Saturday, October 30, 2010

Proud to be an American

Here are some reasons that confirm my pride as an American:

1) So you know the strikes and riots that I spoke of? Well, the government had a vote and decided to raise the retirement age. So yea, all those strikes and the vandalism to the cities was for NOTHING. But you see what the problem is here? The people don't have a say. Maybe there wouldn't be such fight if the people got to vote and decide themselves on legislative propositions. Now, I don't understand the French government completely, so maybe I have something wrong here.. but regardless, I would not want to live in a country who has to riot in order to get what they want.

2) I went to a Halloween party last night and every person I told that I was from California couldn't believe it. Being from California is like being a movie star. haha I had to actually show my California license to someone because he thought I was lying.

3) When cute French guys admire your American charm, they dedicate songs to you such as the one below.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Depuis Une Semaine

Since one week ago when I posted, I have done a few exciting things worth sharing. So starting last Friday, I'm on "vacation." haha Yes, I know, you are probably thinking, already!? What? The holiday is called "Toussaint" it is a national school holiday, so no one has to go to school, meaning, I don't work. This was the same vacation I had last year when Meg came to visit me and we went to Italy =) (Best time of my life). The universities get one week off, but primary (the level I teach) gets two weeks off. Too much time for me considering I don't have much to do anyway haha.

This weekend, however, Mathéa and Gaby invited me out to their town by Geneva, Switzerland. I went here last year also. If you remember reading about that trip, I LOVED IT. And again, this time I loved it. The girls took me to visit Annecy, France which is a beautiful city on the edge of "the cleanest lake in all of Europe," says Mathéa. And yes, the lake was completely clear - amazing. Here are some pictures from Annecy, including a couple "hispter" style pictures haha because they look super hip, and I like hip. ;)

Classic view of Anney.

Super hip. hah. But really, this is an application on my iPhone, isn't it great!? This particular lens, if you can call it that on the iPhone, really saturates the colors in the buildings quite nicely.

This photo is taken from the "Pont des Amours," the bridge of lovers. I understand why that is the name of the bridge because the view is very romantic with the canal, the canoes and the trees. This particular lens was perfect for this shot too! I didn't know I was using the lens, but it really accentuated out the beautiful yellows and oranges of the autumn leaves. =) Looks all vintage.

Annecy was one day, but another day Mathéa and I went to Geneva to visit the United Nations Headquarters, one of four, I believe, in the whole world. The largest headquarters is in New York, then there are 3 others: Geneva, Switzerland, Vienna, Austria and Nairobi, Kenya. At first I was really confused why one would want to visit the United Nations, but it was actually very cool! The area where the headquarters lays is considered "international territory," a bit trippy, right? So we were technically no longer is Switzerland when we were in the building. Here are some pictures:

This is an amazing sculpture outside of the building. One leg of the chairs is blown off, symbolizing the tragedies of many victims who died or were severely injured in the countries where they used to have landmines. These countries would use children to run out into the fields to check for mines - sort of like Russian roulette. So terrible =( This installation was created to encourage all landmine countries to sign the Mine Ban Treaty and to honor the victims.

This is also in front of the headquarters. Where is the America flag? hehe It is pretty much impossible to find, but I can tell you, it is ONE of the red and white striped flags towards the back end. The picture would have to be enlarged on order to MAYYYBBEE see it.

This is an AMAZING piece of work by the Spanish artist Miquel Barceló. It is a sculptural installation that weighs like 4 tons and hangs off of the ceiling in one of the meeting rooms. Barceló used plaster to construct the dripping effects off of the ceiling and then he blasted several colors onto the ceiling. I believe that the concept of all the colors is to symbolize the many different thoughts and ideas of all nations, and how in the end they come together as one compromising and functional unit. The colors change depending on where you stand in the room.
This is an example of one of the meeting rooms. 6 different languages are available for translation in the meeting: English, Chinese, Russian, French, Spanish and Arabic.

Finally, when I got back from my weekend in Geneva, or wherever I was on the border of France and Switzerland, I had a package waiting for me: an AWESOME Giants t-shirt from the Postseason games. Thank ya thank ya James! I am SOOOOOOO excited to see that the Giants made it to the World Series!! And they won their first game last night... oohh la la, keep it up Giants!!! =) I wish I was there.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gaga Won't Even Come to France.

Nice job French rioters.. only thinking about yourself and not the others around you.

