Sunday, August 31, 2008

Estoy aqui! uhhhhh I mean, je suis ici!

Arrived! Excited! Massive head spinning! I feel like I'm in the exorcist through the massive speeds that my host siblings talk at. Then they look at my (probably) bewildered face and just laugh and laugh then say it again in simpler and slower terms.

The plane ride was uneventful, excepting the unattended bag that the bomb squad blew up in the middle of the airport of Charles de Gaulle when we landed which backed everything up like crazy and a flight attendant who was a Texas-Barbie wanna-be with her blond hair and pink-pink nails.

Nine of us girls who were on the flight then met up with Professor Jordan and our "chauffeur" Richard and squeezed into the bus with all our bags (the bus was half the size it was supposed to be seating 15 with only a little room in the back for luggage). If you could see behind the photo - the back row of seats was packed full to the ceiling and the floor half way up was full of luggage. We all fell asleep, having only slept maybe an hour on the plane, during the three hour ride to Tours. We took a quick stop at a rest station for Richard to have a smoke and get some drinks. French rest stops are way better than American ones. It was a small park where people had picnics and were walking their dogs.

When driving into Tours via the "Auto route A10" we passed over the Loire (river that runs through the north part of Tours, the Cher is through the south) and saw some absolutely stunning bridges. Apparently the groups of trees are parks (the one pictured is the "Parc de Sainte Radegonde"and the bridge is called the Mirabeau). I'll have to take a walk sometime and see them!

The bus then drove into town and we passed the Château de Tours, the public library, and town square. It had beautiful fountains with sculputures of famous contributors to the arts like Francois Rabelais and Descartes. This is where the FAC, aka Université Francois-Rabelais, is situated. The bus then turned around and let us off infront of the Château de Tours where all of our host families were waiting for us. We spent a little while doing meet and greet and then Sophie and Phillipe brought me back to their (and my new!) home on 32 Rue de Rempart. Next post I'll take photos of the garden and front of the house.

My room is on the third floor and faces the front of the house. This picture is the view on the left of my window. On the roof you can see a little bird - he stayed there for nearly an hour and yelled at me everytime I sat in my window. Augustin, 15 year old boy, helped me get my bags to my room. Unpacked, napped a little, met Sidonnie and Flore when they got home (Flore is constantly playing badmitton competitively and Sido was with friends). I'm glad I brought lots of picture frames, the room really feels mine with them. We had dinner outside in the garden, which is what they do every night that it's nice enough and drank champagne - seriously delicious - called Jean Paul Couamais. All my siblings teased me about being only 20 and drinking. There is a lot of joking all the time, which helps a lot with my nerves.

Slept with my window wide open and was woken up at 4 am by a massive thunderstorm, it was wonderful! Sat in my window enjoying it for a little while then fell back asleep listening to the rain. Woke up at noon, jet lag is a serious killer, then tore off some bread, and took a walk around town while munching by myself. Walked up and saw the Cathedral. It is one of the most incredible things I've ever seen architecturally. Next time I walk I'll bring my camera and get some photos of the parts google doesn't have photos of (which I think are even better). Then walked through two parks - the Place Francois Sicard and the Musée des Beaux-Arts. The Musée has this MASSIVE tree in the front with the outer branches supported by logs cut and placed as exterior trunks. The gardens are beautiful too, and there are fountains everywhere.

I impressed myself, apparently my look is "euro" enough that a French woman stopped me and asked for the time, which startled me only slightly and I managed to give it to her, though once I started talking she gave me the "'re not French" look. Oh well, hopefully by December I won't get that look anymore. On my walk back to the house I past a hat shop (do those even exist in the United States anymore?) and some other neat shops. Sadly I couldn't go into any of them because it's Sunday and nearly everything shuts down! Not really a large switch from Pennsylvannia. Got home, played with Twistie who is a large black dog (slightly shaggier than a lab) whom I adore utterly. I call him "pauvre-bête" which means "poor baby" everytime because he's always getting petted or is relaxing. Then Phillipe, Sophie, Augustin, and I had lunch - Sophie is an amazing chef - some sort of chicken with vegetables and potatoes, followed by lots of different cheeses (and wine) wherein Augustin taught me the proper French way to eat cheese, and then chocolate cake called "Opéra" for dessert.

I start classes at the Insitut de Touraine tomorrow at 8:45 in the morning. Very exciting!!

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