Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Closest to the "red carpet" I'll get!!!

Cannes: Check out some of the mid-sized yachts in the background. Seriously, those one's are the mid-sized.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


This might seem like a bit of a surprise after Friday's homesick entry, but I NEVER WANT TO LEAVE NICE!!! Yesterday I found the church and it was such a fantastic experience that I've seriously had thoughts of just moving here permanently. Probably would need to find a little funding to do so, but...I'm sure I could pick up a sponsor or two floating around Cannes right now. A few people in that town this weekend who I'm sure wouldn't miss a little extra.

Speaking of the festival, it was nice. Didn't spot any celebs, didn't really see any films...basically it was just a good opportunity to do some serious people-watching while enjoying the "ambiance" of the film festival. I've decided that if I ever am back in town for the film festival, I'll make sure to bring a couple guys in dark suits and shades with me. I'll put on a big, floppy hat, sunglasses, and heels, and see how many people I can fool into thinking that I'm someone trying to go "un-noticed." That would be true entertainment.

The more adventurous aspect of my trip to Cannes was the bus ride there. I had a kind older gentleman approach me at the bus stop to make sure he could catch the right bus. I hoped I was at the correct stop so I told him yes, although I had my personal doubts. Anyways, we ended up on the right bus, of course he sat by me, and OF COURSE he had the WORST breath I have ever smelled in my life. This wasn't a problem for the first 30 minutes of the trip, since we didn't talk, but once he started chatting...I've really been out of luck with the odor experiences lately. Needless to say he talked for the remainder of the 2 hour trip. He must have been really desparate to talk to someone, because I only caught about half the things he was saying since he had a bit of a slur to his speech and absolutely no enunciation. He was also potentially crazy because the things I DID understand were pretty far out there. One minute he was telling me about a new fountain in Antibes, the next about how many tourist were in town :), and then he started on a story about his friends who had lost their arms and legs. I gave one word answers periodically, nodded, smiled, etc. Remember Dean? But apparently one word answers were more than enough. Because he just kept going. At least I had an entertaining ride, although a somewhat rancid smelling one.

Sunday was church and it was great. I actually understood everything that went on, mostly because I know the English version well enough to figure out the French vocab that I didn't know. I even gave an answer in Gospel Principles! I loved hearing a meeting conducted in a different language though and it was interesting hearing sister's in Relief Society give their opinions on what a testimony was--the lesson was on an October conference talk. AND I got to play the piano!!! The hymns sound terrible in French! It's a gorgeous language, but if you actually sing French with all the nasality of the language, it's not so hot. Still, it was fun. Talked to the missionaries, got a B of M for Danielle, caught the correct buses to and from...chalk it up as a successful day!

And that was my weekend! Anyone else have a good one? Or an extra-long one for that matter? It's Memorial Day, right?

Saturday, May 26, 2007


This entry is dedicated to all those who find it difficult to sit through an opera. I joined the club last night. My first experience in a European opera house was memorable on many levels.

Level #1: As most of you know by now, Nice is a coastal town and temperatures here are currently averaging about 85 degrees. Nice, right? Not bad IF you have air-conditioning. I have thus far managed without air-conditioning, always sleeping with the doors to my balcony wide open and such. But an opera house without air-conditioning? Maybe it would have been okay if I hadn't been in the 4th balcony student section, but honestly it was STIFLING! Not to mention that the mixture of body odors from all the people around me blended into a deliciously nauseating aroma. I had to leave for a bit during the 3rd act because I was going to be sick. Really.

Level #2: Wasn't really into the acoustics. The sound seemed to be stuck in the bottom of the house and I was not there. It did seem to get better throughout the evening, though, so maybe it was just the poor singing. I honestly couldn't hear the lead soprano, Abigail, for the first 2 acts.

Level #3: Here's where it gets AMAZING!!! The audience was fantastic. Nabucco has a famous chorus section in the 3rd act that really is breathtakingly beautiful. And people in the audience actually knew it well enough that a few were humming along. When the choruse finished, they broke out into wild applause and kept shouting "Plus!" again and again. "More!" After about 3 minutes of continual applause and shouting, the conductor acquiesced and they repeated the whole chorus! After the 2nd time through, everyone began clapping in unison and getting louder and louder. Finally the conductor had to turn around, thank the audience, and cut them off so that the opera could continue. I've never seen anything like it at an opera in the U.S.

Level #4: Nabucco really has some breathtakingly beautiful music. There is an unimaginably beautiful cello solo before an aria in Act 3 that was my favorite part of the opera.

Level #5: While none of the singers were overwhelmingly captivating, I don't think I've ever heard a more sincere, musical performance. It seemed like a raw performance. Real music that meant something. Cool.