Now all the poor little monster fans who bought tickets to Lady Gaga's show in Paris and Bercy, France, cannot enjoy the voice of the talented young pop star due to "logistical problems" that arose from the insane barbaric behavior of young strikers all over the country this past week.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images (

I don't blame Gaga.. She doesn't even have to blame it on "logistical problems," I would still respect her if she just said that the people in France are too disrespectful for her tastes. Maybe this is the type of punishment that France needs since their own President won't step in and do anything about it.

Anyway, the dates are postponed to later this winter, and everyone who had tickets to this weekend's shows have to either turn in their tickets for a refund or exchange them for the later dates.

I saw an ad for Gaga's show a couple weeks ago and seriously concidered buying tickets. . . HAH. good thing I didn't.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 19, 2010 in Lyon

I know that I already wrote about the riots that occurred yesterday, but I wanted to accompany my words with photos. I found these photos on another person's blog, so I do not take credit for them, but they do a good job capturing the mess, so I here you go:

This is Place Bellecour, our "Downtown." You can see the beautiful Fouvriere Cathedral above the cloudy mess of smoke. It is a shame that people can't even respect the beauty of their own city to put it up in smoke like this.

"Riot Police," but as far as I am concerned, they don't help much. It is ridiculous that something like this is even possible to occur. Remember, the instigators were high school students. I just think that the law in America would not let this kind of behavior pass.

I have actually used this public telephone to call home before.

An example of one of the many cars/objects that were caught on fire. The rioters also broke windows of shops and stole things. It just doesn't make sense why it is necessary to act so barbarous.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Latest News in Lyon: Riots.

So remember how I was talking about France workers going on strike, and I find it really inconvenient? Well, these strikes have turned violent, and frankly I find it extrememly irresponsible, juvenile and dispresectful to one another. I don't care if that is the point of a social movement or not, IT IS RIDUCULOUS and they need to find another, more respectful way to protest.

French high schoolers have decided that they want to strike against the retirement age as well because it will one day affect them. Well I just think that they don't want to go to school and want an excuse to act immature. Their "strikes" have turned violent. They don't go to school, instead they chant down the streets, use trashcans to block the entrance to their schools and have began to vandalise the city i.e.: smashing car windows and setting cars and streets on fire. This behavior is absolutely unexcusable.

Apart from the vandalism from the highschoolers. In Marseille, the garbage men have quit picking up trash.. So now, for a week or more, the streets of Marseille have been piling up with trash. THAT IS UNSANITARY! And just plain disgusting. Someone is going to have to pick it up someday, so pull up your big boy pants Frenchies AND PICK UP YOUR TRASH!!!

Claudia, my housemate, went to her university today to go to class, but it was blocked off too, just like the high schools. There are people who want to learn and be educated - these people PAY for their education - don't deprive them because of some childish social movement, goodness gracious.

And lastly, my friend Mathéa told me today to not go down town because the riots in the streets are comparable to Baghdad.

Everything that I have spoken of, I have not witnessed with my eye, but I have heard about it from my friends and read it in the newspapers. All I have to say is thank God I have been blessed with an apartment in Villeurbanne. People might choose not to live there because it is not the nicest area aesthetically and it is small, but if it manages to avoid riots like those that are happening in the center, I 'm happy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I wouldn't call it a "homesickness."

Even in a beautiful, cultural city like Lyon, France, one can get lonely.

To be honest, I haven't really even been busy yet. Last week I went into a few classes to "observe" and then this week I had teacher training, if you will, but that is all that I have done. This next week I will go into my classes to teach (I think), but remember, I only work 12 hours a week and plus the 2 hours a day with the monsters (the little boys I babysit) it only equals about 20 hours a week.. the rest of the time I daydream or just walk around the city with my new friend, Jess. I have been pretty lonely.

I have now received 2 cards in the mail from my grandparents and a care package from my friend Clark (details below). Being assured that there are people back in the states that love me and think about me sort of makes me miss home a bit. =| And I'm gonna be honest, it kills me that I really haven't talked to my family at all since I have been here. A few emails back and forth and a 5 minute conversation on the phone DON'T count, considering it has been 26 days since I arrived. A couple days ago I went down to "SFR" to set up the account for a fixed télé and home wifi, but because it is France and people like to take forever, I still won't have these luxuries until Nov 1. So until then, I still have to make daily stops to MacDo to get wifi. Someone told me last night that with GMAIL, you can make telephone calls for free to the U.S. Well, I downloaded and installed the program that allows these calls and right when I was SOOO EXCITED to click "call" and wake my parents up at 6:30AM, the button didn't work... and it still wont work. what the heck!!!! How much does it take for a daughter to just make a telephone call to her family!?

