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My Semester in Reims, France

Time Flies…

Sorry, everyone.  It’s been a little longer than I planned since I last wrote a blog post, but time really does fly when you’re having fun.  Today marks exactly two months until I am back in the United States, and even less time before my exchange is officially over.  It’s a weird feeling because it feels like I just got here last week.  Since the last time I wrote, I have had quite a few experiences.

All the Americans ended up going to Barcelona, Spain together and we had such a blast!  We had an Airbnb just for the five of us, so it was perfect.  The weather was perfect and warm, which was a nice break from the cold rain of Reims.  It was so nice to explore in the sun and we ate some DELICIOUS food, including tapas and Paella!  We fed pigeons, walked along the ocean, went to a monastery in the mountains, and saw the Sagrada Familia (which is absolutely breathtaking).  It was a whirlwind of a trip, but oh so much fun.

A group of us took a day trip to Epernay, which is the Champagne capital – they have an entire Champagne Avenue, which is where Moet&Chandon is located.  We did tours and tastings and explored the park nearby.

I decided to drop a class, so I was only enrolled in 18 hours, which meant I had three weeks of no class.  So, I went with Victoria (from Canada) to Strasbourg, which is almost in Germany, and then to Rome and Florence.  Strasbourg is a very colorful city with canals and a strong Alsatian culture.  We took a canal tour, toured the Cathedral, shopped in markets, and bought some (okay, too much) of their famous gingerbread!  Rome is such an old city and it was incredible to see so much history in one place.  We hiked for about 3 hours in Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, took the typical coin photos at the Trevi Fountain, climbed around the Colosseum (man, those steps are tall!), descended the Spanish Steps, and went to Vatican City and saw all the museums and the Sistine Chapel (and were almost accidentally part of a papal audience!).  Florence was just a day trip, but we still managed to fit in the Musei dela Academia (where Michelangelo’s David is located), the Ponte Veccio, a walking tour of the city, a couple basilicas, a wine tasting, shopping, and delicious fresh-made artisanal pizza.

Most recently, I went with four other girls to Amsterdam.  We took overnight buses, which was definitely an experience, but it allowed us to make the most of our time there while minimizing costs.  The very first day, we got in at 5:30 am (an hour earlier than we were supposed to, but it all worked out.  We visited the Anne Frank House, had BRUNCH!!!!!!!!!, and went shopping.  The next day, we visited Keukenhof, which is the tulip fields in Holland. Over 9km of trails, as well as 5 buildings, filled with tulips and other flowers.  It’s truly incredible and breathtaking.  That night I had dinner with a woman that I met at a conference in Atlanta but haven’t seen in about 7 years.  It just so happens that she is working in Amsterdam, so obviously we had to meet up! The following day, it was raining so we went to the Van Gogh Museum.  By the time we were done, it had stopped raining so we went to the Albert Cuypmarket, which is an outdoor market with about 1 000 vendors. I got a fresh Stroopwaffel, and we also got souvenirs.  We took an overnight bus back into Paris and a train from there.

I have gone to quite a few football (read: soccer) games at the Stade Delaune in Reims, most of which we won! Student tickets are only 5 euros, so we try to go to as many as we can!  Now that the weather is better, we also frequently meet up to play our own games at the park next door.  They’re never very serious, but we always have a blast.

Next week I am headed to Munich and Prague, so I will post again after that!

One month!

Wow! Today marks one month since I arrived in Reims.  Man, the time has gone by quickly.  It does not feel like one month already.  It’s been a really fun month though, culminating yesterday with our trip to Disneyland Paris!  Even though it was pouring rain and really cold and windy, it was such a great trip!  After that, we had an international student party with lots of fun and dancing.  We ended up getting home just before 4am!

In terms of school, my first class is completely finished.  My current class is definitely proving a challenge.  It is my first class entirely in French and it is an entrepreneurship class.  I think in general, classes in French would not be too difficult, except for the fact that a lot of the concepts we are discussing, I don’t even know in French.  But I’m getting through it.  Friday, we had a quiz in French laws, but it was only worth 20 points and it was more about application than the actual laws.

A week from today is my 21st birthday and while I’m sad I won’t be celebrating with my family, I think we’ll still have a good time.  Two weeks from now, we have a week-long vacation and the girls and I are looking at going to Italy or Spain, since round trip flights are around 75 euros at most.  Might as well travel while we’re here!

I love all the people I am meeting! Aside from the girls from Arkansas, there’s a girl from North Carolina, two girls from Canada, people from Taiwan. Thailand, Lithuania, Costa Rica, China, Mexico, Poland, Germany, Finland, India, Hong Kong, Morocco, Brazil, and lots of other places.

Well, I think that’s all I have to report for now.  I can’t believe there are only 5 months left, but I’m going to make sure I make the most of it.

Week Two

Hello blog readers!

Week two is down and it was a fun one for sure.  This week, I only had class on Wednesday and Friday, so I had lots of room for adventure.  Wednesday night, there was an open mic night at Ernest Hemingway Bar in Reims, so I took the tram there along with two girls, one from Germany, one from Poland.  This tram ride ended up being a little different than normal, though, as our tram hit a car.  The ambulance and fire truck had to be called, so we ended up walking almost the rest of the way to where we were headed until we saw that the trams had started back up.  Once we got to Hemingways, it was super crowded but we managed to find a table for the now six of us.  I love the group that’s here, though more people are beginning to arrive between now and the 26th.  Last night, I met up with Ariane, who was my host sister when I came to France (Amiens) in 2006.  It’s been close to ten years since we’ve seen each other, and it just so happens that she is studying in Reims as well!  Last night, we also got our first snow.  At first, it was spitting ice, but then it started actually snowing HUGE flakes.  Once I was headed back to my studio, I realized that basically the entire town was coated in black ice, so I ended up doing a combination ice skating/penguin waddle to get home.  This morning it was still icy, as I discovered while walking to the grocery store when I slipped and fell.  So much for going on a run today… I have two days left of my current class.  Our final presentation and exam are on Tuesday and then I am free until the following Monday.  I am making plans to go to Lyon next weekend with a girl from Morocco, so long as we can find a place to stay that’s cheap or free – we’re checking with some friends to see about couch surfing.  All in all, everything is going great!  I’ll keep everyone posted.

