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More of my Chez Vous Journal!

Day 13? –Holy cow

This entry is going to be So long because it’s everything spanning over the past week almost. Today is Friday and I haven’t written since Saturday…I’ve been super super busy. So, I’m going to start with Sunday

Sunday we went to church here.  It was SO SO small and so traditional. I don’t know what exactly I expected, but it was extremely awe-inspiring. I guess I figured church here would be like church back home but what I can’t get through my head is that if you say you’re a Christian in France, they think you’re catholic, and if you say you’re Baptist or Methodist of whatever, they have no idea what you’re talking about and assume it’s a cult. People don’t know Christ here and it’s sad. What I DO find extremely amazing though, is how, no matter what language its in, you can worship God and feel the same things. We were singing and it was Blessed Be Your Name, which is a very popular song, but it was in French, and it was just amazing to feel that same love from a different cultural point of view, and in a completely different language.

After church we came back to the house for lunch at noon, we were finished by one, but Dr. Gray, Jenna, and I all stayed at the table to talk. We ended up all sitting down there talking until dinner at 7. We talked about church and what it means to be a Christian in France..we talked about what it means to be a Christian in America, about the program, about piercing and his daughters and movies and music..it was nice. BUT, because I was straining to comprehend everything in church that morning, I had a MASSIVE migraine. I thought I was going to throw up actually. And it was ironic because just the day before I was thinking about how lucky I was to not have had one since I had been here. Thinking that was obviously a problem because I had one Sunday that lasted until Tuesday, and then I had one Thursday, and a small one today. UGH.

Danielle is probably my favorite person in the world. She is a complete rock star. I don’t think I’ve really explained who she is so here it goes: Danielle works at Chez Vous and she’s very much the mother. She does all the cooking, cleaning, and laundry. She’s here from 7 in the morning to 11 at night and she never stops. I don’t know why I’m so drawn to her, but I am. She doesn’t speak much English, but we have just sat on the couch and cuddled, she rubbed the back of my neck when my head hurt (she even went and got me an ice pack!) and she’s just become the person I can go to when I’m craving physical love. I miss getting hugs! The French aren’t very huggy, and I don’t know the girls here very well, but I can always go to Danielle when I need a hug. =) I adore her.

Elvira is another one I absolutely adore. I think she’s my favorite actually. She is the youngest of the workers (29) and she’s very much a kid. She plays around and jokes and laughs and we all love her. =)

One thing I’d really like to buy while I’m here is a Bible (in french). I asked Pia if she knew of any good translations that would be easy for me to read and wouldn’t cost as much, so she asked to look at the bible I have now and she found me a few options online. So hopefully I’ll find one. =)

(There are about 30 things on my list and I’ve crossed out 8 of them in this entry. I’ll write the rest tomorrow after class. Its past midnight and I have to get up at 7! Yikes!)

Day 14- A continuation…

So anyways..

The theme of this past week has been La Mer et La Terre. Steve started the week out by explaining the most important things to the French: Cheese, Wine, and Art. So, all our excursions this week have been built around that theme. On Tuesday (I think) we went to the Fromagery (fromage=cheese). It was actually pretty awesome. On the tour, we walked through a room where we were able to just sit in this cheesy farm setting and watch a video about the farmers that raise the cows that produce the milk for the cheese. Normandy is the main region of France for cheese, and all of the cheese is made only from Normandy cows. Then, we walked through the factory to see how it’s made into cheese and molded. Then it sits in a room for a specific period depending on the cheese, and then it’s packaged and shipped out. As we walked through the factory, the smell was stronger and stronger and then at the end there was a tasting which was awesome. The cheese here is just amazing. I have a video from the Fromagery that I’ll put up on facebook so you can check it out. It was pretty sweet.

After cheese, there’s obviously wine right? So on Thursday we went to a cidary (I don’t think that’s how you spell it…) it was awesome. Of course the whole place smelled like wine, which killed my head (I still had a migraine on this day). We went through the rooms and the tour guide explained, in very thick English, how they turn apples to wine. There were rooms and rooms of just HUGE wooden barrels and she told us how the some of the wine will sit in the barrels for weeks before its bottled. The smaller barrels make a stronger wine (it touches the wood more). After the HUGE barrels are drained, someone has to climb inside to clean them, and I have a picture of Whitney climbing inside, and a video of crystal. It was pretty awesome. At the end there was a tasting and we were able to try some of the different wines. My favorite was a crème wine (almost like baileys) that was kind of sweet. Some of them were so strong! I was able to get some really good pictures, but while we were there I managed to drop my camera five feet to the concrete. But I’ll explain that in a few minutes…

