The Perils of Learning French In A College Dorm

The good news about learning a new language is that it is a lifelong process. The bad news about learning a new language is that it is a lifelong process. No matter how fluent you are, there is always something else to learn as a non-native speaker. It’s exciting and exhausting at the same time.

Luckily, when you’re in a place like France, it is easy to learn new stuff about things like, well, you know, French. Here are just some of the words and phrases I’ve learned while being here:

  • Videur = Bouncer. Yep, learned this one the hard way. Let me tell you, “videurs” here do not mess around. We were at a club one night and my friend went a little Lindsay Lohan. She ended up getting kicked out after passing out at the bar (maybe she was just really tired). I didn’t know she got kicked out so I decided to be a good friend/live out my dream of being exactly like Dog the Bounty Hunter and try to find her. I cut the line to the bathroom to check and see if she was in there, apparently a capital offense in French nightclubs. The bouncer consequently “escorted” me out. When I tried to explain what I was doing, he pushed me to the ground! I guess I understand, I must have seemed very threatening in my lime tutu and neon pink suspenders. But then again, if we let every person wearing fluorescent ballerina attire scare us, we’re just letting the terrorists win. 
  • Tirer = Pull ; Pousser = Push. Doesn’t matter how imprinted in my brain these words are, because every single time I approach a door, without fail, I will do the opposite of what it says and end up looking like I should be a cast member on The Hills or another equally unrealistic MTV reality show. I was at university one day and, upon exiting, kept trying to pull a door that clearly displayed the word “pousser” at the top. As I was walking away, I told a girl approaching the door that it didn’t work. She gave me a weird look, went up to the door, pushed it, then left. Luckily the word for “idiot” is the same in French. 
  • Bad Words in French = Pretty Much Exactly the Same as Bad Words In English. So I got my very first French midterm back! And I actually got a good grade despite inadvertently cursing in the writing portion and not following the directions whatsoever! Basically, we had to write a lengthy description using certain elements for a French writing/literature class. My composition DID have all of those elements, despite being a rhyming poem (apparently I didn’t fully understand the directions). In the teacher comments section, my professor wrote: “This is not what I asked for at all, so this composition is very unuseful, but admirable! Good job!” She also pointed out that one word that I used is actually a bad word in French, for which I apologized in class. I hear people in my dorm say it all the time, so I didn’t think it was bad (plus it rhymed)! Wish I could say that was the first time I’ve used the word “shitty” on an exam.*

These are just a few of the highly important/useful things I have learned in France thus far. But don’t worry, it hasn’t been all give and no take.

English words and phrases I have taught non-native speakers in the past week alone include: queef, barsexual, swag, and the important distinction between “f***ing somebody” and “f***ing with somebody.” Because, of course, you couldn’t survive in America without knowing those!

“Breed as much as possible.” Wise words from a Spanish graffiti artist.

*Other times were not by accident.

99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall

So I was halfway through buying my ticket for the school trip to Barcelona when I was informed that the bus ride would be 15 hours. I was all like, ¨chicka whaaaat?!”. And then the French people were all like, ¨we don´t know what that means.¨And then I was all like ¨nevermind¨and continued to buy the ticket anyways.

But seriously…15 hours people! I know complaining about the length of the ride in a quality double-decker bus to go from one European country to the next is very privileged white girl of me, so I am instead going to provide you with this cleverly-titled list:

“15 Things To Do On A 15-Hour Bus Ride”

1. Listen to the French guy quietly singing Justin Bieber to himself while huddled against the window. This is one of the greatest things to ever happen in the history of my life.

2. Take in the scenery. I have to say, the scenery of southern France is a bit more exotic than the Indiana/Illinois landscape I typically encounter on my many drives from Ohio to Wisconsin….less casino billboards though, so I´m not sure which is actually better.

3. Comfort yourself. So one of the organizers of the trip came around and asked everyone to sign a waiver. I wasn´t sure what a certain word meant, so this was how he explained it to me in his limited English: ¨It´s like, in case a policeman abuses you when he is arresting you, it´s not our responsibility.¨ Great, just great.

