Wednesday, December 28, 2005

German Snow

I have decided to stay in Germany a while longer. Right now, I am enjoying the snow. It has been snowing for the last few days. Since I am from Arkansas, this is a real treat for me! It is so pretty.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas in Germany

I will be in Germany with my cousins for the Christmas holidays. I hope everyone has a great holiday season!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dear Friend

This is Sebastien. Well, one of the Sebastiens (the other Seb is great, too!). He is a really important person as far as I am concerned because if it had not been for him, I really would have never made it to France. This blog isn't big enough for me to explain all of the hassels he helped me get through before I even got here. I certainly cannot sing his praises enough. I think there were a few times I would have gladly gotten on a plane and went home if not for him. He has introduced me to most of his friends and has, in a large part, helped me to not hate France. I won't go on anymore because I do not want to gush, but if you ever see this man, give him a big, warm reception because he certainly deserves it. He really should be the #1 reason I love France, but since I have already given that to a big metal monument, he will have to settle with being #5.

Warmer Days in Paris

I love the picture of the pyramid. I even love the little guy who came out of nowhere to get right in the frame of my fantastic photo. Yes, this is the famous I.M. Pei pyramid in front of the Louvre. This is my 4th reason to love France. I have read so much about this pyramid and wanted it to be all I thought it could be and was afraid it wouldn't live up to my expectations, but I was not disappointed. It kind of takes your breath away when you see it for the first time. I remember thinking, "Wow, Mr. Pei really had a stroke of genuis here." For a moment, I regretted not being an architect. And for those of you who are fans of Da Vinci Code, the picture of the inverted pyramid in the mall of maddness (of course there is a huge mall under the street and before you get to one of the Louvre's entrances) is the very one that is so important in the book.

Semester Rush

Well it is my favorite time of the year: the end of the semester. I am so excited because I actually have everything graded and am figuring class grades at this moment. I am a MONTH ahead of schedule. I am sure I am setting some kind of teaching record here. I gave 5 classes their finals on Monday, and by 9 pm., had them all graded. I gave 6 classes their finals today. It is 11 p.m. and they are all graded. I am a teaching genuis!!!! I have 4 classes tomorrow and I WILL have all their tests graded before I leave school. What brought this on, you might ask. I am going to Germany for Christmas and do not want to come back to work, so I just decided I would get everything done. I feel so very sufficient.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

French People REALLY Are Nice

I really must revise my opinion of French folks. A lady who works in my department just loaned me a television for the duration of my stay. She also invited me to lunch. AND a French couple took me to lunch today. Other than the first day of classes, nobody from the University has invited me anywhere, so now I really feel like I might be able to like some people here.

All French People Aren't Evil

I said some nasty things yesterday (all true), so today I will say nice things. I do like some French people; my friend S├Ębastien is amazing and I would have already gone home if not for him. Many of Seb's friends are really great, too. Most of my collegues are friendly as well. Today, I am getting a television from a lady who works at the university. She is really nice and has really gone out of her way to make my life a little more comfortable. Days like today give me hope!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My 110th "I HATE France" Day

Well, I don't know if I have been here for 110 days or not, but I can assure you, it feels like much more right now. I really hate France today. Some days it just hits me harder than others; However, today I think it might be the combination of almost being hit last night while running, this terrible cold I have decided to catch, staying up until 2 A.M. for the last 2 nights making tests, French class and French people in general. So I apologize for the ranting that is coming. Just consider it artistic license. However, the following are some of my major complaints about this lovely country.

First and foremost, why I hate French people: the majority of them never even remotely make any attempt to understand me when I speak French. I can say a perfectly grammatically correct sentence in French and, if I do not say it with the right accent, forget it. Most people will not even attempt to help or to understand. Whereas in the U.S., we go out of our way to understand people when they speak English, no matter what the accent. Yes, we may speak louder and slower, but we at least try to help.

Second, they are constantly touching each other. In the metro, in the hallways, on the street, at the supermarket, in the bathroom; they cannot seem to keep their hands off each other. I do not need to see 45 year olds making out on the train or caressing each other in the library. I expect that type of behavior from kids, I don't like it, but I know it is part of growing up. However, I can live the rest of my life without sitting next to middle-aged folks undoing each other's clothes in public. Save it for the house, ladies and gentlemen! There is a certain dignity in social reservations.

Third, of all the things the French could have imported from the U.S., things like Wal-Mart, democracy and soap, the two most popular items are McDonald's and Rap music. Nothing makes me prouder than walking by a group of teenage boys who are rapping along with Snopp Dogg and eating a Big Mac. Why, oh why, when the U.S. has so many great things to offer, would the French only choose to like crap. Well, I think I know the answer.

Anyway, I must say, I am in a horrible mood today and it seems like everyone is going out of their way to irritate me, so I might be a little biased.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas in the Dorms

I know it isn't much, but I love my little Christmas tree. It has really put me in the spirit of Christmas and almost makes living in a dorm, with hundreds of 18 year olds, tolerable. Well, the tree and industrial ear plugs. Happy holidays everyone!

Galeries Lafayette

The Galeries Lafayette, a huge shopping mall in central Paris, is fantastically busy all of the time. This beautiful Christmas tree is four or five floors tall. I was almost knocked down by a billion Asian men while trying to take this picture, but it was worth it.

Christmas Champs-Elysees

Champs-Elysees is impressive year round, with its very, very, very expensive stores (think 5th Ave.), but during the Christmas season, the streets are decorated with lights and it almost seems welcoming. These pictures really do not do it any justice; trust me, it feels and looks like a modern setting of "It's a Wonderful Life" when you surface from the metro.

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe, located at one end of Champs Elysees, is my 3rd favorite thing about France. It is a gigantic moment build in honor of the French military and it is quite a site. There is a massive intersection surrounding the Arc and it is a complete mystery to me as to how there are not hundreds of wrecks daily. The best thing about the Arc is the view from the top. It isn't cheap, 8 euros, but it is well worth it, especially at night. The view it affords of the Eiffel Tour and its light show is breath-taking.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Peanut Butter and Such

I recieved my second package from home and it included some of the material things I miss most, other than my car, my apartment, my bed, my books....well you get the picture. It is amazing how a few things can brighten your day. There was never a happier American living in Paris than I was when I opened my box and found Jif peanut butter, Secret deodorant and American salad dressing. Thanks mom!