Tuesday, 29 March 2011

One Month

I have lived in Paris for one month now and I still haven't had the chance to try all the baked goods. Maybe I have my priorities wrong and should be putting more effort into trying a new flakey pastry each and every day.

Things I have been putting effort towards would be: finding a job, trying to occupy myself with Paris wandering, and purchasing groceries. I seem to buy groceries quite a bit. I think it has something to do with our small European fridge. I have rediscovered my love for coffee but in a masochistic or perhaps self preserving way I am limiting myself to one a day. I do love sleep as well so I am trying to find a balance. I also have been putting effort towards convincing my tongue that it should form silly sounds and produce the French language. Living with all French people has helped immensely but I need to stop thinking that hearing French is a cue for me to zone out. I think it is my Au Pair reflexes coming back, hearing a foreign language was the cue I did't have to be part of the conversation. My brain is trying it's best though. I have even purchased a kid's book in French from a used bookstore to help with my reading comprehension. AND it happens to be a Mary-Kate and Ashley book! That would have been my top book choice back in the day if I happened to be French.

My French skills have improved enough for me to have an interview all in French though. Sure it was slightly clumsy and mostly only took place in the present tense but it was still an interview all in French! I was quite proud of myself. I do have to give some credit to my french and all the roommies for having patience to speak slow, child-like French with me when speaking English would really get the point across much quicker. I have adopted some wonderful phrases such as: oh la la, zut, chouette, and je pense que oui. I'm keeping my eye out for others to be added to my repertoire.

Paris continues to be spring like and beautiful. Even when doing the most mundane things such as walking home with groceries I like to remind myself I'M IN PARIS walking home with groceries! When I put it that way, it seems great to me.

Monday, 7 February 2011


Well. New things are on their way and days are marching on. Marcher= to walk. I'm going somewhere and I'm not sure what to think about it. Penser = to think. I'm a bit nervous. I don't know what to expect. But I'm doing it and that's the first step, non? 5 months. Cinq mois to be foreign, to have fun, trouver un travail, to feel awkward, to act like a copine, to be uncertain, to do things I haven't, to second guess myself, to think I'm absurd for doing what I'm doing, to think I'm right doing what I'm doing, to take deep breaths and to look at clouds. I don't think I can say I'm 100% certain about this but what is ever 100% certain? If you never do things that make you slightly uncomfortable we would all be far too comfy. And, I'm excited. So that is good too.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Last Things

I feel that this was never finished and there is an ellipsis in my online representation of my travels. I think its about time to finish off this ellipses the best I can. Sine I last posted I have been, I have gone, and I have left and as I sit here now on a different side of the ocean I'm a bit nostalgic. So here are the cliffs notes to an amazing last 2 months of my life abroad.

Turkey: I visited, I played, I'm no longer a nanny!!!!!
Shortly after my last post I went to Ephesus and Cappadocia in Turkey. These were two amazing places with some amazing experiences. Ephesus was hot, very old and Greek, and the air smelt like blossoms. Perfectly marvelous in other words. I explored the old Greek city which had poppies growing all over and lots of stray cats, climbed around in a courtyard of a mosque, saw some great sunsets, and went out for one of the first nights all by myself. Oh and there were storks all over! There were ancient aqueducts of the city that were in ruins and on most of the pillars you would find a large stork's nest with some funny storks in them. My favorite moment of that trip came when I was walking back to my hostel on a clear beautiful night with a turkish dessert in one hand while staring at the turkish moon and stars. It was a moment for deep breaths.

From there I hopped over to Cappadoccia. This is a place that has some very unique stone formations, underground cities, and high up cave/mountain houses as well. Playing in the underground housing was a very good time. I felt like I was in goonies! The cave houses were also great for playing in. We were able to climb everywhere and explore.

I returned to Turkey for my final weeks and eventually I was set free and no longer a nanny!! This was one very very exciting day. I returned to the life of a normal twenty-something- year-old and went out with friends. I was able to go to my good friend, Aysegul's home town of Eskisehir. It was so great to see her home town and meet her family and just spend time with her. After that more going out with my Istanbul friends happened, along with a wonderful going away meyhane dinner. After some Turkish tea, cookies, and a pirate taxi ride I made it to the airport and left my Istanbul life behind.