4. Be genuinely concerned about French people and their nicotine intake. Five whole hours at a time without smoking! I couldn´t believe it! My lungs had already mentally prepared themselves for a smoke-filled bus ride.

5. Watch E.T. with Wiz Khalifa as the soundtrack. They showed this movie, but with no sound, so I just listened to my iPod while watching. I have to say that Wiz Khalifa´s songs were surprisingly fitting though.

6. Contemplate Drew Barrymore´s childhood descent into drugs. Why, Drew, why? You were so cute on your little bike! It´s okay though, we forgive you. If giving the world ¨Never Been Kissed¨doesn´t count as redemption, I don´t know what does.

7. Judge others. Seriously, who takes grapes and cheese as roadtrip snacks? I feel like it is amateur hour on this bus.

8. Creep on conversations. Yay, so much French for me to try to understand! Truly, the French language is so beautiful, with the exception of the occasional word that sounds like one is hocking a loogie. In my opinion, the beauty of the French language is rivaled only by Italian and l33t (if you know what this is, you were probably as cool as me in middle school).

9. Freak out silently to yourself. My life is truly embodied in this SNL skit. I am convinced that one day I am going to leave my hair straightener on a stack of newspapers. Although, I´m not entirely sure it would be such a bad thing if my current residence burned to the ground.*

10. Be nostalgic. The long road trip made me miss the days when my family would spend hours in the car, trying not to kill each other. My dad would quiz us on random trivia and my brothers and I would do choral versions of N´Sync songs.**

11. Pretend like you´re on the Magic School Bus. I didn´t actually do this, but it would be fun, right? Right?

12. Awkwardly make eye contact with the guy sitting across from you approximately 20 million times.

13. Weigh the pros and cons of cracking your back/every other bone in your body. Pro: would feel amazing. Con: everyone around me would think I was a digusting non-human.***

14. Wonder what will happen to your vagina if Mitt Romney becomes president.

15. Write a blog post about how bored you are.

With the road trip under my belt, I am excited to see what Spain adventures are to come! The only Spanish I know is ¨where is the bathroom¨, so at least we know my bladder will be content!

*Just kidding…when it comes to arson, just say no!

**Yes, this did happen. If I do say so myself, our rendition of ¨Dirty Pop¨remains to this day hauntingly beautiful.

***I think we all know which side won out.

A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes

I was unabashedly excited to go to DISNEYLAND last weekend! And this time I got to go without having to wear a leash! (seriously, this happened – ask my mom and/or therapist who I’ve had to work out the damage inflicted with).*

If you don’t love Disney and everything even remotely related to Disney, there is a 120% chance that you have no soul. Seeing as my friends and I DO have souls though, we decided to take a trip to Disneyland Paris on Saturday.

Besides having to get to the bus by 7 in the morning and the non-stop rain**, we had an awesome day and I managed to keep my public Disney sing-a-longs to a minimum (I dare you to hear the phrase “Hakuna Matata” and NOT want to sing it while skipping around in Minnie ears). Disneyland Paris has two parks: one is just called Disneyland and has more of the classic feel, while the other is more like movie studios and more rides-focused. We went to the former, and creepily kept our eyes out for Disney characters and photo ops the entire day. We were papparazzi, and Mickey Mouse was our Lindsay Lohan. Unfortunately, we never caught up to that elusive bastard, but we did get the next best thing:

CELEB SIGHTING. Does anyone know how to get in touch with TMZ or Perez Hilton about getting photos published??

The rides were pretty great too, although no one shared my enthusiasm for the kiddie ride where you get to sit in the baby elephants and go around in a circle, so I had to forego that one. Besides a bunch of rollercoasters, we went on one of those rides where you ride in a car that’s on a track, so pretty much you’re not actually driving the car but when you’re a kid you feel like the coolest person ever. Anyways, we were doing that and of course mine ran out of gas halfway through, so I had to awkwardly sit and wait for someone to come get me. It wouldn’t have been that bad had it not been for the snotty French kid who yelled “HAHA” while driving right past me. Imagine it how Nelson from “The Simpsons” says it, and you’ll understand the profound shame I felt.

As you can see from this completely spontaneous picture of me being one with nature, I was pretty much born to be a Disney princess.

