Wednesday, February 25, 2015



London was absolutely lovely. Maybe it was my excitement at being able to converse with the person across the counter or the sheer delight of being in England, but I had a brilliant time in London.

The weather wasn't too horrid while we were there; it only rained the first day. The rest of the time, it was fairly overcast and chilly, but never wet again.

We left Wednesday afternoon and arrived at our hostel around 10:00pm. It had been a long day for us, so we settled in and crashed soon after we arrived. The three of us became very spoiled from staying in hotels instead of hostels the past few trips. It was kind of a shock to have to share an itty bitty room with 10 other people and only two electric outlets.

Our first morning in London, we went straight to 221b Baker Street, home of Sherlock. Lizette is a big fan, so this was on her list of things to do. I browsed through the store briefly, then walked down the street to the Beatles store. They had all kinds of Beatles themed everything, so I had a good time. (If my family is not listening to Queen in the car, chances are we've got Yellow Submarine or Hey Jude playing.)

When Lizette and Joe were finished down the street, they came to get me and we took the Underground to King's Cross station (where Harry Potter was filmed). The other two wanted to get their picture at Platform 9 3/4. While they stood in line for that, I went into a book store, then found a seat and got in some quality people-watching.

Next, we carried on to the British Museum. This place is really pretty cool. There's quite a bit to see. I spent a good amount of time in the clocks exhibit. There were only two rooms, but I easily spent 45min to an hour reading about them and waiting for them to ring their bells.

Many of the clocks were many years old, but were still working. I love when the gears are visible on their faces. I like to watch them tick. There was a clock that was run by a marble that rolled from one side to the other. It took 30 seconds to travel to the other side. It wasn't entirely accurate every time, but it was fun to watch. (I wouldn't mind having one in my house someday.)

After the clocks, I visited Africa, Egypt, Korea, Mexico, the Americas, and Greece in the form of their exhibits. The place was packed with kids because they were all on a school break. (Also, with Night at the Museum 3 recently out, people want to see where the movie was.)

We spent a few hours there, then decided to move on. We stopped by Leadenhall Market (Diagon Alley) and spent some time in the stores, then made our way back to the hostel to get ready for the evening. We had tickets to Phantom of the Opera so we got dressed up, then went to Picadilly Circus to Her Majesty's Theatre.

Phantom was fabulous. It opens very quiet and soberly with an auctioneer and bidders. The auctioneer announces the opening bid on the chandelier in pieces, then the place goes dark, the chandelier flickers, and begins to rise to the ceiling and that beautiful Overture begins to play. It's such a powerful piece of music. The organ begins and the other instruments follow. Someone bangs the drums and the full orchestra joins in... You can feel every note deep in your soul. It reverberates through the whole theatre. It's exciting and breathtaking. I sat with tears in my eyes at the passion that is conveyed in the music.

Every cast member had beautiful voices. Phantom's was magical and Christine's was piercing as it should be. The whole experience was incredible.

The next day, we began at Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. We walked around the Houses of Parliament and Westminster. We didn't go inside the Abbey but admired the outside. Then we walked a few streets over to Churchill's War Rooms.

The War Bunker Museum was very interesting. It's much bigger than we anticipated. We saw the room where Churchill ran the war. We saw the telephone rooms and map rooms and this whole complex that was dedicated to strategy and communications during WWII. There was an exhibit about Churchill's life in the middle of it and it was so incredibly interesting to be in such a historic place. Many of the things on the tables and desks in the rooms were original because the place had been left untouched for so many years. It was a lot to take in, but I'm glad we did it. I think it's always good to see another side of history.

From the Bunker, we walked towards Buckingham Palace and got a few pictures then headed to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. I really wanted to take of tour of the place since we couldn't see a show while we were there. (Since it's an open air theatre, the season doesn't start until April.) On the way there, we stumbled into a market place completely on accident. We were getting lost somewhere near London Bridge and took a path that led us to a market under an overpass. It was a decent size market with meat and cheese vendors, fruit and vegetable vendors, and all kinds of other offerings.

We spent some time walking around down there. I bought a glass of Rosé Prosecco and enjoyed the atmosphere. America could use more markets like these in Europe.

After we'd seen it all, we continued on to Globe Theatre. We made it just in time for the last tour of the day. It was really cool to go inside the theatre and hear the history of it all. One day, I'll make it back to see an actual play in the Globe.

Our third day in London began at the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. We walked around the Tower, then stopped at Starbucks before we attempted to walk across the bridge. It was particularly cold that day so with venti Hot Chocolate in hand, we braved the wind and walked out onto the bridge. It's not hard to see why it's such a famous bridge. It really is a beautifully structure. I love the vibrant blues that cover it.

Next on our agenda was the London Dungeons. It was right next to the London Eye, so we walked along the river and watched the Eye slowly turn. We came across some performers who were dancing and contorting their bodies for the audience. We watched the entire show; they did a good job of capturing the audience.

