Monday, November 24, 2008


Yes, I know. It must seem commonsense that we, the Lovely Ladies of Lyon, would never be able to forget our three month long trip to France. I mean, no one could ever imagine completely shutting out such an amazing experience from her mind. However, I feel as though I have an important fact to clarify. Just like all other extraordinary opportunities in life (such as attending Franklin Pierce University), we aren’t solely going to remember our experiences when confronted with a blatant picture of the Eiffel Tower. On the contrary, our memories are going to be triggered by all the little things that have contributed to our French experience, and only we are fully going to understand their meaning and significance in the overall picture of France and our lives. No matter whether the memories are amusing, disheartening, exciting, daunting, or frightening, they’re almost certainly going to be effortlessly conjured up in the most ridiculous settings in our future lives, and at the particular moment in time, we may not have anyone to reminisce with about them. However, we do have cell phones in America, and texting can be the perfect way to quickly share this knowledge, so it isn’t much for us to worry about. In any case, as our French experience comes to an end, we’ve tried to identify some of the little things that will forever generate memories. Below is the “Official” list. Please be aware that a majority was required for each of the following items to be featured. Enjoy!

  • Official Address: 19 rue Honoré de Balzac, Villeurbanne, France
  • Official Best GA: Christine Lewis
  • Official Book: France by Colin Jones (Cambridge Illustrated History)
  • Official Club: Dance Boats on the Seine River
  • Official Supermarket: The Super U
  • Official Form of Dance Exposure: “Contemporary”
  • Official French Phrase: “Avec La Gauche!”
  • Official French Rapper: Sefyu
  • Official French Song: "Champs-Elysees"
  • Official Game: Spite & Fury (Gotta love cards!)
  • Official Instrument: Accordion
  • Official Metro: A 
  • Official Non-Shopping Day: Sunday (Can you believe even the mall is closed? And don’t even try to go food shopping after 12:00PM. It’d be pointless. Trust us.)
  • Official Pet Peeve: Waiting extended periods of time for the trams to arrive
  • Official Professor: Wendy Dwyer
  • Official Soundtrack: Disney’s Mulan
  • Official Tram: T3

Avec l'Amour,

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Well, I’ll just say it: When Wendy made the suggestion that we all consider attending Beaujolais Nouveau, Lyon’s very own midnight wine celebration during which 450 liters of wine is offered to the attending crowd, I wasn’t the least bit thrilled. In fact, I couldn’t have whined more about it! First off, the fact that I don’t drink alcohol (seriously) completely nullified the overall potentially alluring offer of free wine. Secondly: a MIDNIGHT festival? Was she serious?! It’s November! I don’t care if we’re in France, having a gathering in the middle of the night ANYWHERE (in these kinds of latitudes) probably means it’s going to be cold outside. Therefore, if I did go, I’d have to actually make the effort to put on multiple layers of clothing, bundle up with at least a scarf and my mittens, and make sure my jacket was buttoned up tight. Third, it was a Wednesday night, and we had an early day scheduled for Thursday. Wasn’t it irresponsible to stay out so late on a school night?

Nevertheless, I was conned into going. You see, after Wendy saw my highly unenthused facial expression regarding the potential late night activity, she used her second piece of alluring Beaujolais Nouveau information: The event was going to contain a fireworks show. Now, I had yet to see fireworks in France, and as I assessed the situation, I realized that I really hadn’t had the opportunity to see any since around the fourth of July. Plus, as the girls explained to me, it was officially our final ten days in Lyon, France. We would most likely never get the opportunity to experience such activities together—as the entire Lyon 2008 group—ever again, and truth be told, things just don’t get more Lyonnaise than this activity. Overall, they felt it was worth experiencing—at least worth documenting with my camera—and I might just enjoy myself.

[Of course, as I later figured out, the girls also had ulterior motives because if I was around, it meant they all got some extra sips of my undesired alcoholic beverage.]

In any case, upon our arrival in Place Bellecour, we were greeted by the musical delights of Lyon’s very own marching band! The band followed behind a horse drawn wagon baring the actual barrel of fresh wine, and the overall crowd included numerous individuals holding torches in order to brighten the street. As the procession slowly made its way toward a tent at the far end of Bellecour, we recognized and humorously sung along to numerous American songs such as the “YMCA.”

Finally, around 12:00AM, the wagon has reached its final destination, and we pushed our way into a crowd of people surrounding what appeared to be a decent sized stage adorned with even more barrels of wine! All of the sudden, loud techno music began blaring, lights began flashing, and fireworks filled the sky above our heads. As the crowd became overwhelmed with awe and amazement, glasses of fresh wine were passed out to the crowd. Overall, it was such a captivating and amusing display that I actually FORGOT I was cold (which is not an easy feat with me because I’m ALWAYS cold). Therefore, I actually had a really great experience and was extremely happy that I didn’t miss it.

[And, just for your information, my camera died at the very BEGINNING of this event meaning I only got about three photographs of the marching band, but I STILL enjoyed myself. I guess my friends and Wendy were right after all. ☺]

Avec l'Amour,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


  • Louis and Auguste Lumiére (brothers) were two of the earliest filmmakers.
  • Both grew up together and attended college in Lyon, France.
  • The Lumiére Villa was their home and used to be referred to as the “Lumiére Castle” by local inhabitants of Monplaisir, the neighborhood where it is located.
  • Today, this Villa houses the Lumiére Museum.
  • In March of 1985, the Lumiéres set up their Cinematograph and made their first film: La Sortie de usines Lumiére.
  • The First Film Warehouse appears in the background of this film!
  • La Sortie de usines Lumiére was first shown in December of 1895.
  • Even though they received numerous offers, the Lumiére brothers refused to sell their Cinematograph because they preferred to retain control.
  • They sent trained operatives around the world to bring back images so that they could show “the world” the world.
  • Louis Lumiére invented the photorama in 1901, which enabled photographs to be projected into a six-meter high, 360-degree panorama!
  • There is a replica of this photorama, which contains an image of Marseille, in the Lumiére Museum.
  • Both brothers also made advancements in medicine such as “Lumiére tulle gras,” a dressing for burns, and mechanical hands made in the form of hooks and clamps.

Well, I didn’t know any of these facts until Wendy brought us to the Musée Lumiére on Tuesday afternoon! As you can probably tell, it was a very intriguing experience, and I learned a lot of new information of which I had never previously found myself curious. Plus, I got some amazing photographs of the different devices featured in each of the Villa’s rooms including the Cinematograph and two of the highly intriguing mechanical hands that the brothers’ designed.

Of course, it wasn’t until I got back to my residence that I took a second look at all of my images and came to a stunning realization: I had captured something else on film, which could be considered “highly intriguing.” In a photograph that was intended to capture the view outside of one of the Lumiére brother’s bedroom windows, I captured a clear reflection of a man: A balding, older man baring a stunning resemblance to Mr. Lumiére himself. Was it a ghost? Is it just my imagination? I’m not sure anyone can be entirely certain, but the mystifying picture along with an image of Mr. Lumiére is featured below for your viewing pleasure.

Avec l'Amour,

Sunday, November 9, 2008


It’s official! Since Saturday, November 8th I have been on vacation from everything school related. Now, would you like to know the best part? My vacation doesn’t end until November 16th! That’s right. I get over a week of free, vacation/holiday time. I don’t even know WHAT I’m going to do with myself. Of course, I do have some schoolwork to keep me busy, and I caught up on my blog over these past few days, but I can’t spend every waking moment on school stuff. It’s impossible. Plus, I’m going to have fun this week (and finishing up schoolwork doesn’t necessarily always count as fun-filled time).

Now, although I can’t truthfully say that I’m using this time off to be highly productive in the “visiting as many different cities and countries as one possibly can” sense (I’m actually just planning on spending the week in Lyon), some of the other girls are doing just that! One went back to Paris with her mother, another is in London staying with family, and many of the girls are lucky enough to have their families visiting Lyon. Therefore, overall, it’s been a very joyous weekend filled with a lot of love and excitement.

However, I’ve come to a conclusion that I feel I must inform you all about. Since I am supposed to be using this vacation as a break, I’ve made the executive decision to break from blogging for this week UNLESS something absolutely noteworthy occurs. Therefore, this entry is goodbye for the week! I hope you all have a fabulous one, and I’ll be back to telling you all about my LAST TWO WEEKS’ experiences around the 17th. Keep well!  

Avec l'Amour,


On Monday, November 3rd the students of Franklin Pierce University’s Vienna study abroad program made their way into OUR territory. Yep, that’s right! They came to see the lovely city of Lyon, which the girls and I are all so proud to call “home.”

