kathryne goes to france

goodbye berlin
28 February 2007, 2:02 pm
Filed under: berlin, europe, exchange student, germany, study abroad, travel

Today was our last day in Berlin.  Tomorrow we begin our journey back to Bordeaux, starting with a flight to Dublin at 9:30 a.m., followed by a seven hour layover in the Dublin airport, then we board a flight to Paris and hang out in the Paris train station all night until we can get on our train to Bordeaux early the next morning.  Should be interesting… its a good thing I love airports. 

Im sad our vacation is over.  Soon its back to to the land thats devoid of good grilled chicken and decent Thai food, to the country that doesnt appreciate the value of a real toilet seat, to the dorm showers that make mold seem like a viable tiling option.

Berlin isnt the prettiest city Ive been to, but its by far the most interesting.  History is around every corner.  Its sort of tragically comical how often the Germans build buildings only to rebuild the exact same structure later on after its been destroyed for one reason or another.  The city is in a constant state of construction and reconstruction; cranes and bulldozers are all over the place.  Ive become fascinated by German history.  WWII, the Berlin Wall, socialism, concentration camps, the psychology behind Nazi power, etc. etc.  I want to learn more. 

Had a strange moment earlier today at a Thai restaurant.  While I was trying to figure out what to order from their English menu, I watched the Asian server speak German to a customer, say “cheers” to a British guy as he walked out, then say “bon appetit” to the German customer when he handed him his food.  I also think he may have spoken French to a French customer somewhere along the way.  It was obvious that his first language was an Asian language.  Isnt it interesting how many cultures mingled together within the five minutes that I spent trying to decide what to order?  Welcome to Europe.

Thats all for now.  Ill write about London and Berlin when I can use a non-German keyboard that doesnt randomly switch letters around and actually has an apostrophe button.  These kezboards are annozingggg.  Pictures are coming soon, too.


the dublin experience
24 February 2007, 4:16 pm
Filed under: dublin, europe, exchange student, ireland, study abroad, travel

I wasn’t crazy about Dublin.  Maybe it’s because I was sick the whole time, but there wasn’t anything that made me fall in love with the city.

I did like that Dublin somehow manages to feel quaint while still being a huge city.  The architecture was a nice break from the Gothic norm.  It’s Georgian, hence the quaint feeling.  I don’t know how to describe Georgian architecture.  Wikipedia it.

We took a city tour bus around Dublin, which was a good way to get a feel for the city.  Our tour guide was pretty great.  After about ten minutes on the bus, we realized that he introduced himself using a different name after each stop.  Greg/Luke/Paddy/Tom said the Georgian buildings were built in the 1700s (or 1800s?) under the reign of King George (insert Roman numeral here).  I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention to Greg/Luke/Paddy/Tom.

This was probably because I started thinking (again) about how I should have paid more attention in history.  Then I would know more about the conflict between the Protestants and Catholics.  If you asked my high school history teacher why I don’t know much about such topics, he’d say it’s because I am “bright but inherently lazy.”  He told me that once.  Maybe I would have paid more attention in class if he had a little less like a leprechaun.

Moving along.  The Irish accent is funny.  They don’t pronounce the “h” sound in “th” words.  Like “Thursday” becomes “Tursday.”  Jenny’s favorite word was “third.”

The night before we left, we watched Irish music and dancing at a pub a couple doors down from our hostel.  I drank a Guinness and found it surprisingly tasty.  Who knew I liked Guinness?  After the dancing, we walked back to our hostel.  Before we walked down the alley, two French girls stopped us and warned us while motioning to some construction across from the hostel.  We were confused, then we heard a yell and a crash and shattered glass.  A couple of drunk Irishmen had climbed the scaffolding and were throwing their empty beer bottles down at the path to the hostel.  We waited for a pause in the bottle throwing, held our bags over our head and took off running to the hostel entrance.  You should know that “running” on cobblestone paths in thin ballet flats equates to “fast hobbling” at best.

I think the most humorous moment of the trip occurred on the sidewalk near our hostel.  A crazy old man walked by us, howling with laughter, as though the funniest thing he’d ever seen was traveling with him about two feet in front of his eyes.  He laughed and cackled and chuckled with his mouth wide open, showing off his gapped teeth, which were entirely too small and jutting out in different directions.  Every time I glanced behind me to see him again, I’d bust out laughing, which made me start coughing and choking until I managed to get a grip on myself… in time to look back again and repeat the process.

Before you start thinking that I’m a terrible person for laughing at a crazy old man, let me explain: the old man looked and sounded exactly like a toy I’d play with at my Great Grandma Lucille’s retirement home.  We’d play with it while we were waiting our turn for a ride up and down the pink-carpeted ramps in Grandma Lucille’s electric wheelchair.  It was basically an old man (or woman’s?) face, plastic, with tuffs of synthetic gray hair coming out the top of its head.  If you pulled on a string underneath its chin, the plastic mouth would start moving and out with come hysterical cackling.  The old man in Dublin was a dead ringer for that plastic face.