When retrieved our tickets at the London Dungeon then got a quick lunch before we went in. The London Dungeons is a thriller/amusement establishment. There are actors inside and it's dark and creepy and they tell the darker (real and fictional) stories of London's past. We visited the alley where Jack the Ripper killed Mary Jane Kelly and sat in Sweeney Todd's barber shop. We helped Guy Fawkes with his assassination attempt. It was fun and the right amount of scary.

We were in a group of maybe 20 people and we traveled through history together. The actors at each stop were incredibly talented and did a wonderful job of interacting with the audience every chance they had. You never knew when you might be singled out to be picked on by a cast member. At the beginning, an actor told me that I best not flash anyone anymore because it's a punishable offense and later, I was locked in a cage while the actor explained the many means of torture he could use on me and two other audience members.

There was one lady in our group, LeAnn, who was picked on at almost every turn. The actors at each station would pick at random and she was chosen nearly every time. The last time she was picked, our entire group just burst with laughter and the actors were a bit confused at what was going on. (They played it off well and said, "Yes, LeAnn, what a funny name, laugh at her, Boo her!!")

The whole time we were called "Traitors" and were being led to our death. At the end, we were all strapped into a ride and the room went dark and an announcer said that we were to be hanged for our crimes. In front of us, there were nooses and silhouettes of bodies being hanged, then the floor fell out from under us and we dropped! (A quick drop and a sudden stop, it was!) They "hanged" us a few more times for the fun of it, then we got off and exited to the gift shop.

It was really fun for everyone. I was a bit on edge the whole time, but it was all exciting. It was also surprisingly informative while being funny and scary. They did a swell job of entertaining us for an hour and a half.

We walked a bit more around the London Eye, then found another Starbucks and sat for a while. One thing about London is that there's a Starbucks on nearly every corner-- even more reason to love the city!

We hadn't done any souvenir shopping, so we went back to Piccadilly Circus and shopped at the big souvenir shop there. (I remembered this place from the last time I was there.) That night we decided to find a restaurant for our last dinner in England.

We found a little pub not far from our hostel and went inside. They were having live music that night, so we got a table a few rows back from the performer and enjoyed our dinner while listening to this guy play the oldies. I'm a sucker for stuff like that, so I quite enjoyed myself during this. We sat for a while after we had finished eating and ordered a slice of cake to share. We were there for a bit more than 2 hours, which is good for us. It was a lovely end to a great trip.

We caught our bus on time and made it to the airport and back to France without any problems. we made it back to Poitiers around 5:00pm then went our separate ways.

I spent that evening with my laptop and HIMYM on Netflix. I rained all night and little on Monday.
I went to volleyball again and since then I've just been doing some writing and taking care of things that need to be done.

I don't want to brag or anything, but in a strange turn of events, I came across Blue's Clues on YouTube and nearly watched an entire episode. (I still know the words to the songs.) Such a cute show. And probably the most exciting thing that's happened today.

Anyway, I hope your day is going well!
Talk to you next week.

Je t'embrasse,

Also, here's the rest of the pictures!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Little List


Today is a wonderful day because, as of today, I have 100 days left in France. That seems like such a small number compared to the 278 days I started with.

I thought it would be fun to share with you a list of all the things I'm looking forward to when I get back to America. Let's begin!

-English (of course.)
-Cedar family
-My kids
-Book stores with English books
-Journals in book stores
-Miracle Whip
-Baking (in a kitchen I'm comfortable in.)
-Jimmy John's
-Driving (Oh My Goodness, yesss.)
-Hair appointments (I can't wait to color my hair again!)
-Coffee Creamer (Although I'm getting used to black coffee.)
-Shoe shopping
-Reese's (I'm dying. Thank you Zane, Mom, and Vanessa for getting me through this.)
-Dr. Pepper
-Road trips (See: Driving.)
-Magazines (in English.)
-Grocery store baggers
-Stores open on Sundays (Seriously.)
-A normal school schedule
-Front yards
-Gym membership
-Church on Sunday (and my kids.)
-Spicy food (Jalapeños!)
-Milk (Normal, refrigerated milk.)
-Jamba Juice
-Panda Express

I realize that many of these things are food related and maybe that says something about me, but food is necessary for life and life is better when you can eat the food you love.

As for the others, they are just little things that I realize that I have missed about America. Not really anything big, just small things that I took for granted about the US. Not every country operates the way we do and that's ok (although I think our way is the better way).

In other news, we are on our way to London today. I went to the UK while in high school, but I'm definitely a different person now than I was then. It'll be fun to experience it again. We've got a few exciting things planned, but I'll tell you all about it next week.

I think what I'm most excited for is being in a place were I can finally understand what everyone is saying and not having to ask them to repeat things in English. It will be absolutely refreshing and I'm afraid that I'm not going to want to go back to Poitiers! (Seriously, my countdown is keeping me sane right now.)

