Monday, November 16, 2009

My Atmosphere

I had a dream the other night where I was holding onto the back of a rocket heading into space. The rocket shot up very quickly and I suddenly found myself in space, gazing back down onto earth. I was shaken up at first, a bit scared to be so far up, but then realized I WAS IN SPACE! I became extremely excited and awestruck. The planets were so close! Then, I stopped for a second and said, "Everyone that I love is in a completely different atmosphere". Then my excitement dissipated and I immediately fell back to earth.

This dream threw my feelings out on the table. I am here in France, seeing a new way of life, new perspectives, learning a new language. I am experiencing some things that people at home can't understand, even if I tried to explain as explicitly as I can. A part of this is extremely beautiful, and another part is very sad for me. I want to share the joy I find here with the people I love. It is a bit difficult for me to completely embrace it all. The fact that I am conscious of this struggle helps me to just be in the loneliness and learn from it. So, here I am, with a bit of sadness which I am turning into sweetness.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Toussaint Travels

After a week of discovering the physical capabilities of man, and exploring the tiniest alleys built upon water, I am now welcomed home with the sound of rain and my house sister, Malia, singing songs about vegetables in French. My vacation was spectacular- my mind was blown at least twice everyday. Here are a few highlights... It started in Barcelona, a city that stays up until 6 am and shuts down for naps at 5 pm. I spent a lot of time roaming the city looking at Gaudi's masterpieces; The Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, and Park Guell. My jaw was dropped the whole time. For those who are not familiar, the Sagrada Familia is the cathedral which Gaudi died working on. Gaudi started the cathedral in 1882 and not expected to be finished until 2030, Sagrada Familia is absolutely fantastic. It is a combination of abstract art, cubism, art nouveau, and Jesus. I had the opportunity to go up to the top of one of the columns, and take the spiral staircases down, each level having a balcony which I could see the skyline of Barcelona. It is hard to explain it's beauty, I can't find the words to rightfully describe it.
The nightlife in Barcelona is another adventure. Let me tell you, not the place for people with mono and weak minds-but mono and determination? It works! I went to my first ice bar, where everything is made of ice (of course)! The seats, the walls, the tables, the glasses-it was a new world! We also went to a club where we listened to a live Brazilian band, and another lounge where we met some very interesting locals.
My last highlight of Barcelona was the Picasso museum. I have a new found respect for him and his art. The museum guides its visitors through Picasso's transformation, room by room. The changes in his style were so radical! Even after taking art history classes, I did not have the right impression of Picasso's art. It was a delight to be there!
Then, it was off to Venice! After visiting a few museums (which were fantastic)and a trip to Maurano (the island of venetian glass), I realized the true joy of Venice is getting lost in it. The little passageways and bridges taking you to tiny shops show you the real culture of Venice. Venice has become a tourist attraction, and I felt lost in it for the first day. I feel saddened how populated with tourists it was, and almost guilty that I was a perfect contributor. But- it was insane insane insane! I still am trying to comprehend how this city exists-in the 13th century and now! I wanted to take pictures at every corner, but opted to just experience its beauty without framing it. One highlight was our Gondola ride. At first, we didn't think we would take one (they are incredibly expensive), but we gave in after a charming gondoliere gave us a great deal. Daniele, his name, is a 3rd generation gondoliere. He was extremely fun to talk to, and let me try to steer the gondola! The ride was worth the experience, I saw a different side to Venice I wouldn't have.
The last leg of our trip was a day in Paris. I took advantage of the day and went to Musee d'Orsay. After seeing Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, and Renoir, I went to their new exhibit "L'art Nouveau"-it was AMAZING! It showed the beginning of art nouveau and the revival in the 60's. I was giddy throughout the whole thing. Saw a span of chairs created by Gaudi to album covers of Dylan and Hendrix. There could't have been a happier way to end the trip. Now all that is on my mind is where to go next...

