Thursday, April 21, 2011
teenager no more!!
first off, i’d just like to thank the many, many people who made my 20th birthday so very special. it was a birthday i’ll not soon forget!
here’s what my weekend looked like.. :)
thursday, 14 april 2011
i had two exams on thursday – my LAST two! they were both translation tests, french to english (aka the easier kind!), so there was no studying involved. how can you study for a translation exam? you can’t. once i finished those tests at noon, i was freeeeee! i came back and chilled out for a while, doing some planning and requesting couches for my upcoming trip. the evening was spent cooking with friends and hanging out. my friend shane had a visitor for a few days – his best friend from ireland, named rowan. they showed up around 8pm and we all stayed in the kitchen, talking and goofing off. around 10:30, we went over to say goodbye to lucy, one of the girls from the UK, who went home on saturday. when we got over there, though, everyone was going out! as it ended up, me, jessie, claire, shane, and rowan biked into town to hang out with everyone at this bar called ‘okapi’ – it was PACKED with students, because thursday night is student night. we had fun though! it was a slow bike ride back, and we finally got home around 2:30. i pretty much passed right out – so tired!!!
friday, 15 april 2011
friday was my first “birthday excursion”. joined by five of my friends (rachel, newton, claire, ariel, and laura), i took a bus to a chateau about 18km outside of angers, called the chateau brissac. it’s actually the tallest chateau in the loire valley – 7 floors! we arrived in brissac, which is seriously small, around noon and went straight to the tourism centre. the plan was to have a picnic and walk around until the chateau tours opened back up at 2pm. the women told us to try the bakery/butcher in the town plaza, unless we wanted to walk 2km to the supermarket. we bought baguettes, cheese, and salami and had some great little sandwiches! well, i just had bread and cheese.. only one week left of my vegetarian lifestyle!! but yeah, lunch was great. it was a little overcast, but we had fun regardless. after lunch, we walked all over the town, killing an hour. after stopping for some hot chocolate, we made our way over to the chateau. for 8 euro, we got a private guided tour of the chateau, a free wine tasting, and access to the huge gardens! not too bad. the building itself was beautiful – extremely detailed carvings, classic fairytale architecture.. after seeing several chateaux in my time here, i would definitely say it was the most “beauty and the beast” looking castle i’ve seen so far. :) the tour was cool, too. we got to see the main reception room, the sitting parlour, the “ballroom”, the dining room, the king’s bedchamber, the grand theatre.. it was AWESOME. the coolest part was that the noble family of brissac (the duke and his family) still live in the castle! they occupy 10 of the 204 rooms. how neat is THAT! we spent the whole day looking for laszlo, the 16 year old future duke of brissac. :) after the tour, we went and had our little wine tasting before going to play around in the gardens for the afternoon. we had a great time taking silly pictures and sitting in the grass. around 3:30, we left and went to finish our walk around the town before taking the 5:20 bus back to angers. the walk didn’t take that long, so we ended up sitting in the sun again for about 30 more minutes near the bus stop. it was so lovely though.
after a few different buses, we made it back to campus and headed right to superU to get stuff for dinner – we had decided to do a big fajita night! so i bought some things, and got cooking around 8:30. since shane’s a real vegetarian and i’m not eating meat for lent (and because meat is expensive), we just made veggie fajitas. but i made guacamole and we had some other toppings, and the whole result was super delicious! it’s such a great feeling when you cook for lots of people and then at the end of the meal, literally all the food is gone. i love it. we hung out in the kitchen some more and then once the night guard came to close it up, we moved to shane’s room. i stayed for about 20 minutes of ‘the shining’ and then headed to bed. not my kind of movie, and i was so tired!
saturday, 16 april 2011
about 2 weeks ago, i signed up for a ‘daytrip to the sea’ excursion that the international office had organized.. the trip had places for 50 people - for 10 euro, we got to visit 4 cities/sites, get dinner, AND it included transportation! seriously, it was a ridiculously cheap trip. the spots filled up in like 3 hours, but luckily natalie, claire, rachel and i got spots. we met the tour bus at 8:45 outside the school and hopped on for an hour and a half ride toward the atlantic. our first stop was in a preserved village called ‘kehrinet’ – a tiny, tiny place in the middle of nowhere, with about 18 thatch-roofed cottages and some animals. it was really cool to see what those little villages looked like centuries ago! it felt even MORE like beauty and the beast. (i realize that i make this comparison all the time.. but seriously, you can’t understand how often i feel like i’m living in the movie over here!) we walked around looking at the restored cottages, marveling at the fact that thatch roofs actually work, and checking out the artisan shops. after an hour and a half, we all piled back into the bus and headed to the next stop, about 30 minutes away. it was a fortified city called ‘guerande’ – all contained within fortress walls. we got there right in the middle of the saturday market, which automatically means AWESOME LUNCH. we got baguettes, some brie, and roasted potatoes. the girls got some meat for the sandwiches, and i got spinach. and we sat in the sunshine in a courtyard in front of the church and ate one of the most delicious meals i have consumed here in france. there is literally nothing like a market lunch. i am going to miss it so much. i bought raspberries for dessert, which i ended up putting on the waffle that i bought later (see the picture). DELISH. after lunch, we explored the city some more before lying down in the grass for a little nap. at 3pm, we hopped back on the bus – this time on our way to do a drive-through tour of a city called ‘le croisic’ – with gorgeous rocky beaches. our last touristy stop was ‘la baule’. according to our guide sheet, it is the “most beautiful beach in europe”.. i beg to differ. they also said it was the longest beach in europe, which i’ll believe – it was like 12km long. the little town seemed pretty ritzy – i got the feeling it was a pretty standard “rich people come here in the summer” kind of beach town. it was cloudy, sadly, so we layed on the beach for just a little while and then walked around until ti was time to get back on the bus at 6:30. on the way home, we stopped for dinner at what was essentially a mall food court, except they only had one thing to eat. i didn’t get the fish – just veggies and rice. the dessert was this weird marshmallow cube thing in some cream sauce. the bus ride home was long, but i just listened to music. we finally got home around 10pm, and i was EXHAUSTED. i talked to my friends on my floor for a while and then went to bed bed bed.
