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Lasting Memories

And for the last few weeks, I spent time with my family in Barcelona. I have not seen my cousin in person for 13 and a half years… and I missed her so much! Since the day that I came from Lyon, I enjoyed the time with her and all of my family. We have done so much in such a short time .. 2 weeks to be exact. We have been going to the beach and to dancing and just having some fun before I have to go back to my responsibilities back home *insert sad face..*

Here are some pictures of the fun things we have been doing!

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The first time seeing her..
The first time seeing her..

I also visited Barcelona:

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I’m sad to go but I’m ready to leave and be back home. I am excited to go back. The world has been great to me.

 

à bientôt mon monde.

DA.

That bittersweet feeling..

I’ll start by saying 3 things:

1. That I cannot believe it has been six weeks already.
2. I am excited to continue my adventure in Barcelona for the next two weeks.
3. I do miss home, and can’t wait to get back after these two weeks.

So, like I expected, I am having such a hard time saying goodbye to this wonderful city of Lyon. Even on the last two days and the last few nights that all of the group came out, it still hadn’t hit me. It still hasn’t even though I’m not there in Lyon another. I have to go back because my flight leaves from there but it just won’t be the same.

Sitting on the Pont Guillotière..
Sitting on the Pont Guillotière..

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Look at these beautiful photos I was able to capture during my last few nights in Lyon. I am really thankful I was able to live this experience and explore the city of Lyon. Also, that I was able to live with such an amazing and helpful host family and explore the French culture.

I can’t wait to go back and remember all the beautiful adventures we all had.

OH! but don’t worry! I actually got my grades and I did amazing!!!

My grades are on point.
My grades are on point.

from 16-20 is an A in the States. So Jake and I decided to celebrate our last day of classes with jus de pomme.

Celebrating our last day of classes!
Celebrating our last day of classes!

Okay, I’m going to go and cry in a corner now. I’m really going to miss these people and this place.

DA

Bla Bla Car Adventures

In France, there exists this car sharing type of thing called Bla Bla Car. It is cheaper than your regular bus, train or airplane and you don’t need to have a car to go on vacation! What? How is that possible? Oh but it is!

Okay so I booked a Bla Bla Car to Grenoble from Lyon, which is about an hour drive so it would not be so bad. The price difference wasn’t a lot but it still made a difference. Looking up train tickets it was about 20 euros to go to Grenoble and then 20 eros to come back. Okay, that would have been nice if I actually was staying more than 24 hours .. but I only stayed in Grenoble for Friday night and left Saturday night. Why go to Grenoble then? I was visiting my uncle and picking up a few things I forgot! Anyway, with the Bla Bla Car the price of going to Grenoble was 7 euros and coming back was 7 euros. Yes, for the price of two meals I was able to go to Grenoble and back!

So I booked it. You have to reserve your spot in the car or else they fill up, and they usually have open reservations or they have to accept your reservation (which I don’t think is a bad idea). I reserved my spot in a car that was leaving maybe and hour or so right after school so I didn’t lose time, but you see the problem with this is that the person may cancel on you (of course you get a reimbursement but you’re left with all your bags packed, etc.) for whatever reason. This person was calling me in the middle of class to my french phone, therefore I had no idea how to turn down the volume, so I just turned it off. (I didn’t know because it’s a really old phone that doesn’t even take pictures! I didn’t even know they still made those :P). Anyway, turns out that she had to cancel because her car was having problems, etc. So I was scrambling to book another Bla Bla Car to take me to Grenoble and luckily I found one that left even earlier and got there early enough to eat some Kebab with my uncle from our favorite place in Grenoble!

And let me tell you, coming back, the lady was maybe 20 minutes late or so but granted it was because she didn’t know her way around Grenoble… or Lyon for that matter. But all in all, the car rides were fine and both very talkative (I think you can chose a car with music on or something when booking the Bla Bla Car if you don’t want to talk).

The question of the day is if we have something like this back home in the States? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of something like this, but if we do I want to know! if we don’t… why don’t we?

A bientôt,

DA

I don’t think I’m in France Anymore

The university I’m at, Université Lumière Lyon 2, offers some weekend trips for the students to go on. This semester they offered three different ones and one of them was a day trip to Annecy.

I had been to Annecy before (with my parents) so here’s a throwback to that time:

My father, cousin and brother
My father, cousin and brother

As you can all see, it was .. well kind of cold!