In order to best take advantage of the unique opportunities that this presented, both the Vienna professor and Wendy Dwyer decided it would be a magnificent idea if the “Lyon Ladies” took the Vienna students on a tour. Before it began, Wendy informed us all that the tour didn’t have to be highly supplemented with historical content. Instead, she preferred that we truly showed our peers the aspects of the city that we loved and explain to them why they were so important or significant to us all. Therefore, we were able to take them on a very short, but highly packed tour. We started at the sculpture of Louis XIV in Place de Bellecour, pointed out the Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica as well as the Metallic tower of Fourvière, and, after walking down Rue de La Republique, we were able to point out Lyon’s Opera House, the Place des Terreaux, which features Bartholdi’s Fountain. Finally, we took them for a walk down the side of the Seine River and pointed out the boats, works of art, and recreational areas that Lyon boasts. Although we were happy to walk about, the Vienna students seemed more like Victims of our tour than willing guests. They were not very impressed with our city.

When the tour was complete, we were all informed that we would be dining together at a local restaurant in Vieux Lyon at 8:00PM that evening! Although we spent our late afternoons in our separate study abroad groups, having dinner together was a great idea! It was fun to catch up with friends, meet new people, and experience French food together. Plus, the Vienna Victims didn’t seem to be suffering as badly during this excursion. They were enjoying themselves, and they were great company.

Ultimately, even though the Vienna Victims didn’t seem that impressed with our lovely homestead, that doesn’t change our opinions about it! Lyon is our primary location, and we know it inside and out. We’re just as connected to it as they’re connected to Vienna, and therefore, it makes sense that they wouldn’t be able to appreciate it at the same level as us. Although I don’t know about any of the other girls, personally, I took no offense at their harsh opinions. Besides, Paris is still the number one city in my mind… and I think I’d probably take more offense to someone knocking Paris than I would to someone knocking Lyon any day.

Avec l'Amour,


  • I woke this morning and felt ridiculously depressed. It was my last day in Paris, and I didn’t want to leave. I wasn’t ready to go yet, and nothing about returning to Lyon seemed the slightest bit appealing.
  • A few of the girls (including myself) got up early enough to eat our last quick, free breakfast downstairs around 9:00AM at the Hotel Marignon.
  • At 9:45AM, Wendy led our small group back to the Notre Dame so that we could attend and experience what Catholic mass would be like in such an enormous church. It began at 10:00AM, and it was another one of those indescribable experiences.
I used to think I was healed. My old wounds were wrapped up and put away. I had moved on. I mean, I was successfully living my everyday life, right? Well, due to my experience at the Notre Dame, I now know that I was just in denial. I was fooling myself. I’m nowhere near healed, and I’m not really sure anyone ever can be.

Hmm… that was kind of cryptic, huh? Where do I start so that you can fully understand what I mean without revealing my whole life story? Okay, I’ve decided. I’ll start here: I used to be Catholic.

Growing up, my family was fairly religious. We went to mass regularly, and I received the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation. However, as I got older, I truly began understanding religion, and I realized that the values held dear by the Catholic Church didn’t align with my personal values. Therefore, I stepped away from Catholicism and, with time, so did my family. At that point, I declared myself a nondenominational Christian.

However, I don’t really know what that means. Religion isn’t truly a large part of my daily life anymore. In fact, I would even go as far as saying that I probably only think about “religious” things twice a month (if that). Of course, certain unpredictable and uncontrollable experiences have the tendency and ability to bring us closer to religion on a whim. Both of my grandfathers passed away recently. They were very religious men, and the last time I was in a Church, I’m pretty sure it was for one of their funerals.
Knowing this, attending mass at the Notre Dame was ridiculously overwhelming. Everything hit me like a ton of bricks. Although I couldn’t understand the language, the procedure of mass was exactly the same. It brought back hundreds of memories of masses from when I was younger, and it brought back the painful memories of those two funeral services. Even the smell of the incense made me think of my grandfathers. Unable to help myself, I cried the entire mass through. It was a beautiful service, and I made the choice to receive the host at communion by the end.

In its conclusion, I wiped my eyes and thought positively. If France has taught me anything, it has taught me about what genuinely means the world to me: my family. When I go home, I can’t forget how blessed I am for having them. I must find everyway possible to show them how much I appreciate their love, encouragement, and influence in my life.

  • After mass, we headed off in our own directions stopping at souvenir shops, getting lunches, and then meeting back up at the Hotel Marignon in order to grab our bags. We would be heading back out onto the Metro and trains today in pursuit of Lyon. 
  • Our train left from Paris Gare Lyon station at 2:54PM, and we were all very well settled into our seats with our books, cards, and iPods before it started bustling off. Even so, I was not very thrilled. Of course, there was nothing I could do about it, so I let time, which had initially led me to Paris, to lead me even farther on my life journey. Besides, I figured the sooner I reached Lyon, the sooner I would be able to find myself back in Paris someday, someway, somehow.
  • At around 5:00PM, we found ourselves back in Lyon’s Part Dieu station, and my amazing trip to Paris was complete.
Avec l'Amour,

Saturday, November 8, 2008


  • After breakfast, we took a sight seeing walk to the Louvre during which we got to see the many faces featured on the sides of Pont Nuef, Paris’ newest bridge over the Seine River.
  • When we arrived at the iconic pyramids of the Louvre, Wendy decided it would be a great place for us to do some contemporary dance improvisation!
You’re probably wondering what it’s like to dance outside such an iconic structure in the middle of Paris with groups of people watching. At first, it’s very unsettling. It’s hard to get into the right state of mind and feel as though you’re truly settled into your body. Personally, I just keep thinking about the people watching and judging me. I want to show them that I have proper technique and skill and training, but I also know that those characteristics aren’t exactly what my professor is valuing. She wants to see us releasing into ourselves and truly dancing from our hearts and souls. Luckily, after only a few moments of calculated movements, I tend to lose myself anyway and feel more comfortable. I forget where I am and just dance. It took a lot of practice and trust in myself to be able to do this, but I’ve slowly learned this really important ability since being in college contemporary dance courses.

Finally, when it specifically comes to dancing outside of the Louvre, I didn’t know that strangers were watching, taking photographs, and video recording us until after our “performance” was done! Ultimately, I was a bit embarrassed by Wendy’s request at first, and I didn’t want to dance in such an open, tourist filled area, but I’m really glad we all did it! I mean, who else can say that while they were in Paris they danced outside of the Louvre? Not to mention, it’s on film! That means, it’s totally undeniable. Personally, I think it shows that each of us are confident and free spirited women, and those are genuinely good qualities to possess, don’t you think?

  • Inside the museum, we all split up so that we would all be able to individually see the works of art that were personally important to us. I went off and found The Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Mona Lisa, the Coronation Crown of Louis XV, Venus de Milo, and Saint Mary Magdalene! Unfortunately, we only had two hours to explore the museum, but I wasn’t as upset about the lack of available time this time around. You see, I was prepared to not be able to see all of the featured artwork due to my previous research on the Louvre. From this quick Google search, I discovered that it literally takes a full twenty-four hour period JUST to walk through the entire Louvre! Therefore, I knew it would be impossible for me to see everything in one quick visit, but I was really glad to be able to experience the pieces that I did.
  • After we grabbed a quick lunch at a local restaurant, Wendy took us to a store she had discovered on her last trip to Paris: A taxidermy shop! It was quite intriguing to see all of the animals featured and discover new types of insects that I had never seen before.
  • When we were all taxidermy-ed out, we made our way to the Musée d’Orsay, which is THE impressionism museum of Paris. Before entering, I couldn’t recall any artists from the impressionism and post-impressionism eras except for Monet and Van Gogh. However, when we entered, I found a small work of Degas and almost freaked out! I HAD to see his work in person. He was THE artist that constructed numerous paintings and sculptures of dancers, and since I’d been dancing since I was six years old, I’d had recreations of works by Degas in my life since I was a very little girl. Ultimately, his work was hundreds of times more inspiring in person, and I’ll never forget he’s an impressionism era artist ever again.
  • Once I had experienced enough art for one day, I headed back to the Hotel Marignon with a few of the girls for a nap! Haha.
  • The evening plans featured a group dinner at a nice restaurant during which I put my past love aside (READ AS: I had a pet snail growing up) and tried escargot. As I had been previously informed, it was positively AMAZING. In fact, it was SO ridiculously good, I’ve made the decision that I MUST eat it again before I leave France. Who knew something so strange could be such a great treat? If you’re looking for a recommendation to try them, go for it! What’s the worst that could happen? You spit it out into your napkin? Don’t miss the opportunity.
  • After dinner, we went to see the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triumph at night… and I fell in love with Paris AGAIN. The Tour Eiffel is officially my favorite iconic structure. I want one for my backyard. I want to live on it. I want to put one over the giant Bubble on Franklin Pierce’s campus. I mean, wouldn’t that just look fantastic? Haha.
  • It was Halloween in America, our very first (and only) full day off in Paris, and we all decided to take a walk of the wild side by sleeping in for a whole hour! Okay-okay, I know it’s not THAT wild, but who wants to sleep their entire free day away when they’re in PARIS? Now, moving on…
  • After eating breakfast at the Hotel Marignon, a few of the girls and I headed out on our day’s excursions.
  • My small group of five decided to start our day by visiting the famed Moulin Rouge! We purchased our own tickets and took the metro system to a stop known as Blanche. When we got out of the station, we felt slightly unfulfilled to say the least. Moulin Rouge was NO sight to be seen, and we couldn’t stop laughing! It was an old building stuck in between a “Quick” fast food restaurant and a motel. Even so, we got some pretty great pictures of it and some videos of us performing the cancan outside its front doors! Plus, we got to watch some clips from the recent cabaret shows while we meandered around the official gift shop, which was highly entertaining and gave me some lovely choreographic ideas! Haha.
  • Next, M and I decided it was time to embark on our trip up the Eiffel Tower! 
Feeling highly independent and capable for women traveling in a large, foreign city, we had just enough confidence to effortlessly use the metro system as our form of travel in order to quickly arrive at the Eiffel Tower. However, after getting there, we came to a rather stark realization: we had absolutely NO idea how to even go about climbing the 1000s of stairs! I mean, we knew it would cost money, and we knew it could take us all afternoon, but, unfortunately for us, all of the signs regarding Eiffel Tour climbing information were, of course, in French. Therefore, we used our combined knowledge of the French language (for we lacked French-to-English dictionaries today) in order to choose a line. It took us approximately an hour before coming up to the ticket booth, and after standing for so long in the rather chilly temperature, our initial plan to save some money by actually trekking up the stairs of the tower seemed highly unappealing. Not to mention, when we did the math, we realized that in order for us to reach the top floor of the structure, which can only be accessed by an elevator, we’d have to pay around 10 euros, which was only 2 euros cheaper than taking elevators all the way up to the top! So, we splurged the 12 euros each, and embarked on one of the most amazing experiences!

