Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Currently I should be study for exams, however while reading my notes the truth hit me right in the face. I officially only have 5 days left in the amazing city, Nice, France. I started to think about how far I have come since I got here. How nervous I was to even leave my apartment in those first weeks and now I look forward to exploring and going out. I look at how much French knowledge I have gained since this experience started; both the language and some history. I look and see all the friends that I have had the pleasure of making from all over the world; friends I will probably never see again when we part ways in less than a week. I think of all the things that I have done and the places I have seen. Studying abroad has truly been the best thing I have ever chosen to do. It wasn’t always easy but now that the end is near, I can truly say that it was worth it. I will take everything that I have learned from this experience with me forever. Thank you to CMU for offering students opportunities to go from one side of the world to the other and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Well, as awesome as France is, exams suck just as much here as they do back in the States lol. I have completed 1 so far (French exam) and have 2 Wednesday (International Negotiation and Management). This week has been full of non-stop studying and hitting of the books. It’s kind of a bitter sweet thing though. Once I'm done on Wednesday, this experience will wrap up and it will be time to head back home. I certainly will miss living so close to the beach, the friends I have made and the places I have seen. Looking back on it now, these 4 months have gone so fast. Where did the time go?
Sunday, April 29, 2012
This will be a short post as I am writing after realizing that I only have one left of this study abroad experience. I can’t believe it has gone so fast. I only have one month left! It will actually be a very fast month as I only have two weeks of classes and then finals. After finals I will have a few days to enjoy Nice before it is time to head back to the states. I’m really pretty torn about almost being done. I really love it here and will miss being so close to the beach and will miss the friends that I have made from all over the world but I feel as though I’m ready to get back to what is comfortable for me, being at home with all of the family and friends that I have missed so much while being gone. I fully intend to enjoy the rest of my time here as this may be my first and last time in France/Europe.
My spring break in Europe was amazing to say the very least. I started by meeting Amelia in Paris. Together we explored the city and so many of the sites. We went and explored the Pantheon, Tower Montparnasse, Arc de Triomphie, The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Garden of Luxembourg, and Notre Dame. Actually, when we went to Notre Dame it was on Easter Sunday and we went to mass. Seeing the Eiffel tower in person was amazing. I never in my life would have ever thought that I would be sitting on the lawn of the tower seeing it light up and flash at night. It was something I will never forget. At the Louvre obviously a highlight would be seeing the Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa is another thing that I only ever expected to see pictures of and I had the privilege of seeing it person. We stayed at a hotel in the Latin Quarter (Hotel Stella) which was originally a house building the 1700’s that was converted into a hotel. Being in the Latin Quarter was amazing because we were so close to all of the things we wanted to see. Another big benefit of being in Paris was that a lot of the big attractions were free to students. If we showed a student ID at the tickets windows we were able to get in for free which made it really nice. Saving money wherever you can is a plus. We spent a total of three days in Paris and overall it was an incredible visit.
After our three days in Paris we got on a train and went to London. London for us wasn’t as awesome as we expected. It may have been because it was rainy visit and our hotel was a little far from all of the main sites. Plus I thing we may have just been a little tired and stressed. Once we got going though we were able to find what we wanted to see. The London Bridge and the Tower Bridge were the first things we stopped and saw and from there we went to the eye. We wanted to go up in the eye but it was pretty expensive so we opted out of that. From the eye you could see Big Ben and the Parliament building. Big Ben was really probably my highlight of being in London. It was really cool. I think I took 20 some pictures of Big Ben lol. After seeing those three things we figured we’d try to find the Buckingham palace. At the palace we didn’t get to see the changing of the guards but we did get to see them walk back and forth, which was still very cool.
Following London, we got back on another train and headed to Strasbourg on our way to Munich. We spent only part of a day in Strasbourg and it was a really cool city. It’s very close to the German border so it has a very German feel. I was a place we both agreed we wanted to go back and see again because we got there at night which made it difficult to really know what we were seeing. It was still a very good visit though.
Probably my favorite place of all the places we visited over spring break was Munich. I was extremely nervous because neither Amelia nor I speak any German. So when we got off of our train I felt as though we made a huge mistake going there. However, as the day went on it got so much better. We stayed at an amazing hostel that did an amazing job of providing maps, tours and information on where to go in the city. As it turns out a lot of people do speak English in Munich which was a sigh of relief for us. Our second day in Munich we went to Dachau to see the concentration camp. It obviously was a very intense and quiet day. It was obviously more intense than seeing pictures out of a textbook. A lot of the camp had been destroyed by the German Government following the war with exception of the two crematoriums and the main hall. We chose to do a tour with a private company and our tour guide was incredible. He not only knew a lot about the camp but also so much about the entire Nazi reign. It really felt like a tour and history class which was really nice. On our third day there we went on tour of the city of Munich. Munich was the city where the Nazi party was born and because of that, there are obviously a ton of sights to see. We got to see the Hofbrauhaus where Hitler held the first meeting of the Nazi party. We got to see where the Beer Hall Putsch was stopped and where the night of broken glass took place. On top of that we got to see the church that the Pope was at before becoming Pope, the Glockenspiel, and a lot of beer halls. We got to eat some traditional German food our first day where I had a wide variety of sausages and sauerkraut which I surprised myself with because I don’t like sauerkraut back home but it was really good in Germany. The second day we tried Weiner Schnitzel, which was amazing, and then the last day we had half a duck and potato dumplings at a local beer hall. For me Munich was the highlight of spring break.
