I’m hoo-oome!

That’s right, I’m back in the good ol’ Quad City area!  My trip actually went pretty smoothly.  I’m sure I’ll post eventually with more details, but here are some highlights:

  • 22 hours of travel
  • 3 flights
  • 1 delayed flight (my last one home- but only by half an hour)
  • 36 degrees- the temperature it is outside right now
  • 1 experience of SPRINTING to my gate (in Zurich)
  • 9 hours on the flight to the US
  • 1 lucky happening- there was an airport shuttle bus from Gare de Lyon! No metro for me.
  • 3 loved ones seen so far
  • 75 euros + 25 dollars = cost to check my bags
  • 1 Chili’s meal eaten in Chicago- MMM American food!!
  • 1 bouquet of flowers received
  • 3 hugs from my mom within 5 minutes of being home

There’s a lot more I could share but I’m going to shower, get ready, then go up to my grandma’s house for lunch!  I bet all the euros in my wallet that she’s making spaghetti and garlic bread, my favorite grandma meal.  Although I’m definitely going to devour whatever delicious food she makes.  I’m a lucky girl 🙂

Categories: Travels | 5 Comments

218 Days Abroad

I’m not gonna lie, I have no idea where to start with this post.  How do I even begin to put my feelings about my incredible seven months overseas into words, and NOT tear up sitting here in a crappy hostel lobby in Paris?  (And it is crappy.  Worst hostel I’ve ever been in.  If I was staying more than one night I would have found somewhere else.)

In a way, I can’t believe my time in France is already over, and in other ways, I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve been home… slept in my own bed… hugged my family… walked barefoot out to the barn to see our cats 🙂  Needless to say I can’t wait to do all those things and more, all the small and big things I’ve missed since being overseas, but I’m definitely going to miss Europe as well.  I have a couple blog posts started with lists of things I liked about Europe and wish the US would adopt, and things I DIDN’T like that I’m glad the US doesn’t do.

I think what I’m going to miss most about being over here are the different cultures that confront me daily.  For example, right now I’m in a hostel staying in a room with three other people of three different nationalities from three different continents.  It really hit me that the varied culture is what I would miss a couple of weeks ago when I was in a small town called Podebrady outside of Prague with an old friend from International House at ISU.  We were all sitting in a circle, probably 15 of us, and if I had to guess there were probably at least six nationalities represented with double the amount of languages spoken.  We started playing a game where we chose a common phrase (“Hello” or “Thank you”) and went around the circle saying it in as many different languages as we could.  There were several times that made it around the circle more than once, which was amazing to me.

But despite everything that I’m going to miss, I am absolutely ECSTATIC to be coming home.  Why wouldn’t I be, with all the amazing things waiting for me?  I’m really excited for the future and to start this new chapter of my life: big-girl job (is it still that if I use the phrase “big-girl”?), getting my own place to live, spending time consistently with my friends and family in the QCA for the first time since 2009… all good things!

But before I can get to all those good things, I need to make it through the next 31-ish hours.  I have to sleep then get ready at the hostel, walk to the metro with one rolling bag, take the metro to Gare de Lyon to get my other rolling bag out of a locker, somehow manage two rolling suitcases and a shoulder bag on the metro (many stairs) to catch the RER train to the airport, check in and check my bag (hopefully it’s not over weight…), fly to Zurich, fly to Chicago, collect my bag and go through customs, check my bag again, then fly to Moline… thinking about what my day is going to be like tomorrow makes me want to cry, and not because I’m sad to be leaving… it’s just going to be a really long, tiring, stressful day.  I just need to focus on the end goal: by tomorrow night, I’ll be HOME!

So if you have a spare moment, I’d appreciate a little prayer for safe travels, for mental and physical strength, and for everything to go smoothly.  Now if you’d excuse me, I believe I’m going to go to bed soon 🙂

Categories: Random thoughts | 4 Comments

Flower Exposition, Haut-de-Cagnes

The day after I got back from Toulouse, I had a day off of school!  We had Monday off for Easter, which was a nice surprise; I didn’t know when I scheduled my trip to Agen or I probably would’ve stayed another day.  Oh well!  My good friend Sam and I went to Haut-de-Cagnes, a small town in the mountains north of a town called Cagnes-sur-mer.  There’s a big castle there and the day we went, there was a flower exposition there, with lots of flowers and visitors and even some musicians playing!  It was fun to see the castle and all the beautiful flowers were just a plus.

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View from the top.

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Categories: Travels | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Port-Sainte-Marie/Nérac/Agen/Toulouse

The last weekend of March, I took a trip to southwestern France to visit a friend of my high school French teacher.  The main reason was to observe her using TPRS in the classroom (mentioned briefly here) and to talk to her about it, but also to see a different part of France, and one that’s NOT a big city!  This country girl has been hurting for some wide-open spaces.

Port-Sainte-Marie, where the teacher lives, is marked in red.  It's really near Agen and between Toulouse and Bordeaux.

Port-Sainte-Marie, where the teacher lives, is marked in red. It’s really near Agen and between Toulouse and Bordeaux.

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Categories: Teaching, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Villefranche-sur-mer (again)

It seems that things have come full circle; back in October I went to Villefranche with some of my friends, but we didn’t do much other than sit on the beach and get gelato.  Well one of the teachers at my school told me about a few cool things there, so I decided to check it out!  I actually went the same week that I went to Parc Phoenix; I had a particularly light class load that week and the weather was great, so I took advantage of it!  Plus my handy little list has been keeping me motivated.

