Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rome and Greece

I spent the last four days in Rome.  It was really cool to see the Colloseum and Forum and eat the delicious gelato (although coldstone is still way better) but all in all I feel like Rome is kind of just another big city now.

This morning we flew from Rome to Greece.  I somehow got my luggage below forty pounds and made it on the flight in time.  

I loved Greece from the moment I saw it.  The people here are so much nicer than the French!!!!! The food is incredible! And some people even bought us free dessert (well they turned out to be creepy men who did it, but we did not know that before we ate it and then ran out of the restaurant).  Anyways, tomorrow we are going to the Acropolis! I cant wait!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Germany and cute Christmas markets!

This week was full of new adventures, sights, smells, and languages!

On Monday I had religion class followed by an interesting FHE activity. We went down to the Madeleine chapel. This is a huge Roman chapel that is dedicated to Mary Magdelene. The Catholic way of worship is so interesting. We also went to the street that has this huge Napolean statue. This was located on the most expensive street in Paris. The purses there go for around twenty five hundred dollars. Hahahh, it kind of makes me sick. While on my way to the metro I saw a big protest going down the street. They were chanting something about illegal immigration and they were completely surrounded by cops. It was very interesting. After FHE I attempted to get home in time for dinner, but there had been a fire in the Metro and after about two agonizing hours of completely packed trains and terrible body odor, I finally made it home! I love public transportation sometimes!

On Tuesday we left our house at five thirty in the morning in order to get to the train station in case the metro was still burned out. Fortunately it had been fixed, but that meant we were forty five minutes early. Since we were so early I decided to take a nap my sitting on the hard medal bench in the middle of the station. Now, somehow the grosse European Pigeons that are all around the city manage to get into this underground stations. Well apart from this being very unsanitary like I realized when I woke out of my semi sleeping stupor that a bird had gone to the bathroom on me. Um, grosse.

We then got on the train, and had to leave one of our members behind, who had not made it in time. We took the train to numerous little cities including a place where we came across this amazing piece of artwork called the Well of Moses. We then went to a place called Dijon, where mustard originated from. It was there that the girl we had left behind randonmely ran into us. hahhaha, lucky day. After that we rode the train to Colmart.

Colmart is the most charming little city. Since it is so near Germany and used to be in Germany it is full of cute little houses, flowers coming out of the windows, and of course christmas decorations and little Christmas markets everywhere! I had my first taste of German spice bread and gingerbread cookies, but unfortunately I am afraid I have been spoiled by Mom's cooking and nothing tastes nearly as good as her gingerbread! After Colmart we went to a similar town of Strasbourg, which had an incredible Cathedral that was built during the high gothic period. I love knowing about all the architecture and what time period it represents. In Colmart and Strausborg there is something called the Petite Venice, which means there are canals going all through the city and it is just beautiful!

That night since the rest of the group was going home, other than myself and five other girls we went to a modern museum in town that had a free Jazz concert. I was excited to hear an American made music style performed in France, but was quickly disspointed to hear this ridiculous modern attempt at Jazz. It was positively ugly and so we left half way through. After that we had a delicious German dinner at a cute little restaurant overlooking the canals and bridges. I had my first taste of German winerschiztel and saurcreut. It was great!

After that it was freezing outside and so we decided to get to the hotel. We had had to book a hotel out in the boonies because for some reason everything in town was full. We had gotten instructions from the lady at the train station, and after taking a forty five minute bus ride, we got off at the instructed stop and realized that we were in the absolute middle of nowhere. After attempting to find the hotel for a while we went to another hotel to ask for directions. When they looked at us with confused expressions I knew there was something wrong. Yea...we were in the wrong city alltogether. Hhahah, trouble was since this was a small town all the busses had stopped after about a four and half mile walk in the freezing cold and rain, we found the hotel. Upon arriving we found there were only smoking rooms available, and one of our room's locks was messed up so my friends could only get in when they asked the clerk to let them in.

Well I dont have time to type more, but hopefully more will be coming tomorrow.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More pics

It has been a while


So I have quite a bit to catch up on.

Last week was incredible!