After my traveling spring break was over, Amelia still had a week before she had classes again. So she spent the second week of her break in Nice! It was amazing to have her here with me. We spent a lot of time at the beach and ate a lot of gelato lol. That was probably the highlight. I still had class throughout the week and actually a few midterms but in between classes we went on a hike to a nearby mountain that provides an amazing view of the city of Nice. You literally can see the entire city and the snowcapped mountains in the background. I took her to the chateau grounds where you can get a great view of the port and also see where the castle once stood until Louis the XIV destroyed it. Shorty loves her shopping and so we went and explored some of the main shopping streets nearby. I like to think that it was nice relaxing week for her after a stressful week of traveling around Europe. Overall my two weeks with Amelia over the course of spring break were simply unforgettable. Repeatedly we’d ask each other if this is real. We truly had the experience of a lifetime.
Nope, I didn't get this pic from the internet :)
Same for this one :)
Notre Dame on Easter Sunday
Arc du Triomphie
Some German Cuisine :D
"Work will set you free" Front gate of Dachau
The very room that Hitler held the first meeting of Nazi Party
Thursday, March 15, 2012
So I seem to be notorious for waiting 2 weeks before writing a blog post lol. Again, a lot has happened since my last one so bear with me. For starters, I finally got to see Amelia in Angers!!!!! It was hands down one of the best weeks that I’ve had since I have been in France. It was the first time since I have been in France I got on a train and traveled. It was rather nerve racking but the trains were speedy and overall pretty comfortable. Once I got in Angers I met up with Amelia and found my hotel. Hotel F1. She still had classes during the week so while she was in class; I took time to wander around and see as much of Angers as I possibly could. I really enjoyed seeing some of the amazing cathedrals. They are so grand and in comparison to Nice there were so many of them. Here in Nice I think we really only have 2 big cathedrals. In Angers I had to have seen 5 or 6. There is also a very cool castle in Angers. Amelia and I went through it the Friday that I was in Angers. It was amazing. We had the chance to go through where they used to keep the prisoners, the chapel, go on top of the castle, and see the landscaping work and various gardens around the property. I really don’t think I could even describe how cool it was so I think it might be best to let pictures speak for themselves.
Amelia stays with a host family in Angers and I had the pleasure of having a family dinner with them. I have to be honest, I was so nervous going into it. I don’t know French that well and am still in my beginning level coursework so it was pretty difficult communicating with the family. They were really understanding though. They spoke slowly, and repeated a lot. It was hard but well worth it. The food was amazing. They made some sort of keish only it didn’t have as much egg in it. It was so good. Then they brought out salad with homemade vinaigrette and following this was a plate with three different kinds of cheeses and delicious fresh bread. A true French meal and it was incredible. I also had the pleasure of being there for one of the children’s birthday. So I even got a piece of birthday lemon tart. The perfect cap to an amazing meal. On top of my amazing dinner with Amelia’s family, we also had crepes, delicious pizza, jambon buere, pasta, macaroons, and so much more over the course of the week. It was an amazing food week lol.
Another highlight of being in Angers was locking down our travel plans for spring break. We officially have train tickets to go to Paris, London, Strasbourg, Munich, and then back to Nice because Amelia has an extra week on her break. I am so excited! I can’t wait to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Take the Chunnel to London, Dachau in Munich, and then spend the week in Nice where we will hopefully be able to go to Monaco, Cannes, Antibes, and Pisa in Italy. It will certainly be a busy spring break, but an incredible opportunity to travel and see other parts of the world.
The last day that I was in Angers (Saturday) I joined Amelia and her class on an excursion to Normandy to see the museum and beaches. We started by going to the Museum in Caen. The museum itself was enormous and it had the history that led to D-Day in a chronological order going into very extensive detail about the rise of totalism then the Nazi party and all of the events that led to D-Day. I think Amelia and I walked the museum for a solid 2 plus hours. There was so much to see and I know we could have spent so much more time there. After the museum we went to see the cemetery for the U.S. troops that lost their lives on D-Day. It was a very intense place. Crosses as far as the eye could see with the names of those who had fallen in combat. The ones that didn’t say the specific name of a troop were engraved with the quote “Here rest in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to god.” Off on the horizon you could see the beaches these troops lost their lives storming. An incredible experience to say the very least. Following the cemetery we went down onto Omaha beach to get an up-close look at the place with such a huge significance in French and American history. Then we went and saw the ruins of Pointe du Hoc where rangers climbed the cliffs to take down the Germans. It was so cool to see the size of the craters left by the bombs that were dropped on the area. All of the German bunkers nothing more than piles of crumbled concrete. As we were leaving Amelia turned to me and began talking about how people dream their entire lives off being able to see the things we saw. I truly am lucky to have seen it at 20 years old and enjoyed every moment of it. Like I said before, it was one of the best weeks I have had since being in France.