sunday, 17 april 2011
i didn’t even set an alarm on sunday. i just wanted to sleep. i woke up around 11, feeling wonderful. i worked on some couchsurfing stuff for a while and then showered, etc. i worked on third year writing stuff and layed out during the afternoon, and then went over to my friend rachel’s room around 6pm.
rachel is a youtube guru – she has two channels (one in french, one in english), where she posts videos giving people fashion, makeup, and just all around style tips. she has nearly 6,000 subscribers! a few weeks ago, rachel had a great idea.. she wants us to do a “european adventure” channel, where we document our summer travels. so.. we’re doing it! on sunday, she gave me a little makeover and we took pictures for our channel. it was a lot of fun. :) after the photo shoot, we made dinner and hung out for a while, planning some video ideas and talking to people. i came back to skype around 11pm. i got to talk to my best friend, also named rachel, who lives in california. and then, i skyped drew at midnight – officially my birthday! :) we talked for a while, and then shane came to invite me to a movie night in his room. when i walked in the door, about 6 of my friends started singing ‘happy birthday’ to me! so sweet. :) shane has a blow-up mattress, so his tiny room can actually fit like 10 people for a movie night – stadium seating! we watched the movie ‘snatch’ – always great. afterwards, shane put on his ‘virtual fireplace’ recording and played guitar quietly. it was so lovely – natalie said later it was the most ‘at home’ she’d felt since she left winnipeg. and i know what she meant.. it was just so comfy and nice and awesome. around 3am, i finally roused myself from my semi-sleep state and went to bed.
monday, 18 april 2011
birthday!!!! all my monday classes finished last week, but i still woke up early (painfully) to go to the store and get some things for BIRTHDAY BRUNCH! several of my friends came over around 10:30 and all contributed to a freaking fantastic birthday breakfast. we had crepes (and nutella, strawberries, kiwi, bananas, and whipped cream), french toast, cinnamon apples, eggs, potatoes, juice.. it was amazing. and the best part was that we ate it ALL! yummyyy. after brunch, i hung out with friends and said goodbye to shane’s friend rowan. i took a post-brunch coma nap for a bit before heading over to rachel’s for our girly get ready party at 5:30. i had made a reservation for a big group dinner that night, so a bunch of us got makeovers from the makeup queen herself, rachel martino. and we all dressed up and it was so funnnn! we took the bus into town, stopping by the fountain at the cathedral steps to have a little photo shoot. it was kind of like prom, actually! haha! we hopped back on the bus and got to the restaurant right on time. they had the back room set up for us, because the reservation was for 18 people. i think it ended up being 15 people total! shane had ANOTHER friend named danjoe come visit on monday – he arrived just in time for dinner! and, one of the girls from last semester came back to visit, so she joined us too. :) we had a great time – the food was delicious (and not too expensive), everyone looked beautiful, and it was just a fantastic night. we took one of the last buses out of town, and i scurried upstairs to skype my parents before my birthday was officially over. GREAT DAY!
tuesday, 19 april 2011
no class, still. spent the morning catching up on sleep and then the afternoon working on travel plans. dinner was salad and soup and time with friends! after such a weekend, i needed a quiet night. :)
wednesday, 20 april 2011
yesterday was awesome. i got up and went to class (haha) at 10am, but he only kept us for like 10 minutes. long enough to say that it was the final class, and to ask if the exchange students would be interested in attending a dinner next month. wahoo! that meant that summer officially started yesterday. HOLLAAA! i came back and worked on more travel stuff before going over to superU with emma, shane, and danjoe. we came back to eat lunch, and then shane, danjoe and i biked over to the lake nearby to chill out with some people for a while. we even had a soccer ball, so i FINALLY got to play some soccer. it was marvelous. around 7:30, we made our way back, stopping by the store to pick up some wine for danjoe. we came back and i skyped drew for a while.. around 9pm, i made a quick dinner and then got ready for our GREASE SING-A-LONG party!! about 10 of us dressed up in 50’s clothes and watched grease together. it was shane’s idea, and it ended up being SO fun! i haven’t laughed so hard in a while.. we were positively belting out those songs.. high notes and all. some people left after grease, but a few of us stayed and talked/half-watched ‘rocky horror’ for a while. i finally went to bed around 3. this whole staying up late thing is starting to become a habit! luckily, i start traveling soon, so i’ll get back on track. :)
the rest of the week is going to be travel-preparation! i’m happy to spend a few more days with people in angers, as several of my friends will be gone when i get back from this next trip! rachel and i leave for barcelona on the 27th, and will be gone for just under 2 weeks – staying in barcelona for a week and then the french riviera for about a week as well! we’re so excited! :)