Due to the fact that the weather was highly unimpressive (for it was slightly drizzly, quite cold, and the top of the tower was encircled in fog), we were able to make it all the way to the top without having to worry about overcrowding! As the elevators slowly made their ways to the three different floors, we couldn’t stop snapping photographs. Not only would we be able to show these photographs to family and friends and claim they were from the Eiffel Tower, but also, due to the fact that some of our photographs even captured parts of the tower’s metal beams, no one would be able to doubt our pictures’ authenticity! We had proof of our excursion, and it felt so good.

On the second level, the fog wasn’t an issue, and we experienced some amazing views of the entire city. Up on that floor, it seemed unconceivable that we were so much higher than we had been on the Notre Dame. In fact, I had to convince my eyes that what they were seeing was truly real—right out in front of me: the endless expanse of Paris.

Finally, we traveled up to the very top and as the elevator made its journey up, up, and further up, our visibility slowly cut down. We were literally in the clouds! It was quite amazing. I felt as though I was floating, and I didn’t mind that I couldn’t necessarily see the city from this view. Just the second floor alone had been worth the time and money in my mind. I mean, I had been there. I could say I’d been there, and I had pictures to prove it. I had pictures of the view and pictures of the tower itself! I even took pictures of the elevators’ mechanisms. Haha.

On the third level, we could walk outside, and we did! We walked right through the clouds, breathing them in and posing for pictures as we “ate” the cotton candy-like air masses. Overall, this level was the most informative. It featured images of the city below each “window-pane” with the important, monumental structures labeled so that one could easily find them on a clear day. It also had a room with wax models of Gustav Eiffel, his wife, and Thomas Edison! Plus, some walls even featured dioramas of Mr. Eiffel’s other experiments involving pigeons and falling humans. Haha!

As we descended back down, I knew for a fact that, once again, I was in love. How could Paris be this utterly amazing and perfect? I just couldn’t wrap my head around it… and by this point, I’m pretty sure my head (and entire body, actually) was already out of the clouds. Haha.

  • All of that “walking” up those 1000’s of stairs made M and me VERY hungry. Therefore, after making a few souvenir shop stops, we made our way to a small boulangerie in the area and had lunch. As we were there, the other girls that we had visited the Moulin Rouge with earlier in the morning invited us to meet them at Shakespeare & Co.! Of course, we couldn’t turn them down.
  • Unfortunately, by the time M and I had walked our way to Shakespeare & Co., our other friends had already left. Even so, we cherished our time in that beloved bookstore, and I purchased my previously talked about coffee table book!
  • By the time we were done, we were completely ready to head back to the hotel and rest for a bit.
  • Of course, when we arrived, the other girls were already getting into the spirit of Halloween and getting their crazy costumes together! We made plans to leave the residence at 9:00PM in order to start our “exciting” evening out.
  • Unfortunately, since we were traveling in a large group of nine on a Friday night (and all dressed up in ridiculous, not very appealing costumes), we didn’t get into any of the places we wanted to! Many of the girls were upset, but we were able to make the best of things by purchasing some amazingly yummy crepes and candy for a great night spent back at the hotel. Plus, we promised ourselves that once we were back at Franklin Pierce, we’d all get together and have our own costume shindig just to make up for the night!
  • Just in case you didn’t know, although Halloween clearly isn’t celebrated in France, All Saints Day IS. Therefore, if you plan on attending any museums, exhibits, or cool touristy sites on this day, BEWARE! They’ll probably be closed.
  • We began our day with the normal 8:00AM breakfast at the Hotel Marignon and then heading off to our first mandatory activity of the day: the flea market held in Clignancourt each weekend!
  • It was a huge flea market that spanned the multiple streets and sold everything from electronics to clothing to antiques to toys to more! Since we didn’t want to squander all of our money away, we decided to only hang around there for about an hour and crossed our fingers that the damp, rainy weather would let up.
  • Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything worth buying (haha) and the weather didn’t let up, so Wendy decided that our afternoon plans of having a picnic in the Luxemberg Gardens would have to be canceled. Knowing that, she allowed us to spend the rest of the day exploring on our own!
  • CL and I were overjoyed at this announcement because we knew EXACTLY what we wanted to do! We were going to visit the catacombs. We took our free metro tickets from Wendy and found a straight shot to the catacombs’ location by way of Metro 4. After getting loads of good luck wishes from the other girls who were none to eager to join us on such a scary expedition, we embarked on our excursion.
  • Unfortunately (and yes, this day is FILLED with unfortunately-s), when we arrived at the catacombs, there was one of the most depressing signs ever created… and it was taped to the entrance. It read: “Catacombs fermes le 01 Novembre 2008!” We were SO upset. CL even made a quick video out front of the door/sign describing her feelings about the closed catacombs. Now what were we to do? We had been looking forward to this trip all week long! If we knew they were going to be closed today, we would have gone there yesterday.
  • In order to brighten our moods, we went in search of a café and found something even better: Starbucks! Now, although we never told any of the other girls about this secret afternoon outing, which included caramel muffins, espresso brownies, and white chocolate mocha drinks, we weren’t necessarily ashamed of our actions. As far as we concerned (and we decided this at the table), Starbucks was highly warranted by the depressing morning we had experience, and it had been far too long since either of us had enjoyed a little taste of home.
  • When we finished our drinks, we decided to walk through the Luxemberg Gardens in order to get to the hotel. The rain had slightly let up, and we were wearing the proper attire, so it seemed like a good way to spend a little bit more time out before we returned.
  • Even in the gloom, one could tell that the gardens were very beautiful! Who knew that flowers would still be blooming in NOVEMBER? I took plenty of pictures and truly tried to enjoy myself even though the world seemed gray.

  • Back at the Hotel Marignon, we met up with a few of the other girls, spent time talking about our day’s escapades, and then completely conked out!
  • Luckily, we woke up just in time to get ready for our evening’s performance: Europe Hip-Hop performed by Accrorap! That’s right. Wendy bought us tickets to see a Hip-Hop performance in Paris! Of course, it wasn’t her first choice, but it was the last alternative, and she knew we’d appreciate it.
  • Overall, even Wendy admitted that the performance was extremely inventive, inspiring, well thought out, and entertaining. Personally, I found myself on the edge of my seat for most of it, and I couldn’t write down my “dance performance inspiration” notes fast enough! I wanted to see it all over again. I wanted to meet with the company! I had so many questions for them such as how they began, where they come up with their ideas, how they choose dancers, how they decided who manipulates his body in specific manners, etc. Basically, it was awesome!
  • On our way back to the hotel that evening, we stopped by the Eiffel Tower to watch it sparkle one last time, and we also stopped by the crepe/Panini restaurant located right down the road from our hotel. Surprisingly, the man behind the counter knew exactly what I was going to order before I ordered it! I felt like I was a “regular,” and more than ever before it made me feel like I truly belonged in Paris. It was a bittersweet feeling. Yes, I was in love, but I was leaving soon, and there was nothing I could do about it. I had to say goodbye to Paris, to owners of crepe shops who know my order by heart, to historical sights and people focused on a future, and to a city with its very own heartbeat that, for some unknown reason, effortlessly aligns with mine.
  • Back at the hotel, I finished my lovely Panini, and packed up my suitcase before heading off to bed for the night.

EIFFEL IN LOVE WITH PARIS: A Timeline of Week Nine in France

It’s true. As soon as I stepped off of my first Parisian metro and onto the bustling city streets, I was immediately enamored with it all. In fact, I can honestly say that spending a week in Paris was one of the best experiences of my entire life! Academically, I feel it was highly productive, and socially, it was filled with fun and entertaining activities. Overall, it was just positively everything I could have wanted it to be. No wonder I had such butterflies in my stomach the day before we left!