Monday: I went to Sacrè Cour which is a really big church and the artist district of Paris. Everyone is trying to draw your potrait for you, or men come up to you and put bracelets around your arm and try to make you pay for them. hahhaha. I loved the area! It was beautiful and very...French. That night my friends and I went to this really great restaurant and I had this amazing Ravioli! We then went to the Grand Opera for the Paris Ballet. It was beautiful! Unfortunately we had the very worst seats in the house, but while leaning out of my box I could see most of it. Aah, I once again had an ache to be a ballerina. Too bad I was born to play basketball and tennis :)

Tuesday: Everyone was really antzy about the election. My goodness, it is a bigger deal here then it is in the U.S. Everyone you meet here who finds out that you are American wants to ask who you voted for and then before you can reply they go onto say how crazy George Bush is and how he wants to take over the world or something. hahah. There were loads of parties going on all night long at brasseries all over town. We went to two of my favorite museums so far! First the Museè D'Orsay. It had a lot of impressionistic painters like Monet. I love Monets! Actually the city where I live out in the suburbs is where a bunch of impressionistic painters used to come and paint the Seine. Aaah, sometimes I feel guilty when I wake up and realize this is my life. Then we went to the Rodin museum where I saw some of the most beautiful art I have ever seen. I love sculpture and that was pretty much all that this museum was. I am excited to visit the MOA when I get home (although it wont really compare to what I have been seeing the last few months), but I LOVE learning about the history surrounding art. It makes it so much more meaningful and incredibly exciting to learn about! Here I have just discovered a whole new love for learning. I am finally understanding where I come from and what societal forces have shaped me from their ancient origin.

Wednesday: We left for Normandy in the morning. It was rainy and cold when we arrived, and we made the walk down to a cathedral that was inbetween the Gothic and Romantic Era. I just keep thinking about different religious buildings now and how completely different Mormon buildings are in comparison. I also find it interesting that Cathedrals here are completely empty except for tourists. That night we also went to this incredible museum that had exhibitions about world war two, and 9/11. It was a poignant experience to be in the place where such devastating things had happened. All of a sudden the war seemed so real. Now that I see the architecture all around me, and then see pictures of cities that were destroyed, I can imagine how frightening the war must of been. The exhibit about 9/11 really hit home as well. I realized that no matter what nationality we are, no one wants terrorism and we all have to fight the irrationality of it.

Thursday: We got up and boarded our own little bus to take us out to the beaches of Normandy. By the time we got there the rain had cleared and the sun way shining down in thick rays across the beach. It felt sort of surreal as we walked along the cliffs that had been bombed. Everything was green and gorgeous, but there were still huge craters everywhere from the bombs of the Allied forces trying to get rid of the German occupation. There were vestigas of all the old German Forts. It was very quiet and peaceful and it was strange to imagine bombs exploding, thousands of men dying, and how these serene beaches could have rung with the cries of dieing men. It was very sobering, and I felt such a fierce feeling of patriotism. I have never been so proud to be an American. I also realized how much of our heritage is linked to Europeans. They are where our ancestry comes from. They really are our brothers and sisters. After that we went to the American cemetery. It was a beautiful graveyard on the cliffs above the ocean. Miles of white crosses lined the ground. I felt such a graitute toward these men and woman who had given their lives to help liberate the French. Wow, it was just incredible. The cemetery is owned and maintained by the American government and this was obvious when there were drinking fountains outside the bathroom...I have not seen that since I left the airport in the U.S. This trip to Normandy was really...I dont want to say life changing because that sound cliché, but in all reality is was. I dont was just incredible.

This last Monday:
After religion class my friends and I went to our professors apt and we watched a movie with Audrey Hepburn in it. The movie is filmed in Paris, and it was so exciting to be able to identify where they were and what they were talking about in the movie! Aaah, I keep having that experience. I read books, I see movies and I now realize how much French is everywhere! I feel like my world knowledge has been so expanded on this trip. All I have left to discover is China, Africa (we will just keep that in one block hahahha), Morraco, Japan, Bresil, Chile etc... :) Oh and Australia!

Wednesday: My friends and I went to a famous cafe called "Angelinas" They have incredible hot chocolate! It is pretty much like drinking a melted European chocolate bar. They also bring out a large glass of pure cream, that you mix in. However, I opted out of the hot chocolate for Macaroons. These are much different from American macaroons. They are a little cake pastry with this wonderfully succulent filling inside. Mmhh! It was fabulous!

Thursday: I went to the Picasso museum this morning with my class. I think Picasso's work is hideous, but it was very interesting to understand the background behind it.

Next week I am going to Dijon, which is where Dijon Mustard comes from. Supposably it is incredible and they even have mustard flavored icecream there! I am also going to Strausbourg. Once I am in Strausbourg I am going to stay a couple extra days and go across the border to Germany and perhaps down to Switzerland. Then that next Tuesday is my last in Paris. I will then pick up my bags again and head down to Rome and Athens.

Well I hope all is going well! I love you all and hope you have a great week!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008


The pic at the beach is from a day in The Haag in the Netherlands. Tomorrow however I go to the beaches at Normandy!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Last few weeks

The last few weeks have been really great. The highlight of them all was going to the Paris Masters Tournament where I got to see Federer, Nadal, Roddick and Jocavich (haah no idea how to spell that) all in one night at the palais omnisport here in Paris!!! It was incredible and since is was one of the first rounds we got to sit really close!