Although Disneyland Paris was a little underwhelming compared to the ones in the U.S., it felt comforting to be in a place just a little bit “American”, even if only for a day. Plus, walking around the little town, listening to Disney songs and taking pictures by the princess castle, took me back to a time when my idea of “Prince Charming” entailed more than a guy in a tight v-neck who “paid” for dinner by swiping me into the dining hall. Ok, sorry, cynicism over….seriously though, if anyone knows a guy bearing a resemblance to Aladdin (obvi the hottest Disney “prince”), hook a sister up.

With the end of our trip, I was able to add one thing to my bucket list: being a Disney character/mascot. Note: I am not stipulating that I must be affiliated with Disney and/or its enterprises in any way. I am merely saying that I will be wearing a Disney mascot costume (probably Goofy if we’re being real) and making some sort of public appearance. Get ready Marquette University Papa John’s at 4 in the morning!

That is me in the Cowman costume, shortly after I had a dance-off with that guy in the brain costume. Tell me I am not over-qualified to be a Disney character.

*To be fair, my parents did have to deal with my twin brother AND me when were were just a few years old. Also, Casey (my twin brother) was reportedly a nightmare when he was younger – I, of course, have always been nothing but well-behaved, courteous, and disconcertingly attractive.

**As one of my friends adeptly pointed out, it wasn’t just rain, but “DISNEY rain.” I think this means, besides being awesome, that the rain comes from the tears of children who have just watched the opening scene of “Bambi”.

ADDITION!

After my initial post, my family members sent me a number of awesome pictures that I could not help but share:

My first “meeting Mickey Mouse” experience. As you can see, it was so magical even the woman in the background was captivated.

Who do you think deserved the leash and who do you think would have done just fine without it? Based solely on this picture.

The Week of “DS” – Dying Slowly

Don’t worry, contrary to the email subject lines I send to my parents to get them to respond in a timely manner, I am not dying!

“DS” actually stands for “devoirs surveilles”, or what you Americans call “midterms”. That’s right, I said YOU Americans. After a certain “binders full of women” comment I have chosen to dissassociate myself from the good ol’ U.S. of A. for somewhere between 3-5 days (although I have to admit, the Clinton* memes are pretty hilarious. I’ve included one below because I can).

My future husband, ladies and gentlemen.

So this week is midterm week for me, and my life hasn’t been in this much of a downward spiral since I found out “The Hills” wasn’t real.**

Unlike in the typical U.S. class where you are given a ton of little assignments that help pad your grade should you suffer some kind of stroke during the tests (or decide to go out the night before), French grades are typically made up of two components: a midterm grade and a final grade. This is probably the least comforting thing in the history of ever when you are stressed about studying.

I have been lucky this past week to get a lot of help from French students, who have provided me with extra notes and corrected some of my writing. My ingenious strategy has been to sit in the common kitchen of my dorm and corner unwitting French students. This has resulted in a ton of help, and even some free food.

Unfortunately, the professors have not been quite as accomodating. Today, at the end of class, I went up to the teacher and told him I was pretty nervous about the test, being an international student, and asked him for any advice. He responded by telling me if I had any questions I should ask another student. He said it in very sophisticated French, so it was the most eloquent way anyone has ever said “fuck off” to me.

One thing I miss about being at Marquette during midterms week is the numerous comfort spots where one can go to study around many other students and bask in the shared feeling of depression/anxiety. The library here is smaller than my bedroom (ok that’s an exaggeration, but it is pretty small), so I don’t know where students are going to study together. Maybe there is a secret spot where all French students are, stressing to the point that their hair is falling out and discussing the most likely modes of escape (train, bus, marriage to an NFL player), all between cups of coffee and Facebook updates. If such a utopia exists on campus, I am missing out on the party!

Sometimes, especially during weeks like these, it’s hard not to wish I was just taking everything in English. More than once I’ve thought, if this was in English, I would totally be dominating (okay, “dominating” is probably a bit of an overstatement. It’s probably more like: if this was in English, I would totally be performing slightly above average). But it really is during these times that I have to remind myself that this is an amazing opportunity and I’m doing something I’ve always wanted to do. That being said, I still can’t wait until I take the most glorious post-midterm nap of all time.