Of course, if I could have blogged Paris, it would have been one of my primary activities (because now I have SO much catching up to do that I’m starting to feel a little stressed out), but that was impossible. Therefore, I’m just going to take my time and slowly fill you all in on our crazy escapades in a day-by-day timeline! Sound like good, clean, organized fun? That’s what I thought!

So, although you’ve now officially read the beginning part of this entry, keep making sure to check back on it regularly over the next few days. As I find bits and pieces of free time in my hectic Lyonnaise schedule, I’ll use them to my advantage in order to keep updating the timeline with small blurbs about the highlights of my Parisian experience.

Oh yeah! Enjoy the reading. ☺

  • Our bullet train left from Part Dieu station in Lyon at 11:00AM, which meant I was up and getting ready at 7:30AM… ick!
  • We arrived in Paris at precisely 12:57PM and got ready to take the crazy, stair-filled, metro system to our hotel. We were pre-warned by Wendy of the obnoxious metro stairway systems, but even so, almost all of us had packed our belongings in small suitcases on wheels! Haha… we’re SUCH girls.
  • After our arrival at our new residence, Hotel Marignan, we went out to make the most of our first day in Paris!
In order to orient us with the city, Wendy decided to take us on a Beateaux-Mouches tour, which is a boat tour of the city from the Seine River! Even though it was drizzling outside, I personally feel as though it was a gorgeous tour and most definitely worth the price of the ticket. First off, we were all able to sit inside of the boat instead of standing on deck, and we could still see the entire city! Plus, it wasn’t a very crowded experience, and, due to the fact that this particular tour was given in a series of languages including (but most definitely not limited to) French, Spanish, English, and Japanese, we were able to learn some really intriguing facts about the iconic structures of Paris. For example, I learned that the Botanical Gardens were originally constructed in order to be medicinal gardens for royalty and the highly famous Louvre wasn’t always a museum! On the contrary, it used to be a palace used by Louis XIV until he decided to move to the Palace in Versailles. Overall, I believe this tour prepared me for what was to come on our trip to Paris. Not to mention, it jogged my memory of important facts I’d learned from my required reading assignments for Reason & Romanticism, and coupled with this fact, helped me to gain an overall fuller experience of Paris that most definitely had academic value.
  • We returned to the Quartier Latin where our hotel was located in order to have a group dinner at a local, cheaper restaurant. The food was tres bien, and some of the girls returned to this exact restaurant for dinner later in the week!
  • When we returned to the hotel, we decided it was time to get a taste of Paris’ nightlife!
Today was a very lucky day for AD, or at least I think so. You see, not only were we heading from Lyon into Paris, but it was also her twenty-first birthday! Can you imagine spending your twenty-first birthday in two amazing cities in a foreign country on a study abroad? In order to make her day as special as possible, we determined to dedicate our entire evening out to her happiness. Since we had met up with a few members of the Franklin Pierce Vienna Program (they too were staying at our hotel until Wednesday morning), we invited them to join us! Only ZT decided to take us up on the opportunity, but in our minds just that little bit of fresh, male blood was good enough, and we headed out right away to start our night of fun. Overall (and just because I feel as though it’s probably improper to divulge details of this night on here), I can only say that it was probably one of the most memorable nights of my entire life! It was filled with many unexpected adventures, lots of interesting people and places, and gave us a really great sense of how truly alive the city of Paris is—it most definitely has its very own heart and soul, and I’m not sure that any other cities could genuinely boast about such extraordinary traits.

  • We all met downstairs as a group for breakfast at 8:00AM because the Hotel Marignon (luckily) provides free breakfasts to all of its guests! The breakfast, although simple and similar every morning, was most definitely superb. It consisted of one’s choice of thé, café, ou chocolat chaud, a baguette, and enough jam, butter, nutella, and cheese for each individual present at the table. Ultimately, I looked forward to breakfast every morning!
  • After, we headed out to walk to the Notre Dame!
I would have never guessed that seeing the Notre Dame in person would have caused such an intense reaction in me. I never felt any special connection to it before. In fact, as far as I knew or cared really, it was just another religious building—probably gorgeous in architecture featuring unbelievable painted works and many golden attributes. However, as seems to be the usual occurrence in France, my first, inexperienced impression was highly incorrect. Yes, it is true, the Notre Dame is a beautiful and magnificent sculpture where Joan of Arc’s heresy trials were held as well as being the location where Victor Hugo decided to set his famous novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but, due to some highly indescribable element, it is also so much more.

I don’t know how to explain it to you. It’s somewhat overwhelming, but also calming and humbling. And I not only felt it consuming me when I was standing inside of the Church, but I also felt it after I walked up all 400 steps to the top of Notre Dame’s bell tower. I felt it when I stared into the frightening faces of the gargoyles, when I looked out over the bustling city and could just barely make out the commotion from below, and when I fell in love with Paris all over again. It felt amazing, and I hadn’t felt this way once yet since being abroad.

Gosh, it was a breathtaking view, and I tried so hard to really take it all in, memorize the scents and sounds and visions, so that I would never need to strain to remember it. However, unfortunately, memory fades. In fact, even as I write this entry today, it’s not as crystallized as it had been that early morning. Although I can still tell you the overall color scheme of the city from that angle and the exact pitch and overall sound of the bell ringing from the tower itself, I can’t give exact details. It frustrates me. Why do our memories have to be so unreliable?

What I do remember, however, is engaging a very intense, private conversation with my Professor while staring out over the horizon. I think I rhetorically asked what someone’s career would have to be in order for her to be able to just take off and travel to places like Paris, France on a whim. Of course, although I didn’t mean to do so, I’m pretty sure I stated this pondering out loud, and Wendy actually replied. She suggested numerous options I had never even considered, and as I gazed out into the vast abyss of the city and pondered over the vast abyss that is my future, I got chills. I literally have the whole world at my fingertips. I could do anything, go anywhere, and be anyone. I COULD live in Paris if I wanted. All opportunities are open to me as long as I’m willing to put the time, energy, and passion necessary into securing them for myself. It’s kinda cool.

Ultimately, the Notre Dame has a very special spot in my heart now, and I wish I could take all of my loved ones up the twisting tower stairs to where I had one of the greatest epiphanies of my life. I mean, who knows, maybe it’s magical. It sure felt that way to me, and I’m willing to share the magic with anyone else who’s willing enough to take the chance on it. Promise.

  • After all of that walking, we felt as though we’d earned some dessert! Wendy took us to find Amorino, an ice-cream and candy shop that had been suggested to our group by my friend JF back in the United States. Using Wendy’s guidebook, we found it very easily, and everyone got a cone of flower shaped ice-cream goodness! 
  • As we ate our beautiful ice-cream creations, Wendy suggested we walk to an English bookstore in the area called Shakespeare & Co.
This has become one of my most coveted spots in all of Paris. Just standing outside of Shakespeare & Co. gave me chills. It was so surreal. I just couldn’t imagine it was truly a working bookstore and not just a studio bookshop being featured on a movie set. Of course, stepping inside of the store was even better!

It reminded me of an old, dusty library, or maybe the bookstore featured in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” The walls were lined with books from the floor to the ceiling and ladders could be found in strategic locations around the busy store for customers and workers to grab any and all books of choice. Upstairs, real writers sat at old typewriters, sipped tea, and easily passed the time. Ultimately, the entire top floor was a reference library (except for the children’s section), and many people also found cozy spots just to review the books. It was quite wonderful to witness. I could have stayed there forever.

As I continued exploring the space, I just couldn’t stop thinking that my brother would positively be in Heaven if I took him to this store. It’s just right up his ally and very artistic. Plus, the owner of the store is a very generous man. In fact, as I learned from Wendy, if he happens to come across a likable person in need, he’ll offer her free lodging IN the store! All of his lucky chosen individuals are allowed to sleep upstairs on beds he provides, are given free access to water, a refrigerator, and a stove for cooking, and all that they have to do in return is help to maintain the shop. It’s an opportunity that, in present day, seems so unreal. Yet, it’s a tradition, and he’s kept it up for years.

As a record of this generosity on his part, the entire upper floor walls are filled with little notes, letters, drawings, and photographs filled with gratitude for the store and what it provides. Many of the letters are most definitely heartfelt and refer to the owner as a father figure. In fact, after reading a few, I was almost in tears. They were most definitely touching and prove why kindness is so important in our world.

Knowing all of this information, I came on the realization that “I” could live at the store, and I’m truly considering it. I mean, what can I say? I seriously fell head over heels for Paris! And I truly think I would be willing to leave everything else behind for a new life in this city. It’s so rich here. There’s not only a history but also a future filled with unlimited amounts of possibility and opportunity. Plus, there’s this shared, fast-paced, city lifestyle that I’ve never found anywhere else. And, there’s an undeniable life force to Paris that just pulses through everyone’s veins. It’s exhilarating and inspiring and, possibly, life altering.