The other day we went to this incredible chatou and I am actually starting to put together all this art history stuff I have been learning and it is really really exciting!

Tonight I am hoping to be able to get into the Paris Ballet and the Grand Opera House. I really hope we get in because this is the only ballet that will be playing for the rest of the time while I am here. I only have three more weeks in Paris! Then I head down to Italy and Greece.


Sunday, October 19, 2008


PS: I am so sorry about the grammer and spelling mistakes! All I can say is, lack of time and a proper keyboard!!

Another Marriage Proposal...

So this last week has been quite lovely! The weather here has been wonderful! Blue sky and warm days, combined with golden leaves and beauty all around.

Running is a pleasure here and apart from the nearly twisted ankles I get from running across bumpy pathways covered with leaves, I could not ask for better scenery!

This week was a busy one. On Wednesday we left the house around seven to go to the Clooney Museum where the remains of some ancient Roman Baths were. That was interesting. Then we went back to the Institute for two hours of class about the European Union, which is very interesting, and then went to the Louvre until ten that night. It takes about an hour to get home from the Louvre, so by the time we got to bed it was a little past eleven and we had to leave the next morning at five thirty in order to make a train to the Loire valley which is many hours away.

By the time we got there it was about ten in the morning and the weather was beautiful. It was the perfect setting to see one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life before. The place we were going to visit was a very old chatou. It is one of the only ones that has a lot of the original artwork and artifacts in it that survived the revolution. There are manicured gardens of different kinds all around the chatou which is built ON the Seine River. However my favorite part was the forest next to the Chatou. Oh my goodness, when I walked into it I was sure I had stumbled into the Elvish land of Lothlorian. The trees were a light green and covered with golden leaves. Not yellow-but bright golden. The sunlight was streaming through the trees and there was a light breeze so all the leaves falling made it seem like a light blanket of snow was falling. I just stood there and looked and looked, I could not take my eyes off it, it was so incredibly beautiful.

After that we went to get on the train, but ended up on the wrong side of the tracks, so as the train came rumbling in it went right past us, and thirty girls had to sprint all the way down the tracks and to the other side. It was probably pretty comical hahhah. Inbetween several more trains home we stopped in a town and had an hour layover. I was starving and so I went in search for a Boulangerie in order to purchase a baguette. Every city I have been to in France to far has had one of these bakeries within five minutes in every direction, but I walked forever and could not find the bakery. Finally, at the other end of town I found a grocery store and hurried to buy my baguette that I had walked so far for. I then realized had ten mintues to get back to the train station, when it had taken me about half an hour to get to the grocery store, so I ran back to the station, and besides getting a little lost, barely made it in time for the train (which was a good thing because I had no idea where we were going or what train to get on). However as I went to step on the train, my baguette which I had worked so hard for, feel out of the bottom of its bag onto the sick pigeon walked on floor. I ate it anyways...luckily I am still alive.

When we arrived back at the train station and had gone to board the metro to get back to our respective residences, I looked up and realized I could not see the stop sign. This made me realize I had left my glasses on the train and so I ran with my roommate back to the trains. However, being in the semi-unconscious state I had been all day due to lack of sleep, I had no idea where we had come from or what train, among the many dozens, I had come from. Luckily my roommate was with me, who knows far more Francais than I do, and she was able to communicate to someone that I had lost my glasses. We were led to a lost and found and amzingly enough my glasses were there! The men in the room kept telling me to kiss the man who brought out my glasses, but I just laughed, said my two words that I do know, merci beaucoup, and ran out of the room. What a blessing! I cant imagine what the rest of this trip would have been like if I would have lost those!

On Friday after doing some school work I went to the Eifeel Tower and climbed all one thousand and something stairs to see the incredible view. Now I know why Paris is considered such a beautiful city. Wow. We stayed there from full sunlight to sunset and finally the lights turned on in the city. It was incredible.

Saturday my family had a HUGE party at their house. I got home around eight and walked in to find the furniture completely moved out of the house to make room for a huge dance party. There was good everywhere, lights, a DJ and everything! Everyone was dressed in party dresses, blazers and ties. I guess my family does this with a bunch of other families on a regular basis. They even have a teacher who comes each time and teaches the kids how to dance! I love it though, because the party is full of adults, kids, and teenagers. After a while all the adults go downstairs to listen to their own music, probably classical, and drink wine and eat cheese, while upstairs the kids are dancing away. By the way my family has a sweet sound system with speakers in nearly every room of the house. I really felt as if I was at this aritocratic party of all these rich families who are training their kids how to party in style. Pretty much my roomate and I just danced with ourselves and ate a lot of chocolate mousse and eclairs. My roommate seriously looks like she could be fifteen and so some fifteen year old kept asking her to dance the whole night. It was pretty funny.