Scotland for a bit.
I went back to scotland and spent time crashing on my friend Steph's couch in Edinburgh. It was so good have some down time with a friend before I picked up and started my last 3 weeks of travel. I didn't do much besides snack, walk around, and chat with Steph. It was an enjoyable and much needed week!

France: oh la la indeed.
I spent an amazing, amazing week in the south of france with Jean-yves, the brother of one of our very good family friends. He showed me the most amazing time. I stayed in his beautiful villa in a small town on the french riviera. He took me everywhere (Monaco, Italy, all over Provence, Cannes, Saint Tropez...), introduced me to wonderful people, and we ate the most amazing french food... ever. He also brought me fresh croissants and pan au chocolat every morning. oh la la indeed. Jean-yves is at least in his 70's and it was such a great experience to bond with him and spend so much time with someone that age. I was able to meet the rest of their family and see some great old pictures. He also told me wonderful life stories about France back in the day, living in Africa, flying planes, and playing the trumpet. Jean-yves was a perfect friend and tour guide.
From there I made it up to Paris. Paris was so much of everything. By this point I was kind of being a lame tourist and probably should have seen more of the "must see" places of Paris, although I think I managed to cross most of them off my list. I was truly content just lazing around in parks, drinking wine, eating cheese and having coffee. I was lucky enough to have a french friend to do this all with, Antoine. I got to follow him around like a non-french speaking puppy and inflict myself on him for almost a week. It was splendid. Metros, the Eiffel tower, walking around, sleeping too late, going to bed too late, graveyards and practicing saying un peu. Amazingly two of my wonderful friends from UW-Madison, Meg and Leah, were also in Paris at the same time! Being reunited in the city of love after one year was perfect.

From Paris I went to Amsterdam. It was a very cool city. Canals, Anne Frank, bikes, prostitutes, and coffee. I just had a short stop but it was truly a beautiful city.

I went to Sweden to visit my friend Ottilia that came and studied abroad at UW for one year. It was so great to see her again! We had some really great times at madison and she showed me an amazing time in Sweden. Her family was kind enough to let me stay with them. It was great meeting her family and her mom made some wonderful swedish dishes! Ottilia was the perfect tour guide and night life guide. We went to some very fun places and saw all the beautiful things around Stockholm. I was there towards the end of may and it was staying light out until about 11 o'clock or so. It was so strange to me. Every day seemed like 3 days. It was light during the day, it got almost all the way dark by the time we were getting to a bar, then when we were going home it was light again. One of my favorite images of being in sweden was cutting through the woods to get to Ottilias house after going out. It was already getting light out with the hazy almost morning light shining through green leaves in the woods. It was damp and we were trying to avoid stepping on snails. Hearing the crunch every now and then made me sadly realize I am not good at avoiding things.

Scotland: The mother land.
I spent my last few days in Scotland. I love Scotland and I miss it. I got to visit Erin, go out with friends, drink cider, and visit my cousins. It was a brief stop off and mostly consisted of my hopping to different cities to collect all my things I left sporadically at people's houses.

And home to the U.S. of A...
In Chicago I was scooped up at the airport by one of my besties Christina. I had a quick whirlwind, fighting jet lag, fun filled experience in chicago then headed to good ol' Wisconsin...

Reflecting back on my experiences now makes me incredibly grateful. I was able to meet amazing people, form wonderful friendships and bond with so many people. I miss you all and loved my time with you. Thinking about my experiences abroad will throw me into my own world and result in a happy sigh for a long time to come.

Monday, 19 April 2010

I had to go to Bulgaria

This past week I had to head to Bulgaria. It was a strange process and had nothing at all to do with needing to get a new tourist visa to stay in Turkey longer. When I was heading out to catch my very early bus to Bulgaria I was quite excited. Thinking "I am going to Bulgaria today. Who gets to say that?" I had great thoughts of hanging out in a funny Bulgarian town for lunch that had dusty streets and then hopping on the next bus back to istanbul. It ended up being quite a long day. The bus ride was about 4 hours each way. A lot of sleeping happened. It was really great to see some more of the country side of Turkey though. It is really beautiful. Very green and hilly. Once in Bulgaria I just ended up staying at the bus station type place that basically seemed like an airport. I wandered around the duty free store for a long time and bought some mound bars. Yum. Sadly there was no great Bulgaria town with dusty street and old ladies selling things. I caught the next bus back and by the time I got home I had had a 14 hour day of going and coming. I was tired.