In conclusion, Shakespeare & Co. was so much fun that I decided to use some of my free time later in week in order to visit it again! Luckily, on this excursion, I was able to find a really unique book to purchase, and the cashier used her blue inkpad in order to stamp “Shakespeare & Co.” on the inside title page for me! Now I’ll never forget where I bought it, and it’ll be a great conversation starter in years to come if I decide to display the book on a coffee table or the like.

  • Next, we took the metro to Montmartre, the highest part of Paris (boasting some of the best views of the city) and the area where the gorgeously stone white Basilica du Sacré-Cœur is located. Even though it was somewhat drizzling outside, we didn’t let that stop our adventures. We took great pictures of the city skyline, spent some time taking in Parisian culture as we walked around the area where the famous French film Amélie was partially recorded, and even stopped at a local café for lunch! 
  • In order to conclude our day in a productive manner, Wendy offered to take us all to Pére-Lachaise, a Parisian cemetery that boasts the gravesites of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Sarah Bernhardt, and Isadora Duncan, the female American dancer considered by many to be the mother of contemporary dance! Although I positively LOVED this experience, it was a reaction that was to be expected from me. You see, I happen to find graveyards and the like very intriguing places to wander around. At home, I enjoy reading the epitaphs, attempting to determine what a person’s nationality was based solely on his last name, and coming up with (most likely ridiculous) stories about the lives and deaths of those who’ve already passed on. Of course, not every other girl on the trip was as thrilled with being “held captive” in such a spooky cemetery. Therefore, I felt it could be fun for you all to read an excerpt from another girl’s journal concerning her personal, more unsettling (but highly entertaining!) experience in Pére-Lachaise. L wrote:
”First of all, we just came back from Pére-Lachaise, a huge cemetery. This was probably the creepiest thing ever! It didn’t help that Halloween is in a couple of days, the sky turned completely black (gradually), and all of the trees there were completely dead(!), which I don’t understand because every other tree in France is beautiful! It was really cool to see where Isadora Duncan is buried. It was great, but SO FREAKY. I think [M] and [G] each waked with me at certain parts of the journey because they could tell I was freaked. When we got to Isadora Duncan’s we had to walk up some stairs to the second level, and there were no lights there. I think the moonlight was the only thing helping us! And at one point, I saw black smoke in the sky, and I said ‘What’s that smoke?’. Everyone around me said, ‘I don’t know.’ Then, [A] said, ‘Oh… I know what it is. It’s the –,’ and [M] cut her off telling her to be quiet. Then, I figured out that it was the crematorium, and I said, ‘It’s the cre—‘ and [M] cut me off with, ‘Don’t worry [L.] It’s okay.’ Ugh! So freaky! And to top it all off, as we were journeying to the exit it started raining! Great! Rain, dead trees, black sky, crematorium, and the biggest cemetery I’ve ever seen… and I was in it? What?! AH!”
  • After we left, a few of the girls and I spent our night relaxing at the Hotel Marignon and writing about our day’s escapades in our mandatory journals.
  • Today, we realized we only have one month left in France… thirty-one days. So, we’re gonna make the most of it. ☺ 
  • After our 8:00AM breakfast at the Hotel Marignon, we headed off to the local boulangeries in order to purchase sandwiches for our preplanned afternoon picnic.
  • At Wendy’s premade schedule’s request, we took the Parisian metro to Le Château de Versailles! Once we had arrived, Wendy revealed to us that we could each receive an English language tour via the use of individual headsets! It was such a luxury to have because it made our tour of the palace much more informative and meaningful. Plus, it highlighted the important pieces featured in each room, which helped us determine what to photograph for our families and friends!

  • After touring the palace, we decided to brave the cold weather, eat our lunches outside, and then go explore the positively magnificent gardens. Although such an idea didn’t truly appeal to me (it was ridiculously cold outside, and I was already the Queen of Layered Clothing), it was most definitely worth it when we reached Marie Antoinette’s personal gardens.

  • Fortunately, we got out of Versailles just before the skies opened up!

Doesn’t that sky look VERY daunting and foreboding? I’m glad this wasn’t our first view of the beautiful Palace or we may have felt rather uneasy and wouldn’t have been able to see the gardens.

  • Back at Hotel Marignon, the girls and I spent our evening journaling, finding yummy sandwiches to eat for dinner, discovering the luxury of Nutella filled crepes, and shopping in the ridiculously numerous souvenir stands.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I can’t get over this feeling. It’s quite overwhelming. It starts in the pit of my stomach and works its way up into my chest and throat and down my arms until I can feel the tension in my fingers and see them start to nervously shake. It’s an uncontrollable reaction, but I know I wouldn’t do anything to stop it if I could. I just love feeling this way.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, but you’re unfortunately wrong. The answer to your question is, “No, I haven’t fallen desperately in love with a French man” (although new love would probably be the best comparable emotional quality to what I am currently experiencing). The truth is that I’m going to Paris tomorrow—the city of lights—for an entire week, and I couldn’t be more thrilled or excited or delighted! We have so many fun activities planned from viewing the city all the way up by Montmartre to visiting Notre Dame to having a picnic in the Luxemburg Gardens. I already know I’m going to love it there. A week won’t be enough time in that city. I won’t want to come back to Lyon, but I will on Sunday, November 2, because time continues onward no matter what without hesitation or interruption. It’s our constant for good (I get to go home in FIVE weeks!) and bad (I get to go home in FIVE weeks).

Although I will be unable to blog from our hotel, I promise to catch you all up on our endeavors as soon as I return. I’ll be keeping a journal there (as usual), so I won’t forget a single moment worth remembering! And I promise to take ridiculous amounts of pictures too so that I can post some up here.

Have a wonderful week (even though, due to my lack of blogging ability, I’m sure it’ll be filled with immense amounts of boredom! Haha.)!

Avec l'Amour,


Today, Wendy planned another excursion for our group: A trip to the Musèe des Beaux-Arts de Lyon (Lyon’s Museum of Fine Arts), and due to my last experience at the Van Gogh/Monticelli exhibit, I was obviously extremely excited to attend! Even though I had no idea what type of art I would be viewing, and I wasn’t quite sure why Wendy had instructed us to bring our journals along, I was glad I didn’t have to patiently wait any longer. I decided that, as far as I was concerned, I genuinely wanted the experience of seeing as many European museums as possible while I’m in France!

On our arrival at the museum, we all received English brochures that (thankfully) explained what collections the museum featured. After flipping through the book, I was shocked to learn that one building could house so many interesting and different works. Basically, the museum’s seventy rooms were divided up into five departments that featured 19th and 20th century sculptures, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiques, paintings from the 15th to the 20th century, graphic arts, and decorative arts from the Renaissance and Middle Ages. Since we were not required to see any particular area or meander about in particular groups, I decided to go off on my own and see all I could before our time ran out. Of course, things didn’t truly work out as I had planned.

First, let me explain that our professor had made one request of us before entering the museum. She asked us to bring our daily journals along so that we could write about our Musèe des Beaux-Arts de Lyon experience while we were experiencing it. According to her ideals, we were to write in our journals anytime we found a piece of art worthy enough of the attention (in our eyes). Our writing could be negative, positive, contain sketches, factual, questioning, descriptive, etcetera.

I was initially excited by the idea. I love writing, and I loved the fact that it would be a way for me to truly remember and recall what I had seen after time washes away the minor details from my memories. It was a great assignment, but it was also, in at least one way, somewhat detrimental. You see, I didn’t even get halfway through the museum when I received a text message asking me to meet the rest of the group in the lobby! Once again, I was the last one out of the museum, and I felt awful that I had forced everyone else to wait for me. It wasn’t my intention at all. I just got lost in the experience. I couldn’t help it.

You see, I started my museum excursion in the sculpture area, even though I felt as though I was very disconnected from sculptures and had no real draw to them. I figured I ought to give them a shot, and I reasoned that I could move onto more interesting paintings or graphic art when or if I got bored. Of course, before even making it into the sculpture room, I was held captive by a particular piece: Frèdèric-Auguste Bartholdi’s “La Libertè Eclairant de Monde.” This work was the actual model for America’s prized Statue of Liberty! It was constructed from clay, and before seeing it here I had completely forgotten that France gave America that piece of artwork! Not to mention, I’d never really thought of the Statue of Liberty as a work of Fine Art. It always just was. It was a given—a symbol of our nation and our right of freedom.

Well, seeing this iconic structure in this particular context changed everything for me. First off, it was comforting for me to see even though I’ve never truly seen her in real life. Viewing this statue in Lyon was like being allowed to view a little piece of home. It made me smile, and reminded me of the country I love and the people I miss. Secondly, it made me think historically. I remembered that it was a gift from the people of France to America in 1886 in order to commemorate the Centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. It finally occurred to me that someone had to commission Bartholdi to create it, and he had to take the time to construct it, which meant he needed to consider everything about it. It’s size, shape, structure, material, positioning, etcetera. It truly was a work of art, and I’m glad that it is so appreciated and recognized today.