Week one done!

Well, I’ve officially finished one week of class. My current class is called “Leading Change” and is extremely interesting. My professor is from the United States – Washington originally. She is the only other American I have met so far. I feel like I am starting to develop a slight accent from only hearing French, German, and Polish people speak English.  I finally got my phone set up after great debate with AT&T. Luckily, my dad had some connections that helped us get it all sorted out. Tomorrow, the BDI is hosting a wine and cheese dinner for us, and I am really looking forward to it.   Right now, Reims is having a huge sale – once a year, for about a month, all the stores have almost everything 20-70% off. I haven’t bought much yet, but I’ll planning on shopping more in the next couple days since I don’t have class again until Wednesday. I think that’s odd: this week I had class Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday; next week I have class Wednesday and Friday; and the following week I have class Monday and Tuesday. I am trying to figure out where to visit because after that, I don’t have class until Monday. I really like only having one class at a time for three weeks.  Well, I think that’s all I have to say for now. I’ll post again soon!

I made it!

Well guys,  I made it to Reims.  It was quite an adventure, but nothing was lost and nothing was stolen.  My flight leaving Tulsa was delayed by about 15 minutes, but we had a good tail wind and actually got in about 15 minutes before the original arrival time. I sat next to this lovely woman that had lived in Tulsa for 13 years after coming here from Saudi Arabia – she has family there still, as well as Pakistan and Jordan, but also all over the US – Massachusetts, California, Michigan… We had a great discussion.  Luckily, my gates were right across from each other, so I was able to get there as they were getting ready to close the gate.  When they scanned my ticket, the man told me I hadn’t been cleared, only to find out it was a different plane than we were supposed to be on, so they reassigned seats.  Because I was one of the last people on the plane,  I got bumped up to Premium economy – bigger seats, more room, better food, and free items including a sleep mask, socks, ear plugs, tooth brush & tooth paste, and a bottle of water.  I was kind of surprised that they fed us dinner, as late as the flight left, but I am so glad they did.  Here’s what they served us:  Salad with smoked salmon, capers, dill, and lemon; chicken in white sauce with wild rice and veggies; apple sauce; bread with brie, and Napoleon cake.  I got about 3 hours of sleep – not near as much as I had hoped, but still some.  We got into Paris about an hour early and it took a surprisingly short amount of time to go through customs and get my suitcase.  I decided it would be fine to take the train, as I knew exactly what I had to do (I looked it up before hand).  Unfortunately, there were fewer escalators than I thought there would be, which meant a lot more stairs.  I had people offer to help me with them, but I was paranoid about them getting stolen so I just lugged them up and down myself.  I had to switch trains at the Gare du Nord, which was super hectic and I couldn’t even get on the first train that came through.  After that, I got to the Gare de l’Est to wait for my TGV to Reims.  I had 2.5 hours, and there were restaurants there, but I was not hungry.  So I read.  The train ride took about an hour and I tried to sleep.  I wanted to look out the window, but my seat faced backward and looking out the window made me dizzy.  After I got there, I walked to the apartment that I’m staying at until Monday.  It’s on the 4th floor with no elevator, so I had to once again haul my suitcases up the stairs.  Luckily, that should be the last time for a while.  The apartment is small, and the outside door is hard to open, so I feel like I constantly look like I’m trying to break in, but it’s nice and the cat is adorable.   Last night, I passed out about 7:30 and woke up a couple times between then and 1:30 am, but then slept straight through to 10:00 when I had an alarm set for.  Once I was showered and dressed, I decided I wanted breakfast.  I found a bagel place and figured out how to get there on Google Maps.  As I was walking around, though, I realized that New Years Day is a huge holiday here, and most businesses are closed.  So, I found a bakery that was open and got a chocolate croissant and a water.  The tap water is drinkable, but it is more mineral-y than I am used to, so it has a different taste to it.  Once I got breakfast, I walked to the cathedral and ate breakfast in front of it.  That must be a gathering place – there were so many people and I loved watching the children run all over the place!  There was one little boy that stuck his tongue out at me and so I did it back and he just cracked up.  I continued exploring the city and even found my way back to the apartment!  I saw so many restaurants that I want to try – Indian food, Mediterranean Kebabs, bistros…

They have a huge Christmas Carnival and I think it just started up for today.  It’s right across the street, so I can hear it perfectly. I was too tired to explore it yesterday, but I think I may do that in a little while here.  The town is beautiful, but a little chilly.  It still hasn’t sunk in that I’m in France, even though I ordered breakfast in French and haven’t heard anyone speak English.  It’ll sink in soon enough… Maybe.  Well, that’s all for now. I’ll add some pictures to the photo page.  Happy New Year everyone!

Today’s the day!

Well, it’s here.  My flight leaves in just over 6 hours.  I will be flying through Detroit and will arrive in Paris around 11:30 tomorrow (the equivalent of 4:30 a.m. here).  My bags are packed, my passport is in my backpack, and I am ready for this adventure.  I am so grateful for this opportunity and everyone who has helped me get here and I can’t wait to see what this semester has in store!


Hello all! Welcome to my study abroad blog. In 23 days, I will be heading to Reims, France for 6 months. I will post more while I’m there and look forward to sharing my adventure with you!

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