Then today we went to church, and afterwards I went and to have a picnic with my friend Cami on the Seine River. It was nice to soak up the sun and watch the sail boats floating around on the river. During our talk, she told me about the Second marriage proposal she received yesterday, from a sixty year old frenchman. Oh man...then men here. :):):):):)

Well, I hope all is going well at home. I cant believe I will be joining you all in America so soon! I am loving it here, but also loving my dear America more and more as the days go on. Actually I was talking with my professor today and she mentioned that because of the recent financial crisis, BYU might be shutting down there study abroad programs. How sad right!? I am so glad that I got in, just in time!

Well I love you all and hope you have a great week!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

beacoup de pain

This week has been nice and relaxed. I am getting more into the routine of things and feeling more at home and oriented with Paris. I even feel confident in my transportation skills, so that makes me feel very independent.

On Tuesday afternoon after class we had a bunch of free time before we went to a concert so a few friends and I went to the Tuilleries (sp?) Gardens in front of the Louvre and sat around a beautiful pool for hours just talking. We were discussing how ancient western civilizations like Greece affect the character and way of life I am and have today. It was a very interesting discussion, and because I have quite a bit of leisure time here I feel as if I am an olden time rich aristocrat who has servants who work for him and then has time to ponder the great questions of life. I also felt as if I should be writing some great American Novel as well. Anyway the jardins are just beautiful! Everything here is turning colors and there are red and yellow leaves everywhere! There were also ducks and fish in the pond that we were sitting around.

Then Tuesday after my usual meal of baguette and nutella (or sometimes I substitute cheese) we made our way over to the Notre Dame Cathedral. The Cathedral itself is incredible. We have been learning more about the construction of cathedrals this past week and the more I study it the more impressed I become. Since it was built in the Gothic style it has walls that are mostly made up of glass windows allowing heavenly light to come inside and filter throught the brilliant stained glass. The vaulted celings are so tall and there are pieces of work everywhere just bursting of symbolism. Something that has struck me as I have learned more about Catholicism is their devotion to Mary. It is incredible to me that practically none of their beliefs in Mary are doctrinal, but rather grew up around the Colt of Mary and have no scriptural basis. I had no idea that they believed that Mary was also immaculatively ( I have no idea how to spell that and only have a french spell check) conceived as well. Also I find it so interesting that sexuality even within marriage is considered a sin in the Catholic church, and that if you participate in it you have to confess it. Ironically however marriage in the Catholic church is a holy sacrament, but meant to be for marriages that are only celebit. This idea of celebacy is further endorsed by Mary being immaculatively conceived and therefore proving that a celebit life is the most pure and holy. Learning about this sort of stuff has been the most interesting thing about my trip so far. Anyways we got to listen to the Messiah in the Cathedral and it was absolutely beautiful! The siprano had the most beautiful clear voice!

We also visited another cathedral where all the royalty in France was buried, but during the revolution their tombs where opened up and all their bones thrown in a heap outside the cathedral. However, after the revolution they took all the bones and put them in a room in the very bottom of the cathedral where we got to visit. In the bottom of the cathedral there were also the remnants of the very first wall of the church which was started in the fifth century AD!

Then today we went to a huge cathedral in Chatres. It is an ancient medevil town and I had my second offical French pastry, a tarte aux pommes, which was decent but not the best. I did however try one called the milfeuille the other day and it was pretty good.

Well this weekend I am going to a ballet of Edward Scissor Hands. And in the next few weeks if I can arrange it, I may be either going to Spain or AFRICA for the weekend! That would be amazing!

Well I hope all is well in dear America! I love you all and hope everything is going well!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Getting to know Paris

So I have been in Paris for about a week and a half now. I am starting to get the feel of the metro system a bit more, am getting used to the agressive men, and even have stopped coughing when people blow smoke in my face. Hahaha

The city is beautiful! And I have to remind myself to be amazed every time I see a new magnificent building... which is about everywhere you turn. Each morning I run down by the Seine River for about a three mile jog and then get ready for the day and to go to class.

Now that we are finally settled in Paris our classes are a bit more structured. On Monday we have our religion class which addresses the History of the Church in France. The class if taught by the director of the institute in Paris, who is just finishing his PHd this very week. His English is excellent and although he has an accent he is still quite easy to understand. After religion class we all get together for an FHE activity which can range from going to a park to seeing some other interesting place. Tuesdays I have my political Civilization lecture which I really like and find incredibly interesting. Wednesdays I have my European Politics class for two and a half hours and then that night we spend four hours in the Louvre looking at art for my Civ class. Thursdays are reserved for day trips that we will take each week to places like Normandy, and the rest of the weekend if usually left up to us to do as we like.