I’ve sufficiently creeped myself out.  I’m sad that we’re leaving London tomorrow for Berlin.  I’ve fallen in love with this place.

16 February 2007, 1:46 pm
Filed under: dublin, europe, exchange student, ireland, study abroad, travel

I’m in Dublin and I feel like death. All of my views of the city so far have been tainted by a fever. More later. I’m going back to bed in the hostel.

falling up the stairs
15 February 2007, 7:44 pm
Filed under: bordeaux, college, exchange student, france

What a day I’ve had.

I woke up at 3 a.m. feeling delirious and feverish. Went back to bed, woke up this morning with a cough and an ominously raspy throat.

As I was getting dressed, I discovered a spider the size of a centieme crawling around inside my black ballet flats. I immediately charged him with taking up residence in my shoes and sentenced him to the death penalty. The spider now rests on the bottom of my shoe.

For lunch, I attempted to heat up yesterday’s Dominoes pizza with my turbo-powered European hairdryer. It worked until the power in my room randomly went out, and I ended up eating pizza that was warm on the outside and cool on the inside. I still feel rather ingenious for coming up with that heating technique.

After lunch, I found a note in my mailbox stating that I had received an envelope and needed to pick it up from the dorm’s office. I didn’t have my hopes up—I thought it had to do with the French dorm bureaucracy—but I was overjoyed when Intimidating Receptionist handed me a package with a Norman return address. My friends made me homemade Valentine’s Day cards and sent them across the ocean to me! Mes amis are really wonderful.

I survived the second class of the day and used the restroom afterwards. I ran into Piotr the Polish guy on the way to the computer lab. We awkwardly talked about his upcoming skiing trip to the Alps. As I was walking off, I realized that something weird was going on with my skirt… turns out my skirt was tucked into my underwear. I busted out laughing and kept walking while trying to pull down my skirt to its correct position as discretely and quickly as possible while Piotr laughed and said, “C’est bon, C’est bon!” (It’s good, it’s good!) Fortunately the skirt is long enough to keep me covered even if it’s folded in half. I can’t believe I was that girl: the girl with her skirt tucked into her underwear.

I giggled my way back to the dorms and then realized that I couldn’t find either my key or my phone. I assumed that my phone was locked in my room, but I didn’t know where to look for my key. I checked my door to see if I had left it in the lock. No luck. I was about to search the campus when I thought to check with the office. After a frustrating chat with The Receptionist Who Does Not Speak (the lady has lost her voice and I don’t think it’s ever coming back), she handed me both my phone and my key. I guess I was so excited about the Valentine’s Day cards that I left them on the counter.

Immediately afterwards, I stopped in Jenny’s room to talk to her about doing laundry today. I started to leave when she handed me my phone. I had forgotten it again. Then I tripped up the stairs and broke a fingernail.

I’m surprised that I survived today. Everything feels off kilter and I don’t know why. I don’t think I can blame it on the Sudafed.

I’m sick but I’m still flying to Ireland tomorrow. I hope it goes well. Wish me luck!

12 February 2007, 7:13 am
Filed under: bordeaux, photos, study abroad

I got bored and took my camera on a walk through Bordeaux. Twice. Click the stop sign to see what happened.

Sunny, cloudy, downpouring, repeat. That’s how today has been. I’m about to make a break for the dorms so I can drop off my laptop and go shopping. Considering that my feet/ankles feel mildly sprained in multiple areas (my left foot/ankle is not fairing as well as the right, although I do not know why), it’s about time I bought some good walking shoes.

Note to self: never walk all over Paris in kneehigh boots for three days straight.

Goal: buy shoes that make large feet look the least clown-like as possible.

11 February 2007, 4:25 am
Filed under: bordeaux, europe, france, photos

ms.kdizz, originally uploaded by ms.kdizz.

This bird is a magpie.
According to wikipedia, it loves shiny objects.
Mandi also loves shiny objects.

hot sauce and cravates
9 February 2007, 2:01 pm
Filed under: bordeaux, france

Today I bought some sriracha sauce and made myself quite a tasty dinner. I’m not kidding, it was delectable. I’m impressed with myself.

I also bought a men’s Pucci tie. Why? I don’t know, because it’s cool. I love Pucci prints. And I could sell it on eBay for five times what I payed for it. I probably won’t do that, though, because I like my men’s tie.

I also bought a postcard that says this: Être avec des gens qu’on aime, cela suffit.
Which translates into this: To be with the people who one loves, that suffices.

Jean de La Bruyère was a smart man. I miss the people I love. I love what I’m doing here (except for the school part) and I don’t want to leave. I just wish that everyone I love could be here with me to see all these beautiful things. France would be a million times better if you were all here. I say you all as though all my friends read this, which they don’t, because I didn’t specifically tell any of them about this thing. My dad likes reading it, so I write. Wish you were here, Dad.