Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week!

First off I just like to say that I started off this week in a very classy way. While taking a break in the middle of a two and a half hour class I fell off a table while tipping it over. I was sitting on a table and leaned over the edge, where my feet were dangling, and the table went off balance. This resulted in me half catching myself, half face planting it into the carpet and ending up all sprawled out over the floor with the tipped over table, along with the papers that were on it. There was an audience as well. But I’ve found an up side, these things no longer embarrass me. I think I’ve managed weirder accidents than this before, so I just hopped up said I was good and helped put things back in their proper place. I didn’t even get a bruise or a scar, so this is totally not even a big deal. Just funny, and quite classically me. After my normal classes were over I headed up to the place where my first rock climbing class was to take place. Unfortunately after taking a tram until it stopped and then a bus, which took about 40 minutes, I couldn’t find the gym. I was so disappointed. I found the street it’s supposed to be on, but not the actual gym. I wandered up and down the street for about 20 minutes, even went in one place and tried to go in another then gave up and took the two buses back to the house in defeat. My host mom tried to help me find it on a map, but it was just a map of the trams and the building wasn’t marked. I waited until the next day and asked one of the IES professors for more specific directions. I think I know which building it is now, at least I hope so, we’ll see next week I suppose. Also on Tuesday I went out shopping for a pair of shoes that would suffice for rock climbing at the sales, and found an awesome pair of Pumas that will do the job for 50% off. I was very proud of this purchase, and very thankful for government mandated sales. Yep, the French have a month of sales after new years, which I believe is required by the government. Something that would never happen in the States, ever. So that was fun. On Thursday a few of the IES students and I went to a discotheque (a dance club) with our IES social coordinator, a French student who gets paid to take us out and show us around town basically. Anyway, the club was pretty fun, but it’s a poor idea to go out late on a night when one has school the next day, especially when one is out past when the busses and trams run, so that one is required to walk 45 minutes back to one’s house. And I didn’t even walk all the way to my house, which would have been an extra 15 or 20 minutes, I stopped at a friend’s house. Needless to say, my knees gave out on me about half way through Friday and I wrapped one of them up in my Ace bandage so that I could make it out on Friday night for a fellow student’s birthday. It was fun, we just went around town on a pub crawl to see what there was and explore the city a little. I did leave the party early enough to catch the tram home though, I will only make that mistake once. After two nights out in a row, I slept well into Saturday morning. During the day I went to the markets with some friends and then we made lunch and riffled through some of the shops for the last day of the sales and then we had dinner. We stopped at this awesome little Thai restaurant that had some amazing food! So yummy! Sunday was pretty basic and boring. I did some work, played some computer games, explored a little bit more of Nantes. I found six post cards that I really liked at a local book store. So I got them and since they’re of different locals around Nantes I decided to wander around the city and take pictures of the same areas with my camera. So you can see those, plus a few extra areas in my Nantes album now. I revisited the Jardin des Plantes, and also went to a Garden near my house. Also, there’s this area of Nantes called the Machines de l’Iles. Basically it’s a huge metal elephant, and since I passed in on my adventure, you can see that too in my pictures. After my wanderings I went back to the house and rested some more. That pretty much wraps up my fourth week, and my first month in Nantes! I can’t believe I’ve been here for a month already! It caught me off guard this week when I realized that. I’m having an amazing time! And next Friday I’m heading off to England for my vacation! So I’ll have more travel pics to show you all soon and hopefully some fun stories!


Monday, February 9, 2009

Books, books, books.

So my dear friend Amy recently asked if anyone knew of any good books to read because she has been craving a really good book for a while. This got me thinking about really good books I'd read and other books I wanted to read, which started an Amazon 'others who bought this book also bought...' chain, which led to the list to the right, which includes new finds via Amazon, reminders of other books I've wanted to read for a while, and also a few good books I wouldn't mind reading again since it's been a while. Please feel free to comment and make suggestions about books that are on the list or others you know of that aren't but should be.

More about Nantes tomorrow, I promise!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Solo Time

My third week abroad started off pretty average. I’m enjoying having the house to myself, since that means I don’t have to worry about whether they’re waiting for me to eat dinner, or whether I told them I had my late class or was going to stay out with friends. It’s nice. I can just leave the house in the morning when I need to and come back when I’m done! On Monday I went to the University of Nantes and signed up to take ROCK CLIMBING!! That’s right, and it’s only costing me 10 euros! At Jewell the rock climbing class is an extra $100. And along with that I also signed up for weight lifting no extra charge. I’m basically getting a gym membership and rock climbing course for the price of 10 euros. The only down side is I didn’t bring my tennis shoes because I didn’t think I’d be using them, so I have to go find a cheap pair at the store that’ll last a couple months. But that’s OK, it’s still cheaper to buy shoes and pay the 10 euro class fee, than it would be to take the same course at Jewell, or pay for a gym membership. I’m fairly excited about this, as I’ve always wanted to learn official rock climbing and I enjoy working out. I also bought my tickets for my upcoming break in February on Monday. So I’m officially going to the East Midlands in the UK for about 4 days before flying to Dublin and staying for 3 days before flying to London for a couple days to see my Cambridge pals before I have to catch a bus back to France. My friend Lindsey is coming with me on my exploration and I think we’re going to stay with a friend in Manchester for a couple days before heading to Nottingham and couch surfing there and then again in Dublin before we make it to London where we’ll stay with the Cambridgers. I’m really looking forward to traveling again, so even though I had to spend money on tickets, I’m really excited about having real plans for exploration. On Tuesday we have the conversation club at IES after classes during which we can go and talk with French students and get to know them a little. So I went and it was fun, we did a fake speed dating theme so we just got a few minutes to talk to people and part of it was in English to my great surprise. So that was fun and I think I’ll go again next week. After that my week kind of leveled off and became more normal. I went to classes spoke with friends and then went back to the house. Pretty average week besides the fact I was doing it in French. Saturday I met a friend and since neither of us have internet access at our houses we attempted to go around and find a spot where we could get cheep internet on the weekends. McDonalds offers free internet, but they have no outlets to plug our computers in. The university was closed as far as we could tell, which was disappointing and annoying, even though we don’t know if it has wireless. There’s a knockoff McDonalds called Quick that we saw has free internet, but we didn’t go in to see if there were plugs, that’s an adventure for another day. I’m also looking trying to find a local internet café, or café with free wireless that I could hang out at on the weekends. If such a place can be found I will be better able to coordinate speaking English via Skype with my family members. After the search I went to friends for diner and then went to see a concert featuring music by Bach. It was a big multi-day festival thing in Nantes, but the specific concert I attended was played on the Harpsichord which I’d never heard live before. It was very beautiful and quite fun to attend. Pictures have appeared in the Nantes album above, along with another couple random things I spotted around Nantes that day. After the concert we went out for a while and then I returned to the house to stay and work/rest all of Sunday. It was quite nice. My host parents returned Sunday evening right before dinner so we talked a little about their trip. My host dad fell and hurt his foot really badly, it was all swollen and not good, so they’re going to the doctor tomorrow to have it looked at. Other than this I can think of nothing else to say here, so until next time,