This last Thursday was my first lecture in the Louvre. We studied mostly Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Persian, and some Mesoptamium cultures. During this lecture we came across the Nike. This is a gorgeous sculpture of a woman leaning forward on the stern of the boat. I absolutely fell in love with the piece and stared at it for ages. It was so beautiful. There was so much drama and movement in the piece and I felt as if she was about to spring off the stern of the boat and fly away.

Many of the sculptures and paintings we have seen this far have been in the nude. In fact I think I have learned more about human anatomy through art than I ever did in my high school health class. However, I have come to recognize the absolute beauty of the human body and love looking at the sculptures. It sparked an interesting question among my friends and I. The question of at what point does art become inappropriate? I have not quite figured it out myself.

Today we had free because we did not have a day trip to go on. We went to take a picnic under the Eifeel tower but by the time we arrived there it was pouring rain and freezing so we decided to go shopping instead. I discovered the H and M store which I really like, in addition to a bunch of other cute little boutiques. I think that I already loved European style before I came over here. Everyone wears tights-and I love tights! Plus I love the dresses that people wear, the dressier look, long pea coats, and button up shirts! Too bad everything is soo expensive!

My friends I were planning on going to the Opera tonight, but then were forced to change plans because the friend I was going to go with had her crazy host Mom demand that she stay home for dinner. I am learning how lucky I am to be placed with the family that I am with! In fact this morning I woke up to a maid wanting to clean my room! I dont even have to take out my own garbage! Is that not amazing!? I may never come home! Hhahha. Three times a week I eat with my family. I find it interesting that they always eat dinner together, and it is always a sit down meal that usually takes at least an hour. I find it ironic that they are much more family oriented then many in the Mormon culture. Perhaps it is just an American thing to be rushing so much. Anyways we always start with a different main course. Something like fish lasagna or friend rice with mushrooms, and then we have one course at a time like bread, cheese, lettuce with a dressing and yogurt or fruit for dessert. I like it, and would like it even more if I could understand half of what the are saying. Unfortunately, I cant quite enjoy the meal because I am straining to here what they are talking about in case they call on me and ask a question.

Well I hope everyone is doing well and that the economic crisis is looking up! If there is one thing I have realised admidst all that I like in Europe, is how much I love about the United States! I really am so thankful to be American!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Paris finally!

So I have finally arrived in Paris! The first two nights we stayed in a hotel together and today we finally got to move in with our host families.

The adventure to Paris. So we took a train from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Paris. We then got on other trains, I am not sure why, and then we had to take the metro. Well when we got to the metro a bunch of the lines were closed because workers were on strike. Consequently the metro was absolutely jam packed and it was even worse because we had all our luggage for four months with us. Getting onto the metro was quite an ordeal. People were literally smashed against all sides of the metro; their faces pressed against the windows and everyone looking very annoyed. Each stop we came to was jam packed too and more people kept trying to squeeze on when literally the doors could not even shut and we had to wait for a long time at every stop so they could try to shut like 4 times each. I think some people were very mad at us because of our luggage, but for once I was glad I could not understand the French being spoken around me. Hahahah.

After lugging our baggage around to two more trains, getting lost from half of the group and pulling our suitcases through the rain we finally made it to the hotel.

The next day was our first orientation to Paris. The city is HUGE and magnificent buildings are everywhere! I still have no idea where I am going or how to get anywhere.

For my jogging class I ran around the eifeel tower just as the sun was setting. It was sooo beautiful! Then all of sudden it lit up and was incredible!

Then today we walked around more of the city and I ate a French Crepe for the first time. I bought it at a street market and it was incredible!

Then we went back to my professors apt to take a bus to our various homes that we will be staying at for the next few months. The bus driver kept getting lost and it was a bit nervewracking as he swerved back and forth on the extremely narroz and crowded Paris streets. We had been misinformed by our professor and had missed the stop. So by the time he went and dropped us off, there was no one there to receive us and we were left a bit helpless in a random neighborhood with no phone nor idea where we were. Luckily after a bit our families somehow found us and took us home.

Somehow I managed to score the best situation ever! My family consists of 5 children, 3 of which are living at home, ages 18, 14, and 11. They have very very nice and all, except the youngest, speak English well. However they do speak French to us, which will help us learn. The house is magnifique! It is very big, having four floors, and my roomate and I have the downstairs mostly to ourselves. We have our own rooms which are huge! I have a queen size bed and beautiful furnishings. We have a bathroom to share between us and right next door is a movie theatre in the house! Additionally the father and son play tennis and belong to a club that I can play at with them. Also we live right on the Seine River where there is a perfect running trail that I can go to every day. The scenery here is beautiful, and all the leaves are starting to change. We are a 5 minute walk from the train station also.

