Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Last night in Europe

Tonight is my absolute last night in Europe.

I am not looking forward to the long day tomorrow, a day which will have 6 hours added to it, and a day during which I should really stay awake if I want to feel kind of normal when I get home.

I am looking forward to seeing Kirsten's lovely face in Charlotte, the roadtrip to Memphis, and everyone else's lovely faces in Collierville.

But, at the moment, I feel a bit sad.  Being alone in a hotel room probably isn't helping, especially after being in a nice, full house in Scotland for the last three nights.  I spent a few days in Ireland with my sister and Lee.  We wandered the city, took a tour to the opposite coast to see the Cliffs of Moher, watched some football (soccer), and drank some guiness.  Then I took a solo ryanair flight to London.  I will admit, I was a bit overambitious with my plans for this last week and a half.  I spent two nights in London.  Two nights dying of the heat in a worse-than-average hostel that had neither the free towels nor the free lock (to lock up my valuables) that was promised.  Without a cell phone (ooo I haven't gone into this wonderful example of French-ness and frustration), I felt a little lost in the giant former capital of the world.  (I am referring to the British Empire; I don't think that was a particularly good reference.)

Luckily, I met up with splendid Sheena without too much trouble.  Sheena and I had an excellent day in London.  It was a full day, but it seemed too short.  We walked in Hyde Park, went to the V&A museum, had ice cream, went to Oxford Circus and shopped, and speed walked to Brick Lane for a "proper curry."  All of this was done in the British equivalent of a heatwave, an event in which temperatures soared so high (maybe mid-80s?) the nice lady who makes announcements on the underground reminded passengers to carry water and to sit down if they feel faint.  I will admit, I was sweating myself.
It was really great to see Sheena after leaving Angers, and we had a great time.  Walking down Brick Lane was quite the experience, all of the restaurant people were trying to get us to choose their restaurant and making us offers like "two glasses of wine, rice and a main course £10."  We followed our stomachs and went for the guys who offered "two starters, rice AND naan, a main course AND a bottle of wine" for £10 each.  It was delicious, and we were stuffed.  We then ran to the train station, so she could catch her train. And I made one of my many genius moves of the trip left my camera in Sheena's purse.

Saturday, I flew into Glasgow where I met lovely Katie RRRundle.  We poked around some shops in the kind of miserable rain then met a couple of her friends for dinner.  Then we drove out into the country side, into the wee village of Haugh of Urr to be exact.  I hope Katie reads this and rolls her eyes at my typing "wee."  Anyway, the village of Haugh of Urr is wonderful in that it is not a major city.  There are lots of fields and hills and trees and cows, and I just absolutely loved it.  We mostly drove around the countryside and to the coast.  We also ate the best ice cream I have ever eaten at Cream O' Galloway.
I tried Haggis and Black Pudding, which I liked.  But I may have difficulty eating them again, now that I know what's in them.

It was really nice staying with Katie and her family and just relaxing in my own big bed and not doing much for a couple days.  They were really great hosts, and I hope I'll have the chance to visit again! I just loved Scotland.

And now, I need to sleep, so that I can stay awake during the long haul between Dublin and JFK tomorrow.

Aurevoir l'europe!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Au revoir

I have been in Dublin since Monday afternoon.  Sunday and Monday were horribly difficult days that involved lots of packing, re-packing, weighing luggage, eating, and crying.

It's kind of hard to believe I've left continental Europe, France, and Angers for the forseeable future.  I'm pretty sure I've been a miserable travel companion for my sister and her boyfriend Lee, and I am now making an effort not to be the permanent grumpy person. But it's really heartbreaking to know I won't be seeing my home of the last nine months again.  I mean, I will see it again, but at the moment that is a distant speck in the future.  Saying goodbye to Christophe, Karine, and Luz was probably the hardest part of leaving Angers.  They have become my adopted French family, and I can't even begin to describe how much that means to me.  As much as I like traveling and going from place to place, I also love being home around people I love.  And being with them was very much like being home; they are definitely people I love.  I guess that just means I'll have to figure out a way to come back to France and keep bugging them about visiting the states!

My favorite French family:
(I hope they don't mind being posted on the internet!)

My favorite French kid:

The wonderful thing about aurevoir is that revoir means "to see again," so it's not really a goodbye.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Things fall apart

The post immediately before this one was written quite a while ago, and I'm not sure why I didn't finish it...

I also don't have a very good reason for not updating.  There's just been so much going on.

Some things I have done:

About a month ago, I spent the weekend with Karine & Christophe at Karine's parent's home in the countryside near the city of Bourge.  They have a beautiful home with a nice yard.  They also have a huge cherry tree that was full  to the brim with ripe cherries, which we ate morning, noon, and night.  We also saw the Cath√©drale Saint-√Čtienne de Bourges, a UNESCO world heritage site, and one of the largest cathedrals in France.  We were also there when the evening light festival thingy was taking place.  Many of the street lights were replaced with blue lightbulbs and there were images of famous works of art projected on some of the buildings in the city.  Hard to explain, but pretty awesome to see.

I've been stressing about packing and leaving, the date of which is now upon me.  I will leave France on Monday.

My sister is now in France.  I met her and her boyfriend Lee last Wednesday in Paris where they adjusted to time change, and I dealt with the typical train drama that comes with a strike.  Then we went to the Netherlands for the weekend to stay with our wonderful host Victor.  We enjoyed the perfect weather, watched Holland beat Slovakia, and rocked out to the Black Keys.  The Black Keys rocked.

Now I'm trying to pack.  I'm also in somewhat of a battle against my fabulous phone company who has decided to charge me lots of money for no reason.

Hou la la....

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's quittin' time...

In French the verb quitter means "to leave, quit, depart..."  There's actually many instances in which it can be used.  It is also a verb I have been using frequently. Je vais quitter le pays le 5 juillet.  I am going to leave the country the 5 of July.

Quitter seems to imply a sort of finality to my time here, as opposed to partir, which I think of as a more day-to-day verb.  For example, if someone asked what time I was leaving a party, or when I would leave for vacation, or how to get from one place to another, I would use partir.  In all actuality, they are probably pretty interchangeable verbs, but I like the sound of quitter in the sentence.  It sounds like I'm quitting the country, which I am.

But what does it mean to me to be quittin' the country?  It's such a mishmash of emotion and stress and packing and sending cancellation letters and printing tickets and squaring of edges and dotting i's and crossing t's that I can't even begin to describe how I feel about it all.  Well, I can begin... but it won't do it justice.

Many many people have asked what I will miss about France, and my responses always seem so inadequate.
Sure, I'll miss two hour lunches and lots of vacation days and baguettes and delicious pastries and safely riding my bike on the highway and housing assistance.  I won't miss living in a small room with (*cough* sparkling clean) community bathrooms.  I won't miss the language barrier between me and bank employees, shops closing early, the rights (and lack of rights) to do any various and random sorts of things.
I find myself stuck in a rather difficult emotion.  I'm so excited to see Kevin and my friends and my family.  I'm excited to start my masters, to live in a new place.  At the same time, I'm incredibly sad that this is the end (for now) of my life in France.  The things I'll miss most about living here are more abstract than food and vacation time....