The first place I went was the Citadel, which is a 16th century fortress that’s open to visitors.  Honestly I was kind of confused by it–I wasn’t sure if I was missing something, since it was mostly open and outside–but there were a few small museums and such, so I guess that was it.  I was kinda underwhelmed, but it was cool to see the old stone walls, the green grass, and the abundant flowers.

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Categories: Travels | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Quick little update

Hey all!  Just a quick little post to say that I’m going to be AWOL from the blog for who knows how long, probably a few weeks.  I’m leaving tonight to travel around Europe for 12 days (Barcelona/Amsterdam/Prague/Vienna) while my roommate’s parents are here visiting, and then the day I return to Nice my friend Annabell is coming to visit!  She’ll be here for a few days, then I have another couple of days in Nice, then I take the train to Paris!  I’m staying there for one night before my marathon three-flight, 16-hour trip home.  But no worries, once I get home and get settled (or perhaps before then if I’m particularly motivated or have some downtime while traveling) I have a whole load of posts I want to write before I can declare this blog finito!  They include, but are not limited to:

  • More posts with information intended for future assistants.  I’ve gotten some good questions that have given me ideas for future posts, so keep them coming!
  • Three local trips I’ve taken, to a flower exposition in Haut-de-Cagnes, the fortress up on Mont Boron, and a small town called Eze
  • The trip I took to Toulouse/Agen/Porte-Sainte-Marie/Nerac
  • The two places I went skiing this winter
  • My trip to Lyon
  • Updated Emmy photos; I haven’t uploaded any since before the trip with my parents!  Bad Kelsey, I know.
  • Pictures and stories about this whirlwind vacation I’m about to embark on
  • Random cell phone shots that I’ve taken the last few months
  • Another What I’ve Been Cooking post
  • At least a few of the post suggestions from my poll on the right
  • The good, the bad, and the ugly about TAPIF
  • Reflections about my time in France
  • My ridiculous interactions with French men
  • And more!

So as you can see, I have plenty that I want to write about!  At the core, this blog is going to be a way for me to remember my time here (still planning on getting it printed in some sort of format for me to have a hard copy) so I want to continue including all my adventures.  Eventually the blog will be dormant but not for awhile 🙂

Categories: Random thoughts | 3 Comments

Parc Phoenix, Nice

Remember this challenge post?  Well a few weeks ago, I got started knocking a few more items off my “must-see-before-I-leave” list.  One of the items on my cool new super-touristy bag was something called Parc Phoenix, which I had never heard of and had no idea what it was.  I did some Googling and learned that it’s a park/nature preserve/zoo on the west side of Nice, and that it only costs 2€ to get in!  Sold.  A couple weeks ago we actually had warm sunny weather (it’s been unusually cold and rainy this spring… well when I say cold I mean like 55 degrees.  I’m spoiled, I know) so I decided to take advantage and go there on Tuesday when I didn’t have school.  Even though I went alone (it’s really hard to do stuff during the day since we all have different teaching schedules), I’m so glad I did!  The weather was beautiful and it was great to be surrounded by nature, since I’ve been in cities basically since I arrived here in September.

There was a lot of green grass and trees, pretty flowers, cacti, animals in pens, and free-range animals.  There was also a big greenhouse, a reptile/spider/fish building, a big pond, and fountains that played in time with music once an hour.  So without further ado… some photos!

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Categories: Life in France | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

What I’ve Cooked Lately: Part 2

(Quick little side note: I just realized that emails for next year’s TAPIF program were sent out today!  I remember that day last year.  The emails being sent out are probably what’s responsible for all the people finding my blog today by teaching “TAPIF acceptance”, haha.  If you are reading this and are going to participate in the program next year, best of luck to you!)

Hey all, remember my first “What I’ve Cooked Lately” post?  Well a second one is WAY overdue, therefore this post is gonna be super long (Update: okay not as long as I thought, since most of them link to other websites).  As with the first one, if one of the dishes below sounds good, click it, and it’ll either jump you down to the written-out recipe later in the post, or take you to the website where I found the recipe!

There are some things I didn’t include in this list, like potato soup, enchiladas, and homemade pizza sauce, because I didn’t really follow a recipe!  I’m also planning on making taco soup for the first time today and I don’t really feel like following a recipe, so we’ll see how it goes 🙂

Update: I made the soup and am eating it now.  Conclusion: awesome!  I basically just threw a bunch of stuff in a pot and let it heat: chopped up beef, shallots, garlic, olive oil, beef broth, tomato puree, corn, kidney beans, taco seasoning, cilantro, and cheese.  Mmm

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Categories: Food/Cooking | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Venice in Photos

After our Paris trip, Nick and I flew to Venice, a place I (and he) had never been before!  My parents and I wanted to go during their trip here but it just didn’t work out time-wise; it was way too far from Rome for us to do on our limited schedule.  So I was happy to have an opportunity to go there!

Most of the time in Venice we were just walking around.  The sidewalks and canals with no cars were a nice break from the busy-ness of Paris, although the winding “streets” did cause us to walk in circles more than once!  We saw a lot of beautiful sights and neat old architecture.  Again, I don’t have a lot to say about these places, so enjoy the photos!

We saw a lot of churches (forgive any spelling errors I make!)…

Campo Santa Maria Nova

Campo Santa Maria Nova

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Paris Sights Previously Unseen: Versailles (and some extras)

Okay, I know Versailles isn’t technically in Paris, but we went during our Paris trip, so I say it counts.  First of all, a tip for you: if you go to Versailles, DON’T go during the coldest part of the year.  Inside the palace was fine, but we basically only toured the grounds right around it because it was SO cold, and there’s a lot more to see than that!  We spent all of our time outside (which totaled probably 30 minutes) bundled up like this:

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Happy, but freezing cold.

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Categories: Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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