Tonight we had dinner with the familly and I am excited to see how much I can actually communicate. I am sure my sentence structure is absolutely terrible, but atleast they get the gist of what I am trying to say. The mother told us that she would be happy to teach us how to cook great French and I am very excited for that as well. Oh one last thing I forgot to mention, they have a piano, so hopefully I will have some time to play that as well!

Although I am so glad that I have gotten to see so many things in the last few weeks I am really excited to settle down and get to know a city really well! I hope everything is going well at home and that we havent delved into a depression yet! I love you all and hope you are doing well!


PS: They like ,y name here because it is French.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Beaches/Biking in Holland

So these last few days have been amazing!

Saturday: We got up and went to the Open Air Museum. This was one of my favorite musuems to far because it was in the forest and they had different places (like a paper mill) and houses, and demonstratons to show what life was like back in the day in Holland. It was beautiful, with windmills everywhere and large green pastures. The sun was shining and it was about 70 degrees. The pastures were filled with nice cows and the bakery was amazing! I got some bread there and a cinnamon roll! (I've been weirdly craving a cinnamon roll here, and even though it didn't even compare to Mom's it was still great) I also ate the whole loaf of bread the rest of the day. After that we went on a bike ride through this enormous park! It was so fun, we used traditional bikes that only have one speed and have foot pedals. The park was absolutely beautiful and there is a museum in the middle of it. You go from lakes to forest to San Dunes. We ended up riding about 20 kilometers and I felt great! It was so nice to get out of the city and gulp in the fresh air! Although my backside was a bit sore the next day it was great.

After the bike ride we went to this pancake house (which are huge around here-we've gone to like 5) and I decided to get a "Mexican" pancake because I was so sick of sweet stuff. Apparently though, living close to Mexico and having semi-real (or more real than this) Mexican food is a plus, because the pancake was well sick. Hhahaha, I'm realizing again and again how much stuff is free in America. At any restaurant I never get water because it costs about 8 dollars (seriously) and I never get water from the bathroom because they charge you a euro to go to the I realized when I almost passed out a few times the other day, I've really tried harder to stay hydrated and even paid to use the bathroom today (though it nearly killed me.)

Sunday was great! We went to church and the ward was very surprised to see 25 girls! I love going to church in foreign places, I think everyone's testimony grows (visitors and the original members) because you realize how worldwide the gospel is. And even though we come from completely different backgrounds we have something huge in common. I think also the 8 or so missionaries that were there were excited to see 25 girls from BYU as well. Additionally my friend Mindy ran into a missionary who she "sent off" and stopped writing. She is now currenly pretty much engaged to someone else. Needless to say that added some drama to the day.

After that we walked around town and went to look a the Queen's palace. I keep wondering what it would be like to be a royal figure around here. Seems to pointless to me. And you really are at the mercy of the government and are basically a puppit.

Anyway, today we got up and becasue most things are closed on Mondays here, we got a pretty free day! We walked about 4 miles after riding the train and went to the beach! It was a beautiful beach and it was soo great! I loved!

Oh I also got my residence assignment for Paris! Apparently I'm staying in this mansion ( I googled it) and I have my own room and it's equipped with Wi fi (yea I didn't bring my computer dangit!) and it ir right on teh Seine river. Like it is in it's back yard. I'm so excited! And i hope that I'll be able to run along side it. We're also right next to the train station. It should be perfect. Now all i have to worry about it my french!.

Ok, I keep asking people but no one will answer me! Are we going into a depression in the U.S.? What is going on in the stock market!?

Friday, September 19, 2008


So after leaving Brussels which wasn't nearly as charming as Brooge (sp?) we have come to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is full of crime and our professors were constantly telling us to keep our purses and valuables under or coats and close to us. The main square was huge, and it had a variety of strange people and sights in it. There were people dressed up in weird costumes just standing around. For example 2 people were dressed up in Grim Reeper costumes, and another in a bright green suit and creepy mask. Later, there was a lady who was in a wedding dress white pasty makeup all up and down her body and face doing some slow creepy dance with another woman.

It was also interesting because the huge red-light district in Amsterdam is right across the street from the huge town hall. Prostituion is legal in Amsterdam except you have to "get a permit."How ironic is that?

