So…I’ve decided that I’m the worst blogger ever. I was all excited when I started, but it’s proving to be a little trickier than I had thought. It’s tempting to go out and get a croissant or set up at coffee shop and figure out travel plans rather than write about what I’ve been up to. But alas, I am sick today and it’s snowing. No croissants for me.
I’ve settled into life here pretty well, and I already know I’m going to be Grenoble-sick starting the day I leave. Here’s a couple more pictures of the city:
Would you blame me for missing it?
Anyway, my language professor is the most stereotypical French woman ever (without the rudeness). She must be at least 40, but I’m pretty sure I could break her in half. She’s that little. She’s got this enthusiastic, kind of high pitched voice and when she can’t figure out how to work the Smartboard, she gives a distressed “Oh, la laaaaa.” It’s wonderful. On top of 10 hours of language a week, I’m taking English to French translation, French History, History of French Art, and Politics of France. You’d think with all this French going on that’d I’d be near fluent by now, but I’m constantly finding myself saying “Pardon?”. In my defense, the French talk SUPER fast. But I’ll get there eventually…hopefully.
Miranda set us up with some French students the other weekend, and it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had here. I actually had conversations with French students! I know it’s their language and everything, but it blows my mind every time a French person understands what I’m saying. That’s the cool thing about language. French is one of the few things I’ve learned in school that I can see being applied to real life. Oh, by the way, all the French will tell you they suck at English. NOT true. They’re so damn modest about it, and then they start speaking this basically fluent English and make you feel horrible about your level of French. It was definitely a good night though. I can’t tell you how proud I am to say I have French friends. The French are much more to themselves than Americans. They’re not a friendly people at all. Marie was talking about this proverb that they have about a French city up north. They say when you visit there, you always cry twice; once on arriving because nobody talks to you, and again when you leave because when you get past actually meeting French people, they become really nice and you don’t want to leave.
Well, I decided to suck it up and try skiing while I’m here. I’ve never done it before, but I felt like I had to because I’m in the Alps. I’d be ashamed of myself if I left Grenoble without trying it at least once. Vincent, one of the university’s employees, sets up a bunch of international activities and he offered a ski course for students that are beginners. All I had to do was borrow the ski clothes from Marie and then show up at the bus station. I’m a little “mal-a-droit” (literally, bad at finger. Just means clumsy), so I was pretty nervous. When I first got there, I realized most people had brought friends. Kinda awkward, but I eventually hit it off with a girl from China. Another cool thing about knowing a different language- you can talk to people from other nations who also know the same language. I wouldn’t have been able to talk to her if we both didn’t know French. Sounds obvious, but I think it’s really cool.
We had about this hour and a half drive up one of the mountains (Vercours I think is what it’s called) and the view itself was worth it. This is Grenoble:
And these are the villages and landscapes further in the mountain:
Absolutely incredible. The mountains to the Grenoblois are like the beach to people from Virginia; the mountains are always there so they aren’t really phased by them, but I can’t get over them.
We pulled up to this little village with a ski shop and got our skis and shoes. Ski shoes are the most difficult, uncomfortable shoes in the world, worse than heels in my opinion. Our ski guide came and we had to walk in them for about 10 minutes. I’m telling you, I almost died. Even before I started skiing.
I was expecting the big slopes, but we ended up at this tiny little training course that was meant for children. 8 year olds were zooming past me.
Turns out I needed extreme beginner lessons because I couldn’t get the hang of it for the first hour. The hardest part, for me anyway, is just walking with the skis on. At the bottom of the little hill, there’s this moving walkway that takes you back up to the top. The snow right before you get on is kind of slick, and I got stuck. I tried to move forward, but every step I took only put me farther back. I was there for at least ten minutes before the guide saved me. It was bad.
Once I caught onto it though, I loved it. I guess I just liked being able to control where I wanted to go and how fast, kind of like I was controlling my own personal roller coaster or something. I moved on to the much bigger slope where I actually got to use the ski lift thing, and me and the other people in the group just hung out and skied for a couple hours.
See the little lift? The slope is bigger than it looks, I swear.
Surprisingly, it’s pretty hot up in the mountains because the sun is right in your face, plus the snow reflects the light on you. We had to quit eventually and then we walked around the ski village for awhile while (this is why English is a pain) we waited for the bus to come. I went with the Asian student I had met, a Brazilian girl, and a Dutch couple. Again, there’s no way I could’ve communicated with them if they didn’t know a language other than their own. Granted, most people speak English, but still. Language is key.
Overall, I was really, really glad I went. I did something new, met people from all over the world, and got to work on my French a ton. I still have a giant bruise on my shin from the stupid ski shoes, but it was definitely worth it.
Speaking of something new, there was an international cuisine feast held at the university the other day. I went to the Carrefour, which is kind of like Walmart but smells raw fish, and looked for American food to bring. I figured since Grenoble is such a diverse city and since Carrefour is so huge, they’d have something I could bring. Peanut butter, Ben and Jerry’s, and Oreos are the only things that comprise the list of American food in that entire store. And peanut butter is four euros! FOUR euros! It’s not even the real kind. There’s no preservatives or weird chemicals or anything. It’s just not the same.
I ended up making peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Pretty simple, right? My host family went ballistic over them. They never, ever eat that stuff here and it was just so…foreign to them. Of course all the Americans flocked to the container I put them in. It’s surprising what you miss when everything you know has changed.
Well, I have my week-long winter break coming up pretty soon. Me and two other girls planned a trip to Berlin, Prague and Budapest and we’re going to stay in cheap, good-quality hostels. Never in my life would I have imagined I’d be going to three countries of Europe in one week. It’s insane. Hopefully, I’ll find the motivation to write a post about it…we’ll see. A bientot!