I am now back in Nice and have been for almost a week now. Classes are going well but projects and homework are beginning to pick up a little more. I have a presentation to get ready for on the 29th and then a final case study about Deloitte that will be due at the end of the semester. It’s worth a big portion of my grade so we have to get started soon. It’s dawning on me that the end of the semester is only 2 months away. Time is flying lol. In addition the weather has been incredible. I have spent a lot of time lying on the beach catching as many rays as I can. I must admit I am slightly bummed due to the fact that I heard that back home in Rockford, they recently had a 78 degree day. Warmer than any day I’ve had here in Nice lol. I am beginning to get a good tan though and I am on the Mediterranean so I really shouldn’t complain lol. Well this has been an insanely long post and forgive me if there are any typos (there probably are a lot lol) but this is too much to go back and edit after a long day of class lol. Au Revoir!
My favorite cathedral
Spring Break Tickets!!!!
Rise of Totalism Exhibit
Timeline of each beach being invaded
Speaks for itself
Pointe Du Hoc
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
So it has been a little while since my last post. So I have quite a bit to say. Two weekends ago we got to go see the Nice hockey team play the second best team in the league. Nice is currently ranked number one and it may have been one of the best games I’ve ever seen. The arena in Nice holds 1000 people and at this game there were 1600 people in attendance and the Mayor was also in the press box to watch. It was really cool to see the crowd react to the team that they love so much. My favorite part came at the end when every player on the team took their jersey off and gave it to a fan. Just something you don’t see back home. Nice went on to win 4 to 3 in a battle and a late go ahead goal in the 3rd period. I even bought a jersey to bring back to the states and display proudly lol. Last week I had my first test in French. I ended up getting 17.5 out of 20 which I was really happy with. Especially since here in France their grading system is quite different then back in the states and technically 15 is an “A”. It was good to get the first test out of the way and do well to boost my confidence. Later in the week we decided to go to Monaco. I was pretty excited to see a place that is so well known for big boats and fast cars. I found myself drooling quite a bit while I was there. Ferraris in Monaco are like Fords in Michigan. Everyone has one. In addition to the Ferraris I also was able to see Lamborghinis, Bentleys, an Aston Martin, and Mercedes as well. Nice cars are a must in Monaco. The port was full of amazing boats that were bigger than my house back home. Boats that easily cost millions and are bigger than anything I’ve seen back home. Maybe someday I’ll be able to own these luxury items lol. We also went to see the Monte Carlo Casino and a section of the track from the Monaco Grand Prix. The casino had a ten euro entry fee so it didn’t seem worth it to pay to lose my money lol. But it was still cool to see. The track was incredible and you could just picture the cars flying through the hills drifting through the curves. I also recently went on a hike to the top of a close by mountain. The view of Nice from the top was amazing. I was able to see the entire city. It felt like I was on top of the world. This week is the last week before we have a week long break. I have plans to go see my girlfriend, Amelia, in Angers. I am so excited. I haven’t seen her in over a month and it’s going to be so cool to explore another part of France with her. She also pulled a bit of a surprise on me and was able to get her school to let me join them on an excursion to go to Normandy. I can’t wait! This week and spring break will include a lot of my travel plans and seeing other parts of France and Europe. It’s going to be incredible. I fully plan to take advantage of my once in a lifetime opportunity. Well, I suppose that enough for this post. Sorry if it seemed a bit scatter brained. It’s been a while and I wanted to make sure I covered the main stuff. A bientôt!
On top of the World
All of Nice
The Mayor of Nice drops the puck
The future of Nice hockey gets the first jersey
Like I said, bigger than my house
My favorite Ferrari in Monaco
Casino Monte Carlo
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Today was the due date for my first big assignment here in Nice. I had to do a presentation in my management class on the employment laws in the U.S. Certainly not the most exciting topic but it sure feels good to get the first big thing out of the way. And I feel as though my group did really well. There were two other students from the States that also worked with me. It was a definite success. Today was also the warmest day since I have been here. It was absolutely beautiful. After class a couple friends and I went to the beach to just chill and enjoy the sunshine. The water was beautiful and there were even some people tanning and swimming. I enjoyed watching some of the boats go by. One of which looked as though there was a fisherman throwing nets into the water. It was just amazing to be sitting on beach in February watching boats pass by. In February I’m accustomed to seeing snow plows go by lol. This weekend should be quite a bit of fun. There’s a local carnival going on from the 17th to the 4th of March. I think we are going to go check it out tomorrow night and see what it’s like and this Sunday is the hike with the rest of the Ipag students in the mountains. I’m pretty excited. I can’t wait to pass the stories on. Au Revoir!