Showing posts from August, 2017

Lund, Sweden and Copenhagen & Bornholm Island, Denmark

Tonight, I just got home from one of the most unforgettable weekend trips. My wonderful friend Cameron is living in Lund, Sweden for this semester and deciding to visit him was one of the best decisions I've made!

The trip was far from easy, as the voyage to him included a train from Angers to Paris, then a bus to Paris airport, then a plane from Paris to Copenhagen, and then finally one last train from Copenhagen to Lund, Sweden. There were a few minor bumps in the road, including almost missing my flight, and then after just barely making the airplane, missing my train from Copenhagen to Lund late at night. At that point, I had already had a quite long and stressful travel day, so missing my last train to get to the hotel was definitely challenging. But through this, I noticed my strength. I was in Europe, alone in a country I've never been in before, and stuck in a train station where there was no information employees working (because it was so late at night), and I have …

The Châteaux of France

Today, I went on my last excursion with my school in Angers to three of the most famous châteaux in France. We started the day at the Châteaux de la Loire Chenonceau, which is an insanely magnificent castle, complete with a moat, in the Loire Valley of France. We took a tour of the entire palace, with extravagant bedrooms for different members of the Medici family, and other royalty at different time periods. The entire grounds of the castle were shockingly beautiful, complete with a garden and an intricate labyrinth that was fun to get lost in. Although going to Versailles a few weeks ago was lovely, I actually preferred visiting these three unique castles today. Although they are popular, they were not swarmed with crowds like Versailles and I was actually able to take my time and enjoy myself while strolling through the village-like areas of the Chateaux.

After the first castle, we moved on to explore Leonardo da Vinci's home, called Le Clos Lucé, that he lived in for several y…

Medieval France and Cave Wine Tasting

This week has been absolutely magical. Tuesday, I had the day off of school, so I visited Medieval Angers, a part of the city that has been completely maintained since it's creation, in the early 1300s. This area includes a stunningly beautiful château, and a village that has been restored to look and feel exactly as it did hundreds of years ago. Walking through the streets of this district is unreal, and I honestly felt like I could have stepped into a medieval life there.
After spending Tuesday in this fascinating part of the city, I knew that the excursion Friday would be enchanting. Village Troglodytique, also in the Loire Valley in France about an hour drive from Angers, features 250 underground caves that were used as homes from the 13th century to the 19th century. The dwellings below the surface included barns for livestock, a wine cellar, a stable, a bedroom, a dining room, and a village hall. I was also able to look at and use some of the tools made by habitants who lived…

Changes and Culture Shock

Today marks exactly one week that I've been in Angers, France. Words can truly not express how incredible this experience is for me. Although I find myself deeply challenged each day with the language barrier, completely immersing myself in the French language and culture has absolutely proved to be one of the most beautiful experiences of my entire life. I have been challenged to the limit each day with French, and even more so with living in another country. As an American, I sadly feel apologetic for my country's negative impact on the world, and especially how it affects minorities at this time. I also feel like a child with this new language, constantly stubbing my toes on words that I'm unfamiliar with, unable to ever fully express how I feel.
But, each day brings new light to my eyes. I am learning more and more about humanity, and not just the French. My classes are filled with Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Italian, Syrian, and Spanish foreign exchange student…

Puy de Fou, Mont-Saint-Michel, and Saint-Malo

Vendredi soir (Friday night), I went on the most amazing excursion with my school here in Angers. Puy de Fou is a very popular event in France (the second most visited tourist attraction-only less than Disneyland in all of France!) The bus ride from Angers was only an hour, and I found myself in an entirely different world upon arrival. My friends and I entered into this gigantic castle area, complete with a moat and little villages surrounding it. We were then taken back in time (in French, of course) through the history of France. As spectators, we witnessed French revolutions, wars (including the World War II bombings, cities with live horses and other animals, a man literally on fire, stunning fireworks, and over 300 volunteer actors. This event was so unbelievable, it is hard to describe. The setting was extravagant in itself, but the ability to witness the story of France with live actors inside an actual castle was one of the coolest things I've ever been able to see. I am …

Yoga in Paris!

Paris is...amazing. From the gorgeous Arc de Triomph to the lovely Louvre to the Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower, this awe-inspiring city instantly stole my heart- and I don't think I'll be getting it back any time soon.  I began my adventures in Paris at Montmartre, the bohemian city on a mountain overlooking all of Paris. Vincent van Gogh, Degas, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Picasso all lived in this charming artist community. The Sacré-Cœur, the ornate basilica translating to "the sacred heart of Paris"  towers over the entire city, and is one of the most stunning churches I have ever seen. I was truly overwhelmed with the meaningful silence that filled every guest's heart and soul upon entry.
The Salvador Dali museum, also in Montmartre, was one of my favorite collections of his surrealist masterpieces. His psychological manipulations on objects and canvas, using personification with inanimate objects, is a testament to Freudian psychology and the comple…

Barcelona and Finally Arriving in France!

For the past week, I have been staying in Barcelona, Spain! This city is completely gorgeous, lined by the Mediterranean Sea. I have spent the past few days exploring the metropolis, tanning under the warm sun, and practicing yoga by the beach. One of the most famous Spanish architects Antoni Gaudi, designed eccentric masterpieces there, and visiting his "Casa Batllo" was an enlightening experience. The way he took ergonomy into consideration while building a house representing the sea was masterful, especially for the time period. This Catalan Art Nouveau mansion in downtown Barcelona was magical (pictures attached!) Visiting the museum of Picasso was also a lovely experience. A majority of the paintings there are from his childhood and young adult life, and it was incredible to see his style evolve.
Although Barcelona was fantastical, I am ecstatic about starting my french immersion program! I landed in Paris today, and am spending four days here before I move on to my ne…