This week I got to play in a volleyball tournament with a few other kids from my school. We got fourth place (and I'm not going to say how many teams were there!). We actually played together really well by the end of the night. It was so much fun to compete. Thank you Coach Satty for always encouraging us to talk because here in France, it is so silent on the court except for me (who is yelling everything in English in a gym full of French speakers). It drives me nuts.

Today Joe, Lizette, and I were invited to present our university to the French students at FBS. They are all required to do some sort of study abroad, and I think SUU is a wonderful place for them to go. So hopefully we represented our school well enough to get an foreign student or two.

I know I started the blog with excitement at the prospect of coming home soon, but every time I look at "100 days" I almost sigh. It's been such a great year so far, and I'm not sure I'm ready to leave Europe behind. Thankfully, I've still got time left here, and thankfully I get to go home soon. (So many mixed feelings!)

Here's to the next 100 days.

Je t'embrasse,

Thursday, February 12, 2015



This morning around 1 am, when I was lying in bed unable to sleep, I remembered that yesterday was Wednesday and I hadn't written a single word on the blog. Oops!

How could I have forgotten two weeks in a row? Yesterday I wasn't feeling that great, so I'm just going to blame it on that.

I woke up with my tummy hurting, but I figured it was just because I had a presentation to give yesterday and I always get an uneasy stomach when I'm nervous. So I went to class all morning, came home for lunch, and went back to class for the afternoon. My group gave our presentation and I came home again.

I usually feel so much better after the presentation is over, but not yesterday. I decided to lay in bed and watch House on Netflix for the rest of the day.

I'm feeling much better this morning. I don't know what it was yesterday. I didn't actually feel sick or anything, just a little off-kilter. It was certainly strange.

On the bright side, I have now finished 2 courses. That's definitely one of the advantages to how school works at this university, but it's one of the only ones. I am so ready to get back to a normal schedule. (Ask me again in September and I'll be longing for my 3 week vacations.)

I don't have class again until March 10, excluding a few French classes in the evenings. We've got a trip to London coming up, but that'll be a relatively short trip so I want to plan at least one other trip for myself.

I don't think I have anything else to say, things around here have been quiet. I was busy with the class I finished yesterday, but now that that's over, I've got nothing.

Maybe I'll venture to the mall today to do some shopping.

I hope your day is going well!

Je t'embrasse,

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Time Flies


I'm going to be completely honest with you and say that I didn't even realize that today was Wednesday. Here I was getting ready for bed and settling in with Netflix when I suddenly remembered that I was supposed to write something today. So, here I am.

This week has been both busy and boring. Busy because I've had to go to classes and boring because those classes are, well, boring.

This week I'm in Public Relations and Innovation Management. This semester it seems like I've had to do more work in a shorter period of time. Already, in PR, we've had to prepare two separate presentations and today she assigned another that is due a month from now. In Innovation, we've had to write two papers and we're working on a presentation. (Yes, it's good that I'm actually doing school, but good grief.)

In addition, French class started Tuesday and we had a homework assignment there too. Thankfully, I've only got one class next week, then I'm free for a while.

France is having it's biannual sale in all of the stores right now, so I did a little shopping on Monday in the city center, but I think either this Friday or next week, I'm going to go out to one of the bigger shopping centers and see what I can find out there!

Can you believe it's February?! 2015 is well underway. It's this month that we'll hit the 6 month mark.  6 whole months. That's half a year. (If you weren't aware.) That's kind of a long time, but in the big scheme of things, it's such a small piece of time.

Isn't it crazy how time works? It has always fascinated me. I remember when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I counted up how many years I had left until I graduated and it seemed like 2011 would never come. Now it's 2015 and I'm beginning to realize how quickly time passes. In just 9 short years, I'll be in my 30's. In 30 years I'll be in my 50's.

30 years by itself doesn't seem like that much time, but in relation to me, it seems far too short. (Is that selfish?) I can't even imagine 50 year old me. What will I have accomplished by then? Will I have made it back to Poitiers? Maybe I'll have grandchildren of my own. What will the world be like then? I look back and see how much the world has changed even since I've been alive and I imagine it will change even more rapidly in years to come.

When I'm 50 years old, what will the 9 months I spent in France mean to me? Right now, while I'm living it, it feels like forever, but when I look back on it, will it be just a little thing I did?

I guess this just reminds me to not get too lost thinking about what may happen or what I might think one day and to just live today. For some time now, I've been trying to always be in the moment. Of course, it's difficult for me to not think about everything I just wrote about, but I try to be present. Thinking about these things doesn't accomplish anything for me, but I do like to imagine.

That almost took a turn for the existential, and I apologize for that! It's just something that's been on my mind lately and I thought I'd share.

I hope this week is going well for you! Talk to you next week.

Je t'embrasse,