So after Cheese and Wine, art right? We went to Honfleur, which is one of the oldest cities in France. We saw a home that would have been the king’s lieutenant’s home, but then later, Monet actually painted there. The town was a port town at the mouth of the seine where it flows into the English Channel. It was absolutely GORGEOUS! And there were Art Galleries everywhere. I was able to get some really good pictures of some of the art so they’re on my facebook. =)

One thing we do while were here, is on Wednesday nights we watch Nouvelle Star, which is the French Version of American Idol. Its pretty cool except for the singers who ALL sing in freaking English! And they butcher songs…its so irritating. This week, Dave was sent home and he sang a SLOW version of Poker Face (Ga Ga) and it was absolutely horrible. I really like Benjamin, who’s sixteen…but all the other girls like Ramon because he’s hot. Ha ha. The show is crazy long to! It lasts from 8:45 to 11:30!

This Wednesday after Nouvell star was over almost everyone had gone to bed except me and the prof and Dr. Gray so after the Prof went to bed Dr. Gray and I sat up and talked for ages. He was leaving the next morning and I wanted to ask him what he thought of the program and such. (He had been here for a week to do a program evaluation for CN) So we talked about Chez Vous for a bit and then we ended up talking about Carson Newman and his family and how he came to CN in the first place (he was at Ole Miss before) and we talked about my family and Jason and my desire to continue in French and what eves. I really love talking to Dr. Gray. He’s just a really great person to be around, really sincere and honest. We ended up talking until about 3:30 and then I had to get in bed because I had to get up at 7 and he had to leave for Paris at 6AM. But I am really glad we were able to have so much time to talk while he was here. It was nice to get to know him on a different level than just teacher-student.

So after Dr. Gray left on Thursday, two new students came! One’s name is Jessica (she’s actually sitting right above me on here bunk right now) and the others name is Jacob. Jacob is from Cincinnati(!) and he goes to Anderson College in Anderson Indiana. He’s a French and Spanish double major and he’s pretty nice. Jessica is from Iowa and she goes to Dordt college (never heard of it) and she’s really awesome. She’s in the room with me and Paige (THANK GOD) and she sleeps  right above me. She’s very down to earth and sincere. And she’s not nearly as valley girl as soon of the girls here. I’ve actually been able to calm down a LOT since her and Jacob got here. I was really on edge dealing with being in a house with 8 other girls and dealing with the cattiness (is that a word). But they level it out very nicely. The three of us actually sat on the beach for a few hours yesterday and talked. It was nice. I like them .

Speaking of cattiness in the house…I have been SO on edge with Paige the past few days. The other night we were all studying and she like..flipped out and started complaining about how she was never going to get this language and she doesn’t know what she’s doing here  and she was just really down on herself and when she got quiet NO one said anything…so…naturally…I did. I said, “Paige you’re a really smart girl..” and she cut me off and goes, “Alicia, you don’t even know me so just shut up” and as she said that I said, “No because I know how you are through your day with every day things and you’re obviously really smart and I know you can do it. And if you need help, there are 14 people in the house that will help you.” And that’s all. But after I said that, she completely blew me off and that absolutely PISSED ME OFF. I can’t even explain how angry I was. Not just because of that, but because she had just been so rude to me the whole time we’ve been here. I’ve been trying really hard to just hold to the face that we’re two very different people with very different way of doing and dealing with things. But what kills me is that while I’m nice and polite to here, she’s just rude back. She gets angry when my alarm goes off in the morning, she gets mad when I open the door or the shutters, and Two things I have to do to get ready in the morning.  So on Wednesday, after the whole ordeal on Tuesday, I just completely ignored her. I woke up at 7, opened the windows and the shutters, (being as loud as I waned but not overly annoying) and I listened to music while I got ready. Through out the day I didn’t look at her and that night I went to bed before here, closing the shutters and turning off the lights she she’d have to crawl through the dark room to find her stuff. BUT, it obviously got the message across and the past few days she’s been very nice and we’ve actually had a few conversations.

My deal with the whole situation is: I don’t want to walk away from Chez Vous with a bad opinion of anyone. This group of 11 people will NEVER been in the same place at the same time ever again, so we HAVE to make the most of these 4 weeks we have left together. I don’t want to dislike anyone because this is a short time period that will have an EVERLASTING impact on my life and I don’t want any bad feelings intertwined in that impression. Make sense? So, because of this, I would really love to get to know all the girls and to because friends with everyone no matter how different or similar we are. But, this is proving to be very difficult because we all are SO different…I just have to learn how to respect everyone despite of there up bringing and back ground. We’re all at different points of our lives and it affects us more than we understand.