Monday, October 5, 2009

ma nouvelle famille

This weekend was a great one. Although I didn't travel to any new places or do anything extreme, I felt something new. This weekend I felt like I bonded with Stephanie and Malia. We went to the public park together, we played the french version of "go fish" (in which Malia cheated throughout the whole thing which cracked me up!), and drew pictures of dinosaurs (my favorite)! I felt at home, and it felt goooooood.
I have been finding it very difficult to express how I am feeling or my specific thoughts on issues and such due to our language barrier. I simply do not have enough vocabulary to say what I want to all of the time, which has made it a bit lonely. I know this will take time and patience, and of course I am taking this challenge-and trying to do so with grace. Last night, Stephanie and I had a great conversation about our own faults and things we want to change about ourselves, and it was incredibly refreshing! I have been aching for a conversation like that. I feel really lucky to have been placed with this family, I know we have a lot to teach each other and more laughs to come. So now, laugh at these!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

hello, beautiful

I wish weekends were longer. I spent this last one in Biarritz, a beach town in Pays-Basque, the southern part of France, 30 km from Spain-it was absolutely breathtaking! I went with three girlfriends from my program on Saturday morning on the TGV (the train system here) and arrived just early afternoon. We were welcomed with gorgeous weather and a breeze that could soothe anyone. Our hotel was not far from downtown, and the only reason why I mention our hotel is because it was fully equipped with bunk beds! For some odd reason, this made me very excited to see this! After a much needed nap (says the girl with mono), we went out for our night on the town. We ate at a respected fish restaurant located on a cliff of sorts near the ocean, and then made our way to a lounge and a night club. We danced and pranced and I loved every second. On Sunday, we went into the downtown again where an outdoor street market was happening-it was extremely precious! I can't find a better word for it. Vendors everywhere selling everything from 1 euro towels to 160 euro stilettos. Then-to the beach! We explored the steps and bridges and rocks which make Biarritz so unique. There is a viewpoint where you can look through a gap in the rock and see Biarritz's lighthouse, buildings, and beach. I had to take a moment away from all of the girls to take it all in. Being in such a beautiful place helped me strip away all of the stress and worries I have been carrying and feel tranquility. I felt at peace at that moment, a peace that I carry with me now, thanks to Biarritz. I would like to go back someday, and bring my loved ones with me to share this place with them! Also, this place almost looks fake, I need to reassure you all-it is real!
Love to everyone,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

An update is way past due:
I now sit on my red comforter in my Bordelais apartment on the third floor, about to get myself a cup of tea. It is fairly warm out, but I can tell it is slowly getting cooler. I live across from the center of Bordeaux, on the other side of the Gironde-the river that runs through Bordeaux. It is absolutely beautiful, I walk along the river (in a park) every morning to catch the tram for school. I am about a 45 minute tram ride to my university, which is normal for most students. I don't mind, the ride gives me time to think and listen to good music.
I live with a single mother named Stephanie, and her five year old daughter, Malia (pictured below). I absolutely love them, they have been nothing but welcoming and patient with me. I learn a lot from Malia everyday, I know all the names of the Disney classics in French! ...blange neige, cendrillon (you guess!). It is wonderful. So amazing to be out of the dorms, which I had to stay in for almost three weeks! I actually feel like I have a home.
This past weekend was "Les journees europeens du patrimoine", which is a two day celebration of France's heritage and culture. So, most churches, museums, chateaux, etc were free and open to the public. I went with Stephanie and Malia to the Botanical Garden, which is very close to our house, to see an Orchid exhibit! In french, they are called "les orchidees". They were breathtaking! I want to live in a room with just orchids! It was a wonderland of shapes and colors!
Now, it is time for me to start my homework, but I hope I gave you a glimpse of my new chapter here in Bordeaux!
Bisous (kissess), Kelsey

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hello World!

I finally have internet and the time to write! I am here, in France, in beautiful Bordeaux!

I am sitting in the DEFLE, the building where international students take their classes. A lot has happened in the past two weeks or so. With my family, I have walked the streets of Paris, climbed the Eiffel Tower, explored a fraction of the Louvre, and eaten at many delicious restaurants. Since I have arrived in Bordeaux, a lot of my time has been dedicated to touring the city. With my program, we went to the Dune du Pyla, the highest sand dune in all of Europe! It was fascinating. On the one side of the dune was a canopy of trees, and on the other, the Atlantic Ocean. We climbed up the mountain of sand and then took a nap at the top. Instead of taking the stairs down, we all raced down the side of the dune, loosing control of our speed and our laughter. It was such a euphoric feeling!

Yesterday, we took our second excursion to the Chateau de Raymond LaFond, a famous winery. We got a tour of the property (all in French, of course), and tasted the expensive desert wine. C'etais delicieux!

The city of Bordeaux is absolutely beautiful. It is such a different feeling to live in a town with such a history-the churches, buildings, monuments all blow my mind!

It feels great to finally be here. Of course, I already miss everyone at home and think about you all constantly, but am ready to begin my adventure!