And that was my experience at the opera. Despite the miserable conditions which make an opera difficult to endure, it was a positive experience. And definitely one that I won't forget.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Le mal du pays

Sickness of country: Homesickness. I've experienced it for the first time today. I don't know what triggered it exactly, but I think it was the fact that I got a voicemail today in ENGLISH from a Houston friend. Talk about a novelty! #1. I don't get voicemails anymore. Part of living abroad. #2. I really don't speak English anymore, aside from my 2-minute conversations with the fam, so it was a nice reminder that there are people I can speak to who potentially understand everything I say! I'm sure I could find plenty of tourists along the Promenade to talk too, but...Anyways, the point of all this? I got homesick! It's a bit of an odd sensation for me, because I'm not quite sure exactly what for. I miss my family, but I don't ever really get to see them anyway. I miss my friends in Houston, but most of them are busy working individuals anway whom I wouldn't see terribly often, so...I can't pinpoint exactly what I'm homesick for. I suppose just familiarity. When you're placed in a situation where everything is distinctly foreign, it's as if you're living a different life, not just travelling away from your old one. Really there is nothing in Nice or all of Europe for that matter that is remotely connected to my "old" life, except maybe the internet. :) The first time I got a chance to get online in Paris, it was a definite relief. I'm going to the Opera de Nice tonight to see Nabucco and that will be a bit of a comfort. I really wish I could play the piano though. Somehow that always brings me "home" and makes the world seem right. I imagine there must be some form of a keyboard in church on Sunday. Fingers crossed...I'm homesick.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Un soupir

Occasionally in life there are moments of perfect contentment. It's as if for a brief second, time is suspended. Everything is as it should be and I'm at peace. Words can't capture the beauty of moments like these. For me, the only thing that can express them perfectly is "un soupir"---a sigh.

This afternoon can only be described as one, deep, contented sigh. At about 4 o'clock, I set off to explore Nice. My goal was to get a ticket for the opera tomorrow night, which unfortunately was unsuccessful. Found the opera but couldn't find a ticket office. Since my initial plans had been foiled, I decide to wander about Nice and get to know my new home a bit better. I spent some time roaming the small streets of "Old Nice" and then started to stroll along the Promenade. I caught a glimpse of some tourists headed up the stairs to the Parc de la Colline du Chateau, the fancy way of saying the parc of the hill of the chateau, and decided it was time to get some exercise. I climbed the stairs to the top of the hill and wandered through the park. Of course the weather was gorgeous, about 85 degrees with an ocean breeze, the views were spectacular and I found myself in Nice, France. Basically, it was one of those times when life catches you by surprise and completely takes your breath away. Like I said, it can't be put to words. All I could do was smile and I'm sure everyone I passed thought that I was completely crazy! C'est la vie!

Luckily, this lasted for about two hours and tonight I'm still basking in the glow of a moment that tasted of perfection. Moments that warrant a deep sigh don't seem to occur often, and they alwasy seem to come when least expected. Which only adds to their beauty.

I truly feel so blessed for the opportunities I've been granted up to this point in my life. I hope to make the most of all of them and pave the way for more to come! And now, before I wax too philosophical, I'll close this entry. But I'm concluding with a sigh.

Rue d'Andrioli


Tuesday, May 22, 2007


There are the things that you shouldn't have to see at the beach, and it occasionally can make a person nauseated, redefining the term SEASICKNESS.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Typically your first day of school story refers to your Kindergarten years, but let's make an exception to that rule for today. Today I started French school! From the moment I walked in the doors, registered, and took my placement test, there was not even a word of English. Talk about FANTASTIQUE! I rode the autobus to school with my new friend, Marie-Therese, who's from Mexico but has been to Houston several times and knows the area. We went to lunch together after school and she was unbelievably nice, saying that she liked hanging out with me because I reminded her of her daughters. Nevermind that her daughters are married and have 14-year old children! Obviously there's a bit of an age-gap between Marie-Therese and I. Perhaps even a "generation-gap" if you will. But since we're both French students age doesn't count quite as much.

Anyways, sorry about the tangent. Back to my first day at school. I was unbelievably nervous to take my placement test because after 3 days in France, I'm absolutely convinced that I know nothing. And when I sat down to take my test, I thought that was being confirmed once again. But amazingly enough, the longer I sat there, the more random grammar rules started surfacing in my head and some of the things I learned 5 years ago zere resurrected. I miraculously was placed in a Level 8 class, which freakin' rocks. Nevermind that I sound like a complete idiot when I'm speaking in the Level 8 class. :) That's what practice is for, eh?

So, basically I'm a nerd. I love school. I love that I'm studying French and I love that I know have classmates to practice speaking with. They're a lot less intimidating than the Frenchpeople you meet on the street every day. All though, I'm being to feel more confident conversing with them as well!

And as a side-note, Dani and I had a good 20-minute long conversation about religion and Mormonism last night! Talk about a completely different vocabulary. Anyone who knows me, though, knows how important my religion is to me so it was fun getting to explain things to her. Difficult, but fun and it definitely made for an interesting conversation. I need to get the missionaries to teach me a few vocab. words!