Ok enough of that. My Camera has been through some crazy stuff since we’ve been here! It’s definitely proven itself to be a beast though. First, I knocked it in the sink while the water was running….and it survived. Then, Jenna and I dropped it on the beach and it got buried in the sand and it survived thanks to some careful doctoring by Elvira. THEN, at the cidary I managed to drop it five feet to the concrete where it busted. The French guy behind me at the time goes, Oh la la and I almost turned around and went, “ugh I know right!?” but then I realized he didn’t speak English and I picked up the pieces of my camera and put them back together. It took it a few minutes, but it FINALLY turned back on. The lens had to fight a bit to come out and the screen was a little shaken, but it’s still working like new. Amazing right! The Flip cam is still fine..it hasn’t been dropped or anything. (Thank God)

Yesterday morning some people broke into the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and stole 5 original paintings my Matisse, Picasso, and a few other artists. =(

I can’t WAIT to go to Mont. St. Michel! AH I am SO excited but I have no idea when we’re going. Hopefully this week…Right now I have around 300 pictures form Chez Vous, but after Mont. St. Michel I may have close to 1,500. Not going to lie.

Quick quote from class (I’m fighting my computers battery power!) Prof- Talking about the heaters in the classroom. “I’m going to turn this off…because in about ten minutes…..we die”

Day 16 and Day 17 –It’s hard to find time to write!

So I just have about 15 minutes I can write real quick because I have to go read at 2. Once a week we have to meet with a French woman called Veronique and we read a book with here to work on pronunciation and reading skills. The book is actually a children’s book called “boule et bill” and it’s adorable.  I normally go towards the beginning of the week and today’s my day.

Yesterday was Sunday, but we didn’t actually have church. We went on an all day excursion to the biggest market in normandie. (it was in Caen) and we got to shop around there. I was pretty happy with it because I was able to buy a few gifts. I got Tyler a wrist cuff that has spikes on it (I KNOW he’ll love it) and I got a ring for Jason that has a dragon on it, but you have to look really close to see it. Then for Alex I bought this hand made doll that’s actually a key chain. It was really cool because I was able to pick exactly what colors I wanted and stuff. THEN, I found a really cute purse! That’s one of two things I wanted to get for myself while I was here (the other being a bible in French) and I found the cutest bag. At the same place, I found a really cute ring that made me think of Alex. Its silver and on the band is has a flag from 8 or 9 different countries. The Ring was 5 euro and the bag was 15, but the woman gave them to me together for 10 euro.

After the market, we had a chance to go to a catholic mass. Jessica and I went together and it was pretty interesting. I had never been to a catholic mass before and it was definitely an experience. The building was from the gothic era and it was huge and gorgeous.  the inside was just as beautiful. The service was weird…There was no sermon. Just a bunch of people taking turns talking and there was a lot of standing and sitting and standing and sitting.

The Chateau was after that. We got to walk around this huge castle (or..used to be castle) and see all the structures that were built when William the Concurrer was king. It was incredibly beautiful…and yes, there are pictures on facebook.

I went to the beach for about 45 minutes with Jessica after we got back from the chateau. It was the first day that it was actually warm enough to go sit on the beach without a hoodie or blanket. I wore the cute dress that Jason bought for me right before I left and my gurkee sandals (the jesus shoes). We were only there for 45 minutes, but I had some serious tan lines when we got back! =( I’m irritated so much by them. While we were there, it was completely packed by the way, (its like..dead here in the week, but SO busy on the weekends) and there was this little girl that walked around us a few times and she seemed really confused. I kept watching here walk up and down the beach and then I realized that she was crying. So I pointed here out to Jessica and we kept watching her and all of a sudden she took off running towards the water. But when she got about ten feet from this couple, so stopped dead and just stood there. So, I realized she had lost her parents. She came back up to where we were sitting and continued her search, crying much harder now…So I got up and went over to her and said, in French, “are you lost? Do you need help?” Now mind you this little girl was probably about 7 years old and she was scared..so she just stared at me. (it was probably my accent)…so I asked, in French, do you speak English? And again she stared. So FINALLY, I asked, again in French, “what’s wrong?” and all of a sudden she bursts out in French absolutely blubbering and I couldn’t understand a word she said except that she didn’t know where her mom is. So I called for Jessica to help me translate, but then an older French woman came over and helped us. Eventually we found her parents and all was well. But it was definitely an experience. I can hardly understand a native French speaker period, let alone a blubbering 7 year old. Ha ha


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