Other sculptures that caught my eye and induced what must have been fairly intriguing/entertaining writing furies in my journal included Auguste Rodin’s bust of Gustave Geoffroy, Barye’s “Lion et Serpant,” and Rik Wouters’ “La Folle Danseuse, dite aussi La Vierge Folle.” I especially loved the last one because it featured a female dancer! I felt as though I could sit and stare at her forever.

After leaving that area of the museum, which immensely reminded me of the room featured in the motion picture based on C.S. Lewis' book The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I couldn’t help but to feel a little lonely and sad! It felt as though I was leaving all of my new, stone cold friends. Haha. I had a new appreciation for statues and their ability to move me without physically being able to move themselves.

The next (and final) section that I embarked on featured paintings from the fifteenth to the twentieth century. I was drawn to many of them including Louis Janmot’s “Cauchemar Beacaux” and “Rayons De Soleil,” Zièglen’s “Judith aux Portes de Bèthulie,” Gerard Van Honthorst’s “Les Chanteurs,” Champaigne’s “Le Cêne,” Campio’s “Les Mangeurs De Ricotta,” and Victor Orsel’s “Le Bien et Le Mal.” The last of these stunning works is featured here (with thanks to Google Image Search!). I felt compelled to display it on my blog because of how absolutely ridiculous it was to me. It was created in 1832, and if you view the image up close, you can clearly tell that it is meant to be allegorical and informative. This makes sense considering the fact that all people would be able to learn lessons through the use of images as opposed to being forced to learn through the act of reading the written word. The painting clearly “discusses” the idea of justice or, as its name reveals, good and bad, and reveals the idea of consequence. Of course, in the religious work, consequence extends into the afterlife and all nonconformity to the rules presented in the image does not end very well. Overall, I couldn’t stop staring at this highly opinionated work. It angered me in present day because it was so judgmental on women, but I knew that it represented a time in our history where these judgments were commonplace and considered to be truths. What do you all think about the image? Would it have caught your eye?

In conclusion, my Musèe des Beaux-Arts de Lyon experience was positively great (minus the fact that I only got partway through the museum’s exhibits)! I’m really glad that I took so many notes on so many works of art and will forever have them to conjure up details of that day in my overall Lyon experience. Not to mention, I hope that others who choose to read my journal will be able to get a better sense of how the actual art affected me as an individual because I really do believe it is an individual experience. No one else can see something in exactly your perspective or feel it that way and that’s why we are drawn to specific pieces and not to others. Don’t you think?

Avec l'Amour,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


For some strange and unknown reason the thought of spending my afternoons meandering around famous museums of fine art has never seemed very appealing to me. As far as I was concerned, no specific work of art could be more important or breathtaking than gaining an actual life experience such as physically climbing up the ridiculously steep hillside to the very top of Croix Rousse during sunset in order to look out over the city known as Lyon. Not to mention, with Google at my fingertips (I finally, officially have actual Internet access in my residence, and it feels wonderful), I could see those works of art at any time of day! I could have the same exact experience without needing to waste time on traveling and standing in lines or struggling with a French to English dictionary in order to translate the words describing how the piece was actually constructed. Of course, this isn’t to say I thought fine art museums were useless. On the contrary, they had a very distinct use to safeguard the original work of art, but that was all.

Well, once again, France has proven my original inclinations and assumptions wrong. This past weekend, our study abroad group took an overnight trip to the second largest city in France: Marseille. Marseille is an absolutely breathtaking place. In fact, I would even venture as far as stating that it is far more beautiful than Lyon, but on a whole, not as clean or safe. Of course, Marseille has other compelling qualities too. Its coastline is located right on the Mediterranean Sea, and the city itself is rich in Roman, African, and Middle Eastern influence. For example, the architecture of Notre Dame de la Garde brought up numerous thoughts of Egypt in my mind because the church was actually striped with black and white stones! Even the local train station has two large statues of African lions guarding its pedestrian entrance.

While in Marseille, our professor took us to an abundance of locations and attempted to allow us the full experience of this exquisite area. We were able to go down to the sea front, see the horizon line, taste the salty water, and dance among the waves. We ate dinner on the heated terrace of a very expensive restaurant and were all encouraged to try Marseille’s famous Bouillabaisse (a soup made out of an array of different fishes). We took a petit train tour, which allowed us to view the entire city from the height of the Notre Dame de la Garde and gave us some great facts concerning the origins of the area. We even had time to rest at a few local cafés and observe the people, animals, sights, sounds, smells, etcetera. However, she also wanted us to attend a very particular exhibit of works produced by both Van Gogh and Monticelli that were being shown at the Centre de la Vieille Charité.

When Wendy suggested this idea, my immediate reaction was one of deep distaste. There was so much more we could be actually experiencing! Why would she ever want to drag us to a boring art museum? Of course, since many of the other girls were interested and attendance of the museum could be added into our Experiencing The Arts curriculum, we went.

Even after getting my ticket and walking through the first doors, I was not impressed, but I knew I had to give it a chance. It was an opportunity to experience something new, albeit boring (or so I thought at the time), but new. When I finally made my way up to the first work of art, a self-portrait of Van Gogh, I knew I’d been wrong. I discovered that art was so much more than those pictures in the history books make it out to seem. They don’t do the real work any justice. The real work has a texture and a grain to it. It has color that is vibrant and a venire that makes it gleam in the light. Some pieces look better from an angle. Some are clearer when you step further away from them. Some paintings only truly give their full affect when you’re so close to them you feel as though you can smell them. Paintings are beautiful.

As I made my way through the maze of images that had become so much more in mind and enveloped all of my senses, I found myself comparing the works. I stopped solely decided whether or not I liked them, and I started really taking them in and taking them apart. I began to recognize which images were Monticelli’s and which belonged to Van Gogh long before reading the plaque hanging on the wall beside it. I began noticing subtle differences between oils used on canvas and oils used on wood. I started to see how one simple stroke could make or break the flow of a painting no matter what color it was. I began to truly appreciate the art.

Unknowingly, I was the last member of my group to exit the museum, and I wasn’t ready to go when I reached the final door! I wanted to turn around and go back to the most intricate works and stare at them all over again. I wished there was someway that I could take a photograph of everything I had seen beyond the image presented in the painting, but I knew that even if photographs were allowed, they wouldn’t be able to capture those qualities. One thing I did determine is that art is much more than it appears to be on Google. Of course, it’s nice to be able to show the world these famous works, but it’s not everything. Those works are larger, life size, and they encompass attributes that can reach out and touch not only our minds, hearts, and souls, but also every sense of our physical bodies as well. Museums are wonderful places. I’m glad they don’t solely store the original paintings without sharing them with the public.

Now, I can’t wait to go to another museum! In fact, I’ve been looking at the scores of them located in Paris and writing down their names and locations in order to suggestion to them to the group. Yes, I’ve officially been converted to a fine arts museum lover… and I bet this reaction was just the result of some evil plan thought up by Wendy herself! Haha.

Avec l'Amour,

PS: This is the very first presidential election for which I am actually eligible to vote! Before coming to France, both Stella and Wendy made it positively clear that we needed to fill out forms at our individual Town Halls in order to receive absentee ballots while abroad (if we wanted to vote, of course). Wanting to make my voice heard, I did so. Yet, as November fourth grew closer, I became more and more anxious and upset. I hadn’t received my ballot yet! What if I didn’t get to vote?

Well today, I filled out my absentee ballot and finally got it into the mail. I was SO excited. It felt exhilarating to voice my opinion and know that my vote was going to make a difference in the overall picture. Basically, I voted for a new president, and if you’re eligible, you should be voting too! With the Internet, it’s not too hard to learn who stands for what on any particular issue, and I just feel as though you’re throwing away one of your rights as an American citizen if you don’t take the opportunity being presented to you. Not to mention, I almost didn’t get my chance to vote. Don’t throw away your own when you’re actually IN the country, okay? People spent (and still spend) years trying to obtain this right in our country alone. Show them the respect and appreciation they deserve by at least voting for our next president. Thanks! I wish everyone voting good luck that his/her candidate is officially elected.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Judging from my experience, one of the best parts of the entire study abroad process concerns the assignments that are allotted to the students. For example, at the beginning of this week, our Professor informed us that we would be working together in order to construct a tour for her! For our research, she gave us a fairly short book entitled Courtyards & Traboules of Lyon, which was written be Gérald Gambier, the nephew of a Lyon native who introduced Gambier to the mysteries of Lyon’s traboules at a very young age.

Overall, we were very excited to begin upon this particular task and couldn’t wait to get our hands on that book! In one evening’s work, our group (which is mostly made up of female Theater Arts majors concentrating in Acting, Directing, and/or Dance) had constructed everything feasibly possible for a tour. For example, we came up with a catchy name for our tour service, “Avec La Gauche Touring,” which happens to also serve as an inside joke for us all (including our professor). We also determined our ensembles for the day. In an attempt to look more professional and pulled together, we agreed on pulling all of our hair back into ponytails or buns, wearing silver hoop earrings, and dressing in completely black attire. Of course, the last requirement concerning “black” attire also came into being due to the fact that we wanted to poke fun at the “gothic” element of the architecture of some of the traboules, but it seemed professional nonetheless. Finally, we determined which particular traboules we would visit, made up cue cards with information about each one, and separated the tasks of guiding the tour, giving the history of the traboules, speaking about each particular traboules featured on our trip, and answering questions.