A bientot, and wish me luck!

*I am all for Hillary and the whole pro-women thing, but I have still not given up on completely home-wrecking that marriage and becoming Mrs. Bill Hottie Clinton.

**I apologize for the whiny nature of this post. I am basically just compounding all the annoying Facebook statuses college students make complaining about midterms into one blog post.

Questioning My Life After Taking a Liking to Techno Music

So after one of the worst nights that I have ever had*, including (but not limited to) having my stuff stolen, getting manhandled by a bouncer and stepping in vomit (not my own, thank you very much), I am feeling a little homesick.

Shout outs to the things I wish I could have packed in my suitcase:

Jimmy Johns Soaked In Blue Moon and Covered In Cheese Curds. I miss my good old Wisconsin food and drink! (ok, I know that Jimmy Johns isn’t only in Wisconsin, but I only eat it in Wisconsin, so it counts). Everything here is so healthy and well-prepared…it really is sickening. When I got back at three in the morning last night, for drunk food, I made myself a SALAD. Now, I am consequently having an identity crisis, which I expect to remain for the better part of the day.

This is my food porn.

Weird Smelling Clothes of Questionable Origins for Cheap. Little known fact: thrift stores were actually invented so college students could buy cheap clothes to wear to themed parties thinly veiling the main purpose of getting completely wasted. Stupid fact: I can’t find them anywhere in France! All of the French clothes stores are really nice, and expensive. Thus, they are not conducive to outfits that will be worn to themed events and that, statistically, have a 78% chance of being vommed on at some point in the night. Last night, the hell that I went to had a neon theme (which is, coincidentally, how I have always pictured Hell). Although my sorority days have rendered my closet full of such attire, I didn’t bring any of it with me – too busy packing things like socks and pictures of Ryan Gosling. But I had nowhere to go to find something cheap! Thank God, I eventually came upon a Claire’s and bought myself an elegant, neon-green tutu.

People That Will Call Me An Idiot and Try To Dutch Oven Me. To my friends and family that are reading this: I’ll admit it, I actually really miss you guys. As much as I love all the people I’ve met here and the friends I’ve made, there’s something about the comfort of being around those you’ve known for a long time that nothing can replace. They will call you out on your bullshit, they will do awkward dance moves to inappropriate rap music to cheer you up, they will make unflattering nicknames for you like “Stumps” and try to get people to call you by them (thanks to my lovely brothers for that one). All I know is I’m about to go on a hugging marathon of the century when I get home, so be prepared!

Look at all the love I am missing out on! Miss you too, bro.

Alright, that’s all for now. I’m about to lay in bed with some Law and Order SVU and get reacquainted with the two people I miss the most: Benson and Stabler.

*Awkwardly the club that I went to was hosting what many French people told me was “the party of the year”. Although, I am know thinking I translated incorrectly. I think what they actually meant to describe was “deathtrap 2012 where you have to wait half an hour to go to the bathroom and being an asshole is completely acceptable.” Rough translation.

A Few Thoughts On World Mental Health Day

 

Today is World Mental Health Day, and after reading several articles featuring the devastatingly high numbers of those who suffer from depression and other forms of mental illness, and also reflecting on my own personal experiences, I have made a spur of the moment decision to write a blog post. Understandably, this is a more serious topic than my normal posts (there will be no wine jokes made), but I felt the need to utilize my new forum to talk about something important.

It’s funny to me that I am almost shaking while writing this post, anxious about making all my thoughts clear and doing the subject justice, uncomfortable discussing something so serious without the mask of jokes or cute pictures, scared of being judged. The first two things I can deal with, it is the third that hammers in the importance of writing about this topic in the first place, and of World Mental Health Day in general: I am scared of being judged for saying that I myself have struggled with mental illness, particularly depression.

I have dealt with depression for the better part of my life, and only just recently gotten to the point where I truly feel like the person I was meant to be. I know that I am not alone. Millions of people in the United States, and around the world, must live with some sort of depression, going to doctor after doctor, trying medication after medication, all while struggling to deal with its consequences and trying to live a “normal” life.

