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...