When the tour began, we meet our professor in Plas Bellecour while holding a sign that read: Avec La Gauche Touring. It most definitely set the mood. Right afterward, our two predetermined “guides” gave Wendy very specific information and directions regarding the tour. Such tidbits of knowledge included how she should not be scared by the great amount of walking that we would all be partaking in, how we all needed to remain somewhat quiet and respectful while inside the traboules because they are actually surrounded by multiple residencies, and how she ought to “keep all hands and feet inside the moving vehicle at all times.”’

Of course, the first question out of our professor’s mouth concerned the meaning of the word traboule. Apparently, although she had signed up for this tour, our client did not know what she was about to experience. We explained that traboules are hidden, somewhat underground passages for travel that originated in Lyon and date all the way back to the fourth century. Many include hidden courts and are built and decorated in a myriad of architectural treasures in both the gothic and renaissance styles. Overall, there are five hundred in the entire city of Lyon, which connect over 230 streets and make it easier to travel through this hilly landscape, especially when it is raining or the like.

As we walked along the streets making our way into Vieux-Lyon (Old Lyon) in order to find rue Saint Jean where all of our tour’s traboules were located, our “Canut Historian” described how the lives of these silk weavers connected in a very direct way to the underground system of traboules. Simply put, silk cannot get wet, so the silk workers used to use the traboule system in order to transport their material safely from one location to another. Of course, this wasn’t the only use for traboules, and it wasn’t necessarily why the traboules were built, but it was very important and helped to keep the silk industry afloat. Other reasons behind the creation of the traboules include how commerce was first being run on the Saone River (shippers could deposit their goods directly into the cellars of the merchants, and the merchants cellars would open up into the street on the other end) and the fact that property plots used to be divided so narrowly in the Middle Ages that access to the structures had to be built below them in order to optimize the space.

As the tour progressed, we took Wendy to see five different traboules that all had very particular and intriguing elements to their design. For example, one featured a stairwell with a very striking spiral core, another was made up of architectural elements all found in the Renaissance style, another was the actual home of a printer Guillaume Leroy, the fourth one connected two streets of Lyon through a maze-like passage of four courts and stairs, and the final one featured one of the finest wells in all of Old Lyon! Overall, the girls speaking about these particular traboules had a lot of very "perky and smiley" information to share with Wendy. Each one pointed out the symbolic elements and highlighted the important qualities that could be found such as the way the sunlight was able to stream into the stairwells or the colors that had been chosen to paint the walls. Plus, the viewing of these traboules opened up the floor for questions regarding what qualifies a passage as an actual traboule, where traboules can be found in literary works, and what steps the city of Lyon has taken in order to preserve these amazing and somewhat mysterious historical sites.

In conclusion, our professor, who happened to be completely floored with the creativity, effort, and research that had been required by our version of “Avec La Gauche” touring company, decided to give us all a special treat: A free cone of ice cream! It was the first time (and probably the last) that I’d ever been rewarded by a professor with such a magnificent form of appreciation, and personally, I couldn’t help but to think my ice cream reward was almost as good as seeing an “A” written at the top of a research paper. However, even so, having this hands on learning experience meant SO much more to me than a research paper ever could. You see, with a little help from Gambier’s book, I learnt everything necessary to know about the traboules of Lyon, and since I was able to actually see them in person, smell them, feel them, and exist within them, I was so much more connected to them. They had a real, tangible relevance in my life. They had a meaning beyond written text. I was emotional connected to them, and ever since our tour ended, I just can’t help but to feel like a true traboules historian!

Avec l'Amour,

Thursday, October 16, 2008

“WELL EVERY PLACE HAS STUPID PEOPLE”: The Pictorial Exhibition of Lyon’s Lovely September 14, 2008 Défilé (October 19th)

Just in case you were wondering, I most definitely have a LOT more pictures and videos of this particularly beloved portion of our lovely trip to Lyon, but I am unable to post them all here (because of the way this particular website has been structured). Therefore, being rather unlike myself, I quickly settled on only displaying the following five photographs of the event. I hope you enjoy them all! The parade was positively magnificent to experience in person.

Here's a fun game to play! I call it, "Where's Wendy?" (and no, it has no relation to "Where's Waldo?"). Within this crowd of people eagerly awaiting the start of the parade are both Wendy, our professor, and Christine, our GA of the trip. If you can point the two of them out to me in any fashion, you'll score a lot of points, and I'll bake you something yummy when I get home, okay? Good luck though! This is tough stuff.

RANDOM FACT: There were 4,500 dancers in the Défilé!

One of the coolest things (I think) was that a lot of the dances performed throughout the parade were openly concerned with exploring political and social issues! For example, one piece clearly explored the controversial topic of abortion, and the piece featured here had a very ecological outlook focusing on treating the environment with reverence. It was definitely something I had never witnessed while living in America, and it made me wonder if America would be able to have such a controversial parade while still maintaining our country's peace.

Each group went all out when it came to their dances! Not only did they wear amazing costumes and crazy-cool makeup, but they also all had absolutely breathtaking props. This photograph is just one example, but I think it's important to point out that some of the props were even more extreme than this! It most definitely was a spectacle to be beheld.

As I said before, the groups dancing in the parade most definitely went "all out." Just look at this picture! That man was dancing on stilts, and he wasn't the only one. A lot of groups had dancers moving around while attempting this fairly daring balancing act. Personally, I could barely believe my eyes! I know I wouldn't have been able to move that well on stilts.

Avec l'Amour,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Unfortunately, we had another safety situation at our residence on the night of October 1st. Everyone is okay and nothing was stolen, but it’s still extremely disturbing (especially considering the fact that we’re so far away from home and unable to communicate efficiently in French). Although I could easily inform you of the details of this mishap myself, I’d rather not. Instead, I asked one of the girls involved if she would be willing to tell you all about it. I figured hearing about it directly from her personal experience would be of greater impact to you. Since she agreed, her statement is as follows:

“It was 11:30 at night, and I decided I couldn’t sleep so I started playing solitaire on my bed. That’s when I heard a key in my door. At first I thought I was hearing things, then my door opened and some man I had never seen before stepped into my room. The moment he saw me he went, “Oh sorry, this isn’t the concierge.” He leaves my room and re-locks my door. Freaking out, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to stay in my room or go stay in another girl’s room. After a few minutes of personal debate, I decided to leave my room; in the hallway were three other girls who lived across from me. As I was locking my door they asked if some one attempted to enter my room, and I told them he did enter my room. The other girls freaked out and went to find some guys, who then split up and searched the building for him. They found him in the front office of the building (apparently he had a key to the office too). One of the guys started questioning the stranger; asking him how he had a key to my room and three other rooms. The stranger said the “proprietor” gave him a key, and we demanded he give us a name. He said he would call them. So he stepped outside and started talking on his phone and after a minute, booked it down the street. Three guys chased after him, but the stranger apparently knew the streets better. We then waited for the police to show up so we could give our statements. I spent the rest of the night in my friend’s room.”

Avec l'Amour,


*****CAUTION: While in France, Wendy has given us a daily assignment to record our experiences, observations, feelings, and etcetera into handwritten journals. We were also instructed to put ticket stubs, performance programs, and other paper thin mementos in amongst the pages of this journal in order to better trigger our memories of that particular day and those particular occurrences. This week, she instructed us to spend one hour sitting in a café while writing in our journals. Therefore, I just felt it necessary to inform you that THE FOLLOWING OBSERVATION WAS TAKEN WORD-FOR-WORD OUT OF MY HANDWRITTEN, MANDATORY JOURNAL AND IS ENTIRELY STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS. Beware of the craziness, but enjoy it nonetheless, okay?

Well here I am. I just arrived at 2:30PM, and I only have to sit here until 3:30PM. I didn’t come alone, mind you. Lisa came along, so I figured we’ll end up talking some of the time… which is okay because Wendy told us we could, but I’d probably write a lot more and be able to analyze more occurrences if I was on my own.
Anyway, I’m eating a Panini (chicken, cheese, curry, possibly other ingredients, but I don’t know what they are) and drinking a Coca-Cola Light. The Panini is SO good. I’m going to miss French bread when I finally leave. We go home in about seven weeks, I think… no, I know that fact is true… I’ve been counting down the days.

So, I am sitting at one of four metals tables on the corner of a pretty busy intersection. There are a lot of people out and about today. Mostly college-aged students because Bellecour is having some kind of an event right now aimed at us. I’m pretty close to Bellecour, but I believe I’m closer to Cordiliers. There are a lot of cars too on the road. We’re right next to a bus stop to boot. The buses can even turn at this corner. I find myself watching that a lot. I like to watch them turn because they’re connected to wires on the top (so strange… like those ones that are featured in the opening of Full House that DJ Tanner jumps on… I don’t really understand why they need those… to keep them on track? Does it help so that they don’t tip over? Are they run on gas or electricity? Is it actually the wire pulling them along?). Not to mention, they’re turning into HEAVY pedestrian traffic. People cross the street right there (There’s a crosswalk), and the buses never fully stop. They only slow down until they can go. It’s like they have the right-of-way (maybe they do here).

