch, we went to Peter and Margaret’s house. They are a British couple who once visited Ambialet and loved it so much that they moved here. We practiced singing the songs with them for church on Sunday and then we had tea and cake and cookies with them. It was beyond awesome.

This weekend hopefully is a bit laid back after the adventures this week! But no matter what, it was be a good one!

Have a marvelous day! =)

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Yesterday was lovely because I finished my socks! Not Mom’s Traveling Socks but my pair that I was working on over Christmas. I was supposed to take pictures of my feet for you (I know how much you enjoy that) but with one thing and another, it didn’t get done for this post.

I had a busy day today – Gardening class at 11, lunch at 1230, French from 130 to 430, and Religious Studies from 5 to 7 and dinner at 730 which means the day is pretty much shot. This also means it feels like a ton of work is dropped on you but it isn’t anything I can’t handle. =]

Today in our Religious Studies class, we talked about understanding buildings by looking at where they are located, their style, and then their details. The most important lesson I learned today was K.I.S.S. – keep it simple, stupid. Oftentimes, I catch myself over thinking and in this class, the teacher wants the in depth but does not want us to miss the obvious. This talk was in preparation for going to Albi tomorrow and seeing their main cathedral! I am super excited! And…. tomorrow is my birthday! What better way is there to spend one’s birthday when they are in school but on a field trip! And, I’m in France which helps =)

I think the teacher for this class and I are going to get along very well; when he saw me knitting, he told me he once knit himself an entire jumper, and it took him 9 months!

Hopefully, I get a chance to take a lot of pictures tomorrow so I can show you those =]

Have an excellent day! =)

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