Anyway, in addition to missing my family, I have been following the success of my dear San Francisco Giants =) and since they have made it to the playoffs I'm REALLY just missing California. I wish I could be there so I can cheer on the Giants, in their presence, to the World Series!


In the package that Clark sent me hehehehhehee =) He was able to put aside his Dodger pride for a moment and buy me a "Beat LA" Giants t-shirt! Even though we killed them long ago and it wouldn't be so useful for this season anymore ;) I can surely sport it next year! He knew that I really wanted a "Beat LA" shirt, so it was so nice of him to remember and get me one =) And you better believe I have been wearing it to bed the last two nights in a row. haha.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Something called "Les Grèves"

Assurance to all of you in the United States:


Mark my words, okay!! Or at least repeat them to me if I ever express desire to move to France. See, the French people like to strike (word for srtike: grève.) I am sure that I brought up the greves in my blog posts from last year, but currently it has become the bane of my existence.

Since I arrived in Lyon, 3 weeks and 2 days ago, I have been trying to get my french bank account up and running. I did open the account, but it is not yet "validated" because the post office has not verified my address. Since everyone has been on strike I think that this is affecting how long it is taking for the post to verify my address... In addition to this irritation, I am even more upset because I realized that you must have a french bank card to get a phone contract - I want a phone contract because it is a lot cheaper... France likes the "pay as you go" concept, but the thing is that texts alone cost so much, so I find myself recharging my stupid phone every week and it's expensive!!!.. Anyway, I need this card really bad RIGHT NOW and the bank has it, but they wont give it to me because the post office is taking to long.. I blame everything on their stupid stikes.. The post office isn't the only number of people striking though, it is everyone - schools, transportation - everything that I am involved with pretty much. Sarkozy (the french prez) and his crew have been trying to raise the retirement age, by 3 years for goodness sakes, and the french won't deal with it, soooooooo LETS STRIKE EVERYONE and make everyone else's lives AWFUL.

To lift my spirits a bit, and maybe yours too, check out these adorable pants and jacket that I want. All the frenchie girls wear these pants and I must have them.

My inspiration is Inspector Gadget.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Children are consuming my life!

Above is a picture of a sign in the park right in front of my apartment. I was passing through the park one day, read the sign to myself, registered that it says, "Thank you for respecting this green space," and then I immediately turned my head to find a man peeing in a bush.. Oh the irony.

I now present to you the little monsters that I babysit. haha.. actually they haven't been too bad ;) Baptiste is on the left and Quentin on the right. We actually had a bit of fun this day. We played with playdough and pretended that we were our own Patisserie (bakery). The boys were very impressed with the playdough macaroons that I made.. you can see them in the picture below Quentin. They now ask me every day to make "plein de macaroons" - a lot. lol

I have now visited the children in all the classes that I will be teaching. It is great because they are all so fascinated by me since I come from halfway around the world haha. I have teacher training next week though, so I won't go back to the classes until the week after. If any of you have some ideas for games/activities that will help me teach the kids English, please share in the comment section =). I would greatly appreciate it. Today in one of the classes, the teacher had the kids do little skits to show me the English they already know. This is how the skit went:

Kid #1: Hello!
Kid #2: Hello!
Kid #2: Please. (Kid #1 hands over a water bottle and Kid #2 pretends to drink.)
Kid #2: Sank you.. baaaiii!!!!!!!

haha. This one kid said, "sleeve," in place of "please." All the kids laughed at him, but little did they know, the boy just said another English word that none of them knew! haha It was very cute though.

One last thing.. I had the chance to visit my former hostmom, Anne!! =) It was surreal to be back in her house!!! But so great!! Gosh I am so lucky to have had the chance to come to France and even luckier to get to return. Anne told me that out of all the students she has ever housed, I am the only one that came back.. I really do love my life. I am very blessed.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"I would love to be in the streets of Nantes, listening to the song Nantes."

A friend of mine shared with me that he would like to be in the streets of Nantes, France, listening to the song "Nantes," by an amazing band called Beirut.