I wonder stuff like that a lot. About if laws are different. One time I saw a woman holding her baby in her lap in the passenger seat of a car while it was moving, and I wondered if that was legal here. It’s definitely not safe, and illegal in the US (didn’t Brittney get arrested for something like that???). And is it okay to bring dogs/animals on the metro and stuff because people do it ALL the time, and granted the animals don’t go crazy or run up and down the aisles and the dogs are usually little (most dogs seem to be little around here… I’ve probably seen about a dozen just sitting here too). And I wonder culture stuff too. Like, a lot of people seem to have no problem with breastfeeding on the metro and all, but the girls HATE it. I don’t care. I don’t think that’s illegal in US, but it is probably more controversial than here. Granted, nudity doesn’t seem to be much of an issue here. It’s all over billboards and movies and such.

(PS: Me and Lisa are chitchatting this WHOLE time… we’re too good at that to avoid it. Haha! Good thing Wendy said it’s okay.)

So, yeah, a lot of people out today… a lot of couples (holding hands, being flirty, kissing/hugging/making out because PDA apparently isn’t an issue here at all) and groups of friends, but it’s super warm (thank GOD); like 80°F I think. I hope it stays like this. I like warmer better. I picked a great day to come out and do this, I think.

WHOA! An old lady just fell in the middle of the crosswalk where the buses turn. I didn’t see her fall over, but now there is a bit of commotion. She dropped her bag with all her bread in it (Wendy says people buy their bread fresh around her everyday from bakeries). Wow. Five people have stopped to help her. They seem really concerned and are helping her stand up and brushing her off. One man is picking up her bread and rearranging it in her bag to hand back to her. She seems really gracious for the help, but embarrassed. I think they’re telling her she fell because she wasn’t picking her feet up when she was walking and she tripped on the uneven cobblestones. Aww… the man with her bread just walked her to the other side of the street to make sure she made it (and he’s going in the opposite direction). SO cute.

Okay, so the French are nice. That wasn’t what I heard, but that’s what I’ve experienced. They always want to help us out and guide us places if we ask and tell us what is going on if we can’t understand it. It’s good. France would totally suck if the people sucked.

Ooo… a kid (college-aged) on rollerblades just went by in the street rollerblading backwards! He was going super fast too. Totally show-off-ish, but I was impressed, I can’t deny it.

Ick! French men will hit on you WHENEVER/WHEREVER. I’m not looking for your attention, homme, I’m enjoying my café experience, thank you very much. Leave me alone… and I’m not getting into details here. Neither will Lisa, I’m sure. What is there to say? It’s not a new experience or one worth observing (Ha! Take that Mr. Flirtatious).

Whoa! We’ve totally been here WAY longer than an hour. Who knew that was going to happen? I thought I’d be itching to go by 3:30PM. I guess it’s because we have nothing else to really do today, so we’re not being forced to keep track of time. That’s kinda cool. It’s like soothing in a way… to just sit and be totally unaware but content. No wonder people stay forever at cafés. It’s fun. Relaxing. I could do this everyday (even at the same café)… if only I had the money to buy food from cafés everyday.

We’re leaving… we were here way over two hours… we’re gonna go back to the residence so that we can get ready to go to the movies tonight! I’m pretty psyched.

Avec l'Amour,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

DES CANUTS (October 9th)

<-- Many of Lyon’s present day silk workers spend a great deal of their time weaving highly complicated and prestigious fabrics in order to preserve those that can still be found on the upholstery of furniture featured in famous castles that happen to be open to the public for tours.

Yesterday, Wendy took us on an extremely fun and entertaining “field trip” to La Maison des Canuts, a living museum that delves deeply into one of Lyon’s coolest businesses: the silk industry! According to the information I received, the silk, gold, and silver weavers of Lyon have been hand weaving on various forms of looms since the early eighteenth century! Even today, Lyon’s weavers carry on the tradition by hand-creating fabrics that still cannot be imitated or reproduced through the use of any computer program or system. Of course, considering this fact, it is important to point out that being a silk weaver not only takes a lot of patience, but it also requires that one completes a very intense training/schooling program that lasts for a period of at least six years. Therefore, there are only about fifteen weavers present in all of Lyon today, and, although I hate to brag about my good fortune, I got to meet one!

<-- It is said that a Chinese princess was the actual individual to discover the fiber of silk over more than 4,500 years ago.  

Now, although the museum was quite small, it was definitely worth the trip up to Croix-Rousse for reasons rise above and beyond the fact that I got to meet one of the weavers. First of all, it was visually captivating. Every room held grand collections of ancient fabrics, woven images of what life was like for the older generations of silk workers, examples of some of the loom workers’ accessories and tools, and the actual hand and mechanical looms that they used and continue to use in present day! Secondly, due to the fact that our tour was in English, I learned a great deal about the evolution of the loom, the history of silk, the life of the “canuts” (weavers), and how the industry is still evolving today. Thirdly, and probably most excitingly, I actually got to witness multiple weaving demonstrations on both the manual and electric looms! It was positively amazing and gave me a whole new appreciation for this art form (which I had never truly considered before).

Avec l'Amour,

Monday, October 6, 2008


Anyone who truly knows me knows that Halloween is one of my all time favorite holidays. I absolutely LOVE coming up with costume ideas, and I start early! You see, if I don’t start early, I don’t have as much time to think up ideas because I always scrap my lists from the previous Halloween just to make sure that every suggested ensemble ABSOLUTELY is a fresh idea. Overall, I always create lists and lists of costumes. In fact, I probably come up with enough to satisfy all of my friends’ costuming needs too. Haha.

Anyway, I’m also versatile when it comes to Halloween. Yes, I appreciate homemade costumes and find them extremely compelling, but they’re not everything. Personally, I’m never opposed to buying a previously crafted costume instead of making my own, and I’ll spend some serious amounts of time sifting through the racks at costume shops and boutiques just to get some inspiring ideas. Plus, shopping for the costume and its accessories is massively a part of the Halloween fun! Not to mention, it can totally become a bonding experience depending on the people you decide to take with you while you’re shopping. For example, my sister and I went out together for costumes last year, and I think we were laughing the whole time.

In any case, after I finally decide on a particular costume with the perfect concoction of creativity-mixed-with-prettiness leading to a classy-look that has the most subtle hint-of-sassiness, I usually stock up on about three MORE outfits to choose from just in case the first one falls through (I’m pretty sure I’ve already informed you that I’m EXTREMELY indecisive). Of course, I tend to wear all of them at some point over the Halloween weekend (you have to love a holiday that gives you more than one excuse and opportunity to break away from your everyday, mundane existence), BUT I bet you’re wondering, “what does this even have to do with anything? Shouldn’t she be blogging about her experiences in France and not ranting on about her favorite holiday?”

Well, you see, this year my prospect for a Happy Halloween isn’t looking that good. Not only am I an ocean away from Frankie P. and home and therefore unable to attend any of the usual costume parties, but I’m also currently in a country that (insert gasp here) DOESN’T CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN. Yep, you read that right. Wanna chance to read it again? Here: FRANCE DOESN’T CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN. The other day while in French class, we all approached our professor concerning this very important holiday. Unfortunately, she informed us that although stores tend to display pumpkins and leaves and recipe books featuring cakes and such pertaining to the holiday, NO ONE actually “trick-or-treats.” Not even children. The only people who wear costumes are those who may have a party to attend concerning that theme, but it is a very uncommon practice.

After hearing all of that, I felt like crying! How am I supposed to survive without Halloween? And I already had a ton of costume ideas! Now I’ll never be able to use them. Plus, I’m missing out on viewing everyone’s costumes at school and in my family (I already know what my one year old niece is being dressed up as… I guess I’ll just have to see the pictures). It sucks. ☹

So, I’m trying to look at the positive side of the coin. Yes, I miss Halloween, and that’s a negative thing, but I also gain a once in a lifetime experience! I mean, I’m currently residing in FRANCE. Could it get any crazier? And yes, I have to admit that France has its flaws (I mean, it doesn’t celebrate Halloween! Not even it’s own particular version of the super fun day), but it’s not all bad. Plus, who says I can’t celebrate All Hallow’s Eve when I get home? I could throw a costume party or convince someone else to do it or just dress up for the fun of it! Basically, I knew before coming here that I was going to be missing out on things, but I weighed the pros and cons, and here I am. I’m going to make the best of it whether France has a Halloween or doesn’t… and besides, we’re going to be in Paris for Halloween, so I HIGHLY doubt our Professor would have allowed us to gallivant around in crazy looking costumes. Of course, that’s still most definitely a possibility! :P

Avec l'Amour,