Unfortunately, mental illness will always exist. That is inevitable. However, I guess my hope in writing this post is to exert whatever miniscule influence I might have to ask that people put aside their judgement, open their minds, and create an environment that allows those dealing with it to seek help. There is such a strong stigma regarding mental illness today that I fear too many don’t seek help, their feelings of loneliness compounded by a world that seems like it would never understand.

I don’t speak from a soap box, I speak from my own experiences and those of close family and friends. I have seen the shame that people dealing with these problems can feel. I have seen the fear of someone finding out. I have felt how life-saving a comforting word, or an honest conversation, or even just a hug, can be.

I want to end this post with something I think everyone needs, regardless of if they are struggling with mental illness or not: hope. Because of patient and loving family, I have seen how much better things can get – I am now in a place I have waited to be my whole life, doing something I love. I know it will be a battle I will likely face for the rest of my life, but I feel more than ready to take it on. Thank you to everyone who has been there with me the whole way.

Let’s give everyone that same chance.

 

Someone who probably said it better than me:

http://thequietus.com/articles/10313-world-mental-health-day-depression-suicide-india-knight-tony-parsons

F is for Failure, And Falling, And, Well, You Know

So I know that sometimes I seem like this exotic jet setter, with the mind of Anderson Cooper and the calves of Tyra Banks (young, hot Trya Banks like in that weird Disney movie she did with Lindsay Lohan). But, believe it or not, I too have my less-than-perfect moments — not THAT much less than perfect, but still.

In fact, I am not even halfway through this week and I already feel like I should have to wear a scarlet letter “F” for the rest of it – standing for “FAIL” (get your minds out of the gutter!).

Here are some of my fail moments from the last couple of days. Enjoy, and imagine the laugh soundtrack to “America’s Funniest Home Videos” in the background:

There Are No Words…Only Shame. Last night I was coming back from tutoring when the bus came to my stop. Apparently, when you get off the buses here, you have to push a button in order to get the doors to open….news to me. Of course, I was the only person getting off at my stop, and so began a confusing back-and-forth shouting with the bus driver, accompanied by me going from the doors in the back to the ones in the front in sheer confusion, and his shaking of the head and eye rolling. Per French style, all of the other people in the bus simply just watched all of this happening and did nothing to help, I’m sure wondering why this homeless-looking American girl (I had to wake up early that day) couldn’t get her shit together enough to figure out how to open a bus door. Finally, I got out of that terrible vehicle and was just breathing in the fresh taste of freedom when I tripped on some concrete thing, and completely face planted. My backpack was so heavy too that I experienced how girls must have felt on bottom having sex with Biggie Smalls (RIP). The bus drove away as I managed to pick myself up, with the new weight of shame added on.

How Am I Supposed to Know What Kind of Cereal Ashton Kutcher Had For Breakfast?! If it was possible for a building to be the devil, my dorm building would be it. It is the worst, the culmination of shitty things being that we now have absolutely no Internet connection. Yeah, maybe I sound like a spoiled brat, but keep in mind that all of my classes are in a different language. So basically, if I need to look up a word or phrase or Google reasons why I decided to take all my classes in French in the first place, I am out of luck. I probably would be madder about the situation, but there is a McDonald’s with free wi-fi about 3 minutes away from my residence and they serve beer so…..

How Do You Say “I Wasn’t Aware We Had A Test, Sir” In French? Guess what? I have midterms this week! Guess who has two thumbs and didn’t know that? This girl! (Sorry, I actually hate when people make that joke). But for realz, I guess they are actually next Monday and Friday. Apparently I am not competent enough to read dates though (hint – they’re pretty much the same in French), so I spent last night stressing out and staying up in order to prepare for a test that is actually a week and a half away. Plus I borrowed notes from a French guy who is as nice as can be but whose handwriting looks like he was writing drunk and without hands. Oh, and there are all these weird French abbreviations of which I have no clue – like, for example, a little circle is an abbreviation for “tion” because THAT makes complete sense. My only salvation for these tests is going to be the fact that I am an exchange student, and so professors consequently think I am mentally challenged and take pity on me….yay!