Sunday, May 20, 2007


There's a reason that Frenchmen have a reputation. It all begins with one word: enchanté. There's something magical about being introduced to someone who responds with "enchanted" instead of "hey." Definitely a fan. This little blurb all stems from my arrival this morning in Nice. Fortunately everything transportation-wise today went smoothly. I found the flat where I'm staying with no difficulty and it's fantastic. For those of you who know Nice, it's just off the beautiful Promenade des Anglais and if you don't know Nice, it means that it's pretty much on the beach!

I live with a middle-aged woman named Daniele who is truly fantastic. She speaks some English, but it's her personal mission to get my French up to par, so English is only used in times of desparation. Thankfully those times are happening less frequently! It really amazes me how much easier it is to pick up a language when you're completely surrounded by it.

Daniele was kind enough to introduce me to her amazingly good-looking 26-year old son, who gave me my first "enchantée" and was kind enough to help me get used to the French custom of kissing good-bye. I'm all for it! :)

Tonight we drove to the neighboring town of Antibes because all the museums were free admission for the evening. Antibes est trés jolie et aussi trés ancienne, donc les musées sont trés interessant. The vocabulary for the museums was a bit intense and I admittedly tuned out some of the conversation regarding ancient Antipolis, but it was interesting just the same and I felt like I learned more in one evening as a "native" then I have on many of my "vacations." There is a definite advantage in living with a local. We also took a walk along the bay which houses some of the most luxurious yachts that I have ever seen! Think about a cruise ship and then shrink it down just a bit and you can envision these monsters! I'll post one a bit later. AMAZING!!!

I love Nice! My flat is fantastic and the city is lovely. Daniele is kind, her son is hot, and my French is improving rapidly. I'm very excited for classes to start on Monday. Tomorrow's schedule? A little church in the morning and a little Cannes Film Festival for the remainder of the day! You may have heard of it. Bon soir!

Saturday, May 19, 2007



Est-ce que je parle Francais? NO!!! I'm absolutely terrible which has made for quite an interesting experience on my trip thus far. I arrived in Paris yesterday afternoon and was SO relieved when I was able to have a conversation in French with a security guard about my travel plans. Amazingly enough, I understand a fair amount of what's being said around me. But speaking the language is an entirely different story when you haven't really practiced in 5 years!

I had decided that instead of taking a taxi or a shuttle to my hotel, I would venture out and use the RER/metro system to get from Charles de Gaulle to Orlly airport and I knew my hotel was somewhere in that vicinity, so...After almost 3 hours on the public transportation system, I know feel completely confident that I could get you anywhere in Paris. :) The experience wasn't entirely bad, despite the fact that I managed to buy the wrong train ticket and had to have a relatively complicated conversation with the train controller. In all honestly, I think that I would prefer to stay on the metro as much as possible. There's a certain level of familiarity with the public transportation that reminds me of NYC and HOME!!!

By the time I made it to my hotel, I was absolutely ecstatic to see my unbelievably tiny room and to break out my French dictionary so I could figure out what the HECK was going on around me. After dinner at a restaurant with an unbelievably friendly waiter, my outlook had on my situation had improved about 150%!

This really is amazing! I love being surrounded by a different culture and a different language. As inconvenient as it seems, no one will speak English to me, which means that I have to sink or swim! When you're in that type of situation, you start remembering your vocabulary a lot faster. I can now understand why the initial stages of a mission would be so frustrating, but I also envy the missionaries: they have a companion! So it's on to Nice, where I intend to take an amazing nap on the beach (weather allowing). Chalk Day #1 up to an intense education!

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Friendly Flyer

His name was Dean. He's from Texas and headed to North Carolina to drive his daughter home from college. He's single, has 2 girls, works for a company drafting, has a large home on a 10-acre plot of land, sponsored a German foreign exchange student last year (who wants to be a pilot), went on a ski trip to Breckenridge, Colorado this winter, and so on. The typical story of the friendly flyer. Not only did Dean want to talk, he would kindly tap me on the shoulder in the middle of my movie to do so. And of course, I would remove my head phones, smile, and nod politely. Dear Dean. As personal space is already a nonexistent commodity aboard aircraft, I am not sorry to see you go. Fly home to Texas.

Monday, May 14, 2007


"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

Henry David Thoreau

Friday, May 11, 2007

Leaving the Country

I'm officially leaving the country in 5 days, 23 hours, and 16 minutes according to my amazing countdown widget. Travelling is always a bit stressful, but I've gotten pretty efficient with all the quick trips. Leaving for the summer, however, is a completely different story! There are SO many things to do. I'm excited to leave, mostly because it will mean that I've finally gotten everything done that I have too in order to leave. The fact that I'll be living in Europe is just a slight bonus. Anyways, this blog is one of the many things on my "To Do" list. What better way to keep my family and friends posted on the happenings of my life? I'm also terrible when it comes to the traditional "journal" so maybe this will be a more innovative method for doing so! Happy reading!
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