But here I had the opportunity to see this beautiful city once again but without the cold weather, of course I was going to take it.

Actually, this French city used to be an Italian city.
Actually, this French city used to be an Italian city.

And there I am in the same place where my father was but with the sun and really good weather. He was so jealous!

We actually did learn something during our short amount of time there. The city used to be an Italian city and that is why it has more of an Italian city vibe (they call it the little Venice) than an actual French city. Most of the architecture there is Italian. But another cool thing is that if you cross the lake (it’s a really big lake), you’ll probably end up in Genève! This is why I love Europe!

That day we had a little tour of the city and then were able to jump into the lake and swim, which with the hot weather was a blessing to us. Annecy

People actually swim in the river and it is the most amazing river i've ever been in.
People actually swim in the lake and it is the most amazing lake I’ve ever been in

By the end of the day, I was tanner and tired and ready to go back “home.” I don’t think I’m ready to go back home-home just yet, but I think I will be soon enough.

A bientôt,

DA

 

The city of love…

What is living in France without ever once visiting Paris? My family and friends/acquaintances would never forgive me for that! Therefore, I did not just go for myself… but for everyone back home who was counting on me to go.

So since I’ve already been there before, it was so easy for me to get around. Je me débrouille seule. That’s how the French say it 😉 (I manage  by myself). I’ve noticed that I’m great at this; getting around cities where I’ve never been before or have been only once (because I have yet to get lost in Lyon.. and I doubt it will happen anymore since now I am habituated). The only thing you have to do is hand me a map and I am golden!

Anyways, I was very impressed with everything my friend Kara and I did in just three nights and almost four days, but still we managed to have some downtime at the hotel. We went to La Tour Eiffel, Notre Dame, L’Arc de Triomphe, Château de Versailles, and also walked down Champs Élysées of course!

Our first night we went to the Eiffel Tower because when else would you go?

La Tour Eiffel

Voila! But unfortunately since we actually got to the top (even though it took us all night long! :c) we did not get to see the light show from the inside…

The light show at the Eiffel Tower.
The light show at the Eiffel Tower.

But worry not! We returned! Then just sat there and waited for the light show!

But here are some other awesome photos of my time there:

Couldn't take a picture without tourists in the background…
Couldn’t take a picture without tourists in the background… But Voila the Château de Versailles
At the top of Notre Dame
L’Arc de Triomphe View

Okay so yes, I did have a lot of fun… but here’s the thing.. this small trip to Paris made me realize that I will not be moving there anytime soon. Yeah it is an amazing place to visit and has so many great things to do and see.. but I would not live there for anything in the world. You know how there are some stereotypes about the French being mean to foreigners, and being rude… well that’s mostly Parisians because that is where you’ll find most tourists. There are A LOT of people in that city and I would get annoyed easily (just like how most Parisians probably get). I decided that I would just stay in Lyon since it’s a few hours away and whenever I would feel like I could visit.

Yes, I’m moving to Lyon (No, I wish.)

A bientôt,

DA

 

Wagon 9 and 3/4

Yes. That is a Harry Potter reference! My time in Lyon has been great, but this is my little story about my visit to Paris for the three day weekend. My friend Kara and I went to Paris for the weekend and it was great and all, but let me tell you… Being a foreigner who has never in her life taken fast trains and trying to find the wagon we are actually supposed to be in was like Harry Potter trying to find platform 9 and 3/4!

Okay so maybe Harry had more luck than us because he was actually able to find the platform… us.. not so much. So our ticket said that we were second class (’cause I mean what student can afford first class?) and the numbers on the doors of the TGV indicated that with either  1 or a 2. Okay, that was easy enough. Since we did not know which wagon to get on, we got on the first one because it had the seating number we had.

So we got on the train, and then found “our” seats and two other people were seating on our places and so I kindly asked whether this was wagon 18.. and yeah of course it wasn’t. Typical. So we tried to go out but the doors were already locked, then we talked to this nice French train staff and explained to him that we did not know where the wagon 18 was and this was our first time traveling on a TGV (Nice trains btw!). So he told us to get off on the next stop (in a really nice way) and get on the wagon 18. We tried, we failed (we only had like 2 minutes for that guys so…. ). After that we saw him again and he just let us stay in the first wagon. Since it was still second class, I don’t really think it made a difference.