One awesome thing from last night to end this post on a good note: who knew that Robin Sparkles’ “Let’s Go to The Mall” is a song you can do on Just Dance and why did I have to be informed by tiny French children? My language skills were not adequate enough to explain how completely awesome this is. Then again, I’m not sure I could do it in English either. Oh, and I killed it when it was my turn to dance, just in case anyone was wondering.

Hopefully now you guys can all see that I am not this super-human that you have all been making me out to be. Here’s to hoping the rest of my week isn’t such a fail! Bisous!

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with the post, but I felt it my duty to inform the public that this was a legitimate float in the Lille parade I went to this past weekend. I would feel bad about putting it in this blog, but since the French people thought it appropriate for an event with many children in attendance, I think it’s fine. When public celebrations and sex ed combine!

Hiding from Droolers and Other Budapest Fun*

Yay I am back from my three-day trip to Budapest and I feel like I now know the city well enough to pronounce it’s name in the pretentious way! (like “Buda-pesht”).

After booking ridiculously cheap flights that made us question the general safety of the airplane/our own sanity for trusting it, my friends and I were on our way!

Traveling safety is all about choosing the right people to go with. As you can see, I was in good hands.

We had to leave at 4 in the morning to get to the bus to the airport, so when we landed in Budapest, I was going on 1.5 hours of sleep (and that’s airplane sleep, so really it should be cut in half). Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, maybe it was the fact that we were by the airport, maybe it was that my iPod ran out of battery on the plane and I couldn’t listen to my standard Ludacris to get me pumped up, but my first reaction to Budapest was….WTF? While our train ride to the hostel gave us views of some pretty awesome graffiti (I’m not being sarcastic, it was actually really cool….maybe I should become a graffiti artist guys!), the city known as “the pearl of the Danube” was not exactly, well, pearl-like.

Actually nice photo for those of you saving for the photo album at home. My initial impression of Budapest was before I saw beautiful views like this.

Luckily, my opinion soon changed and it ended up being an awesome city…plus they had a KFC right by our hostel so saying anything negative would be a bigger slap in the face than LeBron James’ decision (people don’t forget).

We had an amazing trip, with so many fun/awkward/Hungarian things to happen that it is difficult to describe them all here. Below are just a few of the highlights and the rest you will have to imagine yourselves (think “Sex and the City”, Eastern European edition):

Hostel Featuring Actual Internet Connection and Men With Plunging Necklines. When you agree to stay in a place that costs you less than $10 a day, you show up wearing a hazmat suit and hoping for the best. The hostel we stayed in in Budapest was actually really nice though! It was so nice, in fact, that I couldn’t even hold its name, “Lonely Girl on the Planet”, against it (which will, coincidentally, be the name of my posthumous autobiography). We were able to meet people from all different countries AND the kitchen actually had things like plates and cups…it’s the little things, ya know? Every night an employee would take people from the hostel out to different bars/clubs, with a “welcome drink” included for the equivalent of only a euro. Ok, so the welcome drink was actually just a shot in a little plastic cup, but considering I bought a liter of wine in a plastic bottle that I subsequently saw a homeless Hungarian man drinking on the street, I don’t think I have much right to judge quality.**

Plunging necklines and complimentary alcohol in action. All we do is win.

Walking Tour That Didn’t Make Me Want to Fall Asleep and/or Shoot Myself (Circa 7th Grade Washington D.C. Trip ’04). Our second day in Budapest, we went on a free walking tour that, unlike guys that spend five years talking about how they’re a “DJ” even when you have just met, was actually interesting. We walked all around the city (both parts, “Buda” and “Pest”) and learned about the history of the country and its current national issues from a hot Hungarian woman. Hungary has a really interesting history that I will not even attempt to recount because I will just butcher it/mix in elements of American history out of confusion (George Washington was Hungarian right?). Two interesting facts: 1. Hungarians have a lot of Asian lineage (Google it). 2. Hungarian is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn. It sounds so different from other languages that many English speaking movies actually use Hungarian for when aliens speak. So, when these movies come to Hungary, the aliens’ voices have to be dubbed with something else because otherwise the people would be able to understand what they are saying. So basically Hungarians are aliens trying to practice mind control and take over the world….you’re welcome for the culture lesson.