I went to Asia for a pillow fight.

On world pillow fight day, April 5th I believe, I headed to Asia to take part in a large organized pillow fight. It was a very exciting process indeed. Getting pillows. Meeting up with people. Getting a dolmus and crossing the bridge to the asian side of Istanbul. The getting there part might have been more exciting than the actually being there part, but the asian side was really great. We caught a beautiful sunset and got to hit strangers with pillows. Unfortunately the boys kind of dominated the pillow fight scene so it was a bit rough. Kate and I decided to just go and attack groups of girls that were standing around with pillows. That worked out pretty well for a while. We also saw two 6 year old girls fighting each other so we thought that was a perfect opportunity to get our pillow fight groove on. Also, great pillow phrases that don't usually happen were said like, "Can I borrow your pillow?" and "Take my pillow, I'm not using it anymore." Basically it was a splendid adventure.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Easter in Istanbul

Holidays in places that do not celebrate your holidays are always an interesting experience. They seem more like your own and you realize that you enjoy your traditions or what traditions are important to you. It feels like your secret holiday that no one else knows about or cares about too much. You can do anything that you like with it, because it is yours and no one else's. Maybe it's like being little when you have some make believe events- a tea party, your cats birthday party, etc. Most of all, I think any sort of holiday or celebration is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with people and relate to each other on another common level. We all love to dye easter eggs. You like to eat chocolate? Me too!! Let's be friends forever. In a cute apartment overlooking the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey this is just what happened on my make believe easter.

Thanks to a wonderful care package sent by my glorious mother, copious amounts of chocolate (well I ate most of it before easter got here) and an egg dying kit were at my disposal. The decision was quickly made to have an easter extravaganza, american girl style (not the dolls of course, but that would have been fun too), at Kate's current place of apartment crashing.

An aside about Kate- she is my new great American friend. She is halfsy English like me and did a bunch of traveling before landing in Istanbul. One of the many
marvelous things about Kate is that she is in search of a job. MEANING she has free time during the day to be my friend during my odd au pair hours. I am very happy that we met and we have shared many a splendid coffee and chat together.

Okay, back to easter. Kate, Maureen (my other
wonderful pocket-sized american friend), and I dyed easter eggs to our hearts content, ate chocolate past the point of our stomaches content, drank coffee and had some of Kate's watermelon & mint salad (sounds strange but it's good). We sat on a balcony overlooking the Bosphorus, discussed our disapproval of cruise ships, enjoyed the sun and each others company. Our eggs turned out to be quite marvelous. Unfortunately I squished mine on the bus ride home, BUT it was the prettiest green squished hard boiled egg I have ever seen. Overall my easter was truly splendid in the make believe, having it be exactly what you want it to be, kind of way. I loved being with people that understood the importance of colored eggs, chocolate shaped like rabbits, and talking about nothing in particular.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

I'm here, really I am.

I went to Yildiz Park today to walk around. It is spring now and things are growing and making you notice them. I saw bees today and they had no idea that they were Turkish bees. I wonder how they would have felt if they were made to face this fact. It is surprising how much warm weather and green things can make things better. I am here and I need to start being here more.

Things I have done as of recent: Celebrated St.Patrick's day in istanbul-funny, smoked hookah at a cafe (finally!!), made another splendid friend, ate more ice cream, felt anxious, sprained my ankle, visited an old train station, took deep breaths, stared at the bosphorus, cried in a bar, watched pigeons for a long period of time, attempted to sell back a book to a book vendor using Turkish- why is my Turkish so bad?, became a runner, stopped being a runner due to injuries, decided I am not me, sat and read, missed things, decided I really really don't want anything to do with Turkish guys, missed people, felt lost, felt almost found, remembered I am here, laid on the ground, came to conclusions, felt confused, made up my mind, decided I love coffee.

I have been in Istanbul for two months now. The weather is getting nicer and I am here for two more months. Well maybe another month and a half. There is still so much to see and do and I think the nicer weather will push that along. I'm going to do it all and figure it out. Yes.