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,

GONE KEBABING (October 5th)

Gabrielle says: When one officially knows that she is about to embark on an experience requiring her to inhabit a foreign country for a period of about three months, it is only expected that she would set some pretty concrete goals for herself to complete throughout the excursion.

And if that above statement is not a truism (for I have no supporting evidence of that fact and no consistent access to the Internet in order to search for forms of evidential confirmation), it (at the very least) rings true for me. In fact, I’ve created multiple lists of goals to complete while living in France. Some of these goals are quite simple (well, I guess that terminology only applies depending on your own personal definition of “simple,” but read on and judge later) such as physically, mentally, and emotionally surviving the trip. Other goals are a bit more intense like being able to communicate in French on a basic level by November 29th. Yet, overall, the goals are all worthy of attempt.

I’m writing this post because I’ve just recently completed two of my goals, which for one unimportant reason or another both happen to deal with food. First, on Saturday, October 4, I had my very first crepe! You see, crepes are an extremely common treat in France, and I’d never had that opportunity to try one before. Therefore, I figured France would be the perfect place! Not to mention, as soon as I discovered that they consisted of a folded up, pancake-like pastry filled with your choice of fruit, jam, or other spreadable products including nutella, my ridiculously active sweet tooth became very intrigued. In fact, almost immediately afterward, I made a pack with another student that we would both purchase crepes together on an upcoming excursion into the city.

When Wendy took us on our first walking tour of Lyon, we realized it was the perfect day for crepes! We passed multiple stands and shops along the way, and no matter how chilly or hungry we were, we held out until the tour was over in order to purchase our treats. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity (it was an amazingly long day), we found the perfect crepe stand. A single, older man stood behind it and effortlessly whipped up the goodies for the numerous customers anxiously waiting. When it came our turn to order, we practiced our French, and watched him pour the batter onto the burners, flip the pancakes over, spread nutella thickly across the pancakes surface, and then fold them up into the cutest little triangular pockets I’d ever seen. He handed them to us on cardboard plates, instructed us to take some napkins along for our journey, and graciously accepted our 2.50 euros. Overall, having a crepe in France was entirely worth it! It was warm, fresh, sweet, and filling. Basically, it was perfection in a little triangular pocket… and if I’m not careful or watched carefully by my peers, I just might become a crepe addict for my remaining time in the city. Haha!

The second food product that I was recently able to try while in France is called a kebab. No, I’m not talking about meat and grilled vegetables that are served on a stick. In France, the common kebab shops (they appear on almost every street corner, but are all individually owned and run instead of franchises such as McDonald’s) sell sandwiches and simple plates of food similar to a town sub shop. The kebab part refers to the meat the owners use in order to create their entrees. This giant hunk of meat (imagine an overall oval shape) is kept in plain view and somehow solidly stuck onto a rotating pole, which the worker then spins as he easily slices thin pieces off of the meat with two ridiculously sharp, large knives. Once the pieces of meat are ready, a pocket of bread is prepared, and the customer is encouraged to choose whatever vegetables and condiments she’d like to create her sandwich. For example, I chose mayonnaise, ketchup, lettuce, and tomato. The meat is quickly cooked up, the customer’s selections are all combined together, and the sandwich is usually served with fries (sans French) and a can of soda.

Overall, I was surprised by how yummy this concoction happened to be. I was a bit timid to try a kebab considering how the unappetizing meat was just sitting out in plain view, but my friends highly recommended it. Therefore, I added it to my list of goals, and viola it was successfully completed. Now, I know what you’re all anxiously wondering: Will I ever “go kebabing” again? Who knows! It’s quite possible though. The food was very satisfying. Of course, I have other food goals to accomplish while in France before I run out of time, which most definitely includes trying escargot! I made someone a promise about that one WAY before leaving. I can’t break that promise now. I wouldn’t even think of it. Maybe I’ll try it in Paris! We do leave in THREE weeks.