Amsterdam, didn't particularly impress me. It was mostly huge, dirty, and loud. There were people EVERYWHERE, but luckily on one in the group got pick-pocketed, although some girls in my group where harassed by some men on the train earlier, and later again in the city. Yuck, yuck, yuck. It's times like this, when I'm actually thank ful for my not overly attractive appearance, so I'm not a target for these leud men.

For the next 5 days were staying in an airport close to the hotel in Amsterdam and then making day trips out to various cities. After this we'll be off to Paris, which I'm very excited for.

Today I got up and went on a 5 mile run with my professor and another classmate. It was really fun, and the scenery was nice. Other than almost taking out a few bikers, the run felt great, and cleared my super congested sinuses for a bit. Then we went to a museum, and now we're going back to Amsterdam for more museums and some fine arts show tonigth. I'm amazed at how incredibly tired I am each night, and I'm glad that they don't give us a lot of extra homework, because I don't think I would be able to do it! :)

I forgot to mention that yesterday we went to the Anne Franck house. It was very sobering and interesting at the same time. It's hard to believe that horrors like those commited there happened so recently. How humans can treat one another in such a fashion is beyond my comprehension.

Yesterday I also got to try my first Swedish Pancake. It's a bit of a mix between a crepe and a pancake and was decent, but not out of this world good. Perhaps that's due somewhat to my lack of smelling/tasting ability. Who knows.

Well, it's been a marvelous journey for the last two weeks, and I'll write more soon. Hope everything is going well at home. I heard that the stock market had a terrible day on Wednesday? I hope that that didn't affect life to drastically?


Sunday, September 14, 2008

First week in Europe

So I've completed my first week in Europe! It's been a bit tiring, but lovely all the same! London was wonderful, but I'm glad that I didn't decide to stay there because it's too much like America, and I didn't feel like it was a very "foreign" experience. However, going to a broadway show every night was amazing! I got to see "Phantom of the Opera," "Wicked" and "Les Miserables." "Les Miserables" was by the far the very best, and I actually didn't even really like "Wicked" that much, but they were all incredible and I only spent 75 pounds (ok that's a lot but not for Broadway). Although I really like being able to get everywhere in London, I LOVE having personal cars! Anyway, it looked like we weren't going to be able to get out of London because there was a fire in the "Eurostar" the day before we were supposed to take it to Belgium, fortunately however we were able to take the train! Belgium is absolutely beautiful! And I actually like it a lot more than London. Everything is much more relaxed and the streets are beautiful! Cobblestone roads and beautiful cottage like houses. There are lace and chocolate shops everywhere, and although the official language is dutch, everyone speaks English very well (good thing).

Today we went to church here, and completely overwhelmed the little branch here. We more than doubled their size. It was incredible to experience the globality (word choice?) of the church, and strange to hear people from Belgium talking about an "American" religion.

We've been to so many cathedrals here, and they are beautiful, but a bit eerie, and I realize how much I love the spirit of our plain meeting houses.

Well the chocolate here, is delicious! Tomorrow we're off to Brussels and then off to Antwerp (sp?) and Amsterdam. It's going to be great, however it will be nice to stick in Paris for two months, becasue it's a bit hard carying 70lbs worth of luggage around. UGH! I should never have packed so heavily.

Well, I hope everything is well at home, I haven't heard much, but I guess no news is good news right?


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

1st day in London

So last night was my first night in London. Mindy and I got in at about 8 in the morning and easily found our way to the hotel. I already consider myself an expert on the London "Tube" which is way easier to use than any American system :) However, when we got to the TINY hotel/bed and breakfast that we were staying at our rooms wouldn't be ready until 12 AM so Mindy and I looked for a place to grab breafkast. Everything here is INCREDIBLY expensive. Yikes. I think I may only be eating one meal a day while I'm here.

After that we went back to our hotel and fell asleep. We were planning on only sleeping a few hours but ended up accidentally sleeping 7 and 1/2! We were going to go to Les Miserables, but it was too late by the time we woke up! Shoot!

However, we took the underground into the city and tried to find a place to pick up a night tour of London, but we took the wrong train and missed that tour too. We finally just rode into London and walked around, trying to find the Buckingham Palace. We didn't have time to find the palace because it was around 10:30 at night and I didn't want to be out any later than that for safety reasons, but we did see the Queen's Gallary and some big monuments.

We went back to our hotel which was sooo small, but I liked all the same. The man at the front desk (well more like front tiny hall) was Indian and thought we Americans were funny. He helped us find our way to different places and kept offering us a cup of tea, which he probably thought we were a bit rude for refusing. Mindy bought some icecream bars on our way back last night and since we didn't have anywhere to store them, offered them to the front desk man. He looked a bit startled and refused but Mindy kept pushing them on him, because otherwise she'd just had to throw them away, and finally a bit awkwardly he accepted them. hahah. The bathroom in our hotel room was probably the size of well I can't think of anything as small as it. The shower head had to be held up and the pressure was that of a dripping sink. Needless to say, showering this morning was an adventure, and there were no electrical outlets in our room so I wore my hair wet...luckliy it was warm out.