Another favorite part of the tour. It is tradition for couples to come to the park and put a lock on here that symbolizes their love, then go to throw the key in the river together. The tour guide said that the smart ones use a combination lock, just in case things go sour. My love life would probably require more like one of those twisty-ties that they use for packages of bread.

Wake Up In The Morning Feeling Like P.Diddy. So Hungarian money is called “forints” and the exchange rate is something crazy like 1 euro = 290 forints. This results in feeling like a complete boss whenever you go anywhere and buy something. For example, you can say stuff like, “Just dropped 2500 on lunch. Nbd”. In actuality, this is probably cheaper than what you pay for for a typical lunch in the U.S. or Europe. However, I am a poor college student, so don’t burst my bubble on this one guys…I pretty much just made it rain in Budapest.

That’s the summary of my first big European trip since I’ve gotten here! I can only hope that the next one is just as fun and involves another drunken trip to the airport at 4 am!

A bientot!

Maturity means accepting that you are the kind of person that says things like “take a picture of me contemplating this horse”.

*Title derived from an incident at a bar in which a considerably incoherent Hungarian man had one of my friends cornered and just stared at her with drool coming out of his mouth….apparently she was looking exceptionally beautiful that evening. Don’t worry, she managed to get away by climbing under a table. Cultural connections!

**Drinking the same alcohol as homeless people is the only way to get an authentic cultural experience in any new city.

Baguettes and Bisous and Blogs, Oh My!

I am so excited to have been picked for GoAbroad’s “Blog of the Week”, if for no other reason than that I finally have something in common with Charlie Sheen — winning!

On a serious note, thanks so much to everyone who has been so supportive of this blog and my time in France. Studying abroad has been a dream come true and it means a lot to me to be able to share the experience with so many people. I hope I have found the delicate balance of information sharing and general appropriateness: I aim to lie somewhere between Ke$ha and Queen Elizabeth.

Now that I’ve properly prepared the acceptance speech for my future Oscar/Grammy/Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year Award — yeah Harvard, I’m talking about you — I’ll just say one final thank you to everyone who has been reading.

Oh yeah, and a special shout out to Al Gore for inventing the Internet…couldn’t have done it without you, bro.

Stay tuned to keep reading about priceless moments like this.

GoAbroad - Welcome to the resource for meaningful travel!

The Sage Wisdom of 90’s Pop Bands

Who doesn’t remember the iconic 90’s pop band B*Witched? Wait….almost no one? Ok, well, let me remind you. This Irish girl group won our hearts with age-old lyrics like “I’ve got a house with a window and doors” and “get it on, riding in our rollercoaster”.

But of all the lyrical gems that B*Witched gave us, the one I have taken most to heart here in France is “c’est la vie” or, in English, “that’s life”. The following is a list of occurrences that have caused me to shrug and utter this phrase more than once:

  • When you inadvertently ask your theology professor if he has ever taken opium: c’est la vie. Opium was actually in the context of the conversation (you had to be there) and I’m still not completely sure what I asked. All I know is he responded laughing and saying that he had never taken opium before. Who knows though, it could have been one of those Billy Madison “no I will not make out with you” kind of things where he was just messing with me. This will remain one of life’s greatest mysteries…
  • When French waiters/waitresses always tell you the price in English, even though clearly numbers are the easiest thing for you to understand, c’est la vie. Side note: I don’t know why, but it seems like no matter what country I am in, I become best friends with the proprietors of food places/general businesses. In Wisconsin, this means the occasional free “X-Rated” t-shirt (from the liquor store–wish I was joking). In France, it so far means nothing but a wave every now and then. I’ve got three months to get a free tshirt out of them though!
  • When you put your trash in the wrong place by mistake, and your crazy landlady consequently goes through the trash to figure out whose it is, then comes up to your room to yell at you: c’est la vie. Ok, for this one, “c’est la vie” might have been accompanied by a few choice words that I will opt not to write on here. But seriously….going through people’s trash?! My only consolation is that there was a really gross old banana in there. Take that, crazy landlady!

See guys? I have been able to weather all these storms with the use of a simple phrase. So from now on, if life gives you crappy lemons that you would rather throw away than try to make anything out of, just say “c’est la vie.”

RIP B*Witched. Gone but not forgotten.