P.S. We actually did find the right wagon when we were coming back from Paris to Lyon! I can now say that I have mastered TGV Seating!

Where is the slow down button..?

It has been one week here in Lyon and I have felt like i’ve done so much! It’s true, I swear. Back home you would never see me do so much in one day. It’s crazy! I guess since it’s a new city and a new way of life, i’m just getting adjusted to it. (I really do believe that the days and nights in France are longer than your average 24 hours!). One thing I have noticed is that the French are very, very social. Their culture allows them and helps them to be, but back in the states, we need our alone time – our time to relax, procrastinate, maybe watch some Netflix (P.S. Netflix works here and I am so happy for that but no do not worry, I am watching in French!). When you’re trying to figure out a city, it is hard to stay at home and be antisocial. Spoiler Alert: You have to go out and explore.

In the past week, I have been to about three museums, a plaza on the middle of town, hung out by the riverbank and slept at two different places (my friend’s houses from the program) other than my host family’s place. And don’t even get me started on all the walking i’ve done! (Totally losing weight and gaining muscle *insert arm muscle emoji*).

An experience that really struck me was the one I had Thursday night with my friends, Taylor and Manny. We walked by the river and saw a huge amount of people hanging out by the berges (riverbank). We decided to join them and it was such an eye-opening experience. There were people playing the drums, others playing the trumpet, and others singing. The riverbank by Le Rhône looks exceptional and tranquil at night. Seeing these people resembles seeing people sitting around a campfire singing and laughing – having fun, but on a much bigger and better level! There was probably hundreds of people there. Again, the French are very social.

Another thing I’ve learned this week is that the French are very serious when it comes to food. They love their food! Typically, the French spends about an hour to two eating diner. My host mother explained to me the reason why they take so long to eat and how important it is to have diner together as a family. When you compare that to our busy American lives, it is hard to do that every single night. I learned in my psychology class that a variety of eastern countries are very social and put lots of importance to family and those responsibilities compared to western countries which are more egocentric and based on individuality. I agree.

All in all, it has been a great first week here in Lyon, although it rained (on my parade :P) a couple of times this week, it did not stop me because i’m in France!! I can’t let a little rain bring me down.

Au revoir,

DA.

Only Lyon sign that moves throughout the city.
Only Lyon sign that moves throughout the city.

To Travel or Not to Travel…

Traveling is amazing! Seeing new places, and experiencing new things is a great journey, but the downside to it is the hassle leading up to those amazing days. Packing, and sometimes the airport and flights are what makes one question whether all the stress is worth it.

Packing has got to be one of the worst things to do right behind awful airport service, etc. During my younger years, I would love to pack. I knew this because I would have been packed like three weeks before my departure. Maybe the reason this time was a hassle was because I am traveling alone. I have always traveled with someone, and now I do not have my parents to remind me to pack my toothbrush or to not forget my phone charger! I had my suitcase in my room for almost a week, but did not start packing until the night before. I actually finished my packing the night before my departure, but remembering everything that I have to pack is horrible. To further my stress on packing, I am a heavy packer! Although I would not like to admit it, I love having a variety of clothes because who knows what will happen during my days abroad, right? Well, because of that, I had to weight my bag for about 100 times! Okay, I’m obviously exaggerating, but it seemed that way.

After that, I was ready but sad to leave. Fast forward to the day of my departure, and my mom had taken me to the airport and waited for me to go wait inside the gate of my departure. The way my flights were set up, my first and last were pretty quick (about an hour or so), but the one across the Atlantic Ocean was really tiring and long. Before my first flight, all of the passengers were asked to check in their hand baggage and they would be delivered to our final destination, we actually did not have a choice, so I checked in my hand baggage and kept my purse with important documents. Below, there is a picture during my night flight and as usual, I could not fall asleep. I was tired by the end of it all, but when I hit Lyon and was claiming my bags, I noticed my red hand luggage was no where to be found. I was so worried about it, especially, because I had my laptop and laptop charger in that bag. I had to start practicing my french and file a baggage claim therefore I was the last one from my flight to come out.

As usual, I could not sleep.
As usual, I could not sleep.

As soon as I came out, I figured out that all the stress I had gone through with packing, the flights, and then my baggage getting delayed was leading up to the beauty of traveling and sceneries like these:

Château de Vizille
Château de Vizille

À bientôt,

D.A.