Then this morning Mindy and I went down to breakfast (which was tea and toast) hhahha, and sat with a couple from Spain. They spoke little English (which I didn't realize at first) and when I asked them where to get the dishes there was a bit of an awkward exchange. However, I was later proud of myself when between my knowledge from my 9th grade Spanish class and there small amount knowledge of of English language we had a short and choppy discussion. They asked if I was from England- and were very surpised when I said "United States." Once again I have realized how much I LOVE America! Free internet, telephones, and everything else is so lovely!

However this morning the rest of the group flew in so we went to meet them just two doors down from the hotel we were staying at last night. It's nice to see some familiar faces and it distracts me from the bit of homesickness that I had been feeling yesterday.

I have come again to realize how much I love the clean air of UT! My nose is constantly burning from the smoke here. Ugh! :)

We took off with some of the girls to go shopping in London, and I was surpised to see how similar the clothes are to that of America. Consequently I don't feel the need to spend $300 for a jacket that would cost $150 in America and look the same...we'll see what happens when I get to Paris. We also stumbled across a beautiful church this morning.

Tonight we are going to see Les Miserables hopefully and tour all of London with our group. I'm thankful that I got here a day early so I could sleep and recover, seens how everyone else will be absolutely exhausted today.

Well until next time...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Weekend with the Family, Oliver, and Leigh :)

This last weekend was great! On Friday I ran home from work to try and iron out Kurt's graduation robe...but with out much success. Oh well, he looked tall and handsome from far away and I doubt anyone, but his closest neighbors noticed the crinkles in his uniform. After the graduation everyone headed to my apartment for dinner that Mom had cooked. The dinner was delicious and after cleaning up it was time to go home.

The next day Oliver and I headed up to West Jordan at about 5:00. I was so excited to see Gracie and Ellie! Gracie has become a mama's girl and at first would not even let me hold her! However, after a while she seemed to warm up, although she constantly cried out for Heidi, perhaps a response to the latest addition to the Griffin family...Ellie.

That night after dinner all of us headed up to Cecret lake (our traditional family hike). The hike was absolutely beautiful, although a bit colder than we had all expected. By the time we got there is was getting dark and we only stayed at the lake for about 5 minutes. However the crisp mountain air felt healthy in my lungs and I enjoyed the hike (although we came close to some big moose).

The next morning Oliver and I got up and went to music and the spoken word at the Conference Center. It was a beautiful program and they even sang my favorite song "All Creatures of Our God and King." I love choral music and would give anything to be in that choir someday. After the performance we made our way up to the top of the Conference Center, where there are some pretty gardens and fountains and a great view of the city.

After that we hurried home to make it to the home ward for church. It's always interesting to see how people have grown and matured inbetween the times I attend church there.

That night Leigh came down and she and Oliver and I played speed scrabble (Oliver slaughtering us every time) and ate dinner with the entire family. Our house seems to usually be in a state of semi-confusion with all the babies around, but it's worth it because they seem to get cuter every time I see them.

That night Mom and Dad had put together a memorial service for Grandpa Laird and it was great to remember what a wonderful man he was. I'm lucky to be related to him.

All in all it was a fabulous weekend! I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful family/boyfriend/best friend :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Last night...

Last night Oliver and I went up to his cabin just ahead of my roommates Leigh and Kate. We all got together and made some great shish kaboobs for dinner.

One of Oliver's good friends from back home came to and brought a girl that he had been crushing on since his study abroad last winter. Funnily enough, I know her. Her name is Kali and we were in the same Biology class our freshman year and even did a group project together. They were really cool and fun to hang out with.

After finally finishing the preparations for dinner and eating, we played a bunch of games. The best of which was "Curses." Aaron Collete (Leigh's date and our ward's current Elder's Quorum President) was cursed that everything he said had to be in a scooby do accent. The psudo japanese trying to be scooby do voice made me laugh harder than I have in a long time. I ended up sobbing half my make up off because I was laughing so hard. I don't think I've laughed so hard since some good old times with Heidi.

We finally got home at about 1:00 AM, and just in time to get in a bit of sleep before today when everyone will start flooding into UT again for Kurt's graduation and Abbey's wedding next week. I'm so excited to see everyone! It's going to be a great weekend!

Friday, August 8, 2008


I am starting this blog so my friends/family can see what I'm doing during my adventure in Europe.