Hello! It's been a long time since I've bothered to post something. It's been a combination of having too many things to say and a bit of a creative block. So much has happened since I blogged last. Ive been practically all over France, plus visited most of belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. I rode on the TGV, I biked across a country border, I took a boat across a mystical lake in the french alps. I disscussed God with a mechanic and a new friend from Bombay, India. I stayed in a Château in the south for two weeks where I could practically walk to the ancient Roman city of Nîmes...the adventures never really stop!!!
Which is how I like it.
When I was staying in the south we drove to visit the most ancient of bridges: pont du gars. The Romans used it as an aquaduct and it stands more powerful and massive than ever.
A Word about my crippling fear of heights: I am terrified of heights. Always have been. However, I think its a real shame how some people let their fears get in the way of their dreams or taking fun risks. Ive always tried to cure myself of this fear by shocking it out of myself. So did I climb four stories of dirt and rock to get to the top?! Yes, by all means!
Did I immediately regret this decision when I found myself teetering on top of ancient stone, surrounded by the other brave souls? It didnt help me nerves that there was a fairly strong wind that day, I can say that much. But as I was standing up there, hanging three stories above a rocky rushing river and the ghosts of roman soldiers I could not help feel mystified. This was one of the most amazing sights I had ever beheld with my own eyes. Great galaxies I am such a lucky soul, I thought to myself.
After I had climbed down I jumped down into the rocky valley below, skipping over rocks and rocks until I reached one of the bridge bases. Strictly unallowed! But I wanted so badly to touch the magnificence of the ages. And I did, the skin of my hands brushing the course power of the roman empire. But tourists had begun to wave madly at me from above to get out of there. And so I hopped harmlessly away.
Those two weeks in the south were amazing. The south is mountainous! And so I took many hikes overlooking many olive tree fields and little mountain villages. My photos are spectacular. Alas, I have not had access to my computer for two months and I will have to wait to upload them. I took trains and buses and saw just about all there is to see in the famous region of "midi".
The highlight of all highlights has come and gone. It was so wonderful and if any of you have taken even a peek at my facebook page in the last week you will see photos and newspaper articles all dying to share with you what happened in the famous alpine region of France.
A word about the students in France and Lille so you don't get to confused...
I live in the famous big acclectic artiststic and very old great northern city of LILLE. If France was a house we would be the top floor, baby. As far North as it gets. France, like all other countries that invite rotary students like me, is divided into districts. These districts are big. They have students from all over the world, but some are bigger than others. In my district inncluding myself we have sixteen students. BUT our neighbor district, with whom we share this city, is much bigger. So we are meant to take a double decker bus (with two stairwells, with impressed me) with the other district to drive to the big conference in the french alps.) This conference has invited every foreign student in France (FROM ROTARY!) for a weekend of amazing fun and to meet each other.
Being from Lille "the top floor", we had to drive the farthest. We all hopped together onto the bus, the two districts from Lille, and speeded away headed south. As we werent meant to be there until friday night, we had some time to kill. We visited Strausbourg, our first big stop. This city is incredible famous in France and also bicultural, as it is right on the German border. Saurkraut was eaten. We took a boat and train tour of the city, remarking at the unique shops and houses and...everything! Strausbourg is wonderful and unique.
A word about what we traveled...wearing...
Oh, the rotary blazers. I really do wonder what went into the locals' heads when they saw forty some people hop off a bus with impressive vests in all colors absolutely covered with jangly pins, flags, little stuffed animals, bells, unopened condoms and other such lampoonery. And I mean covered. We terrorized the towns! Running all over streets, filling up cafès and retaurants, taking glorious photos of ourselves and bewildered locals. Screaming and chatting in English, chinese, spanish; marati, hindi, german...with a rainbow of accents; canadian, american, australian. Our trip was riddled with invasions! It was wonderful!!!
Our next stop was in luxembourg, a country so comically small that it can be crossed in about the time it taked me to get to school in Michigan. A lot of the kids got excited of all the souvenirs they found, really cheap and authentic. Inncluding things like pina coloada flavored cigarettes and shot glasses that exclaim crass things in french. We explored a mountainous valley which boasted a castle as well, the spring trees all blossoming and the weather fair.
We stopped next in SWITZERLAND. Which was my favorite. The most beautiful thing I have ever seen was when we stopped at the great Lake Geneva. The alpine mountains hung above us like great saged warriors. Swans as big as small horses came unnervingly close, more like massive ghosts, as regal and territorial as anything you have ever seen. In the european alps, the air is different. It is pure and cold and fills you with a feeling of greatness and awe. The water is impeccably clear and blue and fridgidly cold. The sky is unnwavering blue with jagged rocks that surround accompanied by ancient willow trees.
That lake was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and I know I will go back. Sometimes mere photos aren't enough, though it seems like I took hundreds!
We said goodbye to the glorious geneva and headed onwards! That night I think we slept somewhere where they cooked us german food and put on for us a great traditional dance. Of course we all joined in. I think that was the same night as we saw switzerland but I could be wrong...it all kind of blends together!
On the way down we all stayed in tiny little hotels that were more like student hostiles. I always stayed with the same two other girls, Aja and Julia, both americans like me!
When we arrived in the southern french city of ANNCEY, it was like someone opened fifty cans of crazy. I really cant know how to describe it otherwise. We met up and became 430 exchange students. We were 31 nationalities. i met up almost immediately with Hannah and Laura, two girls who were staying in france from my district back home! the first night we had a great dance party with everyone while some kids prefered to chill outside.
I made so many friends that night and on that whole weekend in general. It was truly the best. I think I'll write another blog called Anncey continued later because this has gotten to long and I would like to go into better details.
HAPPY EASTER! ALLES GUTE! JOYEUSE PÂQUES! and just every other good thing that you could possibly think of. Happiness from me to you. Everything is good in France. Everything is ridiculously, incredibly, unthinkably just awesome.