Since he told me this, I have wished the same.. so I do plan on traveling up to Nantes one of these days while listening to the song. What reminded me of this, however, was this man playing the accordian on the metro that I was on today. This is actually quiet popular. They obviously do it for money and have their small children walk around asking people for donations, but I don't mind, the music is beautiful, and they are so talented to play an accordian!! Those things are difficult. Anyway, when I heard the beautiful tunes that the accordian played, I thought of it as my personal Beirut show, right there on the metro in Lyon.

Have a listen to the song "Nantes," it is great!

For those who are wondering how school is moving along, I went to my second school today to meet the teachers. This school is just around the corner and much smaller, so I won't spend nearly as much time here as I will the other. The teachers again we VERY nice. One teacher offered to meet me later in the day to show me where I can find the "MLIS" - the library of books and images. This place is awesome!!! Here I can find children's books in english =) so then I can bring to class to read/show to the kids. This is perfect because I was worried since I brought no books from home - this should be a huge help. En plus, there is a floor of images and paintings!! They also hold mini exhibitions - very cool. The teacher who took me said that I am welcome to take the images out to bring to the schools.

A couple short highlights that I just wanted to share:

* I bought a fresh baguette from a boulangerie today to make a sandwich with, and oh my gosh, it was the best baguette I have ever had. I am getting a fresh one everyday! They are only 0.85 centimes, so I find it worth it. It was warm, fluffy, soft and a bit sweet. =)

* I have now spent two days talking to French adults at the schools now for about 2 hours each day and it seriously just puts a smile on my face.. Even though my progression with the language is slow, each day I understand more, and after my conversations, I litteraly walk away with a smile and walking with a slight bounce. haha

* Lastly, The San Francisco Giants are the NL WEST CHAMPIONS!!!!! WOOO HOOOO!!!!!!! Off to the playoffs. I see that Tim Lincecum is pitching the next game against the Braves =) exciting! I wish I could go! Best luck to my favorite team back home!! =) Let this be our year!!


Monday, October 4, 2010

David Guetta welcomes me to France

I am sure you all already know this song, but I didn't hear it until I arrived in France and it has become THE song that will always remind me of this time of my life.. I think that higher forces planned it like this because I automatically associate David Guetta with France anyway, and of course Mr. Guetta would not reveal a song like this to me until I was in his own country. ha.

Let me give you a little update on how my work life in France is going so far. So I am working in two primary schools, one of which I visited today and another that I will visit tomorrow. Today I met the staff of teachers that I will be working with and they were all very nice =) Tomorrow I will do the same at the other school. Thursday and Friday will be the days that I meet the children. Next week I have orientation and so the week after will be when I actually begin teaching I believe. Today I started babysitting...


those ellipses are to interpret my sighs and loss for words.

So the littlest one, Baptiste (age 3) WAS A HANDFUL!!!!!! It is so hard because I don't know how to properly tell him to behave in French.. Of course I can use English with him and he understands that I am mad, but otherwise I don't know what to do. He would not listen to me when I would tell him to stop, then he would run from me and throw himself on the floor.. my goodness, I was so embarrassed because I am sure people were looking at me in public and thinking, "Straighten that kid out!" I am so glad I don't have kids of my own yet.. after only 2 hours of babysitting him, I was already tired... actually exhausted. I give true props to single moms. I do not know how they do it.

I wish I had a camera to take pictures and post them for you =( That is one of the reasons I posted the David Guetta video, it is just more interesting to look at something. When I get paid, I am going to buy a camera and take many pictures for your little eyes to see! =)

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Guido Frenchie? ..yes.

I would like to address the cilché of going to France and falling in love.

I believe it is false.

Of course, I did not come here with the notion that I would fall in love, however, the liklihood of that happening seems slim to none - at least with a Frenchman. I have been to France twice now and up until this point, no Frenchmen have caught my eye. I was on the phone with my friend Melissa and we were actually discussing this subject. In Toulon and here in Lyon, we both do not see attractive men!! These are the faults we find in Frenchmen:

1) They are tiny (skinny and short) and feminine. I mean, usually I am into skinny guys, but their pointy shoes, skinny jeans and scarves are not very flattering or attractive to the female eye.

2) There is this awful track suit trend. What guy wears a tracksuit? Well, 1) Jay from modern family or 2) ghetto French dudes.

3) The existence of the Guido Frenchmen (I give Melissa credit for coining the guido term for the French). They put obscene amounts of gel in their hair, wear diamonds in their ears and chains around their necks. Many of these guidofrancais wear the tracksuits too.

Are we in the wrong parts of France to find this clichéd love? Or is it just too good to be true.