Avec l'Amour,

Friday, October 3, 2008

I ALWAYS FEEL… (October 3rd)

“Gabrielle” is a French name, but I’m in no way French. My parents solely chose the name because it began with a “G,” and they liked the way it sounded.

Now, I must confess that when I realized I would be going to France, I couldn’t have been more pleased that I possessed such a first name. I mean, I would fit in! The French would completely understand my name when I told them, and they would be able to easily pronounce and remember it. What could be better? It was like being given a head start.

Of course, now that I’m in France, that feeling has changed. Every time I find myself in a situation where I must state my name, I always feel as though I’m pronouncing it incorrectly! I first had this inclination in my French course at Lyon Bleu (when I heard Camille, my professor of French heritage, state my name in a question), and ever since then, I can’t seem to get over this silly fear. Maybe having a French name wasn’t such a blessing after all? Or maybe I’m just blowing this out of proportion. No one else seems to have noticed the difference. In any case, I just thought I’d let you all know.

Avec l'Amour,


Yesterday was the official end of Lyon’s 2008 Biennale de la Danse (the twenty-fifth Biennale of all time). Due to that fact, we no longer have mandatory performances to attend each evening, and I can’t help but to feel a little lost. You see, the Biennale was one of the main reasons we all chose to come to France. I mean, almost all of us are dancers. Of course we jumped at the opportunity to experience such an intense and unique display of our chosen art form. However, now that’s it’s over, I can’t tell if Lyon has lost some of its appeal to me. It definitely doesn’t look any different or sound any different, and a black hole hasn’t just opened up in the middle of the city and started sucking in the surroundings causing massive amounts of chaos and drastic changes in the behavior of the city’s inhabitants, but something could be a little off, couldn’t it? The problem is that I just can’t seem to put my finger on exactly what it is. I knew the Biennale would end, and I knew that we’d still be here for another two months after it was over, but maybe I was somehow denying that fact all along. Maybe I never REALLY understood what that meant or thought to take that fact into deeper consideration. Something just feels off today.

In any case, the overall feelings I’m experiencing are quite mixed. If I had to, I guess I would describe them as falling somewhere between relieved and saddened on the overall spectrum. Confused? I described it to my friend in the following fashion: For one month of my life, I actually took in air and energy and exhaled dance. Everyday was infused with it from classes to street performances to random dance parties with the girls to random dances by myself in my room (yeah… what can I say? I’m completely and utterly addicted). Yet now, all of that is over. In fact, I don’t even have my Movement class once next week! I feel like dance has suddenly and harshly been ripped away from me. Although I can’t say I was one hundred percent comfortable with attending performances every night and then having to get up early in order to attend my own dance classes as well as attend discussions concerning the performances (it was actually very stressful at times), I still enjoyed it.

Overall, I’m going to miss the Biennale. It’s not the kind of an experience that is easily obtained. In fact, I’ll probably never experience something like it again, and I’m glad I had the opportunity. Not to mention, I’m especially glad that I had the opportunity at such a young age. Being a college student, I feel like my eyes were more open, encouraging, and desiring than they would have been at any other point in my life. This fact alone allowed the Biennale to have a greater influence on me physically, emotionally, and mentally. As an individual, I fee like its left its imprint on me forever. As far as dancing goes, my possibilities presented to me through this great display of one of my favorite art forms seem endless. I wish I could describe its affect on me better, but its something so personal, I’m not sure it would make that much sense to you anyway. The Biennale has pushed me, inspired me, gave me a sense of hope, and taught me more about myself as a person who dances than I would have ever imagined possible. It was a wonderful experience.

And now that it’s over, whatever will I write about? I mean, what could possibly compare to performances choreographed by Forsythe and Linke? I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. I’m sure I’ll find something good… possibly… eventually.

Avec l'Amour,

PS: Happy birthday, Daddy! I love and miss you loads. You’re always in my thoughts. Eat something sickeningly sweet for me, okay? <3